From Brussel’s Conference to National Conference

By Fesseha Nair

Fesseha NairThe controversial Brussels Conference(BC)is now over. This conference was regarded as a success story by its organizers and participants while it was criticised by other who were left behind closed doors. Conferences are democratic instruments where people assemble and discuss issues of interest. The impact of the BC can not be estimated at this time but will be assessed later in the process of our struggle for democracy. How many times the “CDRIE”  and the “Task Force” in cooperation with EEPA organize such conference to influence the USA and EU policies to bring changes in Eritrea? We have a long process of democratization. We are in the initial stage now. Ours is very different from other transitions in the world because still we are struggling against the dictator. We have two periods of struggle. The first one to remove the dictatorship and the second is introduce democracy in our country.  Brussels Conference has damaged the burgeoning trust among the forces for democratic changes. The change the Eritrean people need is the change they believe not the change an elite group impose.

We all claim peace, democracy, human rights respect, the rule of law. In practising them we all demand increased transparency and predictability and greater domestic ownership of policies and program. Regarding the aims and theme of the BC- to influence the US and EU policies is related with international relations or diplomacy. It is a national issue where citizens have the right to know. International policies reflect the domestic issues, therefore, when acting they should be first discussed by the nationals. If they are decided by a few in secret then they do not get acceptance. Policies and programmes without citizens consent but enforced can lead the country to conflicts and war. Why don’t we learn from the PFDJ’s current policies and programmes being decided by one man and never bore fruits except poverty, ignorance and destruction. If Brussels Conference would have been organized in consultation with the major actors in the opposition camp, it would have born some positive results.

We in the democratic process still lack the experience of inclusiveness and trust building. We still suffer of egomaniac or we have the attitude, It is we who made the Eritrean case visible in the world. The others cannot go beyond Sudan and Ethiopia. “We Are the best”  “It is We who can convince the EU, USA, the others cannot their language” We don’t need them because they don’t belong us, they are sub- nationals and their issues are religion and minority rights. We, as nationalists, for us the so called Nationalities/ Tribes and religion are not our issues. We defeated them in the past and we will defeat them always. Democracy is the process of learning each others attitude and not it is not only to have a constitution and run elections it beyond that. It is building a democratic attitude building a political system that meets the needs and interests of the citizens living in the country

Why is the Brussel Conference different from the other conferences? Because it has an international element , therefore, it was not only national but international. If the objective of the BC was to discuss and advance democratization in Eritrea it should have been linked and built on the national conference. Because the two are mutually reinforcing together, they constitute a comprehensive political dialogue between the partners in democratization.

In this article, I would like to remind the forces for democratic change that both national conferences and international conferences reinforce each other.  How can we repair the BC so that we can proceed to the national conference? What options are available for repairing the trust we started build in the past? In what ways can all civil society, political organizations, religious leaders, individuals and academia be involved in the national dialogue?

How can we repair the BC so that we can proceed to the national conference?

We have seen that the BC have harmed the relationship between civil society organizations and political organizations. A dialogue between the CDRIE and the NECS should be started and political organizations at local level. The current relationship between all civil society and political organizations missed political dimension. We need a serious dialogue to build joint ownership and joint responsibility and these are not met by the current relationship, therefore ,  we still lack the capacity to address the national issues. Before we proceed convening the national conference the mistrust and suspicion harmed by the BC must be repaired by dialogue and many other methods negotiations.

What options are available for repairing the trust we started build in the past? In what ways can all civil society, political organizations, religious leaders, individuals and academia be involved in the national dialogue?

We, in Sweden, have already started building joint committees consisting of both the civil and political organizations locally. We have developed such structures further more as options to promote the capacity to manage, prevent and resolve conflicts. Such options help us promote inclusiveness and serve as a vehicle for interaction between all actors either they are in the civil society or in the political organizations. We have already local policy and program of work for mobilising our people to promote democratic values among Eritreans in Sweden. We see daily the results of such joint activities promote respect, equality and friendliness based on mutual interests and benefits.

Dialogues are important instruments to identify challenges, analysing the organizational structures and evaluating available members in each civil and political organizations. Participants can be members of the political, civil society organizations and concerned individuals. The objectives of such dialogues are to analyse the dynamics of democratization, seek a national consensus on priorities and seek synergies.

Assessing the results and implementation of the dialogues is very crucial.

It would have been better if the BC was organized after the national conference because one can get more ideas to gain the opinion of the international community. If CDRIE and the Task Force respect the call for dialogue and live up with values of human rights and democracy in Eritrea in the future we can reinforce our local, national , regional and international networks solving the internal problems inside the opposition camp in diaspora Eritrea.

What we need is first to influence the resident country’s policies towards Eritrea. Those who live in each EU member country should first organize themselves and lay out plans and strategies to convince them to make the Eritrean case raised at the EU level, similarly, those who live in USA, Canada and Australia do the same. I think such efforts have more effects than running to Brussel and work with one single NGO.

As all we know, today the dictator is surviving because the diaspora Eritrea are still with the dictator making excuses that they don’t have a genuine alternative. Let us build genuine partnership and cooperate together. Misunderstanding and some inter personal chemistry should not hinder us from working together. If we defeat interpersonal chemistry, we can advance the democratic trend further so that we gain the rudimentary confidence of our people in diaspora.

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Posted by on Nov 24 2009 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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