The MaMaGu Movement
Within the ELF, I created another organization: ?Makelawi Marxiawi Gujle? (Ma.Ma.Gu.) The reason we did that and the reason we called it Ma.Ma.Gu was to show that this was an ideological split and not a spit within the ELF. Meaning, if the elements which wanted to take military steps to solve contradiction approached us, we would tell them we are Ma.Ma.Gu. When the military step was taken...
In 1977, with battalion 149. It was a step taken by Abdella Idris. I should avoid talking about this, because it would not be fair to talk about things from my perspective which would have different interpretation by others...we decided to change Ma. Ma. Gu to Eritrean Democratic Movement (EDM). We formally rejected much of Marxism-Leninism (this was in 1977) and the emphasis became democracy.
What was EDM calling for?
It was calling for a speedy congress--an extra congress--to resolve the contradictions of the ELF. When the military steps were taken, we suggested that we should move to Hazemo [in the Senafe/Adi Keyh zone of the Eritrean highlands] and be stationed as far away as possible from centers of confrontation. The religious element was lurking was there, the kebesa metahit [highland/lowland] was there...it was very hard to define because it resulted in a very polarized ELF...at the personality level, there were contradictions, also...The ELF was not itself.
At the time, the EPLF which used to prophesize ?Ama ktHaQiQ iya?[ELF will dissolve away] had the right to say...and it did say...aybelnando [we told you so]?
Yeah. But the ?aybelnan do? attitude was expressed much earlier by Isaias; as early as ?nhnan ilaman.? The new element who had not joined PLF/EPLF, joined them after the contradictions emerged.
THE FALLUL MOVEMENT
That was the EDM. What about the Fallul Movement?
They are one and the same! The guys in Kifli Zena [the Information and Propaganda Section of the ELF] were looking for a term that would describe this explosion to the rank and file and mostly to the new recruits (the ?mustejdin?) They borrowed a term from the political vocabulary of Addis: a moniker the Derg used to apply to the EPRP [Ethiopian People?s Revolutionary Party] who were described as anarchists. The Kifli Zena picked up the word and translated it to ?Qeydi Betek? [Rein Breaker]. But that was a compound word and there was an element of liberation to the phrase so they chose a word they thought would have a negative connotation: ?fallul.? It shouldn?t have a negative connotation because ?fallul kede gobezai? is the adventures of a young man.
Fallul was the EDM. I was one of its founders and its general secretary. Our main aim was to stop the disintegration of the ELF and we thought Abdella Idris was playing a negative role...
Throughout his career he opted for the quick solution which was the military
solution. My friend Burhan Blata [now in the Eritrean Parliament] did not like
the military solution; Ibrahim Mohammed Ali [now leader of the Eritrean Alliance
Movement] did not like the military solution.
Why has Ibrahim Mohammed Ali grown to be so militant of late, then?
I hear so nowadays...but my experience with him was very positive. He is an extremely decent human being...my experience with him is an extremely positive one....
If your ?main aim was to stop the disintegration of the ELF?, isn?t it ironic the Fallul is seen as THE cause for the disintegration of the ELF?
The philosopher Carl Popper, whose work had a profound influence on me, a man who fought Marxism intellectually, the articulator of the Paradigm Shift and developer of ?the falsification theory?, had this to say in ?The Open and Closed Society?: Truth can be sought only by the process of falsification.
Unfortunately, if you look at things from the ?consequence? point of view--which is the difference between the experienced and inexperienced politician who concentrates on blueprints, planning without concentrating on deviations--if one looks at things from the ?consequence? stand point, I wouldn?t blame people who blame the EDM with the disintegration of the ELF. As a result of what took place, ELF was neutered of thousands of its people: as a result of self-defense and political choice, the well armed, well-trained members of the ELF chose to join the EPLF. And this process continued...The presence of the EDM was a continuous challenge to the ELF and the ELF was forced to make choices. EDM?s platform was a continuous condemnation of the ELF. So, yes, if you look at it from the tail end of it, one can say ?gedifomna indiyom keydom? [they abandoned us].
In reality, the exodus was caused by the leadership of the ELF. They shoot to kill, and they hit your ear and then they blame the victim for surviving the assassination attempt. Instead of crying over spilt milk, just don?t spill the milk.
The ELF was removed from the armed struggle. The central distinction between EDM and the other organizations is that the EDM came during the life of the ELF and the others came after the demise of the ELF. EDM was a genuine organization within the bosom of the ELF.
Sometime between 1982 and 1984, while I was in Baghdad, some of the cadres of the EDM had a meeting. The EDM split into two: because of their alliance with TPLF, some felt they had to form a new party. They added the obligatory ?P? to ?EDM? and became ?EPDM.?