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National Conference for Democratic Change Final Communiqué PDF Print E-mail
Written by ENCDC - Addis Ababa   
Sunday, 14 November 2010 14:45

National Conference for Democratic Change

 

Final Communiqué

 

We, forces of democratic change working for peace and stability in our country, have concluded our National Conference for Democratic Change which we conducted from 31 July to 9 August 2010 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

 

Our conference comes in the same Eritrean tradition of resolving, through dialogue, issues of common concern, be it at national, regional or local levels.

 

The National Conference and the current situation of our country and people

 

Today, under the PFDJ’s tyrannical rule, Eritreans are enduring some of the most vicious forms of oppression – including ethnic, religious and cultural - and are denied their basic human and democratic rights. Our Conference, therefore, was convened at a time of grave national crisis in which Eritreans are suffering torment, incarceration and death in the countless camps and secret prisons that have become the hallmark of our torn country. Such is the ongoing tribulation of our people – a fate even religious leaders, women and children could not escape.

 

The misfortune that has befallen the nation’s young is not different, as they continue to escape their country in all directions facing calamity and death crossing dangerous borders, expansive deserts and unforgiving seas, turning Eritrea into the world’s leading exporter of refugees in peacetime relative to the size of its population. The Conference has also been conducted at a time when the ramifications - demographic changes and displacement - of the government’s misguided project of forced resettlement of communities are being felt.

 

The National Conference’s 330 participants’ represented a wide range of constituents, namely: 10 member organizations of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA); political and nationality-based organizations who are not members of the EDA: representatives of civil society organizations in Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, the Middle East, Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; as well as religious leaders and delegates representing women, the youth, refugees, and veterans of the Eritrean armed struggle. Also present in the Conference were Eritrean media organizations, human rights activists and other independent Eritreans, including writers and intellectuals.

 

Moreover, the National Conference convened at a time in which the PFDJ regime has become further isolated from the world, as a result of its continued belligerence towards neighboring countries, and after turning the country into a hotbed of terrorism.

 

The ultimate objective of the National Conference for Democratic Change has been the removal of the causes of the above-described suffering to which our people and country have been subjected, and to establish among our people an environment of trust and unity that would enable Eritreans to live together in mutual respect.

 

A major achievement of the Conference was that Eritreans were able to debate openly and in good faith their most pertinent issues, understand each other’s grievances, establish mutual trust, and reaffirm their unity. The managed to do so by separating the legitimate issues and grievances from the PFDJ-orchestrated schemes intended at exploiting differences for the sake of the regime’s own survival.

 

Conference participants boldly and with open heart debated vital issues of national unity, including issues of nationalities, religion and language, and reached a common understanding. They recognized that the PFDJ regime has been guilty of targeting, at various times and to varying degrees, all of Eritrea’s religious, national and linguistic groups, with oppressive measures and atrocities that, in some cases, verged on genocide.

 

Participants also remembered veteran liberation fighter Tesfahuney Mesfin, who passed away in a car accident on his way to attend the Conference, and sent a message of condolence to his family.

 

The Conference thoroughly and openly debated a number of issue papers covering,

 

  • The current political situation in Eritrea,
  • National unity
  • Means of democratic change
  • National charter, and
  • The transitional period

 

and subsequently, following a synthesis of all the discussions, passed the following resolutions, recommendations and appeals.

 

Resolutions

 

Following the opening plenary session, the 330 Eritreans representing a cross section of Eritrea, who gathered for this historic Conference, conducted their deliberations in five groups (workshops), each covering all five discussion papers. After serious and detailed deliberations, the Conference passed the following resolutions and recommendations.

 

1.     A national congress representing all sections of our society and the forces of democratic change, that will elect a national council, shall be convened within one year. To this end, our Conference has elected a National Commission for Democratic Change comprising 53 members, of which six are women. The Commission shall mobilize and organize the public and shall prepare, drawing on past constitutions of Eritrea and inputs from political and civic organizations, a draft roadmap to guide the transition period following the demise of the PFDJ regime.

 

2.     Affirming that Eritrean national unity is founded on the voluntary association of the nation’s constituent parts, on the recognition of our people’s religious, cultural and ethnic diversity, and on respect for the rights of the various components of our society, the Conferees resolve to work for strengthening mutual understanding and respect of our diversity.

 

3.     Resolving to further reinforce the unity that the Eritrean people achieved in the course of the struggle for Independence, while also acknowledging the existence of oppression against nationality groups, the Conference affirms that the issue of nationalities is a democratic issue. The question of the right of self-determination of nationalities shall be respected within Eritrea’s sovereignty, and shall, thus, be addressed in the future constitution of Eritrea.

 

4.     Recognizing that, from the time it usurped power in Eritrea in 1991, the dictatorial regime has to varying degrees suppressed all religions in our country, the Conference calls for upholding the rights and freedoms of all religious and faith groups in Eritrea.

 

5.     Acknowledging that all Eritrean languages are equal, the Conference affirms that Tigrinya and Arabic are the official languages.

 

6.     Affirming that land belongs to the people, the National Conference resolves that land, salt ponds, and all private property that has been illegally appropriated by the dictatorial PFDJ regime shall be, in a legal and fair way, returned to their owners. The rights of Eritrean fishermen within Eritrea’s waters shall, likewise, be upheld.

 

7.     Future democratic Eritrea shall have a decentralized system of governance.

 

8.     Calling attention to the fact that Eritrean women, notwithstanding their immense sacrifices during the struggle for independence, have been betrayed by the PFDJ regime, the Conference condemns the regime’s oppression of women and calls for upholding the rights and equality of Eritrean women.

 

9.     Considering the plight of Eritrean youth whose never-ending subjection to abusive military service has caused them to leave their country in droves, a phenomenon that could have long-term negative effects, the Conference affirms the rights of young Eritreans.

 

Recommendations

 

 

1.     At this juncture, in which a new impetus for change is clearly on the rise, the Conference recommends to all forces of democratic change to rise up to the challenge of rescuing our nation from its current misfortune and preserving its unity, by bringing their resources together under a broad national front.

 

2.     The Conference recommends to all forces of democratic change – political and civic organizations – to resort to peaceful democratic means to resolve any disagreements among themselves; and urges those that have similar vision or programs to work in unison, for the sake of better serving the interests of the Eritrean people.

 

3.     The Conference recommends that the wide range of knowledge, skills and other resources at the disposal of Eritreans should be utilized to improve our institutional performance and step up our diplomatic work.

 

4.     Recognizing that caring for the families of fallen freedom fighters, veteran fighters and the war-disabled, is a matter of national duty, the Conference recommends that every possible effort should be made to alleviate the hardships these compatriots are facing.

 

5.     The Conference calls on the Eritrean public to support the force of democratic change, in order to preserve its unity and mutual respect and to advance the struggle for the removal of the tyrannical PFDJ regime.

 

6.     With a view to buttressing the means and resources for democratic change, the Conference recommends establishing a committee for economic affairs to raise resources, including contributions from the Eritrean public.

 

Appeal

 

1.     Recognizing that they are part of our oppressed citizenry, the Conference calls upon the Eritrean Defense Forces to side with the forces of democratic change in the interest of securing peace and the rule of law in our country.

 

2.     The Conference appeals to all friendly nations, and the international community at large, to play a more positive role to help bring an end to our people’s suffering under the PFDJ’s rule; and calls upon those few governments who still fraternize with the Eritrean regime to stop their aid and empathize with our people’s just quest for change.

 

3.     Realizing the urgency of addressing the plight of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers, the Conference appeals to the international community to protect their rights and facilitate their quest for safe and dignified life.

 

4.     The Conference calls for the resolution of the border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia in accordance with the binding decision of the international court and in ways that ensure peace and stability between the two countries. It also calls for the peaceful resolution to all disputes with other neighboring countries with a view to securing peace and harmony among the peoples of our region.

 

5.     The Conference calls for the immediate and strict implementation of the UN Security Council’s decision to impose sanctions on the PFDJ government triggered by the latter’s war-mongering and terror-sponsoring behavior.

 

6.     The Conference calls upon those Eritrean nationals who continue to provide economic support to the PFDJ regime to realize that their aid is enabling the regime to tighten the squeeze on their own kin, and asks them to unequivocally stop their support and side with their people’s struggle for justice.

 

7.     The Conference calls attention to the importance of political coordination for reinforcing collective military action.

 

 

Eritrean National Conference for Democratic Change

9 August 2010

Addis Ababa

 

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 14 November 2010 15:27
 


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