Which comes first, National Conference or Internal Consensus Conference

By Fesseha Nair


Is the call for national conference at this time a workable strategy?

National conferences are mechanisms used during the post- world war two or the decades of decolonization. The objective of such conferences were to bring politicians and constitutional experts together to write a new constitution for an independent nation, for example India’s independence constitution was the result of three years of discussion and debate at constituent assembly comprising eminent jurists, lawyers, academics and politicians. During the 1990, however, there has been a new trend towards utilizing large national conferences, not as a means of decolonization but as a mechanism for political transition to democracy.

  1. The distinctive features of such national assemblies are that they typically include wide representation from civil society; and are able to act with considerable autonomy from the government.
  2. Must prove particularly useful in forging an internal consensus on democratization and transition from conflict.
  3. National conferences in Francophone Africa in the early 1990s was widely used as a means of harnessing pro-democracy forces most of them failed except in Benin. (See case study of national conferences in Francophone Africa)
  4. When the dictators were pressured from within and from outside liberalize or recognize dialogue with the opposition
  5. How much is the international environment giving support to the democratisation process in Eritrea.


The writer was one of the readers of national conferences and has participated in such conferences with many NGO who were involved in organizing national conferences in Francophone African countries, Benin in Particular, In Benin a commission was created first to prepare a, “ national reconciliation conference” that would include broad elements of political society to discuss the country’s future. Participants would include the government , political parties, trade unions, religious associations, army representatives and women’s groups. Initially, the conference was to have no more than advisory role and was regarded by some in the opposition as a divisionary tactic. In a strict legal sense, the conference had no no constitutional standing at the outset. Furthermore, none of the participants to the conference could claim a popular electoral mandate because membership of the conference was appointed rather than elected. However, the appointment of the Archbishop of Cotonou as chairman of the conference gave it a moral legitimacy.  

The writer of this debate article was one of the organisers of the serial seminars in Sweden performed by the Eritrean Association for peace and democracy in Sweden. In the seminar organised year 2002 under the theme,” National Conference or National Reconciliation, “ I remember and is well documented in the seminar reports of the association that today’ national conference advisor, Professor. Tesfatsion  Medhanie critically analysed that the call for national conferences at this time is not matured because first we in the opposition cam should reconcile a full consensus should be reached. The famous professor changed his views at the seminar held in Kassel that national conference should be convened , when asked he failed to give reasonable arguments except floating here and there as one who can not swim deeply and take out the reality. The writer of this article was one of the appreciator of our professor but when he changed his views without proving his arguments, I started to think that if such are our professors making hit and run methods then where are the academic instruments that convince us to believe their theories?

Dr. Hirui Tedla, in his letter of warning to the EDA Secretary General, Hussein Khalifa has mentioned the importance of national conference at this time , I am not going to deal with Mr. Hirui’s Internet programmes which are not existing in reality. But , why is Hirui very interested on the convening of National Conference at this time is simply to get entrance to the coming leadership after national conference. All the accusations written by Dekebat and its editors are simply appeals to the Eritrean Christian Highlanders. We have learned , Hirui and his likes will never deceive us for ever. This article is not to respond Mr. Hiru’s article but to point that the divisive false propoagandas spread by Dekebat and Meskerem are repetitions of the Ethiopian unionists , Nhana Ilamanan, and the dictatorial regime in Eritrea.

This article is a responses to the Dekebat  but national conference is this the time to convene national conference, while the opposition camp has not built consensus, divided in groups not respecting each other ?

  1. Is the so called civil society organization autonomous?
  2. Has the opposition camp reached an internal consensus on democratization and transition from conflict among themselves?
  3. Is there any sign from the dictator to recognize the opposition?
  4. Is there any international support for democratic forces in Eritrea?


The first question about the civil society in diaspora have no the structure of civil society struggling for democracy,  except accusing and defaming the Eritrean Democratic Alliance in particular and dehumanizing and degrading the member organizations as separatists, ethnic and religious groups.

There are no autonomous civil society organizations playing the role of arbiters but are the partners of conflict, such civil society organizations are not capable to resolve conflicts and promote democracy, therefore, first an academic study on the daily increasing civil society movements should be performed.

The second question if the opposition has reached internal consensus, either the political organizations or the civil society has never reached consensus. Instead of coming to consensus every time they prefer to be divided, then, how can our professors prove that this has reached while they see these divisions every now and then?

The third question if the regime in Eritrea has started to recognize , it is crystal clear the regime in Eritrea has never started and will never started with the situation existing in the opposition camp.

The fourth question, the opposition has not yet gained international support.

Then , how on earth;  do Mr.  Hirui and our professor argue for national conference is ridiculous.  

National conference is simply to divide the EDA and weaken it in order to bring some so called intellectuals without no connection with democratization and the Eritrean people.

National conference at this time is to get entrance to the opposition cam and control the EDA not develop forward and bring the regime to fall down. The so called civil society organizations must first show their respect to the opposition political organizations and play their moderate role instead of becoming political actors. The so called professors must study the situation deeply and find out ways of conflict resolution without taking partisan position.

Let us debate on the issue of , “ National Conference or Internal Consensus Dialogue” which comes first?

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Posted by on Mar 28 2006 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

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