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Wednesday, 19 January 2011 16:25

 

 

 

 

Foreword

 

Mr. Amha Dominico

 

Chairman of the Commission

 

The Eritrean National Commission for Democratic Change established in 2010 after the national conference held in Addis-Abeba (Ethiopian capital city) enjoys the support of all civil and political organizations and women and youth associations. With a mandate to mobilize public opinion, media campaign, financing and organize a national congress inside one year, the Commission promotes and facilitates national and international dialogue to enhance and strengthen democratic forces in Eritrea. The Commission is committed to make contributions to the democratic transition through which inclusivity and participation of all Eritreans is assured, and hence upholds that dialogue is the best mechanism for solving internal and external conflicts.

 

I am convinced that dialogue on democratic development within and among countries is the best method in managing, resolving and preventing conflicts.

 

 

  Mr. Amha Domenico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

This document is based on the outcome of the Eritrean National Conference for Democratic Change which took place in July 31st to August 9th in Addis-Ababa. It was

#organized by the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA) in collaboration with the Eritrean Civil society organizations and with the financial support of the SAANA Forum[1].

 

Mr. Amha Domenico, Head of the Eritrean National Commission for Democratic Change, along with Mr. Abdurazak Karar, Mr. Fesseha Nair and Idris Nour members of the commission wrote this document on the basis of the inputs and outcomes of the conference. We owe several debts of gratitude to Amanuel Sahle for his unwavering assistance in revising the document.

 

The drafting of this document has benefited greatly from the contributions of the participants and the workshop papers that discussed on the core issues of the Eritrean national unity, values and rights of the citizens which are being abused by the dictatorship in Eritrea.

 

The EDA leadership and the preparatory Committee of the conference deserve a special acknowledgment for their strenuous efforts in collecting the papers and rewriting them despite many internal and external obstacles.

 

The Conference organizers are grateful to the Ethiopian Government and the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front under the leadership of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minster of the Ethiopia, who provided tremendous support for this initiative.

 

This document is dedicated to the memory of Martyr Tesfahuney Mesfin who had been one of the active organizers of this conference which lay the foundation for democratic change in Eritrea. Mr. Tesfahuney was a Vice- Chairman of the Eritrean Peoples Democratic Front. / EPDF

 

Mr. Tesfahuney was instrumental in encouraging participants to intervene in this constructive and innovative outcome. He was a true pioneer who passed away in a tragic incident on his way to the conference in Addis-Abeba.

 

 

Summary

 

This document is based on the oral and written contributions of the participants to the National Conference for Democratic Change that built a partnership between the Eritrean political organizations and civil society organizations. It took place on 31st July – 9th august 2010 in Akaki about 20 km from Addis Abeba.

 

The document reflects the important discussions that took place during the conference and formulates the views and opinions expressed by the participants in their individual capacities in a conceptual framework and articulates the concrete change proposals in Eritrea.

 

The conference was organized by the Eritrean Democratic Alliance/EDA in collaboration with the civil society organizations and with financial support from the SAANA Forum. Over 330 people representing political and civic organizations, academia and veteran fighters, youth and women associations met in their individual capacities to discuss the problems and opportunities facing the Eritrean people.

 

Policy options are articulated here and change proposals developed as part of the national agenda to support and advance the democratic aspirations of the Eritrean people in the context of partnership between the political organizations and civil societies. This document is supposed to provide both the conceptual framework on which the conference for democratic change could be based, as well as a more practically oriented action plan on how to replace the dictatorship and build a democratic Eritrea.

 

Many of the ideas on national unity, means and modes of transition to democracy need to be discussed and debated further. In this regard, the document can be seen as one that identifies or maps out the issues on the agenda; it represents an , “ invitation” for further dialogue and encourages the reader to engage in the debate. With this document the Eritrean forces for democratic change are grateful for this opportunity to be able to contribute something in the struggle from dictatorship to democracy in Eritrea.

 

 

 

 

 

A Newly Born Partnership

 

The Eritrean political organizations and civil society partnership built after the conference is a gradual expansion of a popular mobilization towards building vibrant civil society that stands against the dictatorship. A number of developments have contributed to this formation preceding the conference such as the formation of networks between the various civil society organizations in Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. These experiences contributed to the formation of partnership between political organizations and civil societies which joined their efforts in order to end oppression and build a multi-ethnic democracy in Eritrea.

 

The expansion of these dimensions in the partnership is a reflection of a new era in Eritrean politics, which is profoundly influenced by the new struggles that aims to transform Eritrea from dictatorship to democracy. New ideas and complex demands on organizing a state have been discussed by the Eritrean elites but still did not reach to a common understanding. Democratic changes cannot come without the participation of the people in any country. The agenda of Eritrean national conference for democratic change were integrated and are the current conflict issues of the Eritrean political life (national unity, modes of transition, Charter, Interim Constitution) which are the pillars of the roadmap.

 

The conference has dealt with the challenges it faces and opted for the modalities and options to strengthen the democratic process and promote the culture of democracy in Eritrea. The partnership is entering a new era and the conference has, to a large extent, covered an uncharted territory.

 

The unique contractual nature of the cooperation, the culture of partnership guiding the conference relations and the ambition of both the political and civic society representatives to build a strong opposition promoting democratic principles, empowering the citizens, and advancing the freedom of the Eritrean people from dictatorship together is an innovative approach to practicing joint civil governance on issues of common interest. This dimension of cooperation seen at the conference is now expected to play an important role in the coming national congress.  The meetings run by the Eritrean National Commission for Democratic Change is one of the evidences that Eritreans are capable to run good governance and democracy.

 

Much of the debates and negotiations about the future of the political and civil society focus on two issues: the formulation of the "essential elements" of the partnership which form the basis of the political cooperation and the joint struggle against dictatorship. In a way these two points constitute the backbone of the partnership. However, there remains a vast Eritrean population inside Eritrea that supports democratic changes in sustainable manner. This requires innovative thinking and new approaches. The conference’s papers on a future and united front calls for renewed commitment to partnership, based  on a new policy foundations and more effective dialogue backed by commitment from political and civil society organizations with greater flexibility in implementation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Objectives of the Document

 

There are two main objectives for this document:

1.     To develop and restructure a conceptual framework for dialogue for democratic change and

2.     To translate this framework into an action plan by articulating and advancing practical policy options to implement a democratic change agenda. The document tries to provide policy makers in Eritrea with the Eritrean context.

 

The document is divided in four parts:

 

Part 1 deals with the historical experience of the Eritrean national unity and its present situation. It outlines the essential elements of the unity and the modalities for dialogue in order to achieve the genuine unity in diversity in Eritrea.

 

Part 11 deals with methods and means of struggle against dictatorship and for democracy.

 

Part 111 analyzes provisions of the charter examining the structure and then the guiding principles presenting many proposals on how this could be advanced during the struggle against the dictatorship and in the aftermath of the dictatorships downfall.

 

Part 1V looks at the interim constitution that should be adopted directly after the downfall of the dictatorship in case of vacuum in the political power.

 

Part V is on conference resolutions and recommendations adopted at the conference for democratic change.

 

This document has tried to be user-friendly, easy to read and accessible to all Eritreans as well as foreigners.



[1] Saana Forum is a cooperation Forum between Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 16:36
 




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