EPDP in 2016: a Short Profile
The Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), which was created as a merger on 1 January 2010 and held its first congress in 2011 and second congress in two places (in Gondar, Ethiopia, and Wiesbaden, Germany) during July 2015, is already a seven-year old mainstream Eritrean party struggling for democratic change in Eritrea. EPDP weight and significance in the Eritrean area includes its being a merger of two once seemingly irreconcilable political trends (some say “schools”) in the prolonged struggle of the Eritrean people.
During this short span of time, the EPDP succeeded to teach lessons and create awareness on important national issues that include the following:
- That old political formations (like the ELF and the EPLF); and their histories andlegacies are reconcilable through hard work;
- That old political adversaries/rivals can and should - with change of situations - become close partners in order to promote a common cause; and
- That past and present Eritrean symbolisms (like flags) are shared possessions and representations of the Eritrean people, and not things to be seen as causes for difference and disparity.
This profile intends to provide
- The names of the newly elected members of the Executive Committee re-elected by the Central Council during its 7th regular session meeting held in August-September 2016, and the rest of the Central Council members elected at the second Party Congress in July 2015.
- A brief summary of what the EPDP envisions to accomplish now and in the post-dictatorship Eritrea
- Political Resolutions adopted at its second congress in July 2015, and
- The organizational chart of EPDP.
The Party Leadership
EPDP Executive Committee members:
1. Menghesteab Asmerom, Party Chairman
2. Wolde-Yesus Ammar, Head of Foreign Affairs
3. Tesfai Woldemichael (Degiga), Head of Organizational Affairs
4. Debessai Beyene, Head of Information Office
5. Rezene Tesfazion, Head of Financial Affairs
6. Alem Yohannes, Head of Social Affairs
7. Idris Ismail, EC Secretary
8. Eritrea Alazar/Ms, Head of Women's Affairs
9. Medhanie Habtezghi, Head of Youth Affairs
Members of the EPDP Central Council, in alphabetical order, are:
21.Ghirmai G.Temesgen (Keshi)
27.Mohammed Adem Artaa
1. Abdulkader Hibtes
2. Haileyesus Ghebrai
What EPDP Envisions:
- EPDP is a national democratic party that envisions to achieve the unfulfilled aspirations of the Eritrean people for peace, democracy, equality, and social justice under the rule of law;
- EPDP struggles to promote the unity in diversity of the Eritrean people under a decentralized system of governance in order to equitably distribute political power and national wealth to its citizens;
- EPDP believes in the winning strategy of People Power – the strategy of peaceful and democratic struggle in removing the present dictatorial regime in Eritrea, and in its place establish a multi-party constitutional government whose authority is derived from the people;
- The Party envisions building a prosperous Eritrea that guarantees its sovereign existence;
- EPDP strives to enhance the performance of the Eritrean opposition struggle by sending correct and clear messages to all Eritreans, and by audaciously addressing the current fragmentation of the Eritrean opposition;
- EPDP believes in peaceful co-existence with its neighbors and with the rest of the world on the basis of promoting common interests and reciprocal respect.
To state EPDP objectives in greater detail, copied below are the political resolutions adopted at Party congress in July 2015.
Political Resolutions of the Second EPDP Congress
1. On Eritrea’s Young Generation
The Second Congress of EPDP,
- Being fully aware of the fact that talking about a bright future for Eritrea is not different from talking about the future and the role of our youth, and the duty of the older generation to hand over responsibility to the new generation that constitutes over 70% of the Eritrean people;
- Having unwavering conviction in the need of a serious and effective participation of youth as the driving force of the people’s cause and guarantee to its success;
- Mindful of the negative consequences on the youth of the 1998-2000 war; the state of no-war-no-peace situation that continued to prevail between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and the endless and harmful “national service” that deprived the young generation of proper education, work opportunities and decent life;
- Also being well aware of the still weak mobilization/organization and participation of the young generation in the current struggle mainly due to the negative legacies bequeathed by the regime as well as the shortcomings of the opposition camp;
- Recalling with nostalgia the history-making national awakening of the Eritrean youth in the 1960s; and above all
- Attentive to the duties of the young generation in building the nation and guaranteeing its survival, and saddened by the tragedies it faces while vainly trying to escape the situation at home;
The Second Congress of the EPDP, therefore, adopted the following resolutions on the role of Eritrea’s young generation:
As a follow up of past efforts, the EPDP confirms that this is the time to speed up as top priority the process in creating the right methods and mechanisms for timely handing over of responsibilities and mandate to the young generation to build the future by playing its vanguard role. The Party is committed to work towards introducing effective methods and lines of communication and organization. On this basis, the Congress called upon the Eritrean youths to realize the weighty responsibilities they will have to bear in national redemption by redoubling their participation in the struggle.
2. The Role of Eritrean Women
- Cognizant of the fact that women constitute half of the Eritrean society, no struggle for change can triumph without their participation;
- Also noting with deep concern the fact that their participation in the current struggle is lower than at any time before;
The Second EPDP Congress, therefore, affirms its obligation to further study their situation and work to address the problem. Also being aware of the multiple outrageous abuses inflicted upon the Eritrean women, the Congress called upon them to actively join and take part in the efforts being made to bring about democratic change in the country.
3. Regarding the Means of Struggle
- Taking lessons from outcomes of past experiences like the successful people-power movements of the 1990s and the objectives of the recent grassroots uprisings in the Middle and North Africa;
- Noting the steadily growing popular resistance of Eritrean justice seekers inside the homeland and abroad;
- Also convinced further that the nonviolent mode of democratic struggle being pursued by the EPDP is the most appropriate means of struggle at the current Eritrean situation as well as to future handing over of power (in a multi-party system), the second congress resolved as follows:
The Party’s adopted means of nonviolent democratic struggle for removing the dictatorship and replacing it with a democratic system of governance, which shall be pursued, requires hastening the mobilization of the broadest possible and participation of the people inside and outside Eritrea. At the same time, the Congress reiterates EPDP’s firm conviction that change shall come from within the country.
4. On Unity of the Eritrean Opposition
- Believing in the urgency of creating a viable common front that can lead the current struggle and replace the dictatorship by a democratic system;
- Taking lessons from the repeated failures to create such a common front because of lack of inclusiveness and ill-preparations in the creation of alliances;
- Convinced that peaceful and democratic contest for political power will only be possible in an environment to be created in post-dictatorship Eritrea;
- Also believing that that the priority objective at the present time is the removal of the repressive regime;
The Second EPDP Congress, therefore, expresses its full commitment to work towards creating a national umbrella that promotes reconciliation; encourages all justice seeking forces to play their respective roles in the ongoing struggle, and one that can effectively lead this struggle for democratic change. Likewise, the EPDP shall struggle in overcoming and defeating the debilitating practices and legacies such as the lingering mistrust and intolerance among the forces of change.
5. On National Sovereignty
Defending national sovereignty, which was won through heavy sacrifices, is a central objective because Eritrean national aspirations can be promoted only within an independent and sovereign Eritrea. And no wonder that national sovereignty remains a core agenda for the Party. As such, we condemn the abusive policies and misuse by the PFDJ regime of our people’s patriotic devotion to their country and its sovereignty. In other words, the survival of the Eritrean people and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state are inseparable parts of the same coin. Accordingly,
- The Congress noted the significance of the decisions of a third party (the arbitration tribunal) towards settling the matter;
- Springing from the belief that, on the basis of the Algiers Agreement of 2000, the final and binding decision of the boundary commission would have to be implemented as is unless the two concerned parties agree to change its terms;
- Taking into consideration the legal, political and moral obligation of Ethiopia to accept and implement on the ground the boundary decision as the Ethiopian government has already played a significant role in recognizing Eritrean sovereign existence settled through a popular referendum that had country’s firm support.
- Understanding that the two governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia, as transient bodies, are expected to give top priority for the promotion of the hard won principles and common interests and peaceful coexistence based on good neighbourliness and mutual respect;
- Fully appreciative of the fact that the repressive regime in Eritrea is misleadingly claiming its failure to address the question of democracy and constitutional governance in Eritrea to the Ethiopia’s failure to correctly respond to the final and binding arbitration decision on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border conflict;
The Second EPDP Congress,
- Recalling Ethiopia’s recognition of Eritrean independence and sovereignty through accepting the 1993 referendum, the Congress now urges the Ethiopian Government to once again affirm that same stance by implementing the decision of the boundary commission and by the establishment of good neighbourly relations and mutual respect between the two sovereign states;
- Condemns the excuses and wrong claims of the Eritrean regime that it is Ethiopia’s refusal to abide by the boundary decision that prevented Eritrea from promoting the rule of law and human rights through introducing constitutional and democratic governance.
6. The Eritrean Regime and the 1997 Constitution
The long-held position of the EPDP is that the unimplemented 1997 constitution in Eritrea, which has been collecting dust for 18 years since its drafting and ratification, can find suitable ground for contemplation only after the fall of the PFDJ regime. Likewise, need for change or improvement on that document can only be the mandate of a nationwide referendum or the responsibility of an elected national parliament. In 2015, the regime is trying to once again mislead the public by fabricating unacceptable arguments against the constitution it ratified and failed to implement, and now raising the false promise of “drafting a new constitution”.
- The Second Congress strongly condemns this repeat of a the regime’s falsehoods;
- The Congress also urges the Eritrean people and the international community at large to ignore this false claim and deny listening ears to such dishonesty pledges.
7. Regarding Political Prisoners, and Prisoners of Conscience
The EPDP commends and supports the various courageous initiatives and measures Eritrean patriots take in order to bring about change in the country while reiterating the Party’s commitment for continued contribution to concretize the unfinished national task. The Congress denounced the regime’s fabrications of misinformation to discredit popular acts of struggle and called on the people to disregard such falsehoods and instead bolster the resistance with unity of purpose and action. Likewise, the congress called on the international community to increase pressure on the repressive regime to release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience who paid dearly for the national cause and are now incarcerated on framed up charges.
8. Regarding the UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea
The 483-page report of UN Commission of Inquiry documented gruesome evidences of human rights violations in Eritrea that could constitute crimes against humanity. The EPDP Congress welcomed and hailed the report and decisions of the UN Human Rights Council and committed itself to help in the upcoming additional tasks of inquiries mandated to the Commission whose tenure was extended for one more year. The Congress also urged concerned international bodies to redouble their efforts to help end political repression and human rights violations in Eritrea.
9. On the Significance of the Geneva Demonstration
The recent years in Eritrea and among Eritreans (in diaspora) have witnessed increased anger and movements against the prevailing situation at home in light of the exodus of large number of youths and the multiple tragedies they encountered, including the drowning of over 360 near Lampedusa. The Congress thus hailed the exemplary mass demonstration of 26 June 2015 in Geneva which the first of its kind in so many years. This and other mass demonstrations held in support of the UN report did not only terrify the regime in Asmara but have also emboldened the resistance movement and showed that united action always makes an impact. The Congress thus called the momentum to be kept up and pledged the EPDP will do what it takes to play a committed role in its success.
10. Demolition of Residential Homes in Eritrea
The regime’s repeated crimes and denial of due respect to human dignity of the people are by now well known to everyone. The recent acts of wanton demolition of homes in Eritrea did not only leave thousands homeless during a rainy season but many patriots were killed or imprisoned while trying to protest against the aggressive actions of “their” government. The Second EPDP Congress condemned this criminal act, which is only a repeat of such crimes, and called on the international community to join in condemning also this particular crime.
11. EPDP Relations with Neighbouring Countries
Springing from its established principles enshrined in the political programme that affirm the Party’s commitment to promote relations with neighbouring countries based on non-interference; respecting international accords and mutual interests, the Second Congress once more committed the EPDP to work towards further developing those objectives for good neighbourly relations with all countries, in particular with the Sudan and Ethiopia, which have historical and cultural relations with our nation. The Party shall make good use of the cooperation thus obtained for energizing the current struggle for democratic change in Eritrea.
12 The Eritrean Defense Forces
Being part and parcel of the nation suffering under the abuses of the dictatorial regime while also carrying the heavy burden of defending the nation, the Eritrean army is called upon by this congress to play its role in the struggle being conducted to remove the repressive regime and bring about peace, justice and prosperity in post-dictatorship Eritrea.
All-inclusive Participation Reassures Victory of Our Just Cause!!
EPDP ORGANIZATIONAL CHART