Eritrean History: A Transaction Of Bad Politics (Part-III)
“Never trust a government that does not trust its people.” The noble peace prize winner and Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov used to say that. What a befitting reminder it is at this crucial time, to warn our people to never trust an organization that walkout or boycott a popular movement for unity and democratic change. Anybody who expects the EPDP-I, the neo-labor party, to continue as a reliable voice of the oppressed Eritrean people, will be a poor student of Eritrean history with a myriad of illusions; and to think that, is clearly like holding a losing stock market asset during a volatile times.
Evidently, I am no more fearful of the future than those who are nostalgic to the Labor Party of the past; because the popular movement for democratic change is now compelled to unequivocally deny any attempt of partisan interest with a plan surreptitiously to dominate or usurp the will of the people. As the patrological literature teaches us to love each other sacrificially, Dr. Bereket Habteselasse calls upon us politically, “to be empathetic to one another.” For sure, we love the detractors humanly because they are part of us. We call on them and search for them like the “parable of the lost sheep”—for more than a year with an open hand. But they showed us that they don’t have the healer instinct in their soul while our people are in a dire situation.
Unfortunately the esteemed professor of law by all account, is now being asked to recant by the neo-Labor Party for his attempt to bring them to the loop. Wow, how pathetic they are!
Though the good doctor could learn about them first hand by doing what he did, he could have taken a note from other citizens who attempted to appeal to them while they were teetering on the brink of splitting their organization – but alas, in vain. Time after time this group, when you tell them where their arguments are flawed, they start to exhibit a retreat and shrink to their comfort zone to chatter in the virtual world. After all, Dr. Bereket should not attempt to put at par, those who try to steal the hope of our young generation with those who try to give hope and unity of purpose to our people.
Indeed, history testifies that EPDP-I (the neo-Labor Party) is always the source of friction and the antithesis of unity. They don’t have the strategic posture for unity nor do they have good political optics. Rather, they are forces of containment for the statuesque, fighting for power using the stirring rod of chaos. May be we should all start paying attention to this ubiquitous organization which at times sounds like the protests of a man lagging behind the times. The good news is, the new-age movement for democratic change that sprouted from the womb of the “national conference brain trust,” is chasing the next big idea for uniting the resistance forces. Surprisingly, each EPDP-I’s retreat will fuel momentum towards democratic-change, and no wonder we are seeing the flames lapping at their own heels.
Let me bring my readers back home to the main topic and to the promises I made in Part-II of this essay. In Part-II we have seen how LP attacks the vital organs of ELF organizations, betray the cause of the struggle by elevating Derg as progressive and worthy of strategic relationship, and finally disintegrate the mother organization of the liberation struggle. In Part-III of this essay we will see the metamorphosis of LP to EPP then to EPDP (EPDP-I), a metamorphosis that does not seem to have an end, but indeed with the same nucleus that manifest the same characteristics. Besides, we will make some behavioral diagnostics with some applicable theoretical tests.
Look Alike and act alike
One might ask why LP and EPP look alike and act alike? The answer is simple, and it is because they resemble each other as in appearance and or in action. In other words, it means two parties which appear, think, or do alike. Is this all a mere coincidence or the same by virtue of personality of its make up? For sure, the core constituents of EPP “like pea in a pod” are made up from the senior leadership and senior cadres of the old LP with its intact monolithic hostile political culture that does not allow political pluralism, dialogue and engagement. In a nutshell, they are a group who failed to strike the balance of centralism and democracy for decades. But let me prove my premises by setting their congruent behavior concisely.
Alexander Petri a 2006 jeopardy contestant wrote for the Washington post’s editorial page, which then reappeared at Star-Ledger of Feb 14, 2011. Mr. Petri had set forth the unique merits of “facts” and how facts render a potent and plausible argument. In his writing I found some take home lines that serve to the storyline I intend to share with my readers. And here I quote: “Facts, when we have them, shape our thinking and fill the contours of our argument.” Yes indeed when we have them we can taut them and elasticize them to shape the contours of our argument. Hence here I will set the facts how EPP look alike and act alike, like its parent LP after the major split of (ELF-RC) into ELF-RC and ELF-NC in 2003. Certainly, from the make up of their constituents, the split was between the Neo-Labor-Party (ELF-RC) and the None-Neo-Labor Party (ELF-NC), or between unity seekers and power seekers, or between those who hear the demand of their base and those who don’t.
In any case, for the purpose to create a compatible party with that of EDP, The congenital ELF-RC made a cosmic transformational process to form EPP (the artifact of LP) without a transformation on their tenets of principle and the strategy of engagement. Because of the inherent rigid political affinity of EPP, the bond of unity of EDP-EPM-EPP that made EPDP was so loose that it needed only “a test of one political condition to rapture their bond”. And yes of course we tested them with a “national conference” a political condition that ruptured EPM and EDP (except Musfin and few of his clique) from the outer circle of the nucleus of EPP. Keep in mind that EDP and EPM were like an electron revolving in an orbit around the nucleus of EPP, if one wants to make a parallel argument using a metaphor of electron, proton and neutron as in any given chemical reactions. Because of this lose bond of trinity nature of existence, EPP lost EPM and EDP as EPDP-II to the “commission.”
Since the custody of the name “EPDP” is not yet settled, I am using EPDP-I for the splinter led by Woldeyesus Ammar who is against any “democratic change and unity of purpose”, and EPDP-II the splinter led currently by Dr. Tesfay Sebahtu, aka Tesfay Bringi, who joined the process of democratic change and the commission. Now we will observe and apply the genius “YG-theory, NS-theory and BT-theory” for our diagnostic test to prove this political phenomenon and why EPP is the same as Labor party (LP).
[A] YG’s Theory: Unity by subtraction.
Through all the ebbs and flows of the Eritrean politics in the Diaspora, the Eritrean people are still blindsided to the repulsive and repellant behavior of EPP to any force which attempted to make a big tent with them. Yosief G/hiwet the prolific writer who coined the hypothesis of “unity by subtraction” to illustrate and prove his theory on how the EPLF and ELF see the mechanism of unity, is still a valid proven theory to use for my argument. Whether Yosief was aware about EPRP of EPLF and LP of ELF when he was writing his piece, I am not still quite sure. But he applied his theory to the leadership of the organizations as a whole rather than to the camouflaged underground parties – LP and EPRP who were the sole policy makers. Implicitly, Yosief was right that LP and EPRP had kept their unity by eliminating those who had different views from them during the liberation era. And it is still true that EPP and PFDJ, the artifact of LP and EPRP respectively, are eliminating physically and politically those who differ from them. Watch their political tactics of suspension, Mdskal and dismembering of organizations from their tent; it is all the act and behavior of authoritarianism. EPP eliminated ELF-NC, EPM, and EDP from RC-tent and EPDP-tent, respectively the same as LP, eliminated EDM, SDAM and BP from ELF-tent. Call this appearance “square-one”
[B] NC-Theory: People care when they know you care
General Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of “Desert Storm” found the “secret of caring” for his army by extending his hand to each one of them that he loves and cares about them. The General in his book outlined the following statement: “It might sound corny, but it is really true that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” EPDP-I will not comprehend this concept because it is an organization that does not believe on “thought adjustment” that goes with the demand of our people. EPDP-I had failed to extend its hand to other ethnic-based organization, as a matter of fact to any political organization. They don’t care about the concern of the Eritrean people and its unity unless they are sure that they are at the driving seat of power.
Let me give you some examples how their drive for power reflect in their oscillatory behavior. In 2010 during the formation of the preparatory committee for the national conference (i) initially they asked 3 seats for each organization that made up EPDP (ii) Then they dropped the issue of seats and changed tactics, by questioning the process and the way the preparatory is formed (iii) then, they insisted that NC could not be convened without resolving the differences within EDA members (iv) finally they accused EDA for abdicating power to the commission. But isn’t it that the quest for national conference was simply because EDA can not resolve the differences of its member organization for more than 10 years, and that the Eritrean people want to intervene to resolve EDA’s political impasse by working in partnership with them? If EPP is concerned by the power of the commission, a partnership of EDA members and the civic societies, it is questionable whether this group will abdicate power to the people in post Isaias era.
Sadly enough all the pushes and appeals to bring them to the process was in vain. In fact they officially withdrew even from EDA and hold contempt for the commission as illegal. The funny thing is that, after telling all the nonsense to the public that it was not about the number of seats allotted to them by EDA which made them boycott it, they in fact appealed to the Ethiopian authorities to convince the other party to give them 24 seats in the commission in order to join the process. Wow! Didn’t they prove to us that we were in fact correct that their quest wasn’t about the process but about how to grasp power? Now what isn’t clear to the public about the neo-labor party EPDP-I? Is it really still difficult to understand this group especially for the highlanders unless they are swayed by a similitude-resemblance of birds of the same feather flocks together? If it is, isn’t it the same as what Isaias and his group had appealed to their own people?
Oddly enough, Berhan Hagos, a member of EPDP-I in his recent article “paradigm shift” not only told us to give credit to the regime, but also selected Mesfun Hagos and Weldeyesus Ammar to lead the transition process as all power seekers do, by selection rather than by election. LP arrogated power from ELF revolutionary council in 1980. Likewise, EPP tried to arrogate power from EDA in 2010, and when they couldn’t co-opt it for their own purpose, they walkout. Call this attempt-of- appearance “square-two.”
[C] BT-Theory: Detecting betrayal when trust is violated
Jennifer Freyd introduced the term “betrayal trauma theory” in 1991 at a presentation, at Langley Porter psychiatric institute, University of California. According to Jennifer the theory predicts that the degree to which a negative event represents a betrayal by a trust needed, other will influence the way in which events is processed and remembered. The theory draws on studies of social contracts to explain why and how humans are good at detecting betrayals.
Here, I will attempt to relate her theory to the betrayal of LP during the armed struggle and to EPP’s “appearance of betrayal” in the opposition camp, and how their betrayals caused trauma to the Eritrean body politics. In Part-II of this essay we have seen how LP was appeasing the enemy “Derg” by categorizing its party as progressive in an attempt to alienate EPRP (not Ethiopian EPRP) but also elevate themselves to the conspiracy of diplomatic-compromise. As Jennifer predicted in her study of social contracts, which still bears the truth, indeed the scar of our political trauma of the last betrayal influence on how we remember them in relation to their current political behavior. Since they are susceptible to betrayal as they always are, the public is prone to detect any sort of betrayal or whether trust is violated in any given political contract they have entered.
In the interest of brevity and accuracy, unless EPP (EPDP-I) publicly dissociates from the writing of their member Berhan Hagos, for me it is easy to detect and smell the composite of his writing as to whether EPP’s (EPDP-I) boycotting has to do anything with the appeasement to PFDJ as somehow Berhan alluded in his piece (See link paradigm shift). Berhan, by saying “in defending what we believe” referring “we” to him and other members of EPDP-I is definitely a confirmation of his membership, thereby it is enough for me to launch my argument using his article.
Berhan gave us “steam vapors of betrayal” to smell, to detect and evaluate EPP (EPDP-I) in the context of our current struggle. Many thanks to him for inadvertently making my task easier to diagnostically test the appearance of their betrayal. Here are the hints of his party’s view as he precisely put it (a) Advocate for a negotiated transfer of power from PIA (b) promote and demand a genuinely conciliatory approach to PIA (c) recognize and give credit to the regime for its achievement (d) Understand that repressive regimes don’t need a lot of money except to hang on to power. For God’s sake, these are the same message we hear from the PFDJ’s apologists when we engage them one on one.
But why does EPP (EPDP-I), at this stage of resistance, wants this soft approach while it has never been so with other sister organizations in the opposition camp? History suggests that, power is always at the front loading of their struggle, and as such their nagging appetite often throws them down into a persistent internal and external conflict. Now by declining to take the public-ladder, they shut down their option in EDA. The irony is, when one opportunity exits through the door they saw new opportunity coming in through the window. By that I mean, when the first opportunity blinked from their eyes, they saw a window of opportunity from inside. They know that the regime has the “survival instinct” and with some rewards they want to be the cause of its survival. After all, the regime will definitely admire this evolutionary-peaceful-change advocated by EPP (EPDP-I), for it knows this agenda will put in power for life.
As incredible as it is, their unattainable dream looks as follows: The regime is facing unbearable pressure from the waves of change that blows from North Africa, Gulf States, and South – the strait of Bab-El-Mandeb. As a result, the regime will soften its grip and will invite some forces which don’t challenge it for accountability but recognize its achievement. With that understanding, EPP (EPDP-I) will unnaturally show unreserved goodwill to raise the regime’s leader as a “come back kid” from enormous adversity as he did well with some comrade-in-arm during the armed struggle. Nothing new within the Eritrean body politics and if it happens it is a betrayal of “dittoed-revisionism.” Call this appearance of betrayal “square-three.”
For all intents and purposes, not every fate of Eritrean history is sealed by these forces of division and disunity. They might be good for laps but not for wins unless they stopp their antiquated political practices. To the young generations within the ranks and files of EPP/EPDP-I, you must strategically recruit, develop, and retain the best leaders who care about reconciliation, engagement, and understand the grievances of our diversities. Above all, overhaul your party to constitute an effective and magnanimous leadership that believe in a big tent of accommodation. Your current leadership has had a long tenure with utterly unqualified leadership management. Once the leaders are granted tenure, they gain iron clad protection to preserve their prestige – whatever that prestige might be. And their resistance is tenacious and bloody unless they are overwhelmed by indefatigable popular movement. As a matter of fact, this trait of dictatorial or authoritarian behavior of leadership is true and is thriving within the leaderships in the opposition camp – a problem that must be dealt with immediately to change the current dilemma.
From a proper footing, and as everyone must do, I took a step back and looked at their political fictions, ambitions of unique privileges, and profile of betrayals throughout their history; it became clear to me that their political tradition is one of servility to power. In any case, I have tried to make a settled equal scoring on the behavior and actions of LP and EPP and their consequences on the Eritrean body politics. All the in and out from the big tent is only for pocketing political profits, but essentially shoving in the mud and spitting on us when they failed to quench their craving to power. For now I will leave this topic open to be continued as needed (on PRN basis). Next I will continue on diversity politics as the nexus of Eritrean body politics and how we should handle it.