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How To Win Eritrea’s “Political Legitimacy” Argument

Since 1991, the debate between Eritrean regime supporters and the opposition has been that of legitimacy. Back in the 1990s, the arguments were crude. The opposition would ask “who elected you to lead me?” and the regime spokesperson would answer: “And who elected me to fight for your independence?” Ah, good times. The State was cashing in on its revolutionary legitimacy. Now, the arguments have become a bit more sophisticated–emphasis on “a bit.” This is because the government supporters still use the revolutionary legitimacy argument—they dismiss their opponents as people with checkered past during the revolution and/or they dismiss them as people who are not even Eritrean and, in all likelihood, Ethiopians (it is never Sudanese or Djibouti or Somali, by the way.) And some in the opposition have fallen hard for its counter-argument: “what is this revolutionary legitimacy you speak of? Even during the revolution you didn’t have the support of the people: you were carrying on some misguided and ruinous campaign.” Or: “the leadership of Eritrea’s ruling party are all foreign plants with one mission: to destroy Eritrea.” Assuming these arguments are outliers, I would like to focus on the other battlefront where the legitimacy argument is being waged and how we in the opposition can refine our arguments.

Political Legitimacy

Once in a while, something that is really obvious surprises me and here’s one: an Eritrean who is in his 20s and early 30s can recall only one government in Eritrea: that of Isaias Afwerki. And they may think all governments are like that.  Kids: the government that preceded Isaias Afwerki, that of Mengistu Hailemariam, used “ideological legitimacy”: we have a right to govern because communism is a scientific truth (synsawi haqi!) and therefore the only way to govern. The government that preceded Mengistu, that of Haile Selasse, used “divine legitimacy”: God Himself hand-picked Haile Selasse (His official title was “His Imperial Majesty the King of Kings of Ethiopia, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God”) to govern and to argue with this decision is to pick a fight with God, you heathen. The ones before Haile Selassie, the Brits, used “victor’s legitimacy”: we won in World War II so we get to do what we want with the property of the vanquished.   The ones before the Brits, the Italians, used “European legitimacy”: Africans are unfit to govern themselves and it is the White Man’s Burden to civilize them (and it is our luck that in the Scramble for Africa we got the parts that the other Europeans didn’t choose first.)

The point is that those of us who have a few grey hairs can put the Isaias Afwerki government in context. It is a system which relies on (a) “charismatic legitimacy” — yes, such a thing exists in political science–of Isaias Afwerki, which was the case since the formation of the EPLF (when he was Tekhelakhalai Tanki (tank destroyer) despite the fact he hasn’t been in a single war) and, in our culture, it is not uncommon for some people to say that he was hand-picked by Him; (b) ideological legitimacy:  “self-reliance then, self-reliance now, self-reliance forever”; (c) revolutionary legitimacy: we liberated the land and now we, and only we, have a right to govern it; (d) Exceptional African Legitimacy, which is the exact argument used by European colonizers: we have to govern because we are exceptional and the other Eritreans are unfit to govern. It is the PFDJs Man’s Burden.   Entay’mo kngeber zebriyena s’een’na!

Refer back to every interview, every “public seminar” given by representatives of the ruling system. You can see all the ruling party’s claims to political legitimacy marshaled, depending on the situation:

  • An Eritrean in Israel is testifying in the Knesset that the Eritrean ambassador to Israel has no political legitimacy? Allow me to retort, says angry Eritrean ambassador to Israel: I do have legitimacy, because I carried guns and liberated Eritrea; so, if you are a REAL MAN, seb’ay enter quenka, raise arms and defeat me! Revolutionary Legitimacy, Part 1!
  • Have you seen the supporters of the Isaias Afwerki regime (Nehna Nsu gang) holding pictures of Isaias Afwerki in his 20s? Or Shabait and Eri-TV showing still images of back-when-he-was-young-and-handsome Isaias Afwerki? Or TV-interviewers who quote back to Isaias his own words and ask him to expound on his prophecy? That’s Charismatic Legitimacy!
  • Have your read and watched interviews and attended meetings of Eritrean government spokespersons (official and unofficial) trashing Africa, African leaders, African organizations? That’s Exceptional African Legitimacy!
  • You have read and watched and heard a stream of songs, festivals, military marches, commemorating Nadew,  Fenkel, Independence Day, Martyr’s Day, September 1…? There is an entire bureaucracy to deal with festivities. That’s  Revolutionary Legitimacy, Part 2!
  • How about the avalanche of great news: dams built, hands shaken, agreements signed, enemies bested, schools built, hospitals inaugurated, MDG exceeded, vitamin A vaccinated, access to clean water increased…. contrasted with mayhem, disorder around the world (of course Eri-TV covered Ferguson: ab america xelim americawi Michael Brown) ….  That’s Ideological Legitimacy!

These are not haphazard arguments: they are coherent arguments the ruling party is making: we have the legitimacy to govern because our principles are sound and we deliver results. We have the legitimacy to govern because the people and the government are one. We have the legitimacy to govern because all those who oppose us may have their own personal interest (power, money, etc) but do not have Eritrea’s best interest at heart.   You should continue to support us because we are winning and everybody loves a winner.

For the most part, we in the opposition have taken the position of ignoring the ruling party, the PFDJ, and tried to come up with our own narrative.  But sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, we have attempted to chip away at each legitimacy argument:

  • Revolutionary Legitimacy 1: Ok, we too will raise arms. And defeat you. If we can’t defeat you, we will at least give you headaches.
  • Charismatic Legitimacy: We will show pictures of Isaias Afwerki in most unflattering ways. We will have his head photoshopped to that of a rat. We will have pictures of him when he was in a hospital in Israel in 1993. We will take video clips of Isaias at his most arrogant and most angry and most uncharismatic. We will show that his disastrous prophesies far outnumber his accurate one (to my knowledge he had one and only one accurate prophesy: Amma ktHaqeq Iya: the ELF will be dissolved.)
  • Exceptional African Legitimacy: We will show that, statistically, Eritrea is just another African country. We will show that it is poor and malnourished. We will show that African countries have actually learned from their mistakes and are doing better than Eritrea under PFDJ. (At least in the area of human rights and mass exodus.)
  • Revolutionary Legitimacy 2: Although all these achievements also belong to us, we will be totally silent and will have nothing to say about them. Except for September 1: that we will definitely make a lot of noise about. But the rest, we will yield: and we will just allow the PFDJ to take all the glory for them.
  • Ideological Legitimacy: We will marshall a team of media to tell Eritreans and the world that its ideology has led to Eritrea’s ruin.

Political Legitimacy – Opposition Style

Overall, we do not make a concerted effort to identify and combat the ruling party’s “political legitimacy” claims.  Our view is that, in the 21st century, the only way for a government to claim political legitimacy is to demonstrate—in free and fair elections—that it has the consent of the people to govern. Period. Full Stop. Charisma fades, ideology is never “scientific”, revolutions don’t have a self-perpetuating legitimacy: when Eritrea was liberated, their legitimacy terminated; and, by all measures, Eritrea is, was, will be just another African country which shares all the strengths and all the weakness of African countries. Fini. The End.

This is an excellent argument. But, like all arguments, it needs supporting evidence. It needs rebuttals to skeptics of “free and fair elections” in Africa. It needs to demonstrate that a multi-party system based on whatever criteria we in the opposition agree upon is the right path for Eritrea. It needs to address skeptics’ questions of: “give us an example of African countries which have had free and fair elections and how are they faring in comparison to those countries which haven’t.”

In other words, where the opposition is failing is in DEMONSTRATING how free and fair elections will have an incremental change in Eritreans quality of life, their sense of security, and their ability to build a nation that lasts.

Put yet another way, our “free and fair elections” cry appears as dogmatic as PFDJ’s “vanguard party” approach: it is what we should do because it is what we should do. Actually, we use our own “revolutionary legitimacy”: it is what we should do because that was why the revolution was waged.

We are also assuming that the Eritrean people, who have never had in their entire lives “free and fair” national elections, will agree with us. Why? Because it is so!

On the one hand, we say that the Eritrean people are no different from Africans on all things that matter—a nation-state built by colonizers; boundaries created with no regard for traditional tribal, ethnic affiliations; low literacy rates; high superstition rates—but then, when it comes to actually making the EFFORT to persuade them that the only sort of legitimacy is democratic legitimacy—consent of the governed—we make no serious effort BEYOND our version of revolutionary legitimacy: it should be so because tens of thousands of Eritreans died for it to be so.

How To Win The Political Legitimacy Argument

  1. Drop Our Liabilities: We have people on the “opposition side” who are arguing that (a) the PFDJ has no legitimacy to govern because its “revolutionary legitimacy” is fake because the revolution itself was fake and artificial. To compound matters, this position has a shockingly large number of EPRDF/Weyane ideologues who are making the claim that the Eritrean cause for independence was based on flimsy arguments; (b) the PFDJ has no legitimacy to govern because its populated by “non-Eritreans.”   This is a pandora’s box you do not want to open because you do not know where the argument will take us.I have argued, and often, the position of “No Eritrean Left Behind” so when I say “drop our liabilities” I do not mean AT ALL that the people who hold this view should be ostracized. What I mean is that it can’t be the argument used to win over the people to our side.
  1. Develop Our Own Charismatic Legitimacy: Instead of spending all our energies photoshopping Isaias Afwerki images to argue that he is not a charismatic leader, let’s develop our own charismatic leaders. Let’s not downplay the importance of charismatic legitimacy: a message falls into the void unless the messenger is dynamic and captivating.   In a multi-cultural society, the minimum requirement of charisma is somebody who can transcend ethnic/religious divides and communicate in a way that inspires and emboldens and raises the optimism of the people.
  1. Develop Traditional Legitimacy Arguments The Right Way: If I had a political party (and I never will), my slogan would be “Never Judge Before Hearing Both Sides.” This is an Eritrean custom that is lethal to the PFDJ: it is an argument for which the PFDJ has absolutely no answer for its habit of arresting, indicting, sentencing, imprisoning, torturing, disappearing and killing Eritreans. It will appeal for patience, it will lie and say that the evidence will “soon” be disclosed, and when it is done stalling, it will say “the case is closed” or “we have our own culture of dealing with these things” (the Halewa Sewra–Revolutionary Guard-way), but it simply has no answer to the powerful Eritrean tradition which demands fairness and justice in matters of law.   When I say the argument has to be made the right way, I mean it can’t be made by those who embrace every Eritrean tradition, warts and all (including its horrible treatment of women’s rights, its embrace of superstitions, etc): I mean it has to be made by those who are brave enough to criticize elements of Eritrean tradition which are bad while embracing those that advance justice, fairness and individual liberties.
  1. Develop Democracy Arguments The Right Way: Democracy is a collective word for consent of the governed expressed in free and fair elections, people’s participation in decisions that affect their daily lives, people’s ability to hire and fire their government, and accountability of the governors to the governed.   From all of these, the PFDJ has dismissed “free and fair elections in multi-party system” as something that Eritrea is developmentally unready for; it has attempted to show that the people participate in every decision that affect their daily lives (Eri-TV is wall-to-wall coverage of people meeting, meeting, meeting and passively listening to PFDJ officials explaining the “objective situation on the ground”), and the issue of the accountability of the governors-to-the-governed has been dealt by creating a supra position for Isaias Afwerki (above the government) where he fires, freezes, arrests those who are not accountable to “the people” (aka, him.)The Isaias regime knows that none of these are adequate which is why it continues to lie about why it doesn’t have elections: it needs a new constitution, it needs permanent demarcation, and by the way it is already having local elections (which, apparently, are never endangered by lack of demarcation.) Now, with all due respect to my opposition partners, the argument for democracy and multi-party elections is most lethal when it comes form within the EPLF/PFDJ. This is because it combines “democratic legitimacy” with “revolutionary legitimacy”: they can argue, credibly, that that is what they fought and died for. It is the one that disarms the PFDJ, makes them stutter.   Example: when Isaias Afwerki was in New York a few of years ago, an Eritrean couched the argument for democracy the right way, and Isaias did what he does when confronted in such situations—lie through his teeth and say all the right things (we won’t be held hostage by lack of demarcation) and promise that democratic reforms are underway.  Of course, nothing happened.  Example: Operation Forto—Said Ali Hijay’s revolution demanding democracy, constitutionalism, release of political prisoners—made the Isaias Afwerki regime wobble: that’s what resulted in Isaias Afwerki’s declaration that the 1997 Constitution is dead and a new one will be introduced (no timeline, of course); that’s whats leading to the new ID cards (disenfranchising political opponents); that’s whats leading to the completely farcical claim that the National Service will be cut back to 18 months plus 10 months of senior high school education.In short, what matters is not just the argument but WHO is making the argument. And some of us, in the interest of the people, should humble ourselves and recognize it. When those from outside the EPLF/PFDJ make the arguments, it sounds like, “hey, can you put together a system that will put you out of business and maybe in jail and put us in power?” When it comes from within the EPLF/PFDJ it sounds like, “hey, can you reform the system so that Eritrea doesn’t disappear from the map of the earth?”  Again, I am NOT saying that if you are not from within the EPLF/PFDJ you do not have a RIGHT to advance democracy; what I am saying is that it is more effective when it comes from that corner.
  1. Revolutionary Legitimacy:   If we are claiming that the Eritrean revolution belongs to the Eritrean people and not the EPLF/PFDJ, then we must commemorate all the dates that make the Eritrean revolution significant.   It is not “militarism” or “chauvinism” to mark Fenkel Day. It is not “conceding to the EPLF” to mark Martyr’s Day on June 20, and if you think June 20 is completely arbitrary, go ahead and commemorate it on June 20 and December 1.   May 24 is not “EPLF Day”; it is Independence Day: go ahead celebrate it.   The problem, as I see it, is that our anger at PFDJ has allowed us to make so many concessions that we have yielded all signs and symbols of patriotism to them.   In the process, we have essentially isolated ourselves from our people in the same way that the PFDJ has isolated itself from the world.
  2. Ideological Legitimacy: Last year, around this time, Eritrea’s ruling party was filled to the rim with Good News stampeding over each other. Did you know that Eritrea was going to have one of the fastest-growing economies in 2014? Did you know that King Solomon’s gold mine has been traced to Eritrea: Bisha is now producing copper on target: building the copper plant and its infrastructure was 15 million less than budgeted! Malaria is down by 90%! DTP3 immunization is at 94% (at parity with US, son!) More than 85% of the population has access to improved drinking water! The Chinese have gotten a contract to rebuild Hirgigo Plant: electricity will be blanketing Eritrea. SFECO and Shanghai Installation Groups Join Hands to Complete Massive Eritrean Agricultural Projects! A 400 km road was constructed to directly connect Karora, Eritrea to Port Sudan, Sudan. Deals were made, hands shaken, swords waived. Orphans raised, sewing machines distributed.  Nomads encouraged to pursue sedentary life styles in She’eb. Bicycle races won, marathons trekked, enemies foiled.  Housing mortgages settled.  Insurance premiums waived for overturned trucks. Turkish Airlines!

If you haven’t guessed it by now, what this column is all about is tackling the “Ideological Legitimacy” argument of the Isaias regime. Yes, occasionally, it criticizes how the rest of opposition is dealing with the other legitimacy arguments (particularly those who discount the revolutionary legitimacy argument) but for the most part the author concedes that while many of the other legitimacy arguments are just as potent–for example, “traditional legitimacy” is a powerful one–but he doesn’t feel qualified to make it–and in fact I would argue that very few people can make it without appearing provincial, reactionary and anti-progress.

The problem that we have now—and will continue to have—is that tyrannical systems are very good at top-down assignments of tasks whereas independent organizations are chaotic and step all over one another’s toes. My hope is that if we all at least are conscious of how our efforts affect that of another, if we at least recognize that Isaias Afwerki is not in power by accident but that he and his team work very hard to retain it, we will take our political opponents very seriously and we will not be sabotaging one another and actually focus on arguments we feel qualified to make… then we can make incremental progress towards transformative change.

Next Nahda: How does the Isaias Afwerki regime’s 2014 predictions compare to what actually transpired in 2014?

PS: I would like now to abuse my posting privilege (sorry!) to pay tribute to a family friend.  Rest in Peace, Ato Tsegai Kahssay.  Here’s his obituary, per Eri-TV.

About Salyounis

Saleh Younis (SAAY) has been writing about Eritrea since 1994 when he published "Eritrean Exponent", a quarterly print journal. His writing has been published in several media outlets including Dehai, Eritrean Studies Review, Visafric, Asmarino and, of course, Awate where his column has appeared since the launch of the website in 2000. Focusing on political, economic, educational policies, he approaches his writing from the perspective of the individual citizens' civil liberties and how collectivist governments and overbearing organizations trample all over it in pursuit of their interests. SAAY is the president and CEO of a college with a focus in sound arts and video games and his writing often veers to music critique. He has an MBA from Golden Gate University and a BA from St Mary's College.

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  • Ambassador

    SAY, this is one of your best articles. All possible sources of legitimacy for the Eritrean regime are perfectly outlined. Legitimacy, as it gives power to govern, it also arises from the consent of the governed. Succinctly stated, as much as legitimacy is for the ruler, it is also for the ruled. As such, your article would have benefited a lot by telling something about the level of denial and/or ignorance of the Eritrean populace. Let me explain by focusing on two of the numerous sources of legitimacy that you have mentioned in your article: charisma and revolution.

    Charisma: according to Thomas Magstadt, in his seminal book of debunking the myths of authoritarian rule and legitimacy says “charismatic rule is grounded in the personal magnetism, oratorical skill, or legendary features of a national hero who has led the country to victory in war of revolution”. What he didn’t explain in that book is (it could as well be because of the book’s scope) the social relations of the ruler with the ruled and the behavioral requirements of the ruled to consent to charismatic legitimacy. In fact, legitimacy derived from charisma tells more about the governed than the ruler. In the Eritrean context Isaias personal magnetism as it is displayed by the “Nehna Nesu gang” holding his pictures in his twenties or “Shabait and Eri-TV showing still images of back-when-he-was-young-and-handsome Isaias Afwerki” tells more of our inner need as people to look handsome and young to the point of a bigot than it does about Isaias Afewerki. Do you think a typical picture of Eritrean youth who is dark skinned, emaciated and stunted would have the same level of magnetism to that of Isaias’s? Now If you were to couple this with the popular belief in Eritrea that Eritrea is not like another African country or the fact that we get excited whenever we see a brown, “angel-like” human being on a sidewalk as if he or she is our distant cousin or other bigoted ideas we have about ourselves, you would see how racist slaves we are as a society that do not acknowledge the fact that the majority of us are not as handsome as Isaias (lol) or the closest person to Europeans (in physical features) we have is Isaias, so goes the argument of a slave mind that he has the right to rule. Oratory also tells the same thing about the ruled. When we say one is an orator, it shows us being impressed by the delivery of his/her ideas in an articulate manner. Given the chronic incoherence of Isaias in the delivery of ideas by the non-conformist writers (he doesn’t even have his own original idea), people who think of him as an orator must have been of those who can easily be wowed like a child.

    And revolution: we, Eritreans, say Isaias is charismatic because he led a revolution to victory so we shall consent to be ruled by him. This only make sense when you take the original reason for the revolution out from the equation. We thought we sought freedom when we start the revolution. Now the narrative of revolution is changed to begin with we-sought-a-hero. A revolution that was firmly centered on the principles of freedom does not need a hero to worship after victory, nor does it call it victory until the sought freedom is achieved and perfected. If we were looking for freedom, we would still be fighting not celebrating our victory. Therefore, when we start the revolution, let’s face it, we weren’t looking for freedom. Instead we were looking for a master from our own backyard because we were racists enough to see the unfairness of being governed by an outsider. That tells more about us as people, doesn’t it?

    In conclusion, those who consent to be ruled by Isaias (or think of him as a charismatic legitimate leader) are ruled because they are racist, childish slaves who still long for a rule by Europeans, if not they will happily settle for their grotesque version. Case in point, Isaias Afewerki and his zombie supporters.

  • Braqua

    “Wanna be opposition, don’t believe in #Eritrea’s flag, don’t believe in their Eritreanness. But want Eritrean democracy? Strange liberators.”The fact that you are still talking legitimacy tells the story.

  • saay7

    Selamat Awatistas:

    For reasons I can’t explain at all (and Mahmuday and Semere T and SGJ, my three soul mates, please explain to me why), I think Haile The Greats “They Changed Our Wagons” or ባጎኒ እንድዮም ቀይሮምልና pretty much summarizes Eritrea 2014.

    I get obsessed with phrases and sentences and from now until the end of the year, I will answer any question that is too hard for me with ባጎኒ እንድዮም ቀይሮምልና


  • Berhe Yeman

    Dear SAAY,

    Just a quick comment in your article. I think it’s important that you went to great length to formulate the legitimacy issue. I think, the is only one legitimate thing the PFDJ/EPLF did since it come to power, and that’s holding the international monitored referendum.

    Other than that, I can’t think of ONE thing let alone many thing this regime did that benefit the Eritrean people in any shape or forum, compared to all other forum of government before it. Be it eduction, health care, business development, freedom of movement, worship, opinion, legal council, rights of women, rights of land ownership, housing, infrastructure, small scale industry, etc…etc..

    I only know the Derg and in comparison, there is nothing that this regime can compare with the DERG (the worst kind) let alone any other forum of government before it.

    I think all the policy / laws this regime have installed need to be replied and send to the trash box, such as National service, redrawing Eritrean provinces, land ownership, etc…there is nothing that’s worth mentioning let alone keeping.

    Berhe Yeman

    • saay7

      Selamat Berhe Yeman:

      First of all, please tell Semere Andom I am sorry we volunteered him for the translation service, ብኡ ኣቢሉ ህልም ከይብል ሓልዎ። Its bad enough Berhe Yeman disappeared on us for years. Welcome!

      Now, with that out of the way, let’s take on your legitimacy challenge. On the EPLF/PFDJ legitimacy meter, you are a 93er. Remember, in the legitimacy scale (excluding the YGists who have a negative legitimacy scale for all Eritrean freedom fighters):

      By legitimacy I mean “the right to govern.” But I don’t think that’s what you are saying. I think what you are saying is that of all the proclamations they passed and processes they conducted, the only one you approve of is the 1993 referendum. Right?


      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Dear Saay,
        With all due respect throw this legitimacy issue in to your garbage can. There is no legitimacy for any leadership who came without the approval of the public. They haven’t got mandate from the public for any Governmental leadership to run the state of Eritrea since 1991. Everything done in the nation is by decree and intimidation. You see Saay your whole argument is to legitimize PFDJ and throwing all the crimes committed by the organization to Issayas only. This is not different from the argument you made to legitimize PFDJ-2 to hold the power in the demise of DIA. Nothing new. In fact by drawing and classifying 91, 93, 97, and 2001 legitimacy argument , you are not helping the public to unite to their common struggle to dismantle the institution of oppression, rather it is directed to create differences.

        Amanuel Hidrat

        • Fnote Selam

          Hi Amanuel,

          I find myself agreeing with you most of the time, but I have to disagree here. I am not really sure what Saay objectives are, but I have to say I have learned quite a lot from this article. Of course, it is not an academic article written out of extensive studies analyzing the psyche of various Eritrean groups (as to right to govern, legitimacy to govern etc), but in the absence of such article, I thought it provides some insight, especially to people like me who have a lot to learn. In short, although I may not agree with Saay on conclusion completely, the article has enough (and nuanced) descriptive info that I found to be quite useful.

          Best regards, bro!


        • saay7

          Selamat Emma:

          I love reading your pieces because they are never arguments but chastisements:) They are just declarations which contradict each other so much that traffic cops should be called for the logic accidents they cause. I will give you just two sentences from your piece:

          1. “They haven’t got mandate from the public for any governmental leadership to run the state of Eritrea since 1991.”

          2. “you are not helping the public to unite to the common struggle, to dismantle the institution of oppression…”

          You know, or you should know, that many of our partners in the struggle include people who very much believe that they had the mandate to govern until 1997. When many Eritreans call for the “implementation of the 1997 constitution” they are saying that the government that oversaw the constitution and the process was legitimate. You know, or you should know, that many of our partners in the struggle for change include people very much believe that there were extraordinary circumstances that allowed the PFDJ to govern until 2001.

          I find it always charming that any view point that doesn’t comply to yours (which is always poorly argued: it is never an argument but a rebuke/reprimand) is considered “directed to create differences.” If you want to help the public to unite to the common struggle, stop preconditioning the Emma way as the minimum requirement:)


          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Saay,

            There is no inconsistency in my stand and there is no contradiction in my argument (though yours is the only “plausible argument” in your mind). However, we have completely different political positions that seemed won’t be reconciled. Other than ideological differences, we have difference on how justice adjudicate in to the political and economic exercise of the Eritrean people. As I have understood you in your debate you don’t believe on the political-exercise of “plain level field” the concept of “fairness” which is not understood in the political landscape of our nation. Let me give you an example from our previous argument regarding the ” democratic transitional period” if there will be in the future for that matter.

            (a) In your argument (correct me if I am wrong) the transitional period should led by PFDJ (which you like to call it PFDJ-2) allowing transitional entrenchment for PFDJ-2. While I argued that the transitional period should be lead by “independent technocrats” in order all the political organizations/parties to start on equal level field (including PFDJ) during the formal democratic election.Because any party that leads the transition will influence the transitional period for its outcome.

            (b) You believe on the 1997 shelved constitution that outlawed political organizations in the constitutional process independently like that of PFDJ. Because they want to influence it the process and and the content of the constitution. I argued that we must have a constitution that is acceptable by all political organizations and the public at large in order every citizen to defend the constitutional document.

            (c) Defending 1997 constitution is defending “centralized unitary government”. Logically then you are for “centralized unitary governance.” I argue for decentralized unitary governance” that gives certain powers to the periphery and gives equitable power. Big ideological difference.

            (d) You believe the problem of Eritrea and its people is Issayas only, and thus removing issayas is the panacea of all our political and social ills. I believe the culprit is the “system” create by PFDJ. The party (PFDJ) is entrenched in the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDA) and the security apparatus on the one hand and monopolizing the economy of the Eritrean people on the other. The party owns economic institutions (network of companies that are involved in the production, distribution, and purchasing products, like that of the old soviet Union or current Korean communist party. In a democratic system the parties live on party-members-dues. As a matter of fact this was the major differences between PFDJ and EPRDF that hinder them in their attempt to have of political integration in early 90s. So Saay when you advocate for PFDJ-2 you are advocating for what PFDJ stands. Big deal in our differences.

            Kubur Saay, when I oppose you, I am opposing to the idea, principle, and ideology you stood for. You stand for the values of PFDJ and I oppose the value of PFDJ. Can you please take it that way rather than taking personal. When I rebuke you, I am rebuking your ideological view and the value PFDJ stands. That is all.

            Amanuel Hidrat

        • Hope

          Dear Elder/Ustaz Aman Hidrat,
          With all due respect,sir,I am not sure exactly what your stand is or what you want us to debate about if your are refuting each and every new idea that pops up?
          You admitted that you have no solutions to forward.Well,again,what is the purpose of debating here then, as our main goal here is to seek for real Eri solutions for Eri problems.
          No one is perfect and that is why we are welcoming any good ideas from diverse people with a diverse background and opinions to come up with better solutions.
          If you do NOT want to be part of the solutions,then the best is to quit it.
          It is not healthy just to refute and “to throw into garbage cans” some other peoples’ opinions and suggestions.

      • Berhe Y

        Thank you for the warm welcome. Even though I don’t participate in the discussion, I still read and specially yours and SG articles. There are few things that I happened and this is not an excuse, but while we are on the subject perhaps I should share.
        The policy of my company does not allow few pages that are displayed on So every time I reboot my machine, I get the warning that tells me that I violated corporate policy and reminded I shouldn’t have done so and should not do in the future. Second, I switched to mac in my personal computer and I wasn’t able to access the site for the sometime (not sure how long). Third, I access the site using mobile device and I think it’s a little bit hard to navigate. But most importantly, I am not sure I agreed to the change implemented when converted to this new format. I don’t know if it was done on purpose or for convenience (maintenance) but, since AT have the policy of “we have the right to publish what we approve”, I do think, the discussion forum are forced/limited to the articles/topics they approve, which in a sense, I feel we lost the real freedom to discuss but instead can only remain to the “topics/agendas” AT control and approve. This may be a lame excuse, and there may be other venues but I didn’t have time to explore. I understand the saying “ሰብአይ ደልየን ጪሕሚ ጸሊኤን” so no argument to make.
        So to get back to the main topic.
        When I said the one and only legitimate thing they did was the referendum, I was a little bit generous. Now looking back, the abolishing of the Eritrean federation may have been more legitimate than the way the “referendum” was conducted. Based on the limited information that I have, please guide me where to read the historical accounts in how “abolishing the federation” happened instead of just saying “Haile Selassie Annexed Eritrea and made it 14th province”. The way I see it, the Eritrean people by their representatives the “parliamentarian” voted to abolish the “referendum”, albeit coerced/ forced/ out of fear or what have you, that we are told to believe, voted to “abolish” it. I did not hear anyone who refused/objected/protested/committed suicide from any of the parliamentarians that the people have voted to represent them. We can argue that the parliament did not have the mandate to do so, etc., but the same argument can be done.
        Was it fair and free? I don’t think so by any standard. I say this because, starting from the very question of the referendum

        “ኤርትራ ናጻን ሉኡላዊንት ዘለዋን ሃገር ክትከውን ትድግፍዶ? Do you approve Eritrea to become an independent sovereign state?”.
        I think this question was framed so that the outcome is most likely “Yes”. Compared to the S. Sudan, a picture with words “Unity” vs “Separation”. For example, if the question was asked “Should Eritrea remain part of Ethiopian Federation?”, I am not sure what the outcome would be. But most importantly, correct me if I am wrong, there has NEVER been any ROOM or any discussion for the other group “the NO group” in the “OPEN” to conduct any sort of campaign and convenience the people to “vote NO”, as was the case in Scotland recent campaign. Nothing, it was a done deal from the get go.

        I agree with the referendum for the following reason 1) it was done openly at least the voting part 2) the other party “Ethiopian government” agreed to and in compliance with the African Charter on Human and People Rights, which includes people rights to self-determination 3) the International community have legitimize it. So it’s a done deal and there is no point at this stage to discuss it any further.
        I would like also like to add that, I agree to the decision of the boundary commission of Eritrea-Ethiopia. Because from international point of view, it was done legitimately with having all the legitimate framework.

        You asked me to explain if what I am saying is, “legitimacy” or “competence” issue. I do think the whole purpose of the PFDJ regime is to enable Isayas Afeworki to rule the people for ever and stay in power as long as it can. On top of that, the PFDJ regime is not only wanted to rule the people and stay in power, but it is the number ONE enemy of the Eritrean people, with the purpose of “subjugating the people to obedience” and rule over them without any hindrance. In doing so they are not only ruling but erasing its history, destroying its culture, language, religious institutions, it’s values, etc. almost everything what the people were and have and replace it with its own, I don’t know what etc….
        Not only that this system is illegitimate, but it needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth, and we have to erase and repair all the damage they have inflicted in the society.

        BTW, back in 2005, there was a movment called “Eritrean AntiTyranny Global Solidarity”, which was campigning the western countries with the message:

        “It is long overdue for the West to come to terms with the fact that its assessment has been entirely wrong. Isaias Afwerki is not a positive factor for stability in the Horn of Africa; he is the primary cause of its instability. He is unaccountable to anyone, politically corrupt and ruthless in pursuing any measure that protects his power. And if the Western nations want to be taken seriously when promoting ideals of freedom and democracy, they need to disassociate themselves from Isaias Afwerki, assess him for the tyrant that he is, and establish relationships with Eritrean opposition organizations that are struggling to safeguarding human rights, political pluralism and liberty”

        Berhe Y.
        P.S. I will pass the message to SA.

        • Hope

          Dear yeman,
          The issue of Eri Independence is a closed Chapter for, once and for ALL.
          There is NO need to go back ward like “Shinti Ghimel”.
          It is time to fight for a Legitimate and Constitutional Governance…

        • saay7

          Ahlen Berhe Y:

          I am going to call you “Da Y Man” just to get you to keep coming back.

          Two quick notes:

          1. “The way I see it, the Eritrean people by their representatives the “parliamentarian” voted to abolish the “referendum”, albeit coerced/ forced/ out of fear or what have you, that we are told to believe, voted to “abolish” it. I did not hear anyone who refused/ objected/ protested/committed suicide from any of the parliamentarians that the people have voted to represent them. We can argue that the parliament did not have the mandate to do so, etc., but the same argument can be done. Was it fair and free? I don’t think so by any standard. I say this because, starting from the very question of the referendum.”

          PLEASE, PLEASE don’t read this the wrong way but I have heard a similar argument made by the Derg’s governor of Eritrea, Dawit Woldegiorgis, in his book “Red Tears: War, Famine and Revolution in Ethiopia.” The part that he left out, and you did, Y-Man, is that Ethiopian tanks surrounded the Eritrean parliament just to “incentivize” people to vote the right way.

          2. Eritrean referendum vote. Let it go, Y Man. Really. Honestly, I will abandon this argument forever if you tell me that you know a SINGLE Eritrean who voted NO in the referendum. They really just didn’t exist: Ethiopia made sure they don’t exist by cluster-bombing them to death.

          3. Our editorial policy on articles. I am sorry you got the impression that we only publish articles we agree with. Really, if it is written well, I guarantee you that you will have a vote in the Awate Team who will make a hard push for its publication.


        • Selem Berhe Yeman,

          We are happy to see you back.

          As you indicated in your comment, it’s obvious you have been disconnected. There are a few things that you need an update and correction on.

          The policy of my company does not allow few pages that are displayed on

          Companies do not like employees to serf the web on company time. They can ban specific websites if their employees are spending too much time on specific websites. But since websites are continuously updated, they cannot update certain pages to their banned list. But they can band “Disqus” for example since it is a known discussion forum. However, we would like to know which pages on are not allowed?

          If they banned, they must have discovered it has nothing to do with your work therefore they are telling you “don’t waste company time:-)

          Difficulty surfing with Mac

          Our records show that a good portion of visitors surf, the problem is certainly on your side.


          If fact this the first mobile friendly theme that we ever used; one of the main reasons for the upgrade (what you called format) is to make it more accessible to mobile phones which now comprise about 23% of all our traffic. The upgrade was done for convenience of the reader, not for the backend workload.

          AT have the policy of “we have the right to publish what we approve”
          This is vague Berhe. You know that editors have the right to allow or reject contents. If you briefly went through the comments you wouldn’t say “I do think, the discussion forum are forced/limited to the articles/topics they approve, which in a sense, I feel we lost the real freedom to discuss but instead can only remain to the “topics/agendas” AT control and approve.”

          This is a disingenuous comment Berhe because you are implying AT is controlling your freedom because it adheres to the website’s “posting Guidelines.” You just posted your comments which are not related to the article… we believe that proves your wrong assertion.

          This may be a lame excuse, and there may be other venues but I didn’t have time to explore…

          Indeed, it would have been nice if you had updated yourself before making the statement you made implying AT is limiting the freedom of readers to comment. That is unfair and not factual Berhe.

          Your comment about “Eritrean AntiTyranny Global Solidarity”, is enticing but we would rather leave it for another time. EGS is now a club of five people.

          Welcome back

          • Berhe Y

            Thank you Sal,

            I stand corrected with the comments field but that’s how I felt, with regards to the new format.

            With the MAC, I don’t have issue now, but I recall I may have emailed you.

            As to the mobile device, I use iPhone, so if I select the reading pane, I can read clearly. But when I scroll down, some times the blue page, slides and blocks the main page. Then I have to hit the back button and scroll all over again and trying to navigate the comments page that I was.

            If this happen to me only, I don’t know.

            Awate is not blocked but sites like youtube/FB are. So for example in your last article, you have a link and I get the warning that is blocked.


  • Kokhob Selam

    ኣብ ዓለምና ኣብ ኩሉ ማሕበራዊ ጉዳያት ዝግበሩ ስምምዓት ሕጋውነት ምልባስ ሓደ ኣገዳሲ ምዕራፍ እዩ ::ጉዕዞ ሓባር ከኣ ትርጉሙ ኣብ ሞንጎ ክልተ ወይ ካብ ክልተ ንላዕሊ ዝኾኑ ሰባት ዝተሓሓዝዎ ጉዕዞ ብምዃኑ – ስኒት ንኽህሉ ተጎዓዝቲ ዝሰማመዕሎም ናይ ሓባር ነጥብታት ክህልው ግድን እዩ :: ብዘይሕገን ስርዓትን ዝግበር ጉዕዞ ወይ ንስድነት ወይ ‘ውን ንገባትነት እዩ ዘቃልዕ :: ስለ’ዚ እዩ ኣብ ሃገርና ንመርዓን ደርዓን ዝበጸሑ መንእሰያት ብሕግን ስርዓትን ናይ ባህሎምን ሃይማኖቶምን ዝፍጸም :: ብዘይድልየት ጓል ኣንስተይትን ቤተሰባን ብሓይሊ ቀይድካ ንሓዳር ምግዳድ ገበንን ንኩናት ዝዕድም ዘይቅዱስ ስራሕ እዩ ::

    እሞ ንምንታይ ኮን እዮም ደገፍቲ ህግደፍ ብዘይ ሕጋዊ ስርዓት ክንግዛእ ዘገድዱና ? ሰይጣን ሲ ንምንታይ ድዩ ብፈጣሪ ተወጊዙን ተነጺጉን ? ሕግን ስርዓትን ኣይስዕብን ስለዝበለ ዶ ኣይኮነን?

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Kburat wo Hfoorat SGJ, SAAY, HTG and the rest

    I have followed your interesting conversation, and could not help but dive in. While completing this comment SAAY’s correction of ፍንጃል showed up, Tigrayet ፍጃን took the better of me. Thanks, saay; that’s what an editor does. Anyway, I did as SAAY suggested early today regarding my previous comment. I wrtote it on disqus, but I was clever to copy and post it on my WP for backup. My laptop did kem amela (its habit). It blured it…then faded and stuck there. It did not post. So, I am copying my backup and pasting it. For those with smart phones, please bear with me, I know it’s going to be deformed with weird margins and indentations. But …let’s go to the beef. The following is based on SGJ, Aman hidrat, SAAY and HTG conversation regarding the compartmentalization of Eritreans for the sake of explaining political maladies the nation suffer (ኣይደሓን’ዶ መእተዊ ኣንዊሕካ ትብሉ ትህልዉ። ግን ንመጠቓለሊ ናይዚ ሰሙን ትኹነልና)።

    For clarity, let’s say the struggle for justice or democracy or change (give it a
    name) started from that infamous day (was it 1992?) when IA announced the end
    of Naay Wudbat Hashewye. I think that day is significant, because, had the
    announcement was similar to what EPRDF did, calling a national conference for
    all interested stakeholders, organized and non-organized, Eritrean history
    would have had a differing narration. I remember I was stationed in Sanafe, and
    none of us gave it a hoot. That was obviously the feeling of victors; but if we
    did have a visionary leadership, and if it explained why a national conference
    was needed, I think we would equally be happy. That’s the period in which the
    legitimacy of the liberators reached its pick, it filled the brim and
    overflowed. But as independence approached, there were internal debates inside
    tegadelti albeit restricted to cadres. On the eve of declaring independence,
    some of the hottest issues were:

    – How could you automatically transfer the mandate of a central committee whose term
    had already expired into the haphazardly constituted national council?

    – How could a provisional government that had ended its mandated period designate peoples’
    representatives, because the other portion, civilian
    “representatives” were picked up by the authorities then in power?
    The handpicked civilian portion of the national council was comprised of heads
    of mass organizations, civilian committees in liberated areas, long time Hafash
    wudubat, etc. They were automatically made members of the national council that
    later sentenced democracy to death, and acted as an accessory to the incarceration
    of G-15 and their colleagues from the private press and other activists.

    – There was also debates on national flag, national anthem…and other issues. Sure it
    was not organized, but the feelings were there. I can tell you, What EPLF had
    never faced the like of internal debates and dissenting voices it face during
    that period since 1973.
    – Most of the works done on issues which were
    expected to steer us towards the process of democratization, works such as
    drafting and adopting the constitution, rudimentary parliamentary practices,
    drafting parties and election laws, privatization of state-held assets,
    allowing private press, demobilization of combatants…was done during that
    period. That shows you there was a budding democratic force within EPLF until
    it was totally decimated.

    After the total defeat of the democratic force within EPLF/PFDJ, we have an important
    reference point, which is 2001. That’s the year when the defeat of any
    democratically aspiring soul within EPLF/PFDJ and Eritrea was buried.

    You will agree with me that folks who had been associated with EPLF/PFDJ started
    criticizing the situation openly. Most of those who publicized and documented
    the fight between the president and G-15 in private press, risking their lives,
    were affiliated with EPLF/PFDJ. Remember, Berlin Manifesto and what followed of
    it was done by EPLF associated people. The famous “TwgaH’mo” was
    written by an ardent supporter and a member of EPLF. If you remember, EPLF
    affiliated members of the opposition started organizing; they held conferences
    in different capitals, and later held meetings in Khartoum. May be,
    initially, those who had been in EPLF focused on organizing disgruntled ex-EPLF
    grassroots, but soon they joined other organizations, which was unthinkable at
    that time due to the bitter experience of ghedli era. Yes, it was not a mass
    exodus but the trickling continued starting with defections of notable EPLF
    leaders…wudubat…tegadelti, etc.

    **Here, I should note that, yes, there were organizations which had been active before
    them. But those organizations were there even during the armed struggle when
    EPLF was fighting Durg in Eritrea. They were ELF splinters and their existence
    was predicated mainly by the historic animosity that had existed between them
    and EPLF and EPLF’s refusal to let them into the field in order to participate
    in the task of liberating Eritrea; justified or not, we may disagree, but it
    had its own historical background.

    So, it’s not fair to call EPLF affiliated groups are late comers to the idea of establishing
    a democratic nation. Actually, their sacrifice is obvious. Today, everything
    that we speak of in terms of laying democratic foundation (above mentioned) was
    done by this democratic wing that has been silenced. Its members are
    languishing in prison, some of them are unaccounted for. I have to stress one
    thing: all the above mentioned accomplishments of this democratic experiment
    were done together with forces that had belonged to ELF, and which chose to
    enter Eritrea according to IA requirements and prerequisites which anchored on
    the infamous order of “Come with no organization but individually.” I
    remember many people who had come from the Sudan belonging to different
    factions of ELF were active in journalism, constitution building, administration
    of zobatat, and members of the national council. Again, the question of whether
    they were received as equal victors or not; or whether they were
    indiscriminately given opportunities or not is debatable. But they had a
    visible presence.

    What then? Mkhri for little brother Haile TG, we are all stolen; believe me the pain is more
    pronounced in the mindS of ex-EPLF society. You don’t won’t your time and
    sacrifices sealed by few and narrated through the horrible crimes of PFDJ. They
    are not bloodied generation, they have just failed to let the bloodied few to
    write their story. They are us, we are them, let’s work together to rectify
    what has been wrecked. As you said, no one should feel more legitimate by his
    or her ghedli background. You will be judged by what you do now. That’s how
    people will judge you if you deserve to lead them. Ghedli generation’s role
    should be that of a transitional role, the torch should change hands as we
    debate. Let the youth join this efforts now, let them own it.

    Another point, although I agree with you on the fact that we the tegadelti should
    really shoulder the bulk of the responsibility, remember the system and PIA is
    still surrounded by adulating section of our people. Every attempt that has
    been made has failed because the system has so far been able to convince a good
    portion of our people. The task is to unlock this unholy marriage of PFDJ and
    those who feel their world is done if it goes away.

    Third point: When we speak in terms of compartmentalizing social forces, we better
    think in terms of promoting our influence. PFDJ is doing that to divide us. If
    we apply the same strategy of segmentation, we are not differentiating
    ourselves from it. If we ever use segmentation it should be the small circle of
    PFDJ which is causing havoc versus Eritrean people. This is not to defend
    ex-EPLF members (you know I am harsh on myself and that group) but to highlight
    that the same problems which are hindering justice seekers in the free world
    from getting together apply to them too. Add to it the effects of a mercilessly
    repressive regime and its apparatus. That’s why the time of thinking as one
    people is now. We are all victims.

    Fourth point: (This is based on the change from within or from without, not necessary
    addressed to you, may be the debate between SAAY and SGJ): If we consider that
    the change, regardless, of where it comes from should serve all of us, I think
    we will be fine. I understand the concern of some; if we can agree that change
    may not be the same for different sections, the need of a unifying vanguard
    front becomes indispensable. Strong political organizations lead and mitigate
    uneasiness of social groups by addressing those concerns in their political
    agitation, organizational practice and literature. They bridge the gaps through
    their efforts to reach the “other.” The more people work together the
    more they feel comfortable with each other. Ask any multi-cultured person, his/her
    anxieties are not as forceful as those anxieties exhibited by someone who has
    not had the opportunity to live among the “others.” Anyway, at the end, we will say whether change
    has in fact been made if the political and economic climate changes drastically
    from what PFDJ is trying to secure. When that happens, when that change
    rectifies at least the main problems synonymous with PFDJ, we can say a real
    change has come. At that moment, it doesn’t matter if it has come from within
    or without. Change propagated by justice seekers from outside should feel
    change for the folks inside, and change that comes from within should feel
    change for the diaspora, if not it won’t be called real change. The fear of
    hijacking the fruit of the struggle is real; and that’s why the work for
    creating a minimally unifying political organ and workable program that
    Eritreans feel comfortable with is more than ever needed. That will lessen the
    anxiety of” them versus us.”

    • haileTG

      Selamat Mahmuday,

      The above is a very very important point you brought in. It means a lot to some of the basic arguments that I have been making in, that seem contradictory at times (Ghedli romantic, believe in the distinction of EPLF vs PFDJ, blames the wrong headed approach of tegadelti in allowing the IA regime to get away like this…). I would like to collect my thoughts well before responding, which I will do later today. But for now, you have made a well synthesized argument that I believe has long been missing. Thanks for this.


    • saay7

      Selamat Mahmuday:

      Another excellent piece. Wow, you are in your element now, buddy.

      Two quick things.

      First, I think the dictator’s “no more ny wdbat hashewye” was made on 20 Sene 1991. That is the first martyr’s day commemorated in independent Eritrea. At the time, those of who were not intrigued by the clever use of the word which we hadn’t heard since we were children (guilty) actually thought that it was the end of the revolutionary era politics. Because “wdb, wdbna” etc, just meant ELF, EPLF, PLF back then. How wrong we were.

      Second, I wish people would read this over and over and over: “the same problems which are hindering justice seekers in the free world from getting together apply to them too. Add to it the effects of a mercilessly
      repressive regime and its apparatus. That’s why the time of thinking as one people is now. We are all victims.” Yes indeed.

      Sometimes we are not able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. For example, I stepped all over it yesterday: I was talking about how in my generation nobody would go in without earning the scarlet letter of Wedo geba and nobody would pay 2%, etc, etc. Sounds like an old man ranting:) A very clever person reminded me that there are Eritreans who are in places like Juba, Sudan surrounded by PFDJ security which got me to get off my high horse and ask myself: would I do it if I were in similar situation? Yes, I would pay the 2% tax as protection money. So we all need to be more empathetic.


  • saay7


    The second issue of The Republic is not out but I hear it will have a “The Citizen & The State” feature which is along the same lines of the legitimacy discussion we are having.

    Nope, I don’t have a preview but I was really impressed with their inaugural issue. Who better than HTG to translate their work and critique it?

    * but don’t disappear on us like the last guy who was “volunteered” for translation services iSemere Andom:)

  • said

    I cannot recall the person who coined the expression “The Man the Nation” in recognition of the fact
    that certain individual mortals’ contributions to the welfare of larger communities; relentless silent dedication to the general good; their positive impacts of the improved lot of the others surpass both their short longevity as
    mortals and the collective efforts of a great many well-meaning humans. Certainly, to that category qualifies many individual Eritreans. They are balanced human being in every aspect is a reflection of a balanced world that interchangeably makes for a balanced life that makes for a peaceful and a more harmonious existence.

    Normalcy, in its projected long-term definition of an entwined relatively sedated existence, yet, the grounds for subdued stability for human creativity and outbreak of individual and collective human genius, is the prerequisite for an ideal existence that humanity at large ought to aspire to notwithstanding being bogged down in all sorts of inherent constraints and contradictions.
    True, Pragmatism, settling to the limitations and reality of a prevalent and a dominant status quo, provides for the piecing together of interim peace and the façade of enduring harmonious co-existence, yet, is bound to frequently snap at the seams before each and every testing major socio-political and socio-economic crisis if not founded on Principles of
    Universal Values and Universal Morality.

    Long Lasting legitimate and consent comes in many forums .Durable governorship and ruler ship can only
    be found on the Universal and eternal Principles of democracy and Justice. Long Lasting can only be founded on the
    Principles of Universal Values that closely entwine with Universal Morality that uphold human dignity in its most practical implications of Freedom, Justice and Equal Opportunities.

    True, IA can buy time, skim over old realities and universal principles to creating the semblance of new realities and the
    unearned legitimacy, however, with deep changing historic and future geopolitical realities, including Balance of Power, in a short decades, all pieced together arrangements would only shatter as they snap at the seams. The
    examples are many to count.

    One of many Legitimacy comes when the greater majority of the Eritrean Refugees everywhere and spicily those in Sudan and Ethiopia want to go back to their Birth Places, to the liberated land, ancestors land ’ homes; to live in their town and village, visit the graves of fathers, mothers, grandparents, great grandparents and great grandparents.
    They could never settle to a life of normalcy with that ever nagging deep seated feeling of a LOST IDENTITY, a LOST DIGNITY, and living like vagabonds without a Real SENSE of REFERENCE in this life’s short ephemeral
    earthly journey.

    One can learn from great state men like Nelson Mandela and ANC Legitimacy came in the final analyses through ball box period and recent election on Tunisia speak for itself with all the shortcoming. The PFDJ an elected state organ and an accountable illegitimate state are ruling by sheer intimidation and fear, they are planting the seeds of their own
    destruction in the end. As saying goes evil is not at all banal. Abundant in inventions and innovations as well as in age-old techniques, it trickles like water and bursts out from hidden places. But unlike floods, it does not reach
    an end, and it affects some while being invisible, undetectable and non-existent for others.

    The Asmara regime are the pioneers of the recent political corruption and extreme manipulation, and abuse
    by whatever means, including most important tool of all, the right to rule by force, to control and oppress. Citizen are divided us versus them. They are the main cause of our current tragedies and throughout 23 years of political and
    economics failures are aberrant , with no hope and vision at sight ,which lead our societies to move from hopeful freedom to the existing ugly normalcy without enlighten into darkness. There is great validity in the article above
    and many great insightful comments.
    I simply don’t bother to argue with those who pride themselves with ELPF and PFDJ history, legitimacy and legacy, the short history and practices point in same direction of abuse of politics into Power. Thousands innocent lives were killed
    and toured in the name of the regime legitimacy.

    History does not start in a vacuum, the past. It starts everyday with yesterday by evaluating what did each of us as
    human contribute to our own Humanity. Supremacy, selfishness, survival and many human or to put in crude words, Inhuman qualities, are what will eventually may destroy our humanity and already greatly damaged our society.

    Humanity since first “logical” creation is dominated by the struggle between Good and Evil, and by the sick human psychology of “belonging”, thus Supremacy of legitimacy.
    Everyone be it opposition and illegitimate regime, claim to belong to the “best”. From nationalities to region, religion to the races and what have you. This sense of belonging to the best, including every opposition, is what bring the worst out of humans, and consequently, Evil and tragedies. One has to take humble himself greatly and take the full view of humanity judging current and past events. As history can be judged on the basis of thousands of years of evolution as advancements in human rights have significantly improved since, say, in general, the last 100 years, however, as we humans remain quite far of collectively reaching the point of true civility, in our Eritrean actual case it is a daily survival of existence ,in the western hemisphere is the fear for the human race considering the terrible fast pace of ecological
    and environmental deterioration, the future is no guarantee that humanity would ultimately attain that stage of full evolution to full civility.

    Judged on those basis, as the victims of injustice of today are the Potential perpetrators of injustice of
    tomorrow – as no mortal is immune to that irony dictated by humans’ ingrained inherent innate fallibilities – we
    mortals could be doomed before reaching that stage of Utopia lying way beyond our grasp in case of Eritreans at least at the moment .

    legitimacy comes, Had our few educated elite and honest political class, intellectual ,Professor ,student had they remained in Eritrea, the would have never advanced in their career or had realized their potential and legitimate aspirations by reasons of institutional limitations and the inherent machinations of the Eritrean mind that stifles the unleashing of creative energies. Youths are exhorted to live their dreams rather than make a living wage. Dreams are all very well but are not known to pay the dinner and this simply it comes to the basic illegitimacy of governorship and ruler ship.

    At the moment giving the situation as they are. I am to some degree pessimistic about the future of the Eritreans at large during our life time and that of may be our youth. I have long lost confidence in the Eritreans politics and the whole
    legitimacy governance, educational and mostly very hypocritical, narrow self-serving, wishy-washy Moral Systems and so-called observed values.

    My apologies, ,,,,, to end with such a pessimistic note.

  • Amanuel Hidrat

    Selam Hailat,

    Why do you try to divide us in to wagons (wagon1, wagon2…etc)? Saay has the audacity to do it. I saw him in many instances baptizing names, designating groups, tagging adjectives. It is not healthy and won’t be productive. It only create the politics of opposites and the satisfactions of self interests. It is not conducive to collective work and collective satisfaction. If we don’t change our approach of debate, it will remain to be “group interest fight”. So far the Eritrean politics remains to be the politics of group interest. It kills the people and the nation.


    • saay7


      See what you have done? Now you have made Emma sad with your wagons 1, 2, 3. You were not considerate to Emma’s “social groups” approaches to politics and your train should have had either 2 (highland/lowland “social groups”) or 9 (ethnic “social groups”) or 9 (traditional province “social groups.”) That would have shown that you were a serious political scientist, otherwise you are just like SAAY designating new groups and adjectives. Ageb!


      • haileTG

        ዋይ፡ ኣንታ ክንደይ ትሓስሙ! ሱቕ ጥዑም 🙂

        • Mahmud Saleh

          Ahlan HTG;
          መቒራ ኣላ። ኬፈይ ከይትዘርገለይ። ምቁራጽ የለን። ትማሊ ኣሕሪቕካኒ ኔርካ’ሞ ሎሚ ተኻሒሰ። ቀጽል ደኣ…ተዛወሪ…መኪና…ሳልሳይ ፍጃን በጺሐ ኣለኹ። ተካል ቡን ትግረ ኣይትውዳእን እያ። ቀጽሉ ደኣ ኣሕዋት።

          • haileTG

            Selam Mahmuday,

            ባጎኒ እንድዮም ቀይሮምልና፡ ምሕራቕ እንታይ ትርጉም ኣለዎ። ግን እወ፡ ምቕጻል ቅሩብ እየ፡ ግን እታ ጉዳይ ምስ ዝምልከቶም ኣካላት እንተዘተኹ እምበሪ፡ ኣብ ናተይ ባጎኒ ኮይኖም ዝሕክዩኒ እንታይ ጥቕሚለዎ? ናትና ባጎኒ ክትዘራረብ ቅርብቲ’ያ፡ ባጎኒኹም ትቕበሎ ድያ? 🙂 Haha

          • saay7

            Haile TG:

            That’s hilarious, Hailat. Is ሱቕ ጥዑም one of the ባጎኒ? And, Mahmuday, with your exquisite Tigrinya, you should know it is customary to say ፍንጃል and not the Tigrayit ፍጃን. Seriously, though, why do people drink coffee in tiny little cups when Starbucks has 8 oz and 13 oz coffee:) Plus, with starbucks coffee, you don’t have to disable the fire alarm and worry about your closet smelling like Akordat.

            Yeah, I went there. Down, down, Seattle Seahawks:)


      • dawit

        The Great Awatistas;

        Sorry to injecting in the middle of interesting debate. I noticed last two days my friend Haile seem a bit emotional, since the Danish Alphabet Soup report was released, that did not sit well with his line of thoughts. Let us forget the class, truck, sex or age struggles. We are all in the ship that traveling in the ocean under strong storm.

        Going back the main discussion of the day , How To Win Eritrea’s
        “Political Legitimacy” Argument Is there any‘Political Legitimacy” to be won in Eritrea? In my humble (rude) opinion, there is none. The “Political Legitimacy” is already won by PFDJ period. I am sure few Awaistas and most if not all Eritreans who aspire for change of government to the present PFDJ dictatorial government would like to shred me in to pieces if they can . This can be a blasphemy in some opposition camps religion. It is contrary to every Eritrean, young and old, dead and alive, men and women, born and unborn dreams to have a peaceful, democratic and developed Eritrea. That is also my sincere dream.

        Now fellow Awatistas, hold on your knifes until I explain my reasons for my blasphemy, and I plead guilty for the sin. This is how I perceived the political
        legitimacy development in Eritrea. The Italian brought us together,
        Kola-Kebesa, Believers –Unbelievers, Christian/Moslem, and gave us the name Eritrea..They ruled over us, took our lands, made us servants to build their home, factories, made our mothers maids to manage Signoras’ kitchens,
        made our fathers wardias and Askaris, they send us to fight, to kill and be
        killed people that we didn’t know or even heard of their existence, and we died in every battle fields, from Tripoli, to Mogadishu, to Addis to build the New
        Roman Empire in Africa, under Italian Fascist rule of racial segregations, because they had the big guns that gave them the political legitimacy. This unpleasant express my have put the question of political consciousness of the peoples of Eritrea. We all know this political legitimacy question through several of ups and downs ELF-PLF-EPLF sagas and finally realized in 1991 under the leadership of EPLF. Eritrea declared its Independence EPLF/PFDJ assumed the Political Legitimacy in 1993. For five years the Eritrean government showed a modest progress and Eritreans for their first
        time experienced peace in their a century old history, since they were
        assembled by Italy. Eritreans were determined to build a country which will be
        in peace with itself and neighbors, democratic and economically developed. That hope was shattered, first with Sudan, then Yemen, and Ethiopia occupying a chunck of Eritrean territory, challenging the political legitimacy of PFDJ rule over Eritrea, threatening to use military force. Eritrean government under PFDJ have both internal and external economic and political challenges, but it has a wide support among Eritreans, both Inside and outside the country. It has its own strategy and organization to preserve its political legitimacy. It has programs for the young adult PFDJYand even for little children and babies.

        The opposition is hogwash groupings who lost their compass to reach the great Eritrean people at this moment of the country’s history. They are not even able to attract the youth who are supposedly running from ‘slave and rape camps’ in their country. As soon as they settle their residency they pick
        their kebero and join the PFDJ guailla, and proclaim Awet-N-Hafash.

        Cheers and Peace


        N.B. I will not bother you this time with ‘znegese nigusna’ but I invite you to watch […videos] about PFDJ political legitimacy, strategies and
        actionplans both inside and outside the country especially with young, as Haile GT declared it They are the future as always.

        • haileTG

          ኣንታ ዳዊት፡ ሓሊፉና ከይከውን ዲኻ እዚ ቪድዮ ከም ስራዕ ኮሚደረ ተር ተብሎ ዘሎኻ? ወይለይ፡ ረሲዔልካ’ባ፡ እቲ ቐደም ምስ ህዝባዊ ግንባር ወጊንና ኮሎና፡ እቲ ኣካይዳ “ቁሩብ ትዛረብ፡ ብዙሕ ተድምዕ” እዩ ነይሩ። ሎሚ ግን ዘበነ ህግደፍ ኮይኑ፡ ሓንቲ ኮሚደረ እንተቦቂላትሎም፡ ሓንቲ ፊልም፡ ሓንቲ ደርፊ፡ ሸውዓተ ሓተታ፡ ኣርባዕተ ርዕሰ ዓንቀጽ፡ ሰሙናዊ ግጥሚ፡ ሕሎፍ ሓሊፉ፡ ነተን ኮሚደረ ተጸዊጉ ርእይወን ተባሂሉ፡ ሓደ ሰብ ዝረሸነሉ፡ ተካል ግዜ ኣርኪብና። ዳዊቶም፡ ህግ ብጃህራ ኣይኮነን ናይ ንኡስ ኣእምሮና ተቖጻጺርዎ። ስራሕ እዩ ነይሩ፡ ጻዕሪ፡መስዋእቲ ድማ። ሕዝቢ እውን ኣይሓመቐን፡ ኩሉ ሕሉፍን ትሩፍን ገይሩ እዩ። ግን ግደፍ ዝብሎ ዝሰኣነ በጋሚንዱ፡ ኣሲሩ፡ ረሺኑን፡ ጨቁኑን፡ ሃገር፡ ብመልሓሱ ጥራይ ከም ትሰሓግ ገይርዋ። እዚ ድዩ ኢዱ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ፡ እዚ ድዩ ኢዱ፡ መጻእቲ ወለድኡ? ንባርነት ምልኪ ድዩ ፈሲሱ እዚ ኹሉ ደም? መን’ከ እዩ ክሽከሞ እዚ ሰፍ ዘይብል ናይ ታሪኽ ዕዳ? ህዝቢ? እቲ በጋሚንዶ መሪሕነት? ተቋውሞ? ወይስ ተጋዳላይ? እቲ ጉዳይ እኮ ተኻሪሩ እዩ ዳዊቶም፡ ሳልሳይ ኣካል ኣትዮሞ ኣለዉ። ብድሕሪ ሕጂ ዝክፈል ዋጋ የለን፡ ክብራ ተኸባቢራ፡ ኩሉ ድማ ነናይ ሕሳቡ ክከፍል እዩ። ህግደፍ፡ ህድማ ይሕሸኒ እንተበለ፡ ናቱ ምርጫ እዩ። ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ግን ናብ ዝኸዶ የብሉን፡ ምርጭኡ ከልዕል እውን ግደታ ኣለዎ። ህግደፍ ዝገበሮ ወይ ዝሃነጾ እንተልዩ፡ ብጭብጢ ክጸባጸብ ኣለዎ። እዚ ግዜ ብላግጽን፡ ኣሽካዕላልን ክሓልፎ እንተደልዩ ድማ ሰብ ክልክም ስለዝኾነ፡ ካብቶም ናቱ እውን ኣይሓልፍን እዩ። ስለዚ ዳዊት፡ እዚ ናይ ዜሮ ሰዓት እዩ። ብርእይቶኻ ዝኹንነካ የለን፡ ናትካ ናይ ብሕትኻ እዩ። ስለዝበልካዮ፡ ናብ ክውን ዝቕየር ሓቂ ግን የለን። ሓቂ ኣብ ግብራዊ መርትዖ ዝምርኮስ ስለ ዝኾነ። ህዝቢ ኤርትራ፡ ነቲ ህግደፍ ተዳኺሙ ክወድቕ ዝብል ምርጫ ከም ሓደገኛ እዩ ዝርእዮ። መተካእታ ኣብ ዝድለየሉ እዋን ድማ፡ መጋበርያ ህግደፍ (ዕሉላት) ካብ ሕርያ ግሉላት እዮም። ካልእ ኣብ ውልቃዊ ዝመጾም ነገር ግን ኪኖ ሕጋዊ ዝኸይድ የሎን። መተካእታ ምስ ቆመ ግን፡ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ኣሽንኳይ’ዶ እዚ ናይ ቤላ-ቤሎ ዝዓፍር ስርዓት፡ ነቕ ዘይብል ሕቆ ዝነበሮም እውን ፈናቒሉ ጉሒፍዎም እዩ። ኣይትሸገር። እንተ እዚ ናይ ዼንማርክ ጉዳይ፡ ዓቢ ጸገም የብሉን። ኣብ ቀዳማይ ዓለም፡ ሓንቲ ዶኩሜንት፡ ናይ ሞትን ሕየትን ጉዳይ ኣይኮነትን። እንዳ ስዋ ህግደፍ ኣይኮነን ኣውሮጳ። ዳግመ መርመራ፡ ሓባራዊ ዳህሳስ፡ ዘተ ምስ ሰብ ረብሓ፡ ገምጋም ፡ ወ.ዘ.ተ.. እናበለ ዝኸይድ ጉዳይ ስለ ዝኾነ፡ ኣብ መስርሕ ዝመዓራረ እዩ። ስለዚ፡ ህግደፍ ቀደም ዝተራእየ ቪዲዮ ጌሩ ዘምጽኦ ዋላሓንቲ የለም። ብዙነሽ በቀለ ከም ዝበለቶ “እንደገና፡ ኣይገኝምና” እዩ ነገሩ። ሰላም ኩን።

  • T..T.

    Cowards are bullies and always involved in blackmailing.

    Cowards are domineering and hate their close friends.

    Cowards always cause disruptions to others life and like to stir up trouble, even to kids.

    The only option Eritrean kids have.

  • saay7

    Selamat Sami:

    Thanks for the kind words. I would like you to see my criticism of Isaias Afwerki’s alleged prophet status both as criticism of our traditions/cultures and the Eritrean opposition’s high-minded consensus that what matters is not personalities but ideas.

    In post-modern societies, a leader is said to be visionary who can see around corners when s/he has an uncanny ability to envision the future and, consequently, make the right decisions. In traditional societies, such a person is called a prophet. And a prophet who makes one right prophecy (or an astrologer, for that matter) gets huge credit for it and nobody ever remembers all the wrong prophesies (or predictions, in the case of astrologers) that the prophet/astrologer makes.


  • Kokhob Selam

    ሕጊ ኣብ ዘይብሉ ክውንነት : ዓማጺ ንሕግን ስርዓትን ኣይስዕብን ኣብ ዝብለሉ ሕሞት ውጹዕ ህዝቢ ሕጊ ከስፍንን ንጸረ ሕጊ ከጽሪ ዓመጽ የልዕል ::እዚ ኸኣ ሕጋዊ ይገብሮ :: ሰውራ ኤርትራ ጸረ ስርዓት ሃይለስላሴ ክብገስ እንከሎ መንቀሊኡ ነቲ ንፈደሬሸን ኣፍሪሱ ሕጊ ዝጠሓሰ ስርዓት ንምግጣም ዘሎ ኣማራጺ ሓደን ሓደን ብምንባሩ እዩ :: እምበኣር ዝኾነት ሃገራዊት ውድብ ውይ ሰልፊ ሕጋዊት እየ ክትብል የምሕረላ ነይሩ ማለት እዩ :: ምስ’ቲ ኩሉ መሪሕነት ህግሓኤ ዝፈጸመቶ ጌጋታት – ሓፋሽ ህዝቢ ብዘካየዶ ደረት ኣልቦ ግድል ዓወት ሃገራዊነት ኤርትራ ሕጋዊ እዩ :: እዚ ግን ነቲ ቀንዲ ምኽንያት ዝኾነ ሓርነት ዘረጋግጽ ቅዋማዊ መንግስቲ ዘይምቓም ኣብ ሓደጋ እዩ ዘስፍሮ :: ውጽኢቱ ኸኣ እዚ እንሪኦ ዘለና ስደትን ውርደትን እዩ:: ሕግን ስርዓትን ዘይምእዝዞ ኣረጊት መሪሕነት ሕልክስክስ እናበለ ናብ ውድቀት ክመርሓካ ምፍቃድ ውጽኢቱ እዚ ካብ ኮነ ሕጋዊ መንግስቲ ምምስራት ውዓል ሕደር ዘይበሃሎ ጉዳይ እዩ ::

  • dawit

    Awatistas; It is Sunday, I have this ‘wefi boon’ and since our Jebena cracked I am getting nut. Luckily Saay has discovered a ‘Secreto’ smart way getting Expresso I am enjoying it. Here is another video where the future ‘Political Legitimacy’ is molded, inside Eritrea. The film is based on a true story of a former ‘Slave” in a ‘Slave Camp’ in a remote desert in Africa, and made in America USA.

    Warnings This video is labeled PG 13, parental guidence is required.

  • dawit

    Dear Haile TG.

    Ok Hailat, you seemed pissed of the old generation, because they stick to the old way of think they are accustom too. Now Hailat, this song is from a young and very smart Eritrean, but with Wisdom! What do you think of the message to the ongoing drama of our country?

    with best Regards

    • haileTG

      hey dawit,

      I am asking the old to behave it self, no point getting emotional and showering me with songs 🙂

      Well I heard this song. As far the mechanics of the song, it is a nice song and advice to slow down isn’t bad either. but, geza’ eshoK koynato miskinay menEsey, meas d’a mot tetemnyu…mnbar m’merexe kem alemu.

  • dawit

    Selamat Awatistas;

    This how Political Legitimacy won in Eritrea. AwetNhafash!

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Dear Awatistas;

    Just to expand the discussion (some inspiring ideas from saay, HTG and half cousin Hope may be found here). I am sorry, as usual it’s long. Since I lose it midway (thanks to disqus) if it is long I am using WP and paste it here which is affecting the shape.

    1. Legitimacy is subjective, we cannot ignore the
    fact that there are many who believe PFDJ has the legitimacy to govern; and
    there are many others who believe it doesn’t. For those who believe PFDJ has
    the right to govern, they uphold the following “supporting” reasons:

    – Right or wrong, they see PFDJ as a continuation
    of their proud legacy. There is no question a great majority of Eritreans are
    still patriotic. Those who choose to swim against this tide are doing a
    disservice to the ultimate goal of establishing a truly democratic republic,
    and the task of reconstituting our shuttered social and political life. The
    right way is to own our history, place it in perspective, and move on building
    on its positive heritage and learning from its negative legacy. If we leave
    that mining field open to PFDJ, then that’s one fatal concession to make to the
    ruling regime. People have no obligation to adhere to this strategy, but you
    won’t depose PFDJ riding the horse of denial defaming our proud history. You
    can’t bring change based merely on emotive impulses. There should be reference benchmarks
    which we all share. Our heroic history is a journey which united us as a nation
    where almost every family paid in dearly; and without that common narration,
    there is no way you will explain the nation you are soliciting legitimacy

    – Right or wrong, many believe the opposition
    can’t be explained. It has been reduced to a conceptual existence. Those
    organized parties or organizations have taken back seat to individual warriors.
    For a common person, the opposition is exemplified by the activities of
    individuals. That’s how they judge the opposition. There are many good citizens
    who are doing the heavy lifting. However, a very vocal few keep spewing
    discourses which have become liability to the task of bridging differences and
    creating a responsible opposition body which stands in contrast to PFDJ on all
    yardsticks, dedication, democratic attitude and governance, transparency, and a
    good vision of what Eritrea should look like 20 years from now, which should
    include political, social, economic, diplomatic, etc. programs.
    – What we see today is the dynamics of
    legitimation. PFDJ, insulated to many by stealing our common sacrifices, is
    making a clear-cut distinction between itself and the “opposition jungle.” PFDJ
    is united and speaking in one voice, but the opposition voice lacks harmony. Frankly,
    the opposition has spent more time in tarnishing itself than fighting PFDJ.
    Many brave private citizens continue criticizing it, but the reply so far has
    been “say nothing bad about it.” Many members of the opposition act in meek
    moves fearing that discussing its failures will burn it down. And the majority of Eritreans who should be
    the jury for deciding who should have the right to govern are watching. In this
    process of legitimation, which has been going on for decades, there hasn’t been
    a significant marginal gain on either side; by default, the opposition has
    still a lot to prove. Sadly, the strategy pursued so far has been:
    1. One that makes the opposition appear to be more concerned for gaining
    legitimacy from and by the power of
    foreign entities (hosts, funders..) rather than from and by the power of their
    own people.
    2. Instead of putting the interest of the people in the forefront, organized opposition
    often spent time on eliminating each other politically and physically. They
    have demonstrated to be nothing more than turfs of figures who created them.
    They have been ravaged by personal conflicts of their leaders. We have so far
    been lucky they have not found ground inside the country. If ELF and EPLF
    conflict was ugly, imagine what the conflicts of numerous gun taunting
    organizations would look like. Therefore, in the legitimation process, these
    type of picture hurts the cause. It’s only natural that people will side either
    with the less evil or wait until things clear up, until a uniting vanguard
    appears in the scene. Organized opposition have not beat PFDJ on areas of
    governance, transparency, ethnic and religious tolerance and in areas of
    nurturing and promoting freedom of expression. There are reports that indicate
    their organizational practice is also similar to if not worse than PFDJ; just
    ask folks who abandoned them in Tigray: They will tell you horror stories of
    their justice system including cruel treatment of nationals and embezzlement of
    funds are rampant, and some grievances have even made their way to the press.
    Singing democracy, while you are deep in dictatorship and war-lordship won’t be
    appealing to the masses for gaining legitimacy. There are many efforts being
    made by private individuals, media outlets, forums, foundations, etc. which are
    aimed at unifying efforts and suggesting tools for realizing that end. I
    believe the author of this article has done his part in brainwashing this
    topic, how do you win in the battle for legitimacy. Just ask yourself where
    PFDJ spends most of its surveillance budget: in monitoring activism or
    organized political opposition? I am sure you will agree with me that most of
    its concern is on activities of activism, individuals, websites, foundations,
    civic organizations, etc. That will remind us the opposition is way behind in
    gaining momentum to present itself as an organ which could govern better than
    PFDJ. The sad part: it does not even have a defined structure let alone
    stretching itself to gain legitimacy to govern.

    3. If we take this struggle as a competition of gaining legitimacy, in the legitimation process, the side that convinces
    Eritreans it’s the one who can act responsibly, it’s the one who keeps peace
    and security, it’s the one who will improve living standards of Eritreans, it’s
    the one who will ensure rule of law, it’s the one who represents diverse social
    groups and their concerns, it’s the one who will defend Eritrea and its
    history, it’s the one who has the right transformational plan will at the end win
    the consent of the majority either through open and public platforms like
    elections or through implied consent. The opposition has had an opportune time to
    raise to the occasion, because clearly, PFDJ has failed in most of those
    criteria. Alas, we know the reality. Anyhow, at the end of the day, the party
    (PFDJ or opposition) that demonstrates to Eritreans, it is better than the
    other (it doesn’t have to be 100% perfect) will have the legitimacy to rule.
    Again, legitimate may not be legal and legal may not be legitimate. I know PFDJ
    has been a disaster, is the opposition better than it? If we want to live in
    false belief and self-deception, we will keep living condemning the already
    condemned PFDJ, avoiding taking responsibility instead of owning our collective
    failures, and tarnishing entities who had done the best they could to have a
    nation where life would have dignity. The fact remains while PFDJ has for years
    been hammering its vision, we don’t even agree on discussing minimum common

    It’s time we became realistic; it’s time we concluded that riding emotional current is not going to do the job. We
    need a humble conversation. We are one. Generational, social and political
    diversities should be sources of our strength. Let’s keep conversing, the
    conspiracy theories we run in our minds about each other may not be there after
    all. We the private citizens should push for a unified common ground through
    active participation, and keep voicing our desires of forming a responsible
    alternative through available channels. Keep in mind that what we say and do is
    being observed by the masses we tend to convince.

    • dawit


      An excellent supplement to Saay’s article, the more you write your true feeling the closer we are, that ocean that separated us getting narrower each day. I just want you to enjoy this video.

      • Mahmud Saleh

        Ahlan dawit;
        Thanks for the song. We all wish our beloved country good. Now, here is where I differ with you. I am not true if saay if correct to place you on the “znegesse” camp, I am not. I feel change has been long overdue. When I speak of change I have two main elements in mind. 1. Rule of law (fitHi), I know you agree with me here; 2. improvement of living standards. The rest is additional bonus. I am not naive that tomorrow we will have a functional democracy. I will support anyone who convinces me he/she/it is working to address those two important elements. PIA and his PFDJ have not convinced me they are up to the task.

    • saay7


      I had mixed feelings when I was up-voting your posting and here’s why: I agree with practically everything you have written but because of the copy/paste from Word–the formatting makes it very difficult to read (specially in smart phones)–and many people will miss this gem and I have to ask you to re-post and then to delete this one. So my up vote will be ignored and I will be disenfranchised 🙂

      Excellent, excellent piece Mamuday. Cousin Hope nyka, Huka would be proud.


      • Mahmud Saleh

        Ahlan Saleh;
        Thanks, but I fear I may have to do it again and again. The last time I was doing hagherawi Emam defending Gadab, I lost three posts. I believe I have a legitimate reason not to do it again ( I underline “legitimate”) which I am sure I get it from awatistas who feel/believe I have done my best!!
        Oh, and your vote is secured; no vote left behind.

      • Hope

        Hey Cousin Professor Saleh Ahmed Abdu Younis–(correct it if wrong),
        On a serious note,let me aks you a serious favor:
        I ask you,the sooner the better,to compile all your writing since 1994 and put it in a Book Format with some modififcations and editions as it will be a GREAT ASSET,not only for Eritrea and Eritreans but also for the whole Africa and the world in general, and for the Horn of Africa in particular.
        Here is why:
        You writings are:
        -Solution oriented
        Your inputs,suggestions,opinions,etc–are even more reasonable,plausible, edible,neutral and acceptable than the so called ICG analysis and the Think-Tanks,which mostly are biased,opportunistic and misguded.
        You can name the Title of the Book whatever you want but make sure that you include the hot Horn issues(mainly-Eritrea,Djbouti,Somalia,Ethiopia)as they are inter-related.
        I do not believe that it will take you 6 months eventhough it is tough to write a book.
        Remember that I am not asking you this favor for your benefit-be it financial,fame,etc—but for the sake of your audience and the poor Horn of Africa.
        Now that I know you have an MBA,your book and previous Articles will be more than enough to earn you a Ph.D,and I am dead serious and sure about this!!!.
        Why NOT?
        If you start with with the brief history of the Horn of Africa along with its complex Geo-Politics,the root causes of the seemingly non-ending problems,focusing on the Ethio-Eri-Somalia and Djbouti complex socio-economic-cultural and Political issues and closing it with some suggestions and recommendations for practical solutions along with comparing and contrasting the “solutions” forwarded so far and dissecting the pros and cons /weakness/drawbacks and strengthof thus far forwarded by this and that Think Tanks-,I guarantee you that it will be a great asset for the future Horn of Africa Integration and Conflcit Resolutions…
        And you have enough references.–and make sure to be Neutral and Truthful,as usual,–so as NOT to offend your audience of the Horn …..and since the issues about Eritrea and Eritreans and their grievances are legitimate and factual,there is NO reaosn for you to be “Biased”.
        I might sound naive and over-simplifying issues but,hey,try it,at least for Academic Purposes.
        May God enlighten you further.

        • saay7

          Whoa Cousin Hope:

          S for Saleh. A for Abdu. A for Ahmed. Y for Younis. So, SAAY for short. I can’t even write my full name and go for abbreviation much less write a book:)

          But seriously, thank you. My standard for a book is one: if I write one, it has to be the Great Eritrean Novel. Since (for now) my prose is nowhere near where I want it to be (I need to study from the Russian masters for a decade or more) then I don’t think I should write a book. I can compile all my articles, edit them and present them as SAAY Digest but, no time right now.

          In the mean time, stay tuned for an amazing book from Memhre Aklilu Zere. Now that guy is super-gifted and has great memory.

          Thanks Hope Huye, Naye, etc, etc.


          • Hope

            Thanks SAAY,
            In fact, the SAAY Digest would be a good start while working on the book..
            I can guarantee that even that Digest will get a serious attention.
            Remember that the time and the energy you spent on these Patriotic Articles are tremendous and you deserve a serious pay back.
            Good luck,Big Bro!

          • Hope

            Please read as: I can guarantee YOU,,,,

  • T..T.

    Hi Haile TG,

    Indeed, parents are not turning blind eyes to the sufferings of the Eritrean children and youth. It is the
    parents who are empting their savings by remitting and remitting and remitting monies until those fleeing Isayas’s hellish-land arrive at their destination safe and sound.

    Yes, indeed, Isayas is very weak and lost all supports including public, military, neighboring countries and the world. Because so, Isayas can be removed in no time, not even an hour, if the youth had valor.

    Surely, the future is for the youth. Thanks for the parents who are giving hands in stitching the future for the youth. Yes, surely, the youth of today and parent of tomorrow should ensure of a well stitched future for all coming generation.

    We all know that moral values just don’t go well with Isayas; and progressive values don’t resonate with the Isayasists. We also know that Isayas has the propensity to morally corrupt acts of deceit and denial deeming signed contracts with him totally void as confirmed by his struggle-comrades, the ELFers, the TPLFers, the present Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibout, Somalia, Yemen, IGAD, OAU, UN and the
    list goes on and on.

    And no doubt that the wars with the neighboring countries, the mass exodus of the youth, children, women and the elderly, and above all the tragedies of Eritreans in the deserts and seas contributed well to total condemnation of his regime.

    And finally, his cruelty reflected in denying the public any drop of water, electricity and food pushed him into his hidings and protection by entering into treasonable alliance with guest forces (Demhit Tigray in Eritrea) against his own family and people.

  • dawit

    Selamat Saay,
    Thank you for writing this excellent article about ‘Legitimacy’ of leadership in the Eritrean context. It is a long overdue subject, which has been debated haphazardly perhaps since the beginning of the Eritrean armed struggle or even before it. I liked how you traced the various historical legitimacy arguments from the various colonial periods starting from Italian, Britain, Ethiopian periods till today under independence. Perhaps I may pick some points and debate to advance the discussion.
    I like your extra privilege or perk that you inserted on paying tribute to your family friend the late Abona Ato Tsegai Kahsay posted by ERi-TV. May be sometimes “Serving the Truth”?
    Cheers !

    • haileTG

      hi dawit, dont also forget

      Abona Naizghi Kiflu
      Abona wedi Vacaro
      Abona Amhmed Nasser
      Abona Mesfun Hagos
      Abona Haile Derue
      Abona Petros Selomon
      Abona Mahmud Sherifo
      Abona Uqbe Abraha
      Abona Bitweded
      Abona Germano Nati

      Abona many many many more

      deqna bahri zwehatom
      deqna Sinai zterefu
      deqna ab barnet zgrefu zelewu
      deqna ab me’Eqobi sideteNatat zelewu

      oops I forgot…you guys are the special race:-)

      • dawit

        Oops Hailat, you forgot Abona Isaias Afewrki
        Cheers !

        • haileTG

          dawit, have the special race lynched him too:-) ?

          • dawit

            Thanks, Hailat, I am glad you remembered our Beloved Kbur President, Baba Isias!

  • haileTG

    Merhaba saay, with all niceties in place, let me avail myself to forward my critique:)

    The issue of “legitimacy” is one of the most defining and foundation level quagmire that Eritrea faces. Its subtle implications are far reaching, perhaps at the root of the dire straits that we are going through and the imminent dangers we face as a nation. In my reading, your discussion only dealt at the superficial level of the central issue of legitimacy and seems to have only been advanced to justify your political bias (that we all have depending on how we see the problem). The notion that the regime argues to drive legitimacy from the liberation struggle is indeed superficial. One may even counter that by stating that the bulk of those leaders from that era are either jailed, pushed out of the country and killed. We may even go as far as saying that most of the regime’s operational undertakings are directed by those who had little to do with the struggle (are little known during that time). The fact that the regime wantonly re-writes liberation era history by excluding key players also shows you that such base for legitimacy is indeed superficial. The reality of the matter and the fundamental truth is that the regime drives legitimacy by the barrel of the gun. And, the opposition (taken as a whole) drive their legitimacy from their fundamental right to be governed by rule of law. That is at stakes as far as the real conflict is concerned and hence the contesting calls for legitimacy.

    The wider and subtle implication that I mentioned to be at the core of the concept of legitimacy in our contemporary politics is that it is subjective and it means different things to different sections. For example, the issue of legitimacy is fundamentally different in how it is sought for depending if the subject is secular, regional or religious. There is also another class that we need to add to this: the subject could also be an ex-tegadalay/it because this class of our population has legitimate fears and aspirations that seems to have not been clearly understood yet (except that it can be observed in the challenges it encounters in the current set up). Your argument seems to consider the notion of legitimacy as something that can be “imposed” under certain conditions. That is an anti-thesis to the very essence of fundamental legitimacy that you’ve overlooked in favor of a superficial one. Fundamental legitimacy is only warranted when the transacting parties have found it mutually satisfactory. It is complex to accurately model in our case because of the multitudes of factors that come into play when you analyze it objectively rather than rhetorically.

    The next problem is that the way your argument is constructed, it assumes a homogeneous opposition movement. For example, your proposals to utilize Ghedli history to “our” advantage and inside driven reform, may indeed be neither here nor there fro diverse groups of opposition movements that trace their grievances to diverse causes.

    Your older/younger dichotomy, and your stated bias thereof, also didn’t help your argument. The older generation’s knowledge of those old facts have not only turned a liability to the current generation (who is the primary stakeholder), but also have turned mindlessly bloody and terrible inhumanity. When I once heard Mesfun Hagos saying that even if the Lampedusa tragedy had become powerful due to extensive media coverage, that worse things had happened during Ghedli era, I shook my head in utter disbelief. I felt that if that generation was a parent and me a social worker, I would ask for that parent to be court injunction to be banned from having children. That generation is demonstrating that it is to bogged down on a long gone bravado and it is totally inhuman, insensitive and heartlessly cruel to the new generation. It really is a disturbed generation that is out of its depth to raise a new generation. The death and distraction of innocent youngsters not only dismissed as “common” but has now come to this (i.e. they don’t know what they’re talking about). I would call that a heartless, irresponsible and bloody minded generation that is a tragic misfortune to be born from. Just think about it saay, over 500 of our young perished over the summer and double that number (mostly older generation) were seen dancing in their graves in Bologna.

    Dear saay, the future belongs to the young not blood drenched and bloody minded old generation that has no heart, no love, no compassion to its young. The older Eritreans with some gray hair have shown conclusively that they don’t understand the young, they are too bloody minded to even dance before according burial to their dead children and and the world is looking on. The old generation must leave the young alone or the young must take charge and confront it. Its “you don’t know anything” can only be answered by “thank God for that”.

    Apart from those few points, the rest sounds pretty cool 🙂


    • Hope

      A nice supplement,if I may say it.
      SAAY—might NOT be a perfect writer or a perfect Political Analyst as people would like him to be,but per my standard ,at least, and relatively speaking,he has done,as usual ,a fabulous job that most of us are unable to do-in my opinion.
      I wish he could write a book and distribute it–in Arabic and Toigrgna besides in English.
      Having said that:
      I tried to be picky in my capacit but failed bu I learned the following”:
      That, as Opposition memebrs ,we are still weak and we have to sell ourselves in a better and stronger way than that of the PFDJ
      a)learning from its(PFDJ) weakneses and strength
      b)by staying away from the “Liabilities” that he perfectly listed–related to (a)

      • haileTG

        Hope (ya wed Keren, who speaks Toigrgna? I am gonna join one of the ethnic oppo, if you guys disfigure the name of my language like that..haha)

        To your point though, I don’t know how long you’ve been reading saay’s writing, but this ain’t something he just thought up and shared today. He has been saying (in substance) similar things for many years now. This article is a review in old material because…hmmm many of us seem to thing Eritrean problems started when we joined its politics. What I responded today is a different perspective with changed reality. When saay use to say this in the past, I only took the surface level interest on it, because at the time I thought we were just riding a wild horse by way of Eritrean problems. Now, thanks to brutal hindsight, we know it isn’t a wild horse, it is actually a dangerous Tiger sort of problem that we are riding. And, hence, naturally, my thinking deepened.

        • Saleh Johar

          HaileTG, who is registering membership for the Toigrnga group, please reserve me a place. I don’t think Hope will object 🙂

          • Hope

            Read as : Toigrigna as Tigrigna or Tigrinya.
            Some one should help me to edit my comments before I hit ” submit”,please.
            Hailat:Your English is too complicated for me including the last one,
            Those who want to understand the real Activism and Political Struggle, listen to Arhe Hamednaka ‘s interview by Dr Russom Mesfin Interview

        • Hope

          Yep Hailat!,
          Every one is welcome to join my party called “We’d Keren Style Toigrigna Spelling Liberation Front” for free!

    • farnelo

      Selam Haile TG,
      In a perfect and fair world, I think you are right. “The future belongs to the young not not blood drenched and bloody minded old generation that has no heart, no love, no compassion to its young”. The problem is the young Eritreans (including myself if early 40ties are considered young :))don’t seem ready or willing or care to earn the future of Eritrea. Otherwise how on on earth could a living dead DIA still be ruling Eritrea and it’s people with absolute contempt and brutality.

      In my view, the option of the young generation working with the “inhuman and cruel” old generation is an open end option. To my dismay I don’t see much short cut around this. In addition, the old generation in power are not genetically programed to be such cruel beasts. They are by product of the half a century struggle with many constantly changing parameters. If there is a practical way to short circuit them and hand Eritrea to the young and turn Eritrea into a normal state, you have my vote.


      • haileTG

        Dear ferneno,

        I too share those seemingly self contradictory doubts. But but…the truth is that the future would ultimately belong to the young. That is an axiomatic truth, it can never belong to the old. If the young had been valued for the assets that it represents, the old would be said have been survived. Our elderly are ruining the nation as part of the regime or its surrogates or as part of the opposition by being a dead weight mired in ethnicity, corruption and backward culture of ghedli era bravado. The young is charting its own path far out of the influence of the old that is incapable of understanding what it means to raise a new generation. Isn’t it shame that they wish the young to value the struggle era that they themselves forsaken? Where are the history books they wrote? where are the work they’ve done to pass that history other than to sell it cheap to an “on demand” utility by a genocidal dictator? The young are saying they would rather instantly die than be part of what the old created. That is a monumental failure. And after all their struggle and fanfare, they are facing international court proceeding, where the Eritrean people had to call for third parties intervention from these cruel killers. Why is COI set up? That failed generation is not humbled yet and still chest thumbing to go into further escalation with young. They have told the young that they don’t really matter, their lives are in vain and they are here to rule them for a 1000 years. We’ll see about that mountain of nonsense, but unless they loosen up on their bloody mindedness a bit, things are taking shape. The young have managed to break free and is a matter of time before coming back to settle up. The current window of opportunity may not stay open for too long. And once the country falls into civil war, there is no point regretting it then. The future belongs to the young, they must relent to this fact or it is gonna get a lot worse. Not that I prefer it to go that way.


    • saay7

      Selamat Haile TG:

      Niceties not necessary at all when going after my ideas: ዶርጕሓዮ:)

      That said, I can’t say that I understood all your points and/or how they relate to what I was saying. So, in the interest of advancing the debate, how about we both dump the prose and go straight for bullet-style points.

      1. In democracies, when somebody is accused of not having legitimacy, it is when the person is being accused of acquiring power without observing the parameters of multi-party democracy. Eg: Bush is illegitimate because he cheated in Florida; Obama is illegitimate because he is not a US citizen, etc. In the US,these are fringe arguments and most of the rest of the arguments deal with political mandate: yes, he is legitimate but no, he doesn’t have the political mandate because (a) s/he barely won; (b) s/he is not popular.

      I am saying that in Eritrea, because we do not have elections, we are still stuck in the political legitimacy arguments. And I was suggesting that, since we are stuck in that argument, there are effective and ineffective ways to make it.

      2. I was focused in how an argument for legitimacy is sold to the people, as opposed to how it is practiced. So, when you say “the regime derives legitimacy by the barrel of the gun”, I would say, yes, absolutely, but when it sells it to the people it is not saying “do it because we have bigger guns than you”, it is using revolutionary legitimacy: we carry guns because we are revolutionaries, and we are revolutionaries because we want to protect you from a scary world.

      3. The age angle I used was only to make the point that for an “agelglot” Eritrea (someone in their teens, 20s and even early 30s), the PFDJ type of governance is the only one they have known in their entire life. Just like the ELF of the 1960s and EPLF of the 1970s was heavily influenced by the revolutionary milieu of its era, the Eritrean youth appear to be heavily influenced by the deformed milieu of the PFDJ era. So, yes, the future does belong to the youth, but if the youth are going to act like the “bloody minded old generation” I would rather confront them now, rather than hear their confessions on some radio interview 20 years from now.


      • haileTG

        ካብ በልካ በል saay:-)

        1) Yes, we are stuck in that political legitimacy questions. All I am pointing to is that your suggested “effective ways of doing it” are really superficial. They don’t address the fundamental issue of legitimacy that is threatening to turn the country into chaos. Your idea of “internal change” is for example, adamantly rejected by other groups, the “our history” part of your argument has its major loop holes too. We can celebrate with hgdef annual memorials and express appreciation of those who locked up innocent people for dead, but it won’t gain fundamental legitimacy. An oppressed people have a “legitimacy” to fight off their oppressor by all means necessary.

        2) HGDEF jails, tortures and kills in an event of decent. Nobody buys hgdef legitimacy from its feeble propaganda. So, are you suggesting that the people have bought hgdef “revolutionary” mantra and are debating if they can trade that with a reformed opposition’s legitimacy pitch? Why did more than half a million flooded out of the country? Why hgdef having problems to attract support? No, saay, hgdef has a gun pointed at the people’s head at home and ERiTV at the diaspora gullible. HGDEF’s choreographed nationalism has turned people off of it. In Eritrea, BRUTAL force is used to suppress opposition, that is that.

        3) I agree here, except, discounting what they know and starting with such a low expectation may not be helpful either. The youth have lived a unique time period where they had to undergo unheard of ordeals, at home an abroad. Surely, that counts for something.

        In conclusion, I understand that the issue of ex-tegadelty can be discussed as a political reality in itself. But, no one should be made a sacrificial lamb to facilitate them. They either need to humble themeselves and integrate with the civilians or they will remain misunderstood and eventually be the principal losers. I see the situation as a train set with three wagons. The first wagon is the driver’s cabin (regime), second wagon is the tegadelti carrying and the third wagon is carrying the people. All, this talk of questionable legitimacy is coming from the second wagon. wagon 1 doesn’t trust wagon 2 & 3, wagon 2 doesn’t trust wagon 1 & 3 and wagon 3 doesn’t trust wagon 1 &2. Add to this other restive issues of regional or sectarian nature. It is complex. So, my critic was that the above article may have a general positive value of straightening rough ends superficially, but didn’t go as deep as I wished it to be. And, again that isn’t a crime just my take:-)


        • saay7

          ሕጂ ግርም Haile TG:

          1. Since mine is superficial, why don’t you suggest what is “fundamental” issue; then we can skin that one and see if it has anything to offer. How is the idea of “internal change” rejected and by whom? Who are these “other groups”? Why can’t we commemorate “annual memorials”(which belong to the people) and then add one of our own: Eritrean prisoners day?

          2. Hailat, when the “feeble propaganda” of Eri-TV was being launched via satellite and then Internet in Europe and USA in the early 200s, I remember many smart people saying that Eri-TV may get an audience from homesick Eritreans in the Middle East but it is never going to have a foothold in the West. Do you believe this to be the case? How is it that the “feeble” Hgdef has managed to do this: because everyone in the Diaspora who follows them is gullible?

          3. With all due respect, Hailat, I see the glorification of “the youth”, and treating them all as a homogenous group to be not very helpful. The “youth” includes the brave souls who are confronting the Eritrean regime; it also includes those who have written apology letters and are paying their 2% and buying their villa in Eritrea (something that NO YOUTH in my generation would EVER contemplate without earning the Wedogeba scarlet letters); and it includes the YPFDJ.


          • haileTG

            hey saay, ወይ ነገር:-)

            1) The ex-tegadelty don’t consider the rest of the population to deserve legitimacy. They even have their own separate organization ተጋደልቲ ነበር and are generally not at ease with the gebar. The population, especially the youth, don’t consider the ex-tegadelti to be inheritors of the next throne after they watched from distance (even supported and implemented) the demise of the young generation. Can you bridge that legitimacy gap, or the heroic arbegnoch will always win the day and we might as well go home 🙂

            2) dear saay, Propaganda is aimed at mobilization, a feeble one doesn’t do that. PFDG has been repeatedly hammered with expulsions, sanctions, condemnations, commissions… and the circa 2010 nhana nsu is long forgotten. Hardly anyone would respond to the regime’s wai wai 🙂 sadly, the talk on the street is, who cares, look after #1. And that is an ultimate manifestation of of a feeble propaganda that has failed to serve its purpose. The problem is that many of our people have turned their back on our country and its problems, that doesn’t mean ERiTV is working. In fact, the opposite.

            3) I was only responding to what I (mis?)understood to be a simple dichotomy that generally held that the young are to be dismissed. I think that was the problem in the first place (the organized opposition’s problem), and it is the young that move the world. Fidel was a YPFDJ youth in Sweden and now played a key role in the expulsion of Wedi Mengistu (the PFDG criminal#1 in Scandinavia) by exposing them. Whatever it is I would be less inclined to entertain any rancor with the young. It is rather a no win situation.


          • saay7


            1. Haha, yes, of course, the heroic arbegnoch always win the day in Third World countries, and Eritrea is one:) They may be the youth, middle aged, oldies but they will have one thing in common: they will be from inside. And, if we in the Diaspora remain as disorganized and directionless as we are, when the world is trying to understand what just happened in Eritrea, nobody will ask for our expertise: a whole bunch of foreigners (Africa experts) will be interpreting to the rest of the world what just happened in Eritrea.

            2. Propaganda is also aimed at entertainment and distraction. Refer to your disheveled copy of Orwell’s 1984.:)

            3. I don’t know anybody, ever who has said the young are to be dismissed and anyone who says that should turn in his/her “political analyst/synthesist/hobbyist” card and retire. What I hear often (and you just did it) is using collective use of “the young”: just because people go through a collective experience (agelglot) doesn’t mean they all end up having the same worldview because, as you very well know, it is not just nurture, it is nature:)


          • haileTG

            hey saay,

            1) You’re right that the scene of the change would be inside. But the “legitimacy” issue would still be there to haunt us (be it inside or outside). And tacking in our shirt properly or singing ertra ertra louder than anyone wouldn’t gain much mileage. We have no facility to control the situation because we really have to seek legitimacy based on principles of equality of all stakeholders or try fudge it. The latter would waste us time and leave us even more unprepared.

            2) Haha…I agree

            3) I stand corrected 🙂 It is just that whenever we say to the youth “Your fault is….” it is a mere one letter short of the responsible question (just cross out the letter “Y” and re-read)… mah..


          • saay7

            Haile The Great:

            Ok, deHri kndey Waga Idaga, we have reached the ny Mewedaeta de’a stage? 🙂 Leaving #2 and #3 aside, let’s get to # 1, our issue of contention which I expounded on in “Why Democratic coup is our best option” article:

            See, hailat, I begin with the assumption that change is going to be ignited from within. Now, whether the ones who end up in the power seat are young, old, Tegadelti, ex-tegadelti, our “heroic arbegnoch”, as you call them are going to be products of EPLF-PFDJ and they are going to need a lot of mainstreaming to bring their chip up to date. For some, it is frozen in 1991, for others 1997, for others 2001: this is their benchmark for Pax Eritreana. And we are going to have to edumacate them and show them that their little closed-society will need a lot of correction because for many of their compatriots the nightmare began in the period they call the honeymoon period.

            Now, in the field of education, it is commonly understood that when you are dealing with people who need remedial education, a “C” student is often more effective than an “A” student. The flunky cannot relate to the A student at all: too much of a culture shock. Same principle applies here:)


          • Saleh Johar

            Abu salaH,
            Does that assume everyone in Eritrea is PFDJ? If we have anywhere between 3 and 6 million souls in Eritrea, and any force can bring change, does it follow those who bring change are EPLF-PFDJ products? Why can’t they just be unaffiliated Eritreans, or simply Eritreas?

            Does any change that comes necessarily belong to the PFDJ considering our diverse political and social reality, though not expressed for reasons we all know?

            Don’t you think that all the resistance forces are a product of Eritrea, and not necessarily PFDJ or EPLF products, and since they have affiliations in their own country, they can possibly affect change in unexpected ways, just like what is happening in our region?

            I am saying this because we both know there are partisan people who insinuate that any change that comes to Eritrea is theirs (and theirs alone) and the rest of the resistance forces might as well be considered as a strangers as if hailing from Siberia or Angola–basically have nothing to do with the expected change! As you know, the “change from inside” slogan is so abused that some are wielding it to the rest of the resistance forces. And I believe that is the main problem, of course including the meaningless age segregation.

          • saay7

            Ahlen Abu Selah:

            I refer you to Awate Team meeting notes, # 72 🙂 Time for bullets:

            1. When we talk about change, we shouldn’t talk about the “Eritrean people” but the “political class of the Eritrean people.” The change agents, the agitating class. This is not unique to Eritrea but every society in the world: the change agents are always a tiny elite. The people, once inspired, follow.

            2. With the exception of the failed coup attempt of 2005 (the Keren team that included people like patriot/poet/singer Idris Mohammed Ali), all other campaigns for reform/change/coup were led by EPLF-PFDJ veterans;

            3. Statistically speaking, All future change agents, if they come from within Eritrea, are going to be people who have been marinated in EPLF/PFDJ. That includes young Eritreans who attended Eritrean history classes (ELF: bad, failure; EPLF; good, victor), it includes young Eritreans who know only one flag (the official state flag); only one form of organizing Eritrean provinces (the existing zoba system) and only one narrative of Eritrean history. It doesn’t mean I like it, it means it is what it is. Asha ztekhelo, etc, etc.

            4. The “partisans” who say they are culturally better suited to influence the change agents within Eritrea factually accurate. Their claim that because they come from that culture they can navigate within it more easily is an obvious fact: its like a black FBI agent saying that he can more easily infiltrate and influence the Black panthers than a white person can. Whether they are able to execute is of course a completely different matter.

            5. Of course, those who claim that they can completely bypass the EPLF/PFDJ and link with a movement that is sick of the whole damn infrastructure would prove the “partisans” all wrong. But, they have had 23 years to do that and their progress can be measured in inches, not feet.


          • haileTG

            Hey saay, (Ok everyone back to the same box:)

            5) Does saying they had 23 years mean that EPLF/PFDJ was opposed without sufficient run time to prove itself? Does PFDJ muster the same strength in 2014 vs in 2010. Can the same rate be observed between 2002 – 2006? (The same 4 year period but the first one has seen much dramatic change!)

            4) But..hang on! In your analogy the Black FBI isn’t a Black panther? What is the chances that the FBI can hire a Black panther to do the job for them? That would reflect the reality you’re trying to represent analogically.

            3) In PFDJ, we are calling the abolishing of its economic, security and political pillars. The reason being that they are all fully submersed in illegality and they have brought us thus far, to the gates of disaster. Tes is, for example, someone who went through those processes, yet thinks the PFDJ is an evil organization that must be uprooted. how do we square that?

            2) But but…with the exception of the last call visitors of the struggle, the entire hard work of of activism that has brought hgdef’s diaspora arm to its knee was done outside of the EPLF/PFDJ. The latter only re-positioned and regrouped in this final days knowing that the system had hit a brick wall and it won’t survive at all.

            1) This may sound mystic ball prediction, but dear saay, the elites inside are too tamed and the dictatorship is too established for them to do anything. It was barely 2 years ago that FORT organizing colleagues of theirs were massacred but they heard or seen nothing. So, my prediction is that they may jump ship haphazardly when things get significantly out of contro than now, and we’ll still be left with the issue of “legitimacy” as we enter years of intractable instability.


          • saay7

            Selamat Hailat:

            ነናብ ቦጎኒናዶ ንመለስ ወይስ ንናብ ዘንቢልና:) Ok:

            5) I accept that the rate of change is much more accelerated between 2010-14 in comparison to 2002-2006. I equate this to us in the opposition, collectively, stoping a van full of hostages and rocking it (I brought my own ባጎኒ) because we are just pissed at its murderous ways. There is a new group which has come saying, “step aside, step aside, trained driver coming through”–and these are the ones SGJ is calling partisans:)

            4. The Black FBI is a former Black Panther.

            3. I would love to know the evolution of Tes. I have talked to many products of EPLF/PFDJ after they leave the country: and year 1-year 5, they are still saying “abzias ms Wedi Afom ysemamaE iye” (and every “abzia” is a political issue:) The de-programming takes time and the process is speeded up when they are paired with a former cult member (Alcoholics Anonymous uses the same concept.)

            2. I agree and since I was part of it, I am proud of us all. But I think this is where the divergence happens: You (and SGJ) believe that the “silent majority” is a bunch of confused, conscience-less folk on who we should spend zero energy trying to win over; and I think the opposite. Hailat, can we say that while the rate of abandonment of PFDJ is not the same as the rate of embracing the opposition? And if it is not (and I don’t think it is), is there something we in the opposition can do better or is it a case of we do our thing, the exact same way, and way for the silent ones to join us?

            1. Can’t gaze into my crystal ball. But, to borrow from Hegel/Marx, the PFDJ creates its own seeds of destruction with its cadre school. And I know that you know what I mean:)


          • Kokhob Selam

            Dear Saay can I say something ?

            እዋእ መቸም ዝተኻፈለ እዩ ዝሰርሕ :: ድሓር እንታይ ግድኻ : ሓፍሽ ገለ ዓወታት እንተሪኡ ባዕሉ እ ንድኣሉ ዝመጽእ :: ኣንታ ሳልሕ ሓፋሽ ህዝቢ ሽፍታ እንዳበሎ እንከሎ ዶ ኣይኮነ ዓዋተ ቃልሱ ቀጺሉ ? ኣንታ ሓቁ ድኣ – ሓፋሽ ዶ ኮይኑ ጀማሪ – ደይ ምእንቲ ኣብ ጎንኻ ክኸውን ኢኻ “ሓፋሽ ሓፋሽ ” ኢልካ ዝድረፍ እምበር –(ፍሽኽ በል)

          • saay7

            Selamat kokhob selam:

            ተላሊና ኣለና ኣንትን ነብሰ ሕሩያት (elite:) ንዓነ ንጨጓር ዳንጋ ሓፋሸ: እስኽንን: ደቂ ሹቕ ከም ባዓል ሃይለ ትጻወቱልና ኣለኹም:))

            ዋዛ ሓዲግና ናብ ቁም ነገር። ሰውራ ህዝባዊ ደገፍ ዘይብሉ ኽትከል ዶ ይክኣል ኢዩ? ኣብ ጀብሃ ከለኻ፤ ዕሳባት ክንትልኩ፥ ስለያ ክትካይዱ: ወረ ብጥምየት ዕርቃን ሕማም ደኺመካ ከለኻ ናብ መን ተተርኢስካ?

            In the immortal words of Abrar Osman: ንመን? ንመን;ንመን;ንመን?


          • Kokhob Selam

            እዋእ ! እቲ ስቃይ ምስ መረሮን ዝጅምረሉ ምስ ረኸብን ድኣ እወ ::ውይልኡ ጀግና ቀባጽ እምበር ሰዓቢ ድ ኣ መኣስ ክሰኣን ኮይኑ:: ስማዕ እባ ሳልሕ ሓወይ እዞም “ተቃወምቲ ብላሽ እዮም” እናበለ ዘማርር ዘሎ ክምዛ ንዓና ጥራይ ትምልከተና መን ድዩ ?

            ስማዕ እንዶ እዚ መን ኢኻ ትብሎ ? ኣንታ እዚ ጋሕማጥ “ኣነ ምስ ህዝቢ ኤርትራ ኩንትራት የብለይን ” ክብል እንከሎ ተጋግዩ ድዩ ?ሓፋሽ ድኣ ኩንትራት የብልካን እሞ ውርድ ኢላ ዘይትፋለሞ ?

            እስከ በል! እዛ ኩላ ሲናይን ባሕርን ትገጥም ዘላ ደቂ ሓፋሽ ዶ ኣይኮነትን ? ካብ ተኣኪብካ ኣብ ቀላይ ምጥፋእ ድ ኣ ተኣኪብካ ዝኽፈል ከፊልካ ዶ ኣብ ሃገርካ ከቢርካ ምንባር ኣይሓይሽን ? ክላ ካላ ካብ ሓፋሽ ሲ ተሪፍካ ኢኻ :: የግዳስ ገለ ጀጋኑ ዝወለዳ ማህጸናት ኣይሰ ኣናን እሞ ለውጢ ግድን እዩ ድ ኣ በል : ብሓይሊ ኣምላኽ ::

            እታ ናይ ኣናጹ ዕላል ተፈልጣ ዲኻ ? እተን ኣኼባ ገይርን ብውሳኔ ዝወጻ – እተን እኳ ቃጭል ኣብ ክሳድ ውሮ ብምእሳር ኩሉ ግዜ ድምጺ ቃጭል (ደወል) ሰሚዐን ነብሰን ከድሕና ዝወሰና :- ግን መን ጀግና ኣብ ክሳድ ድሙ ይእሰራ ወይ ከ ?

            ኪር ኪር በል ብጃኻ ጀበና ተሳኢና ሞተረ ሓንጎልና ድሕሪት ዘይሩ ሎ ::

          • saay7

            Kokhob Selam:

            Remember, when we say “ነቒሉ ዘይምለስ ተዓዋቲ ህዝቢ: ኽብርኻ ዝነኽኣ ኮይኑ መዛረቢ” we are still saying somebody, some መላጥ ዳንጋ like you:) ከንቅሎ ኣለዎ


          • Kokhob Selam

            ሞይተ !
            ሃይላት ርድኣኒ :

          • haileTG

            Dear KS

            ዶ? ንዓኻ ድማ ኣርኪቡልካ!….ኣነ’ድኣ በየን ክረድኣካ ኮኾብ ዓርከይ፡ ንዓኻ ኣናሕሲዩ’ዩ መይትካ ሓዲጉካ። ንዓይ ዳኣ ቀቢሩኒ እንድዩ እዚ ጉዳም። ኪደላ እምበር፡ ቀደሙ’ስ ትጽገብ’ዶ ኮይና እዛ ጣሻ 🙂

          • Mahmud Saleh

            ኮኸባይ ዓርከይ፡ ሓንቲ ሓጻር ግጥሚ ደኣ ግበረሉ። ግጥሚ እያ ተዋጸኣካ። እምበር ሳልሕን ዘረባን ደኣ መውልድቲ’ዮም እዩ ዝበሃል። ከም ገለ እዩ ጥውዯይ ዘብሎ ነዚ ዘረባ። ሃየ እስከ ሓንቲ ሓጻር ግበር ኢኻ።

          • saay7

            Kokhob Selam:

            በጃኻ ንማሕሙዳይን ንሃይለ ታላቁ ሰውየ ኣይትስመዓዮም። ከባኣሱና ኢሎም ኢዮም። ሳላ “ተንኮለኛው ከበደ” ዘንበብና ቀለውዕ ከለና ገጢምናየን ኣለና:: ኣነስ ክጋጠም፥ ከጋጥም እየ እንቴልካ ፡ ኣብኣ ትረኽባ፤ ተለቂሐ፥ ሰሪቀ፥ ኣነውን ከርክበልካ እየ:

            ጽን ኢልካ ሰምዓዮ ነዚ ነቕ ዘይብል ሃገራዊ ሓርበኛ ተጋዳልይ ተ.ሓ.አ.

            ኣብ ኩሉ መዳይ ሻማ ሻማ በል:
            ብልዑል ወኒ ናብ ሓያል ማዕበል::


          • Mahmud Saleh

            ሓይስ ወ ዕጉል Ustaz Saleh
            ሳልሕ ዝብሉኻ ተማጓቲ
            ቃላትካ ዘምክኽ ንታንኪ
            ንቃላት ትፈትል፡ ትዝቲ
            ንዳርጋ ትገብራ ምልእቲ
            ንሃጓ ትምድምዳ ብስልቲ
            ገሊአን ትለጥመን ምልእቲ
            ገሊአን ትስንዐን ከም ሓንቲ
            ፋብሪካ ቋንቋ ናይ ዳእላ ምንጪ
            ኣይደኽመካን’ዶ ወደይ ኣንታ ሓጫጪ
            ሓፋሽ ይዕዘብ ኣሎ ነዓ ላውዚ በል
            ከይግጭበካ ናይ ኮኸባይ ማኦበል

            ** ገለ ገለ ቃላት ትግራይት እንተ ረኺብካ ሓላፍነቱ ኣይስከምን
            እየ። ኣብ ፈራዶ ረፓብሊክ ትግራይት ማለት ክቡራን ሳልሕ ጋድን ሰመረን የራኽበና። ሰመረ ካብ ትላዕለ፡ ሳልሕ ጋዲ ንናይ ኣቡሸነብ ውዕሎ ክትርጉም
            ድዩ ሰዲድዎ ወይስ ምስኡ ክጠፍእ እዩ? ሰመረ ኣበይ ኣሎ? ኣቡዓሸራ ሒዙ ግዲ ብኡ ኣቢሉ ህልም ኢሉ!!

          • saay7


            My response to your poem is the punchline to a joke that Semere A told me about 7 years ago, which I still use most appropriately. The punchline is “ወሪዱኒ ጓል ቀሺ” Please make Semere tell you the joke when he comes back from his exile. Hint: it is about the EPLF:)


          • Rodab

            ክጅምረልካ በስ

            ሳልሕዶ ክብለካ ሳልሕ
            ብመጎተ ሰብ ተላሕልሕ
            ዶ ኣይትብሎን ኣታ
            ሃየ በል መልኣያ ጀሚረልካ ኣለኹ

          • Saleh Johar

            Ato Saay,
            You told me in meeting #51/12/2010 that the elite leads the people who is basically a follower provided there is a benefit for the followed. All I am asking is for help to identify the elite of “silent majority” so that we can do focused activity to attract them or to try to instill in them some conscience to help them discern right from wrong. I volunteer to work with anyone who embarks on that, but not if the entire lazy, inconsiderate tribe of silent majority is considered a victim of the resistance groups blamed for not laying a red carpet for the lazy tribe and go home and die. To target the entire silent majority tribe is un-doable because they are many fold those who are diligently struggling. Think about it, those who are active are not more than a few thousand people, paltalk, rallies, organizations and commentators included and they represent everyone who is mad at the PFDJ (basically every 2 in 3 Eritreans, please take it at facevalue, no data)! And the so-called silent tribe are not very silent, you find them in dankera and gwayla. But given the above (for convenience) ratio and proportions, the number of the elite of that tribe can’t be more than a couple of hundred persons. Can anyone help us identify them to make things easier 🙂

            On the opposition/resistance camp, I bet you by now the number of young, old, EPLF/ELF/ABCDE, etc is almost equal–the old distinction doesn’t apply to the organized opposition of today–be it the partisans or the mesakin deqi mariam. The divide along the struggle era affiliations is non-existent except in the minds of the partisan group that wants to revive it thinking it is the best strategy–incidentally, the partisans don’t know any other strategy except that 🙂

          • saay7

            Ahlen Abu Salah! Seni t masekum:

            I have a silent majority hotline and I receive messages and I will transcribe it without editorializing. Here are their pleas:

            1. I am afraid that the effort to fix Eritrea will break it;
            2. Please stop discussing sensitive issues of religion, ethnicity, language. ሕርኽርኽ ይብለኒ ኮይኑ when the opposition discusses that. Why? Refer to #1.
            3. Please don’t make me feel ashamed to be an Eritrean.
            4. Please remember that even during the struggle for Eritrean independence, many (most?) people were in the “silent majority”: they want to believe change was possible but they were afraid it wasn’t.
            5. Please show us some results we can take pride in, like liberate prisoners or punish those who abuse us.

            There were others but I think that’s a representative sample. The “partisans” intuitively understand this and their messages are crafted intelligently to appeal to the silent majority. Well, most of their messages. I am waiting for their commando unit to strike at Eira Eiro, then I will be a card-carrying member:)


          • Saleh Johar

            Saay, of course 3 to 6 mil people will not be agents, it is a small group that comes out from the people, so the people means just that.

            My worry is that this could be interpreted to mean sit still and pray for a good result because you can’t bring about change since the the change agents are already established. Sort of the status quo will not be disrupted. Apart from that, we can also say every tree planted was by the PFDJ so don’t even aspire to plant trees. And I am appealing for an amendment to AT meeting notes #72 🙂

          • Saleh Johar

            HaileTG, a bit of generalization that didn’t go well in your earlier post. Is “young” and “old” absolute? I hope it is not.

            But here is what I want to ask you, Saay,Mahmuday and others tothink about:

            Do we have an enemy in the current struggle or everyone has to be treated like a lost lamb and given priestly care, regardless of their position?

            Is the PFDJ and its tentacles an enemy or a friend?

            Now, before someone jumps, I am talking about the PFDJ as an institution, whether it belongs to Isaias alone or with other share holders… that is not my concern. Let the stake holders cry for it.

            The Derg was an enemy but no one chased those who worked for the Deg system in 1991, with the exception of a few who were rightly kept under control.

            If we accept that PFDJ is the equivalent of Derg only hilding a different citizenship card (I believe so) then what prevents us from considering the PFDJ an enemy? I also believe this will help us focus because we all complain the resistance forces are not focused.

            The above assumes that everything that happened before 1991 is our collective legacy and we own its bad and good aspects. But to use PFDJ’s language, that page is now flipped for good, and it can only be referenced mainly for scholarly reason. But if one is still living in that era, it will be difficult to address the current Eritrean predicament.

          • haileTG

            Hey SGJ,

            You’d agree, I would say, that whenever it is this group or that it never is clear cut and bound to include many unintended cases. This is why we narrowed the list with saay to the unscrupulous one’s in both camps. However, if the older hgdef generation was to stop writing this final and ugly chapter of dancing for the regime, you would have seen that PFDJ is practically dried out of youth in the diaspora and it has become a thing of the past. This is at the core of my disgust (PFDJ koboro junkies writing the such a horrid history by supporting an all but dead dictator).

            For your question:

            1) PFDJ is by far worse and cruel than the dergue. An entity that would live for ever as the darkest history of our nation. I shall tell and educate my children and grandchildren the evil PFDJ years of our existence and how it took a fine Eritrea and turned it to an eyesore of the entire world. This against Eritrea’s big dreams in 1991.

            2) PFDJ is a mortal enemy. And that is that.

            3) Eritreans flooding out of the country are saying ንበይኖም ይግበርዋ ኢልና ወጺእናሎም። (we have left the country for” them” to do with it as they wish) is their common observation. They are seen as the enemy of the Eritrean people and you just need to observe the rage and anger the young are feeling against it. People in Eritrea are not PFDJ, they would never be and they actually refer the regime as “ስርዓት ሸፋቱ” (a system of outlaws and criminals) when you talk to people back home.


          • Kaddis

            Gash Saleh –
            “The above assumes that everything that happened before 1991 is our collective legacy and we own its bad and good aspects.”

            Well – did I missed something before or this has been your stand in Eth Eri relations…ever since? Sorry commenting after a rushed glance of reading…forget it if I am not near the topic

          • Saleh Johar

            Hi Kaddis, I think you might have missed the context of the topic. It’s about the struggle era history–the inter Eritrean differences and interpretation of that era. In 1991 we found an enemy in the PFDJ. That has been my position.

          • Hope

            I thought that your “Blanket accusation” of the “oldies” is a bit off limit;plus,Reconciliation is the key word.
            Mahmoud and his Colleagues in Eritrea or even the “hademti” Warsay” can testify the unnecessary bloody enemity between the “oldies and the Youngies”,where hundreds of Yik’alos” were hunted down /shot dead by the revengeful Youngies in a retaliation to/of the Baduma War–“mischieves”,where,apparently,the Warsay” were allegedly ” abused” in the war front—
            I do know for sure my own two senior Yika’lo relatives,who were victims of such a tragedy and enemity.
            So,pls,do not add fuel to the fire

    • Kokhob Selam

      it was always the same, the elders use to say it in 40’s and 50’s etc ” the future is for young generation” and yes the “old generation is bloody,selfish” etc. then here we are again Hailat ” the future is for coming generation” they will call us the same ” the old generation is bloody selfish” today tie your belt and be bold to accept my words, the younger once are more selfish than we do. They are so selfish even they go to PFDJ office after crossing the risky desert of Sinai Lol they are so selfish they even forgot their own tragedy . The problem is not the old or the new or the coming. the problem is the way we think now. the past is history now including the story of our grand fathers who went to Libya as “Asker” . there were wise men and women among them who use to inform, say and fight for truth but history is only to be made by mass.

      Dear Hailat, learning from all what you said, I want you to add that, wisdom is to be found from old generation who experienced all social problems. Yes, remember the old generation in it’s era had perfect men and women whom are not heard and who have been killed, arrested etc. and to be honest they didn’t get much credit from the mass.but love is so in high position and the best solution they forgive us leaving legacy and respect.

      • haileTG

        Dear KS

        If a child grows in wrong ways, what does that say about the parent?

        • Kokhob Selam

          when he is just child at 10 he may say “my parents are wrong” when he start to see the situation deeply he will start to ask and and answer what makes them wrong. and even he may find that it is out of their control. so the way out is and do what you should do making your base love.

          • haileTG

            Dear KS,

            Until the age 10, bring him/her up with all sorts of immoral mind set, so would blowing the candle for his/her 18th absolve the parent? Or give the child a new life of morality and grace?

          • Kokhob Selam

            He can do nothing about his past and blaming his parents will not take him back to his childhood days. Learning from their mistakes is the only thing he can gain so not to repeat it, after all they are his parents and he didn’t come to this world by his choice to be their child so it is not his mistake too. the question he should ask is why did they manage so? what was wrong that make them so wrong? what can I do today to solve my problem? what, and which way is the best for my coming new family. remember no one is alone and no one can solve his problem and the problem is the social life and he may have to join others to bring the best solution.

            Hailat you are so wise I have learned a lot from you, what is wrong today? may be you didn’t get cup of coffee Ha ha ha.


    Dear Saay,
    I think you are running out of issues to write about, the legitimacy debate is dead and both sides LOST. Quite frankly, I am not interested in winning that debate. I think, there are far more important issues at hand to be dealt with and the questions you should be asking is how to win your freedom? Who is talking about Isaias Afwerki’s government legitimacy right now, let alone his charisma. The sad reality is “those of us who have a few Grey hairs” are sitting in their comfort zone waiting for change and we all know what “Eritrean who is in his 20s and early 30s”are going through

    • saay7

      Ahlen Saeed:

      Actually, the legitimacy debate is still going on and let me give you an example:

      Over the last 23 years, the Eritrean regime has written dozens of proclamations and regulations on what the law of the land is in Eritrea.

      (a) There are Eritreans who refuse to consider the merit or demerit of these regulations/rules. Their argument is one and only one: the government is not an elected government and is therefore illegitimate and, therefore, all its rules and laws (1991-present) are null and void:

      (b) There are Eritreans who accept the legitimacy of the government to write laws from 1991 to 1997 (when the constitution was ratified) but reject all its laws since then.

      (c) There are Eritreans who side-step the issue of legitimacy and focus on the merits and demerits of the laws, rules, regulations themselves.

      These three different approaches to the legitimacy of the Eritrean regime go to the very heart of why we have so many opposition groups.



        Ahlen wa sahlen dear ustaz Salih,
        Very true ustaz Salih,the legitimacy debate is still going on, it was a bad choice of words on my part. I was referring to the top priorities and I shouldn’t have used the word”dead”. I think, I have overlooked
        a few important fact here, but I totally understand your point of view now.

  • T. Kifle

    Dear Saleh Y.,

    It seems that you had in mind an Eritrea that is not African in its manifestations when you repeatedly mentioned that “Eritrea is just another African country”. Is it an excuse or do you really believe that the opposition in some way are affected by aspirations which are beyond the African modus operandi?

    In your no1: “Drop our liabilities”, what percentage of Eritreans question the legitimacy of the revolution? I think very few and still it’s your number one in the series of recommendations. Furthermore, it’s a simplistic view and news to me that “EPRDF/Weyane ideologues” question the legitimacy of the revolution. This just is not true. It’s only that they showed much care about the ways the revolutionaries handled their business and I think they are vindicated.

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Ustaz Saleh;
    Thank you. This is an incisive and daringly chalenging piece. It’s a loud and clear call for action. (Time permitted, I reserve the right to come back). For now, just thanks.

  • farnelo

    selam SAL,
    Great balanced article packed with many insights. I like it. You wrote;
    “National Service will be cut back to 18 months plus 10 months of senior high school education”. As frace as it
    Do you think there is remote chance this might happen under the current configuration? Is this claim 03 choreographed joke/drama ?

    • saay7

      Selamat Farnelo:

      Thanks! About the alleged return of national service to normalcy, I think it is ciceto/pacifier: stick something soft and chewy to a crying citizen. The former deputy editor-in-chief of, Temesgen Debesai (Tommy Deb), explained it better than I could in his Facebook page. Here’s the money shot:

      Begin Quote

      Now, here is my take. This story is nothing but a pure fabrication and a PR exercise. There have been no announcements from HQ and there won’t be any. This website below [ which floated the baloon] is not the official mouthpiece of the Government. Shabait is! I should know this because I was the Deputy Editor-In-Chief when Shabait was first launched. If this story were true, believe me, we would have never heard the end of it. The story would have rambled on on TV in all four languages (Tigre, Arabic, Tigrinya and English) and all the nine Eritrean languages on radio. But no, that’s not going to happen because it is simply not true. An announcement of such great significance should and would have, first and foremost, been disseminated on the local channels that target the primary target audience – in this case being the national service participants. Don’t take my word for it. Go and check out Shabait or any other OFFICIAL government outlet.

      So, the next question is: Why did this piece appear on TN? The long and short of it is this: It is intended for the consumption of the regime’s supporters whose numbers continue to remain in rapid decline. You think I am making this up? Ok, just go and ahead and ask the honorable diplomat [the Charge d’affairs at Eritrean embassy to USA, who was quoted by Tesfanews] to give you a definitely time frame of when this decision will be acted upon. “In ten years’ time” is not an answer.

      End quote

      The problem with Dukan Isaias is that so many of its insiders have left it that when it floats a fib, a trial balloon, a pacifier, they know how to pop it because they were once insiders.


      • Rodab

        Selam Sal,
        Temesgen has a point. As stated on the second para, the Erispora (mainly supporters) is the target of most of the regime’s empty promises. And it works well. All it takes to ‘appease’ regime supporters is words. Words, words. Nothing more. To them for the regime to deliver on promises is almost irrelevant. Take for instance the now hollow PIA’s constitutional decree of the May 24 speech. Supporters made a big fuss about it and predicted that one of the biggest tools to ‘smear Eritrea’ is removed. And in their head the issue of the constitution is settled, consequently no one has asked about it on the never ending seminars conducted and being conducted. Neither did any official provide a single clarification or a follow-up. The only time officials spoke about the announcement was when they were responding to the only body they are submissive and accounted for, the SEMG.
        In the same way, it would be hardly surprising if people like Sophie and Amanuel Biedemariam headlined “National Service time limit restored. Oops, anti Eritrean elements lost YET ANOTHER excuse to their smear campaign”. It is strange.

  • Guest

    Dear Saay,

    Your article could absolutely pass for “For Dummies” series on sharply dissected Eritrean political panorama. How about you going on a tour to educate particularly the younger generation as they find themselves in a palpable commotion and confusion. It is these kinds of hands-down articles that make me to come back and engage and of course give me an impetus not to give up on an article half-way. Well done zHawey! One more thing, with in the last couple of years we have been seeing former Tegadelties stepping forward to debunk the phoney charisma of Isaias (read: T. Temnewo and Y. T/Gergish) where the cleavages are imbued with frightening skeletons. Would you say, it works well as opposed to photo-chopping or photoshopping the “charismatic” leader or charismatic legitimacy?


    • saay7

      Dear Guest:

      Thanks for your kind words. And about me going around speaking…nah, not necessary at all. You know why? The fire-fire smelling (hawi hawi zchenwu) editors of Republic Magazine (Eritreans who are 20-30 years younger than me) have prepared an article entitled “The Citizen& The State”. Judging by quality of their inaugural issue, I am sure it will be awesome! The youth (from Eritrea) are saying: we got this!