Gedab News (June 14, 2010): After a week long discussion mediated by Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa, the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) has indicated its readiness to attend the Nation Conference for Democratic Change (NCDC) which is being organized by the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA), an umbrella of eleven Eritrean parties and organizations posed to challenge the Eritrean regime.
On April 22th, the EPDP had announced that it was withdrawing its support for the NCDC, which is scheduled to be held on July 30, 2010. In explaining its decision, EPDP indicated that its delegates had been negotating with the EDA since February 20th and that its concerns regarding (a) the sufficiency of time for preparing the conference; (b) the absence of common understanding and mutual confidence among the members of the EDA; (c) the absence of common understanding as it relates to major issues and (d) the absence of representation and participation by all stakeholders had not been sufficiently addressed.
The other ten member organizations of the EDA took the position that (a) the conference had been in the works literally for years; (b)the EPDP, which had been consumed by its unity preparatory meeting (unity congress of Eritrean People’s Party, Eritrean Democratic Party and Eritrean People’s Movement) for a whole year is coming late and trying to dictate the terms of the conference;(c) in the event that it doesn’t feel that its views are sufficiently representated, it could seek and get more delegates to the conference preparatory committee and (d) the congress will be held, as scheduled on July 30, but the EPDP is welcome whenever it changes its mind.
As is often the case whenever Eritrean political organizations have a disagreement, their official and unofficial spokespersons engage in extensive recrimination campaigns, and this hasn’t escaped this ritual.
On April 2nd and April 14th, senior members of the Ethiopian government (including its Foreign Minister, Mr. Seyoum Mesfin, and Mr Abay Tsehaye, founding member of the TPLF and special advisor to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi), had met with representatives of the EDA wherein they indicated that they had re-assessed their hitherto passive stand and that, henceforth, they would be fully engaged. Within this context, they had expressed their view that the long-stalled conference must proceed. (see Gedab News of the meeting here)
When the EPDP announced its decision to withdraw, it was approached by Ethiopia. Two senior members of the EPDP leadership, Mr Menghesteab Asmerom and Mr. Mesfin Hagos, had been in a meeting with representatives of the EDA, with Ethiopian representatives mediating, since June 7th.