CDRiE’s position statement on the planned Eritrean National Commission for Democratic Change (ENCDC) ‘National Congress’

We have recently received a letter with an application form attached from a London-based local support group of the ENCDC requesting CDRiE to “express interest” in the forthcoming congress planned to take place in Addis in October 2011.

We clarify our position in what follows briefly.

CDRiE’s Mission and Vision is:

To work for the full realization of democratic rights of the Eritrean people, in particular, the broad advancement of the rule of law and constitutional governance that will enable Eritreans to elect their own leaders through free and fair elections, including full restoration of freedoms of conscience, religion, information, expression, and association.

CDRiE’s core values emanate from the principles of: Justice, Peace and Democracy. We strive to realize our vision by pursuing activities intended to promote civic values and to build bridges understanding across the social cleavages of faith, ethnicity and political inclinations. 

CDRiE has decided in favour of not expressing positive interest toward participating in the forthcoming ENCDC congress

We express our appreciation for the written communication. After scrupulously considering the matter, CDRiE has concluded not to express interest in participating in the forthcoming ENCDC conference. CDRiE’s decision is premised on the following observations:

1.         The letter received was not an invitation to a congress, but rather a call for expression of readiness which evidently suggests that even after an expression of readiness, the ENCDC may or may not invite CDRiE to the congress;

2.         CDRiE’s decision not to participate in the last conference held in July-August 2010 was based on principal objection pertaining to concerns over the process, agenda and ownership of July/August 2010 conference and the process that led to it. In particular, CDRiE considers the proliferation of ethnic based organisations that accompanied this process, an attempt to alter the political landscape in Eritrea and contrary to the interest of the Eritrean people in national unity and territorial integrity;  

3.         Although the reasons why CDRiE decided not to participate in the last conference were widely published in the Eritrean media outlets, the ENCDC did not approach CDRiE to discuss the litigious issues raised by CDRiE; 

4.         Given the negative experience of the last conference, e.g. concerning the manner in which the conference statements were issued, including the endorsement of the ‘resolution’ on the highly divisive question of the so-called “self-determination, including and up to secession” publicly disputed soon after by many of the participants, there is no guarantee that such scenarios may not unfold in the forthcoming congress;

5.         CDRiE is deeply concerned about the likely controversy and polarization that may arise in connection with the so-called draft ‘constitution’ that is planned to be ratified in the forthcoming congress;

6.         The power of drafting and ratifying a constitution is a fundamental, sacrosanct an inalienable right which should not be tampered with and CDRiE austerely opposes those who intend to usurp the Eritrean people of such power; 

7.         the process of drafting and ratifying a constitution can only take place inside Eritrea with the full and equitable participation of all Eritreans without any discrimination based on sex, religion, ethnicity, class, region and political opinion;

8.         CDRiE strongly believes that the diaspora and the other exiled political or civil society groups do not have any moral right to usurp the power of constitution making; 

9.         CDRiE believes that the diaspora civil and political society groups represent no one else, but their constituencies and therefore have neither power nor legitimacy to draft and ratify a constitution on behalf of the Eritrean people;

10.       The forthcoming conference is tasked to form a ‘transitional national assembly and executive’ to serve as a ‘political authority’ which in CDRiE’s view is a farce;

11.       CDRiE is a civic rather than a political organization with no ambition to affiliate itself with organizations aspiring to ascend to power or replace the incumbents in Asmara;

12.       CDRiE in spite of its decision not to take part in the forthcoming conference remains  committed to working together with all Eritrean organisations that seek to bring about political change through peaceful means;

13.         CDRiE is committed to the promotion of the core values of justice, equality, liberty, human rights and democracy

14.       CDRiE as a civic society organisation neither endorses nor enters into partnerships with groups and individuals that espouse violence as a means of effecting political change and/or maintenance of power. However, CDRiE will ceaselessly engage with such entities to win them back to the non-violent path.

15.       Although CDRiE is committed to unity based on diversity underpinned by the principle of equality of all ethnic, religious and political groups, it opposes all projects of polarisation and division reflected in the formation of ‘ethnic/regional/religious political parties.’ Political parties based on religion and ethnicity that polarise our society are not acceptable substitute to PFDJ tyranny; and

In conclusion, we reiterate that we shall remain always ready and open to engage in dialogue with all Eritrean civil and political societies, including individuals, political and civil society organisations that may participate in the forthcoming ENCDC congress. 

Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea-CDRiE

Board of Directors

27th June 2011


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