Eritrean National Congress- Process and outcome

By Fesseha Nair

The Eritrean National Commission for democratic change has been working the 6 months of the 2010 intensively by organizing public meetings all over the world where Eritreans reside. In its process of mobilization and organization, the commission has done an excellent job. The commission has worked and working on issues to be addressed in order to design the best process – that can offer the best successful outcome. Designing a process is the crucial issue if the congress is to succeed. What type of process and what are the expected outcomes of this congress? I shall be discussing on the type of process and the expected outcomes of the congress.

What kind of process should the commission pursue?


Process is the business of negotiation and dialogue. In democracy conflicts can be processed and negotiated. What is essential in resolving conflicts is designing the process of the negotiation between the conflicting parties. Identifying the issues of the conflict and the participants on one side, and identifying the factors which need to go into the design of suitable process on the other side,  are necessary if the outcome will be positive.  Process involves every aspect of the way the participants get to outcome. The kind of process used by the commission of course will impact the quality of outcome. The commission must employ a process that is broad and inclusive where all parties who claim an interest in this congress participate. Thus they must feel involvement, feel that they have been heard and their views respected, then, they own the process and contribute to it for its success. In contrast, the group who feel excluded from the process will distance themselves and obstruct its implementation. The Eritrean national commission must work hard to make the process inclusive and convince that this congress is theirs. A good process is the prerequisite for strong and successful outcomes. The Eritrean process for negotiations and dialogue in uniting all forces for democratic change has had a positive impact from the past national conference held in Addis from July 31st to August 9th. 2010.

What are the expected outcomes of the Congress/ Convention


Outcomes focus on the solutions not on the way to reach solutions. The experiences shown during the last conference where a degree of tolerance and mutual respect was the spirit of the conference with this in mind one expects that the Eritrean National Democratic Convention or Congress will be successful. The outcome will not be imposed but convinced. What kind of political structure will the congress come out? What are the various kinds of democratic institutions that will be negotiated?  What are the pros and cons of these institutions? What roles can the Eritrean people and the international community play to support these institutions? The congress/convention as a business of negotiation shall contribute a better method of building sustainable solution where all forces for democratic change converge.

It is important to see the process and outcome separately but they are in reality very intertwined and interdependent. Bad process impedes agreement and it can contribute to failure. The Eritrean National Commission must be aware of all obstructions and forces against this process who want to impede. The commission must search the best process that can guarantee success and sustainability.

The process of convening of the congress must maximize the participation of the women and youth.  The women and youth must be included around the discussions because their experiences, values and priorities can bring a perspective that can help find a solution to the conflict of the Eritrean politics.

It is therefore vital to the commission to focus to the youth and women in their process of negotiations towards successful convention.

The political Structure expected from the convention will be a road national including all the forces for democratic change like that of the CODESA( Convention Democratic South Africa) or COSATU ( Convention South African Trade Unions). In our case the political structure will be all inclusive, thus political organizations, civil society organizations, women associations, youth associations, veterans and elders, academics and professionals, etc.

The democratic institutions to be formed can be National Council/ Parliament and Government and many others that enhance the growth of the opposition. There are many discussions what form of parliament and government. Some are supporting the idea of government in exile and some are raising the form of shadow parliament and shadow government. A Government in exile is formed by political group claiming to be a country’s legitimate government but unable for many reasons to exercise its legal power and resides in a foreign country. Historically such exile governments were formed during the second world war and now by some opposition political groups who struggle against dictatorship and aspire for democracy( Tibet , Burma ..etc)

Such exile governments have their weakness and strength and they are various in the world. In case of Eritrea one should deeply discuss on the pros and cons of such governments. It is crucial to discuss on the current situation in Eritrea. A government in exile frequently occur during war time or when there is a widespread belief in the illegitimacy of the ruling government. In case of Eritrea, the dictator is losing its legitimacy and it is in war with its people and the neighbours. But is this enough that the congress will declare an exile government? If the dictator is losing legitimacy at the national level, what about its legitimacy with the international community?  The regime has lost legitimacy by the international community, especially by the UN, EU and the USA. The loose of legitimacy both at the national and international by the dictatorship is an opportunity for the opposition to exploit this opportunities for their advantage by forming an alternative government.

If the congress realize these opportunities it also must convince the host country to give it the whole mandate to administer the Eritrean population residing in the host country and move freely.

 The exile parliament and government can function as alternative government by practicing national and international treaties, it can revise or draft its constitution maintain its own military forces, retaining or newly creating diplomatic recognition, issuing id-cards for its population and performing all possible elections.

A shadow parliament/ government are secret working inside the country where there is political freedom. In the western democracies the opposition form shadow governments in case the ruling government falls. The difference of the exile government and shadow government is that the exile government more effective if it gets recognition nationally and internationally but the shadow government is always in need of national recognition but is less effective to get international recognition.


Short URL:

Posted by on Jan 3 2011 Filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Photo Gallery

Log in |2011