A year is a long time in politics

First of all I would like to remind the readers I am a pro-democracy and human rights activist not a career politician, a member of EYGM UK and a passionate campaigner for justice and equality, who believes that the Eritrean people come before political parties or organisations, affiliations and ideologies.

I attended the National Conference for Democratic Change as a delegation representing the Eritrean Youth Global Movement- UK. Before our movement accepted the invitation we went through the organizational procedures and once we became satisfied with the aim of holding such a conference, decided to be part of this historical event. But forgive me I am not going to go into more detail about our movement’s internal procedures in this article.


The National Conference which was conducted under the theme of “To strengthen trust and build equality and social justice in Eritrea!” has served as a foundation for the unity of the Eritrean people.


In the 12 months since the convening of the National Conference for Democratic Change in Addis Ababa, and the emergence of  the National Commission from it, there have been many highs, and a few lows. The commission comprises of members of civic societies and political organisations alike, for the sake of national interest that’s to expedite the fall of the PFDJ regime the civic members of the commission have been portrayed as if they chose to a lemming like destiny by allying themselves to political opposition organisations. However, this is wrong; judgment of this must be left to posterity.


Usually both political opposition figures and civil movement activists like to feel they have left their mark on succeeding generations, so, sit up at the back now – it’s time for a history lesson.


Unfortunately I am not going to list or chart the commission (a coalition of civic and political organizations) progress from A to Z. It would have been much better had an independent person had conducted own research and came up with his/ her findings and finally drew a conclusion on the subject. I am thus going to strive to offer a youth movement activist’s narration of the Eritrean National Commission for Democratic Changes’ collective memory from my perspective.


In August 2010, everything changed in most of the opposition camp. It’s hard to imagine, but the Commission (ENCDC) has been entrusted to deliver a huge task, to mobilize the Eritrean people across the world and make all the necessary preparation for the upcoming all inclusive Eritrean National Congress due to take place in October 2011. For the first time in the history of our opposition the head of the commission, a coalition of all participants of the National Congress a commissioner from the civil society has been elected to be the chairperson of ENCDC. His appointment and other new comers (from civil society) including myself did not gnaw at the power and authority of the political parties (EDA or else), or was not there any major unhealthy confrontations due to conflicts of interest among the members.

However, it’s eminent that there will be differences in a coalition. So far the ENCDC has been competent in dealing and managing its differences.  The differences far from being harmful had actually enriched our politics.  A coalition is all about debates, discussions and compromises. Nowadays the world is ruled by a consensus and thus introducing the culture of dialogue is a human civilization. As for me, as soon as I was elected by the youth participants of the Conference to represent them in the ENCDC, I instantly realized that the responsibility required an utmost enthusiasm, commitment, discipline and most importantly patience. Personally I thought that the expectation was going to be high and so do the barriers once I was assigned to work in the political committee. It was a great privilege to be there, working alongside some highly skilled and experienced politicians who are trying to prove cross-party unity. Additionally, experience wise, mine was limited so I work shadowed them at times and also got opportunities and became involved in high profile negotiations. Frankly speaking being a commissioner has been demanding and challenging but also rewarding at the same time. In the first place, I got involved in politics or movements to make our Eritrean society fairer and please most people (our citizens) but it’s practically uneasy or may be impossible at this moment of time to do that as it’s not realistic.


In general, sympathizers and members of the opposition have been quick to praise the ENCDC for all its achievements. Well, here we are in August 2011, with a coalition (ENCDC) that has been actively mobilizing and conducting outreach with the Eritrean people in Diaspora and fulfilling its tasks for just over a year. History has been taking place since the successful convening of the National Conference and the inception of the ENCDC formed from a cross-section of Eritrean society led entity. On one hand the reaction of Eritrean people have now shown that the struggle and process for democratic change are far too important and multifaceted to be left to the Eritrean political opposition organizations and parties alone. On the other hand this stage where we are in now could possibly make or break the future of our country and thus reminded all stake holders that it’s of a paramount importance to be persistent when working together towards achieving our common cause.


I would like to summarize my article with this heady rhetoric by Winston Churchill, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”




August 2011

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