.As a legacy of the ELF Supreme Council military action against Haraka in 1965 , the ELF First National Congress in 1971 also passed a resolution setting the stage for civil war on the grounds on the grounds that 'Eritrean field cannot bear more than one organization and one leadership' which led the civil was 1972-1974 .
Gaim in his book describe this period (1972-1974) as one of the darkest sides of the ELF First National Congress, and this has been one of its “sacrosanct principles or lack of principles” permeating the ELF throughout its history, is that Eritrea cannot bear more than one organization, one liberation army and one leadership” This has been the single most important organizational principle of the ELF throughout its history [ Kibreab, 2008 page 197]
Consequence of the civil war 1972-1974 which was erupted as a result of power rivalry between the ELF and EPLF leaders more than a thousand fighters were killed from both Fronts, most of them were students who joined the ELF and EPLF between 1971 and 1974.
A battle between the two fronts at Wolki in October 1974 left 600 fighters dead, and caused a spontaneous demonstration by the citizens of Asmara, who marched to the battlefield and demanded that the fronts settle their differences by negotiation (Waa 1991, 4). Markakis (1987 page 138) also states that in October 1974, a newly arrived ELF-PLF unit stationed in the village of Zager, 18 km from Asmara, clashed with an ELF unit from the nearby village of Woki. A murderous battle ensued lasting several days, with heavy casualties on both side.
The two years [1972-1974] of internecine strife between the two movements, which caused an estimated 3,000 casualties among the fighters - more deaths among the combatants than the entire thirteen years of government military actions to date ( Waal 1991)?
According to Mahmoud Ismail Haj and Suleiman Ibrahim, had the armed struggle been led by the ELM, whose leaders were seasoned political activists and virtuous, Eritrea would have been spared the agonies of the civil war and the other tragedies that befell it and its people, this because the ELM was secular and non-sectarian. However the ELM no longer exited by the time civil war broken out in 1972 between the two main liberation forces, the ELF and the EPLF. That war cost many lives. It also cast a sectarian shadow over the struggle for independence that affected the dispensation of independent Eritrea (Gaim)
In 1980 the EPLF also returned to the old ELF argument that Eritrea could not support more than one liberation front, as a justification to annihilate the ELF. Based on the principle "The enemy of my enemy is my friend. The EPLF leadership formed an align with the TPLF to attack their common enemy the ELF.This cause the civil war between the ELF and EPLF in 1981.According to unofficial report this war caused an estimated between 1,000 and 2,000 casualties]
Why all those casualties were caused by the civil wars war between brothers and all the above casualties which should have been avoided at any cost?
Yosef Gebrehiwot in the Part II Romanticizing Ghedli “Civil war and identity crisis” gave a good explanation through raising this fundamental question. Why was the civil war unavoidable? Why was it impossible for the two fronts to unite?
According Yosef this is because each of them thought it couldn’t absorb the other without diluting, at best, or totally compromising, at worst, its identity, the identities that both wanted to impose on a liberated nation had nothing to do with the actual identity of the masses (or with the “Eritrean identity”, if you will). So the quest for self-preservation of their respective identities had to come not only at the expense of each other’s identity, but also at the expense of the masses’ identity. Read more Romanticizing Ghedli “Civil war and identity crisis
As the result of the Eritrean politics has been characterized by arrogance, rejectionist, phobia and culture of tolerance, both organisations, the ELF and EPLF suffered heavy casualties in the fighting, and Eritrea had lost many educators during the 1972 and 1974, and 1981 civil wars.
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