The Importance of Trust Building/ Commentary

” One approach to overcome barriers is to set the personalities aside and discuss on isseus instead of personalities.”

Nelson Mandela


By Fesseha Nair

I have read some papers presented by the invited academics and activists in workshop organised by EPDP under the theme, ” Trust Building”  Some of the papers presented at the workshop were: the need of reconciliation and its implementation, traditional Eritrean cultural values,  the role of media in trust building, conflict managment  and the root causes of refugeeism and its solutions. The aim of the workshop was to give skills and knowledge to the political organizations that have similar political porgram in the opposition camp. The invited political organizations supposed to have the similar political programme were:


  1. ELF
  2. ENSF
  3. ENSF- Hidri
  4. EDP
  5. EPDP- the workshop organiser


ELF and ENSF accepted the invitation but not participated without unknown reason according the EPDP’s official announcement. If we look  at the five political organizations above-they all emereged from ELF/EPLF what made them split if they have similar political program is the main issue to be discussed in this article. Let me ask the workshop organisers.


  1. What is the need of trust building if you have already similar political program ?
  2. Why do they need reconciliation if they have already the same political program?

3.If you have already agreed that you hav the similar political program what is the need of conflict managment?


  1. Is the case of refugees and its solutions pertinent with rapproaching of political organizations of the same poitical program?


  1. Is the issue of social and cultural values important so that it can provide skills and knowledge to the politcal elites of these 5 political organizations of similar political programmes?


  1. The role of media- which type of media- investigative media or other type of media like that of the social media of day and night paltalks can promote trust building?


Let us assume A is the set defining the similar program and the 5 political organizations are subset of A, thus


A= ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) if this equation is right therefore no need for reconciliation, conflict management, trust building, tradtional social and cultural values and media.


Similar  Programmatic political organizations in what aspects:


– A well -structured and stable political programme by which the 5 political organizations are publicly known.


– Internal coherence and agreement on a range policy positions


– Have they a commitment and ability to deliver on at least some key programmatic promises


– Ones you are confident in the programme, what  is the reason to split in 5 political groups with different names.


If we look these 5 political organizations their splitting is not because of political programme but on the particularistic based on patronage and clientelism. They are not engaged to promote the programme but on personalities. ( see politics Meets Policies- IDEA)


If the objective of the workshop was to shift from personality or clientelistic focused approaches to more programmatic-based strategies and to reach out our people then they should have discussed on features of similarities and differences what these 5 political organizations lack.


What is trust? Trust is not a one time action to make enemies friends but is a process of building a functioning and working relationship between parties/ organizations through negotiations. The workshop organized and conducted at the Frankfurt Festival is not the first time but we have been performing seminars and workshops in our resident countries since 1999 but have not succeeded to establish sustainable partnership through working relations. We lack personal chemistry between us which is the most important ingredient for successful negotiations. Trust building process requires that we must change the old perceptions of mistrust and move towards commitment to the process of unity. In other words, it means to move beyond an exclusive focus to inclusive focus and show faithful co-operation. Without commitment and co-operation there will be no satisfactory outcome.


The modern example of such working relationship was that of Cyril Ramphosa of ANC and Roelf Meyer of National party/Apartheid.


While writting this commentary, I read announcement in Togoruba that  there will be held a Festival/ Seminar in Kassel- Germany from 16/9-18/9 2016 organized by 5 political organizations under the theme, ” The Path to the future Eritrea” . These  5 political organizations are:

  1. Eritrean National Salvation Front- ENSF
  2. Eritrean Liberation Front- ELF
  3. Eritrean Islamic Party for justice and Development- EIPJD
  4. Eritrean Alnahda Party- EAP
  5. Eritrean Congress Party- ECP


I will come back with commentray after the Festival/ Seminar issues were presented and discussed but one main issue  for discussion is, Building Mutual Trust among the Forces for Democratic Change” I hope the Kassel Seminar will come out  with more enlightening that can help us develop specific process of building mutual trust among the Eritrean forces for democratic change.


What is the difference between, mutual trust building and trust building? Are the main organizers/ EPDP and ENSF genuine in their words and deeds?


When I asked some memebers of the EPDP in Sweden they told me that workshop particpant political organizations are those with secular principles and have similar political programmes. I asked further and asked:

How can you prove these 5 political organizations believe in secular principles and are programmatic organizations? I couldn’t find clear answer.  According my readings and follow-up the Eritrean political organizations either they are secular or religious are divided in ethnic, religious and territorial linkages and lack politics that meet policies that satisfy the Eritrean people’s interests and needs.


It is not workshops or seminars that can help us to build trust but each one must change his/her perception and move towards accepting each other without marginalization and negation based on arrogance.


Readings on trust building

  1. Lijphart, Arend.1977. Democracy in Pluraistic Societies. New Haven, CT Yale University Press.
  2. Anstey. Mark 1993. Practical peacemaking: A moderator’s Handbook. Kenwyn, SA.Juta and Co Ltd.


  1. Rothman. Jay.1990. ” A pre- negotiation Model: Theory and training” Policy Studies No. 40 Jerusalem: Leonard David Institute.


  1. SIDA. Democratization and Armed Conflicts


  1. IDEA. Politcs Meets Policies- Programmatic political Parties


  1. IDEA. ” Democracy and deep- rooted Conflict: Options for Negotiators





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