The ELA Meeting in Ansaba, September 1968 

The meeting at Arota, Ansaba, usually referred as the Ansaba meeting, was convened between 11-18 September 1968. It was attended by 40 delegates from the 3rd, 4th and 5th Divisions of the ELA in addition to leaders of the Training  and Support Units. The 2nd Division, which was engaged in a murderous battle at Halhal three days earlier on 8 September 1968, could not attend this meeting. Likewise, the 1st Division was absent although it sent two envoys to the meeting (Halibe Sete, alias Ahmed Ibrahim Nafie, and Mahmoud Ibrahim M. Saed) asking for a postponement because of the absence of key division leaders in the field and because of the tragedy that occurred at Halhal in which over 45 fighters, including the Commander Omar Ezaz, were martyred. But the majority of the participants of the Ansaba meeting felt that the Battle of Halhal was not necessary and that the meeting should go ahead without the participation of the 1st and 2nd Divisions, which earlier requested several times for the postponement of this meeting. The meeting gave birth to the Tripartite Union whose new leadership, the Provisional Revolutionary Command, consisted of 12 members.


Leaders of the Tripartite Union elected at the Ansaba Meeting were :

1.        Mohammed Ahmed Abdu, chairman

2.        Abdalla Idris Mohammed

3.        Mohammed Ali Omaro

4.        Ramadan Mohammed Nur

5.        Abraham Tewolde

6.        Isayas Afeworki

7.        Mohammed Omar Abdalla (Abu Tiyara)

8.        Ahmed Ibrahim

9.        Mohammed Abdalla Taha (al-Safi)

10.     Omar Damer

11.     Abdalla Yusuf

12.     Hamid Saleh


Although the meeting participants could have done better by being more patient and postpone this particular meeting and wait for the other two divisions to attend, especially in light of the tragedy at Halhal, the very fact of unifying at least three divisions of the fragmented liberation army was not a negative development. After the Ansaba meeting, fighters and the people intensified their demands for the convening of a general congress. But two leadership members (Omaro and Isayas) are usually singled out to have strongly campaigned against the idea of a general congress, insisting that the 1st and the 2nd Divisions must accept the 12-man Provisional Revolutionary Command as their leadership and abide by all the decisions made at the Ansaba meeting.


ELF Branches Meet in Gedaref, November 1968

In November 1968, branch members of the ELF throughout the Sudan met in Gedaref and formed a central committee that pursued the calls for change in the field, including the dissolution of the ethno-regional divisions of the army. 


Efforts for a wider military conference continued. Eventually, even the majority of the 12-man leadership of the Tripartite Union agreed for a joint ELA meeting. However, there were difficulties because two key of its leaders, Omaro and Isayas resigned from the leadership in opposition to the agreement for a conference, although both finally agreed reluctantly to attend the conference at Adobaha.


The Military Conference of Adobaha, August 1969

 The Military Conference of Adobha met between 10 and 25 August 1969 with 162 participants and took decisions as follows:


-                   Dissolved the system of the ethno-regional autonomous 5 Regional Commands (Menatiq/Kiflitat) and agreed to name a 38-man Provisional General Command (Kiyad Ama muaqat giziyawit Teklalit Merihnet) of a unified army. After heated discussions, the conference agreed to give 10 seats each to the 1st and 2nd Divisions and 18 seats to the Tripartite Union (consisting of 3rd, 4th and 5th Divisions).

-                   Formed a preparatory committee for a national congress.

-                 Formed an 18-member committee to investigate mistakes committed in the struggle for the period up to August 1969.

-                Formed a third committee tasked of taking care of the property of the organization.

-                 Froze the authority of the five field Commanders and of the Kassala-based Revolutionary Command until their cases are investigated and cleared at a national congress of the ELF.

-                  The Supreme Council in Cairo was authorized to continue as before till a national congress is convened a year later.

(The Adobaha Conference was convened without the blessing from  Supreme Council.)


Members of the General Command (Kiyada Ama) named at Adobaha were: 1. Mohammed Ahmed Abdu, chairman, 2. Ramadan Mohammed Nur, 3. Ahmed Mohammed Ibrahim, 4. Tesfai Tecle, 5. Saed Saleh, 6. Abdulkader Ramadan, 7. Abdalla Idris Mohammed, 8. Isayas Afeworki, 9. Birhan
Bilata, 10. Saleh Omar Kekiya, 11. Osman Ajib, 12. Saleh Ibrahim Mohammed (Jimjam), 13. Adem Saleh Al Haj (Shedeli), 14. Saleh Hayoti, 15. Ahmed Adem Omar, 16. Ahmed Ibrahim Mohammed, 17. Ibrahim Abdalla Mohammed, 18. Yassin Al Haj, 19.
Amir Tahir Shihabi, 20. Abdulraqib Mussa, 21. Mohammed Osman Izaz, 22. Mohammed Ahmed Idris, 23. Jaffer Jabir Omar, 24. Abdalla Mahmoud, 25. Ibrahim Jamil, 26. Hamid Mahmoud; 27. Ibrahim Mohammed, 28. Ahmed Hayten, 29. Mussa Mohammed Hashim, 30. Hamid Ahmed Osman, 31. Saleh Faraj Ali, 32. Mohammed Saed Shineti, 33. Abraha Mekonnen, 34. Mohammed Osman Omar Shaeban, 35. Abdulkadir Hamdan, 36. Mahmoud Chekini, alias, Mahmoud Ibrahim Mohammed Saed, 38. Saleh Mohammed Fikak, and 38. Afa Mohammed Hamid.


The differences, mistrust and conflicts that were created during the 1965-1969 period of the Regional Commands (zemene-kiflitat or ayam-menatiq) were not to be healed easily. Understandably, the conference was heavily affected by the legacies of the ethno-regional divisions of the preceding five years. Even in the aftermath of Adobha, allegiances to personalities in the Supreme Council continued as before. The former members of the Tripartite Union were still supported by some elements in the Supreme Council and the rest by others. 


By all measures, Adobaha was an end of one era and a beginning of another whose story will be told later in this series. The upcoming Part V will focus on the major battles that the ELA fought during that period of ethno-regionalist rivalries between August 1965 till Adobaha in August 1969.



Source :From the Experiences of the

Eritrean Liberation Army (ELA)

Part VIII and Final