Eritrea�s Opposition: Changing Names, Platforms, Directions
By Gedab News - Aug 26, 2004
The state of flux of the Eritrean opposition groups took another turn when one of the Islamist organizations, Alkhalas, emerged from its congress in Khartoum, Sudan with a new name, strategy and objective.
The organization is now known as AlHezb AlIslami AlEritree LilAdalah Wetenmiya or Eritrean Islamic Party for Justice and Development (EIPJD). The congress elected a 41-member council and authorized its chairman the discretion to name nine more. Women are to make up at least 10% of the "Shura" council. Mr. Khalil Mohammed Amer was re-elected to his position. More importantly, the organization dropped its objective of establishing an Islamic state ruled by Sheria to a call for state ruled by law and justice and passed a resolution for establishing an inter-religious dialogue committee.
Gone also is its emblem which had prominently displayed a gun.
On July 31, five political fronts and parties had declared their intent to work toward full unification. The coalition, dubbed �Four Plus One� because it includes four member organizations of the Eritrean National Alliance and one that is not, had followed up its announcement in Kassel, Germany with a weeklong meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss their platforms and their roles during the transition period towards the anticipated full unity. After briefing the authorities of the host country on their progress, a delegation of the Four Plus One has arrived in Khartoum, Sudan to brief Sudanese authorities.
Meanwhile, three political organization and parties�ELF (�Jebha Abbay�), ELF-RC (�Sewrawi Bayto�) and EDP (�Selfi Democracy�)�have formed a �common understanding on the formation of a unified platform� on the basis that they �hold identical positions on vital matters.� Subsequently, one of the organizations, EDP, announced that it had conducted a full merger with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the group formed by former student union leader, Mr. Semere Kesete. (Addendum: In a statement issued last week, members of MDC opposing Semere Kesete have decided to join the 4+1)
The same week, in an interview with Eritreana.com, an Eritrean website, Dr Osman Abubaker who chairs the United Front as well as the foreign relations office of the Eritrean National Alliance, announced that his organization and four others have reached an agreement to unify their fronts.
Following all these announcements, many smaller political and civil groups have announced their intent to form their own coalitions.
It is unknown how the recent realignment of the political organizations will impact the Eritrean National Alliance (ENA), which was originally intended to be an �umbrella group� for all opposition groups.
Given the fluid nature of the coalitions and the multiplicity of opposition organizations, any listing is bound to be incomplete. Here, listed in the order of their public announcements, is a summary of the recent opposition blocs formed, and their affiliation with the ENA. (m) indicates membership and (n) indicates non-membership in the Alliance. A glossary of the acronyms appears at the end:
Block 1: ELF-NC (m), ERDF (m), DMLEK (m), RSADO (m), EPM (n)
Of the 13 member organizations of the ENA, eight organizations have announced that they are forming coalitions that may include full unity with organizations that are not members of the ENA. The remaining five are the EPC, EIPJD (formerly Alkhalas), PDFLE (Sagem), EIA (Almubadera), and ECP.
The ENA�s �supreme leadership� is expected to hold its six regular meeting in October 2004.
CEU: Committee for Eritrean Unity