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Message on Eritrea 33rd Independence Anniversary

22 May 2024


Waterloo, Belgium 

23 May 2024

Message on Eritrea 33rd Independence Anniversary 

Ambassador Andebrhan Welde Giorgis


Dear Eritrean people at home and abroad,

Heroic Eritrean Defence Forces,

As we commemorate the auspicious occasion of the 33rd anniversary of the independence of our country with great pride, I extend you warm greetings, heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for a Happy Independence Day. Furthermore, it is my fervent hope and profound wish that the 33rd anniversary of independence would usher in a new chapter of constitutional order, democratic governance and economic development in our beloved country and mark a new era of rule of law, justice and prosperity for our benevolent people.   

24 May 1991 is a propitious day of pride and joy for the people of Eritrea that heralded the liberation of the entire territory of Eritrea. It would therefore remain engrained in a shiny golden ink in the hearts and minds of Eritreans. The 24th of May 1991 and 1993 is a day of double celebration of liberation and independence. As such, it is proper and fitting that every Eritrean who loves his/her country, whether resident at home or in the diaspora, celebrates the occasion with great pride, joy and enthusiasm.

On the 24th of May 1993, the Eritrean people shattered once and for all the chains of colonial rule and attained sovereign independence. The great historic victory of the war of national independence achieved through the immense sacrifices of our heroic freedom fighters and the resolute determination of our valiant people enabled Eritrea to take its rightful place in the ranks of the community of free nations. It also enabled the achievement of the national right of the Eritrean people. It rekindled the torch of high hopes and great expectations among the Eritrean people for freedom, justice and prosperity.  

After centuries of colonial rule, the Eritrean people yearned and entertained high hopes for the establishment of a national government that satisfies their aspirations for freedom, justice and prosperity; governs in accordance with a constitution; respects the rule of law; institutes a new democratic dispensation; builds an advanced modern economy; creates employment and wealth; and promotes justice and prosperity. 

Indeed, the Eritrean people had a profound desire for the institution of an economic policy and legal framework that creates a conducive environment for normal family upbringing of the youth, equipping them with modern education and nurturing their national consciousness; allows the people to work, invest and make a living in their own country; and grows national wealth that improves the livelihood of the people. 

In an ironic twist of history, however, an authoritarian regime usurped state power. It has trampled the rule of law; imposed the rule of man; governed according to personal whims; closed and ruined the national economy; carried out arbitrary arrests and indefinite detentions; created largescale unemployment; expanded extreme poverty; and driven mass exodus. It has presided over Eritrea’s cascading regression in virtually all spheres of national life.

In contrast to the disappointing failure of independent African states to deliver freedom, justice and prosperity for their peoples following decolonisation, there were high hopes, great expectations and a real possibility in 1991 for independent Eritrea to learn from the failures and repeat its wartime feat of spectacular victory against all odds, become an African success story in the process of peacetime reconstruction and socioeconomic development and set an example of freedom, justice, development and prosperity in the continent. 

However, as my book, Eritrea at a Crossroads: A Narrative of Triumph, Betrayal and Hope explains in detail, the betrayal of the programmatic objectives of the struggle for liberation thwarted these expectations. The hopes of the Eritrea people and international friends failed to materialise. According to most criteria of quantitative indicators and qualitative assessments routinely issued by United Nations bodies, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, etc., Eritrea today ranks beneath all African countries, save for Somalia and South Sudan. Why? 

The answer is clear. It is not because the Eritrean people are less industrious than the other peoples of Africa or the world. It is only because they are denied opportunities in their own country. Otherwise, Eritreans have shown their industrious, perseverant and enterprising prowess not only by liberating their country but also by building successful businesses and livelihoods and contributing to the development of their host countries, such as Angola, Kenya, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, etc. 

Had the Eritrean people had good governance that (1) safeguards their security and safety; (2) applies the rule of law that dispenses justice; (3) upholds accountability and transparency; (4) shuns corruption; (5) allows political participation; (6) respects basic human rights; (7) embraces diversity and equality; (8) runs proficient public administration; (9) fosters a healthy labour and business climate; (10) builds advanced physical and social infrastructure; (11) develops the national economy; (12) provides adequate social services, such as public health and education; and (13) promotes the integrity of the environment; Eritrea today would have ranked among the world’s middle income countries rather than at the lowest rungs of the development ladder. It is crystal clear that malgovernance is the cause of its regression. 

It is true that Eritrea has, during the last 26 years endured external adversity such as aggression, occupation of parts of its territory, a state of “no war no peace”, and unjust sanctions. Even though such adversity has exerted a negative impact, it did not, however, constitute sufficient justification for failing to pursue rational domestic policies. It does not offer sufficient excuse for ignoring the Constitution of Eritrea; disregarding the rule of law; flouting good governance; lack of a legal framework that encourages domestic investment and attracts foreign direct investment. Nay, the basic cause of Eritrea’s regression is bad governance. Malevolent governance has extended and deepened extreme poverty among the people, disappointed our friends, made us a laughingstock and an object of ridicule of our enemies.

Relations among nations are based on national interest. Prominent politicians and political scientists admonish that a nation has no permanent friends or enemies, but only permanent interests. At this lawless and chaotic historical juncture when the world is undergoing a tectonic shift from a unipolar to a multipolar order, the pursuit of an independent nonaligned foreign policy based on the principle of peaceful coexistence that enables normal engagement with all countries, including the Big Powers, would best serve Eritrea’s national interest.  

The European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA), on their part, must pursue a constructive and balanced policy that transcends antipathy toward the current regime and gives due consideration to the interests of the State and the people of Eritrea. The imperative for regional peace, security and stability requires that the EU and the USA lift the unjust unilateral sanctions imposed on Eritrea and reconsider the pursuit of a partisan policy hostile to the sovereignty of the State of Eritrea, detrimental to the interest of the Eritrean people and fans proxy warfare in the region. They must stop echoing the baseless calls for the withdrawal of Eritrean forces from sovereign Eritrean territory and declare their formal recognition of the territorial integrity of Eritrea as defined by the colonial treaties and ascertained by the findings of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission. 

At present, the Horn of Africa and Red Sea region is mired in deep crisis. Ethiopia is stuck in persistent civil wars and mass killings perpetrated by constantly emerging and regrouping armed antagonists and shifting alignment of forces. Sudan is afflicted by a perilous civil war. Somalia has yet to have a central government that extends its authority over its entire territory. To help resolve the internal crises in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan through inclusive dialogue, the neighbouring countries and the international community must desist from negative intervention that fans the flames of war and contribute to reconciliation, the safety of the people and the durable resolution of the internal conflicts.

A dangerous rule of the jungle reigns at a time when the international liberal order established after the Second World War is crumbling and the new order is in the throes of its birth. This aggravates the crisis in our volatile region and underscores that security of the State of Eritrea can be safeguarded only by the Eritrean people. Population size is a significant human capital. Population size and economic power constitute the basis of a credible national defence capability. As the capital-based global economy shifts to a knowledge economy, providing for the proper upbringing, education and training of our youth, growing our population and building our human capital with knowledge and skills has become an existential necessity. 

Ensuring the long-term sovereignty of the Eritrean people and security of the State of Eritrea thus requires not only preparing an institutional mechanism for succession but also a rapid end to the one man show and instituting political change. It is necessary to establish an accountable and transparent functional government; revitalise the legislative, executive and judiciary organs; and build effective government institutions based on the Constitution of Eritrea. The country’s entire capability should be invested in resolving the domestic problems; accelerating economic development; improving the livelihood of the people; and halting and reversing mass exodus.

Every Eritrean citizen who is proud of Eritrea’s independence and concerned about the security of the people and the State of Eritrea must (1) respect the flag and emblem of the sovereign State of Eritrea; (2) refrain from becoming, in the name of opposition, a tool of hostile foreign forces who harbour expansionist ambitions on the State of Eritrea; and (3) desist from praising and flattering, in the name of support, the autocrat and whitewashing the dictatorship and, instead, advocate for democratic transition, justice and prosperity. 

I wish to stress that the aim of earnest national politics should be to crystallise constitutional governance that (1) ensures the rule of law and justice; (2) respects basic rights and freedoms; (3) builds human capital through modern science, technology and knowhow; (4) manages public finance, national assets and natural resources in an accountable and transparent manner; (5) promotes socioeconomic development; and (6) improves the livelihood of the people.

Just as we stood on the side of our people and armed forces, and the government whose policies and practices we criticise and oppose, to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State in wartime, it behoves all patriotic Eritreans to consciously struggle to help crystallise constitutional governance based on the rule of law to ensure freedom, justice and prosperity for the people in peacetime. Why? Because safeguarding the sovereignty of the people and the State are inseparable. They are fundamentally integral elements that guarantee the durable security of the people and the State of Eritrea. 

I would like to remind every Eritrean who wishes freedom, justice and prosperity for the Eritrean people that he/she has a noble national duty to reject external interference in internal Eritrean affairs and work to bring about homegrown change under Eritrean ownership to establish a democratic system of government based on the rule of law. 

The people of Eritrea, like all peoples the world over, deserve good governance that provides essential necessities and ensures freedom, justice and prosperity. Every Eritrean has an inalienable right to live, work and invest in dignity in his/her own country. At the same time, he/she has the citizenship right and the national duty to consciously endeavour to crystallise democratic change and stable transition to constitutional governance in Eritrea that safeguards the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State; consolidates the human security and sovereignty of the people; and enshrines good governance.   

Long live an independent sovereign State of Eritrea!

Eternal glory to our heroic martyrs!

God bless Eritrea and its People!

Once again, Happy Independence Day!