Fetsum: The DENVER MANIFESTO in my opinion
Fetsum: The DENVER MANIFESTO in my opinion The new political environment in our region has confused all steak holders including the Eritreans who have been denied any form of participation in their national affairs. The Ethiopians
Fetsum: The DENVER MANIFESTO in my opinion
The new political environment in our region has confused all steak holders including the Eritreans who have been denied any form of participation in their national affairs. The Ethiopians are confused but enjoying the drama with absolute freedom of speech. The as much confused Tigreans are floating through the tide with high level of insecurity. They are experiencing the highest freedom of speech in Tigrai trying to figure out what the scary drama is all about. The dictator is confused about the sudden turn of events wondering what to do to pacify the nervousness of our people that are expecting a lot from the government as soon as possible. The opposition camp is also confused as to what to do next in the midst of Ethiopia’s resistance to any political activities from within and the civic society has been confused on how to elevate the struggle to the next level of efficiency. Yet, there is one reality that Eritreans at this point of their experience cannot afford being confused about; the importance of global leadership.
We should have done it earlier but the current regional situation has motivated the Eritrean diaspora into searching for ways towards global leadership more than ever in the past. Many Eritreans are today discussing it in different paltalk rooms and festivals as the main agenda of the moment. The civic groups are trying to create a centralized leadership that represents them in all dimensions of the struggle. They have for the first time taken a united action in writing a collective message to PM Abiy pertaining our concern on the misrepresentation of the dictator on the current Eritrean affairs. This is not a big achievement and is, in fact the least we can do together but it is a start of something that can evolve to a potential solution in so far as producing a high caliber global leadership in the diaspora is concerned. The tendency of the political groups that attended Atlanta Festival to encourage the civic society into working together on common grounds is another optimizing energy to the people’s struggle for democracy but only if they push for it through practical actions.
In the flip, the upcoming Geneva demonstration organizers could have been highly optimistic about forming a centralized leadership but they must be practical that it takes extreme care and wisdom to succeed in this regard. What makes the event different is the fact that the organizers have realized the importance of global leadership to the point of contemplating to form the preliminary background in the opportunity. It is clear that the event cannot produce global leadership but certainly a coordinating committee towards global leadership. This would be a big success if it happens and they can do it.
What has been achieved so far is the tendency of the Eritrean opposition camp to resonate to the GLOBAL LEADERSHIP school of thought, a critical factorial for the success of our struggle to democracy. Of course, we only have started flirting with the idea which is a big success by itself but it will take us a bit to settle down at a convergence point of conceptual and structural unification. No one should, therefore, feel discouraged about the result at this point in the challenge.
To this effect, the Denver Festival that took place last July had organized about eight highly educated Eritreans from different educational, ethnic and religious groups to serve as a Conceptual Committee of the festival. We were four Christians and four Moslems assigned to produce what is known as the DENVER MANIFESTO that focuses on Eritrean unity based on diversity and common grounds of the people. The manifesto has to be available to all Eritreans through different media outlets but what I learned in the experience was really awakening considering my long experience in the struggle. I learned from a portion of the family in the committee that the sources of division between some of our Moslems and Christians have been misunderstanding on how to manage our diversity. Among others, we discussed the following issues and agreed on their respective solutions to the best of our experience and capacity. Please note that this is my subjective understanding of the effort and I am ready to be corrected.
1) We should handle specific ethnical issues based on the right of a citizen to chose one’s identity and religion without the government’s interference. This should also work for communities and most likely through referendum. This understanding should expand to address our people’s issues communally.
2) We should resolve the question of land ownership based on material proof and justice. This applies to our people that illegally lost their lands to the regime.
3) Most of the new refugees may have to return to their homes unless otherwise but we should handle repatriation of our people may be by prioritizing the resettlement of our older refugees of the armed struggle era.
4) As for languages, we agreed that every community should have the right to use and develop its native language without the regime’s interference but we should continue allowing Tigrigna and Arabic as national languages of the country until the constitution decides on the matter.
The committee to my understanding had to a certain extent penetrated the destructive taboo that existed in the Eritrean opposition camp for a long time. The “you don’t talk about ethnicity and religious matters without offending others” attitude has been challenged by the common understanding, modifications and five relevant elements introduced to the UN Declaration of Human Rights to the best of our capacity believing that the output is open for entertainment by all Eritreans in the pool. We believe that we have to certain extent resolved our conceptual differences on how to deal with the ethnical and religious dynamics of our society from the angle of equality, freedom and justice. This achievement is expected to change the stagnant situation in the positive direction. There is a chance now for instance, for our Jeberty family to work with their Tigrigna family members for the common cause with maximum respect and cooperation. So does this apply to our minority groups in the society. We believe the common understanding equally defends the rights of all other ethnic and religious groups of the country needless saying any enhancing suggestions from any sect of the society are welcome for the committee’s genuine consideration. This, however, does not mean we provided a complete solution to our problems for us to request their unconditional acceptance by the opposition force in general. I think it rather means that the committee has proposed uniting factors that other Eritreans should accept and develop upon effective dialogue and consideration.
The committee has also promised to form study teams to research on different aspects of the society, one of them being on the nature of TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENTS. The effort is to be ready for the upcoming challenge after the regime dissolves one way or another because we must pass through a transitional government to democracy. This research is expected to produce an academic conclusion on the subject matter most probably by January 2019. It will help us all to pick the most applicable form of transitional government to our collective socio-political situation during our transitional period to democracy. The committee should now direct its attention to this topic as soon as possible to complete the research on time within six months from the end of the festival. As it goes we are contemplating on how to form the team as of this point in time.
The committee has been attending paltalk events to sell the Manifesto to the public and the people have forwarded the following questions to the best of my recollection. Most of the questions may have been well answered at the forum but here are my personal opinions on them.
1) Did the committee consider other people’s ideas of transitional government like the one provided by an individual at the MEDREK’s Nairobi conference before deciding to study the matter as promised in your Denver Festival presentation?
Response: This is a very important question. The committee did not consider any other idea to this effect. It has not even started organizing the study team yet but we shall see what happens after the team is formed and work starts on the subject matter. We are not going to draft the transitional government’s CHARTER in this project but we will study to clearly understand the nature of a TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT and entertain other societies’ experience to blend them with our situation in order to produce a unique transitional government that fits our concrete situation. We cannot do it alone without your cooperation and every Eritrean has the responsibility of supplying us with any relevant case study of the past by any Eritrean activism there is. Otherwise, we will continue our research and hopefully present it to the public upon completion believing that our research won’t contradict other researches on the subject matter because the concept is universal in nature.
2) Are we going to accept the existing political groups as they are or we will have them registered for election based on the constitution?
Response: This is a very important question that will be clarified in the long run. In this project, we will clearly identify the specific roles of political groups and civic societies in the anticipated transitional government of Eritrea. The people should have the power to draft the laws that the political groups must follow without a problem, although every Eritrean should have the chance to involve in developing the CHARTER by which said government will follow to run the country within its limited term in power. Every Eritrean can form a political party but the law should decide which ones would qualify for election through different filtering mechanisms. This is not hard to do because many societies have done it in the past. It is clear that we cannot accommodate more than three or four parties and the transitional government will have to apply filtering mechanisms to shrink the crowded highway to the most qualified groups that can conditionally run for election under a neutral electoral commission functional under authority of the transitional government
3) What do we mean when we talk about people’s power? Does the expression include the political groups because they are a portion of the people as well? How do we create a dependable “NEUTRAL transitional government”?
Response: The term PEOPLE is, of course a little tricky to define. I rather answer it saying that the Eritrean society contains the people and organized political groups aiming at political power through fair election. Both elements of society have different roles and interests that the society must define and accommodate by the law. We must accept that the people own the government that has to rule according to the people’s interest. The people are the supreme power in society and the government, an elected group to serve them in all aspects of political life. For this to work, the people must have the power to draft laws for the political parties to follow. When we say the people own the transitional government, we mean that a NEUTRAL individual or group should run the government; meaning that the executive branch has to contain neutral leaders to all political groups in the society irrespective of how the government is formed. The leader/s can be sympathizers of a political group but should not be their active member/s in order to independently and freely execute tasks according to the neutral charter. Having a neutral leadership at the highest hierarchy of the transitional government is the only remedy for the people’s doubts associated with the matter. This is how many other societies formed dependable transitional governments and I believe this is the only way for us to achieve success in this regard.
4) Is reconciliation necessary in Eritrea and who may conduct it to practice?
Response: Yes, reconciliation between people and political groups (ELF and EPLF, for instance) is necessary in Eritrea for us to walk forward with harmony. We will need a reconciliation commission in the transition period that performs the process under the transitional government’s management. But we cannot give a definite description of the commission at this point in the struggle. This job should be left for the transitional government to deliver.
5) How should we deal with groups like Agazian and other dangerous members of the people?
Response: The Agazians may be part of the society but are a political group aiming at political power at the end of the day. They must then respect the people’s unity and equality to be qualified for political power in future Eritrea. In short, the people as a unit decide on their importance in our society and as divisive and discriminating as they are, there is no place for them in future Eritrea in their current socio-political makeup. The KKK is an American group of hatred but it cannot be given a chance to dictate American politics beyond its members’ individual voting rights. Alshabab is a terrorist group with shallow understanding of society and thus, restricted from the democratic process of Somalia as a result. The ISIS may be classified in this category in relation to the Syrian society. Likewise, responsibility comes with rights and freedom and the society cannot accommodate their destructive agendas because they don’t represent the Eritrean people’s interest. This group is anti unity, Islam and democracy; and thus cannot pass through the society’s filtering mechanisms based on our desire to peacefully live united in our defined territory.
In conclusion, our success in completing the research on time will determine the success of Denver Manifesto and the quality and credibility of the Conceptual Committee. Therefore, we should quickly organize the team and go to work now. In so saying, the anticipated research or study is expected to, at least describe and answer the following questions pertaining our upshot to democracy.
1) The role of transitional government in society.
2) Is the Eritrean society independently capable of managing a transitional government to democracy?
3) How many types of transitional governments exist in the universal understanding of the subject matter and how do they individually apply in a given society?
4) What are the common elements in all transitional governments experienced by the third world societies to democracy?
5) What are the specific roles of the Civic Society and the Political Groups in a transitional government to democracy?
6) What are the similarities between our situation and others in this category and what type of transitional governments are applicable to our society? Which one of them can best assure the supremacy of the people in our society? What can we use from other third world democratic processes and modify them to fit into our concreate socio-political realities?
7) Can a transitional government be neutral with hybrid executive composition (a mixture of the people and the political groups)?
Once again, this is my subjective understanding of the Denver effort and I welcome corrections pertaining this presentation. Let us please use this forum to ask questions and exchange ideas instead of for abusing each other. Thank you!