On the Occasion of the 21st Anniversary of the Eritrean Independence, CDRiE organises a well attended Symposium in London, UK

CDRiE News: 13.05.2012

The symposium titled “The Eritrean dilemma and the prospect for a way forward” was timely. The event wA OPENED was by the Chairman Mr. Suleiman A. Hussein. In his opening speech, he stressed on the need for dialogue among all Eritreans, especially in this critical time explaining the role of CDRiE as a civil society organisation bent on working to raise the level of awareness among the public.

When people are conscious enough to realize that they have power more than a repressive regime they experience a profound inspiration to create possibilities to work for democratic change. We have seen this in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and eslwhere.

The speakers were remarkable in that their approach was “theme based “. The first speaker was Ambassador Hummad Kulu a veteran of the ELF who fought a difficult battle for freedom which is still not complete. He addressed the problem of lack of economic and social development and the way forward. His entire paper can be read on:


The second one was Professor Dan Connell, a great friend of Eritrea and authority in Eritrean history and politics. He has written several book, the most comprehensive of which is his book “Eritrea against all odds”. His theme was, “The State Eritrea is in”. He addressed the issue of why the International community failed to engage more with Eritrea. He made it clear that developed countries do not help, not because of sympathy and generosity but when they have an interest, something to benefit from. The major issue in US foreign policy is combatting global terrorism and US befriend countries who share this concern.. Ethiopia does and its relationship with USA is bound to be cordial. Eritrea is at odds with its neigbours and so with the international community.

He addressed the question of what will happen if the President dies. He expressed it in terms of scenarios. e.g. The generals putting one of their ranks to power may take over. They may engage in some development work to satisfy the people taking advantage from the income of the production of gold. The high ranking officers may fight for power plungging the country into civil war. On Eritrean – Ethiopian relations, he said the two countries havehistorical and cultural ties that should be nourished and maintained. This are fundamental reason fpr a need to create an environment of peaceful coexistence.

Dan Connel said that the transition Eitrea is bound to be difficult. He asserted that the country is already in a transition phase and there is a fundamental question to be answered which what is the alternative? What must be done? Don Connel’s presentation will soon be posted on www.cdrie.net as well as his personal website: www.danconnel.net.

The third speaker was Professor Gaim Kibreab. He has written a number of books the omost comprehensive and popular one is “Critical Reflection on the Eritrea’s war of independence”

He covered the NATIONAL SERVICE and its impact on the social and economy of Eritrea. His analysis is based on interview carried out with those who abandoned the servece and sought asylum in the UK. It is an authentic voice. When asked why they fled the serve the majority said it is to long.

Gaim said many countried do it as long as it is 18 monthes it is ok the problem is by making it indefinte it has become a forced labour. This is a single decision which gave rise to the influx of huge number of refugees as they face dangerous journey icluding taken hostages by traffickers in Sinai subjected to torture kept in chain and even murder to extract kidgney for sale. The warsai and yekealo development project is the main reasn of destroying the fabric of the Eritrean society andenying the country of the most productive members of the society. It is a brain drain which

has no parallel in the history of Eritrea.

Gaim will eventually publish his research on this.

The last but not least speaker was professor Kidane Mengisteab. He has written a lot of work and he contributes many articles to newsnet work .

Kidane’s theme was, “About the day after tomorrow, a democratic state in Eritrea”. His presentation is very interesting he discussed the most critical condition for a democratic Eritrea. It has to start with building a democratic system. One critical prerequisite is to build approprite state structure. The structure that allows institutions to function orderly. Institutions such us indepe ndent courts, Banks , the beuracracy , the miliary and to insure political space to unions and civil societies.

He expressed democracy as a process that starts with building structure of the state that properly manage diversity. Democracy under our condition is that which manages diversity of religiion ethnic groups and region.

This system is built through the struggle which is the assignm

ent of today and tomorrow before we get after tomorrow.

All speakers stressed the fact that change comes first and foremost from within but the various oppositions in the Diaspora still have a big role to play. That role depends on tangible activities that enable them to win supporters and the people. They are judged on what they achieve and not what they say. At the same time if they tolerate differences of opinions and cooperate under a minimum denominations.

The last item on the agenda was a panel discussion that lasted for more than two hours and with all speakers present. During this session, participants asked questions, expressed opinions and discussed in a very friendly atmosphere. Due to high demandm the session was extended for an extra half an hou before it came to an end at 8:30 PM London time,

All pappers presented during the Symposium wil soon be posted on www.cdrie.net

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