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Eritrea’s opposition forces are bracing themselves for a decisive Second National Congress in Addis Ababa on November 21, 2011.

Political party leaders held a consultative meeting in the Ethiopian capital yesterday, Sunday, in preparation for their long-awaited Congress – the largest Eritrean gathering yet with the aim of ending Isaias Afewerki’s unhinged dictatorship believed

Political party leaders held a consultative meeting in the Ethiopian capital yesterday, Sunday, in preparation for their long-awaited Congress – the largest Eritrean gathering yet with the aim of ending Isaias Afewerki’s unhinged dictatorship believed to be the most repressive in Africa.

Over 550 participants from 34 political parties and over 60 civil society organizations are taking part in the upcoming grand conference. Up to 60 percent of Congress delegates are to represent exiled civic organizations while 40 percent are to be from political parties.

Sunday’s preparatory meeting was hosted by the Eritrean National Commission for Democratic Change – ENCDC. In addition to political parties, yesterday’s gathering was also attended by a number of Civic Organizations.

Chairman Amha Dominico set the appropriate atmosphere as he opened the meeting in which he called for greater understanding and tolerance, and an end to the culture of finger-pointing by focusing on solutions.

Eritrean Liberation Front Chairman Hussien Kalifa said: “This preparatory meeting was needed only to exchange ideas and views on how to make the coming Congress a success. It will be up to the Delegates to determine the outcome of the conference”, he underscored.

One of the major tasks of the Congress will be to form a new political structure or a secretariat with defined objectives and a mandate from the Delegates to coordinate ways and means of hastening the end of Isaias Afewerki’s rule.

On his part, 11-member Eritrean Democratic Alliance Chairman Tewelde Ghebreselassie said the exiled opposition groupings did not represent the Eritrean people. “We only speak for ourselves and our parties”, he said, adding, “Our main job is to create a strong mechanism so as to enhance our democratic struggle”.

Some participants expressed concern at the dual role some activists play both as members of political parties and civic organizations. Kernelios Osman, Chairman of the Democratic Movement of Eritrean Kunama, says there must be clear boundaries between these two possible realities. People should make up their minds and stick to one or the other entity, said Kernelios.

Independent activist, Mehret Ghebreyesus, thinks duality is unavoidable and does not seem to see any harm in people becoming members of both political and civic entities at the same time.

There was a broad consensus at yesterday’s meeting that everything should be subject to discussion and debate at the forthcoming Congress – be it religious, ethnic or nationality issues. There was also a general understanding that many generational conflicts could be resolved by embracing a common vision. It was, moreover, underlined that public trust and credibility could be earned and maintained by putting the interests and needs of the people above party or group interests.

Representing Chairman Ahmed Nasser’s National Eritrean Salvation Front, Abdella Mahmoud urged activists to go beyond political or civil society benefits and work on how to build democracy. Abdella lamented the fact that civic and political bodies had to be created outside Eritrea because of PFDJ’s self-centered, exclusionary policies.

Representing the young generation and his own Movement for Eritrean Democracy and Justice, Hagerey Negash, spoke of the need to involve newly formed associations at refugee camps in northern Ethiopia and have them take part in the November Congress.

Veteran fighter and Chairman of the Eritrean National Congress, Hiruy Tedla Bairu, said he believed any political group whose members belonged to the era of the liberation struggle would most likely turn dictatorial. Looking to the future, Hiruy says there is the need for a new mass movement to lead the people.

Still anxious about unanchored expectations, the Eritrean Commission says it is to have another preparatory meeting before the November Conference. The 53-member commission was formed in August last year by a congress of over 300 delegates.

The November gathering is jointly financed by Eritrea’s opposition forces and Ethiopia’s ruling EPRDF. The two sides say they share common values and interests and have a big stake in a peaceful, democratic Eritrea.


Note: Some of the Eritrean political and civil society leaders in Addis Ababa will be sharing their views and experiences in interviews with Michael Abraha in the coming days and weeks leading to the November 21-28 National Congress

Media and Human Rights Project

Review overview
  • truly, Truly i say to you November 1, 2011

    I don´t have enough language to express my anger that I have towards Semere. First of all you have to know weather Asmarino com or Assenna as long as they stay to serve Eritrean politic as Eritreans they have obligation to host more Eritrean sentiment ideas than Ethiopians. But we know for what interest you stand for and we know you, how you were monopolizing and using Asmarino com only to host mostly your own dreams and ideas,while you mostly rejecting the very beneficial ideas not because the language we used were impolite, offensive, primitive or uncivilized expressions like you tried to corrupt it , but only because we tried to defend our nation interests and because we criticized the Ethiopian regime and somehow the un fair political stand of the Western countries only. My friend you have to know this, Eritreans are not that much stupid like you think, weather anyone pro or anti regime as long as the person is real Eritrean with Eritrean sentiment views, we never feel desturb or offended, whatever the man used unpolite word when commenting, but we fill offended when we see someone wolf the with Eritrean skin only. I tell you we trust real Eritrean using street-boys language than some one wolf with Eritrean skin self called lebamat” , “worejatat” and “abeiti adi”.

  • Semere November 1, 2011

    Truly truly, I say to you,

    You do not have to be angry, for I did not mean it. But I respect you emotions. May be we are saying the same thing: “whether pro or anti regime, let all voice their opinions”. With the only difference that I insist that let this be done in a respectiful and constructive language. Allow me also to say that you went too far: you judged my intentions. But I am not offended. For your information I have never written any thing on Asmarino. I don’t know how you got that information. We have one noble cause and we can’t afford to waiste time on unneccessary issues.

  • longdreamer November 1, 2011

    I have a dream, the dream to see every one speak and write a polotically correct words. But i can’t expect this dream to happen day and also i dont want to learn the words by force becouse they cant post my article, i would wait my people learn by him self and understand, what assena is doing now is my dream. Free to write and post what ever word you want the people themselves will pick up the ideas they want. It’s a long story how may stupid words we were reading on this web site but now we are correcting our words we are reducing emotional and finalized insultations so please dont worry we are on our way to arrive on the politicaly and culturaly correct words. But i insist not to have any censorship otherwise we will lose the meaning of free press.
    Thanks for giving as to discuss even this by our selves.

  • truly, Truly i say to you November 2, 2011

    Part 1
    Dear Semere, i may unknowingly confused your name with Asmarino com guy called Semere. So if that realy happened, I beg you to apologize me, because i admit that I did it grandiose failure to attack innocent person . Anyway brother although I hate unpolite word like you ,if you take my advice for the future, you should not to be feel offended, if incase you see more impolite or un wise views in the forum because it is internet. But be feel offended and aware from someone who speaking like Eritrean but from that he is not , eventhough he spoken to us with the angel, or perfect impressive language. My second advice since you believe in the right freedom of speech, you have to tolerate different views other than yours weather the person talking pro or anti regime.

  • truly, Truly i say to you November 2, 2011

    So in this case I believe Amanuel Iyasu is the only democrat,civilized, intelligent, self confident very trust worthy un breakable Eritrean I know, which hosts all views fairly,that you can not easily manipulate him to sell his Eritrean sole for the sake of money, or any else interests.Up to now what he is doing is mostly right. He keep it the web to taste real Eritrean. So once again sorry Semere, I was wrote the above comment, because I was disappointed and feel offended by Asmarino com Semere, because he mostly used it Asmarino com to transmit mostly his visions and alikes as his own property, while he was mostly rejected our views,specially when we critcized the Ethiopian regime and other western unfair allies. People we hate Esayas means, it doesn´t mean we hate our nation and people! Or we have not to defend our nation interest. The Eritrean web site should be tasted as Eritrean not as Ethiopian despite we don´t hate Ethiopians!

  • truly, Truly i say to you November 2, 2011

    As long as there is Ethinic, religious and power greedy motivated parties, inside EDA and EPDP, the Addis Abeba Waela is from the beginning a fail and meaningless conference. The logic is simple, because they have no unity, and because they not able to identify their common enemy, they not given priorities to the issues that should be prior, and because they not leave aside their basical differences atlest up to the regime remove. Esayas is strong not because he strong, but the socalled opposition themselves make him strong indirectly. So we only trust and expect change our Army those suffering under dictatorship,when one day they be able to turn their guns against the dictator and when we be able to start the Arab nations like public uprising parallely only.

    • Abdi November 2, 2011

      truly truly
      tsbuq ktzareb wEilkas,ab mechrshta tsyq abilkaya.
      I agree,the oppositions are weak,but this doesn’t contribute nothing to ISAYAS’s strength,his strength is his people and the proof on the ground, arrrma eikha.

  • simon haile November 2, 2011

    Selam Tsahaye,
    Hope all is fine.

    “ is doing fine, what I mean is the website does not have a policy of censorship” With all your respect I strongly disagree. If there was no censorship you would see articles and positive news about Eritrean people all over the world including the back bone Eritrean Defense Force the hard working Eritrean in the motherland and Government of Eritrea. For this reason I can’t put my hand in my heart and say this web is doing fine.
    His “ Amanuel” political stand endorse them the woyane and their poppet to post their views unreservedly no matter what . Predominantly his close affiliation with the woyane and us you said it eloquently he refused to standby with his own people at the time of a big chunk of free Eritrean area is occupied. His priority and personal goal to have his picture taken with weyane leaders that all he cares. For this reason I can’t say this web is doing fine. On the contrary he is failed big time. ( I do understand like all of us he is entitled to his opinion however as administrator of the web he should be bias if he claims to be journalist)

    Thank you

  • Tsahaye November 2, 2011

    PT-1: Simon Haile
    Selam Simon Haile,

    Let us be fair. When it comes to allowing Eritreans to speak on the established websites, and are the only websites that truly deserve the praise. Yes, we don’t see any pro-PFDJ articles in this website (I am not talking about comments), but we do see articles that criticize the opposition groups sometimes. Yes, is highly critical of the PFDJ regime, and webmaster does not seem to feel embarrassed to dancing with the devil (the barbaric woyane regime), but I don’t doubt his commitment and endeavour to establish a free press for all. Going back a small time in history, Amanuel was one of the most trusted PFDJ journalists during the border war. He had paid his fare-share to defending his nation, and that service and loyalty to the regime had in fact earned him a scholarship abroad.

    • Tsahaye November 2, 2011

      PT-2: reply to Simon Haile
      Selam Simon,

      Let us now compare the PFDJ media and its affiliated outlets. The PFDJ regime is renowned for its suppression of free press. It is probably the only modern time government that rules a nation without a constitution. The self-made “president” is known for his infamous nullification of democracy and individual freedom. It is time we also expose the regime for what it is. We should not let it get shielded under any bogus pretexts. So let us all say, “let freedom ring from every village, every city, every valley, every mountain and plain” of the land of the heroic Eritrean martyrs. And when it comes to defending Eritrea’s territorial integrity, national and international interests, it is the duty of every Eritrean citizen to stand up in unison to support the regime. What we should never do is to allow the regime to have a total monopoly of the nation. Let us also give due respect to those who deserve it. Amanuel should be praised not for everything he does, but for letting Eritreans of all walks of life to discuss Eritrean issues.

      • simon haile November 2, 2011

        Selam Tsahaye,

        I think let’s agree to disagree on the matter of this web and the man himself.

        I don’t believe for one second there is such thing called free press let alone in Africa even in the western world. For example, I have never read anything against Rupert Murdoch in the last 6 month with all the scandal was going on. What happen to the free press? Because he owns it one dire say anything.

        ALA free press.

        Have a very good night talk to you soon.

  • Semere November 2, 2011

    I was the one who ignated the issue on polite language and it is changing face to “censorship”. I once again underline that I fully agree on the values of freedom of speech and let us close the chapter on it. Some of you told me to be patient and give time to educate our expression, and to take only the ideas. I accept it.

    But today I want to agree with my brother Truly Truly, I say to you: that the incumbet regime of Isaiah is strong because we are weak. He is getting his strength from our weakness. Otherwise like all the communist regimes the appearance is big, but the content is poor and very fragile. Like all the communist East European block, they present themselves, their projects, ideas like a huge baloon, but a small puncture is enough to reduce it to nothing. I am not worried about their strength and huge militarism and sophisticated network of spies. I am rather worried about our weakness, our divison and our fragmentation. Each one can have different political views, but we have to unite to end the tragedy of our country. The challenge to us opposition, human right activists, politicians, academics, etc, is to focus on the important issues and save our people from further suffering and humiliation. And that is why we need cool heads to think without been too emotional. We do not have time to waist. Our people are dying mercilessly. What else do we wait after seen the images sent from Sinai. Is Eritrea a land of nobody?

  • truly, Truly i say to you November 2, 2011

    Semere said;
    “I am not worried about their strength and huge militarism and sophisticated network of spies.(Of PFDJ) I am rather worried about our weakness, our divison and our fragmentation.”
    NAYBHAQI LEBAM NAYLEBAMAT ZEREBAN GEMGAMEN; that is also my assertion and understanding dear brother Semere.