The latest political developments in Somalia have put PIA at his last crossroad.  For PIA, the question is now, what next? 

In order to analyze the current situation, we need to step back and look at the slippery journey towards this last crossroad. 

Question 1:    What was the cause of the border conflict?

Many Eritreans correctly believe that Badme wasn’t the main reason for the conflict; rather it was only an excuse for two regimes that had their own hidden agendas and challenging domestic political climates.  Woyane’s agenda is an external factor to Eritreans and thus we should only concern ourselves with our own internal problems to determine why PIA chose to escalate the conflict in the early weeks of May 1998 without wider consultation with his colleagues and with his immediate constituents. 

Although there are a number of factors why PIA pursued unilateral action over the border issue, the single biggest reason was that PIA had to find a ploy to create obstacles towards establishing a Constitutional government.  Although PIA may not have reckoned that Woyane would turn the Badme issue into full fledged war, PIA wanted to turn the border “friction” into a reason for delaying to implement the Constitution.  In addition, PIA was under pressure to call 5th EPLF/PFDJ Congress which had already been postponed many times since its scheduled meeting in 1996, then postponed to 1997, and the meeting has still not been convened ten years later.  The 5th Congress would have unequivocally placed Eritrea on an evolutionary path towards multi-party democracy.

Towards mid-1997, with time running out on one-man politics – the friction with Woyane had to be escalated and exploited.  We should also keep in mind that we don’t have any independent confirmation of the facts and events leading up to and events during the war with Woyane other than what we were fed through PFDJ media. 

Question 2:   What happened soon after the May 6th 1998 clash and PIA’s order to occupy Badme escalated beyond PIA’s calculation?

It is debatable whether PIA wanted a full-fledged conflict with Woyane or, most likely, wanted to escalate the border disagreement into a “tension” or “friction” without actually pursuing a “full-fledged” war.  What can’t be debated is that it takes two to tango and PIA had every intention to tango or waltz or at the very least to be on the dance floor.

In July 1998, nearly two months after Ethiopia declared war on Eritrea, PIA called a meeting of the [rubber stamping] Eritrean National Assembly.  PIA told the National Assembly that he had no idea that a conflict with Ethiopia was imminent.  Many members of the National Assembly confronted PIA over this claim and other related issues.  After a raucous meeting, finally, it was agreed that the conflict with Ethiopia should be given a priority, and once settled, that the unanswered questions [i.e. the question of accountability] would be fully addressed. 

PIA took the July 1998 National Assembly meeting debates to mean that his colleagues would hold him accountable for his unilateral actions.  As a response, PIA sidelined most of the experienced fighters who brought Eritrean independence, and waged the war with Ethiopia with significantly less experienced army officers.  In order to escape accountability, PIA placed the entire country in danger.  To escape from being accountable for the mishandlings of the political situations leading to the war, PIA would then proceed to gamble away Eritrean sovereignty by making even bigger mistakes during and after the conflict with Ethiopia.

Question 3:   What happened soon after the end of the physical conflict with Ethiopia in 2000?

PIA had sidelined most of the experienced fighters of liberation in defending Eritrean sovereignty.  PIA had hoped to become the sole ‘war hero’ over the Ethiopian conflict.  Instead, Woyane overran some one-quarter of Eritrean territory damaging PIA’s reputation.   PIA understood that with a tarnished image that he would not be able to maintain his one-man rule.  PIA had only one option: to ensure that the border is finalized, at any cost, in a manner that would allow PIA to eventually claim his personal victory.  

Many within PFDJ understood that PIA’s personal motivations can lead to destroying Eritrea.  PIA’s search for Pyrrhic victory would drag the entire country into the abyss.  The brave reformers, as articulated by Min. Haile Woldetensae, stated that we should return to the important task of building a nation, which in other words meant that we should refrain from dragging down the entire Eritrean nation for the sole purpose of seeking Pyrrhic victory [which would only be for the purpose of salvaging PIA’s legacy].  The reformers said that Eritrea should return to the task of running its own country and only allow legal means to achieve our ultimate objective of settling the border issue.  The reformers said that the only way to ensure the finalization of the border issue is by building a viable, prosperous and democratic Eritrea

Question 4:  How is PIA compounding mistakes in order to escape accountability and in his futile efforts to consolidate power?  

  • Compounded Mistake 1:  In order to escape from the constraints of the Constitution, PIA escalated the conflict with Ethiopia as an excuse to postpone implementing the Constitution.  This led to Compounded Mistake 2.


  • Compounded Mistake 2:  After the Woyane war debacle [Compounded Mistake 1], PIA imprisoned reformers, journalists, elders, and many other acts of violations of basic human rights and freedoms in order to escape accountability.  This led to Compounded Mistake 3.


  • Compounded Mistake 3: In a desperate attempt to redress Compounded Mistake 2, PIA figured that he had to put every ounce of his effort to getting the border finalized sooner than later in order to claim his personal victory.  This led PIA to escalate his friction with every other country, leading to domestic chaos and to total international isolation.  The irony is that PIA needs these very same members of the international community, and especially the powerful ones, to pressure Ethiopia to proceed with demarcation.  By choosing to pursue an aggressive approach, PIA has ensured that he won’t get his badly needed prize.


Will there be Compounded Mistake 4?  We will find out in the next few weeks. 

Question 5:   What is the impact on Eritrea if the border is demarcated sooner rather than if demarcated later?  

For clarity, every Eritrean wants the border issue finalized as soon as possible.  But as ordinary Eritreans, we must weigh the socio-political, economic, legal and diplomatic cost of pursuing a certain policy.  The question is, should we destroy everything Eritrean to have the border demarcated in, say, five years, when we can still get the border finalized in 10 years, i.e. the same results, through legal means while remaining engaged in establishing the rule-of-law and in building a peaceful and prosperous Eritrea.  Without a doubt, every Eritrean would choose the latter option.

PIA and PFDJ media purposely give two separate impressions.  PIA gives the public the impression that the border will be demarcated sooner or later – suggesting that the border isn’t PIA’s sole agenda and that he can remain patient over the timing of the implementation.  PIA has even suggested during his recent interviews that the public shouldn’t be too concerned about the border, and that the public should remain engaged in its daily life.  If one was to engage in a debate with PIA, PIA wouldn’t be able to give a single reason why Eritrea should be consumed in destructive policies to demarcate the border sooner than later.  In reality, PFDJ media has turned the border/Woyane issue into a single ‘do or die’ mission.

For PIA:  PIA wants the border demarcated immediately even at the risk of jeopardizing the viability of Eritrea because his power hangs on the balance.  If the border is demarcated, PIA believes that the public may forgive him for his atrocious treatment of Eritreans of all walks of life for the past decade. 

PIA would say, “I had to do this because the border had to be demarcated before we could fully proceed with our national reconstruction efforts.  We persevered despite [internal] traitors and international forces siding with our enemies.  Betri Haqi tiketin’mber Aytisiberin!  When we were fully engaged in resolving the border conflict and rebuilding our country, many were busy enriching themselves at the expense of innocent Eritreans.  We will start cleaning up house.”  

Then PIA would proceed with purging some PFDJ officials and army officers in an illusionary game of attempting to win back the hearts of some gullible Eritreans. 

PIA would then say that, “the time has come for Eritrea to get back on track towards establishing a fully Constitutional government”

In the background, PIA would do everything to continue creating obstacles for establishing a constitutional government stating, through the PFDJ media, that PFDJ’s immediate agenda is to rehabilitate the Eritrean socio-economic and political conditions severely damaged by the Woyane war.  The ‘Woyane’ legacy will be used for another couple of decades to legitimize PIA’s sole grip to power.  ‘Political Midinigar’ will continue to be the sole governing philosophy.

For the rest of Eritreans: As PIA and Min. Haile Drue both agree in their public speeches and interviews that it doesn’t matter for Eritrea whether the border is demarcated sooner or later [although, as stated above, PIA has been doing everything he can to finalize the border issue sooner for his own political survival].  Some of the issues relating to whether the border is demarcated sooner or later are that,

  • Can Woyane cut Badme out of the current location and relocate somewhere else?  That is ridiculous question!


  • Can Woyane use the unfinished Badme issue as an excuse for launching future wars against Eritrea?  This is probably the single most, and poorest, justification used for keeping Eritrea on high state of alert.  However, learning from ancient and recent histories, wars can be launched for any number of reasons.  There is no logic to it.  Eritrea can only ensure that enemies aren’t tempted to launch wars against it by ensuring that Eritrea is socially, legally, economically, politically and militarily strong and stable.  It is crazy to think that a country can keep out enemies by straggling itself to death through dangerous and destructive one-man policies.   Whether Woyane may be tempted to launch future wars against Eritrea will only depend on the internal situation of Eritrea coupled for the necessary internal Ethiopian conditions that necessitate such acts – and not whether the border is demarcated or not. 


As Min. Haile Woldetensae said, there is no reason why Eritrea can’t return to the challenging and most important task of building its nations while simultaneously striving to finalize the border issue in prudent manner.  Why should we choke ourselves to death while jeopardizing the viability of our nation until external forces allow the border issue to be finalized?  PIA is putting the viability of our nation at the mercy of Woyane and the international community by choking Eritrea until they decide to allow the demarcation to proceed.

Turning the border issue into ‘do or die’ is only reflective of PIA’s predicament – not Eritrea’s predicament.  We reject the correlation.

Question 6:  What have been PIA’s strategies to demarcate the border as soon as possible and earn him his personal victory, which he hopes would absolve him from his mistakes and atrocities of the last decade?

PIA is fully aware that Woyane won’t allow the border to get demarcated because of internal factors, among other factors.  PIA had hoped to pressure the UNSC, US and other ‘guarantors’ or ‘witnesses’ to fully implement the border decision.  To this end, PIA’s political approach had been:

  • Approach 1 [first round effort] – Offer Americans to set up their military base on Eritreans islands, lobbying efforts and joining US’ ‘Coalition of the Willing’.


This failed!  PIA then proceeded to Approach 2.

  • Approach 2 [Second round effort] – Escalate the rhetoric and pretend that conflict with Ethiopia is imminent.  To this end, PIA continued to put added restrictions on UNMEE movements in Eritrea, reclaiming UNMEE Jordanian posts and redeploying Eritrean troops in the Temporary Security Zone.  This is also in defiance of Resolution 1640.  The purpose of this approach wasn’t to put direct pressure on the Woyane, which has its own internal factors that will determine whether to proceed with demarcation or not, but to send a warning shot to the US that unless its protégé didn’t proceed with the demarcation, that Eritrea would destroy it seriously damaging US’ interest in this region.  Ethiopia, US, UN and others have called PFDJ’s second approach as desperate bluffs.    


This failed! PIA then proceeded to Approach 3.

  • Approach 3 [third round effort] – Failing with approach the above two approaches, PIA then escalated his game to the third level.  This had two pronged approach.  The first approach was to show to the US that PFDJ can replace Woyane as America’s delegated regional [horn] superpower.   In order to prove to the Americans that it can become a reliable local power, PIA devised his Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia strategy.  This is Mao ever trying to gain the approval of Stalin’s Soviet Union to achieve his aim. The first pronged approach was supposed to exploit PFDJ’s newly discovered leverage, i.e. a puppet regime in Somalia and significant influence in Sudan, over the Americans to pressurize Ethiopia to proceed with the demarcation.  The second pronged approach was to create a puppet government in Somalia and then deploy its own troops while directly training and supporting insurgency in Southern Ethiopia.  According to PIA’s calculation, this would have brought down the PMMZ regime.  The next “weak” Ethiopian regime wouldn’t proceed with the border demarcation but PFDJ would redeploy its troops on all Eritrean lands awarded to it.  The next Ethiopian regime would be too weak to take action against PFDJ, while PIA claims total and personal victory.


With Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia, this approach has now failed!  PFDJ’s purported success in Sudan isn’t complete without the Somalia card. 

It is highly likely that the third approach is the last card in PIA’s desperate efforts to get the border demarcated for his own personal victory.

It is interesting how PFDJ media has quickly turned Somalia into non-issue.  Suddenly, Somalia and Woyane have been relegated to the back-pages and its illusionary development projects pushed to the front pages.  For a regime that was giving minute-by-minute commentating of UIC’s advances like a soccer game, it must feel UIC’s loss is above all its own loss to get the border demarcated.  Even before the latest developments, the general Eritrean public had dismissed PFDJ’s propaganda on Somalia as “getting embroiled in foreign lands when PFDJ hasn’t even cleaned up its own house”. 

Allow me to get sidetracked here.  UIC burst into the Somalia scene in mid-2006.  Its advances towards other parts of Somalia didn’t occur until October 2006.  Let us just say it takes time to organize.   However, UIC’s aggressive thrust in early December 2006 wasn’t a coincidence.  Under the influence of the US, UNSC and AU had resolved to send peacekeeping force into Somalia at the beginning of December 2006.  Thus UIC had to overrun Baidoa and defeat the Transitional Government before international peacekeeping force arrived there.   PFDJ must have felt that it had to rush and capture Baidoa or else its last ditch efforts to win its political conflict with Ethiopia and the US would collapse.  For Ethiopia, if UIC takes over the government, it would have to ‘invade’ Somalia in the future to defeat UIC if such actions were necessitated.  Ethiopia’s invasion would have had its own consequences.  The only option available to Ethiopia remained to “help” Somalia under the “invitation” of the Transitional government.         

Question 7With the failure of the third approach discussed above, PIA’s last effort to pressure the world to demarcate the border has failed.  But could he have an ace up his sleeves?

When we examine his various approaches/strategies to get the border demarcated, his progresses from his first approach to the second approach to the third approach (all discussed above) have been to escalate the level of side/proxy conflicts, through bluffing, perceived and real, with Ethiopia and the international community.  After escalating the intensity of his border game, PIA can’t deescalate the intensity to, say, bluffing to get the border demarcated.  Thus, the next higher level can only be to wage open war with Ethiopia.  But PIA is fully aware that this isn’t a viable option.

The other option is to return to the ‘waiting game’.  But PIA has pursued to escalate the friction game with Ethiopia, US and UN precisely because he can’t afford to play the ‘waiting game’ – i.e. wait until PMMZ/EPDRF is thrown out of power.  This leads us to the old saying, ‘Kab Seb Zitetsebeye Bidewu Beleye’.   PIA knows that he can’t continue to govern Eritrea by continuing to imprison everyone, by strangling the economy and by other dire means without quickly jeopardizing his own power.  These dire measures can only be used as temporary measures until PIA gets his vindication by claiming personal victory over the border issue.  But if vindication won’t come anytime soon, his dire measures won’t keep him in power indefinitely and will only result in his quick downfall.

Therefore, at this point in time – with the failure of the third approach – the question for PIA is what next?  What other options are out there?  Without a doubt, PIA finds himself at a crossroad

Question 8:   Can PIA disengage from aggressively pursuing to finalize the border issue and return to the task of running the country?

In the last five years, esp. after September 2001, PIA has lost all credibility.  PIA feels, correctly or incorrectly, that he needs the border to be demarcated to restore his heavily and justifiably tarnished image the Eritrean population.  PIA understands that without a personal victory that he wouldn’t be able to return to the task of running the country as a one-man show.

1.      People will ask why PIA didn’t heed Min. Haile Woldetensae’s words of wisdom in August 2000 – almost 7 years ago.  People will ask why we wasted and suffered all these years over an issue that couldn’t be resolved anytime soon.

2.      Proceeding with rebuilding Eritrea would mean either the release of political prisoners or to be brought to a competent court-of-law.  Moreover, there will be a call for the Eritrean Constitution to be implemented.  All these calls for justice, rule-of-law and democracy will directly threaten PIA’s deeply held belief in one-man rule.

3.      The single most important factor in returning to nation building is releasing the 300,000 Warsai-Yekealo servicemen.  PIA is aggressively engaged in continuous ‘giffa’, sending 16- and 17-year old kids to Sawa and other army sites effectively holding the entire young generation hostage precisely because the young generation is perceived as threats to his one-man power.  Thus, without achieving his personal victory, PIA feels that releasing the 300,000 servicemen will only jeopardize his power grip.  

Question 9:  Why can’t PIA play the ‘waiting game’ or engage in ‘war of attrition’?

PIA is under intense domestic pressure to address domestic issues, to return to the task of building a nation and under international political and diplomatic pressures as manifested by the following facts and observations,

  1. PIA can’t continue to create perpetual havoc in Eritrean socio-economic, legal, political and religious situations for the simple reason of holding back public dissent.  “Organized chaos” orchestrated by PIA and implemented by PFDJ office can’t continue indefinitely without a public backlash very soon.  These oppressive measures can only be used as temporary measures to cross from political point A to political point B.  But if political point B turns out to be a desert mirage, what next? 


  1. PIA has been actively engaged in destroying the Eritrean economy for at least three reasons,


    1. If PIA is removed from power without his consent, PIA wants to ensure that the next government inherits empty government coffers, which PIA hopes will lead to unstable domestic conditions,
    2. Exploiting Eritrean natural wealth will increase the gap between the living standards of army officers, who must be bribed to keep them loyal, and the general public.  PIA wants to keep the army officers rich and happy enough for them to remain loyal, but to give them [additional] immense wealth while the general population is kept in dire economic conditions would only increase the likelihood of public uprising.  That is why, for example, PIA has chosen to bypass exploiting Eritrea’s marine resources [i.e. fully exploiting Eritrea’s potential versus what it is currently doing which is to exploit only enough to meet PFDJ’s immediate financial requirements].  Similarly, PIA is inviting Chinese mining companies to destroy Eritrea’s prospective mining industry when he could be dealing with other significantly more established international mining companies which are knocking at his door and get immediate results.
    3. PIA believes that it is easier to keep poor and hungry Eritreans in bondage than prosperous Eritreans who would demand political, social and economic freedoms.   


  1. PIA doesn’t have the financial capacity to indefinitely keep 300,000 servicemen, another 100,000 so-called ‘students’ and over 40,000 civil servants on payroll without sinking into a deep hole.   PFDJ must resort to literally robbing the bank to keep afloat.  This is the financial quagmire – PIA wants to destroy Eritrea’s economy for reasons given above, yet the regime needs cash badly to finance its aimless and destructive domestic policies such as national service.  Talk about quagmire!


  1. PIA is slowly and quietly abandoning major projects.  PFDJ’s media is now resorting to showing private housing projects as if the government itself is engaged in development projects.  In reality, private housing projects are largely being built by the hard currencies and earnings of Diaspora Eritreans.  PFDJ’s out-of-its-own-pocket expenditures on infrastructure projects doesn’t exceed more than $100 Million USD in the last 5 years.  That is only $5 USD per Eritreans per year.  All this talk about infrastructure projects is for a pathetic $5 USD per Eritrean.


  1. Eritrea’s food need is roughly 600,000 Metric ton per year.  This is only grain needs, and doesn’t include oil, sugar and other foodstuff.   Eritrea doesn’t produce more than 50% of its domestic food needs.  Eritrea used to receive the remaining food need through food aid from national and international donors.  With PFDJ’s antagonist stance towards these donors, donors have refused to provide food aid and thus PFDJ must use its dwindling hard currency to purchase food.  This is added burden on PIA.


  1. PIA hasn’t been able to call meetings of PFDJ’s Central Committee nor National Assembly even to rubber stamp his erratic domestic and foreign policies.  PIA hasn’t even been able to engage in political showmanship, yet informative, as PMMZ in Ethiopian Parliament [we are tired of only pictures, and no audio, of PFDJ’s Ministerial meetings with bunch of ‘yes men’].  PFDJ’s 5th Congress is already 10-years late.  PIA is fully aware that if any kind of election is held in PFDJ Congress or Central Committee, he would be out the door before he realizes what happened to him.


  1. Opposition forces outside Eritrea have gained tremendous momentum.  Even if Diaspora Eritreans haven’t fully come to support Diaspora opposition organizations, they have increasingly become disillusioned and alienated from Eritrean government.  This has significantly slowed down hard currency flowing into government coffers.  In addition, Diaspora human rights activists, opposition media and concerned Eritreans have created increasing awareness among the international community leading to further international isolation of PIA regime, which in turn has denied PIA his Pyrrhic victory.


  1. Many governments, esp. Western governments, have shunned PIA’s regime.  Amnesty International, CPJ and many other influential organizations and prominent foreign politicians have been very active in continuously publicizing the regime’s brutality.   The US government has severely restricted hard currency remittance to the Eritrean government which used to be transferred through illegal channels.    


PIA’s regime is living on borrowed time.  As such, PIA doesn’t have the stamina to continue engaging in ‘war of attrition’ or in a ‘waiting game’.  Without finalizing the border issue soon, PFDJ’s grip to power faces great uncertainties.  With all PIA hopes disappearing like the morning mist, the Year 2007 is quickly shaping up the year of change.           

Question 10:  Can the border be demarcated sometime in the future?

The border will be demarcated sooner on later based on the border decision.  Just as PIA is under pressure to finalize the border issue for his own political survival, PMMZ may have a couple of motives for refusing to implement the border decision. 

But PIA’s antagonistic approach based on agenda of vendetta in the world of political duplicity will only manage to destroy Eritrea.  Those who are responsible for the implementation of the Algiers Agreement, namely UNSC, have abdicated their responsibility.  PIA has no leverage to persuade these foreign nations to put pressure on Ethiopia.  In fact, PIA’s image is so tarnished within the international community, and I must add due to his own imprudent and unproductive diplomatic approach, that one can safely say UNSC or the international community won’t pressure Ethiopia to proceed with the border demarcation anytime soon.

Eritrea should first disengage from total and all consuming preoccupation with the border issue and return to building its nation.  The time is way past due to address the damages caused more after the end of the conflict than during the conflict with Woyane.  Eritrea’s first task should be to ensure that Eritrea becomes prosperous and stable socially, economically, legally, politically and diplomatically.  This is the only way to guarantee the national security of the country.  It is folly to think that conscripting every young Eritrean and then keeping them hungry, desolate and destitute in the middle nowhere is any way to maintain the integrity and national security of Eritrea.  In reality, this is a sure way to destroy a nation.

The border issue can only be settled once it drops off from the domestic political radars of both countries.  By latching his survival to the border issue, PIA is putting PMMZ in a dilemma – and thus the ensuing border deadlock. 

The call for establishing democratic institutions in Eritrea is for the very same reason that a regime, government, or administration bogged down over failed issue or policy has a tendency to ‘stay the course’ not because there aren’t other avenues to resolve challenges and problems, but because the policy formulators feel that their legacies are tied to ensuring that they continue to pursue failed policies.  

Change of government is needed to pursue new approaches to resolving the border conflict.  We have to draw from the creativity of every Eritrean to explore every idea on resolving the conflict without being made to feel that their views are ‘treasonous’, ‘sub-national’ or other offensive labeling.

Without indulging further on how to resolve the border issue, it is suffice to say that there are thousands of other avenues of reaching our destination without choking Eritrea to death as PFDJ is currently doing.

Question 11:  Is Ethiopia Eritrea’s eternal enemy or threat?  Does Eritrea only feel secure if Ethiopia was to breakup or to become dysfunctional state?  Can Eritrea re-establish ties with Ethiopia before the border issue is finalized?

Ultimately we, Eritreans, must believe that we can only be our own worst enemies.  The only guaranteed way to maintain the integrity of our national sovereignty is by creating a vibrant, sustainable, law-abiding and prosperous Eritrea.  When few privileged Eritreans are holding the rest of the nation in bondage for the sake of the army and party elite class worshipping one-man rule, we don’t need external enemies to destroy Eritrea.  We are destroying Eritrea ourselves.

Whether Ethiopia is united or broken up shouldn’t affect our relations with it.  We should only occupy ourselves with our own destiny, as only Ethiopians themselves should determine the fate of their country.  As Eritreans, our interest and concerns in Ethiopia shouldn’t be whether it is a unified or dysfunctional or broken up Ethiopia, but rather that Ethiopia and our other neighbors become democratic and prosperous.  This is our only guarantee of living in long-lasting peace.  Neighboring countries can only become democratic and prosperous when Eritrea itself embarks on irrevocable path towards democracy and prosperity.  A dictatorial regime can’t lecture or assist its neighboring countries to embark on prudent path towards nation-building.  We can only lead by example.

In my view, there is no reason why Eritrea shouldn’t re-establish gradual diplomatic relations with Ethiopia once Ethiopia rescinds its ‘Declaration of War’ and redeploys its army away from border areas, but before the finalization of the border issue.  Restoration of gradual diplomatic relations would include allowing Ethiopia to use the Ports of Asseb and Massawa based on mutually satisfactory arrangements.  Ethiopia needs to use these ports because these ports are more cost efficient and more secure.   Eritrea gains nothing but has much to lose by weakening Ethiopia

Once diplomatic relations are restored gradually between Ethiopia and democratic Eritrea, it is to Ethiopia’s long-term economic and political interests to finalize the border decision without changing a single word contained in the border decision.  There is no need to speculate what words should be added or deleted to satisfy the Ethiopians.  This is idle chatter.                 

Question 12:  What next for PIA?

PIA’s path towards his current quagmire is tragic.  PIA could have implemented the 1997 Constitution and proceeded with national election by 1999.  PIA would have undoubtedly won that election and continued to lead the country to two five-terms – until 2009, which is still two years away.  During these years, he could have used Eritrea’s immense human and natural resources to embark Eritrea on a road towards socio-economic prosperity instead of finding himself torturing and executing innocent Eritreans.  If he had managed to be successful under Constitutional government, the Eritrean Parliament and the Eritrean people through one-time only referendum may have allowed PIA to return for one more term until 2014 [I may add with big risk of creating dangerous precedence].  PIA would have continued to garner the public’s affection while overseeing economically booming and democratically stable area for another seven years.  Talk about miscalculation of epic proportion based on reading the wrong manual on governing a nation.  Instead of prosperous Eritrea, in the Year 2007, we are speculating if this will be the year Eritrea will finally shake-off one of its darkest periods in its history.  This is truly tragic!

It is probably suffice to say that PIA finds himself in the single biggest challenge of his political career.  With the developments of the last few days, PIA finds himself in his last personal crossroad. 

ü       One road takes him towards a direction of increasing brutality on scale never seen before to ensure that he maintains his power grip until some political tsunami or some political miracle disentangles him from his current quagmire.  At this point in time, PIA doesn’t, or can’t have, other strategies that will push the border demarcation process forward.  PIA can only hope against fast-fading hope. 

ü       The second road is a return to prudence.  Only wise men know when to quit.  He can be remembered for being overthrown or for voluntarily giving up power.  If overthrown by the people, his legacy will always be of a dictator thrown out by public uprising (leading to transfer of power to others).  If PIA voluntarily gives up power, he will always be remembered for his last act – giving up power voluntarily – rather than for his illegal and atrocious behavior while in power.  PIA can even salvage his “heroism” during the liberation of Eritrea.  If thrown out, his liberation legacy will be thrown out with him.

I don’t believe that the thousands of Eritrean political prisoners would want to engage in political vendetta against PIA if PIA was to finally come to his senses and hand over power to a transitional government.  This doesn’t mean that they would start inviting him into their homes, but for the sake a nation, for the sake of those in prison, for the sake of those in no-man’s land, they would be willing to cut a deal to let PIA trade his personal freedom for transferring power to a new transitional government.  But this can’t be an eleventh hour deal.

We must forgive not because we want to, but because we have to.  Our message to PIA should be that his choice to take the first road, i.e. of more oppression, is because he wants to and NOT because he has to.  EDA’s prudent policy has been to give PIA an exit option if he returns to his senses.  Although PIA may prefer to negotiate with domestic forces to transfer power, Diaspora opposition is creating the right climate for this to happen through its prudent policies.  The second road is a win-win situation for everybody in this unnecessarily sad and tragic Eritrean national story.    

May the Year 2007 be the Year of Wisdom and Prudence!

Berhan Hagos

January 6, 2007

Short URL:

Posted by on Jan 6 2007 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