Update: State of the Eritrean Opposition & Eritrean Government Print E-mail
By Gedab News - Aug 28, 2006   

In June, Gedab News reported that the Government of Sudan had denied meeting venues to several Eritrean opposition organizations who had scheduled their  congresses in Khartoum, Sudan; that the Eritrean Democratic Party, which had scheduled its congress in Italy, was unaffected by Sudan's decision and that the fate of the Eritrean Islamist congress, scheduled to be held in Sudan, was unknown.  This is a follow-up report on all the opposition groups and the activities of the government of Eritrea.  


Eritrean Islamic Reform (Islah)


Islah held its 4th congress in Sudan, between August 9 and August 12th, 2006.  Islah elected a 65-member Shura, a consultative body, and re-elected Mr. Mohammed Ahmed Saleh (better known as Abu-Suheil) as its Secretary General.   At the congress, Islah announced that the Islamic Wefaq Party, an organization chaired by Mr. Adem Mujaurai, has joined Islah.   The Wefaq Party was briefly part of a short-lived coalition of 7-parties allied with Mr. Herui T Bairou�s Co-operative Party.


The Eritrean National Salvation Front


The Eritrean National Salvation Front (ENSF), which is a grouping of 3 organiations--Eritrean Liberation Front-National Congress (ELF-NC) led by Dr. Beyene Kidane; the Eritrean People�s Movement (EPM) led by Mr. Abdella Adem and the Eritrean Revolutionary Democratic Front (Sedeg�e), led by Mr. Berhane Yemane (Hanjema)--held its unity congress in Addis Abeba from August 15 to August 23.  


The congress elected (by consensus instead of secret ballot) a legislative body composed of 41 regular and 4 reserve members. The legislative branch also elected (by consensus) an executive branch headed by Dr. Beyene Kidane, with Berhane Yemane (Hanjema) heading the department of organizational affairs, and Abdella Adem in charge of the department of foreign relations. The list of the executive is:

Dr. Beyene Kidane, Chairman
Berhane Hanjema, Organizational Affairs

Abdella Adem, Foreign Affairs
Uqbai Tekle, Economy & Finance
Ahmed Ibrahim (Secretaire), Social Affairs
Netsereab Asmelash, Secretary
GebreMichael Askale, Information
Abdella Hassen, Security
Jabir Ahmed, Military


The Eritrean Democratic Party


The Eritrean Democratic Party (EDP) held its 2nd national congress in Milan, Italy from 25th through the 29th of July, 2006 and elected a 25-member legislative body (with 3 reserves). The legislative body subsequently elected a 7-member executive committee, headed by Mr. Mesfin Hagos.  The executive committee is:


Mesfin Hagos

Mehret Gebreyesus

Tesfamichael Yohannes

Dr. Assefaw Tekeste

Hamed Derar

Hajj Abdelnour

Semere Kesete


EDP has not announced the offices that its executive officers are assigned to, but Mr. Mesfin Hagos is still the chairman.


The Eritrean Liberation Front � Revolutionary Council 


The Eritrean Liberation Front-Revolutionary council (ELF-RC) held its 6th Congress in Addis Ababa between July 23rd and July 27th.  It elected a legislative leadership composed of 33 regular and 3 reserve members. Subsequently, the revolutionary council elected a 9-person executive committee with Mr. Woldeyesus Ammar as its chairman; Mr. Assefaw Berhe as director of organizational affairs and Mr. Tecle Melekin in international affairs.  The list of the executive committee is as follows:


Woldeyesus Ammar, Chairman

Tesfai Woldemichael (Degiga), Vice-chairman

Tecle Melekin, Foreign Affairs

Mengisteab Asmerom, Director Information & Culture

Assefaw Berhe, Director Organizational Affairs

Mohammed Adem Artaa, Director Youth/Women's Affairs

Berhane Tesfagaber, Director Financial Affairs

Gime Ahmed, Director Social Affairs

Mohammed Ali Ibrahim, Director Military Affairs


Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF)


The ELF, chaired by Abdella Idris, (where Hussein Khelifa still serves as vice-chair) became the first opposition organization to take a firm stand on the new developments in Somalia.  In a joint memorandum with the Transition Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, Dr. Yohannes Zeremariam, the ELF�s director of international affairs, firmly aligned his organization with the TFG and supported the �coordination between the democratic forces in the different countries of the Horn" which is "an urgent obligation.�


Opposition Groups Outside the EDA


The Eritrean opposition organizations mentioned above are all members of the umbrella association, the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA.)  But there are Eritrean opposition organizations which have either chosen not to be part of the EDA, have had their application for membership suspended until they meet membership requirements or are in the process of joining the EDA.   These include:  


EDF (led by Dr. Osman Abubeker); United Front (led by Mr. Ali Berhatu); Gash Setit Liberation Front (led by Mr. Ismael Nada), Qaza'if Alhaq (led by Mr. Idris Qaisem and Mr. Adem Mujaurai), EAIM faction (led by Mr. Yacob Indrias), and the Eritrean Cooperative Party (led by Mr. Herui Bairou.) 


It is difficult to know the size of these organization since most of them  haven't had their organizational congresses.  


The aforementioned groups used to be members of a short-lived �new alliance� known as Congress Party (CP) and described by Herui T Bairou as a challenge to the EDA.  But the Congress Party has fallen apart: Adem Mujaurai has now joined Islah and the other groups have gone their separate ways. The CP now includes part of EAIM, part of  Qaza'if Alhaq and Herui's Cooperative Party. 


Meanwhile, another faction of the Eritrean Peoplar Movement (EPM), led by Mr. Adhanom Gebremariam, continues to operate independently of the EDA with members in Ethiopia and the West. 


The PFDJ � Eritrea�s Sole Legal Party


The PFDJ has been in hyperactive mode trying to strengthen its relations with the ruling party of Sudan and the Islamist movement of Somalia.


Mr. Abdella Jaber, the ruling party�s director of organizational affairs who had been given the Sudan portfolio for years, has been edged out from the desk in favor of Mr. Yemane Gebreab, the ruling party�s director of political affairs.  Yemane has been facilitating all the meetings held by Sudan's opposition groups in Eritrea- a task that Abdella Jaber used to handle.


Informed sources report that Sudan and Eritrea have reached a grand compromise on the issue of Sudanese opposition: Sudan would provide Eritrea maximum leverage with respect to the Eastern opposition; in exchange, Eritrea is to disengage itself from Sudan�s �western problem�, i.e. Darfur.


In Somalia, the Eritrean government appears to be the lone holdout from IGAD�s (Horn of Africa state's grouping) decision to either support the TFG or facilitate reconciliation between the TFG and the Islamic Court.  The Eritrean government considers it of paramount importance that a belligerent and militaristic government be established in Somalia to check the ambitions of Ethiopia and redirect its military posture.  Not only has the PFDJ been arming and facilitating the shipment of arms to the Somali Islamists, but it has in fact dispatched Eritrean officers to train the Somali Islamists in the use of heavy equipment. It has also set up an extensive intelligence network in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.


Meanwhile, the situation within Eritrea shows no signs of improvement and is in fact deteriorating in all fronts. Beginning Saturday 26 of August, the government has reactivated its giffa�military round ups�all over Asmara, with the neighborhoods of Shuk, Enda Mariam, Akria, Edaga Hamus and Edaga Arbi particularly hit by the MPs.

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