“I see a light at the end of the tunnel” My own expectation
Eritrean Opposition towards a win -win solution By Fesseha Nair
When I have read the press release of the Ad- Hoc Contact Organ of the Consulative meetings in Addis Abeba, I was really surprised and inspired by the initial agreements reached between those who did not participate in Nairobi to participate in the coming all- inclusive consulative meeting that will be held in the coming August 2016. I also appreciate the empathy shown by the six political organizations, by empathy , I mean stepping in the other parties shoes seeing the conflict issues not only through their eyes but through the eyes of others. Empathy doesnot mean you have accepted all what the others say but help you to use reasonable causes of action to diffuse conflict situation and move towards the right direction. The statement reminded me that we have our Cyril Mamphosa( ANC) and Roelf Meyer( Apartheid) skills of negotiating that can end the dictatorship and pave the road map towards democratic transition in our land Eritrea. In this article of appreciation, I would like to focus on the three points stated in the press release of the AD- Hoc Contact Organ. – A Unifying stategic Vision – Agreement on the methods of ending dictatorship in Eritrea – Clear Transtional Map or Roadmap Referring the previous studies and experiences of the Eritrean and international analysis.
1. What is a unifying strategic vision?
The Eritrean internal conflict is a deep rooted conflict based on identity elements (religion, language, culture and region) these elements are components of our national identity but they have been misued by political elites/political entrepreneurs to divide and create political cleavages during the political and armed struggle and now at this time of struggle from dictatorship to democracy. A unifying strategic vision can be created by identifying or understanding the situation of each organization feelings and motives. We have today political and civic organizations based on or affiliated by identities not by idealogies, thus religious, ethnic and regional political and civic organizations. A unifying strategic vision can be created and maintained by pursuing the process of participation and inclusiveness. There are two routes. The first route is the process of trust building and sustaining good professional relations with all forces for democratic change. The second route is creating commitment to the common programme by identifying what will be gained- we all gain by removing the dictatorship in Eritrea. The Ad- Hoc Contact Organ in consultation with all parties must formulate the key strategic issues of the Opposition Forces. As they have mentioned in their press release their formulation of the unifying strategic vision will be based on the information and analysis derived from the previous studies. ( Historical analysis of the Eritrean unifying strategic vision- its success and failures) With this in mind, I would like to share my experience with the Contact Organ in the formulation of the unifying strategic vision by taking well-informed, realistic and relatively detailed strategies that must be formulated by involving all actors in the opposition organizations. I think before unifying the opposition forces we need to idnetify the strategic issues facing us in the opposition camp. In this way it will be clear to any person who reads each strategy what the problem is, what solution has been proposed, how the proposed solution will successfully address the problem and why this solution is better than the previous.( see the experience of building partnership in the ENA, ENCDC……….etc) When the individaul strategies are formulated, then, the Ad-Hoc Contact Organ’s task is to formulate the overall unifying strategy of vision based on the individual strategies. What are the main themes of this overall strategy? Have the opposition a common denominator? How can this common denominator best be framed so that it is clear to all stakeholders and this sparks to new commitments to make the desired change happen. I hope the Ad-Hoc Contact Organ take a flexible approach to get the support of all forces in the opposition camp.
2. Agreement on the methods of ending dictatorship in Eritrea
What we have seen in the past 15 years struggle from dictatorship to democracy, the problem was not on the planning of the strategy but on implementation. After formulating the unifying strategic plan, the Sd-Hoc Contact Organ must prepare to give the plan life. ( towards implementation and evaluation) Here , I mean, specific and detailed list should be made for each plan, stating goals, activities and outcomes and the resources required ( funds, people,technology must be organized to succeed in the given plan of work. I think in the past 15 years we lacked resources to implement our unifying strategy of vision. The Eritrean Opposition forces have been arguing the methods simply by saying or mentioning, ” Violence or non-violence , or, all means or reform have consumed our time and scanty resources. I think, the Ad-Hoc Contact Organ focuses on the process of implementation and evaluation of the plan periodically.( See more on recent academic researches) If we once complete the process of implementation and evaluation every time after each project by doing so we create a culture of work process that can give us the opportunity not only to think, plan and act but also learn strategically. Our previous methods of unifying were not strategical but tactical and diversional inherited from the philsophy of zero-sum games. Let us now change the mindset and move towards building trust and work together to liberate our people from the brutality of one man rule.
3.Clear Transtional Period Transitional period
Transitional period is the time between or from the fall of dictatorship to building constitutional government. This period is very complicated and full of contradictions.,We have seen the recent Arab Spring Mass Movements results in their transition afeter the fall of dictators. Looking from the different transitions in Africa and Latin America most of them failed to succeed in their transition from dictatorship to democracy. In the past 15 years, the ENA- Eritrean Democratic Alliance has defined and chartered how the transitional period be framed and later the ENCDC har developed it more and frmaed it in its document, the EPDP has also proposed the transitional period and is available in the EPDP’s website.
As the Ad-Hoc Contact Organ mentioned in their statements that we have enough internal and external documents dealing on the transitional period. I think this approach will foster inclusiveness and prevent personal conflicts and tensions among political and civic organizations.