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Human rights lawyer vs. trained healer

The ENCDC Congress At Hawassa: A Determination To Succeed (Part I)

I reached Hawassa  with a late group. It was late evening when our bus arrived there on the 22nd of November—and we were given a warm official reception at the entrance of the city. Our group included youth from Switzerland and refugees from the camps in Ethiopia and a few from other parts of Europe. For a passengers in our group, the trip brought back 20-years old memories—the last time he was in the town was in May 1991 as an imprisoned EPLF combatant together with about 100 others. He vividly recalled the day Addis Ababa fell on 28th of May when prison authorities disappeared and he and the other prisoners gained their freedom. The inhabitants of the town and the region included Eritreans who lived there and they took care of them until they were taken back to Eritrea. Now that the whole of Eritrea is imprisoned, it was very touching to watch him discuss ways and means to free it.

In order to be able to make an objective assessment and evaluation of the congress, one needs to look back at the background of the preparatory work, the venue, the events, the challenges faced and how they were tackled, the role of Ethiopia, and how all those factors affected the outcome.

The preparations

The Addis Ababa conference (ملتقي or waelaa) of 2010 elected a 53-member commission and entrusted it with a clear mandate to hold a general congress based on the papers that were discussed there. The EDA (Eritrean Democratic Alliance) invited for and prepared the 2010 conference and it deserves the credit for holding a conference that broadened the base of the opposition—including civil society and individual activists who were not affiliated with the political organizations. Thereafter, the commission did a remarkable job: it prepared 4 documents in time, established support groups all over the world, transparently and openly  discussed the papers and enriched them with comments. Finally it held the congress in relatively good time.

The commission held tens of meetings and collected  3,5 million Birr from the public, while it received about half a million Birr in cash from Ethiopia. It also decided that congress participants should pay for their air-tickets and other transportation costs. This financial decision was a big step forward in terms of owning the whole exercise though there will always be need of help from our generous neighbors. The exercise proves that there is a great potential in the disposal of Eritreans if tapped properly. But the road was not paved with roses.

There were many challenges along the way: the relationship between the commission and the EDA (and the other political organization) has not been clearly articulated and that resulted in tensions which manifested  in the form of delaying the congress by one month. Meanwhile, many new political organizations mushroomed just before the days of the congress and they were accepted by the commission without any clear criteria. Some may be credible organizations that challenge the regime, but many are just one or two-person outfits  looking for a short cut to the leadership positions.

Close to 40 % of the participants were directly elected by the public while about 30 % were elected by the political organizations within the EDA and outside it. The rest were filled by the quotas given to youth, women, civic societies, veterans and prominent individuals invited with the hope of  reflecting the Eritrean diversity. As there were no clear criteria, some of those elected by the public were members of political organizations—and that increased the quota of the political organizations  who made use of it to increase the number of their representation—though it is important to note that some members of the political organizations in the Diaspora were among the most active members of the support groups.

Though the intention may have been to keep a balanced and diverse participation, in reality, some groups were overrepresented—and that clearly reflected the challenges that congress faced. The participants cannot claim that they represent the whole of Eritrea, but to a large extent they clearly reflect its diversity. It was with this background that the congress convened.

Those who attended the congress were those who supported it and those who became convinced along the way that it was a necessary exercise. They were those who actively oppose the regime, whether they are members of political organizations or not. Those who did not support the congress, and those who are against any close relationship with Ethiopia (the regime supporters and individuals who are closer to the regime than the opposition—the meskerem.nets and it satellites, and all those who do not recognize Eritrean diversity) cannot in any manner try to discredit the congress by claiming that our diversity was not reflected in the leadership or that there was no public participation. The issue of Daniel Tewolde just prior to the congress, gave the congress a little shaky start.

It is always easy to criticize in hindsight. The papers that were presented at the congress could have been made shorter, more precise and more focus could have been on the means of struggle (tactics and strategies) and on how to bring a democratic regime change in Eritrea. Also missing were some important documents assessing the current situation, defining the regime, as there were views clearly stipulating the enemies and allies and those in between, so as to design strategies on how to win more people. The congress could have made use of the strategies that were designed to address the media, the Diaspora and the youth at the seminar that was held in Addis Ababa in September of 2011. In no way should this be considered an undermining of the efforts exerted and time spent on preparing the various documents and discussing them. Its importance lies in what we can learn from it for the future.

The number of the participants, though it was beneficial to have so many people to attend, one can argue it could have been much lesser without compromising the diversity and the meetings could have been more effective. But the high number has its advantages and disadvantages.  It can be argued that having larger numbers of people gives new faces to attend, thus giving the struggle new blood. It also offers an opportunity for more interaction and helps prepare and identify future leaders.

The venue

By design or by chance, the venue was the capital of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) and it has excellent and superb facilities that accommodated such a big gathering. Politically, it represented the future we aspire to: an Eritrea where we can cherish, respect and enjoy our diversity and live at peace with each other and focus on improving the economy. Hawassa’s past relates to the current status of Eritrea which is ruled by a brutal dictatorship based on a one-people, one- language, one-cultural hegemony—just like in the case of Ethiopia under Haile Sellasie and later the Derg.

Before the EPRDF took power, the region was socially and economically one of the most disadvantaged areas in Ethiopia. People were even ashamed of their identity and changed their names to sound like those of the ruling class. As Hawassa has reclaimed its original name, in future democratic Eritrea, we spire to reclaim our identities, our old names, our history… and we will thrive. The few days that we stayed there taught us a lesson: if 56 nationalities and nations could live in peace and harmony, and thrive economically, why would we be scared that our different nationalities could live in peace and harmony, if their rights are respected constitutionally! Just like the SNNPR’s slogan, we will be more determined to echo, ‘Our diversity our beauty, our beauty our unity.’

The genuine and spontaneous warm reception given to us by the inhabitants was very touching. Hawassa with its rift valley lake is a tourist hub thanks to its many high class hotels, friendly people, and a warm environment—it deserves a visit. The food at the Haile Resort was varied, delicious and was served on time despite the large number of guests. When things tensed and the congress dragged on, a veteran opposition leader recalled Alamin Abdullatif’s song: ‘Seb ni khebdu teray ikonen vi nebir…’- people do not live just to eat. The venue provided the participants with a very conducive atmosphere to focus on issues of the congress.

Hawassa is about 270 Kms. Away from Addis Ababa and it n be reached by road in  about 3 ½ hours; and we witnessed  so much development along the road. In such a fast growing economies, perhaps the biggest challenge is combating corruption.

Thank you SNNPR. Thank you Hawassa for hosting the congress and for providing us with a valuable lesson on diversity. I also take this opportunity to thank the organizers for selecting Hawassa as a venue for the congress; it was an excellent choice.  And on the way back to Addis Ababa, we were invited for lunch by the Oromiya Regional State Government at Adama (formerly Nazret) where Mr. Abdullaaziiz Mahaammad, the vice-President of the Government gave us a warm reception.

The deliberations

As security of the congress was important, primarily for the safety of the participants, it took some time to register the large number of the attendants whose pictures were taken in order to prepare identification badges for them. As participants had paid for their own tickets, some uninvited individuals arrived at the venue to attend. This caused extra cautious in scrutinizing the participants and thus security was tight, but friendly. The purely procedural matters in the opening ceremony: checking the attendance, discussing the by-laws that govern the process of the congress. These are what took more time than necessary; but running the congress of around 600 attendants is not an easy task.

In the middle of all of that, conspiracy theories started to circulate claiming that there were forces who want to delay the congress so they can push through their agendas at the last minute. But the rumors evaporated as the congress started in a normal pace. The election of the 27-member secretariat to manage the congress raised representation issues in relation to Eritrean diversity. The issues highlighted some of our weaknesses on how we see and define diversity and how we view hegemony and exclusion. Few wanted to take us back to the narrow language of the forties and fifties.

Diversity is a much wider concept. The Muslims/Lowlanders are ethnically a very diverse group. The Highlanders/Christians also have their regional and denominational diversity issues. There are those who believe in traditional religions. There is also gender and age-group diversity. It is important that we always stay keen to reflect our diversity in the entities that we elect, irrespective of majority or minority votes, without compromising the quality of the end result. The positive aspect of the congress was that people were elected based on merit, not based on the group they belonged to. Determined to succeed, the congress attendants overcome the hurdles and moved forward to the real issues.

The congress was divided into 7 groups to discuss the papers presented by the commission. These included a National Political Charter, which is a contract on the political, economic and social goals, and programs that would lead us during the struggle for democratic change and the transitional period following the collapse of the Eritrean regime. The Road Map describes the coordinated mechanisms that should be used to bring about a democratic change in the political affairs, mobilizing people, media, diplomacy, economy, military and security affairs during the struggle period and immediately after regime change so that no vacuum is created. Another paper related to the size, structure and functions of a united opposition leadership that would be elected by the congress. These papers were discussed thoroughly and approved after improvements were made to them. As for the draft constitution for the transitional period, it was referred to the national council to be reviewed by experts and used as a reference document in the process of drafting a new constitution in Eritrea. These papers were available to the public at www.encdc.com prior to the congress. How we handled the issue of the draft constitution highlighted the maturity of the participants and their determination to succeed. There were some who saw that it was not the mandate of the congress to discuss a constitution, while many others saw that it was within the right of the congress to come up with a draft document.

Reflecting on the discussions, I personally feel that the main differences of opinion since the forties is on the issue of diversity: how do we define it? How do we view it, how do we want to manage it? And how do we relate it to our own group interests?

We have come a long way on this issue since the formation of the Eritrean National Alliance (ENA) and the discussions we had at the 2010 congress in Addis. The presence of the nationality-based organizations, the decentralized system of governance, the issue of self-determination which were considered taboo subjects a few years ago have now become part of the Eritrean political discourse. Yet, we need to work more on that. There are those of us who still believe that a centralized system of government, like the current one: ‘hade hizbi hade libi’ (one people, one identity) best protects their interests. Some genuinely believe that a democratic centralized system protects the unity of the country.

It is important that we look at our diversity as a blessing and that the more we manage our diversity, not only in theory but in practice, and on the recognition of rights and on a decentralized system, we will have far-lasting peace and development. We need to see that as a tool to protect the interests of all entities equally. As far as I am concerned, the draft transitional constitution presented at the congress (despite its flaws and questions about its legitimacy) is the first of its kind that addresses the issue of diversity and how we can manage it.

Here are my observations that I thought are worth mentioning. Almost every one wants to speak even if only to repeat what was already  said. It also seems that we have produced cadres who have become experts in just procedural points such as point of order, clarification, question, addition, etc. It is difficult to pursue discussions with such unnecessary hindrances. Some abuse these procedural points just to be able to get the chance to speak believing that they have the best solutions and feel they have the right to be heard whenever they raise their hands.

To be continued….

In Part II, I will look into the process of electing the leadership, the role of Ethiopia, the positive aspects and the shortcomings of the outcome and the way forward.

moh.kheir33@hotmail.com

About Dr. Mohammed Kheir

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  • wed-keren

    Although talking about the low and highlands issue is important however we forgot to discuss the biggest issue of the secession to be put in the constitution which was upheld by all participants!!!
    How we can trust the oppositions who have no hesitation in accepting the secession?
    Why the kunamas and afar need to have their own groups?have they been treated differently from the other eritrean,be it in good or bad way?
    I think the doctor needs to answer these questions before concluding the congress as a successful.

  • Ali

    As president, Obama’s slogan states, Yes, We CAN!

    I am confident that WE can remove DIA at any time.

  • Donsar Beniraza

    Johar or Younis, where is your lung’s democracy? Let this note of mine stay as commented and don’t delete it. And thank you very much.

    You have now three Eritrean Camps: Camp Awassa Eritrea or “Rabita al-Islamiya Eritrea Plus Mahber Andnet Eritrea” Camping in Mother Ethiopia, Camp PFDJ Eritrea or “Camp Mahber Andnet Eritrea” Camping in Mother Eritrea, and Camp Independent Eritrea or “Camp Eritrea for Eritreans” Camping in nowhere:-)

    …….. I am out of all these and have now retired from all that talk and no results till the Eritrean Notion starts to properly funcion.

    Donsar Solomon Beniraza

    • awatestaff

      Donzar,
      You wrote: “I am out of all these and have now retired from all that talk and no results till the Eritrean Notion starts to properly funcion.”

      Out means out! Why get bother to get involved in something you abhor, something you declare you are out from? let those who are not out do what they have to do. Just save them your insults.

  • Samhrai

    I am really proud and trusted on all Eritrean people without differentiate between religion , sex , faction and tripe . because we achieved our goals which was drafted by our own people , desire contriptution of all and challenged the difficulty , our main goal was to achieve self assert as a nation , to determined our future by our own way , since we are leaving in one boundary . have a common problem and encountering risk of existence as a nation .
    Lets go away from the sick mind of conspiracy, if a Muslim rule the country the Christian will be crashed or if a tigree ruled the country the triginia or other faction will lose it position , be trusted and sure hence , we are leaving on the same geographical location , if we failed to manage our self that means we are disqualified to remain as country and member of the world community .
    Remember , In past foreigners played on us a game and put us under federal administration with Ethiopia , due to the allegation that we are not qualified to rule and manage our own country and affair .
    some of our people believed the theory and thought in joining Ethiopia , would be safest , achieve their wishes and they will gain the power to expel their our brothers from their own land
    I remind every Eritrean that all of us paid the cost of liberty of our county , those who was in favor to join Ethiopia and those who against . in fact the cost we paid to gain our right is precious and deserve our people to leave in pace , dignity and integrity , that is enough of enough to be refuge ,
    we have to feel proud being Eritrean by achieve administration based on justice and equality guaranteed by low , self sufficient in all sectors of life as human being and share the world community by our contriptution to satisfy human needs and prosperity
    I believe that we are more matured and experiences to evaluate how much , property , life , dignity and time lost up to date ,
    we have to avoid confusing our self in issues that will bring our people retardation and country back word progress , Let our people have a chance to elect his own representative , let our people abided , respected and protected by low , let our people determined their own will without intimidation and interference in their own future
    I believe that we are matured and experienced enough to review all our pass history . starting from 1950 to 2011, I am sure that we will manage our issue because its part of self assert , we have to come together and bring our difference on table of discussion to find out solution long and short range difference which its consequence have bad adverse in our future as a nation
    it true we can’t change and convince other to convert their believe , but we can work together to achieve our common interest and avoid risk which will engulf us as a nation .
    This is new life starting point I wish to engage in promise to create bright future for lover once

  • I guess this Dr. Kheir is a happy man of the devopment and fast growing economy in Ethiopia (His words)…and when you hear majority of the Local Ethiopian, the say differently, when you look at Poorest countries in the Wordl List, Ethiopia comes as the second poorest country beating only Mali…Moreover “Who the hell is this Dr. Keir? Where he comes from? Has he ever contributed anything to the fight for the liberation and development of the country? Is he one of the so called newly elected Leaders of this socalled New Opp. org.? What i can see you guys you’re just a waist of time.

    • kokhob

      Why you and your like talk of a person instead of the idea? And about Ethiopia? you should know where Ethiopia was before this government come to power. Now I don’t know Personally doctor,but what I know is all what he said really truth. I agree with PFDJ supporters that this government is modified TPLF. but what I wonder is how TPLF has managed to handle Ethiopia. it is not because they have more experience than PFDJ but it is their principle that let them succeed. Ethiopia in 1991 had 2 or 3 universities today you know how much? not double or 5 times but more than 23. Eritrea had one university today zeroooooo. just talk statistics in hand don’t keep in blaming and calming. I know the development of Ethiopia is more than we imagined but that is the reality.

      And then I prefer to be happy and rich like what you pictured doctor than to be QOMAL PFDJ supporter.

  • Salma

    this is a waste of time. Eritrean oppostion will never bring peace in Eritrea. If anthing happen with the Eritrean government we trust more the one who are in Eritrea, not to the colebrating with the enemies of Eritrea or diaspora.

    • tek beyene

      I am totally impressed by superb account of the Eritrean National Congress by a patriotic and democratic mind of Dr. Mohamed khier. The minds of people like salma, can never prove to the puplic the logic of their belief and thinking, because it is a result of brainwashing by pfdj.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Laziness is the worst enemy. Someone has to wake up even in the middle of the night if he has to go to toilet. You don’t have to blame others just you because you don’t want to wake up and do the natural experience. Your enemy is the right in your stomach.

      Smerrrrrrrrrrrrr

  • sara

    the writing on the wall is crystal clear, what Ethiopia is up-to…….why are we crying wolf…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    thanks Mr/Dr khair… at least your English (writing) is superb…

    • Kokhob Selam

      Sara, Dr.Khair is not only good writer. Knowledge is everywhere and you may find people who talk and write more than this bold and intelligent citizen. The best what I love from this man is his stand for truth. Wisdom is what matters, although knowledge is important. Didn’t we see good writers but who are serving PFDJ? Didn’t we see Dr.Haile Fida during Derg Era? Didn’t we see Endalkachew Mekonen who was the minster of Heilselase. What has knowledge that will not serve its own people? What is knowledge if it is not for better advanced world. So, please don’t deny doctors truthfulness and greatness.

  • Aifarah

    I do not understand that why some people like hawna Teshaye who is mentally manipulated by the theory of Nenhnan Elamnan think that the highland of Eritrea is composed of Chirstians only, assuming Eritean lowland for Muslims and Highland for Chirstians. We the Saho and Jebertis are the inhabitants of the highland Eritrea and we do not allow any to ignore our presence in the highland. It is worthmentioning here that we moslems and chirstians have been living togethe in harmony and peace since our forefathers founded there. We will remain together despite the implementation of divide and rule system has become the law of the land.

    • wedi Adem

      Aifarah
      You said all ” we Moslems and Christians live together in harmony and peace”. The person Never know if he is true Eritrean or not. I do not think he knows we have Christian cousins In our ethnic groups. So better ignore Idiots like him who never learn and accept Eritrean Society.

  • I tell ya DIA days are Numberd. and i hope sooon very sooon DIA will go to hell and swim with his uncle Gaddafi so that our ppl can move forward to development with full of democracy and freedom. Down with DIA and his dogs, Long Live Eritrean ppl. God bless Eritrea.)

  • we will build democratic Eritrea.Smerrrrrrrr.

  • Kokhob Selam

    PFDJ is in trouble and in hardest times in it’s history because of this congress. PFDJ could continue cheating still with all world complains and sanctions. But with this new development and with this strong base (foundation) of democracy they are in more mess and don’t know what to do. Meskerem net and others I think are told to write about constitution and other questions those days as if they are for democracy to attract some nice people . they are deeply talking on what to do. There is a lot of movements going on like trying to convince Ethiopia for solutions even if the hand over read sea. The moral PFDJ is in worst situation. they are trying to give different names against our congress through there hidden agencies. this all will not give result, change is a must. Smerrrrrrrrrrr

  • Freeprisoners

    አንቲ ምሕረቱ ጓል ሃብቱ
    ምሕረቱ
    ግጥምኺ ጥዑም ብቓላቱ
    ጽሑፍኪ ርጡብ ብፍጥረቱ
    ኣብ ሓንጎል ዝሓድር ረፋቲቱ
    ኣይትጋገይ’ባ ብሓድአፊቱ
    ድሮ’ኮ ሓዚኑ ህዝቢ ኣብ መርየቱ
    ድሮ’ሓዚና ኣደ ብጊሓቱ
    ዲክታቶራት ኩሎም ተዝመቱ
    ሰላም ምኾነት ዓለምና ብምሸቱ

    • MEHRETU HABTE

      ምሕረቱ ከም ኣለም ሽም ጓልን ሽም ወድን እዩ። ኣነ ተባ ዕታይ እየ። ቀንዲ ግን እቲ መልእኽቲ እዩ ዘድሊ፣ thank you

  • FAUZI SAAD

    I congratulate Dr. Mohd. khier for the well written article, it is no wonder that still there are same among us who does not want things to go right, nor changes to come, as far as Christian numbers is considered there was good will from both sides, every day Eritreans are abandoning the regime and that will bring the balance, however it is simple natural for those who are affected more to fight more. It is not surprising phenomena, the injustice fallen was not equal between Muslims and Christians, however, in time I believe history will repeat itself and highlanders will join the opposition in great numbers as they did in 1975, the game is not over yet, there is a long way to go, and I believe we have put a good foundation for the future in this conference for all of us. I wonder were Mr. Mogos got his information about Australia and the number of Eritrean Christians as majority. I could only inform him that he is wrong, the majority are Muslims and for more information they are from KEREN, and there was one Chiristian female delegate from Australia, as far as Sudan is considered it seems to me that neither Mogos nor Tsahaye has been to Sudan. The majority of residents of Kasalla, Port Sudan, Gadarif are Eritreans from the lowlands: the BENI AMER, MARIA, HABAB and some SAHO tribes who fled in 1967 and still live in Sudan. It is important for all of us to have the right information before writing and creating suspicions in the mind of others, we should be positive and get involved to contribute according to our ability. But sitting on the fences and pointing fingers at others does not solve our problem.
    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    • Dear Fauzi,

      Because the despot is from the Christian doesn’t mean the injustices tips towards the Muslim. Equally, because the Christian didn’t participate in the congress in equal number of the Muslims doesn’t either reflect that the Muslin are the only at the forefront of the struggle.The demonstrations in the western world especially in Europe and North America and the active participation of the youth to organize through the social media shows otherwise. Please don’t go to statistic which is not provable by the way. The problem is clearly the mistrust of the public towards the traditional political organizations. Please avoid these unrealistic argument, it only affect the healing and bridging process.

  • Look who is crying for not being included? If you are a member of biher Tigrigna you had to go and claim your place. No body is going to pull you with your neck and include you. Do You oppose the regime? Do you want to fight it? Then go to where the oppositionis and join.
    To say you do not want the opposition and then cry foul for not being included is total stupidity. And you (Tsehaye and Mogos) are the only stupid persons to miss that.

  • rastaman

    Very informational. Can’t wait to read the rest of the report. I will give my comment at the end of your report.

  • MEHRETU HABTE

    ምሕረቱ ሃብተ
    “ሞት ገረገረ ናብ ገስገስቲ እኳ ተሳገረ ”

    ኣይትሓዙኒ ካብ ቅድመይ ተኣለዩ
    ኡይ ክብልየ ጸጕረይ ተላጽዩ
    ንብዓተይ ከም ውሕጅ ብናህሪ ተኻዕዩ
    ይርኣየካ ካብ ኣስመራ ኣማዕድዩ
    ቀውዒ ዓረብ ኣፍሪቃ ተራእዩ
    ንበሽር ኣል ኣሳድ ብናዕቢ ኣጃጅዩ
    ሙባረክ ኣብ ካርሸሊ ደርብዩ
    ብሞት ባባ ጋዳፊ ኣጽሕዩ
    Kim Jong Il እኳ ትሕቲ መሬት ኣትዩ
    ንታሕቲ ከይወርድ ኤርትራውያን ጸልዩ
    ብማዕቀብ ኣምሲሎም ንባባ ኢሳያስና ከይሃስዩ
    ንዘኽታም ኣደን ንመንእሰይ ወዲ ሃገርን ከየጕህዩ
    “ገስገስቲ” መራሕቲ ዘይእዋኖም ዶ መጺኡ !!!!!

    ኤይ ኤይ ኤይ midispiace ብቛንቋ ጥልያን ዶ ክበኽየልኩም….ኤይ ኤይ ኤይ
    mejor que llore en español,
    Kiswahili pia ,Mungu yangu…….

  • wedi Adem

    You said it nicely. We are on the beginning of the journey to reach there . Our culture and traditions
    teaches love and respect but sadly is high jacked by HGDF mendef. It is time to get rid these cancer
    from our land and get back our integrity.

    • guys, you admit that you’re just bigginers and we’ve done already half of the road…By the way Awassa is a very good place for enjoiment, entertainment… i guess you better do not lose this opportunity, coz’ when your xxxxxxx Meles is gone, you’ll never have the chance to see neither Addis or Gambela..

  • Those observations you metioned have had always part of us since our struggle started, hopefully we will put an attention to to alert whoever is doing it knows we are aware of it so it will be minimized.

  • Mogos Tekeste

    This does not represent nor reflect the Eritrean society and the Eritrean resistance for four major accounts. And as such, I wish you good luck but I do not believe this will go anywhere. It is another lost cause. In fact it will more polarize the Eritrean resistance.

    First, it appears that it is purposely designed to exclude Christian highlanders. And then it has the audacity to claim the it is diverse and that it represents the Eritrean people. This is far from the truth. Just to give a simple example, if I am to hazard a guess, I bet there are more Christians than Muslims in Australia, and yet not a single Christian was in the Congress. Is it because all the Christians in Australia are pro PFDJ? Unlikely, there must be other unhealthy issues at play. This is how it appears. It pains me to bring up this issue. But one of the main squabbles of some writers at the Awate is that the Muslims are underrepresented in the PFDJ. Point well taken, though it always boggles my mind why Muslims want a representation in a very dictatorial system that is oppressing Christians and Muslims alike. It is like the Jews protesting that they were not represented in the Nazi regime or the Black South Africans complaining that they were not represented in the Apartheid regime. But supposedly in a “liberal democratic” Congress where it appears that the representation in quality as well quantity of Christian Highlanders is purposely suppressed speaks volumes of those who wield the upper hand of power in the Congress. This appears there is no interest in creating a secular liberal democratic society in Eritrea rather it appears some want a Muslim society with its own power base and a Christian society with its power base. This is to weaken Eritrea which Ethiopia will be glad to see.

    Second, I do not recognize any names who are in the forefront of the struggle against the PFDJ but who were associated with the EPLF at one time. This appears to me a deliberate design to exclude ex EPLF liberal democrats. Some are still living in the era of the armed struggle. (It looks an old ELF Congress and not an inclusive Eritrean Congress.)
    Third, the PFDJ is in power for many reasons. One is that some believe that there is no alternative organization that has a clear message that appeals to their sense of fairness, justice and the rule of law. For example, the implementation of the ratified constitution appeals to many Eritreans who are associated with the PFDJ and those who are not associated with PFDJ. Yet the Congress did not address this Eritrean issue. In fact, I guess the majority o f Eritreans is for the implementation of the ratified constitution in particular those who are inside Eritrea. The Congress failed on this important point.

    Fourth, The PFDJ will eventfully fall; if nothing else of its own deadweight. When that time comes it is the people who are inside Eritrea who are to decide on the way forward for Eritrea not the ones who met at Ethiopia or those who are in Diaspora. This seems to be to be lost among those who met in Ethiopia.

    Fifth, the burning issue right now in Eritrea is the United Nations sanctions on Eritrea. This item was not discussed in the Congress. This means the Congress has no idea on how to exploit this god send gift in toppling the PFD regime. This clearly shows its failure since it was more consumed on how to come to power and not on how to tackle the daily civil liberties issue of the Eritrean people.

    • Why is it a always an issue of christian highlanders ? Is it because they are breakers or makers ? Even though the MAJORITY of Eritrean people are non-christian highlanders. In the world of change…where every Dog has his Day. Let us give a chance to our beloved Eritrea to be Led once by Diverse Muslims or Lowland Christians. If this doesn’t work . Then we can debate who is Fit to Rule Eritrea. As Muslim Highlander i will go for….!!!

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Mr. Mogos, I have been following all Pro-PFDJ sites and intellectuals deeply those days and most of your words are similar to those puppets. first and for most we are in deferent era where people are working for real unity more than before. Although our history is full of struggle for unity, it has never caught the correct path except on those few years and the congress was the first democratic elements gathered and organized to make the first foundation. What makes different from our history meetings is explained above by doctor. And ended What Awate.com was dreaming since long time has become a reality . Because if you notice reconciliation has taken place and the biggest portion is completed here if you see it carefully . And the most wonderful job accomplished is that no party or individual or ethnic group and religion can say I don’t have representative and the common ground is furnished which of course we need more strength with my and yours participation. Yet, it is the system and the guide book where we all are interested about . People in here were talking face to face and have reached to common interest. So please don’t exploit religion or high land low land matter at all. In fact the most and creative development and inspiring climate was the role of orthodox religion. This was the religion where all enemies use to use in kneeling down Eritrea but the role of the leaders on this congress was the stronger:- means the development is full of victory. The words of orthodox leader in this congress was very much higher to extent the congress was successful from the first day if you hear him talking. That was truth.

      Regarding the sanction, what do you expect the congress to discuss? Should they oppose it? In fact the world didn’t make this sanction to benefit the opposition directly. It is PFDJ’s policy to ward the world that causes it. Only by replacing PFDJ the world will be in peace. Opposition parities and our people in general have been under sanction always.
      Those G13,OR G15 are also represented in here. Don’t forget although we appreciate their effort for reform, but it is clear today even G 5 million can’t reform in Eritrea with PFDJ.

      I will like to invite you to be part of the solution and assure you we are inside and outside. The motto is Smerrrrrrrrrrrrr. The high rank Generals and all our people are watching and planing and they will surprise you soon. why not be with mass instead of searching reasons not to be.

  • Mohamed Kheir

    Some important documents MISSING were our assessment of the current situation, description of the regime, clearly stipulating the enemies and the friends and those in between so as to design strategies on how to win more people to our side.

    Please, note that the word ‘Missing’ is deleted in the text which gives the impression we discussed these papers. I have asked the editor to correct it.

  • Tsahaye

    Let me start with the following statement the author has stated in order to sugar-coat exclusion of highland Eritreans from being represented fairly at the meeting and in the leadership of the congress: “Those who did not support the congress, and those who are against any close relationship with Ethiopia (the regime supporters and individuals who are closer to the regime than the opposition—the meskerem.nets and it satellites, and all those who do not recognize Eritrean diversity) cannot in any manner try to discredit the congress by claiming that our diversity was not reflected in the leadership.”

    So the deceit goes on. In stead of admitting that the meeting in Ethiopia was a total failure and by no means represented the true diversity of Eritreans, he has poorly tried to convince us that it was. He has also contradicted himself several times in his article when he described what diversity means. The following are some of the questions that many Eritreans are asking you to tell them:

    1. Why was Daniel Tewelde illegally removed from the ENCD leadership and then banned from participating in the meeting while those who violated his rights were allowed?

    2. There are as many highland Eritrean refugees in the Sudan as there are Muslim Eritreans, there are thousands more in the Middle East and Australia. How come there was no single individual among those who came to the meeting from these destinations?

    3. Diversity is not just the inclusion of diverse opinions when it comes to Eritreans. The most important thing is a fair representation of highland and low land Eritreans. Why was the elected secretariat not reflective of the Eritrean realities? Why is the congress dominated by Eritrean Muslims? You have been accusing the PFDJ regime for dominating Eritrea with one ethnic group (the highlanders), and now you are defending the most exclusionary practice since the ELF just because you own it.

    4. Eritreans are asking you to reveal the names, political affiliations and place of residence of all the people that had participated at the meeting so that they can have a clear understanding of how fair the whole process was.

    Stop blaming meskerem.net and others for exposing your true nature. It will not help you to creep towards you political goal an inch a year.

    • “Stop blaming meskerem.net and others for exposing your true nature. It will not help you to creep towards you political goal an inch a year.”

      Selam Tsahaye, or should I say TsaTse? Believe it or not, Meskerem.net is not only the mouthpiece of PFDJ and EPDP but the worst thing is that they also are dividing our people and causing hate. So, we, the peace loving Eritreans, are the ones who exposed them. Meskerem.net is a confused rag tag PFDJ website. No more, no less. Period. As aftertaste, one can see what they answered to this: http://meskerem.websitetoolbox.com/post/THE-CONSTITUTION-OF-ERITREA-5631508 “They are not going to find it in Awassa. Are they?”
      It would have been right to say: “the PFDJ constitution is dead because it doesn’t represent the majority of the Eritrean society. So a new constitution is needed” That is the truth and not what they wrote.
      Anyway, the sling around the neck of your dictator Isaias Afewerki is getting tighter and tighter. Don’t wonder if he stifles one day. Long life and success to our elected politicians of the ENCDC Congress.

      Peace.

      • Kokhob Selam

        “Meskerem.net is not only the mouthpiece of PFDJ and EPDP but the worst thing is that they also are dividing our people and causing hate”
        Thank you brother Exciter for watching in all movements of those garbages . but when are they going to learn? I thought they will come to their sense after this congress instead they still work toward this negative road for no result.

    • Mehari Mesghina

      Dear Dr. Kheir
      Thanks for the objective assessment of the Congress. I believe it is a good start and in the right direction. I believe national constitution should be written by the Eritrean people after the despot is gone. Constitution is not an issue right now, the issue at hand is the elimination of the prison ward in Eritrea. I believe what was lacking from the previous organizations was a clear actionable policies and measurable steps. My expectation from your organization is to connect the missing link, namely an actionable policies to get rid of the so called government in Eritrea.
      Thank you
      Hawka Mehari

  • The article has dealt well in a balanced and objective way with all aspects of the events describing the realistic picture of what has taken place and in their proper context and perspective . It was a panoramic review of events that I as a witness fully agree with the author and congratulate him for his ability to convey in a simple way an authentic view of the Congress?

  • hf

    You have said it in a nutshell -good job