*The Participating Delegations at the Founding Conference of the EPM strongly backup the Unification Principle of the (4+1)

*Dr. Tesfai Bringi: the Eritrean Opposition Must Fulfill the Demands of the Eritrean mass- Unity

By Abdulhafiz Yassin Mohammed

Gulf Information Center



I had seized up the opportunity of the opening ceremony of the  founding conference of the Eritrean Peoples Movement at the Suba Hall in Khartoum on the 26th of  the last month. A lot of people of various ideological and political orientations, researchers, university students, interested independent individuals in the Eritrean affairs have attended the ceremony. I asked as many of them as possible to know their impressions about what they have witnessed; about the expected degree of effectiveness of this powerfully appeared Movement, as some claim; and other points. Most of the asked people, at the time, have doubted on the capability of the Movement to get over the formidable challenges that have been deciding the Eritrean politics over the last four decades: Jebha and Shaebia trends. “This experience will definitely fail because people of such diametrically opposing backgrounds will never agree to work together,” some said. “It is a mere a hopeless attempt whose results are already known.” Others, on the contrary, had a completely different view. They accused the Movement of depending on “regionalism and ethnicity.” It seems, some said, from the delegations of the conference that the overwhelming majority of the Movement belong to specific ethnic groups and region. “It is a coalition of ethnic groups and regions,” they said. However, I have had the chance of following strictly all the deliberations of the conference-from distance- through uncertain information and finally I visited the Suba Conference Hall, which lies on a certain resorts of Khartoum, in the morning of the concluding day of the conference. This time, I surveyed some members of the conference and directed all the questions which were posed by the interviewed people at the opening ceremony in order to get answers from the   participating delegations that have come from different parts of the world and the Sudan. The following were their answers. I have decided to narrate them with out any journalistic interference to put them in a report or an analytical article just to let readers have their own analysis based on the answers. The fact that should be stated here is that the cursory interviews were done before the election process began.

*Ahmed Skerteer, head of the Secretariat of the EPM.

Most of the participants in the congress are intellectuals who have come from different parts of the world and regions of the Sudan. Moreover, most of them have had a good record of political and other experiences in various Eritrean ideological schools of Jebha, Shaebia, independent civic, social institutions etc. As a result, we didn’t have any difficulties to accredit the programmes and almost all the programmes were legitimized unanimously. This way of accreditation demonstrates the degree of responsibility the members of the conference characterized by. The participants have discussed all the presented points being devoid of past sensitivities and having put into consideration the timely essentials in inside and out side the country; in addition, of course, to the regional and international changes. The participants represented all sectors of the Eritrean society with a particular focus on the youth. To talk about the military point of the movement; the conference didn’t totally skip it. However, it depends on circumstances and ambiences. Our perspective aims at having one army under the inclusive organization of the “Eritrean Salvation Front.” The suggestions the provisional leadership presented in the conference, concerning some issues, can be inscribed under the logo of “democracy” which the EMP has practically begun to apply. Because it is a must to listen to the public opinion and to respect the other’s opinion, as well and at last the decision ends up with people.

*Adhanom Gebre-Mriam, Head of the External Relation’s Office of the EPM.

 Despite the little age of the Movement, ever since its emergence into the Eritrean political arena, however, many people of different political backgrounds and academic qualifications as well have joined it just being convinced by its political programme. That is why the participating delegations have come from all over the world to have their say on principles the organization should adhere to. The conference, moreover, have passed resolutions about the destiny of the Eritrean people; about putting forward programs for a right struggle in the upcoming period; as well as resolutions that facilitate the integration process of the (4+1) organizations to form one political entity and to assemble all factions of the Eritrean opposition within the creel of the minimum programe. Thus, the Democratic Movement and the Democratic Front have joined; the time they saw the programe of the “Eritrean Salvation Front” which is made up of 20 pages. The programe is a sort of a work plan to get rid of the dictator regime in a very short period of time. We came up with the idea and applied it practically. Moreover the EPM had a role in the formation of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance. Furthermore, the conference has dealt with all sensitive issues and this approach is the “source” of strength of the Movement; we will work with the other Eritrean powers to realize a united context for the opposition powers to uproot the regime of Isaias from Eritrea.

*Omr Sulieman, a member of the Central Council, USA.

This conference is the first Eritrean conference which has been able to bring together people of different  political backgrounds to work  together for one goal: overthrowing the regime.The thing that has impressed me was the love and respect spirit the participants cherished for each other as well as the feeling of responsibility to pass resolutions and recommendations which would push forward the Eritrean legitimate struggle. The participants’ call to lubricate the unification process, in accordance to of the (4+1) agreement, was among the most significant resolutions to me. Because, the (4+1) agreement will be derived from one organization which will have a positive role within the opposition camp in accordance to the minimum program. It will, moreover, if accomplished, will alleviate the endurances of the Eritrean dispersed, scattered people in all over the world by highlighting in coordinated efforts the sufferings, problems of the Eritrean refugees in the international arenas. Moreover the conference has ascertained the role of the Eritrean woman. As a result, resolutions have passed which would help the Movement to promote the role of the woman by involving her in the Eritrean political course. Furthermore, the Movement has passed resolutions that establish and enhance strategic relations with the neighboring countries on the basis of mutual relations and respect.

*Tahr Hamade, a member of the Central Council, the Netherlands.

The conference is considered a real accomplishment for the Eritrean opposition bloc. And this movement, ever since its birth, has appeared with clear features. Because it has strategy for establishing a comprehensive national plan to save the poor people which are enduring the dictator regime of the one-man government. The congress has granted legitimacy for the Movement as an influential and effective political entity. The conference of the Movement was held in special local circumstances particularly that deal with the unification conception which is entertained in the programmes of almost all the factions of the opposition. The Movement has, so far, contributed much in the unification process starting with the Kassel declaration and ending up with the setting up of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance. It, moreover, believes in the promotion of collective efforts to realize the ultimate goal: overthrowing the dictator regime of Isaias. As a result, the conference is a turning point for directing all the endeavors for a joint work. This approach will certainly speed up getting rid of the regime of Isaias and establish an institutional, constitutional and democratic Eritrea at which  every one gets equally  his entitled rights with out discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity , region, religion, ideology and belief. The conference has adopted a non- intervention policy while dealing with its neighboring countries.

*Zewdee, a member of the Central Council of the EPM, Sweden.

At the beginning I had some reservation from the conference but I have put aside all that stuff very quickly. I am sure that the organization will play great roles if a capable person chairs it. I believe that if the (4+1) unite and form one body; they will speed up the struggle for democracy. Because, if the opposition doesn’t unite; it would not be able to overthrow the regime. The rumors about “regionalism and stuff like that of the EPM” are not true. It is a mistake to say so with out a tangible substance- be it in the members of the organization or in its political programe. And if such baseless talks are given any consideration; the opposition bloc would not go forward and the struggle would not succeed. Instead, such attitudes will prolong the age of the regime. I am really satisfied with the passed resolutions; I have forwarded every question, comment, opinion which I had in mind regarding any point freely and with out reservation. I can say that all the discussions were dominated with absolute transparency and openness.

*Dr. Tesfai, head of the Political and Social Department, Sweden.

The focus of the discussions of the conference was on: unity and diversity. Those who agree on unity, they should merge to form one body. At they same time, unity can’t be imposed but

can be reached through striking agreements on minimum programmes in order to work together. Because, if we see, the whole content of the agendas of the opposition is about: overthrowing the regime. Thus, this process needs a “credible” opposition because we mustn’t oppose the regime unless we are 100% sure that we are an “effective” alternative; and to be an effective alternative, we have to fulfill the demands of the people: UNITY. And, since, we realized this fact; the three fronts-the Eritrean Democratic Movement, the Eritrean Democratic Front and the Eritrean People’s Movement- have merged and they are on their way to merge into one body with others in accordance to the Kassel Agreement of (4+1).This is a good mechanism of struggle. If we try to see the goal of the struggle; it is overthrowing the regime of Isaias to bring about a fundamental change (not reform).This is a process of creating a developed and democratic Eritrea in which every Eritrean lives with sustainable freedom and peace. This was the essence the conference based on. The conference has dealt with the point of establishing strategic relations with the neighboring countries. Because strategic relations emphasizes on instituting relations that never change with the change of governments. Moreover, strategic relations do mean paving a ground on which the peoples of the region live together in a peace full way. This can be done through the flow of people via civic diplomacy. Now, what is left for us is to put in order our priorities. On top of this priority is: overthrowing the regime of Isaias. The other issues are of secondary order. These secondary issues are created by the regime to distract the focus of the opposition. However, we have to concentrate in the primary goal; which is facing the regime. The EPM basically aims at putting the national interests before the organizational interests. Because organizational interests are means and not ends. And if we are caring about the people’s interests; we have to put aside the organizational interest. If all the opposition organizations adhere to this concept; we will not face any challenge; and if we look into the political programme of almost all factions of the opposition, we don’t have much difference. All what we have is difference in attitudes; which can be overcome very quickly if people’s interests are given absolute priority.

*Isaisa Asfha, a member of the Central Council of the EPM, London.

The establishment of the Movement has been followed by many people. The Movement has dissolved the dividing differences (of Jebha and Shaebia) for the Eritrean peoples. Because the conference has been able to bring together, to struggle for democracy, people who were sensitive to each other in the past but were found to be respecting for each other at the conference. I believe the most important resolutions the conference have adopted are ways of finding out very quickly a mechanism that intensifies our struggle against the regime of Isaias. There could be different views about ways of saving the Eritrean people; however we have to agree on the minimum programe since the goal is one: overthrowing the dictator regime. I think the baseless talks about “regionalism, ethnicity or stuff like that” about the organization, are absolutely wrong. It is the talk of the agents of Isaias. Because, let alone for this organization such provocations have been propagated against the Eritrean Salvation Front. I think, resistance always comes as a result of oppression. And any one who has believed in the political programme of the party has, so far, followed and will definitely follow it in future. And the gate is open for every one who wants to involve in the struggle course. Because struggle for rights always takes place by a will. I personally strongly believe that all the deliberations of the projected agendas highly characterized by absolute transparency, openness and frankness.

*Abraham Negasse- head of the former Eritrean Democratic Front which joined the EPM, USA.

All the ways the issues dealt with were democratic and open particularly at legitimizing and ratifying the constitution of the organization.

*Mohammed Ali Shieb- a member of the Central Council of the EPM, Australia.

The conference has expressed it self and discussed all the issues in a transparent, open way. The agendas of the conference have included the problems of the Eritrean refugees in the Sudan, Libya and every where in the world. The conference has, concerning education, adopted “free and compulsory education” for the primary level and the “quota system” for the marginal areas in order to rehabilitate educated cadres for them. Moreover, the conference has accredited that land must be a sole possession of people and if a government needs to take a piece of land; the process must take place through material reciprocity. The discussions of the conference were objective, free from emotions and subjective mentality. The conference, moreover, was really the “master” of it self because it has turned down many suggestions the “provisional leadership” came up with regarding very important issues. The most important resolutions, in my opinion, are the ones that facilitate and speed up the unification and integration process of the organizations of similar programmes; openness to all Eritrean organizations; instituting strategic relations with the neighboring countries and assertion of the unique, special relationship of the Eritrean and Sudanese people.

*Samuael Abraham- A Youngman with remarkable potential, Addis Ababa.

I have participated, for the first time, in a conference and it was really a good experience because people from different backgrounds and ethnic groups have sat together to discuss seriously ways of finding out a mechanism to eradicate the dictator regime of Isaias once and for the last from Asmara. This will definitely be achieved if the leaders of the EPM work with their partrners to make a difference very soon. Because the future depends on what the opposition does in the near future. I.e. to be or not to be, for the Eritreans, depends on what the opposition determines in the near future.

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