Inform, Inspire, Embolden. Reconcile!

THE U-TURN SPIRIT

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Some friends have suggested that we need a clear path and a focus on issues this time and proposed that I make a little introduction as a regular contributor.

Also bowing the my good friend SY, here is what I thought any good friend would want to know:

  • I was born to a mother and a father in Eritrea.
  • I grew up and went to school in Sudan and did a bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of Khartoum – graduated in 1994.
  • I went back to Eritrea same year and worked – the last one being at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • I did the 9th round of the national service and was sent back to finish my service at the MFA.
  • In 2001 I went along with the students who were sent to South Africa for an MA in Economics at the University of the Western Cape but had to leave (to Canada) before finishing and graduating.
  • I tried to go back to school and managed to do an MA in Human Security & Peacebuilding from the Royal Roads University in Canada.
  • Politically I used to be a member of the General Union of Eritrean Students (very few may still remember very little about it) until its dissolution in mid eighties and was a member of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students until I left Eritrea in 2001 – two of the most amazing mass organizations that I am very proud to have been associated with.
  • You may also add that I spent at least a week as an active member of almost every Eritrean opposition organization in existence

Back to topic!

I have been reading the comments and discussion to the previous article: SY summarized the previous debates very well (I have nothing to add) – Emma set the tone for the next period and for all I would have to say in a single sentence that (paraphrased) “what matters isn’t in whether we would have this regime or the other but in good administration and governance of whatever we have” – Semere and NITRIC framed the spirit of how we should proceed (paraphrased) “concentrate on solutions and good assumption of one another.” SG practically stayed out of it but (being his nom de guerre) I should be able to read his mind: “kab meEgergerti teTenqequ”. The others that I have not mentioned including Hayat, Haile, Ghezae and others have also raised tough questions, whose answers I cannot claim to know and hope would be answered through our debates based on the assumption of good in everything Eritrean.

Brother Semere Tesfai seemed to have a bit of the bashing (please give him more) for all the crazy things he had said in some of his articles and here I will try to find him an excuse (diHri Hiji gn teQoTeb).

I think what we all do when we take time to write our ideas and make arguments is like painting (not that I know anything about painting). Mind you – WE ALL (from tanika-moulded PFDJ to Gangman-style opposition) HAVE THE SAME THING IN MIND: AN ERITREA THAT WE CAN BE PROUD TO CALL HOME. Simple because we have no choice (as no other human being does as far as I can imagine), we discuss the same thing in three dimensions. Change the name “dimension” if you chose or add others if you will: (a) we describe what a perfect prototype Eritrea is the way we conceive it; (b) we describe what the actual Eritrea on the ground is or looks like; (c) we propose ways of bridging the gap between the two.

Imagine someone, say you, making the simplest argument in just one sentence and decide to propose that: “Skalu Menqerios is a woman” (you could pick any other name or even use a pronoun – it is just an example). Then we will assume that your projection of the other two dimensions is implicit in your statement:

(a) You told us what you saw and decided it was a woman.

(b) The prototype of “woman” looks like what you see (i.e. if you ever wish for a woman, what you see is what you will get), and you know no other prototypes (since you have not said anything more).

(c) By not adding any qualifiers to your sentence, you are saying there is no difference between what that woman is and what a woman is supposed to be. Of course, by using the article “a” you are also telling us that, “she is not alone” and that “there could be millions of them out there” (and you say fear-mongering?).

If you add any qualifiers to the sentence, such as “Skalu Menqerios is a beautiful woman”, then you are making assumptions about the difference between the prototype woman and the actual woman and implying possibilities of bridging the gap between the two.

No one can write any argument in less than (at least) those three dimensions without either explicitly writing or implying some assumption about the other dimensions (go ahead and try to write a one-dimensional argument). Give the article to any reader and voila, you will see the three dimensions either “teKhodimom” or “tegadimom”. These projections are present in anything that anyone can ever say in the context of debating. I think what makes debating endless fun is this enormous capacity of simple words to hide extensive internalized knowledge and experience (and therefore meaning), that would allow every Tom & Jerry (Gadi’s Idea – yelokhulan) to make very plausible scenarios about how you might have managed to know, prototype and compare that, “Skalu Menqerios is a woman” (aymeslekan?).

In doing so – as far as I can imagine – each of us along with T&J (individuals and groups alike) have only two (not less and not more) ways of making an argument. The two choices of technique are:

1. USE DARK TO SHOW LIGHT:

True to the tradition of our “opposition”, we all use dark to show light. In an integrated picture, we almost exclusively concentrate on showing the bad in our opponents in the hope that people will see the good in us (i.e. as a means to an end). Of course, there are those for whom showing the bad in others is an end in itself (the subject of the paragraphs below). In our obsession to prove that the PFDJ regime is wrong (and hence leading people to believe that we are right), the overwhelming tendency is to attribute to the regime everything that shows up in the bad news media. I think what brother Semere Tesfai, myself and the majority of our great writers did was exactly the same. Deep in our arguments all the demonization of the other was seeded to cultivate in readers the capacity to choose the proposed solution by warning them that the alternative was far worse.

To make these arguments convincingly you need a few fixed non-negotiable (obviously irrational) assumptions like those that we have come to accept as true. For example, the proposition that “THERE IS ONLY ONE KILLER IN ERITREA AND IT IS NOT GOD”, used to explain away everything and leave unanswered only “why the PFDJ decided to kill X?” If it happens that some government official, for instance, has died of natural cause, we get confused and run out of words, as was the case with the great Wuchu (may he rest in peace).

Foundational propositions, such as, “THERE IS A ROOT CAUSE TO EVERY DISASTER” are used to attribute every catastrophe to the PFDJ. I know making statements like this in light of so many sad incidents might sound insensitive, but I believe it is the most sensitive thing to do. The intention is to reach a common understanding in ways that contribute real value to efforts dealing with real horrors. We will come to the complexity of humanitarian challenges in our diaspora in separate articles later on. For the sake of the point that I would try to make, let us think of a simple scenario.

Some crazy person treats his wife like a slave and maintains a “slave camp” in his backyard. On a daily basis, she wakes up to “doolla” and sleeps to “shamooT”. He starves her to death and gambles with the neighbors. He promises a lot and delivers nothing but disasters and horrors. Is she not justified to run away for her life? Well she does! Things do not work out. Sadly, on her way to a safe place, a drunk driver hits her and she passes away. If you were a lawyer, or a person with some decency and honesty, and would genuinely like to help by making sure that somebody accounts for her death, and pedestrians who survived get some help, what would you do? Would you go after the drunk driver and traffic police and the bystanders who did not help, or would you go after the abusive husband because he was the root cause of all this?

Let us think of a different root cause, where the husband was actually a sweetheart who insists on one “kutsha” next the one he had just stolen from the neighbor’s wife. She wakes up to a kiss and goes to bed in a hug or does the chicken dance in the dream gardens in the backyard. Early one Valentine morning she decides to pick him a red flower. Sadly, on her way to the flower shop, a drunk driver hits her and she passes away.  If you were the same philanthropist, would the root cause still matter? To be honest – if you were the root-cause philanthropist – all you cared about was to use the poor woman’s cause to incriminate the abusive husband on something that had nothing to do with the horrible accident and the immediate victim. Do not get me wrong – there is no cause nobler than going after abusive husbands – but why fish in dirty waters?

I mean no disrespect spoiling my New-Born state with sinful acts (and my deepest apologies to brother Woldeyesus Amar and the rest of the EPDP for any misrepresentations and offensiveness in my previous articles), but this video (start at 5:20 to 10:00 mark) shows one organization (by no means the only), that has internalized and taken for granted so many of these irrational propositions to be true, and hence acceptable without question, stating without reservation or shame pure meanness as primary foreign policy objectives: (a) depriving the PFDJ of popular support at home and abroad; (b) depriving the PFDJ of any benefits flowing from other countries. I know many of you agree with them and are surprised about the extent of my U-Turn, but please continue to read as I try to show what I believe to be the source of what I see as policy inconsistencies.

2. USE LIGHT TO SHOW DARK:

The PFDJ (you may say, “along with all regimes that have an interest in overlooking the horrors they have caused”) follows this technique in making the case for the Eritrea that we all dream about. Watch Eritrean Television and PFDJ media for a few days and you are on a U-Turn: if not fully convinced, at least seriously entertaining the FACT that it might not be as bad as you had always thought. Apart from digging holes or carrying rocks in the government’s propaganda section, you will see unbelievably good people, like Adey Abeba (I guess), who funds and I believe runs programs for blind and deaf kids year after year – just for the heck of it and irrespective of the “root causes”. You will see kids, who obviously have no idea what a root cause is, reaching out to the best of their imagination to answer simple questions; women smiling just for learning to write “weridooni”; and lots of people tired but proud building dirt roads connecting nowhere to nowhere. If you tune in at the right time, you may see some snow in Asmara for a change.

Would you make a U-Turn – and a U-Turn from what? I did a U-Turn on the method and not the substance of the struggle for change in Eritrea. There is no need to make a U-Turn on substance. In fact, the PFDJ (and everything under its mandate inside and outside the country) is the only Eritrean entity that is actually directly involved in a struggle for change in Eritrea: we change the regime and they change the people. We may not agree on whether their change is different from our change but it is change nonetheless. Even if you manage to argue that the actual outcome of their change is horrible, you would not be able to disagree with the principle that they think, just like we do, that they aim towards a better Eritrea not a worse one.

To make a U-Turn on the method of struggle for change, we need one core assumption: THAT ALL PEOPLE PURSUE THEIR GOALS TO THE BEST OF THEIR INTENTIONS. This assumption might seem unfounded as it seems to assume away all evil intentions from the politics of our relationship to others. It is actually at the core of the conception of “Utility” in social sciences. Rational individuals (read chapter one) in economics are selfish agents who maximize their own utility with the core and only purpose of satisfying their own needs not with the mean purpose of hurting others. In no way does economics or any social science that I can think of, as far as I know, presume pointless meanness in human beings. Meanness may be a by-product of economic behavior that probably arises as a problem at the level of the distribution of benefits, but even in those cases, I believe, it should be seen as a strategy that can be justified by rational humans rather than an end in itself. The condition of “maximization” as a characteristic of rational agents is only another way of stating that economic agents pursue utility exclusively for the good contained in it and they do so to a point that leaves no doubt of under-exploited rationality.

Help me if it does not make sense, but I suppose meanness, as an end in itself cannot be assumed even in the worst of criminals. Things that can stand trial in a court of law and the court of public opinion in any decent society are those that are capable of rational thinking, and causes that are worthy of the administration of justice. The reason that there are court proceedings with a focus on establishing evidence of deed or intention is because we have to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that there are rational, reasonable and believable calculations involved in committing an offense or breach of the law. People on whom such rationality cannot be assumed implying that the meanness involved in the crime was pursued as an end in itself, are referred for psychiatric assessment and society does not care if they get away with their crimes no matter how horrible they might be.

You may be wondering why I would be making such an obvious statement – but to your surprise and mine – there are actually people who have tried very hard to prove the insanity and pure sadistic meanness on the very person they are suing for horrible crimes. No smart lawyer with the least common sense would do that if he/she cares one bit about the cause of his/her victims. It is a loosing strategy because it contravenes the basic sense of justice in any society. No self respecting community can tolerate any form of coercion whether carried out at the level of personal initiative in contexts of voluntary transaction or administered as legal punishment representing collective will or employed for PR purposes to promote specific interests of political groups, taking place against people that society considers irrational by nature or incapable of rational reason.

Do not take this as an obsession with newfound wisdom, but this links to the concepts promoted in the previous article. As the example where the assumption of meanness cannot exist without also assuming limitations on the capacity of the person or thing concerned to make rational judgment implied, these assumptions apply at the level of intentions (i.e. means) not on ends. In a community where the logic of incrimination drove backwards from ends to means and intention, i.e. where the intention could be implied from the extent of damage done, every crime would have to be accounted for, including those committed by individuals who would be well deserved to plead “not guilty” on the basis of insanity.

Such a society does not exist and if it does or did exist, it must be on its way to extinction because such is the beauty of God’s creation of men that if not acted upon by external forces, always strives for the best in the human spirit. Hence the consequence of what you do is irrelevant in the precautionary devises (such as the law) of a just society, as such devises should be designed to control excesses and deviations in the presumed intentions of individuals and groups in that society. Where the presumed profiles of members of that society exhaust all the factors that predict the acts and behaviors of rationality, it can be safely assumed that any consequences that do not match our expectations of that society were caused by forces beyond the control of a just society. This is true because irrational members (those whose profiles do not fit the definitions of rationality), who may also cause deviations in the expected outcomes, are not worthy of trial and are therefore natural disturbances that any perfectly designed humanly system should expect and accept (in Arabic you may call them “Museeba”).

It is this natural constitution of men’s behavior that the greatest philosophers blended as the “invisible hand” that regulates society and produces order, respect and dignity in the hypothetical society of men presumed equal in their capacity to pursue the improvement of the state of their utility to the maximum. It is true that societies have found the invisible hand of natural order crippled by considerations of differentials in men’s capabilities to maximize giving rise to suboptimal social order where the distribution of opportunities, liberties and protection cannot be justified by the assumption of rationality in men. It is also true that restrictions to the rational character of men can be justified on the grounds of guaranteeing the incidence of the just society at the level of outcomes where actual justice is experienced. You may add to this the utilitarian rule of thumb, (underlying the conception of voting democracies – elaborated in SG’s comments to the previous article) that the closest that any humanly system of social order can come is by assuming sufficiency where the good in society can be maximized to fit the constraint of “the greatest good for the greatest number”.

Under no condition may we, however, assume away the objective existence of the good society of well-intentioned rational men because this natural law is inherent in all forms of relationships regulating interest-driven interactions among men. Where any form of sustained patterns of interpersonal relationship is observed, some variation of that natural constitution of men must be assumed. Where such a society of men is constituted through a long history of cooperation and competition in horrible wars and bloody negotiations, as is the case with the PFDJ, it is safe to assume that a more complex social contract regulated by some form of constitution balanced with many sticks and a few carrots does exist. It may not be a written and explicitly codified constitution, but a constitution nevertheless, and a much more sustainable one by virtue of its proximity to the natural order of rationality.

Claims surrounding the “unimplemented” Eritrean constitution, therefore, should be rephrased for its proponents to evade absurdity and ridicule – as the proposition that “Eritrea does not have a constitution” is one that only an ignorant and bigot or a rationally deceitful politician can promote with a straight face. What the “constitution crowd” is demanding isn’t “Eritrea should implement THE constitution” but “THIS Constitution”. That probably is why such demands are always qualified by reference to the year of ratification (1997).

To be honest with you again – you should be glad it ended up where it belongs (this time for a different reason than what you probably guessed I have in mind). Now that we have seen and heard the assumption of pure evil in anything that has to do with the history and achievements of the Eritrean struggle and the unimaginable reconstruction efforts of a people sweating tears and blood in the hope of a better day, we should know what was wrong with the constitution. Here too, I mean no offense and what I say should be understood within the limits of rationality and good intention described in this article.

I have never met Professor Berekhet Habteslassie in person, but I did talk to him over the phone a couple of times during the hay days of the EDP, where I used to be a member and I know he is among the very few people of his education and age that managed to maintain a tireless presence in Eritrean politics. To be more direct, he is one of those many Eritreans that make up the profile of the prototype Eritrean upon whom the assumption of purity of intention should be presumed without question. I might have said things that sounded mean and irrational about him and about many other good people in some of my previous articles – but as I have mentioned above – it is my hope that all those crazy things would be reinterpreted within the heat of making arguments in the context of means to ends. I hope he accepts this as a gesture of goodwill and an invitation for input and guidance in a civilized debate (and on the right side this time).

Am I trying to find an excuse to refer you to this interview with Professor Berekhet? Well I have to find a way of provoking him to say something – anything is good enough: as part of the argument above, I thought, an implicit elitist agenda presuming (actual or potential) evil in the men and women that the constitution was designed to control is clear beyond doubt. In other words, the designers of the constitution were well aware that their task was to set up a constitution that would usher an era of radical transformation from a Big Brother dictatorship to a democratic one. They were also aware or had reason to believe, that political pressures surrounding the PFDJ and the President motivated the push towards a democratic constitution. In some meeting with the President, the commission members (I guess) were pleasantly surprised that they did not have to explain the gravity of what a constitution would mean to his presumed monopoly of power.

In light of the concepts of rational invisible-hand justice proposed above, it would be, more plausible than not, to take the preceding two statements as pure and unfounded assumptions (i.e. the “Big Brother regime” assumption and the assumption that it would be irrational for “the Big Brother” to promote a constitution). The reason is that, “the Big Brother” of the armed struggle was himself premised on similar circumstantially situated presumptions – not on the possibility of the unintended byproduct of rational interaction with the circumstances of the armed struggle. It is partly this built-in bias and presumption of evil and selfishness in people who had exhausted any imaginable limits of selflessness toward trading their own dreams for those of others that made the spirit embodied in the constitution contrary to the predominant spirit of goodwill and optimism at the time. At the grassroots orientation of the spirit of the constitution too, the presumption of the Hobbsian characters that if unchecked, would unleash unlimited potential to cannibalize and devour one another is clear beyond doubt.

I believe it is this inability (of the designers of the Eritrean constitution) to presume that humans in general, and Eritreans who have gone through so much in their history, are inherently decent rationally maximizing individuals that restricted their (of the designers) ability to predict many of the phenomena that invalidated the applicability of their provisions in later years. It is the same flaw in our thinking that continues to restrict our ability to interact positively with the behaviors, ideas and politics of developments on the ground and the tears and smiles of ordinary people in Eritrea today. My guess is that, if some good in the Eritrean spirit inherent in the rational explanation of their objectives, activities and interactions had been assumed as given, the potential for groups of individuals with a natural (not necessarily mean spirited) tendency to exploit every opportunity in constitutionally regulated loopholes such as the land proclamation would have been predicted.

Similarly, as long as we insist on presuming unexplainable evil in the PFDJ government or any other government that follows, subsequent struggles for change in Eritrea will necessarily be trapped in zero sum solutions where one side must lose for the other to win. Let us make a U-Turn and assume goodwill in whatever the PFDJ government and the diaspora opposition is doing or has ever done, so that we would be able to rationalize the policies and activities of the government and opposition and explain differences in terms of tangible things whose solutions may be negotiated. It is only such a U-Turn or some form of it that can guarantee the emergence of naturally acceptable and rationally believable alternatives – either, because of our good intentioned proactive initiatives of negotiated change – or in spite of our stubborn inflexibility to change. Deep down, we should believe, that such a U-Turn is inevitable because such is the destiny of a proud hardworking decent nation that would never settle for less.

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  • Haile Zeru

    Hi Semere Andom,

    I copied the piece (about the Canadian cabinet) and pasted it as it was. You put it in every day language which is great. Many non-Canadians will have difficulties to understand it the wat it was. Thanks for doing that.

    As I said before the constitution should not be first priority now, at least that is what I think. When the time comes many things will be looked at closely. You can take any article and cross check it, you will find inconsistencies. If you add to the inconsistencies the fact that you need 75% of the national assembly vote to amend it. That means ones you accept this constitution you might get stack with it for long time to come. It is more of a tool of the majority rather than a balancing document the way it is now.

    The Canadian system brings un-elected persons to make a balance (exception). The eritrean Constitution makes it a norm to select un-elected persons, yet it does not have the checks the US system has.

    As you mentioned, it says the President will be elected from the assembly. If you see this now, why is it that the party with majority of votes does not automatically make its leader the President. Is it possible to elect President, from the Assembly, the leader of one of the parties with minority votes? Why go thru the same thing twice. Is it to make it different from Parliamentarian system? if it is so, what is the benefit? why not make the President elected by popular vote? and organize the rest of the system to balance it with people elected President.

    and so on…

    I can understand what you are saying about the human rights issue. But rest assured there will never be human rights while Issayas and his cronies are there. Ones they are taken off no political prisoner will wait in jail till the constitution is drafted. Therefore I do not think accepting this Constitution will make much of difference. Accepting it for those reasons is like hostage taking kind of thing. give me what I want or I will kill them.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Dear Saay,

    Part-II

    As a continuation of Part-I of my argument, I will say few points to clear myself in a way to avoid misinterpretation of my view. I don’t understand why people want to interpret my view in order to make their views. My argument was and is straight forward. In any case, In order to promote unity of a viable state, I argued for “an equitable power sharing” for our diversity. Some call it “ethnic federation imported from Ethiopia” (Serray); Of course it is not. Others call it “ethnic equality (Semere Tesfay); Still it is not. Now my friend Saay call it “equality by weakness”; Again it is not. What I know equitable sharing means is “fair sharing”. Can fair power sharing could mean any of the three above interpretations by any imagination? I don’t think so.

    (a) I believe Saay admires the constitution of USA (correct me if I am wrong). I think I read you quoting the great constitutional thinkers of that era, the Jeffersons, the Adams, the Hamiltons, the Madisons..etc. When these great constitutional thinkers device “equal power sharing of the states at the senate level (chamber)” irrespective their size and population (example Rhode Island vs New York), they had reasons to do that. These great thinkers didn’t see it “equality by weakness”. They did it to avoid the tyranny of the majority, as simple as that. Did I argue similar to that of the USA at the legislative level for our reality? Yes I did (refer to my recent article). Did our minorities scare about the tyranny of the majority. Absolutely yes. In fact it became (a) the source of our mistrust between each other (b) The source of weaknesses in the opposition camp, clearly emanated from the inherent mistrust of our social groups.

    (b) You don’t like my example the Tunisian way of “transitional power” and the process of “transfer of power.” Because according to your argument it is “an ideal” and exceptional. In my view, It is not an Utopian dream. It is a pragmatic solution running on the ground of Tunisian Politics. It is a success story and I advocate for that.

    (c) Saleh, I know there are always resistances to change as you mentioned in your comment (a) the non-Isaisist PFDJ. I know why this group will resist. Not on its merits, but by virtue of being their own product and other reasons beyond that. Don’t ask me more reasons (b) the “back to 1997” segment of our population. This segment of our population do not understand the abnormality of the document. This Segment of our population need education and enlightenment about its abnormalities and possibly suggest some alternatives (c) The we can “amend argument”. Yes it is possible. But also the process of amendment requires at least 75% of vote of the parliament. The possibility is extremely narrow. If the constitution is not enacted as supreme law of the land and as the same time if we knew its flaws before it is enacted, why don’t we create a mechanism to correct those flaws and substitute the flaws (a) by workable constitution but also judicious to our social groups……again not “equality by weakness” but equitable sharing in resource and power politics. I can not, and strongly emphasize not to retreat from arguing for the right things I believe, because there are resistance to it. You don’t submit and subdue of your belief “on what is the right thing to do” because there are resistance. There will be always resistance. But what you need is, to stand resolve and repivoting for what is right for the purpose of justice.

    (d) There is always a dominant party of your argument…..yes there is always a dominant party now and then if you have a multi-party system. That is for grant. And that is not my concern. My concern is about the political structures and the due process of the system we are looking. I don’t agree on “the winner takes all” especially with the “1997 document. “. I hope I am clear as to what my stand is.

    Regards,
    Amanuel Hidrat

    • saay7

      Emma:

      Thanks! Quick points, pressed for time.

      First of all, Emma, we are not talking about drafting Eritrea’s first constitution. If that were the case, I would agree with everything you are saying. The most important factor about a constitution is that the people have a sense of ownership about it and can defend it to death even against a rogue government. That can only happen when they are part of the process or people whom they consider their spokespersons are part of the process.

      (And by “the people” I hope you agree with me that, for the purposes of this discussion we mean the “political class” or the “elite”)

      Let’s consider 1952 and 1997 constitution. When the terms of the 1952 constitution were violated, the political class who had a sense of ownership (university students, the business class, the scholars, journalists) rose up and eventually became the intellectual basis for the Armed Struggle. And when the terms of the 1997 constitution were violated, who rose up? Who still has a sense of ownership about it? Consider those who paid for it: the G-15, Wedi Ali, the University of Asmara students. It is the PFDJ elite, right?

      Now, this takes us to what is the most likely way that change will come in Eritrea? I think that’s really what is accounting for our (you and me) difference. If you believe that there is going to be some popular uprising that will uproot the PFDJ and its wave will be so strong that it will result in the PFDJ becoming an illegal party, with nobody ever wanting any association with it, a total uprooting (like we did with the Derg), why, then, of course your proposal makes perfect sense. But you will still contend with Eritreans who would be quite content to rewind time back to 1997 (not 1991).

      By the way, the US Constitution references the Articles of Confederation. The latter fell apart because it was an extremely decentralized system granting no authority to the center.

      saay

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Merhaba Saay,

        Without quoting you at length, I agree totally with the first paragraph of your comment. But I disagree on your understanding as to the meaning “people” in politics. “people” is not only the political class or the elites only. I would like to rephrase it as “people” means “the political class and their followers.” If you don’t dislike it, I would also call the political class as the “petty bourgeois” who leads the revolution and counter revolutions or who leads for change and resist for change. The elites (back to the term you like) are always divided either with status que or with the voice of the people (mass). They are the only class who come or stay to power either by coercion, if they have the state power on their hand as it is in our Eritrea, or come riding on the interest of the mass to reign on power. No Question about that. If you see the Eritrean Petty-B (elites) in the current struggle you could see them divided either with the regime or with the opposition. So you can’t say “people” mean the elites only as they can’t stand without the base the mass “the people.”

        Aamnauel

        • saay7

          Selamat Emma:

          Let’s compromise and say that politics falls under the Paretto Principle, better known as the 80/20 rule: that 80% of all results are caused by only 20% of the causes. In politics, this means that no more than 20% of the population (whether you call them elite, petty bourgeoise, political class) are responsible for 80% of everything that happens in politics.

          Now, what I and Serray are telling you is that we are in the 80% and that we realize that a lot of politics is a fight between the 20% whose job is to create massive wedge issues and present everything as a deal-breaker. If we know anything about Serray, we know that he is a huge critic of “Ghedli romanticizing.” Well, the 1997 is chock full of “ghedli romanticizing” and he is saying that’s not a deal-breaker for me. If you know anything about me, you would know I am a right-winger and, like half the stuff in the 1997 Constitution (land belongs to the State, “social justice”, the Isaias Flag, that civil liberties that are conditioned on national duty, the fake “equality of languages” clause) are all offensive to me. But they are not deal breakers because (a) the new 20% is going to come up with a constitution that will just dump all these offensive terms but add equally or more offensive concepts; (b) constitutions are organic and they can always be amended if enough of us care about the issues; (c) people are always exaggerating that Eritrea will be a “failed state”, but a power vaccum created when the 20 per-centers are negotiating a whole new arrangement is the one that is truly dangerous (because you-know-who will be stroking things in the background.)

          I hope I have been clear.

          saay

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Saay,

            Your selling and debating skills this time can’t cross my mind and unfortunately I can’t buy it. Surely I can’t swallow the “bitter product -1997 constitutional document” that has a stinging sensation (and you could quote me as such anytime if you want). Leaving aside the soft coating words you use as a vehicle for selling, I will summarize your message as follows: Even if you are marginalized by the massive fraud process, or even the document is tailored to give them the upper hand in the generations to come, or even if it has a noticeable liability, or even if it is with numerous flaws, just take it, you don’t have any option. Right Saay? Sometimes your debate is not merciful on the concept of “justice.”

            One thing is for sure, that those of us who are marginalized, and who are yet asked to be marginalized, will keep our resolve and maintain our struggle until things are changed. I know from my heart that this document is not a uniting document rather it is dividing document. God forbid what will come from its repurcation. This document will remain to be as “the womb of authoritarian regimes.” With that I close my case until it is raised and filed to the supreme court of justice made up of wise men and women. (keep in mind this is not personal issue it is societal issue).

            Regards,
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • saay7

            Selamat Emma:

            Going back to our circles: (1) a circle that itemizes what Isaias wants (2) a circle that itemizes what the PFDJ elite (less Isaias) want; (3) a circle that itemizes what the people want; (4) a circle that itemizes what most of the the opposition leadership want.

            You may say since there has never been a survey taken, we can’t know what the people want. Fair point. But I think we can use common sense and conclude that the people, at minimum, want:

            1. An end to endless conscription of their children;
            2. Release of political prisoners
            3. A country ruled by rule of law;
            4. Peace and stability;

            The reason I try to differentiate between Isaias (and his shadow government) and the rest of the PFDJ is because the rest of the PFDJ, no matter how high ranking or how popular, endure the same pain that the Eritrean people do. Just two examples: the husband of Askalu Menkorios (a minister), has been in prison (without charges) since Wikileaks revealed that he thinks Isaias Afwerki is a nutcase. Gwal Ankere has to sing “patriotic songs” while her husband is in jail without charges. It goes on and on like that.

            I have already told you that much of what is in the 1997 Constitution is repulsive to me, so it is not my standard that I am applying here. It is simply my way of saying that if you look at it from the perspective of us the 80% (from the 80/20 rule), we would consider its implementation a good start. Not the permanent solution, but a return to normalcy.

            saay

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Dear Saay,

            Most of the time I enjoy your metaphors. This time you come with imaginary circles for an imaginary Eritrean politics. Walking from reality to imaginary world. Saay, Gedef Eba Atehababae Ayni gbro. If we don’t make common sense in advocating justice, how can we make common sense with numbers that doesn’t have survey study? We can’t go back to the game of probability or “the probability of the probability”. Visualize our argument, and you will notice we are moving to the abstract world.

            Any way, You remind me my Russian professor in “physical chemistry” back in Ethiopia, in the late 60s. He had a good calculating mind. Give him any number of multiplication in millions and he tells you exactly, sometimes misses the last two digits (without any calculator right away). I hope I have not a copy of him in here. So you want us to talk politics by guess numbers to make our point. No..No my friend. But the four points you want to use extrapolate numbers to make statistical argument, are the easiest ones where everyone of us will agree. The hardest part will be, if you add questions to your list (a) how do you want to be governed (b) what should be our relations in the region(c) and how do you want the approach to peace and stability..etc..etc. You will find a diverse opinion may be to your surprise. So, me and you have divergent view to the answers of the hard questions. I am for Hard talk for hard problems. And the answer of those question will only come in round tables, by serious talks of give and talk. And that is not yet part of our political reality. Am I not right Sal?

          • saay7

            Selamat Emma:

            I love how you dismiss arguments as too abstract. We all borrow concepts from our fields of training and what I described, the overlapping circles, is called the Venn Diagram and it is a very common approach to messaging, probability calculation, management…in short, problem solving. Here’s one that humorously tries to describe why American conservatives hate subsidized bicycles in New York City:

            http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/06/venn-diagram-why-conservatives-hate-citi-bike.html

            I am assuming that our responsibility is to find a solution for the Eritrean dilemma very quickly: not to describe it in great detail; not to agonize over it; not to take credit for being the first to diagnose it; not to sulk for having our advice ignored in the past but to solve it. Right? What I am suggesting is that (a) we identify all the issues that will have the greatest possible number of Eritrean support and (b) to focus on them with laser sharp precision.

            Otherwise, bejakha zetetsaHfe aytenbeb:)

            saay

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Hey Saay,

            I never been dismissive. I believe (honestly) that to be dismissive is to be disrespectful. I am a respecting human being by my upbringing. I always tried to answer to your comment. These days we often become on opposite side of the argument. Do I know? really I don’t know. Do I see it as healthy debate. I absolutely believe it is a healthy debate. I learned many things from your debate, and true we all share concepts from our field of training. In any case, without quoting , I agree wholeheartedly with your understanding stated in the last paragraph of your comment. We are debating for solutions. My reply may sound lose engagement but not out of disrespect. Sometimes I feel that our debate becomes a kind of pedantic, otherwise all in all I am happy on the ongoing debates.

            Therefore, buddy continue and bring your overlapped concentric-circles, I am all here to learn and if I could, I will throw my opinion here and there. That is all. Your criticism made me feel bad of giving you the unintended impression.

            Regards,
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • saay7

            Emma Arkey:

            No worries; it’s all good.

            saay

  • Menkem

    Why are you not posting my say?

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Merhaba Saay,

    This is a serious debate I like. As moderators, AT have the leverage to either make us stick with the articles on issue or with the crucial time sensitive topics to help ourselves and our readers, and eventually to help our struggle. You saw my drift. But this is a good topic (the constitution) yet unresolved within our social groups and our political organizations.
    I know your position since your presentation, at a conference in honor of Dr. Bereket Habteslassie, hosted by the Dept of Afro-American studies at the University of North Caroline (UNC) for his successful and long time service. You were honoring the good doctor and at the same time you were defending the document drafted under his chairmanship. In fact you were using a metaphor that you can’t throw out a baby with the water (paraphrasing)

    As skillful as you are in debating, you can’t outsmart us by throwing that metaphor to a complex Eritrean politics. Politics is also sometime about consistency and interest. Are you doing that? I am not sure. But we are debating about a political document possibly to be the “covenant” for the Eritrean people with its political organizations. If the constitutional process does’t include the political organizations and was done based on the voice of the winner takes all, we have it, and the Eritrean people will endure all its consequences. Did you listen to the speech of Seyoum O/Michael on the clip provided by Haile the great? The speech was full of warning as to the direction of our nation was heading at that time. Actually it was a full of prophecy telling to the gathering what they are going to see in the years to come. What a marvelous communicator he was with the command of the language. Thank you Haile and RIP to my comrade in arm.

    Sal, Here is the truth, and I could definitely assure you that, if the political organizations would have been part of the constitutional process, you wouldn’t have seen this kind of product (the so called constitutional document) you are defending. You know their in puts are indispensable to the coexistence of our people and stability of the nation. How could you miss this fact? though the EPLFers and the selected commissions know definitely as to what the outcome will be with this marginalizing process. You couldn’t fight against your conscience on this fact, because you are better than the average Eritrean people on how the mechanics of politics work.

    Sadly, I read the interview of the good doctor and thank you for that, It is a refreshing memory of the marginalizing process. Remember that he is a good lawyer and he knows how to defend his product. Look how the good doctor tried to defend article 46 (2) that gives the president the authority to appoint minsters from the National Assembly and outside the National Assembly. The answer is in order the president to get enough pool of the talent. Don’t you think we have enough talent outside the Assembly? I Believe Eritrea has more than enough talented technocrats to fill the ministerial portfolios. So I don’t buy his argument. Don’t you?

    In article 39, I would have asked him straight forward, in addition to your question which says why is the president not elected directly by the people, I would add why did you chose a hybrid governmental institution? Why not either the parliamentary way (prime ministerial) from the Assembly or the presidential from a popular vote? In my the doctor was responding to you as a defense counsel to his baby (the constitution) This clearly shows it was guided process to produce a guided product. Issayas and his political office told the commission they wanted a “guided democracy” controlled by his excellency ( Dr. Bereket spoke in his book) I think in his last book.. But Saay please tell me of any country with a constitution (not a ceremonial president) but a president the head of state and head of government being elected from an Assembly. If there is none, doesn’t it bring and make you say, hey! why is such an odd and peculiar institutional structure for our small country? If it doesn’t ring something to you one of our intellectuals, then we have a big problem and we will pay dear. If it was done to satisfy the Eritreans in US and the Eritreans in Europe because they have different opinions on to whether we should have parliamentary government or presidential was really a deservice to the general population, for the intend was to satisfy certain demographic of our society. Wow! You don’t do it to satisfy for Eritreans who live in diaspora. Now I could know from the interview as to why the Hybrid and that is to satisfy the Eritreans in Europe and the US. History in the book. Saay when you gave me this interview it adds more to the flaw of the process. Don’t you think so? I will keep this interview as a hard copy in my file. thank you very much
    Regards,
    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Haile Zeru

      That is superb analysis Amanuel
      I can’t agree with you more. I like your comprehensive analysis of the Constittuion of 1997 and I can see that is not all. I hope Semere Tesfay is following. He was taunting everybody saying can you come up with anything better than what PFDJ did? If the 1997 constitution is one of the achievements of EPLF/PFDJ (albeit unimplemented) you brought it crashing down to ground single handedly.
      I remember in one of his interviews Mesfun Hagos was complaining about the people arround the president. They are unelected they do not belong to the Assembly of the country or of PFDJ yet they have more influence on the President and by extention on the life of the country.
      Any sane person would complain about that yet that is what we have in the constitution of 1997. The President can include in his cabinet un-elected individuals. What a joke? Then can the foreign minister be an unelected person, or the justice minister? Is there any limit to the choice of unelected persons to the cabinet?
      You can see the whole constitution is Issayas hand maid. His vices are codified there. I think the focus of the opposition should be how to take him out. And then to call all the men and women of goodwill and gather our ashes from there.
      Regards,

      • Haile Zeru

        Correction
        “You can see the whole constitution is Issayas hand maid.”
        should read “You can see the whole constitution is Issayas hand made.”

      • saay7

        Selamat Haile Zeru:

        I don’t know why you are surprised that a “President can include in his cabinet un-elected individuals.” Actually, that is the rule, not the exception. Look at Obama’s cabinet and ask yourself of the 15, how many had elective office when they were appointed:

        http://www.factmonster.com/us/government/cabinet-members-barack-obama.html

        saay

        • Haile Zeru

          Hi SAAY,
          It is not a surprise. It is already being practiced by Issayas even before the Constitution is active.
          The problem that I have with it is that up to now and especially during the war the national assembly was frozen, complitely short circuited while Issayas with those un-elected individuals (not all of them) was runing the country to disaster.
          I agree with Mesfun Hagos complaint, even though Mesfun Hagos is for the Constitution that makes that kind of behaviour into law.
          I have a problem with it because the most important issues of the country should be dealt with by elected persons and the national assembly. If you see it against that background it is not a healthy article. Even if it is included I am of the opinion that it needs further qualification or limits.
          The Amercan Constitution might have other built in checks and balances, I do not know. I may disagree also with the American Constitution if it is framed in exactly the same terms and conditions.

          Regards,

        • Semere Andom

          Sal and Hail Z:

          Allowing the president to appoint un-elected minsters is not a problem per se.
          In Obama’s case and USA the president’s nominee for any post goes through a confirmation process and the opposing and even the governing parties can block the appointment, these checks prevent the president from appointing his cronies, this makes it a problem in our case. If the check is there, then it can actually be good that the president can appoint un-elected minsters because any Joe with smooth talking skills and pandering to emotions of the people can be elected and talent maybe hard to find within the parliament. Sal, I know you know this

          An other issue is if the parliament is elected based on the population, then the smaller ethnic groups will not be represented well, so the need to have an other mechanism for better representation. It has been long, but I do not remember that.
          So a parliament from the majority, therefore a president from the majority and the appointed cabinets could end up from the majority

          In the US, the senate solves the dilemma of the majority overreach to some extent, the president can preside with two house of the opposing party, this makes the job of the executive very heard as it should be

          Sem Andom

        • T. Kifle

          Selamat SAAY

          As you said, unelected appointees may be included in a cabinet of ministers. But they have to be presented to the assembly where the assembly has the power to approve/reject the individual cabinet members based on specificity. A president(of the Eritrean type) shouldn’t single-handedly form his cabinet as he himself is elected from the assembly. In presidential governance systems like the USA, the president is the legitimize sovereign of the people as s/he is elected by direct popular votes. But in parliamentary systems, he is a representative of one small constituency and shouldn’t even think of by-passing the legislative body under any circumstances.

          • saay7

            Selamat T.Kifle and Semere:

            I was replying to Haile Zeru’s amazement that unelected officials were part of the President’s kitchen cabinet and I was saying that unelected officials serving in a President’s cabinet is the rule and not the exception. Yes, the Assembly would have to confirm the nominations to the cabinet but, unless they are woefully unqualified, the Assembly does (should) defer to the Executive’s preference.

            The G-15’s criticism of the concentration of power in the President’s Office was legitimate. But it is not something that happened overnight: it is something that the National Assembly (including the G-15) allowed to happen over a long period of time. I think they should have insisted on having timely and frequent meetings as early as 1994, 95, 96, 97 and not just in 98-00. They should have demanded that the Assembly meetings be televised. In short, they should have trusted the president less and enlisted the people more.

            saay

          • Semere Andom

            Sal:
            You are correct about what the national assembly of the G-15 should have done, but it had no power and and its election was corrupt and riddled with conflict of interest,it was just an extension of the central committee of EPLF with some handpicked civilians as sweeteners for the the gullible gebar. I am tempted to quote our missing in action friend, Nitricc, but I will not 🙂
            Also in 1997 constitution, the president as a head of state and executive has too much power. In the USA, the president is both head of state and executive too as you know, but his power is checked at both houses and also some one can pull a filibuster, just to make his job harder. I love it. Our president according to the document of1997 has easy job, he can run in a safe ridding, get elected and then get directly picked by the assembly, which will make our friend SemereTesfay happy:-), the president will appoint whom ever he wants, and the assembly that elected him will stamp it.
            In a true parliamentary system the so called ceremonial head of state, makes important constitutional decisions, albeit rarely. For example the prime minister cannot just prorogue parliament to suit his agenda without second sober thought from the head of state and in many cases he can be denied
            In our case the president has too much power.
            The 1997 document wanted both worlds and in the process it gave the president unfetter powers

            I like to know what you actually think about a fair representation of the smaller ethnic groups if we elect the assembly from a popular vote?
            My solution is stolen from the USA senate concept. But in our case instead of the provinces ( i hope we will call them provinces after the dawn), each ethnic group democratically elects certain number of reps independent of the assembly.
            Sem

          • Haile Zeru

            Selamat SAAY, Semere andom and T.Kifle

            Sorry for the late response. For some reason I was not able to access awate.com. I am not accusing anyone here. It could be my PC or my network (router).

            Very interesting points. I am not in total disagreement with all of you. I also like what Semere Andom and T. Kifle are saying. As for SAAY I need to clarify from what angle I am looking at this article.
            To go straight to SAAY point. In a parliamentary (Prime ministerial) democracy as we have, here, in Canada it is a rarity to have a Prime minister appointing un-elected members to the cabinet. There are many Canadians following this forum I am sure they will correct me if I am wrong.
            In the past 7 years that we have a conservative Government I did not hear anything about un-elected ministerial appointment. That I did not hear about it does not make it nonexistent but it makes it a rarity. I have to admit I vote but I do not follow daily the affairs of the Government. The following excerpt is from Canadian Government website:

            “The Governor General appoints the members of Cabinet on the advice of the Prime Minister. Almost all of Cabinet is selected from the House of Commons. From time to time, a Senator may be included to ensure all parts of the country are represented.”

            All members of the House Of Commons are elected as far as I know. Senators are not elected.
            and hence the rarity rather than the rule. Even though there is a consensus building to make the Senate elected lately.

            If the above statement is true, most likely you will say, well the Eritrean constitution is not Parliamentarian. Yes it is true. But it is not Presidential either. That is, we cannot apply the rules of American system or the Canadian system directly. That is the way it is written.

            That is why I was going after our, rather ugly, experience with that given article. And based on that experience we have to amend it to reduce abuse. We have to learn from our Eritrean experience. And for me this is a lesson learned. If a President appoints un-elected people it has to have a constitutional limit to it. Otherwise we end up being ruled at the whim of the President as it happened. I will go even further my personal preference is that the decisions that govern the life of the people of a nation should be taken by their elected representatives.

            I guess your objection is that I looked at it with surprise. The reason is in a parliamentary system the parties compete for a vote based on their political platform. They prepare individuals that are ready to run the government (they form a shadow cabinet basically, or shadow government). They have also to govern (execute) a given platform. Not any political platform. The appointing of un-elected ministers makes rather last minute shopping. That is the Elected government is not really ready to govern. The other problem is, all individuals at that level (level of a minister) may be independent politically but they have their own convictions. They will go with the Government as long as their convictions are resonant with the party they are serving. At the moment their convictions diverge they will just resign. Or take some other course of actions.
            I hope you will not see it as if I am rejecting the 1997 Constitution just for that. I am showing that the constitution as it is now is problematic.
            Regards,

          • Semere Andom

            Hi Haile Z:

            You are correct for saying the cabinet in Canada,which is parliamentary system is appointed from the elected member by the prime minister. The GG does not really appoint cabinet, it blesses the PM recommendations. The GG is the head of state in Canada, repressing the queen in the dominion. Appointing cabinet from un-elected pool of talent should not demonized if there are proper checking and scrutinizing for talent and diversity. For sure the president is going to appoint those who will agree with his political views.

            But there are exceptions. Obama did not replace Gates as a secretary of defence after the dems took the office I think the checks and balances are more important than elected or un-elected ministers. In the USA, they have a senate that is elected,in Canada the senate is appointed, cabinet is made from elected House of Commons, so there is balancing here.

            As to our 1997 document, I do not like 80% of it. But the articles of indivisual liberties will help us get by. These articles will immediately release all political prisoners, dissolve all the PFDJ illegal decrees and close all PFDJ prisons if implemented- a much better situation than we find ourselves in. But we should start in earnest to amend the living hell of this document. I keep harping about it, but it confiscates land and it does not represent well the smaller ethnic groups. Electing the president from the assembly, which is elected by popular vote will make it dominated kebessa. I do not remember anything about how to balance this one. In Canada, the prime minister is also elected by parliament (well actually the party that wins the majority seats, its leader will become prime minister), even worse, if the prime minister vacates office, the party in power will go into their silo and decide on who becomes our prime minister without elections. In USA, the president can be elected with the two houses dominated by the opposing party. It happened to Clinton, if I remember correctly in one of his terms. One Interesting thing about the USA is you can elect a democrat president for example and end up with a republican president if both president and vice president diet at the same time. Now if Obama and Biden vacate for any reason, American will have Boehner as president according to their in line of succession.

  • T. Kifle

    Selamat Jo,

    You said, and I quote, “In the last election in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian government did not say no other parties could run for the election; instead, on the eve of the election they tramped up some non existent terrorism conspiracy charges and locked up the opposition party leaders. Now, since the government of Meles didn’t mention anything about not running for the elections, can one argue that the intention of the government was all but evil?”

    What you perceive of Ethiopia is your choice but you are not entitled to fabricate facts. Can you name a single opposition leader being “locked on the eve” of the last election? Lies wouldn’t help you disapprove Hayat for her conviction in soliciting peace between the two peoples. She is stating just the obvious. The diktats of PFDJ gravely endangered the prospect of peace. The chauvinist narration of the Ethiopian old-guards is another menace much mightier than the PDFJ version when the potential of power it commands is taken into account.

    Bro. you need to get real. TPLF is under ever continuous attack at home for its take on Eritrea. If TPLF was to opt for easy political business, albeit a short-term, the sexiest thing to do was to fight Eritrea on the name of Assab or any other ploy. That would have earned it a place in the eyes of the ultra-nationalists. But that did never happen and it will never happen as far as TPLF is concerned. Does the extreme stand of the front has something to do with Eritreans? Partly yes, because it upholds the self-evident principle that people should have the last say on their affairs. But this equally applies to Ethiopians too. In fact, now it is a constitutional right for the nations and nationalities of Ethiopia to decide on their fate the way they see it fit.
    For many in Ethiopia, Meles is labelled as more of an Eritrean than is IA for his firm stand on self-determination. He demonstrated restraints while he had all the leverage to destroy Eritrea in the past war. And still you have doubt as if there is more to prove than this glaring fact flying on your faces.

    • Jo

      Selamat T. Kifle,

      My intention was not to bring the last Ethiopian election under scrutiny. It is the case of Ethiopians and Ethiopians alone. If you say so then be it, you deal with it. With my perception in its place for better or worse. However, you seem to ignore how that exchange developed, and instead of addressing the real issues or answering the questions I asked, you went straight in raising side issues stretching it towards, sort of goose chase. I am aware of the dynamics of internal Ethiopian politics; it is dishonest to the point of being cheesy to say that Eritrea exists on the goodwill of TPLF. Please!!! snap out of such notion. On the “restraint” issue, I think you need to go back and read or listen to Melles’s interview he gave then, no need for me to get into the nitty gritty of military push and pull. Again, I refuse to get sucked into a case that belongs for Ethiopians and Ethiopians alone.

      Now, simply, if you believe for the coexistence of both nations in peace and harmony and you also believe in truth and righteousness, can you tell us wether the border line between Eritrea and Ethiopia was altered arbitrarily, and who did it? Do you think if any party, government, or a nation, arbitrarily, changed a border line between to nations and silently try to create a de-facto scenario on the ground, be accused of being an expansionist? What about the document that contains such principle? You see, Hayat spends enough time to tell us, Eritreans, how much the Eritrean Government failed its people, how incompetent the ErG is; that our future is better served if we buy to the demands of the EtG, ad nauseam. Don’t you think that should be left to the Eritrean people to decide? Don’t you think she is trying, implicitly, to alter our way of thinking; at least to blind us to submission by highlighting the failures of the ErG? Let us be honest to each other, let us stop juggling words and statements, and let us stop pretending to be who we are not. If you are sincere about peace and harmony, start with admitting the truth and leave the Eritrean case for Eritreans. Eritrea is ours, wether it is poor or rich, wether it is fair or not it is ours, hence it is beautiful. No body – no body has the right to determine our own feature. We have come a long way and we have paid dearly to grant that right to any body but the Eritrean people. Any, current or future, governments could only stay on the helm granted by the Eritrean people, and those people who are on the helm should also take it for granted that the Eritrean people are not going to sit passively if the grant they have entrusted on them is in any way compromised. It is ” la cosa nostra”, please stay out of it.

      You are intoxicated enough by your glaring unrealistic ambition to believe the glaring mirage of TPLF propaganda. Having said that, your identity grants you that right, and no body should dare to take that away form you.

      Luwam zelowo mushet!!!

  • Semere Tesfai

    Erina

    “Hayat, Why are you so passionate about all issues that touch on Tigray? Are you from Tigray?”

    Erina, Hyat(?) is a pure Tigrean breed; no doubt about it. And there is no fool around here that believes otherwise. Why is she(?) pretending to be Eritrean? Well, I suppose to pull YG on us. Is she helping the cause of the Eritrean opposition? Absolutely not; she is only planting doubt and suspicion in the minds of Eritreans.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m always delighted to be bashed, ridiculed and trashed by the likes of Serray, Hayat, Wukqato and some more. Because when I’m getting a beating by the likes of Serray and Hayat on one cheek and by the likes of Haile Zeru and Amanuel Hidrat on the other, I know for certain I’m where I want to be. And I’m always nervous, if I’m complimented too much by any one of these group.

    You know, the problem with the Eritrean opposition is (among many other things) – the likes of Hayat and Serray being its best defenders and its best playing cards (at least in this forum). When people start to listen to the arguments and political passion of these guys, many start to say – ኣዚኣስ ደንበናን መጋርያናን ኣይትመስልንያ። And I’m one of them.

    Not that I agree with him (not by any stretch), but I like T. Kifle. Straight, honest, proud Ethiopian (Tigrean) trying to build a bridge between the two people while defending the interest and the history of his people and country. And I believe many people would agree with that.

    • Semere Andom

      Semere Tesfay:
      Why do you have to pull PFDJ whenever your ideas are trashed?
      Why do you have to stripe the inalienable God given Eritrean idnity There is nothing especial about Eritrea that people will be desperate to claim and especially in the cyber space. If you want to question the Eritreaness of people you should start from those running the country and whose citizenship many people doubt. Why not stand intellect to intellect with the people you are striping their inborn identity?

      • Semere Tesfai

        Mokhusi

        I don’t question the Eritreaness of those who are running the country (PFDJ leaders); I just don’t agree with them. I don’t question nor do I certify Eritreaness to anyone. I just don’t believe the person who is writing with the Hayat pen name is Eritrean. You can defend and argue against my believe if you want to, but I’m not buying it until I see it for myself. That’s all.

        “Why not stand intellect to intellect with the people you are striping their inborn identity?”

        I suppose, you mean to the ideas (arguments) of the likes of Hayat who denigrate our sweat, tears, blood, and soul (Ghrdli), right? I don’t have any passion to argue about an issue that was fought for thirty long years and that was settled by 99.8% vote of our population a quarter of a century ago. Don’t agree with it; but at least respect it.

        For some future political relation and economic integration, let them (Ethiopians) stop the hostility and occupation of sovereign Eritrean lands, and I’m all for it. It is that simple.

        • Yiftihala

          Semere Tesfai,
          I hear you loud and clear brother. The opposition is not served very well by people who claim to be Eritrean when they are not. Worse, they argue against the very things that unite Eritreans from all political persuasions and backgrounds, i.e, Eritrea’s sovereignty, armed struggle for independence (ghedli), demarcation of its inviolable borders…etc.
          It turns people off that might otherwise be open to hearing the opposition’s arguments. Like you said, they start saying, “Izias natna atymeslin iya” or “Iftihala.” It sows suspicion. That’s all Hayat is doing.
          Somebody like Eyob discloses fully that he is as he puts it “a mid-level Weyane cadre.” People can accept that because they know where he is coming from when they evaluate his posts.
          Somebody like Hayat who is being disingenuous does a lot more harm to the cause of the opposition.

        • Semere Andom

          SemereTesay:
          Why not question the identity of some PFDJ leaders?,they are sowing doubt like what you accuse Hayat is doing? They kicked you from Eritrea by collaborating withTigreans, they vanished your organization to the stone age. They are systematically disabling the people and the country. Their crimes pale to anything the colonizers did to us. You disagree with them only to a point to saddle the best of both worlds of the opposition and supporters. You believe in the dictatorship the majority
          Every Eritrean I know respects the Ghedli so it is not just you, but many Eritreans acknowledge the havoc that it rained on the society, even endangering the people’s yearning for self determination to accommodate the petty personal aspirations, Your Ghedli also gave us the SemereTesfays and it has accomplished nothing except more blood , toil, slavery, intolerance and a counterfeit independence.
          Eritreans are safer in Tigray now than they are in the country that you spent your youth fighting. If Hayat says she is Eritreans and debunks your Ghedli fairy tale, you should not accuse or ask her if she is Eritrean.Are you thinking why am I passionate:-)
          Sem

  • Samson

    It’s been a tough month for Eritrea’s military. My condolences to the Eritrean Defense Forces and their families. First, the loss of Major General Wuchu. And now the loss of two more generals. I pray that this is the last loss we hear about from Eritrea’s armed forces for the rest of this year. I dedicate this martyrs song to Hanjema and Vaynak. I, too, am the brother of a martyr. May God receive you both with open arms.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5gE3Rq_hHw&list=PLB282A402DD0B2ACD

  • Semere Andom

    Serray, Sal and Hayat
    and also Emma the austere 🙂

    Firstly anything is way better than what we currently have, a country on the edge of the cliff threatening to commit suicide. Even the constitution that was written over a long weekend on the basement of the Canadian Eritrean is better than what we have. I would also imagine that the green book of the wacky leader of Libya would be better than the system that is led by the corpse called DIA.

    What we implement when the mafia is eliminated will depend how the change was brought? If change happens by the likes of Wedi Ali, who demanded the implementation of the constitution, we will be better off, no question about it. The constitution that was really a waste of time, a mockery to the intelligence of our people, a constitution that paganizes the people’s faiths and confiscates their land would not have a chance to be ratified by the people. Its making was a fraud like everything that PFDJ touches. It ratification also equally fraudulent. You cannot build an enduring nation that will be at peace with itself and its past based on fraud. But some of the provisions that is has will get us by. Think of the great democracy on earth, the USA the founding fathers like Ben Franklin and Madison hated it, but they voted for it. Madison got elected and started in earnest on amendments. In a few months the first amendment was ratified. In a scenario of a Wedi-Ali kind of change, we can use the current constitution as a spring board to right the wrong of the making and ratifying process. But if the change came through thugs that are waiting in the wigs for the demise of DIA, then even a document from the heavens cannot save our nation- just like the pagan pharaoh the commands of any perfect document will be ridiculed by the thugs.

    In the scenario of a democratic change, we can then have a broad, grass roots dialog, address the divisions that PFDJ sneaked into our unity, apologize to the refugees and commence the tedious cleaning of the mess and rubble.

    But a constitution is not a mere operating manual written by an expert of whatever is being operated, an entity as complex as a society no one or group of experts should not claim to know, nor should they be given the power to dictate what the society needs and wants, that is why the process of genuine participation with tools and meduim the people understand is crucial.

    Let say that Forto 21 like movement succeeds, the next day if we declared this still born document as the law of the land we have made a quantum leap over night.

    Emman, no time to write charter and other documents in 24 hours, but the country must have law, even if the law was innately down syndrome. But if we stagnate, twitching and gloating over how the gallant people defeated the evil, praising the people until “brain glaucoma” plagues them, then we have regressed. As Haile Deue said, hisabna kingebri alena. If there is an already written charter or document that can supplant the current one, there is no way its process could have been as broad based as we would like it to be.

    Sem Andom

    For what is worth/relevance here is Ben Franklin’s speech

    Mr. President

    I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said “I don’t know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that’s always in the right — Il n’y a que moi qui a toujours raison.”

    In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another’s throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavors to the means of having it well administred.

    On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      My dear Friend Sem,

      Eritreans are fond of songs. When a new song comes to the market you hear them all singing to the same melody. It also appeared to be in our politics. When a new theory or strategical approach ushered, we tune to it and start to sing all of us like in the same choir. That is what I see the implication of the current debate. If one is artistic in his debate skills he makes you to sing his song and the rest will be history. You could trace it into Nesu Nehna and Nehan Nusu – a slogan created by a clever sloganist and became the slogan of its time when the despot came to visit NYC.

      Regards,
      Amanuel Hidrat

      • Semere Andom

        Emma:
        I want what you are thinking about how we should proceed, what laws we should be governed by in the immediate aftermath should an incident like Forto succeed?
        As to our love of songs, they seem to have debilitating effect instead creative epiphany but here in the opposition we are not as low as the Nsu Nehan cattle. I did not call them cattle by the way, they called themselves that because if you ask them keymey alo hzbi or tegadaly they used reply werqi embaH ybil alo 🙂
        Sem

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Sem Anadom,

          To answer question, If an incident like Forto succeeded, one hope the military hold for sometime to assure the stability of the nation. The immediate task of the military leader who make the coup will be (a) form a government of technocrates similar of that of Tunisia (I went through this issue with my friend Saay (b). They call all political organizations to call home to organize in the transition including the rank and files of PFDJ (c) hold the the top government officials and their enablers to stand in the court of justice (d) dismantle all the institution of oppression (e) form a revising committee to the document experts from the political organizations and the pool of our intellectuals to change what should changed and add to it. They also should be given the power to draft the election laws. After that the election will proceed to transfer the power from the military to the civilians. As to what should be changed in the current constitution in my view are three (a) the governmental structure (b) the issue of land property (c) the issue of language should also be settled. The rest is the bill of right, no change in it as it is universal in all democratic institutions. This is in a nutshell and the the rest you could revisit my articles to have the full picture of my view.
          Hawaka,
          Amanuel Hidrat

          • Serray

            Selamat Amanuel,

            Let me rephrase semere’s question with something we can all relate. If you wake up in the middle of the night during a work week, what would you do? The answer you gave him is tantamount to: first I take off my pajamas and fold them neatly and put them on the chair next to the bed. Then I go to the bathroom and take a refreshing shower, brush my teeth and comb my hair, then go to my closet and pick a cloth to wear for work and put them on, then have a nice hearty breakfast, then, then, call 911.

            Where is the urgency?

            On the issue of presidential powers, your points are valid but they lack urgency. That is problem number one, the other is, you are so focused on the problem, you missed its easy solution. Who wanted the constitution to bestow huge powers on the president? On whose dead body, literally, are we saying the constitution needs to be implemented? This might be one of the easily fixable problems. Dr. Bereket is at his weakest when discussing that portion, the land/natural resources and the implementation date.

            Don’t throw the baby with bath water.

          • Saleh Johar

            Serray, sometimes the water in the bowl is “rukkan”, you just throw the dam stink away 🙂
            Note: it would be nice if you use the first person I instead of the we. You sound as if you are supporting a general view against the view of a single person. second, the constitution is not something that needs a 911 call. I believe a chat with a neighbor or a friend about it, just to kill time, is of equal weight at this moment. Not an urgent issue. Just a thought.

          • Serray

            Saleh G.

            I am not sure what your overall message is but when I say “we” I mean the people in this forum who are saying implement the 1997 constitution instead of write a new one. If you have another form of pronoun I can use instead of we, let me know.

            Of all the discussions we have at awate, the one about the constitution is for me the most educational and future looking. It doesn’t get old. Over two hundred years after the Americans implemented the constitution, it is still debated hotly in congress, the courts and the media…not to mention classrooms and around coffee tables. This is one issue where “been there, done that” doesn’t cut it. If you ask me, the discussions about the constitution is still at its infancy. Having discussed it on this site years ago, I am amazed how childish and immature the opposition’s rejection of it. The loudly opposed to it try to pass the Iraqi transitional government’s constitution without even changing a punctuation, they are that immature. I always wish Dr. Bereket join us in these discussions…wipe our noses, slap emma a couple of times, that sort of thing.

            Throw the baby with bathwater? Really?

          • Haile Zeru

            Hi Serray,
            Actually the one complaining was Mesfun Hagos at the practice by Issayas during the war and after. And that practice is in the Constitution as law. It would be infantile if it was not so tragic. My rejection is cumulative it is the some of many points including that one. As I said though the constitution is not make it or break it issue for me at this stage. The articles that I disagree with are articulated by Emma. Mine specific are the Land belongs to the state article ( I do not have the constitution to put the number here) and the no mention of the rights of minorities. This last one is an exclusion or omission from the constitution. I know the last one is not you favourite.

            Regards,

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Serray,

            Two points before I get off from your “visual debate table.”

            First I am amazed at this minute you want to speak about “urgent thing” after all these months and years dancing in “kuda Bizey simra” kind of argument about the history of Ghedli. What ever makes you “the urgent man” at this time, it is a welcome thing. You remember when I ask you to do so, you told me “don’t tell us to do this or that”. There is a saying, for everyone there his own moment to come to his sense.

            second, in your mind, any one who advocate against your belief is childish and immature. Those who debate against your argument must be aware about that before they scratch their heads later on. Let me quote your words in response to SGJ regarding the constotution: “Having discussed it on this site years ago, I am amazed how childish and immature the opposition’s rejection of it.” Hummmm!!!

  • Hayat Adem

    I’m bored to death by people like you. Let me walk you through simple questions and answers. Stay with me for a minute.
    1) Have ever read that phrase Abay Tigray in any TPLF document, classified or otherwise? NO.
    2) Have you ever heard in your entire life a Tigray official mentioning that phrase in private or public? NO.
    3) Have you even heard any average person (ordinary person) from Tigray talking about a plan called Abay Tigray? NO.
    4) Is it possible to have such a grand plan hidden in the cabbies for years and never utter a word even once? NO.
    5) Let me put it this way: If TPLF had such a plan from 1976 onwards and EPLF knew it from then or later, would EPLF stay befriended with the TPLF until 1998? NO.
    6) TPLF have had many disgruntled members of which some of them were on the top leadership and who still are around. Would they be quite about it all the time? NO.
    7) If TPLF had such a plan, would TPLF leaders say in public and to a court that Tsorena and Fort Cardona belonged to Eritrea and not to Tigray? NO.
    8) Have not we been hearing about “Abay Tigray” only from one direction which is the PFDJ and its supporters? YES.
    NOW I’m yelling: If you have been around reading awate articles and comments, you should’ve see an
    obvious improvement in your thinking in a short period of time. If you do not see an obvious improvement, you probably are not benefiting from the stuff. Too bad!

    • Erina

      Hayat,
      Why are you so passionate about all issues that touch on Tigray? Are you from Tigray? I quite frankly don’t understand the level of passion you display on all things Tigray. Help me out here:
      (1) You don’t believe in demarcation.
      (2) You don’t believe in the 1997 Constitutiton
      We know you think there should be trade between Tigray and Eritrea. You have made that clear. But why don’t you believe in demarcation? Why don’t you believe in the 1997 Constituition?

    • Jo

      Hayat,

      “Yes or No” questions and answers only work in a binary world. Unfortunately, the world we live in is not digitized, hence your question and answer deduction is invalid. In the last election in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian government did not say no other parties could run for the election; instead, on the eve of the election they tramped up some non existent terrorism conspiracy charges and locked up the opposition party leaders. Now, since the government of Meles didn’t mention anything about not running for the elections, can one argue that the intention of the government was all but evil? Don’t bother to answer that, I think I already know what your answer is going to be. How do I know? Definitely not using your deduction system.

      Can you tell us, then, on what grounds did the Ethiopian Government try to change the border lines between Eritrea and Tigray? As the borders between the other provinces of Ethiopia is an internal matter, no need to mention it. If the Eritrean government was to publish a manifesto declaring that the borders of Eritrea stretches to include all the Afar people, one could, successfully, argue that the EG meant only the Afar people that live in Denkel. The integrity of the document will not be compromised, unless, ofcourse, the Eritrean government, arbitrarily, decides to include swathes of land from the neighbouring countries (with Affar populations of their own) otherwise. Wouldn’t you think, then – and only then, a fair minded person could come up to the conclusion to calling that document/manifesto an expansionist and/or Abai Ertra manifesto? Ofcourse, I could almost hear some pretentious people, speaking with two tongues, preaching justice and coexistence aloud and sewing hate and animosity in silence, preach the same justification you are preaching now to the people on the receiving end then. It should not be tolerated then and it should not be tolerated now.

      If your wish is for the people of both nations to coexist in peace and harmony, please start with acknowledging the truth. Spare us the “Hashewye” or apologetic acrobatic maneuvering.

    • Abinet

      Hayat
      You are the best!
      I am not from Tigray . I don’t understand any Tigringna .
      I’m sad because you are not an ethiopian . I don’t know why a bridge builder like you always called an ethiopian .
      I don’t blieve in abay Tigray thing at all. May be they thought about it long time ago. I don’t really know. However, right now they are busy building abay Ethiopia from which they benefit much better than abay Tigray . Derg used to say the same abay Tigray . Now we hear it from pfdj. Btw, in Ethiopia we say derg is Sheabia in tigrigna. ( they are the same)

  • ሃገረ ኤርትራ دولة إرتريا

    Those of you who say the impossible dream of “Abay Tigray” is an Eritrean concoction, I say you should read the 1976 TPLF Manifesto. It is very much part and parcel of Tigray’s agenda. Furthermore, it is not dead yet. In fact, it may be more alive now than ever because Tigrayans are feeling insecure regarding their future within the Ethiopian State. They are actively looking for alternatives in case the “democracy thing” and “one-person one-vote” bedrock principle of democracy does not work out for them. I don’t know what they will end up doing but they are actively looking for alternatives since the directive has come from America that in order to prevent future uprisings, Weyane has to allow one-person one-vote democracy in Ethiopia. Again, it is ridiculous to argue “Abay Tigray” is an Eritrean concoction when in fact it is in plain bold letters in the TPLF manifesto.

  • sm

    Nitrric,where R U?
    R U fired like me?
    Sorry.

  • T. Kifle

    Serray (the other great: Sal, I think I can name my own great)

    Why don’t you call the Ethiopian constitution by its proper name? What is your beef in the name TPLF?

    Having said that though even the worst constitutions are not bad if they are implemented as per the spirit being expressed in the articles. So the issue is not about whether the shelved Eritrean constitution is good or bad but whether it is ratified in consensus with the major political players in the country.

    Forms of elected governments are not many. What I know is a parliamentarian and presidential. In presidential systems of governance, the president is being elected directly by the majority votes of the electorate. In parliamentarian governments, the PM is head of government and is elected by the peoples representatives from a party with a majority seat in a particular election. For example by article 32(8) of the Eritrean constitution, the National assembly elects the president(as head of state and head of government) by majority vote. This kind of government is not in lieu with the conventional governance systems I ever know. And I don’t think that is a simple omission on the part of the ratifiers.

    The other interesting thing I found in the constitution is article 9. What does Eritrean national culture mean? national culture at what cost? how it goes with or against the individually(ethnic) established cultures of Eritreans? how it is different or similar to the common shared values of the entire citizenry as is expressed in a collective patriotic identity ? it’s very ambiguous to say the least. Article 25(5) calls citizens to “respect and defend” the constitution. I am clear with the “respect” part but why “defend”? how about groups or citizens who may want to change the constitution as per the provisions of the constitution(which in effect includes rejecting the existing one and work for amendment: and you know what it means for citizens of such trait fall under the heavy hands of the executive)?

    What I understand from the structuring and wording of the constitution is that it’s ideologically manipulated and obviously will face opposition from those who feel threatened or excluded. Eritrea is a new country and doesn’t have the political polarity Ethiopia is sustaining which means you can start it anyway you wish to but make sure that every major voice of the diversity is being taken care of. And I can sense, there are enough reasons to doubt this very constitution even for the reasons expressed by Amanuel Hidrat and others. The touchstone for a constitutional legitimacy should be in whether it accommodates minority rights and whether citizens and political forces have less issue on its major provisions.

    • Serray

      Selamat Sal, T. kifle and Emma the Stern,

      I hope you don’t mind I combined all three responses into one post

      Sal,

      I love sherman and Mr. peabody, it is a perverted version of pinky and the brain…one goes to the past to fix the present, the other spends all his present to destroy the present. For some weird reason, I want the brain to succeed at least once.

      Back to the constitution, I have almost the same feeling for it as you do. It is a tool that limits the powers of the government and acknowledges the rights of the individual. Every time someone starts with, “for me the constitution is…” I get discouraged.

      You were doing so fine until you write “Eritreans have managed to demolish all our other Large Unifying Themes”. No, Sal, the only Large Unifying Theme is the nation itself; the flag and the struggle are subject to discussion, to revision. They are moments in time. Your side, the winning side, has its version of the struggle, we are fighting for a footnote…”no, millions, not fifty six thousand people, died for the nation”…”no, the struggle transformed the leaders into unbelievable brutes”…and yg..”the struggle ended up becoming the means and the end”..etc.

      The nation is the endearing legacy; if the people are happily chugging along, the nation will represent the fruit of the struggle but if people are stuck and milked for more scarifies, the legacy becomes a burden. We are a moment in time unflattering to its legacy but with isaias gone and a constitutional governance in place, we will go back to your romantic view of it and we I hope get the deserved footnote in your version of history.

      T. kifle,

      Fair points. I am calling the solution, not the constitution, a tplf solution to ethiopia’s historical and traditional governing problem. I am accusing amanuel of bringing that solution to a nonexistent eritrean problem because our 23 years as nation does not require the kind of solution tplf implemented. I am emphasizing an underdog drafting a constitution addressing the grievance of all underdogs.

      The weird points you raised about our constitution are valid and there are a few others, for example, no age limit on both ends for the president – an infant and a senile old man have shot to be a president. I find it helpful to read the constitution in tandem with Dr. Bereket’s book “The Making of the Eritrean Constitution” just to get the thinking and the discussions that went behind the writing.

      You made a good point about the spirit of it. Another helpful way of looking at any constitution is that it is a living and evolving document. Take the american constitution, some of the good things in it, if you happen to be black, are the amendments. One of the things that angers the fiscal conservatives is the absence of balanced budget requirement in the constitution. One day I am sure they are going to amend it.

      Amanuel,

      T. kifle raised the thing that seems to be aggravating you; the power of the president. Yes, it is weird but all it does is combine what is mostly a ceremonial position, head of state, to the powerhouse, head of government. Now be honest, when was the last time the queen of England and the president of Ethiopia did anything useful? It is not a deal breaker. It is not worth plunging the nation into the unknown. The land and natural resources section is but since most of us feel that way, I am confident 75 percent of the voters can be convinced to amend it.

      As Sal said, a constitution is an operating manual; it limits the power of the government and codifies, solidifies, the right of the individual. There is no need to take a position against it simply because you have a picture of another version of it. I am sure as good or better minds than yours have defended it; it is time to drop your fetish and embrace it or risk an unknown future hoping people who can’t even agree on sitting arrangements will write your perfect constitution.

      • Semere Andom

        Hi Serray: for what it is worth the president of Eritrea in 1997 constitution is both the head of the state and executive, not merely ceremonial position like the queen.He has real power, the position is like the USA president.

        • Serray

          Selamat semere,

          True. If you replace the president with a prime minster, the eritrean system is a parliamentary system; the assembly elects the “prime minister” by a simple majority and the assembly can strip the “prime minister”, for a cause, by two third majority. The “prime minister’s” party needs a majority vote for him/her to win. Here is how Dr. Bereket handles the wrinkle, “the eritrean constitutiin makers considered the option of dual executive” but decided against it, “First, the development needs of a country like eritrea requires [?] unified, dynamic executive. Looking ahead to a time when there will be multi-parties, it is conceivable…the two executives could be locked in conflict representing diverse political views and interests. Second, and less grave reason has to do with duplication, delay and cost”.

          I think presidents Saleh Younis Jr., Mehret Hayat Adem or Wedi wedu ni semere might appreciate that. With isaias directing the writing of this constitution, I have to admit, though, there is an element of pandering to him.. just like leaving the implementation date unspecified.

          • Semere Andom

            Serray:

            President Sal Younis? only if romanticism is purged by then -)
            Any thing with this syndrome belongs to that ceremonial office remember?
            DIA directed the drafting process and to cheat the people he would be a devil’s advocate on the presidential terms. I think the pandering is part of the reason Emma is disgusted with the document

          • saay7

            Sem Arkey:

            Tigoyi alekha, lately. Serray wasn’t talking about me but future generations of enda Younis if they, God forbid, showed an interest in politics.

            I don’t agree with Serray on a couple of issues (they happen to be BIG ISSUES) and one of them is the claim he makes with absolute certainty that Isaias started the Badme War to avoid the implementation of the constitution. There is no evidence, not even circumstantial, for that one: it is a classic case of A preceded B; therefore A must have caused B. Here’s an alternative hypothesis:

            1. The Final draft of the constitution was exactly what Isaias Afwerki wanted. But this was not done via heavy-handedness but by careful selection of the Commissioners. If you control the input, you pretty much control the output.
            2. Why would he approve of a commission that had term limits and restricted his presidency to 10 years? Because, (a) at the time, he really enjoyed international respect as a one of the “New Generation of African Leaders” and term limits were what distinguished the so-called African Renaissance leaders from their predecessors, the “Big Men” of Africa; (b) the “I will get to it then” (kerkbelu iye). Kick the can down the road and 10 years later you can pull a Putin (creative way around constitutional term limit) or a Musevini (amending the constitution to allow a third, fourth, fifth term.)

            Emma:

            When you are talking about the ideal constitutional drafting process you envision, I wish you would factor in the risk factors. You keep referring to the model of Tunisia, the one success story of the Arab Spring and the one that is the least Arab and the least African of the lot. What you and Hayat are suggesting is that we give up the 1997 Constitution(which has the support of non-Isaiasist fraction of PFDJ) and trade it for some ideal that we will write from scratch (again.) Haven’t we seen this movie before with Iraq’s foolish”de-baathification” campaign that created a total power vaccum that invited everyone who has a gun?

            saay

          • Semere Andom

            Sal, Sal, I know I was just teasing ya, and not want talk about Younis Jr:-), he was also talking about Wedi wedu n Semere,
            Your were missing in action and engaging Mussie so

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Serray (the smart),

        You see, that is why you don’t understand my argument. My problem is not the president. It is the structural government how we elect the president according the 1997 document. You don’t elect a president from an assembly or a parliament. You elect a prime minister from a parliament. What ever the Eritrean people chose If it will be the president it should be elected by popular vote. If we chose a prime minister we he should be elected from the parliament. What we should be aware the nature of the leadership. The prime mister is accountable to the the parliament and the president is accountable to the people as such the harness to the power of both head of states is different. Now look according the document you are trying to defend, the president will be elected from the assembly and he elect his cabinet from the assembly. The president and the elected cabinet from the assembly as still members of the legislative body. How do you expect the legislative body to function as independent legislative body in such structure? I am still waiting to answer my questions Serray. You can’t mislead readers as to what my argument is and was. That is the thing that annoyed me. At least argue quoting me.

        Amanuel

        • Rodab

          Aman,
          Wow, thanks. Some of the stuff you mentioned, I didn’t see them from that angle, or may be I didn’t pay attention. Namely I am talking about, a president being elected by and accounted to the public whereas a prime minister is elected by a parliament and thus is accounted to it. That is true, but then in the prime ministership system,what happens to the separation of power and the checks and balances between the executive and legislative? Don’t those suffer if one body elects the other?

          • saay7

            Hi Rodab:

            This flaw in the design pointed out by Emma The Serious was one that was debated and I think it might be one of the questions I asked Dr. Bereket in our marathon interview in 2001.

            The president is elected by the party that has the majority in the Parliament (effect: president is accountable to parliament)
            president’s cabinet can come from the parliament (effect: parliamentarians who are cabinet members are accountable to the president)
            100% of the presidents cabinet can come from the parliament. And, there is no limitation on how big the cabinet can be; i.e., it can be the majority of the parliamentarians. (effect: parliament is subservient to the president.)

            But I consider this a technical problem with an easy fix* and it will not pass Serious Emma’s test.

            saay

            *”Easy fix” defined in the movie “Thank You For Smoking”

            Movie Producer (Pitching Product Placement): Sony has a futuristic sci-fi movie they’re looking to make.
            Cigarette Salesman: Cigarettes in space?
            Movie Producer: It’s the final frontier, Nick.
            Cigarette Salesman: But wouldn’t they blow up in an all oxygen environment?
            Movie Producer: Probably. But it’s an easy fix. One line of dialogue. ‘Thank God we invented the… you know, whatever device.’

        • saay7

          Emma:

          An excerpt from my interview with Dr. Bereket 13 years ago:

          [Article 46(2)]

          If the President picks his entire cabinet from the Assembly, are replacements appointed, elected or do they, too, remain vacant?

          The reason why Article 46 gives the President power to appoint ministers either from among the members of the National Assembly or from outside of the Assembly was to enable him/her to tap on as many sources as possible. The pool of talent, experience and expertise required for ministerial appointment may not be available among the members of the assembly. Now, if the President be so foolish as to pick all his ministers from the Assembly, irrespective of the requisite qualifications, the Ministers’ seats would not be filled by election or appointment; the Ministers will remain members and attend its meetings when required to do so pursuant to the rules and regulations (to be) issued by the Assembly. In their case, classical parliamentary rule should apply.

          You can find the six-part interview here:

          http://web.archive.org/web/20020603101435/http://awate.com/COLUMNISTS/ALNAHDA/bereket5.htm

  • Mussie Gebreab

    Hi Sem, who the heck is Derie?
    Is He anther invented Sudan Born Eritrean like Ali Salim?

    • tes

      @Mussie, you better have a Y-turn. Your chaotic words are smelling the divide and rule aproach, You better discuss on ideas if you are much interested on the ID, get your new PFDJ ID card from the embassies that you may be happy with. A belief on the available information is wisdom in the game of politics and then only you can tackle them. But, if you have bold refusal, then you will not have eyes to discuss in civility.

      • AOsman

        Inspector Mussie,

        Your sixth sense is exceptional, many forumers must be terrified, I think it is time they start behaving. You are our new “Onion Peeler”, keep up the good work :)…..Dr Dawit, Dr Haile and Dr Salih you have been busted so no more SHITARA, you are dealing with a “chiw zebele Asmarino”.

        Regards
        AOsman

        • Mussie Gebreab

          Wedri ops I mean AOsman, be carful what you wish you be next.

        • saay7

          AOsman:

          Roy Pateman wrote a book called “Eritrea: Even The Stones Are Burning”, a chronicle of the Eritrean revolution. I think it is a time for a sequel: “Eritrea: Even Its Educated Are Stone-headed.” Weridua asmara, the guy is what Asmarinos call “Haggye”:)

          saay

          • Dawit

            I don’t know which period of time you grew up in Asmara. But, Asmarinoes would normally call people like Mussie-“Fara not haggie”. Haggie is someone who was born and grew up in the villages but started to embrace asmarino-characters upon arrival in Asmara in order to integrate with Asmarinoes.. 🙂

          • saay7

            Dawit:

            Oh, yes, I know the difference between Fara and haggie. A fara doesn’t know any better: he is on a learning curve. A haggie doesn’t know any better either but thinks he does simply because he mimicked others (in his case, the ELF-RC Retardation Club.) And I know exactly where our friend belongs: he is a copycat:)

            saay

          • Mussie Gebreab

            SAAY, Don’t get you in your head when I call you Asmarino. All what you know is Akriya and Jaliah.

          • AOsman

            SAAY,
            Mussie is preparing a dossier on the pen names you use, calling him Haggie will just make him more determined to prove his fino Asmarino credential, I have been put under warning…his wediere behave was sufficient signal 🙂 that I shall behave. “TIM MERITZE”.

            In the middle of serious discussion, you going to have to enjoy some of Mussie’s entertainment.

            Regards
            AOsman

      • Mussie Gebreab

        Tes, you se it all about CREDIBLITY. the Awate team ( Saleh Gadi and Saleh Younis) has been telling the public that they swear Ali Salim was not a pen name but a real person with real Identification card. Now they came and tell the public boldly that Ali Salim was a pen name and his real name is Younis Hammid and came with this invented Biography. He is born and raised in Sudan, Graduated from the University of Khartoum and so on. who they are kidding? for the people who has short memory like the Awate Team.

  • Ermias

    Hi Helen. While I understand your resentment, we need to clean house first. Please be honest with yourself, is it wise at this time to be belligerent and antagonistic to Ethiopia? Do we have the necessary means to be engaged in a protracted war? We have hit rock bottom now. All the pride needs to go away and we should learn to be humble and get ourselves out of the dirt. The best way to ascertain Eritreas sovereignty is by building strong diplomatic and economic ties with our neighbors and the rest of the world. Weyane this weyane that is just self distracting. All indices in the world rank Eritrea and Ethiopia in the bottom four or five. There is no pride that can come from that. We need to wake up, smell the coffee, and catch up with the rest of the world.

  • Ermias

    Naaki zeygibae shim hibomuki adhin bella. I am a man of principles and the AT recognized that and I am with the privileged few. What an honor!

    • sm

      A man of Principle does not flip’flop.But sticks to his stand and principles.
      Congra for your promotion.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Sem & Ghezae

    Sem, I will pull to the top the last thread of your comment to give it a new life as I see it very important. Like what brother Ghezae has said, this topic needs a full blown article. But let me chip on it, from where you left it. I have already formulate a title to counter argue Younis’s argument and I will definitely frame it in a way to make it clear our positions to our readers. So far Younis’s argument is “situational argument.”…..I am on wait and see standby.

    Back to your point, I am for “justice and reconciliation”. Once we dismantle the state apparatus with its political culture, we seperate the “PFDJ in the government with their top instrumental figures” and the “PFDJ in the rank and files”. With the former we do justice for the victims on the crimes they did, and with the later we do reconciliation. I believe this is judicious. In my view if the rank and files want to keep the party (PFDJ) as their party they will have it. We respect their rights. What is important in the early stage is dismantling the institution of oppression and coercion. If like what you said that “we are all in bondage, we by their crimes and them by their demons”, that is the only way to rectify it.

    Ghezae,
    I know your focus is on the one man. Though, I disagree with that premises, I fully respect your position. The only response to that argument I have is: If it wouldn’t be a systemic problem (an entrenched system) the hero’s attempt (Wedi Ali) would haven’t be foiled by wedi Efriem. You know how they foiled the coup. No need to go to the details. But…but, what I see is the “alliance of views”. I believe an alliance of views to the same enemy of our people, me the system and you the head of the system. We make peace on that.

    Regards,
    Amanuel Hidrat

    • Serray

      Selamat Amanuel,

      I wanted to say, selamat Gezae, SG, Sal, Emma and Haile zere but that is a mouthful.

      Certain things can not be left hanging by saying “we agree to disagree”; this is one of them. A blurred position might be carried to eritrea after isaias and set things on fire. Continuing with SG’s train analogy, what if we don’t have the force to stop the train but we can stop the conductor; are you going to abandon the idea of taking out the conductor who is for sure taking the train to an abyss?

      On my part (and I am sure Gezae’s), takeout isaias is tactical, not philosophical position. We believe in the existence of pfdj/shaebia culture even more deeply than most of you. Ours is acknowledgment of the limitation of the political opposition. What makes you (you know who you are) insist on staying on your philosophical corner is your complete rejection of the 1997 constitution in favor of importing tplf’s type of a solution to a nonexistent eritrean problem – now that ali has abandoned the dictatorship of highlanders, we can safely say that ethnic domination theory is a pure import from ethiopia.

      If I were in your shoes, that is, if I believe on “decentralization wey mot” or “federalism wey mot” I would be stuck with weeding out the pfdj and its constitution knowing there is no force to do it. Don’t get me wrong, the state ownership of land is an abomination to every eritrean except the hardcore marxist shaebia. Because it is, it will receive the 75 percent vote needed to amend it.

      The duo, takeout isaias and implement the constitution, are perfect together. They do what most eritreans can live with…except those who reject the constitution out of principle and not out of pragmatic or historical matter. All constitutions, all governments for that matter, are imported (shaebia regime is a grotesque form of socialism), insisting on importing your version of constitution instead of trying the one isaias ignited a war not to implement is a luxury only people with choices can afford. Projecting this regime on the constitution or rejecting it because it was directed by pfdj is a luxury only the brain damaged can afford.

      Please remember this, if somalia became our future when one day we wake up the way we almost did last january – without isaias – it is because we in diaspora presented a muddled and undisciplined demands that didn’t include implementing the 1997 constitution.

      Sometimes I feel our positions are becoming fetish instead of rational and evolving point of views.

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Serray,

        I am sorry Serray, you sound like a naive individual who says “anything Ethiopia does is evil to the Eritrean proper”. Not smart as Saay use to call you. Wow ! what I did understood from your comment is, you did’t even understand my argument. Now I come to realize when Saay was challenging you and others to summarize the argument of YG. I know now from what angle he was coming. I will ask you to summarize my argument from the beginning to the end. Don’t make me laugh please. Instead of arguing what it might or might not have a problem with my prescription in an event we chose to introduce such government, your accusation becomes “an imported one”. It isn’t an imported argument nor is unrealistic to Eritrean proper. Why I will come later towards the end of my comment.

        But let me help you if I could by saying this: All federal government are decentralized government but all decentralized government is not federal government. ( make a research on that). Now The Ethiopian government is a federal government and my argument was decentralized government short of federal government that allows the administrative units (what ever those units might be – I have my preference go an read it) the political and administrative power while leaving the legislative and judiciary to the central government. Do you ever read in the Ethiopian constitutions any kind of that sort. Now you sound to defend the power to your ethnicity roaring with the military command like that of Semere. You don’t even attempt to argue on the specificity of the text. Just imported..

        My friend I gave you a detailed reasons why the 1997 document is a flaw in its institutional structure (a) where it allows the state and the government to be overlapped (you couldn’t distinguish between the two entity) (b) where it allows an excessive power to the executive body ( to Serray the future Eritrean president). That is, being a president elected from the parliament shows the hybrid nature of government government. The constitution doesn’t give the freedom to own private property such as land. The institution doesn’t guarantee equitable sharing in every way of life (politics, economy..etc). I could go on counting. So if you have really brilliant mind (as Sal always allude you) examine the existing constitution and bring an alternative one. Simply “tirhassena” doesn’t make you look good.

        In case you disagree with my pinpointing its flaw (the document), argue one by one and tell me how it isn’t. The same with the “governmental structural theory” I argued, rebuttal one by one as I did to the 1997 document. if you go just as you said imported…..you are not serious. Please if you could, I would like you to argue in full blown article even with your pen-name. The team will allow you definitely as they did to Ali Salim. At least I have the courage to write and speak openly with my name.

        • Mussie Gebreab

          Ali Salim hmmm, they allow him because he is Saleh Younis. otherwise Awate Team will never post articles without proper ID Present to them.

          • Saleh Johar

            Don’t worry about AT. It never publishes anything unless the author is known to it. It has always been like that. But are you fond of confusing people, do you get a kick out of it? Here are the public ID, not stop being lazy and do due diligence to satiate your curiosity, if your comment is innocent (though it doesn’t sound like it); Since you are commenting an article which you obviously didn’t read (or didn’t understand), here is the public ID, the writer says:
            1. I grew up and went to school in Sudan and did a bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of Khartoum – graduated in 1994.
            2. I went back to Eritrea same year and worked – the last one being at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
            3. I did the 9th round of the national service and was sent back to finish my service at the MFA.
            4. In 2001 I went along with the students who were sent to South Africa for an MA in Economics at the University of the Western Cape but had to leave (to Canada) before finishing and graduating.
            5. I tried to go back to school and managed to do an MA in Human Security & Peacebuilding from the Royal Roads University in Canada.
            6. Politically I used to be a member of the General Union of Eritrean Students (very few may still remember very little about it) until its dissolution in mid eighties and was a member of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students until I left Eritrea in 2001 – two of the most amazing mass organizations that I am very proud to have been associated with.

            Mussie, bring along a few brain cells when you comment here!

          • Mussie Gebreab

            My Friend, you can create as much Bio as you want. But from the first day Ali Salim appeared back then I never had doubt He was Saleh Younis. many people thought Ali Salim was Saleh Johar Gadi But I just knew he was Saleh Younis. Because of the freeze Tigrigna in Bracket Ali Salim used was topical of saleh Younis. you can laugh as much as you want but those Tigrigna are also typical Asmarinos like Saleh Younis but not some one who is From Keren, Barka or Some one who born and raised I Sudan as Ali Salim is Claiming now. Go Banana now and ridiculed me as much as you want too!!!

          • Semere Andom

            Mussie:
            So your analysis is behavioral and you have no proof of AS identity.Did you read Derie’s comment about AS? Derie also studied economics at UofK, am not sure when he graduate, he was studying in1990. Derie corroborated AS as a colleague at the MFA, So why are you doing this?
            AS’s identity is not an issue, but his recent wacky ideas, namely the good people who do evil? So can we debate his recent ideas and hate mongering past ideas?
            Sem

          • Dawit

            hahahah,,
            You just admitted that you expunged your client’s (Saleh Younus) information. Keeping your clients’ information secret has beeen difficult for you because they are juicy secrets.

            Why do you create secrets and then end up spilling the beans.

            BTW: Can you do my taxes; I don’t care whether you luck the willpower and determination to keep secrets, for I don’t have nothing to hide. I have not done any “wengel” against any one.

          • Mussie Gebreab

            Any Time Dawitom!!! But do you know what expunge means? I don’t think so

          • Dawit

            You have a list of clients names on your confidential file. You are telling us one by one as to who is who whehter one is Tigraway …that’s waht I meant. Once you reveal some one’s info, it stops to be a secret

          • Mussie Gebreab

            That is not what expunge means Dr. Dawit. I am Sorry you just deleted the word Expunged from your early posting. my Bad!!!

          • Saleh Johar

            Me ridicule you! Why would I do that? You are doing it to yourself in front of hundreds. BTW, I am sure you are Colonel Sponge-bob. Your rational is just the same, cartoonish, no one from Asmara and Keren (God forbid 🙂 or any place in Eritrea I know of, would reason like you do.

          • Mussie Gebreab

            Probably Ali Salim from Sudan do!!!

          • AOsman

            Inspector Colombo, since you exposed Salih Younis :), he is going to boycott you accountancy service. Man! There is no client confidentiality.

          • Mussie Gebreab

            AOsman, Saleh Younis is not my client.

          • saay7

            MerHaba Mussie:

            You busted me! ሕይዚ’ማ ኣግኒኻኒ!! I salute your investigative skills. Honestly, since I have been writing as Ali Salim and people have been crediting Saleh Gadi for it, I have been fuming! Why does Saleh Gadi get all the credit for my masterpieces. You are the first one who solved the riddle. I am impressed, Inspector Closseau.

            Now, it is up to Semere Andom to solve the new riddle: how do we know that Mussie Gebreab is not Saleh Younis? Hmmm. The answer is here:

            http://awate.com/saleh-aa-younis-ii/

            saay7. Sey Sete

          • Mussie Gebreab

            Hi SAAY, Don’t worry Mussie Gebreab would not be Saleh Younis because the Atlanta Eritreans know who Mussie Gebreab is. SAAY I hope KWEGHALKA and you will come clean to the reader and tell them that your name is not Younis Hossein but Saleh Abdurahman Ahmed Younis. Saay Twgah Emo tirah ktbl aribuka. meas kemzweghaka seb gerimwolo.

        • Serray

          Selamat Amanuel,

          That is what I mean by fetish. Stop pretending your preferred constitution is original, you copied ALL of it from some book; whether it works better or not in eritrea is not a proven fact. The last time we argued, you came across as someone who has never read the 1997 constitution or completely forgotten it. Because you are stuck with your first understanding of what a constitution is, everything I wrote then and today flew by your head. I rejected your communal rights in favor of rock solid individual rights. You run from the tplf solution but your “the institution doesn’t guarantee equitable sharing in every way of life (politics, economy..etc)” is a direct lift off from ethiopian solution to a nonexistent eritrean problem. I brought sections from the constitution to show that the president is subject control. Aitbke indyu zebkiyeni bele sebai…I say lets end this nonsense about your fetish-like approach to constitution and you want me to write an article or summarize your fetish.

          There are things I don’t like about the 1997 constitution, what I am saying is, pushing for it might be the only thing standing between us and somalia when a vacuum happens after the death the crooks call aya. I never said anything in it is my first choice; what I am saying is, one day the constitution might be the only thing that could save us from chaos. Now, suspend your “my constitution” type fetish for a minute and try to grasp what I am saying. This is not a competition, it is accepting the best of two distinct choices: chaos or orderly transition.

          Sal, please, please, please, find Amanuel a title…I suggest “the great brain”. You are welcome, Haile the great.

          • Saleh Johar

            Serray the Great!
            Easy on Emma! I am for constitutionalism but not for “the constitution” you have in mind. I don’t think adopting the 97 memo is a guarantee against chaos. Many countries with established constitutions. I also believe the signs are not encouraging. I see adopting the constitution would be legitimizing everything we oppose the PFDJ for. Ten years ago, given a positive attitude from some people, I put my name on it. But soon, the chameleon longed for its previous color. I had to drop my support for it in no time. I considered that pragmatism, but I discovered pragmatism without principle is a broken tool.

            I also learned something else. At the end, issues such as the constitution and other stuff are negotiated between parties–of course public views would hopefully be taken into consideration, like the draft 97 constitution that was supposedly debated for two years then it was presented as a final copy exactly the same as it appeared as a draft–with the exception of a tiny article. Since you read the constitution, you know which one that article is.

            At the end, I don’t see any new ideas on this. I don’t know since when you debated the constitution but I have been debating it since the mid-nineties and the debate is boringly recycled. It is amazing how the debate has not changed one bit since then. Only people changing their position for or against in a way one can’t explain.

          • saay7

            Merhaba Serray The Sublime:

            Guess we are doing King Arthur and his Knights at the Round table:) Our friend Emma who is, by his own admission, serious with no sense of humor and, by everybody’s admission, a contributor who is, like the World Bank, always recommending austerity plans (don’t discuss this topic, discuss this topic), I hereby knight him as Emma The Stern.

            Now, a trip to the Wayback Machine. (Serray, if you want to blow my mind, tell me you have watched Sherman and Mr. Peabody cartoon series with an altered state of mind) So way back in 1996, I was trying to make the point that all constitutions are the same–and I published (in my little Eritrean Exponent magazine) the constitution of Hamas (purged some religious references) and challenged people to tell me who wrote it. But then my gimmick was topped and the point was driven home even more dramatically by a mentally disturbed Eritrean living in Canada, but I repeat myself ( Semere and Ghezae, rim shot!) who wrote a constitution for Eritrea that, if I put it next to Dr. Bereket’s version, 9 of 10 of the readers couldn’t tell them apart.

            Anyway, my friend Serray the Sublime, the 1997 constitution should be supported not because it is great document (far, far from it: it is boilerplate stuff) but because we Eritreans had managed to demolish all our other Large Unifying Themes: (a) the green olives on blue background flag (which is now dismissed as a “UN flag”) (b) the Armed Struggle (which many of you spend a lot of time scratching its “Made With Great Pride In Eritrea” label and tell us that it is alien, the work of Arabists, Islamist and self-hating Habesha) (c) the inviolability of the land, which a lot of the separatists tells us is just an Italian construct. To me, a constitution is just an operating manual–and anything that alters the balance of power (between the State and the citizen in favor of the citizen) is good enough.

            saay

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Abu Selah (Saay),

            I am not stubborn in my nature nor am I aggressive on my belief. But I see myself as realistic. When I say let us debate on this and keep others for later, it is simply I saw the urgency of saving our people from the shackles of tyranny. What the hell will help to the oppressed Eritrean people talking about history and ghedli now? What the heck will help talking about history to build the already affected trust among our social groups now,? if you don’t address their grievances how do you want them to fight on the same fight together? We are not in the same page on how future Eritrean we be, and hence all kind of contradictions and fears on display in front of our faces. You know my drift. That was all my plea. Otherwise I would have chosen to stay strictly with my professional practice and deep to it, in to the mystery of science. Does that makes me odd to say let us focus and make our priority to save our people as it is a matter of death and life to them and all the reality they are in? I don’t think so. Abu saleh Gedef eba.

            Reagrds,
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • Hayat Adem

            Dear Serray and Sal,
            As to me, thinking of this constitution as a starting point is a nonstarter. Constitutions are respected for two things: a) for the long and intensive process they endured on their path to birth, b) on the nature of inclusiveness, assurance and future sensibilities each article reflects as basis for the aspiration of its authors. The authors of democratic constitutions are the people, the contract owners. This constitution was conceived at a very narrow platform and ended that way. Its spirit is not what it needs to be. At one place it states as if it is a document of contract between the people and the government. The people own the constitution entirely unless you are talking about monarchical systems. The government doesn’t co-own it. It is entrusted with specific responsibilities to run national affairs. The constitution provides limits to its power exercise. If it exceeds those limits, the constitution has a provision for the people to fire the government and give that responsibility to another party. I can’t imagine to believe such a document has benefited the furnishing works of a refined lawyer who was doctoring its birth. Most constitutions written at later time have a late comer’s advantage which you don’t see sufficiently reflected in this document. The other point is constitutions are negotiated documents among groups and parties. That where their anchored national center comes from. For me, it would not be right if a perfect constitution that fits Eritrean reality and aspiration was written by a group of professionals and handed to the nation. There is no short-cut way to pregnancy and birth of a baby. That is what makes it dearly and strong bondage. All the hard work must be passed. It is the same with a constitution. People have to participate directly and through their representative political parties to negotiate over the contract. Only when painful processes of reflections, discussions… all that natural laboring happen do people consider the document as their own child. Their involvement in the process motivates them to own it. The sacrifice they made motivates them to protect it. It is about the process as much as it is about the product. I can’t imagine we are even entertaining to honor a document where no single opposition party has aired its opinion on it before it becomes a law. If we believe that it has to be a negotiated document, then parties have to negotiate. I understand the notion of urgency to start somewhere but urgency doesn’t have to be dictating you to start with a wrong step. We can fix a transitional document, a national charter or sort of for a couple of years as a guiding document to the political parties so that we take enough time to get the constitutional process right.

          • saay7

            Selamat Hayat:

            Eritrea has had two constitutions: one drafted in 1952 and one in 1997.

            Whenever I met with the scholars who were part of the 1997 Constitution Commission, I had one request: do not completely ignore the 1952 constitution. I argued that that document is sacred to a large number of Eritrea’s stakeholders–predominantly Muslims and lowlanders–as they consider it a document that they negotiated in good faith and whose violation by Haile Selasse was THE cause of the Armed Struggle. Since 99.999% of the commissioners had an EPLF background and, since in the EPLF folklore the 1952 constitution is Dr. Matienzo/UN constitution, I was given a polite smile (the universal sign for “thanks but no thanks.”)

            The 1952 Constitution was what constitutions ought to be: negotiated between the stakeholders of the State. It reflected their values and their formula for power sharing. Of course it had lots of limitations (it was, after all, a constitution written for a federated state under the Ethiopian crown) but the PROCESS ensured a sense of ownership by the stakeholders to the extent that its violation was considered legitimate cause to wage resistance/revolution. Read “The Eriteran Covenant” by Majlis Ibrahim Mukhtar: it says that Eritrean Muslims trace their nationalism to the 1952 constitution.

            To its supporters, the 1997 Constitution enjoys legitimacy because it was discussed extensively and voted on at constituent and national assemblies. There was no barrier to entry to join the discussions: you didn’t have to show 2% receipt or menqesaqesi. Presentations were made by commissioners and they were discussed in good faith. Massive notes were taken on the comments of the participants (unless they are shredded) and they can be used as reference. (This is from my eyewitness: unlike the Referendum Commission, the Constitution Commission did not provide a post-draft summary of the process.)

            The approaches used by the 1952 and 1997 constitutions were different: the former was a negotiation between parties with a foreigner as an arbitrator; the latter was the case of the ruling party proposing a formula for governance with the people and the technocrats moderating its ambitions to perpetuate its dominance. Now here’s the thing, Hayat: the 1997 constitution has a strong support within the non-Isaiasist PFDJ. They consider it the culmination of their life’s work: bring about an independent Eritrea, create a document for constitutional rule.

            It was a mistake to set aside the 1952 constitution and disenfranchise a large number of Eritreans. It would only compound the error if we ignore the 1997 constitution and say “let’s start all over again.” This is what happened in Iraq, remember?

            saay

          • Hayat Adem

            Sal,
            It probably is a good idea to consider both documents as green discussion papers (for input) and see if parts of them can be integrated to the constitution.

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Hayatom,

            Wonderfully put. Do you know why they did it? They want Eritrea to be ruled by one party which is now PFDJ. Nothing else. The chairman of the commission should know better than anyone of us or any lawyer for that matter because of his education and experience. But if an expert of his stature tells you and put reasons as one of the crateria the experience of EPLF (I don’t know why he uttered like that), everything I had a hope at that time was evaporated in the air.

            If a constitution is a political document before it become a legal covenant, it should have been processed by the people of Eritrea along with their political organizations. The know it why they did it and they will fight to implement it. We Eritreans are unlucky then and now. I don’t see any hope and future tranquility with that document. By all accounts it isn’t a unifying document.

          • Hayat Adem

            It shows about the insatiable political hunger of the pfdj to transcend without merit. it was a liberation front. instead of merging forces of other fronts with similar mission, it wiped out its opponent and imposed its dominance. it then finished the struggle for independence, and in stead of faciliatating a foundation for nation building which necessaites the participation of citizens and all or most polical actors, it imposed its exclusive posture again and transferred itself to assuming full non-negotiated government power. apparently, that was not enough for the eplf. This constitution shows EPLF’s projection of itself into the far future without sharing the political space. And this from a backward organization with no new ideas and self improvement is too much. eplf molded the entire eritrean field to fit its feet. then the entire people and country. with this constitutional attempt, the future….

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Abu Selah (Saay),

            Gedef Eba Saay, I am not a stubborn nor do I took myself as influential on the Eritrean politics. The only reason I often say let us do this and leave other issues for the future is, simply I see the urgency of saving our people from the shackles of oppression never seen in their history. what the heck does help talking about history and Ghedli to our people now.? What a hell does it help history to the deep rooted mistrust among our social groups that clearly hindering us to have a united strategy against the regime in Asmara? Do you know brother, that I would have been preferred to stay to my professional work which is life science deep into it, looking in to its mystery. Unfortunately we are taking our profession as way of living only not as endeavor to its unknown discovery. The Eritrean politics is taking all our energy what ever one has to do for his living. Since I am from the science background, there is no stubborn in it disciplines, as it is and you also very well know , as in politics. So trust me, I am looking forward to exit from the disciplines of politics which is full of arrogance, dishonesty, with full unfactual argument, only all intended to win argument. Luckly science doesn’t have that characteristics it is always an open endeavor to discovery focused to improve the quality of human being. I hope I am not opening an argument on the ethics of different discipline of knowledge. Spare me from that please. I just mentioned it to show you that I am not stubborn.

            Regards,
            Amanuel Hidrat

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Serray (the great)

            I think inadvertently, I touched your emotion by knocking the limbic system of your brain which is responsible for the human emotions when I try to strip you the adjective “smart” from you. Cool down my brother. We negotiate with Saay who by the way who gave that tittle. I saw his case somehow convincing (I will not go into detail). So still you will have it, and therefore I will start to call you Serray the great. Just kidding only for smoothing emotions.

            All democratic programs are the same, all federalism governments are the same, all decentralized governments are same, except society make a little change within the frame to fit their reality. I did try to take from the united states constitution on the equitable power part of it (check the senate representation of the states irrespective their population). Check the South Amercian countries the nature of their decentralizing governance you will see the variety of it. Why is all this variety, because countries try to find something that fits to their reality – all to answer the grievances of their society. So my friend I haven’t said my suggestion is a new and an original. That accusation washout from tongue.

            So if you are kind enough to me and to the readers why don’t answer my questions I put forward to you. As to the constitution of the 1997 you can’t accuse me as I don’t read it. Without reading I couldn’t describe the nature of governance that document offered to us, and I could mention all its flaws without reading it. However you could argue for whatever that document is valuable in your understanding. In my view it isn’t a uniting document and I gave all my reasons. You said it isn’t “your first choice” as it isn’t to me. But why don’t tell us your first choice, it might become the choice of our people. The whole idea of the debate to see an alternative to that document. Last but not least Individual right and group rights are inseparable so one fight for group interest is also fighting for individual rights. Make your reading correct on the conceptual and practical relation of “group” and “individual”.

          • tafla

            selam Serray,

            sHaQ qetilkani, habromay awx’alu endo. Read this article if you have not already.

            I really admire the political skills you are showing, most of all you disregard for being seen as an important intellectual and all attempts of appeasement :-).

            http://www.asmarino.com/articles/1142-eritrean-constitutions-contrast-and-comparison-

      • Haile Zeru

        Hi Serray, Ghezae, Aman and all
        Ghezae is saying (I do not want to put words in your mouth I am just summarizing you thoughts from the above post) that PFDJ is so centralized that all lines (orders and information) lead to the center. No sideway relevant information flows. That is it is not a Pyramid system. It is a star type of organization. All information flows inside to one point and all orders start from that exact point.
        How does the center exert its influence (orders) to the periphery? What incentives does it use? I think, money, ranks, corruption, promises, threats, conflict and competition management between individuals etc..
        Does the periphery exerts any influence to the center? This is the point to think about. What tools do the generals, colonels and the Kisha- Misha have to influence Issayas’s conduct in political and other areas of interest to the country? Ghezae is saying Nill (correct me of I am wrong).

        Based on these type of assessment Ghezae would need to outline the mode of struggle.

        On the other hand Amanuel Hidrat is saying it is a system that is made of mutual benefit and interests.
        Even if the upper echelons are disabled the rest would be self-sustaining.
        The mode of struggle for this is to dismantle the core and let the periphery be whatever it wants to be.

        Serray point is more directed to the opposition. What is holding back the opposition from mounting a meaningful challenge to the regime? According to Serray, it is the non-adherence to the 1997 constitution by the opposition. If we adhere all of us, opposition, to the ratified constitution the people will know what to expect and therefore they would rally with the opposition.

        For me the issue of constitution can come later. Now taking out this system by any means. And later to form a Constitutional system, that adheres to all the international human right laws should be instituted. But now arguing about even the 1997 constitution is useless. I felt provoked by Semere Tesfay argument and I delved a little bit into the constitutional argument. But I do not think it is particularly important at the moment. We have this ugly system dismantling it is the first priority. The fastest and easiest way to get read of it is greatly appreciated before we say good bye to our beloved country. Regarding the disagreement with the Constitution of 1997 even Dr. Bereket himself said that given chance he would change certain parts. So the need to amend it is across the board. By the way some of the problems are generated by this government dismantling it would ease a lot of hardship.

        All your arguments are important because to dismantle the system the equation is made up by the strength of the system (knowing its weakness) and the tactics that makes the opposition strong enough to overcome theis entrenched system.

        Those who made up u-turns gave up on the second side of the equation therefore they are looking for
        middle ground. That is co-existence with PFDJ. After 40 years with EPLF/PFDJ by now one should realize that co-existence is futile. If you do not get rid of them they will.

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Merhaba Haile Zeru,

          Well done on the summary of everyone’s point of view. At least mine is perfectly done into three lines. Amazing. One point to add, as to why I wrote my last article is to build trust. We have deep mistrust within our society. Otherwise I could have hold it. One who swims in the contradiction of our society will see it vivedly. Those who are telling you otherwise don’t know their society exactly.

          Regards,
          Amanuel Hidrat

          • Haile Zeru

            Hi Emma,
            Good that I got yours right. It is the most natural one. Ones PFDJ is dismantled of its terror aparatus, death squads and an army inside an army there is no democratic rule that it will forbid it from existing. It might collapse on its own. But democratically no way one can ban it.

    • ghezaehagos

      Selam Aman,

      Allow me to continue from this excerpt to keep the flow and answer the question.

      “…But Isaias is more than PFDJ. He is the military supremo. He is the intelligence top chief. He is the economy czar. He is everything beyond and above PFDJ.

      Again, I would like to refer to my venerable friends what influenced me and possibly others (apart from many other reasons) in switching the name from PFDJ to Issais regime. As tyranny doesn’t begin and end with ours; let us see how other dissidents call the regime that persecuted them.

      The ingenuity doesn’t take away but is smarter, easier to understand, and can be understood by both our people and international community and media which we need to be on our side. Please check these ruling party name’s which are equivalent to Popular Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) and notice neither the opposition nor the international community knows them with the party names (which as Sal once noted they are neither of the words they put as Holy Roman Empire, a’ la Voltaire.)

      Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya= that is clear

      Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party of Syria= you know this one

      Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party of Iraq= and this one

      National Democratic Party= I won’t tell this one for now.

      All I am saying is if others who have less evil regime than ours is not callig them
      with the tyrant’s name, isn’t time to learn from them and smartly target ours
      by calling it Issais regime?”

      I have got the opportunity to learn more of inside-Eritrea recently. Let us quickly browse what is inside PFDJ? PFDJ ( strictly speaking chaired by the ailing Alamin with Yemane G/Ab, Zemehret and Kisa (?) on the sides), is the ruling party of Eritrea. But we know factually these guys neither command an army nor oversee the intelligence infrastructure. At best, they are employed in the political, propaganda, information (mis) services of the regime. If the pillars of the regime are said to be, intelligence (both foreign, and domestic), military (standing army of 250,000), economic, PFDJ is just part of the regime. Yemane G/ab was not kidding around when he promised the family of Naizghi Kiful that the late minister was going to be buried in Eritrea. You know the result. The government side is the weakest. The ministers are routinely humiliated, slapped around if need be; they hold the ministerial portfolio; but the have no authority. The vast intelligence networks don’t know each other; each works in specific assignment. Some colonels are powerful than the generals. Some Br. Generals spend their time lamenting like a Sawa recruit. You mentioned Wedi Efrem. Technically, he is not PFDJ; nor is he powerful. There are lot of regimes the defence minsters are said to be very powerful–Egypt’s Mubarek; Turkey and Pakistan; as their armies or intelligence services are so powerful and are called ‘state with in state.’ Even some of the regimes were referred by the tyrant’s name; “Mubarek regime”, “Musharaf regime’ etc…

      In Eritrea, there is only one person that own the state power as his personal property; no general; or intelligence chief or party chair shares that power. Even King John of 1200 medieval England had to contend with his barons after 1215 (magna carta.) The power concentrated in this one person probably has never seen in history.

      True Aman, the facts you and Haw Saleh Gadi mentioned are not disputable. Our political ‘culture’, the PFDJ system are culprits. My humble suggestion is these terms tend to amorphous and not cover the whole story. The system, the pillars, the different tentacles are all lead to and controlled by one man. Hence, recalibration of the nomenclature is all I suggested.

      Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya= that is clear

      Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party of Syria= you know this one

      Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party of Iraq= and this one

      National Democratic Party=.*

      All I am saying is if others who have less evil regime than ours is not callig them
      with the tyrant’s name, isn’t time to learn from them and smartly target ours
      by calling it Issais regime?”
      Thanks,
      Ghezae Hagos
      *= that is Mubarek’s regime in Egypt. I never knew it was called NDP until today…

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Merhaba Ghezae,

        I will get back to you. I am doing this stupid Eritrean politics by stealing time from my work. Isn’t it sad when everything and everywhere becomes politics in our life. Even it interferes in our daily professional work. Sad ..Sad..Sad.
        Regards,
        Amanuel

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Haw Ghezae,
        I read your argument and is very persuasive. But I have still questions on the degree of the concentration of power, its tentacles, and its tenacity. I see it intact and you see it loose. Time will tell us and time will give its judgement. The alliance of ideas will persist and surely will prevail. Keep up the good work.
        Hawka,
        Amanuel Hidrat

  • Hayat Adem

    you are right and you are right.
    the thing is this: i am from the school that is of the view that great things can be done with the following enabling environments in our godebho: 1- we need peace (that should be a must as without it nothing good happens)- that will lead us to trust and full fledged mobilization towards development. 2- economic cooperation (trade, business network, investment, mobility of people). that will lead to optimized integration. if you are an economist, the first visible thing you see is, ethiopia and eritrea are not meant to compete but complement. it is so amazing the advantages we can harvest when you pay attention to this aspect- almost perfectly set to sap each other blessings in market marriage. I can really describe this element at length in a more passionate way had i not feared of boring awatistas. 3- appreciation of the positive fraternity. we are not countries starting our relationship now and from zero. we had evolved from layers of past bondage. such values should not be thrown into the ditch as if it is not useful or cheap. those are our heritages and bridge fabrics. we don’t have to over-politicize them now but we don’t have to kill them either. in fact, we can let them play their natural roles in terms of connecting and blending our societies. we don’t never have another people in the whole world that had shared history with us as much as the people of Tgray. you don’t have another people in the entire planet who look exactly like us and speak our language. this is us and it should mean something what is it that makes us uncomfortable to look after each other (not looked down at ) and live in peace and love. The opposite of this is not only bad, unfair, immoral and unjust. it is harmful to the very eritrean interest. if you hate them they hate you back. you hate them more. they hate you more back. you cannot move away, you cannot move them away. you can not defeat the whole people by sheer force and keep their heads down all the time. they can’t do that on the Eritrean people. it is only a recipe for vicious circle of self harming and constantly evolving tension and conflict. so how do you want to build eritrea without making peace with them? do you want to build a wall of hate for generations to come?
    some folks are very short-sighted. they are itched by self-urge of massaging their egos by carelessly insulting people without thinking its long term impact. they pay less attention how badly they are soiling the future. that is the gravity of my irritation. it is when how i understand this issue has to be delicately handled and some inconsiderate folks are less wise on it that i react. my reactions are targeted at those dangerous individuals.

    • Semere Andom

      Hayatina (saay, come on it is not Hayatom, it is Haytina with an Italian suffix:))
      You are wrong for the first time since I started reading you, you are never boring, no matter what you say, you are the very antidote of boredom. So please make my weekend and passionately, strongly and eruditely present it.
      I agree with you on the tone, on your vision and your understanding this simple issue that is needlessly complicated by you know who.
      If you are referring to Erimias’s comment, I wish multiplying like flies could be said about us maybe our sheer numbers could have furnished us with some people with vision and maybe our intellectuals would not have being hoodwinked by a chogar danga and the effect of Ghedli glamorizing would have been less, remember that glamorizing was not invented now, it was them who and glamorized it during its humble genesis.
      If you are referring to my exchange with Eyob by ” the inconsiderate” individuals, I was also targeting those whose cruelty pushed people to follow the Isaias.
      Hawki
      Sem

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Haytom,

      What a prophetic forward looking human being you are. You put it in a rational thinking way in an irrational regional politics. I wholeheartedly for it. Ahm…when reality lags behind our desire it is always painful. Just hold it as a principle. I think you are an economist by training as all your efforts are directed to cooperation and development in this debating forum. One unsolicited advice though, Know and recognize with whom you are debating in order your argument to get its deserved meaning. In short select the privy ones to that discipline of knowledge and the rest to learn from that engagement. Keep up and avoid chaotic individuals.

      Amanuel H.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Hayata, you are brilliant. that wasn’t what I thought. keep it up.

  • Hayat Adem

    in political discourse, there is cheap ghetto nonsensical exchange, and there is a constructive positive one. we’re for the latter. we can be sensitive as well as tolerant on the discourse that matters, but not for cheap self-harming taboos. do you want me to be thick skinned on you also when you are switching the functions of the body parts nature gave for talking and sitting? no thank you.

    • ዓወት ንሓፋሽ

      You’re generally thick skinned, Hayat. The only time you are not is when Tigray gets insulted. Then you jump off your seat, put both hands on your waist and start talking back. (shimtQi hizki). Am I right or am I right?

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