Hussian Khalifa in a Downright Interview with the GIC:

* Popular Uprising and Diplomacy Will Speed up the Collapse of the Regime

*Shiekh Zayed of UAE had pledged to provide Two Billion American Dollars

Gulf Information Center


March13, 2005

He is a father of two boys and four girls. He joined the Eritrean Liberation Movement in 1961 and became from among its most outstanding and prominent figures until 1965.However he decided to join the Eritrean Liberation Front since the ELM had chosen to adopt peaceful means of struggle. As a result on 15 May, 1965 he joined the Eritrean Liberation Front. The first military commander he had met was martyr Tahir salem in Adobha. He headed the military affairs’ unit of the ELF in the region of Sahel until 1969; the time he left the field for Iraq. He joined, in Iraq, the Iraqi Military Academy. He graduated in 1972 from the Iraqi Military Academy and returned back to the field, Eritrea. He became a military commander of the 64 Brigade of the ELF. He was elected a member of the Revolutionary Council of the ELF in the second National Congress in 1975. Then he became a member of the military leadership of the ELF in 1977. He was assigned to the commandership of the Southern and Northern region of Denkalia; where he was a supervisor of the three areas: Southern and Northern region of Denkalia and Akeleguzay. He headed the military office of the ELF in 1981. He held the position of the vice –Chairmanship of the ELF in the third National Congress in 1982. He has been occupying the position of deputy Chairman of the ELF since the third National Conference of the ELF. He has, unanimously, been elected for the chairmanship of the Executive office of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance on March5, 2005.The following are the excerpts of the interview the Gulf Information Center’s team Abdulhafiz Yassin Mohammed, Mohammed Taha Twekel,  Fitsum Gebrehiwet and Abdu Sulieman did with the Chairman of the Executive Office of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance.


Why didn’t you go back, after independence, to Eritrea to take part in the reconstruction process of the homeland?

 Yes, the joy of independence was big and we presented a number of initiatives to realize an everlasting peace in Eritrea. We presented an initiative through brothers and friends in Sudan, Yemen and Emirates to hold a Grand National Reconciliation Conference where all the political, civic organizations and independent individuals take part. The regime, unfortunately, refused all these attempts. Sheikh Zayed of Emirates, who had provided huge support for the Eritrean revolution during the armed struggle, did his best to convince the regime in order to accept the initiative of the national reconciliation congress. Look, Shiekh Zayed pledged to host and finance the conference, and vowed to provide two billion American dollars for the reconstruction of the home land. Not only that but Shiekh Zayed had also promised to drum up assistance from the Gulf States to speed up the rebuilding process of Eritrea if all Eritreans hold a national reconciliation  conference. However, the one-man regime refused all endeavors of the good lovers for Eritreans and denied the presence of any opposition organizations. Then the regime declared its resolution in which it called the members of the opposition to return home in an individual form and not in an organization form. We refused this call although some had accepted and returned home. We went on in our resistance until today. We rejected the call of the regime because the matter for us, at the time, was not individual interests but principles and values we had been struggling for all the period of the armed struggle for liberation.

 There had been, however, some hearsay regarding confidential contacts of the ELF with the regime. What would say about this talk?

Firstly, (smiles) the regime does not recognize any except it self. Secondly, the regime had even failed to hold dialogue with its colleagues who have been locked up since Sept.2001. Those who think about dialogue are of a rational mentality. The principles of conducting dialogue are absent in the doctrine of the regime which is based on exclusion. As a result, how on earth do you think that the ELF would be an exceptional to hold talks with the regime?

There are those who say that the Eritrean opposition has not accomplished any thing over the last six years. Do you agree with this claim?

What has been achieved is not some thing easy in comparison to the situation of hostility and dispersion the opposition camp has been living. The opposition prior 1999 was outraging each other. The outrage and hostility among the opposition organizations were worse than their confrontation the regime. So I believe that the reached agreement is great achievement because it is an output of tremendous efforts. Really, numerous endeavors have been exerted to overcome many of the obstacles which were hindering the progress of the opposition. Now, we have overcome many of the obstacles and laid a ground which has produced the Eritrean Democratic Alliance. The Eritrean Democratic Alliance will, definitely, facilitate a lot in the political future of the opposition organizations.

What were the criteria the EDA based on to elect its leadership?

Firstly, the members of the central leadership were elected on the basis of the size of the organizations. As a result, two seats were allotted to each of the 11 organizations and one seat to each of the 5 organizations. This means the members of the central leadership are 27 members. However the members of the Executive Office of the EDA were elected on the basis of “individual capacity” and not on the basis of “latitude” of the organizations. This means that none of the members of the Executive Office represent a particular organization. They were chosen to implement the programmes of the alliance and not to represent their respective organizations.

Will the members of the Executive Office be free for the work of the alliance to avoid double functionalism for their respective organizations and the EDA as had been witnessed in the previous alliance?

90% of their time will basically be devoted for the work of the EDA. We have discovered from our experiences some negative points and we have benefited from them. We will do our utmost to avoid their repetition in the course of the EDA. Plus, there is a faithful desire to work jointly in order to carry out what has been agreed upon.

Have you ever thought that you would occupy this position?

 I have never.

Let’s be frank enough, haven’t you exerted any effort to convince others in order to gain their votes in the election process?

 Laughs. I swear to God that I did not bid my self. I did not talk to any body. I was just elected unanimously and I have accepted. The responsibility I have held really reflects the confidence people have put on me. And I will be, God willing, up to their expectation. This confidence will make me work relentlessly and this will facilitate the mission of the Executive Office. I would like, in this occasion, to thank all the political powers for the confidence they have put on me. 

What are the means the EDA will follow to overthrow the regime?

We have followed peaceful means. We will depend on popular uprising and civil disobedience. And it is very difficult to predict the outcome of the ongoing deterioration in the economic, security and military institutions of the regime. This makes all options and possibilities open. The “surprising factor” seems, of course, greater than other possibilities due to the regime’s confusing messing up of papers. The regime has imprisoned the leaders of the first guard, declared state of emergency, militarization of the country, the economic crisis, and the outraging interventionist policy the regime has adopted against its neighbors. And the regime has, over the last two days, waged fierce speech war against the United States of America and the European Union. All possibilities are open before the Eritrean opposition if the regime refuses to bend for peace.

What draws attention is the adoption, in the EDA’s political charter, a paragraph that calls for dialogue with the regime although it doesn’t recognize your presence. Why?

Yes. We have declared our desire to hold dialogue with it because dialogue harmonizes with the hopes of our people for peace. The Eritrean Democratic Alliance hopes to accomplish the democratic process with less cost and loss. That is why we declared the principle of dialogue. It is not important to recognize the regime our presence as long as our people does recognize that.


The regime and the sympathizers with it accuse the opposition for committing high treason due to its relations with Ethiopia which is in state of war with Eritrea. What would you say about this point?

 I think the regime, in Asmara, is the last one who accuses others by high treason. It has betrayed the principles, values and norms of the Eritrean revolution and denied the noble sacrifices of our people to liberate the homeland.  And the EPLF was the first one to ally with the Tigray Front in order to fight the ELF. Moreover, the Eritrean people are still suffering from the critical dimensions the regime had involved in to promote its interests. The regime had, until the eruption of the recent border conflict, cordial relations with Ethiopia. So why does it become forbidden when we establish cordial relations with Ethiopia? Citizenship is not a “possession” of the regime. The regime, which is ruling in Addiss Ababa, is a friend of the Eritrean people. Because it has recognized the result of the referendum: Independence. Prime Minister Meles has ascertained for the leadership of the Ethiopian opposition the commitment of his country to respect the unity and sovereignty of the state of Eritrea. We have discussed with him ways of establishing natural relations; and we bear the responsibility of confronting and changing the regime of Isaias. The interest of the neighboring countries lies in instituting a democratic and just system in Eritrea; and the achievement of this goal is the responsibility of the Eritrean people. Our relationship with the neighboring countries is natural, open and public. It has no hidden agendas. We will not accept to be “instruments” for any country after all these long years of struggle. The regime should give up playing with fire which it has set. Because the fire it has ignited is still sweeping Eritrea and the whole region. The Eritrean Democratic Alliance bears the accountability of extinguishing this fire.


 Doesn’t your relationship with Ethiopia, at the time Eritrea is in a war situation with it, cause an embarrassment for you before the people and helps the regime of Isaias to exploit it?

 I think the relationship with Ethiopia is very natural and primarily aims at serving the strategic objectives of the Eritrean people. However, the accusation of the regime (Isaias) has even swept his colleagues of the armed struggle: the reformists. Isaias has accused the reformists of going to Ethiopia with their dreams and thoughts. There are students, journalists and thousands of people who are defined by the regime as Wayanee. You (pointing to us with his index) yourself are identified as typical Wayanee by the regime.It has become the custom of the regime to call any one who differs with it Wayanee. Wayanee has become, according to the regime, an epidemic that sweeps every Eritrean who aspires for democracy. However the Eritrean Democratic Alliance is the first prescribed remedy to face the regime which has created a situation of chaos and dispersion under the pretext of invasion from the neighboring countries. I personally believe that the jeopardy to the Eritrean people radiates from the regime which has destabilized the whole region and suppressed the people.



The Eritrean Democratic Alliance is made up of 16 organizations whose platforms range from secular into religious and many others, as well.  Is there any conflict settlement mechanism, if a misunderstanding among these organizations occurs? I mean like a Conflict Settlement Committee?


We are not in need of a conflict settlement Committee. We, as political originations, have agreed on the charter. The central leadership, which is the highest body, bears the responsibility of sorting out any difference and disparity that happens in the course of the EDA’s work. Moreover the EDA has already agreed on the minimum program and the national principles. And there is “care” from the heads of the constituent organizations to nurture and keep the alliance. I am optimistic that the work among us will be smooth and comfortable because we have deduced an understanding spirit from the meetings that have resulted the EDA. The organizations will also commit themselves to what has been agreed.

There is hearsay that the EDA has two charters. One is public and the other confidential in drawers. How true is this rumor?

The charter, which the 16 organizations have signed, is` one. And it will be published in the coming time. The delay of its publication is due to technical reasons of which, for instance, precision in translation is one.

What are the terms of inclusion into the EDA and how does the EDA will deal with the other political organizations which have not joined it yet? 

There are defined provisions for joining the EDA. For instance, any organization that intends to join the EDA must have a political program, a devoted leadership for the mission of the organization, and it should have held its founding conference.

 But this alliance has only been confined to political organizations. How will the nature of relations of the EDA be with civic society organizations?

Yes, this alliance has been limited to political organizations. And it was an important and great step to assemble them under this umbrella. The EDA will, of course, have relations with civic society organizations. We will have complementarity relations to achieve democracy and peace in Eritrea.  Civic society organizations have been calling for the” unity” of the political organizations as a first step to realize justice in our country. We extend our hands to every sector of the Eritrean people to accomplish together the desired objective. However, the participation of “all” could take place, perhaps, in an inclusive conference which will be held in Asmara after the collapse of the regime and the participation will be open to every Eritrean. Even though, at present time, the meetings are limited to political organizations, however, the EDA will work relentlessly to have a contact and communication conduit with civil society organizations.

What is the cause of the gap which seems to separate the mass inside the country from the opposition outside the country?

 Firstly, I don’t agree with you about the presence of a gap between the inside of the homeland and its out side. Both of them are linked to each other since they are extensions of each other. Life has, especially over the last few weeks, become very hard for our citizens in side the homeland. Every thing has begun to be distributed by queues. Bread, sugar and all the essentials of everyday life have become too hard to be found easily. The residents of the urban areas have joined that of the rural areas in relief queues. The inside citizens are an eye witness to the chaos the country is experiencing due to the irresponsible and immoral policies of the regime that have turned upside down the values of the Eritrean revolution.

During the revolution period, you used to be called the forgotten revolution and now also you are called the forgotten opposition. Where does the cause lie for such names?

 Yes. The cause is always to those who rules Eritrea. The westerners astonished, during the liberation war, how come an African colonizes an other African. Their astonishment was taking various and complicated dimension, as well. We have snatched our independence by the virtue of our peoples’ sacrifice and we gained the respect of the world. Today who would believe that fighters to be changed into oppressors and kill the smile and joy of independence on the lips of their people. Yes, the people who have presented an example of national sacrifice. Every Eritrean family has gifted a martyr. Is it rational to live such a miserable situation? The Eritrean family is dispersed like distantly ramified roots of a tree and none is able to partake his family members their joys and sorrows. I ask like any Eritrean citizen, “Hasn’t this regime come out from womb of this people? Where has the regime come from with this cruelty? And why is it killing, humiliating and oppressing its people in an inhumane way? Many of the lovers of the Eritrean people, including our people themselves, were asking us to give it an opportunity after independence. But today there is boundless hatred and outrage among all Eritreans against the regime from within and out side the country. That is why the disgrace follows it wherever it goes. And it should go its own way and leave the Eritrean people since it failed to run the country. The Eritrean people have made its revolution alive and succeeded. And now the people will also make the opposition strong number that participates in changing the political map of Eritrea and the region.  Democracy is coming to Eritrea and Eritrea will be, God willing, the quarter of freedoms.

How are your regional and international relations?

 We have distinguished relations with the neighboring countries and the policies of the regime have helped us to deepen them. Our relationship with the Sudan is distinct and it has social and cultural dimensions. The same is true with Ethiopia and Yemen, as well. The difference of the regime with these countries has made Eritrea an internal police state. Actually our relationship is based on the principle of non-interference into the affairs of each other. These countries have supported the independence of Eritrea and we hope that they will stand besides our people in its struggle for democracy, too. We consider the Eritrean communities in different parts of the world- Europe, Australia and America and the Arab world for instance- our ambassadors. So far, they have been stirring the public opinion, wherever they are, for the interest of the democratic change in Eritrea. And I hope they will intensify that noble mission particularly after the formation of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance. Moreover the relations of the political powers with the neighboring countries, USA, Europe and the Arab world will be devoted for the interest of the alliance; which will follow a new diplomacy for an absolute isolation of the regime regionally and internationally. We will open all the files that would tighten the ropes on the neck of the regime.

How do you interpret the recent violent attack of the regime for the USA?

It is clear that, today, the regime is not with us in the world which is ruled by the New World Order by the leadership of the USA. By this attack, the regime has dropped the last paper of moral and ethical protection it used to depend upon. Every body knows that the regime has involved Eritrea, in less than six years time, into three wars from which Eritrea has gained nothing except loss and damage in all aspects as well as dispersion of its people across different parts of the world. The new war with the USA could be for the interest of the Eritrean people. The regime has entered a dark tunnel for it has set fire in all directions.


We hear, most of the time, talks about the eventuality and peculiarity of relations with the Islamic and Arab world. Why hasn’t the opposition utilized these relations for the interest of the democratic struggle?

The Arab countries, during the armed struggle for liberation, were the most supporting countries for the Eritrean revolution. This is a fact which is documented in history. However the situation, after independence, changed. Because most of the Arab countries were not dealing with the opposition for they feared not to involve the Eritrean people into an other cycle of bloodshed. Moreover, the Arab countries have found them selves within big world changes whose consequences are still endured by them. The concern of the Arab countries about Eritrea has also lessened after they have seen the interventionist policy of the regime. I would like to call all Arab countries which have good relations with the regime to exercise pressure on it in order to stop killing and jailing of people.



Short URL:

Posted by on Mar 13 2005 Filed under Interviews. 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