Eritrea: The Struggle for Democratic Governance
Held in Toronto (and Ottawa), Canada, the public seminar on “Eritrea: The Struggle for Democratic Governance” focused on three main themes:
The first theme highlighted the programmatic objective of the armed struggle for self-determination as a nation and as a people.
As the outcome of the exercise of the right to self-determination as a nation, independence embodied a historic victory that enabled Eritrea to join the community of free nations. However, inability to constitute a government of their choice has put on hold the exercise of the right to self-determination of Eritrea as a people. After all, independence was sought not as an end in itself but as a springboard for the fundamental socio-economic transformation of Eritrean society, embedding the values of democracy, justice, equality and prosperity for all.
The second theme assessed the performance of the post independence government. It recounted the series of events that unfolded post independence, including the betrayal of the original objectives of the armed struggle, the internal divisions within the historical leadership of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), the concentration of power and the rise of dictatorship. Among the crucial elements contributing to the personalisation of power were:
- the adoption of the Dergue’s kebele as a local administrative unit;
- the suspension of the legislative and executive organs of the Front;
- the systematic suppression of internal debate and criminalisation of dissent;
- the institution of indefinite active national service;
- the closure of the University of Asmara;
- the introduction of the coupon economy; and
- the regimentation of society.
The third theme focused on the future of Eritrea, the drive to reclaim the original objectives of the armed struggle and the imperative for peaceful transition to democratic governance.