The Eritrean National Conferences and Congresses: Lessons Learned

By Fesseha Nair


According to this article writer’s understanding, the objective of the Eritrean National conference held in 2010 and the Eritrean national congress held in 2011 were to provide a forum to all opposition forces for democratic change to discuss and negotiate political issues in a peaceful, structured environment focusing on conflict management and conflict resolution under consensus building and structured framework. In this article I will delve on how the Eritrean national conferences of 2010 and respectively the congress of 2011 failures and successes.


The failures of the 2010 conference


–         The national conferences held in 2010 failed on forming a new political culture based on negotiations and compromise by persuading groups to participate more actively in the struggle against the dictator in Eritrea.

–         It has failed to gain greater popular support and legitimacy and instil public confidence.

–         Failed to ease tensions among the various political organizations and civil society organizations.

–         Failed to be more representative and transparent so that it increases the perception of inclusiveness that would in turn bolster citizens’ support for democratic change.

–         It has failed to attract the youth and the women.

–         It has led to more divisions and contending groups for power among the political organizations and the so called civil society organizations.


The success of the 2010 conference


–         It was a forum for all participants to express their views.

–         It has provided an opportunity to build national dialogue for democratic change.

–         It has helped efforts towards preparing a national congress of 2011.

–         It has raised exaggerated expectations for uniting the forces for democratic change.



The failures of the 2011 congress for democratic change


–         Lack of effective coordination of the activities of the commission with its grass-roots.

–         Lack of cooperation between the political organizations and civic associations.

–         Power struggle inside the commission tasked with the preparation of the congress.

–         Power struggle between the political organizations and the commission.

–         Power struggle between the EDA and non-EDA political organizations.

–         Lack of clearly defined agenda.

–         Lack of skills and experience of organizing conferences.

–         Twisted process to the advantage of some political organizations and not for the benefit of the Eritrean people.

–         Lacked to be more representative and inclusive.

–         Lacked broad and inclusive national platform but become party politics contending.



The success of the 2011 congress


–         Brought a huge group ( 540) participants.

–         A positive initiative towards uniting the forces but not completed.

–         Introduced to debate on the current and future Eritrea.

–         Provided an opening to find out the weaknesses of the opposition forces.

–         National council for democratic change created.

–         Realizing that we still live on suspicion and blame games.

–         Lessons learned that we are still in contending politics not on converging but diverging.



Evaluation of the congress will continue for our readership by this writer.


Note: The views expressed in this article are my own and have no connection with the policies of my organization.



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