Designing ENCDC’s Democratic Institutions

By Fesseha Nair

The Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change an umbrella broad organization consisting political and civic society organizations has endorsed three documents in their congress held in Awasa – Ethiopia last year/ 2011.

At Awasa in 2011, the political and civic organizations built an agreement by focusing on the goal to end dictatorship and build a democratic Eritrea after the fall of the dictatorship. The agreements are well defined in the three documents. The ENCDC leadership still has not designed and developed how to implement the agreements in action by building democratic institutions.

Despite the importance of the endorsed documents, there are some elements in the leadership who are ignoring these documents and concentrated in holding power.

The Awasa congress is not on power holding but focusing in building democratic institutions but unfortunately what I see is the winner takes all phenomena and the loser opting out of the process and resume fighting than to stay in the process.

The same process is repeating that has been in the Eritrean Political Alliances for 12 years ago. In this article, I will deal with the importance of building an appropriate institutional choice suitable to the needs of the Eritrean people for democratic change. This article will attempt to fill this gap.

The process of convening national dialogues and national congress in the opposition camp struggling for democratic change has three main themes.

– importance of democratic institutions
– conflict management
– process of transition

1. Importance of building institutions

Authoritarian or totalitarian systems do not have institutions by which conflicts can be peacefully expressed and resolved but try with them by ignoring or denying or suppressing them or by eliminating them. This trend of conflict management is non- democratic and was practised and still exists in the Eritrean political arena. The Eritrean political conflict is deep rooted- conflict based on ethnic, religious and territorial with unjust distribution policies. The Eritrean national dialogue convened in Akaki year 2010 has identified the Eritrean internal conflict as a conflict based on identity and need resolution democratically by including all in the process under one national unity. The Akaki National Dialogue opened the door of negotiations permitting all to express their grievances openly. It is this ability to handle conflicts without having to suppress them that we have witnessed in Akaki National Dialogue for Unity. The Akaki National Dialogue outcome was the formation of the Eritrean National Commission for Democratic change.

The Eritrean National Commission was an instrument to design the process towards democratization of the opposition by laying foundations for building an effective and lasting settlements to internal conflicts. It has drafted three documents for the national congress that has been held in Awasa last year 2011.

The congress endorsed the drafts and made clear and appropriate choices of building democratic institituions- forms of national charter, roadmap and organizational constitution with legislative and executive bodies. The main tasks of the ENCDC is building the two institutions of the ENCDC according the agreements adopted in the Awasa Congress because these are the two pillars of crucial importance at this time. Is the ENCDC now after 6 month of mandate towards understanding and building the importance of democratic institutions?

2. Conflict management

Conflict management is one of the most difficult and complex tasks that we face as individuals and collectively. The Eritrean internal conflict is deep rooted conflict and demand deep-rooted conflict management.

The ENCDC needs to move from thinking simplistic methods of conflict management or searching for fastest way to some temporary results but instead be more pragmatic addressing the realistic question of managing conflicts.

They must learn how to deal with it in a constructive way, how to bring opposing sides together in a cooperative process, how to design a practical achievable, co-operative system for the the constructive management of differences.

If the ENCDC fails to abide by the endorsed documents of the Awasa Congress it will harm the whole process of democratization. The challenge of the ENCDC is to move towards the long term objectives of the of the process instead of dealing with short term power struggle.

The ENCDC task is now to lay foundations for the two institutions of the democratic legislative and executive bodies with clear and transparent action based on the principles of separation of powers and check and balances.

3. Process of transition

The Eritrean process of democratization by which the Eritrean political and civic organizations reached through negotiations impacts significantly on the designation of the process.

Attention must be paid to every aspect of the process to reach a durable outcome. The process of unifying the Eritrean Opposition is not yet complete. This part of my article will search a process that results with durable settlement. Process is the business of negotiation and dialogue.

The Eritrean process of democratizations lacks structure and designations. Structuring is how to identify the issues of conflicts- can we resolve our conflicts without third party intervention? Is third party intervention useful or distracting? Did they work in the past? Who will participate? Should negotiations be secret? What are the issues involved to design the best process- the one that offers the best hope of successful outcome?

Both the Akaki- national dialogue for national unity and the Awasa congress for democratic change must be reassessed if they were the best process with successful outcomes.

A sound process helps to contribute to the legitimacy of the outcome. Was the process of the preparing of national dialogue and national congress for democratic change all inclusive where all parties who claim an interest in the conflict feel participation in it, feel they have been heard and their views respected, for example the EPDP claims that they were not heard and their proposals were not respected either during the national dialogue of Akaki and later on the process of preparing national congress for democratic change while they are interest group in the struggle for democratic change.

I think the ENCDC must take an initiative to include the EPDP and others in the process of democratization which is an essential ingredient for a durable and long term solution.

The ENCDC is one step forward towards coming together it is a platform for both political and civic organization but still lacks the competence of identifying the factors which need to go into the design of a suitable process offering the best hope of successful transition aiming the long term but not short term stability.

Short URL:

Posted by on Jun 4 2012 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

Leave a Reply

Photo Gallery

Log in |2011