Eritrean Democratic Alliance: Authority Without Legitimacy

Posted on May 13, 2012 by

A reminder from physics: a body at rest stays at rest and a body at motion stays in motion. Thanks but no thanks, the EDA reminded me about my physics class to determine its kinetics, which is perennially static with no limber, but subject to excavation, contention, and inquisition which fits into my own narratives. And that is, “EDA [is] stagnant [and] will remain stagnant.” Currently, in the trips and tropes, wrenching faults still emit tremors; clashes of our diversities are revolting against mindless authority, a stark of Eritrean political hubris, all still reverberating as we speak.

Small wonder then that this harsh perpetual attack seems to be absolutely necessary. The chairman of the ENCDC and the EDA are now proved to be the obstacles to the idea of transformation and collective leadership. None of them dare to speak a word about transformation, for mortal fear of negating their political cultures as “old-school of politics.” In fact they are telling us that “transformation is dissolution” and it is insane. Indeed they are really from the old school of politics, who even don’t understand the difference of “transformation” and “dissolution.” Please tell them transformation is not dissolution.

For most of us, may be, such things will leave us feeling righteous and tough enough to bring EDA to its knees. They are actually making us feel surrounded by girdle concern, if not from moral questions, from pragmatic ones who hold us hostages of doing-nothing. Indeed thoughtful dissection of the “bygone decades with no political carousal” is at a premium and of course a lesson to our young.

Worse, in a system of stagnation, followed by severe resistance, the insanity does not end with hindering ENCDC from functioning. In his unseasonably ugly gig, the chairman of the ENCDC came to a pal-talk room to disclose the internal communications between members of the council in North America and his office. Sad as it maybe, it is a signal to the public to role their eyes and show a “nod of disapproval” to his leadership. A leader who cannot put his house in order can not make ENCDC a formidable organization, with its diversity intact, to lead the opposition camp. What a disaste! Six month since the congress was concluded and nothing came out from the information office, the political office of the ENCDC, and, the office of chairman for that matter. The three political documents (the products of the congress) are not yet disseminated to the public to be owned by the public domain. Strikingly though, the one thing that is certain in this saga is that the EDA members do not even evolve at the pace of the Galapagos tortoises that Darwin studied.

Am I doing offsite kinetics? Of course yes. I am trying to give relevant information to those who have a vested political interest in ENCDC and opt for making the new umbrella successful. Yes, I want them to voice their views on the “do-nothing leadership,” to create a new dynamics that would exert pressure, or Shake the leadership, like a kinetic watch to do their work. But do they have the ability to repair their own kinetics? I doubt.

Woefully out of touch, EDA leaders are always in their room, everyday and every night, sometimes whispering and sometimes shouting in a vacuum, but always reminding us that they are the authority without legitimacy hanging in without a balance. There is no creativity and intellectual visibility in their closed house, reaping paralysis and sub-standard organizational maturity for decades. Currently, their hope to lead has evaporated like so many tequila shots at a frat party.  But unfortunately, lost in the sideshow, is the real dream of our people in the scheme of the PFDJ and emasculated leadership of the EDA. Everything they do is not about justice; it is about dogma politics that does not evolve.

Raw Instinct and the Cycle of Power

President Clinton once rationalized the acts of criminals and drug users, and he said “too often the same criminals and drug users’ cycle through the court, corrections, and probation system, but still hooked on drugs and still committing crime to support their habits.” He argued that the authorities should intervene at early stages. Quite frankly, in the same breath, energy, and vitality, the same EDA leadership is recycling from conferences and congresses with the same outcome and of course with no personal and political transformation. Their leadership is recycled with their power addiction, time after time. And worse, they become blatant in their power grab and their bases making endless excuses for and covering up their leaders’ failure. This is the reality in the politics of the opposition camp with no difference to the PFDJ leaders in terms of power addiction. If this parable does not ring bell, it means we haven’t seen their congresses, haven’t read their gospels, and we aren’t familiar with their leaders.

Astoundingly, they could not understand the decades of public shrug of shoulders. Their failure was and is downplayed equally by their members as a little bit of blip – a word defined as a small and inconsequential. As of now, the public understands them as a group of complementary part that continues to a single effect of “stagnancy and crises.” Then, what can be done?

A little attempt was done in the last congress to transform them from their archaic political structure. New super-structure was designed and new workable Roadmap was introduced. Instead of working on the changes and new leadership, they want to morph like a cash entitlement for power unions. Ops, power unions without power base! Or a dream for power usurpation! No. Our hope is that the public will keep clubbing them until they submit, indeed with ever searching gaze of tried-and-true and reliable resistances, to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle.

If scientists had clearer concept of biogenesis – the emergences of life on earth, or if chemistry and biology were advanced enough to detect “shadow life” it would have been easy for us to make a comprehensive parallel study to the “shadow power” of the EDA and how they are causing a clot in the major political artery of the ENCDC. But in the absence of the above, a friend gave a short synopsis to this phenomenon.

Surprisingly, at one point of our discussion my friend told me an off-color kind of joke. He said: You see buddy, coming up with new political structure and workable roadmap is one thing and leaving EDA on the saddle is another thing. Right away I felt like a mom’s discomfort, caused by holding conflicting cognitions called “cognitive dissonance.” Oh lord! Trying to transform the untransformable-EDA and believing in a big tent have caused on me uncomfortable conflicting thoughts. How about making a cracking sound, like whip-cracking to demand obedience and efficiency in a stern manner? Isn’t that what I am doing anyway? If this doesn’t work, the theory of “big tent” is not feasible at least within the Eritrean political context, because, an umbrella within an umbrella is not really a big tent, it is like creating a space of contention for two different political interests—the EDA and the rest of ENCDC in one medium. Ask yourself a moral and a political question to EDA, if the executive body of the ENCDC is EDA members, why do they need their own executive body? Is it a harness to hold the ENCDC from moving?

EDA and the Marshmallow Test

I don’t trust the EDA umbrella because it is an alliance of one marshmallow eaters. What do I mean by that? The marshmallow test is a great psychological experiment conducted in 1972 by Professor Walter Mischel, a psychologist at Stanford University. How does it work? You set a group of four year old children in a room with a marshmallow and promise them another if they can wait a few minutes before eating the first. Then the children are left in the room alone for some minutes with a diabolic temptation to eat the marshmallow until the expert is back. Some couldn’t wait to grab the plate and eat the marshmallow and others find ways to destruct themselves and deferred gratifications to win the reward (the second marshmallow).

What makes Mischel’s experiment important is that he found those who managed to wait tend to be successful in school. In other words, it turns out that the self-controlled intelligence is a key predictor of future success. Therefore, according to this concept, people who are able to delay gratifications for la ong period of time are more likely to become successful in life.

What about the EDA? It is accused of being a one marshmallow eater. Its whole strategy is premised on not taking the marshmallow of “transformation” but opts to cling on thing that gives its leaders an instant gratification to their power addiction.

Consider a scenario for a moment: similar to the last month’s drama and the whereabouts of our despot. Assume it was true that the despot was dead and the power holders from inside made a call for a government of a national unity. There is no a single formidable organization, I mean real formidable, that has real political leverage to work for transitional government of national unity. EDA is an umbrella of clusters of political organizations and when the call hits their homes, each organization will be on its own. Think about it. EDA is not one party but many small parties. With such existence, they will all be losers. Changes and transformation which includes merging and evolving into parties is quintessential before such kind of scenario hits your homes. This power addiction in the hinterland will make you always one marshmallow eaters. The platform of the ENCDC which is still under your leadership will give you a new face, a new political life, and a fertile ground for new political revenue, if and only if, you avoid the unnecessary archaic EDA umbrella.

 Bold Approach Urged for Transformation

We need new ideas, new action, and new argument, focusing on the big picture, the details will eventually work themselves out. EDA in its recent press release, quoting some provisions from the constitution of the umbrella, tried to hit back to the questions of transformation, and argued that there is no legality in the public pressuring them, even if it was for the benefit of the organizations that constitute the EDA umbrella.

For EDA footing, the shifting legal-sand is not a way out, for there is no legal binding between the EDA and the public at large in the ever changing Eritrean political landscape. All the quoted provision has to do within the organizations in the umbrella with no legal binding with the public [EDA release]. The public demand is not on legal merits, it is on the demerits of their political existence. For so long, we are constantly reminded that for EDA working with the people’s representative is a political heresy, losing completely their ability to even explore alternatives.

Back to my chemistry class: oil and water are improbable to mix in a laboratory oil/water density experiment. No matter how many times we try to mix them, they will always separate from each other at room temperature. The same thing goes for bad relationship, be it in politics or simple human relationships. For years we fought to bring the interest of the public and the interest of the EDA organizations in one page. Albeit, we found it difficult to attain; no matter how hard and reasonable the approach might have been.

But at cold temperature, the oil freezes faster and becomes denser, and it starts to settle at the bottom of the beaker. That is the way we separate the oil from the water, if we need to by the way. Therefore, there is a big warning for the EDA here: if the public is outraged there are different political alternatives to alienate you and make your political stock market hit deep to the bottom. The warning signs and symptoms are clearly on the wall for you to do something before it is too late.

At this moment, EDA is an overgrown circus act and a featured freak show that could not guarantee any kind of change. We know the pope only speaks infallibility when it comes to dogma, and we know EDA’s fallibility when it comes on the issue of democratic transformation. It is a matter of consciousness – and yes the degree of consciousness. According to the Encyclical Dignitatis humane, the public will not be forced to act contrary to their conscience, but could make a flagrant departure from the entrenched predisposition of the EDA, and the rupture will be rejoiced and lamented depending on the protagonists. There is a big lesson for the EDA if they have the ability to learn. Watch the public mood, and their demand, and act accordingly.


We dare not fearful of foxes, raccoons, coyotes, tigers, and other predators in our politics. We face them as they are. Again, there are some migratory butterflies that are confused by the climate change within our politics. Tell them as it is, and keep them on tune to the songs, before the season of migration starts. Yap, Red admirals also are not uncommon, but we rarely notice them when their political agenda is modest, as they usually are.

Surely, when the new spring comes, the new generation will soon begin migrating and repopulating the opposition camp. The new arrivals (our young) will shortly lay eggs and we may be dancing to the same tune for sometime, before the season of debacle is out. Our young have speed and energy, but they need direction and at the same time they need to get their feet on the ground.

There are plenty of blame to go around the EDA for this season of debacle for limping throughout the years. Indeed there are plenty of facts out there that everyone of the EDA organizations deserves a share of the blame. Now EDA’s political power is steeped into a strange idiom of vanity and personal glory, unable and unwilling to transform in a visible display, with an elixir of immorality escaping from the confines.

Today, we began with the release of keeping the promise. We say it loudly, that we can’t feed the hungry Eritrean people, but we can be the purveyors of hope and truth. This is coming from the proactive democratic street credo. And of course we are not going to bully our “classmates in this politics” who are united by the “faith of transformation.” But here is today’s message and it is simple: if the arts aren’t at the table, it is because the artists and art advocators aren’t taking their seats, just to echo my friend’s grievances in my own word.