The Unity Facade Is Now Over.
In a statement issued On July 10, two senior leaders of the Eritrean Liberation Front-Revolutionary Council (ELF-RC), Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Nasser and Dr. Beyene Kidane have announced that they will join the Eritrean National Alliance (ENA) and called on the grassroots membership to reorganize itself and do likewise.
ENA is an umbrella group for 13 Eritrean opposition groups.
The two men accuse the chairman of their organization, Mr. Seyoum Ogbamichael of political cronyism and instigating a purge within the movement for the sole purpose of retaining his power.
"His decision to appoint people who have no ability nor acceptance within the grassroots as heads of offices simply because they supported his decision increasingly clarified the motives behind his objective," they write.
Their statement goes on to state that "the machinations of the Chairman and his political cohorts and, subsequently, the deeds he has executed since has clarified to us that his intent is not to protect and safeguard the unity of the front but a purging process based on a narrowly-defined need to retain power."
The two men also accuse Mr. Seyoum Ogbamichael of being the chief obstacle in their organization's drive to rejoin the ENA.
"We have finally come to the conclusion that those who present various pretexts time after time have no desire for us to renew our membership within the Alliance and resume our struggle. And our fundamental difference is based on this," explains the statement.
In October 2002, ELF-RC walked out of a meeting of the ENA to protest what it described as undue influence of foreign powers in the umbrella movement's election process, which culminated in the selection of Mr. Abdella Idris and Mr. Herui T Bairou as, respectively, the president and Secretary General of the organization. In response, the ENA suspended its membership and demanded that to be reinstated the ELF-RC prove its allegation, apologize and accept the new leadership. The ELF-RC responded that it had been informed by some of the attendants, including Mr. Herui T Bairou, that regional powers had expressed their wishes that Mr. Herui T Bairou be elected to a leadership position. Further, it explained that it would not apologize and questioned the fitness of Mr. Herui T. Bairou for the position given that he had just joined the ENA on the eve of its meeting.
For eight months, the ELF-RC's decision created a crisis and a split within the membership of the organization with many field offices, particularly the German branch, in open defiance of the decision of the leadership. In June, the Revolutionary Council held a meeting and pronounced that it would take positive steps to rectify the rift within its organization and rapproach with the Alliance, if the latter would note its reservation regarding some aspects of its charter. The German office accused the RC of engaging in power plays while ignoring the "strategic and principal issues concerning Eritrea" and vote to suspend its membership with the RC "until an organizational congress is convened."