Twekel Talks about Hot Issues in a Number National and Regional Developments

Gulf Information Center
August 20, 2005 

Journalist Mohammed Taha Tewkel has recently had visits in the Arab world where he has met with various concerned institutions and authorities regarding the swift developments in the regional political arena. Tewekel, who has come to the Sudan on the invitation to take part at the coronation of the first vice president of the republic of the Sudan, has had extensive activities in the Sudanese political arena, where he has had meetings with the SPLA, the Umma party and also with influential Sudanese figures. The GIC has caught the chance to talk to him about the activities he has carried out about the endangered developments in the regional arena. The following are the excerpts:


Would you tell us about your last visit to the republic of the Sudan?

My visit to the Sudan comes within the context of my concern and follow-up of the fast developments of the region. Over the last months, I have concentrated my activities in Somali and Ethiopia from where I have been following the developments of the region particularly from the head quarter of the Organization of African Unity. I have tried to retain what I have missed out over the last three years. To be frank, I have been following the developments of the Eritrean arena at the expense of my concern and follow-up of the region. That is why I have activated my media activities. And my visit of the Sudan at this time comes with the context of visits for a number of countries in the Arab world and the Sudan. As you know the Sudan has becomes, particularly at this time, a stage for great transformations due to the return of the fighters from the jungles into the capital Khartoum as well as the return of the political oppositions from dispersion in all over the world.

What are the most significant activities that you have carried out ever since your arrival in Khartoum?

I have held meetings with the Sudanese oppositions-the Southern and Northern- and also I have participated at the coronation of the Sudanese first vice president Salva Kiir.

 Are you annoyed from the coming of the Sudanese opposition into Khartoum and their participation in the National Détente Government?

Personally, I am neither annoyed nor worried and what is propagated by the PFDJ at the present time lacks logic. The Sudanese opposition is a conscious opposition which believes in freedoms and accredits the principle of peaceful rotation of power and also recognizes organizational multiplicity. It can not deny for the Eritrean people what it accredits for its people. But the changing factor in Eritrea should be a subjective factor. It should not be directed by the developments of events in the neighboring countries. For example, the regime of Asmara always stakes on the opposition of the Sudan and Ethiopia to strengthen it self. And the output it gains from such stakes has always been negative because it has always become the loser. The Eritrean opposition should benefit from the freedoms which are available in the Sudan and Ethiopia to address the public to gain popular support for its struggle.

You have followed the last election of Ethiopia. How do you assess it?

The elections of Ethiopia have endangered democratic change in the region. The first elections took place in the year 1995 in which most Ethiopian oppositions had refused to take part in it and which was won by the ruling coalition. The second elections too place in the year 2000 in which 22 out of 43 parties took part and many factors had assisted the ruling coalition to win it. The last election of May of this year has endangered great transformations in the democratic course of the region because the voice of the opposition has become strongly loud because 35 out of 83 have involved. The ruling collation has won 315; the opposition has won 200 seats and the Somali region 23 seats in the parliament.

 I believe the overall developments which are happening in Ethiopia are for the interest of the democratic course in the region

How can you explain the media campaign against you by some people and websites?

  Yes, I  do read from time to time some articles which  hold some positive and constructive criticism particularly when they are comments on a  piece of news which we publish. I respect and esteem opinions; and I would like to make sure that I do not get disturbed from any criticism-be it constructive or deliberately tailored to defame (Laughs.) I believe that some articles which are posted at Meskerem have some sort of objectivity even if they are meant to serve a very particular objective.

Concerning what has been posted at Dekebat and which has held direct and straight criticism and campaign of slandering against me; I question about the cause of such campaigns: are they published within the framework of freedom of speech? Or for other hidden political objective? And what about the media campaigns against the EDA and other political organizations? Do they serve the democratic and just goal which we are struggling for? And will democracy and justice, which we are aspiring, come through defamation and slandering others? The attack which has targeted me from people whom I have always considered friends like Kelletta Kidane and Kelletta Asfaha has surprised me. I do not know the cause of aggravating the Eritrean delicate situation by the name of struggling against dictatorship and totalitarian regime of PFDJ. We know each other very well. Each one knows what he has contributed in the Eritrean armed struggle against Ethiopian colonialism and also in the Eritrean struggle for Democratic Change. I believe that the way Dekebat acts would only increase the number of its opponents amid Eritreans.


Recently, your name has been repeatedly posted at the Eritrean websites especially during the meeting of the central body of the EPM and  some accusation fingers have been pointed at you .What could be the reasons?

Perhaps this has become my fate because whenever an organization encounters some failures, it throws them into Twekel. For instance, I was exposed into campaign during the birth of the EPM because some have accused me for supporting the EPM at the expense of others. But what  has to be clear is: Twekel stands with any person or organization that promotes the Eritrean people’s struggle for democracy, justice and equality; and Twekel supports any one that I think would really jeopardize the ruling clique in Asmara. I never entertain regional or religious or ethnic calculations as some people may think. I have stood with many political and civic organizations.

But there are contradictory charges  most important of which the last statement which has been issued by Tesfai Bringi in which he has doubted on the fairness of the election committee of the founding conference of the EPM;  and he has directly accused you for chairing this committee?

Yes, the accusation is strange and surprising at the same time; and what he has said in that statement hurts him more rather than hurts the committee. Because the committee was composed of Eritreans who are working to promote the Eritrean democratic struggle. And I think they might reply to him individually or collectively. I believe that he has, by his baseless accusation, poured oil on gas by charging the committee with:

*Firstly by imposing it self, with out being requested by the secretariat of the conference, to supervise the election.

*secondly by manipulating the ballot boxes to serve some people at the expense of the other.

 Look, the committee was composed of: ustaz Saleh Hamde, (the former director of the Eritrean Intermediate School in Kassala),Mr.Andebrahan, the former coordinator of the Eritrean government with the UN for the repatriation of Eritrean refugees from the Sudan, Mr.Abdulhafiz Yassin, the known journalist who heads a translation department in a very big research institute called the Middle East and Africa Studies Center  and Mr. Jamal Humd, director of the Eritrean Media Center.

 I didn’t chair the committee. The committee was chaired by ustaz Saleh Hamdi. I was simply a member. And my task was only restricted to making available the basic necessities (like pens, plain papers etc) to the committee to carry out its work.

 By the way, Tesfai himself had appreciated the fairness of the election process and the mechanism the committee had come up to count the votes. Tesfai Bringi had said much about the transparency of the way the election was handled. However he has turned the other way round to what he had stated to the Gulf Information Center’s reporters about his assessment of the conference and the election process. I think readers, who would like to find out what he had said at the time, can go back to what the GIC had posted during the founding conference of the EPM.

Secondly, I had never come near the ballot boxes. The committee didn’t enforce it self to supervise the election. Rather it was asked by the secretariat of the congress to sacrifice its precious time to supervise the election process based on a resolution of the conference, too. Bringi him self was a member the secretariat of the conference which had requested the committee. The votes were sorted out in columns on a very big board before people-guests, representatives of organizations, pressmen and supervisors.

The question which comes into mind: why doubt now after the passage of eight months?

If Tesfai has a problem with his organizations, he should be courageous enough to talk about the point of his trouble with his party. He should not try to bear people the crisis that he has with his organization.

Does he remember what he had said in his assessment about the founding conference of the EPM? I think it would be good for him if he gives up throwing his problems into people.

And if there were no fairness in the election process, I think people like Tesfai who was simply at Stockholm and who was considered a guest to the conference, would never had got 82 votes while others who claim that they had founded the EPM got less than Tesfai.

There is controversial information about the difference between you and Adhnom who has accused you on standing with some against others. What do you say?

There are much hearsay and the bad news spreads quickly. Despite what is being said here and there, I have decided not to talk. And if I want to talk I have a great deal of information to disclose. I heard much of the hearsays but I controlled my temper and I do not want to be dragged behind differences (smiles and adds nonsense talks) that do not serve the public interest and enhance the democratic struggle. My advice to those who aim to involve in such rubbish talks: Please infer lessons from your past, stop with your self and assess your situation based on the logic which says: Think twice before you fall in tongue slips.

 How on earth do you think an organization can split up by an act of an alien person to the organization? Just try to visualize the point. I believe that if there is any organization which splits up or unites by an action of one person; then it should not be called an organization. Rather it can be called an assembly with out structure and definite rules and regulations; and before that a conglomeration without clear goals.

Yes, I never met Adhnom inside Eritrea. I met him and introduced into him for the first time before three years in Khartoum through Mesfun Hagos in December 2002 and our relations since then went on. The second time was in London: When Mesfun Hagos left London for Khartoum, Adhnom had request to meet me when I returned from Heathrow airport biding Mr.Mesfun Hagos and we met at the presence of ambassador Abdella. The meeting had gone on for more than two continuous days. My meetings had been repeated since then. I can say for example that we had spent the year 2004 together. We had done a great deal of work in the course of the democratic change in Eritrea. I believe that if we agree to work together, we should work and if we don’t agree, each one should respect the other.

How don you see the transformations in Ethiopia, the Sudan and Eritrea?

The regime of Eritrea has not yet benefited from changes on the regional and international levels. Not only is that but the astonishing thing is that, “It has advised the great nations to benefit from its experience,” which it considers “a new experience. It is still in a state of comma and it does not see the changes around it. The last speech of Isais makes clear the extent of hysteria the regime is in. It would have benefited from the developments in Sudan. But it is not ready to do so. For instance, the ruling party in the Sudan has formed a partnership with the SPLA and guaranteed its continuation in the political arena. And the same has been true with Ethiopia. I think the options before the regime are limited because the democratic change is on its way to Eritrea. And if the regime takes the lead to make reforms, this might help it run plastic surgeon which would assist it to be accepted and prolong its age in authority. These reforms might surprise the regime the people to get out of the abyss of its isolation and if it does not take the lead to make reforms, it would shorten its age in authority. The change is on its way to Eritrea.  


Gulf Information Center, English Desk, apologizes for the slip of the word “endangered” in the first line of Mr. Tewekel’s answer for the question about the Ethiopian elections. The meant word was “enhanced” the democratic change in the region; and not endangered. As a result, the English  Desk of the GIC has been obliged to correct the mistake.

  Gulf Information Center

  English Desk


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