Democracy and Conflict Management in Eritrea
Democracy and Conflict Management in Eritrea By Fesseha Nair The Eritrean internal conflict is entangled or bound up with the concept of identity, nation and nationalism with competition for power and dominance. Today, the Eritrean internal conflict
Democracy and Conflict Management in Eritrea
By Fesseha Nair
The Eritrean internal conflict is entangled or bound up with the concept of identity, nation and nationalism with competition for power and dominance. Today, the Eritrean internal conflict revolves around the state structure and the distribution of its power and resources and in that sense at least at one level, they are disputes about how shall the Eritrea of the future be governed not who will govern? From the Eritrean political elite’s view is who will govern after the fall of the dictatorship not how will the country be governed.
We have expereinced this since the Eritrean nationhoood and up to now without no common understanding and shared vision. What is a shared vision? A vision is the answer to the question: What do the opposition want to create afetr the fall of the dictatorship in Eritrea? A vision inspires all the forces for democratic change to give their best efforts. A shared vision unites stakholders with different backgrounds and agendas to a common aspirations. Despite all efforts to national unity, we still have not reached common understnding and shared vision and therefore live in vicious circle without no exit towards national unity that guarantees human rights and self-determination of all citizens without segregation and discrimination.
The Eritrean internal conflict is a deep rooted conflict based on identities and inequalites of power- sharing and unjust economic and social policies. Eritrean political elites escape from identifying the issues of conflict and have blind devotion of Eritrean nationalism destroying the components of Eritrean diversity by calling them sub-nationals preaching democracy in the name of national unity has never solved the internal conflict but deteriorated it.
This phenomenon of conflict management has appeared differntly during the political, armed and later after the independence. The issues of conflict were neglected by those supernationalists and chauvenists who consider themselves as the masters of the land and people. Neglecting the issues of internal conflict and their necessity to accommodate their interests under the Eritrean sovereignty is the main issue to be addressed by both the oppopsition political organizations and the authoritarian regime of one man rule in Eritrea at this time.
There are no studies on Eritrea how to build a democracy and manage conflicts either inside the opposition or the regime. Our political and policy makers lack knowledge and skills on how to design democratic levers that can enhance democracy, peace, justice and equality among the Eritrean diversity. Conflict is a normal part of any healthy society but from the Eritrean perspective it is cursed and taboo.
After the Eritrean Independence, all stakeholders should have negotiated how to build democracy and democratic state in Eritrea but this has no happened. But what about those who struggle today against the dictatorship and for democratic change. Have they common understanding and shared vision? In this article I will attempt to discuss on the approaches of the Eritrean political leadership on conflict and its management.
Disagreements and conflicts naturally emerge within any society or individuals. Most studies of conflict show that there two kinds of managing conflicts-
- 1. Managing Functional conflict
When stakholders recognize that conflict is an inevitable and even desirable part of any work. A shared vision can solve the inconnngruities of any program and establish a common purpose to channel debate in a constructive manner. The Eritrean political society lacks the skills of negotiations to reach shared goals through creating common ground for resolving differences. The Eritrean political stakholders must encourage healthy dissent in order to imporove problem solving and innovation.
When some one disagrees or challenges the ideas of the others one should not be isolated but be respected by his/her dissence or his /her opposing views. Functional conflict plays a critical role in a deeper understanding of the issues of conflict and lead to best possible solution.
- 2. Managing dysfunctional conflicts:
When stkaholders will not identify the conflict or will not reecognize then the conflict is much more challenging and leads to confrontations. It leads to polarizations and hate politics, then the functional conflict turns into dysfunctional. Dysfunctional conflict is characterized by its irrational and personality clashes or failure to resolve issues of conflict. The Eritrean way of conflict management has always been dysfunctional. The Eritreans lack the skills of negotiation using reasoning and persuasion suggesting alternatives and the like. One of the keys is to find common ground, here the goal of conflict mangment is that all are winners and no losers.
Democracy operates as a Conflict Managment system
The objetive of this article is to discuss at this time- are we in the opposition camp for democratic change towards a more paragmatic path in our internal conflict management or are we in the old attitude of conflict escalating stage? Conflict is the interaction of different and opposing aspirations and goals in which disputes are processed but not definitly resolved. It is a necessary part of healthy democratic dialogue, provided that it remians within the boundaries of democratic rules. Conflict management is the is the positive and constructive handling of difference and divergence. It is how to bring together the opposing sides in a cooperative process and design a practical and achievable system. Democracy operates as a conflict managment system without recourse to violence.
Thanks to the information technolgy in general and the social media in particular, what is going on in the Eritrean paltalks rooms day and night if evaluated how much are they knowledge providing, sharing experience and creating democracy practicing society?
Most of the discussions going on the paltalk rooms lack democratic values such as pluralism, tolerance, inclusiveness, negotiations and compromises that are keys to building lasting settlements to the Eritrean internal conflicts.
The paltalk room admnistrators must assess their social media activities how much they hav provided knowledge and skills on democracy and conflict management in solving the internal conflicts.