In the wake of the departure of the Eritrean Consul to Australia, Tekhlu Ogba-Michael, what has Eritrean diplomacy left to comtemplate?

Farajat team 


What would the fate of Eritrean diplomacy in Australia likely to be following recent events. Wherever it happens, Eritrean diplomacy exhibits the dual trait of official coercion and threat, and acquiescing career bureaucrats dutifully serving power.

Tekhlu Ogba-Michael (T.O.), Consul General at the Eritrean Embassy in Canberra had abandoned his diplomatic post in Australia. It is also rumoured/reported that T. O. had requested to be granted political asylum in this country. The diplomatic side to the story for a moment aside, who is T.O. anyway?

T.O. can be considered as one of the loyal and enthusiastic cadres of the Eritrean regime. He has worked in the civil administrative sector of the new Eritrean State, and, before that, in the Popular Organisations assigned with mobilisation. There is no doubt that T.O. had played a central role, particularly within the region of Senhit and its provincial capital of Keren, as relates to the mobilisation process during the independence struggle. His importance lies in the fact that he has exerted a great deal of effort in an attempt to woe an area/people not-so-well known for its warm reception of the EPLF. As a result, on the first ever Peoples Congress election held in the town of Keren, T.O. succeeded in securing a Congress seat and was initially nominated Secretary and, soon after, head/chair of that same body. Meanwhile, T.O. has also worked – as educationist – in the school systems then run in Keren. Upon the withdrawal of the EPLF from that town, however, the Organisation facilitated T.O’s passage to Sudan and subsequently to Germany where he lived for twenty odd years actively serving the Organisation. Chiefly, he was entrusted with the establishment of the Union of Eritrean Workers. Given his dedicated service, T.O’s diplomatic skills were acknowledged as when, after independence, the regime appointed him to carry out important duties in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hence his latest portfolio – as consul general to Canberra.

To remind the reader, T.O’s abandonment of the Eritrean diplomatic corps to Australia is the fourth case in a chain of interesting flights in the way that mass desertion has belatedly come to characterise the Eritrean larger scene. It started with the departure of Fessahaye Abraham, one of the long serving EPLF loyal cadres. Among many of his achievements, this individual is credited with drawing prominent Australians’ (Fred Hollows and Thomas Keneally) to the Eritream cause. Even so, EPLF being the same EPLF with a use and throw attitude, it had no problems easily discarding such an important asset that the Fessahayes and many more had proved to symbolise.

The second diplomat to leave the Eritrean Embassy was Mohamad Omer Alif. Having completed hid studies (Syria), M. Omer had taken the ambitious/idealistic step of serving his newly-liberated country, that she now was in need of his likes. Office of Foreign Relations is where he was directed to; and to fine tune his diplomatic skills, he undertook training in Sudan. Through the investment of the office of Foreign Relations, M. Omer was eventually groomed to assume his future career as diplomat to Australia. Nevertheless, upon realising the main purpose of his presence as consul to Australia (which was to attract the community to the Eritrean government at his expense since he comes from the same background – Senhit/Keren – as most of the Eritrean community members do as well), he had no choice but to quit.

The third case involves the departure of a secretary at the Embassy, Mrs. Helen Fessaha. She gave up her post when she noticed and could not stand overtly corruptive behaviour on the part of staff, namely the ambassador himself. The latter appeared more interested in promoting his private ends beyond any thing else.

The picture that emerges about the Eritrean regime is that, all along it strove hard to plant and spread social divisions within the population in an attempt to prolong its grip on power. Whenever suitable, it has always relied on this cheap tactic. Now, this has manifested itself in its approach to foreign relations. Rather than focusing on pursuing significant interests that are likely to exist between nation-states, the Eritrean regime appears satisfied in simply targeting and gaining the support of the diaspora communities. Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff are dispatched with this principle/criterion in mind. So, depending on the prevalence of any of the Eritrean social groups in a given country, appropriate officials – those that match the social reality/occasion – are chosen.

This is a brief story on how the diplomacy of the Eritrean regime has degenerated to its lowest point at least as far as one country (Australia) is concerned.  


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Posted by on Apr 25 2005 Filed under Editorial. 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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