National Conference – A Winning Concept

By Fesseha Nair

The Idea of national conference came as a result 10 years’ discussion organized at seminar and conference level beginning in Sweden and continued later on the Festivals of Kassel. The first result of this discussion came with the manifesto of Kassel and later well studied by Professor Tesfatsion Medhanie from Bermen University.  The paper provides the basics of national conference both at the Eritrean level and international level. The paper is translated both in Arabic and Tigrinya. I recommend the conference planning committee the staff of documents and researches in cooperation with author ( Prof. Tesfatsion Medhanie) print this document to be used as the best reference for the conference.

In this article I am not going to deal with what it is and the objectives of this conference because what it is ?and why? Have already been clearly defined and clarified in all political platforms in the past years. This article will only deal on its implementation.

What makes different this conference from the past conferences held for example after decolonization that of India and other newly independent countries. For example India’s constitution was the result of three years of discussion and debate  comprising jurists, lawyers, academics and politicians. There were also national conferences held in other countries some were successful and some less successful. Later on in 1990. Francophone African countries organized national conferences as a means of strengthening pro-democracy forces. It has proven to be a key mechanism in promoting democratic transition and in effecting substantive political change( See case study of Eritrea by professor Tesfatiosn Medhanie)

The national conference that will be organized by the Eritrean Democratic Alliance in cooperation with the civil society organizations in diaspora is different from that of Francophone countries in Africa and that of decolonization period practiced by India and other countries but it is a mechanism harnessing the pro-democracy forces.

The EDA congress of 2008 has given full mandate to the EC to organize national conference for democratic change with the objective of building a broad national front including the civil society organizations academics and individuals who are pro- democracy and fighting against the dictatorship. Based on this resolution , the EDA  has performed “Workshops” and seminars in every country and later organized a joint workshop in Addis. All workshop reports and documents were submitted the head of national conference officer in the leadership of EDA.

The implementation process from the date of announcing from 2008 up to now was not free from delaying factors internally and externally. The last meeting that was held from 16- 19 February 2010 was represented by all member political organizations of the EDA and civil society organizations from all over the world. This meeting has appointed a National Conference Planning or Preparatory Committee headed by two persons- chairman and deputy. The staff / Committees( National conference Program Staff) with heads and their respective assistants and auditing staff. The planning committee is composed of the civil and political organizations representatives.

The staff is appointed is not elected. It is a working group preparing/ facilitating for us the conference and has nothing to do with who is who. All pro-democracy forces must put aside their differences and help the implementation. I think we have passed the chaotic period of disagreement and over the conference membership and participation and this was evidenced by political will in the past by being engaged in workshops and debates on the media. We have passed the Whys and Hows of this assembling. What is needed now let us go forward to its implementation.

The conference will draw an array of national and international experts to explore the contextual and complexities surrounding the Eritrean Opposition Forces. It is timely to convene national conference at this time because it is a manifestation of power against the dictator in Eritrea and draw the international attention by such mechanism. It can initiate political dialogue with the Eritrean Opposition Forces both at the national and international level ( See the experience of Iraq opposition during the Sadam period) It can help us develop a new political culture by persuading the bickering leadership of our political organizations by the participation of civil society and individuals.

It can help us negotiate the methods of transition from authoritarian to democracy. It can provide us a framework for achieving a peaceful alternation in powers by drafting a new constitution where all breath on it and design a new electoral system and establishing a democratic timetable. It can help us get national and international recognition and instil greater confidence in our people. The implementation can help us formulate new political institutions that can ease tension among various groups.

Creating hiders and obstacles to the already going implementation is not for the advantage of the pro-democracy forces but are for the advantage of the tyranny in Eritrea. Failing this time and delaying the implementation is just elongating the suffering of our people under brutal regime.

EDA has already declared that such conference is sovereign and did not require approval of the regime in Eritrea.  It is litmus test for us if we are capable to be alternative, therefore put aside your political bickering and give the civil societies and others to play their role in the struggle against the dictator.  The Conference is a work for transformation, those who have the political will for transformation should work hard with the National Conference Planning Committee because the conference belongs to all of us genuinely need democratic change in Eritrea. No one has the right to alienate to anyone from the participation and representation or  no has the right to deconstruct the preparatory committee because you don’t like some of them because of their dissent from your political stand. The conference does not belong to individuals or one organization it belongs to all. It is ones political will to participate if not one is free to leave the platform.

Nevertheless, let us those who are for genuine democratic change work together with preparatory committee, creating opposing sides at this time shows that how much the opposition is suffering of immature political leaders. Bu I am of great optimism that this conference will offer us a great opportunity to bring about  a political change in Eritrea.

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Posted by on Mar 18 2010 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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