Constituting work programme of the Eritrean National Congress for democratic change in Eritrea

By Fesseha Nair

Eritrea is passing through a remarkable and exceptional period of history under the worst dictatorship cleansing its citizens indiscriminately. The past 20 years of independence were the lost years where the young generation flee the country and where the life of the citizens in Eritrea today is characterized by daily mass arresting, torturing, extra- judicial killings and persecutions. Eritreans are suffering both in their own country and in their way to refugee seeking countries. Today, the Eritreans are divided in two camps those who support dictatorship in Eritrea and those who want democracy and human dignity in their country.

The Eritrean dictatorship is not the one that started after the independence but it has a long historical trend from the birth of Eritrean nationalism. This is an African political phenomenon. The leaders of liberation fronts in Africa directly after independence never gave the power to the people but continued with their client – and paternalistic politics leading the country into internal and external disputes. What we now experience in Eritrea has been seen in all African countries. We are just observing dictators collapsing in Northern African and Middle East countries by defiant and mobilised people. Those who support the dictator in Eritrea are not because they are against freedom and democracy but they lack self-confidence and they prefer suffering instead resistance.

Today, in Eritrea the people are suffering under a brutal dictatorship, the youth are escaping into exile because they have lost hope that they can liberate themselves from the dictatorship in their country. As some studies show, oppressed people are unwilling and temporarily unable to struggle because they have no confidence in their ability to face the ruthless dictatorship. Who thought that the Libyans will rise up against Gaddafi and who thought that the people in Syria rise up against the dictatorship in their own country?

The Eritrean National Commission For democratic change must now take priority in its programming how to awaken the Eritrean people for regaining their citizen rights from the dictatorship. International support is useful but is not decisive without strong internal resistance. The writer of this article will discuss on the second phase of the Eritrean national commissions tasks and how they can disseminate and implement them among the Eritrean people for democratic change.

I have read the four draft papers prepared by the commission. They are as follows:

1. Road map from dictatorship to democracy
2. National Charter for Transitional Council of the opposition
3. Eritrean National Assembly draft/ Eritrean national transitional Council
4. Interim –Constitution

I would like to discuss on these four drafts under one theme

“ The Democratization Process in Eritrea”

The four papers are interlinked or inter – related. The commission must actively engage in contributing to Eritrea’s transformation from dictatorship to democracy by laying programmes in its resident countries around the issues/provisions provided in these papers.

Work programme on the four papers

A framework is a useful starting point for analysing the four papers. The Eritrean constitutional academics should be involved in clarifying the provisions in the transitional comprehensive agreements of the pro-democracy forces promoting democracy and participation of all citizens in the struggle against dictatorship. What this means is that the Commission must make a plan of programme pursuing the methods of dialogue and dissemination of these drafts.

Methods of dissemination
National and international Dialogue

An inclusive dialogue process at the national and international levels must be conducted in the four papers. The papers must be published and posted in the Eritrean websites for the public discussion. The papers must be published and distributed for those who have no internet access. The implementation of these four drafts requires qualified and committed human resources. The concept of these four papers needs clarification before they are integrated into the future convention.

One modality that is likely to prove fruitful is establishing a linkage between the national and international (Supporting democracy) dialogue on the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Eritrea. Such linkages can enhance the coherence between the national and international priorities assisting democratization in Eritrea.

Thematic workshops

One of the methods of implementation is by organizing thematic workshops on the specific issues on each draft paper. For example; from the draft paper on road map- how to plan a strategy and lay foundation for democracy. Such would help us focus on some issues that need more clarifications. On the National Charter there also specific issues that need more discussion; for example: the formation of leadership, programme and organizational structure. On the draft of interim –constitution; What is interim –constitution? What is the difference between interim and permanent constitution? Why does the transition need interim-constitution? How are the provisions of the interim constitution formulated legally and technically? Is it democratic in its provisions? How is it in its organizing a state and government? How is its formulation in state structure and power sharing provisions, the level of governments- national, provisional and local governments?

It would be a good idea to involve the academic community more actively in addressing the four papers and develop research agenda which aims to win the dictatorship and establish democracy in Eritrea.

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Posted by on May 26 2011 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

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