Overtired Eritrean Press Statements


Many articulate opposition writers have been writing the follies and clumsiness of PIA’s diplomatic efforts for the past two decades and thus would be repetitive to add this writer’s opinion on this issue.


It is suffice to say that only regimes with delusions believe in endless press statements.  After all, who are the target audiences for press statements?   Does anyone care what PIA thinks about the Palestinian issue as stated in its latest press statement?  Moreover, as the latest press statement on the Palestinian issue clearly shows, the regime is suffering from severe delusions in thinking that it can have a “moral stance” on the Palestinian issue when it is busy imprisoning half the population without due process of law.


One key observation that should be noted, as this writer and many within the opposition camp have pointed out in the past, is that PIA has a tendency to put up a brave face until cornered and then to suddenly capitulate.  In a statement delivered by Mr. Hailemaraim Desalegne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia with members of the United Nations Security Council on July 19, 2011,

“We are well aware of the unresponsiveness of the Eritrean regime under normal circumstances, but we are equally well aware that in the last resort it does respond to real and firm pressure.”


The latest PIA diplomatic U-TURN is to

–          Rejoin the AU, which must have meant that PIA had to pay outstanding AU membership fees

–          Rejoin IGAD, despite his loath for ALL, except possiblySudan, member countries


and in addition, due to immense pressure,

–          PIA’s near abandonment of his rhetoric overSomalia

–          PIA’s silence overLibyaat a time when his closest ally is being bombed by the superpowers


All these indicate PIA’s failed and shameless diplomacy, characterized by U-turn politics that is a manifestation of a regime that is suffering severe learning disabilities.  PIA has nothing to show for his rhetoric politics, except to swallow hard what Min. Haile ‘Dure’ said ten years ago, “Let us focus on nation building while keeping an eye on the border.  It will take at least five years to finalize”.  It has been ten years now!



In a world of “scratch-my-back and I will scratch-yours” politics, PIA finds himself scratching all the rogue nations of the world.  The four strongest foes of PIA in the neighbourhood are worth more to the superpowers as follows

  1. Djibouti– the French and Americans have military bases and is an important international port for commercial shipping
  2. Uganda– among other things, it is providing the largest contingent for the Somali peacekeeping efforts
  3. Ethiopia– along the fact it is the seat of major international organizations, it is now providing 4,000 troops to theSudanpeacekeeping efforts
  4. Kenya– has always been the darling of the West


PIA philosophy of “Might is Right” is only good if there is physical war, but wars can be fought in many ways that render ‘military might’ to be the least effective against economic and diplomatic wars.  


A nation and regime that don’t respect its citizens is disrespected by all other nations! 



Opposition’s Failure to launch counter-propaganda


PIA’s clumsy efforts to defend his brutal grip on power are based on claims that he works for the economic development and transformation of the country and to avoid civil war.  Whenever these are refuted by facts of lacklustre economic performances and strong internal unity, PIA resorts to claiming that his main responsibility is to defend Eritrean national sovereignty, as if he is the only vanguard of Eritrean sovereignty.


Politics isn’t just about lack of accountability, transparency or total absence of the rule-of-law, but the state of socio-economic conditions in the country.  Despite the support given to EDA to launch effective propaganda against the regime by its host in Addis Ababa, EDA has totally failed in this endeavour.  In fact, soon after minor complaints of the EDA media, selam.com ceased showing EDA-TV online.  Moreover, the Arab uprising, which could have been an inspiration to the Eritrean population, has been turned off from EDA television media as much as ERI-TV, fearing that the Ethiopian government may not be enthusiastic showing public uprisings.


Lately, there are two facts that the opposition camp has missed in engaging in its counter propaganda,

  • Lies of Bumper Crop, Self-sufficiency and Famine

Eritreaneeds about 650,000 Metric Tonne (MT) per year of grain to feed itself.  In the past 10 years, the mostEritreamanaged to grow is about 200,000 MT (or about 30% of domestic needs) per year.   The regime claims that there is no famine inEritreabecause it had a bumper crop last year. In reality, assuming that there was bumper crop, Eritrea can only grow an additional 5 – 10% more in crops, i.e. an extra 50,000 MT (total 250,000 MT) of grain leaving a gap of 400,000 MT.  PIA has refused international food assistance not so much because of his beliefs in self-sufficiency but because these assistances come with political strings attached, thus PIA couldn’t have stored donated food either.


In reality, one can only store crops if one produces excess of it, or alternativelyEritreapurchases from other countries and stores it or receives it as donation.  But with severe hard currency shortages, PIA can only afford to purchase grains that are immediately needed and not for storing it. 


The other fallacy in PIA’s propaganda is that although the regime may claim to have stored grains from previous year’s bumper crops, individual/subsistence farmers were forced to sell their crops at below market prices to PIA and thus do not have excess crops stored for the lean years as they normally do.  As a result, these farmers are forced to buy, if they can ever afford it, the same crops they sold to the regime at much higher prices than they sold it.  As such individual/subsistence farmers must be facing famine unless they receive assistance from others.  Awet N’Hafash, my foot! Buying the fruits of your own labor at higher prices – not even the worse capitalist shark does that!  What kind of assistance is PIA offering farmers to overcome the drought years?


  • Stagnant Economy, esp. when compared with Ethiopia

The regime supporters and propaganda would like us to believe thatEritreais growing in leaps and bounds.  But the fact remains that the country’s economy is stagnant.   The thousands of young Eritreans that are “graduating” in various fields of studies have no opportunities to find jobs except to work as laborers at the regime’s white elephant projects.


PIA’s showpiece project is the Gerset/Farko dam.  There are some micro-dams and road construction projects, but after twenty years, there is nothing to show in terms of tangible increase in agricultural or industrial productions.  As much as Gerset/Farko dam is at least a step in the right direction but no one knows for sure what this dam will be used for, and is more experimental at this stage – sort of PIA’s big and expensive HOBBY FARM.  PIA, being an agro-industry expert, is testing sugar cane (for sugar), fish products (as if we don’t have enough in the Red Sea sitting idle) and cotton.  Most of the intended products of this project are cash crops, and PIA has no immediate intention to use this dam to increase food production for self-sufficiency – PIA’s myth. 


When comparingEritreawithEthiopia,Ethiopiahas been aggressively increasing the capacity of its infrastructures.  For instance, twenty years laterEritreaproduces only 80 MW of electricity whereasEthiopiawill be producing 5,000 MW in the next two years (62.5 times more electricity).  At one point in time,Eritreahad 40% of the Ethiopian economy.  Using electrical production as indicator of economic growth,Eritreahas shrank from 40% ofEthiopia’s economy to 1.6% ofEthiopia’s economy today.


Similarly, despite being endowed with the raw materials for producing cement,Eritrea’s capacity (including the new cement factory built byChinabut isn’t in full production yet) is still very low at its maximum capacity of 400,000 MT per year. Ethiopiais now consuming 8 Million MT per year while producing 7 Million MT of cement each year.  In the next 5 years,Ethiopiais working to increase its production capacity to 15 Million MT.  Now, that is tangible commitment!  Cement production and import is an excellent indicator of construction activity in the country and 400,000 MT per year (current consumption inEritreais less than 180,000 MT per year) translates into minimal activity in a country.


Ethiopia’s export for September 2010 to June 2011 was $2.7 Billion US, including $208 Million from the manufacturing sector. Eritrea’s export for Year 2010 was less than $ 40 Million USD, which is equivalent to 1.5% ofEthiopia’s exports.   All economic indicators are thatEritreahas fallen behindEthiopiato a point where it is now less than 2% ofEthiopia’s economy (drop from 40% at the time of independence).


When comparing every area of economic performance – exports, domestic production, gold production, and others,Ethiopiais by far outpacingEritrea, where PIA and the nation are stuck with ONE dam called Gerset/Farko, which is ANIMAL FARM’s WINDMILL!



Britain’s PVI and Sweden’s Dawit Isaac


Herein lies the unequal treatments of citizens by their governments.  Ten years into the incommunicado imprisonment of Dawit, the Swedish government has not done a thing to ensure his release, or at least his humane treatment.  On the other hand,Britainused its every diplomatic resource to free four of its citizens that were detained by the PIA regime.


The question is, why didBritaintake a firm stance whySwedenhasn’t?  Some may say that PVI’s personnel’s arrest has wider implication.  Others may say Dawit is a victim of being a dual citizen.  Dual citizens are warned of the dangers of holding two citizenships.


But again, Britainhas shown a greater inclination to protect its interest and values than Sweden.  For instance, Britainwas instrumental in campaigning for sanctions against the Zimbabwean regime, which led to the formation of a coalition government.  Britainhad vested interested in protecting its dual citizens and people of British origin inZimbabwe.  Thus the underlying issue is national interest, followed by a government’s calculations of the impact of any issue on elections.


It is to be remembered that soon after the end of the (first) gulf war,Swedenwas one of those countries that complained that it didn’t get its share of the spoils of war in obtaining contracts inKuwait.  It is about national interest, and Isaac is no PVI personnel.



Awate’s article “Squandering a Legacy”




TEBEGES, pen name of a cyber opposition writer, will accuse this writer once again of being a hidden EPDP propagandist.  TEBEGES is one writer who starts out with a good quotation from philosophers, and then descends to mumbo-jumbo discussions based on yesteryears and politics of anger.  Wise people are only those who can internalize the wisdom of great philosophers.  No point in using wise words as banners if one doesn’t internalize them.    


Before writing my views on this article, it is worth reminding that Awate.com has played an instrumental role and has exerted untiring efforts to campaign against the regime.  Without a doubt, most of us object to any cheap and counterproductive accusations and defamations against this website or any other.


But debates are part of the political arena, and Awate.com has thrown yet another article that is only fair to debate.  Readers should first accept that Awate.com has every right to portray EPDP as an organization squandering a legacy, just as those of us who have every right to portray EDA and NCDC squandering away a legacy.  The debate is in the merits of our arguments.  In addition, when we accuse Awate.com of hypocrisy or selective criticisms, it is not because we are immune from them either.


Sometimes, it is NOT evil intentions but frustrations and our deep convictions in our views and opinions that lead us to irrational arguments, hypocrisy and confused arguments. 


DEMOCRACY requires thick skin!  Easily bruised egos are tale-tell signs of intolerance and dictatorship!


In politics, one attempts to discredit the messenger if it is too cumbersome to debate the merits of the message.  However, this is risky in a society where political figures get easily bruised despite the occupational hazards, creating deep ill-feelings that become impediments to working together.


What is lost in the Awate.com’s latest article is ‘exactly which legacy is being squandered away’.  Readers are left to guess which legacy; is it the legacy of struggling against the regime, legacy of withdrawing from EDA, legacy of not joining ENCDC under current structure, or any other.  In reality, other than the legacy of brutal and very corrupt regimes, i.e. obviously evil regimes, all other legacies, especially the positive ones, can not be predicted.   For instance, one can say that PIA has left a very negative legacy on Eritrea because of its brutality, but one can’t say that ENCDC will leave a positive legacy.  A couple of conferences don’t create legacies.  It is a series of actions, with tangible results, and NOT about endless meetings, that have the best chance of becoming legacies.


Overall, Awate.com, and possibly as does EDA leadership,  appears annoyed of what they perceive to be EPDP’s efforts to promote itself as the opposition party of choice.  But it wasn’t long ago that Awate.com opinion suggested that EDA and EPDP part ways and pursue their struggles in their own ways rather than dwell on infighting.  When combining the two Awate.com opinions, it appears that Awate.com is amenable to EPDP leaving EDA, but then to lay low while EDA/ENCDC tries to gear up for what it believes to be a major political offensive.  Having accepted two separate lives, separate paths are pursued with vigor. 


In this article, Awate.com raises three points to criticize EPDP:

  1. Culture of Feuding – this is called SELECTIVE criticism because feuding has afflicted all the major Eritrean opposition parties, including ENSF and EPM.  The other smaller organizations have faced their own internal challenges but are held together more because of much narrower agenda.  Feuding is an inherent danger of stitching together people of different convictions and beliefs.  Larger organizations, organizations with wider ranges of views and opinions, and those organizations with different backgrounds are more exposed to internal feuding than smaller organizations with narrower interests.  One should NOT, wittingly or unwittingly, encourage forming organizations of like-minded members in order to avoid “feuding”.


  1. Double Standards – Awate.com raises two points
    1. The first point is EDP’s past resistance to travel to Addis while Ethiopia is still occupying Badme.  But political organizations have every right to change their political strategies and positions based on prevailing political situations.  Politics is dynamic and thus one can NOT be fixated to one position as if one truth exists.  Only pragmatic and dynamic political organizations adjust their political discourses on a combination of prevailing public opinion, modified strategic plans and their own party convictions to achieve their ultimate aims.  Only the views of the self-righteous and religious creeds are written in stone. 
    2. Peaceful resistance:  it is difficult to understand why Awate.com rails at EPDP for accepting peaceful resistance and playing down armed resistance.  This is EPDP’s political platform that it believes will take the opposition movement further.  EPDP can campaign for its beliefs and doesn’t need anybody else’s approval for them.  Time will tell which politically prudent positions will win over half-baked ones.


In reality, what Awate.com’s article calls “double standards” is the “SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE”.  When prudent political organizations agree to set aside some of their beliefs to work with other political organizations for a greater cause, those compromises are then portrayed as double standards.   The question to Awate.com is, if compromise is “double standard”, how can compromises be reached?  If one agrees to go toAddis Ababato work with fellow opposition political organizations that insist on working from that city, would comprising to work with them be considered “double standards” or should it be viewed as a sign of “positive spirit of cooperation and compromise” despite one’s uneasiness?


In fact, double standards are found in EDA, which having agreed that its founding principles were to work with (1) minimum political programs (2) under anonymous consensus (3) by giving aspiring opposition groups the broadest latitude to join the opposition camp, changed the rules and spirit of cooperation and is now pursuing its maximum and narrow political agenda to the detriment of all efforts to remove the brutal regime in Asmara.  That is called changing the goal post in the middle of a game.


Moreover, “Double Standards” may be found in those who advocate for the principles of engagement but fail to practice it themselves.  No one can preach anybody else, but to lead by example.  For instance, Awate Foundation was the founding member of Eritrean Global Solidarity (EGS) but then terminated its membership.  Disagreements are facts of life, but why not continue to engage the organization.  Would Awate’s disengagement from EGS mean that it is squandering a legacy?  If EPDP should remain engaged with EDA/ENCDC, why not Awate.com with EGS and other broader coalition of civic organizations!


Another of Awate.com’s total disengagement is its failure to sign the letter sent to the UN Security Council (July 18, 2011), which was signed by some thirty civic and media organizations.  If Awate.com, as one of the most persistent and at the forefront of campaign against the regime, is ONLY willing to engage with those it agrees with totally, then is this symptomatic of its inability to compromise?


One of the more perplexing statements in Awate.com’s article is as follows,

“Today the EPDP says it thinks that “peaceful struggle” is the right way to engage the regime of Isaias Afwerki. When the Arab Spring started, it pointed to it repeatedly to show the alleged superiority of this strategy—never mind how effective “peaceful struggle” has turned out for the people ofLibya,YemenorSyria.”


In fact Awate’s lamentation underscores what some are saying in that the Tunisian and Egyptian uprising succeeded because they were widely encompassing and truly grass-roots movement that were helped by their militaries’ supports, whereas Libya, Yemen and Syria are uprisings largely based on sectarian/ethnic divides.   OneTunisia, One Egypt or One Eritrea in our uncomplicated campaigns can only assure success.  Those with multiple agendas, as is the case for most of the other uprisings, will face tremendous challenges!


It is suffice to say that, to this writer’s understanding, EPDP has stood by all efforts to bring about change that are a) popular uprising and b) internal.  These are the only form of changes that ensure long-term stability while sowing the seeds of democratic system of government.  It is perplexing to understand what other forms of struggle, i.e. having rejected the Arab uprising, Awate.com is advocating for.  Probably, it is a form of struggle that can not be divulged in public, lest …


  1. Squandering legacy – the last Awate.com complaint pertains to EPDP’s acceptance of the “PFDJ” Eritrean flag along with the Federation flag.  But again, this is SELECTIVE criticism as many other opposition political parties and civic societies also display the same “PFDJ” flag on its websites and meetings.   In reality, this might be EPDP’s belief that this is the most effective way of campaigning against PIA, rather than dwelling on the old flag issue.  In fact, the issue should be with organizations, such as ENCDC, that didn’t display any flag during its August 2010 meeting inAddis Ababa.  Is it confusion?  If we display this flag, then … if we don’t fly the other one, then … leading to decision paralysis.  Not a good start!  But again, ENCDC do display the Eritrean, or call it PIA/PFDJ avatar, flag at its meeting.  Is Awate.com criticizing ENCDC also or is this selective criticism?


In reality, most of the major opposition political parties, including EPDP, display both the federation flag and the internationally recognized “PIA” flag.  This is called “compromise” to allow all the political players to overcome symbolisms FOR NOW, and to work on core and urgent issues.  The issue of PIA’s legacy will be dealt with later, and that can only prudent politics. Unwittingly, Awate.com is lamenting on the much needed ‘unity’ and ‘compromise’.


By the way, do Awate.com’s comments on the flag issue sideline all those opposition organizations that are campaigning against the regime under the current internationally recognized Eritrean flag?   Are all the civic societies that campaign under the current Eritrean flag squandering legacies too?



Awate.com’s Relevancy Test


Awate.com lamented by saying,

“We ask the EPDP to ask itself this question: “how much of our time and energy has been devoted to attacking and destroying our political opponents? And how much time and energy was devoted to shortening the political life of Isaias Afwerki and his regime?” If the EPDP is honest, the answer which is revealed will not be very flattering.


This is yet an extension of Amb. Mohammed Nur’s assessment of the relevancy of Mr. Mesfin Hagos. 


What appears missing from Awate.com and others ‘relevancy’ assessments are, what exactly the criteria are and who exactly is relevant within the opposition camp.  Using the most common criteria, human rights organizations are the most relevant because they provide direct assistance to the victims of the regime.  But if it is about political relevancy, then EDA/ENCDC fare no better than EPDP, and in fact one may argue that they are worse.  In fact, in its own words, Awate.com has lamented so many times of the ineffectiveness and failures of EDA.


If Awate.com’s enthusiasm is for ENCDC, this organization has not yet proven anything different to the public and is simply the rehashing of EDA agenda under the maximum platform of certain EDA member organizations.


The rebirth of EDA in the form of ENCDC is simply switching from Aspirin to Tylenol.  One is suppressing the symptoms of an illness than addressing the root cause of the pain. 



Layman’s advice to cyber writers


All justice and peace loving people get frustrated by the slow pace of change while endless punishments are meted out against our people.  However, it is in times of frustrations that cooler heads must prevail  Once we have written our angry and frustrated articles, let them sit in drawers for a couple of days, take a  vacation and then come back, tear and dump the angry article.  It serves no purpose other than to weaken the entire opposition movement by that much.



EDA/ENCDC’s – Squandering a Legacy?


The following is probably a blunt assessment.  In assessing the current opposition politics, one has to question the underlying beliefs that are being trampled.  Although any criticism, sometimes persistent ones, may appear ill-intentioned, but one must accept, sometimes bitterly, that democracy is about debates and criticism.  Former supporters of the regime are accused of being uncritical of the regime in the past, and as such no aspiring future political power will get blank cheques.


EDA was established under the principles of working under common and minimum political platforms, which is to remove the regime.  In forming EDA, nearly all opposition organizations that met certain minimum criteria were given equal rights in participating in the alliance because it was said that there is no way of ascertaining the size and strength of any opposition political organization.


The legacy that is being squandered here, thus defining it, is a golden opportunity to form an effective opposition movement that is focused on removing the regime while building a mature supra-organization.  If it is legacy we need to reflect on, then here it is!


Unfortunately, EDA is defined by,

  1. EDA’s Violation 1:  a consensus based organization was turned into 50%+1 voting majority organization.  This PUNISHED organizations that MERGED while REWARDING those that SPLINTERED.
  2. EDA’s Violation 2:  EDA leadership threw its proverbial first stone by SELECTIVELY criticising EPDP for performing its own organizational activities, such as foreign relations, while other EDA organizations pursued their own similar activities without any criticism.  Nowhere does EDA’s organizational document bar any member organization from engaging foreign powers or participating in conferences, such as EPDP attending the Brussels Conference.  “Goodwill” doesn’t apply to some member organizations only!
  3. EDA’s Violation3:  In forming the ENCDC, no one knows to-date what criteria were used to select delegates.  Political convenience trumped transparency and accountability, i.e. the two cornerstones of an open system of governing an organization, and by extension a nation.


These are only few of the glaring violations!  This organization has never managed internal conflicts through mature and advanced conflict resolution mechanisms, yet EDA complains that EPDP didn’t pursue proper procedures to address its grievances.  EDA created ENCDC under the maximum political platforms of certain members of its organization, while proposing a TRANSITIONAL CONSTITUTION under the same exclusionary methods and procedures it had been accusing PIA.  That can only be HYPOCRACY and DOUBLE STANDARDS!


There are conscious efforts to exclude EPDP from the opposition camp, as Awate.com opinion attempts to do, because EPDP continues to advocate for political positions that are independent, prudent and not in line with today’s EDA flavour.   



FORM OVER SUBSTANCE:  Dangers of Latest Opposition Politics


One has no doubt that the vast majority of the participants at ENCDC and its supporters are well-intentioned fellow compatriots who believe that their efforts will bring an end to the brutal regime and install democratic one. 


It should be noted that this writer doesn’t believe that external/Diaspora opposition will be installed as post-PIA government.  History and factors of change do not bear that!  However, prudent external opposition can play pivotal roles in guiding the next regime to our common vision of building a democraticEritrea. 


The dangers of the latest Diaspora opposition politics is not so much in one’s fears that it (EDA or ENCDC) will form the next government but because it weakens the current efforts to remove the regime by shifting our focus and efforts to post PIA Eritrea based on complicated agenda than pooling our resources today in the Herculean efforts needed to remove the regime without any delay


The current campaign to support EDA and especially ENCDC is based on the belief that it better to be united (FORM) without paying due attention to details than to debate and establish prudent political platform (SUBSTANCE).  Most cyber debates focus on being united under one umbrella and little debate is given on EDA/ENCDC’s latest complicated political platform.  To this writer, this is naiveté!   Moreover, concentrating on ‘form’ only at the expense of ‘substance’ is a poor reflection of the opposition’s political judgments.


When the general public begins to question their leaders’ and opposition parties’ political judgments, it creates a crisis of confidence, which leading to public apathy.


Emphasizing form over substance leads to dangerous political precedence that will keepEritrea in political black-hole even in post-PIAEritrea.  Choosing form over substance leads to false nationalism, sectarian and ethnic supports, etc… under the pretext of false unity that doesn’t question the underlying substance required for political success.


The current call by ENCDC is tantamount to telling the wider opposing public to overlook its political platform and simply to have “Hade Libi, Hade Opposition” uncritical support for its efforts and complicated agenda.  In reality, the broader public is astute in understanding the key political issues and requires seeing solid substance over form to bring them onboard the opposition campaign. 



EDA/ENCDC’s Political Dilemma


Based on this writer’s understanding, and I will leave it to other opposition writers to respond or correct, EDA is caught between EPDP’s independent political position and EDA’s host, the Ethiopian regime.  As stated in the past, this writer has total respect for PM Meles Zenawi (PMMZ) & his regime’s political prudence and shrewdness, but it would be foolhardy to believe that PMMZ andEritrea have common vision of our future. 


For PMMZ, EDA is just another instrument to advance his cause.  Of course, EDA also may construe that its relations with PMMZ is strictly strategic or tactical and that once EDA attains power that it can resist PMMZ.   But this is a VERY high stakes gamble that will surely be about jumping from the frying pan into the fire.  After all, a disorganized force can NEVER challenge a highly organized and cohesive foe. 


PMMZ has two long-term plans forEritrea:

  1. Ethnically dividedEritreathat will eventually break up due to internal conflicts, allowing Ethiopia/Tigrai to voluntarily annex the Afar/Denkalia regime giving it access to the Asseb port.
  2. The remaining part of weakEritreabecomes a satellite state of Ethiopian power.


It should be noted that the fact PMMZ may have his own agenda, or wishful thinking, doesn’t make him an automatic enemy.  It is up toEritreato remain strong enough internally to protect its interests through prudent domestic policies that ensures unity through shared principles and values.


 What can PMMZ do for EDA during the current struggle?

  1. First and foremost, as we all need financial security, it gives opposition politicians a source of living that allows them to concentrate on their political efforts – and nothing wrong with that.  But it is rare where a political financier gives out money without any political strings attached.  The dilemma is, how does one balance between the need for financial, and even political, assistance without the string being pulled too hard to a point of being just a puppet. 
  2. EDA may believe that it can use PMMZ to do its bidding in squeezing the regime diplomatically.  In reality, PMMZ’s political and diplomatic acts are 100% consistent with his own political interests and agenda and have NOTHING TO DO with EDA’s lobbying efforts.  If PMMZ’s acts are perceived to benefit EDA/ENCDC, these are simply coincidental.


The relationship between PMMZ and EDA was defined during the 2003 -2008 years when PMMZ paid little attention to the opposition.  Especially with the loss ofSudanas a base for the opposition camp,Ethiopia’s significant became even more important.  As such, EDA leaders developed a relationship with PMMZ based on one belief, “BEGGARS CAN NOT BE CHOOSERS”.   Despite changing political realities, EDA hasn’t caught up with the current political dynamics, which makes Eritrean opposition even more valuable to PMMZ, rather than remaining as a beggar.  It is squandering away a golden opportunity to become a mature political partner than as a beggar. 


Pertaining to PMMZ and ENCDC/EDA, two arguments should be entertained

  1. The provisions enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution pertaining to federalism and the right of self-determination up to secession has not had detrimental effects YET in Ethiopia because MILITARY, INTELLIGENCE, ECONOMIC and POLITICAL power is concentrated in the hands of few members of EPRDF, or more like TPLF and PMMZ.  If EDA/ENCDC were, for sake of argument, to implement their transitional-cum-permanent constitution, the country could be torn apart if their complicated agenda and governing structure are not managed by prudent and capable politicians, which EDA and ENCDC do not have.  This is NOT to say that federal system with rights of self-determination would NOT work, but it will not definitely be immediately after the fall the regime.  It will take a very sophisticated and advanced/mature political system to make highly decentralized system work.  Among many factors, common principles must be established, functioning administrative systems must be in place and politicians must have well developed negotiation skills.
  2. PMMZ can become a true partner in changing the PIA regime.  However, the competition among Eritrean opposition political parties for the love and affection of PMMZ, and to be crowned as the darling opposition leader or party above all other opposition groups, has led to competitive bidding that allowed PMMZ to dictate the terms of the relationship with the opposition camp.  It should be understood that PMMZ needs the Eritrean opposition more than the other way around for a simple reason that PMMZ’s survival is more critical and more real than the opposition camp.  PMMZ faces real dangers from his arch-foe PIA than the Eritrean opposition camp whose existence is just marginal.  The Eritrean opposition camp can benefit more if it truly cooperated amongst itself than competing and strategized its actions.




ENCDC’s Roadmap – the Big Holes


A roadmap gives a precise direction from starting point to destination.  ENCDC’s roadmap is so full of gaps in giving us its directions that is a USELESS document.


In reality, ENCDC is STATING THE OBVISOUS in its roadmap, i.e. interim government shall be established, followed by transitional national assembly and then transitional government.  What is the value added over all other similar documents of the past?  If the true purpose of this drafting exercise is to project an illusion of a government-in-waiting, this is also an illusion that distracts us from our struggles today.


It should be remembered that the DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL!


  1. In the current phase of struggle, what is the relationship between EDA and ENCDC?  Is ENCDC the public front of EDA, which is pulling strings behind the curtain?  Is this relationship sustainable?
  2. Who will form the interim government?
  3. Who will form the transitional national assembly, i.e. how are they going to be elected?
  4. Will these interim and transitional governments accept the ENCDC transitional constitution?


The answer can only be, who knows!  If no one knows who will form the interim government and then the transitional national assembly, all the proposed transitional constitutions and political roadmaps become one of the many competing proposals that will be taken up by the next government.  If these are just as good as any other proposals, why waste time and energy today?


As such, and to reiterate, if we don’t know precisely who will form the next government because of too many factors, and the fact that ENCDC’s road map simply states mostly the obvious, the amount of effort and time wasted on it would have been better focused on removing the regime.  The tragedy of the ENCDC roadmap and transitional constitution is that they are such PLAIN documents that they can be written by a couple of experts over a very short-time.  These are just a rehash of old document, with one addition – self-determination (with underlying tone of secession).   Efforts, resources and time are being spent gathering the opposition camp to create an illusion of wider involvement and as if these documents are critical, when the most important task remains building TODAY’S effective organizations that can mount prudent and credible opposition against the regime.


The most effective opposition would have been to abandon the complicated political agenda, and instead to focus on building a broad coalition similar to EDA under minimum political platform and to concentrate on doing the little things today that will have strong cumulative effects.  


For instance, the question pertaining to the transitional constitution is, is it wise and possible to set-up a governance structure for a period of 3 to 5 years until the permanent constitution is established, unless one feels assured that the transitional constitution will become a permanent one?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to apply the Bill of Rights portion of a typical constitution during the transitional period and to implement the most simplified governance structure until such time that permanent one is established.  Is it not more prudent to establish a permanent governing structure only once the permanent constitution is implemented?  Governing structures take years to establish and difficult to change, esp. where such expertise lacks.


As a challenge, those who are enthusiastic about the ENCDC documents should work backwards (as point of reference) by drafting (as mock up) election laws, multiparty laws, regional administration laws and other laws and then work on the transitional constitution and political charters.  Soon, one is confronted with many dilemmas. One CAN NOT draft a constitution without having an idea what kind of laws will follow it!  Just for debate, what would our multi-party law look like?


In general, this writer has developed an anathema towards aspiring politicians and political platforms that advocate for hyper government involvement in socio-economic affairs of a country.  Government should primarily focus on promulgating laws, building basic infrastructures and providing basic health and education. 


It is also interesting to note that the vast majority who engage in drafting constitutions and promulgating laws around the world and in history have had 1) legal backgrounds 2) strong business backgrounds 3) academic backgrounds or 4) strong organizational involvements to understand the intricacies of drafting constitutions and laws.


Meskerem.net NOT on the Somali-Eritrea Monitoring Group Report


This section has been added to discourage mekserem.net from linking to this article thinking that it can play the wedge game among opposition groups.


Despite bidding all it can for the regime, the monitoring group failed to include this website.  Too bad!  This website may have missed its golden opportunity to be included in UNSC document, which would have been a historic document, albeit for infamy.  For all its efforts to promote the regime, it didn’t measure up to Sophia Tesfamariam, meadna, alenalki and dehai.  The only consolation is that the monitoring group lives another day to write at least one more report.  Go get them, meskerem.net, and the monitoring group might just include meskerem.net in the report in the next report.  Even better, meserem.net can complain (of being excluded) directly to the monitoring group at semg@unsc.com.    


Ramadan Kareem!

Berhan Hagos

August 4, 2011



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