Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) serious blow to people’s hope and faith-

Why aren’t we impressed?

Yohannes Ligiam 13.03.07


It is difficult to understand let alone to accept why people who struggled thirty years for freedom and democracy ended up with a dictatorial government and with such an opposition not fit for purpose.


It has been reported that the Eritrean multiple opposition factions were able to score success in their programme but failed to elect an executive leadership for their next stage.

Hidden agenda, ineptitude, childishness, incapacity or irreconcilable differences in any case it is sad and it is shameful. Failing to agree in a technicality matter of election is like throwing the baby with the bath water and they have lost a historic opportunity. Therefore, all the faith and hope we had invested on the Eritrean opposition to come up with a coherent vision and action plan to relieve the sufferings in Eritrea has been buried in Addis-Ababa. Historical irony?


The outcome tells me that the real problem is not the failure to elect an executive but the various groups have fundamental differences on how to manage their group interests above and beyond the nation’s interest and the fate. It would have made sense if the failure were due to fundamental political, economic, social issues that the groups couldn’t agree upon. Failing to elect an executive and therefore, to dash away the faith and hopes of millions is nothing less than a mockery to the plight and the sufferings of Eritrean people. Furthermore, it magnifies the mistrust between the various communities that has been created by the ELF and EPLF era and has been well established by the PFDJ in its divide and rule strategy.


Since 1993, Eritrean people abroad and inside hoped that the opposition will grow and mature politically and will replace the dictatorship that has denied them opportunity, stability and democracy. Instead of maturity and coherence the oppositions’ reality has developed to further fragmentation and the opposition ended up being part of the problem instead of a solution.


The opposition has failed in its objectives, in defining its role and in identifying its priorities. For the people who are suffering both the dictatorial actions of PFDJ and the oppositions’ political misdemeanor bear equal responsibility. The candle is being burned on both ends whatever the justification and innocent people continue to die in prison, people suffer from acute and chronic malnutrition and furthermore the future of nation as a viable entity is being put in danger. The result of the two blocks (3 and 7) from the congress in Addis is a thin end of a wedge that will exacerbate the misunderstanding, mistrust and non-reconcilable interests between the highlanders and lowlanders. The failure in Addis has far reaching consequences to the viability of a nation more than the immediate demonstration of ineptitude on the part of the opposition.


Ironically, this period would have been the best opportunity to replace the PFDJ dictatorship. The PFDJ system has been discredit internally and externally in terms of its record in human rights and economic stagnancy. It has been deemed as the spoilt child of Africa. The youth are fleeing the country in droves whenever they can. The prisons are full of innocent people. Despite this golden opportunity to free the oppressed, the opposition finds itself in a political wilderness of power struggle and has become a laughing stock of the dictator.


If the opposition is to succeed, the factions and their followers have to review three fundamental elements of their existence: Objective, role and priority of an opposition


In terms of objectives:


Eritrean people have one desire – to replace an oppressive Government with a legitimate parliament. People do not have any expectation or have not given any responsibility to any opposition group to decide on their behalf or to resolve their future problems. People rightly expect to resolve any political, social and economic issues that exist and that might arise in the future through a legitimate parliament and governance established through its parliament. This objective has been given various sectarian interpretations by the various factions and their respective blindfolded followers. This sectarian interpretation and pseudo-democratic process has only created confusion, benefited the dictator and deepened the mistrust among various communities.


In terms of identifying roles and strategies:

If an opposition that struggles to free its people, is determined to decide beforehand on how people should be governed and what system should prevail in the future, this is an act of sabotage to people’s aspirations and their right to determine the system through the ballot box. Isn’t this what PFDJ did, “I know what is best for the people”. The Eritrean oppositions are formed of Federalists, Jihadists, Trotskyites, and Pseaudo-democrats...etc who want to impose their “political” vision as conditions for freedom of the oppressed and some of them have the dream of replacing the dictator. This strategy of struggle can not be less dictatorial than the actions of PFDJ as it undermines the rightful owners of power and the basis of democracy. If factionalism and organizational interest is the only track record of the opposition groups to date, what does the future hold if some or all of these groups were to come into power?


In terms of priorities:

The outcome in Addis has openly demonstrated that the priorities of the people in Eritrea and that of the various factions and their followers (who ironically all live outside the country) are not the same. People in Eritrea are in their limits of survival, the situation is such that people risk their life in order to escape from the Eritrea and some have even dared the mighty Mediterranean Sea with tragic consequences. Well, the actions and the lack of coherent action of the opposition groups do not demonstrate that the people’s suffering is a priority. The priorities of the factions’ seem to be more on who will replace the dictator, which organization and which interest group and it has clearly become only a lip-service to the level of suffering that exists in Eritrea.


What is to be done?


 “People have leaders they deserve” weather this is by element of force or by legitimacy, which is rather relative.  PFDJ controls the system and is able to do exist because it has the support of the people who benefit from the system. At the same time, the opposition factions have divided and controlled the hearts and minds of Eritreans abroad to their own end. The posturing of the various factions to know what is the best system of governance for the people is outside their remit and role. And more importantly, in addition to perpetuating the oppressive regime the strategy of the various factions undermines the national viability of Eritrea.


We are all aware that within Eritrea people can not rebel or organize against the dictatorial regime, considering the oppressive system that prevails. Their only hope of relief lies on those people who have fled the country and are able to organize a coherent action of opposition. Unfortunately, our incapacity to make the various factions accountable to the expectations of the people and our incapacity to criticize their inconsistency is prolonging the suffering of many. This is time to bring the factions in line to the objective of the people and to stop following irrelevant factional strategies blind-folded.


The people outside Eritrea, therefore, have a unique responsibility to make the various factions accountable and to make them focus to the objectives and priorities of the people. To remind the factions that their role and responsibility is limited to one thing and one thing only to restore power to its rightful owners i.e. the people. This objective does not require more than a single political strategy and military organization. Urgent situations require urgent and committed responses not pseudo-democratic posturing.