Towards The National Conference
I don’t want to dwell in the details of who said what or whose position was the correct one. It suffices to say that the EDA with all its 11 member organizations was part of the discord/conflict that resulted in EPDP’s boycotting the Addis conference in the past and then the subsequent withdrawal from the EDA making any possibility for joining the forth coming conference equal to zero (for the record, the EPDP was consumed in uniting its three components while remaining less committed to/not interested in the mentioned conference issue at the time )
I know and am quite aware that this chapter is considered closed by the two contending parties, each for its own convenience, and at the same time both sides chose to move forward. A smart step, I should say, assuming that any mending attempts would be fruitless. However understandable their positions might be, specially considering the comfort such a move offers and to be more precise ,the relative ease with which politics can be exercised, I still keep asking myself if genuine attempts have been made to keep the EDA intact on the one hand and to open a door for the EPDP to join the Eritrean National Commission for Democratic Change (ENCDC) on the other. I have no demands to make. I just wish them good luck in their respective paths of choice and I appeal to them to follow the Awate Team’s advice: refrain from campaigning against each other and deliver. Yet I can not help but wonder if they have the will and the energy to contemplate a future convergence plan. It has to be stressed here that the winning formula is simple and clear: peacefully or otherwise, all in one camp against the dictator.
Considering the Eritrean regime, and needless to repeat what others wrote on the subject, I do not subscribe to any form of peaceful resistance. Any experienced politicain understands that, apart from sending the wrong signals, it is totally meaningless to talk about peaceful opposition or any form of a negotiated solution in the absence of a balance of power and with a Libya’s Gadafi type—Isseyas is no different if not worse.
I hope the conferees will be far sighted enough to help the political organizations expand the ”by all means” strategy with special focus on the military aspect. The current situation where every individual organization controls a military wing and an ineffective as such, is not a healthy situation at all. The “hadish menfes” slogan , translated to “The new spirit”,should, among other things, mean a new strategy that leads to the formation of a united revolutionary military wing.
Back to the ENCDC:
My demand, therefore, are directed towards the ENCDC.
Those who attended the “national conference of the willing” as brother Ismail Omer once called it formed the ENCDC, a 53 member commission, assigned to bring together all Eritreans in an all inclusive national conference within a year. An important step towards the right direction. And the question I would like to pose here is:
Is the current performance of the ENCDC good enough to achieve the desired results? And if not so , What measures are deemed necessary to save the situation given the short time remaining? I admit that I am not in a position to cover the topic alone, since such an undertaking requires the collective input of all concerned Eritreans.
But, before I go any further, let me clarify two things:
1. Since we, throughout the years of struggle, have adapted the habit of understanding/ perceiving the intentions of each other not as they are meant to be, but as we would want them to fit in our own preconceived positions, I see it in its place to declare that my intention is not to be a cause of disturbance to or to upset the ENCDC members as it may be misunderstood. but, to initiate a refining process to their performance through a critical eye, if the expected conference is desired to be any different.
2. It is also timely now to bring into the attention of the ENCDC members any shortcomings I observe, specially as they are expected to flock to the Ethiopian capital to evaluate their accomplishments so far and plan for the remaining phase.
This piece is going to shed some light on whether or not the ENCDC’s effort to bring together all Eritreans in an all inclusive national conference for democratic change in Addis this summer is satisfactory so far.
As Eritreans in the opposition camp we find ourselves divided:
- some of us are involved in various activities helping The ENCDC in its mission.
- some others are skeptical or indifferent.
- and a third group who doesn’t recognize the ENCDC’s body nor its mission. it is to this group that the non-EDA, EPDP belongs.
I think it is also relatively easy to foresee that the aforementioned EPDP is not going to be in the list of participants. Of course that is not the making of the ENCDC and should not be blamed for that. Yet, I believe it is the role and the duty of the ENCDC to reach out to all Eriteans including the EPDP and consequently should be accountable on whether or not it did enough to invite a serious engagement. The question that must be asked is, whether the ENCDC is qualified for this role? Put differently, is the ENCDC any different from the EDA.
Since we have not yet moved away far enough from the Eritrean Relief Association (EPLF),and the Eritrean Red Cross And Crescent (ELF) formulas, it is in its order to think of the ENCDC as an extension of the EDA or as the EDA in a different color. A fact that precluded some from interacting with it. However, I believe we should neither be surprised nor pushed towards holding back our support to the ENCDC. Simply because it is not the conditions that shaped the ENCDC we should focus on, but it’s ability to assume a different role vis-a-vis EDA and act based on its declared mission.
I choose to give the ENCDC the benefit of the doubt and accept it the way it is intended to be: an independent organ trying to be an all inclusive body. And I direct my demand and criticism accordingly. I also call upon those who gave the dictator the benefit of the doubt, dispite his first exclusionary speech following the independence of Eritrea, to do so now with the ENCDC. It is more than right.
ENCDC and the EPDP
A short review of the developments reveal that the ENCDC remained cautious and chose to distance itself and watch. Probably hopping that the EPDP would change course and fill the two vacancies allotted to it—a remote possibility hard to miss.
Now, after the withdrawal of one of the EPDP groups from the alliance, I find it righ to bring into the attention of the ENCDC the importance of establishing contacts with the non EDA, EPDP and its adherent ”civic societies” not only as a matter of performance out of duty, so to speak, but also with a spirit of exploring a real possibility and at the same time elevate itself away from the positions of the EDA member organizations and assume a non partisan role. A role that not only makes its mission easier, but also helps those who are reserved to be easily approachable. I think it is worth to give it a try.
Who knows! Maybe, and in what could be considered a mini-success, the ENCDC may end up inviting the skeptics and opponents alike as observers and/or as guests. It is, after all, the concern of all stake holders and I believe, it is absolutely important that all attend the conference. Albeit in any possible form.
It is also important to keep some kind of a bond no matter how ”thin” or insignificant it might be (خيط معاوية) Dailog, in our context, is an endless process that comes into a halt only when consensus is reached.
I am saying this having in mind that, hopefully, in any non-peaceful and serious confrontation with the dictator in the post Addis conference period, there might not be any room for a neutral position! In fact, any form of a divided role or a coordinated input from all opposition forces is going to be necessary for the final push.
That being said,
The most important task of the ENCDC is to help the EDA member organizations—on the assumption that the alliance continues to exist in the post conference phase, stick together by sorting out their differences, in a way very much different from the past experiences . Future walkouts, or withdrawal can be avoided if each and every component is included. The idea of forming blocks inside the EDA with clear and declared political programs is worth exploring. Don’t get me wrong on this issue: I am not calling for the repetition of the the kind of blocks we witnessed so far—blocks based on who would assume what position, but blocks with the aim of advancing issues that are not equally important for all. The land issue is a typical example. Let me call them alliances inside the alliance.
The unfinished Revolution
What happened recently in Tunisia and Egypt is a popular uprising the media, specially the Arab Media confused with a revolution. Well, yes, it is a revolution considering the will and the demand of the people الشعب يريد اسقاط النظام”” meaning: ”The people want to overthrow the regime.”
However, and judging by its outcome, it is not. Simply because the regime is still intact trying to resist the storm of change. Therefore, I choose to call it an unfinished revolution and hope it never stops there. Its continuation is vital for its success as it is for us Eritreans to keep us emotionally loaded, revolutionarily tuned and mentally & spiritually ready for action.
In contrast, the Libyan case has taken a different route thanks to the lunatic colonel. We all heard him despising, insulting, demeaning, threatening and then slaughtering the great Libyan people. Some may find an excuse considering his profile and the psychological pressure associated with the downfall of his imagined glory. As I watched the tragedy unfold, I couldn’t help but relate him with our own dictator. Is Isaias any different? How many times have we heard him using the same language even during his years of glory!? What Gadafi reflected in his deplorable state is what Isaias exhibits normaly. I just can’t wait to see Isaias when he finds himself in the same situation as his ”African” ally.
No doubt that the Libyan people are getting rid of the regime, and as such it is no longer a popular uprising but a revolution and will definitely yield the desired result: i.e overthrowing the regime. The Libyans are paying a high price for that. The number of martyrs is rising every day . But then, who said that freedom is served on a plate? And besides, my dear fellow citizens, no one can pick the fruits before planting the seeds.
What about us Eritreans?
What we started in 1961 is a revolution whose mission is not yet completed. We have been hypnotized for almost 20 years now and thereby missed that, for all practical purposes, we are still in a state of revolution. Isn’t it time to wake up? All we have to do is just stay tuned and pray that the current wind of change never stop before it blows over us.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the current popular movements and the ones still to come. The most important lesson is to blieve in our collective being, regain our self confidence and start the long journey by ralling behind the Eritrean National Conference for Democratic Change (ENCDC): Strengthen it, straighten it whenever it takes a wrong direction and make it more inclusive.
Good Luck to the ENCDC!
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