Eritrean political forces warmly congratulate the Eritrean people on the anniversary of the 29th year of independence as they continue to dialogue and work cooperatively to advance the common national interest.

This year’s Independence Day is occurring at a time when over 5 million people are globally affected by the coronavirus, so far claiming well over 300,000 lives, and more are continuing to die from it. When the whole world is at a critical junction due to this health crisis, we are deeply concerned for the livelihood of our people, and convey our good wishes for the safety of the Eritrean people, and the entire mankind.

There is no doubt that Independence Day is a day of pride and adulation for Eritrea, because it was truly a historic day in which our people achieved a great victory over the injustice and persecution under the hateful colonial occupation, which caused our people pain, tragedies and mass exodus. May 24, 1991 was an important milestone in the march of our people and their sovereign country to enter a new and promising era. Today, looking back to what happened to us in the past 29 years, we can only remember and honor our martyrs, and extend our salutations and appreciation to the wounded of the liberation war and to all the veterans who had a great role in achieving victory and freedom for our people, and we renew our covenant to them that we will follow their path with unrelenting determination.

Our Struggling People,

Despite the victory and the liberation of the national territory that has been achieved, and the world’s recognition of the national sovereignty of our country, the Eritrean people have not been freed from oppression and tyranny, and their tears and sorrows have not ceased. Our people had hoped to annually commemorate this day in a country in which peace, security, and freedom prevailed. Our people aspired to have a country without political prisoners and refugees. Unfortunately, our 29th anniversary  falls at a worse period for Eritrea, in which its citizens live in dire conditions where there is a complete collapse of the economy, lack of basic services, disturbance in social relations, and continuing cases of violations of human rights in the absence of the rule of law, as well as the emergence of threats to national sovereignty and continued exodus of its people.

Needless to say, this anniversary calls for further intensification of the national struggle and the mobilization of the masses in order to achieve freedom, justice and lasting peace. The intolerable conditions in which our people live must be a call for all of us to rise for the occasion. This year shall be a strong impetus for cooperation and synergy among all forces of change in order to overthrow the dictatorial regime and put an end to the suffering of our people. With this vision, we in the Eritrean political forces continue serious dialogues to reach advanced common platform in order to save the country and achieve victory over the dictatorship.

On this great occasion, we appeal to the members of the Eritrean security forces, which, like everybody else, are victims of the dictatorial regime, to contribute with all other pro-change forces in the ongoing national struggle to save the Eritrean people and maintain national sovereignty.

This year’s Independence Day is also celebrated at a time when relentless attempts are being made by regional and international powers to interfere in the affairs of our country. Their declared and undeclared agreements with the dictatorial regime are for sure threatening Eritrea’s national sovereignty.  This was apparent from those with expansionist aspirations claiming the “right” to have access to the Red Sea and attempting to achieve these old and renewed dreams at the cost of our people’s inalienable right. Opposing these dangerous indentations were also good people calling for the creation of good-neighborly relations based on mutual interests. In this context, as we celebrate the glorious Independence Day anniversary, we would like to reassure the entire world that the liberation of Eritrea that has been achieved through tireless struggles and unparalleled sacrifices cannot in any way be sidestepped and challenged. There is no need to emphasize our people’s readiness to make all the sacrifices for preserving the national sovereignty of our great land. At the same time, rooted in respect for our national sovereignty, we will continue to strive to create cooperative relations with all countries and achieve common interests of our peoples.

Long live free and independent Eritrea!

Glory and eternity to our martyrs!

Eritrean political forces:

  • Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC)
  • Eritrean National Front (ENF)
  • Eritrean People's Democratic Party (EPDP)
  • Organization Unity for Democratic Change (UDC)
  • Unity of Eritreans for Justice (UEJ)

May 27, 2020 Ethiopia, News

Ethiopia Insight

May 26, 2020

As all options are unconstitutional, an inclusive transitional administration is the best way through the crisis to elections

Election postponement in Ethiopia due to COVID-19 has raised critical constitutional questions as polls will not be held before the government’s term expires on 5 October.Ethiopia faces two unpalatable scenarios: a state with no government, or unconstitutional government.

In the absence of constitutional remedy, political dialogue remains the only peaceful avenue for resolution. Given internal polarizations and external challenges, a short period of transitional government is therefore the least bad option.

However, on 29 April, the incumbent proposed four options—none of which were a transitional government.

This parliament was elected in May 2015 and its term of office ends on 5 October. Except stating there will be elections every five years, the constitution does not explicitly provide for postponement. The constitution does however prohibit assuming state power in any manner other than elections. Thus, the incumbent staying in office after its term ends will not be constitutional.

If there is a force majeure that prevents election, the way forward should be decided by an independent organ with the consent and participation of competing parties. The government, when it comes to elections, is an actor, and so should not be the sole decision-maker.

This crisis also comes at a precarious time for the transition with the incumbent already struggling to meet the expectations of the population. More and more questions will arise as to the legitimacy of office holders if they unconstitutionally extends their own terms, even with a state of emergency in place.

Four options

None of the government’s four options swerve deep potholes:

Dissolution of Parliament

An Article 60 dissolution of the parliament cannot be justified to extend term limits beyond the constitutional period. The crisis confronting us is not how to form a coalition government; it is finding legal options to legitimize election postponement in the absence of constitutional provisions.

Even if a new government was established, it would be a caretaker that does nothing beyond conducting the day-to-day affairs of state including organizing new elections. Establishing a caretaker is not only unconstitutional but also practically not the right decision while the country faces stark internal and external challenges.

State of Emergency

The pandemic justifies the State of Emergency in place until the end of August. But the emergency should not be extended if the pandemic does not justify. In this case, a State of Emergency (SOE) is anticipated by the government to provide legal backing to the election postponement. But delaying polls is not one of the constitutional grounds to declare an emergency; and unlike some states (e.g. India, Estonia, Cameroon), the Ethiopian constitution does not have any provisions to justify postponement in the event of an SOE.

This constitutional lacuna cannot be mitigated by an emergency. After all, it is impossible to hold a satisfactory election while the rights to movement and assembly, among others, are limited during an SOE. A prolonged emergency also has  consequences in terms of constricting fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Interpretation

The incumbent’s decision to seek constitutional interpretation raises questions about the neutrality of the interpreter and the specific provisions to be considered.

Holistic understanding of the constitution and interpretation by a legitimate body could assist constitutionalism. However, the ruling Prosperity Party listed only three articles— the election of MPs, their terms, and SOE—to be interpreted by the House of Federation. But, as the meaning of a particular word or phrase may be found in other words and phrases in the same provision, or in other provisions of a constitution, interpretation requires provisions to be construed as a whole.

Parliament’s identification of only three provisions to be interpreted raises concerns about the process. For example, Article 45, which requires the establishment of only a “parliamentarian” form of government, should be considered, as it is relevant to the call for a transitional government. It was also a unilateral decision by parliament to seek interpretation without sufficiently consulting competing political parties, who are primary actors in the election.

The neutrality of the interpreter has been contentious since the promulgation of the constitution in 1995, as there is no independent adjudication. The constitution rather empowers the House of Federation, a political organ controlled by a single party, to interpret. But interpreting the constitution to decide on the fate of parliament’s means the upper house is judge of its own fate. This erodes the process’s credibility.

Amendment

Although constitutional amendment is considered by legal experts as an indisputable remedy, there are unanswered questions regarding its feasibility during an SOE and the current political situation. Given Ethiopia is under a State of Emergency to contain the spread of COVID-19, the constitution requirement for public discussion of amendment is tricky.

Additionally, though only six out of nine regional state councils’ approval is needed, some like Tigray will outright reject amending the constitution. Even some MPs, from Tigray and elsewhere, rejected amendment.

To protect the spirit of the constitution from short-sighted or partisan amendments, the federal government should refrain from amendment during an emergency when public engagement is limited. It would also be illegitimate if the government decides to amend the constitution as all parliaments other than Tigray’s are monopolized by a single party whose members were elected undemocratically (moreover, the same can be said about Tigray’s representatives).

Amending the constitution would therefore be a move to extend the term limit of a single illegitimate party. That is only likely to lead to more problems.

Transition for a transition

It should be noted that not all political crises can be remedied via constitutional solutions; whereas all constitutional crises can be managed by political compromise. The pandemic-induced election scenario is beyond what the law anticipated. The remedy should first focus on the health crisis, and then inclusive politics must address the consequent constitutional dilemma.

All of the incumbent’s four proposals to overcome the constitutional lacuna are constitutionally or politically defective, or both.

Most opposition parties are demanding extra-constitutional initiatives such as dialogue to establish a transitional government, or interim government. But constitutional provisions state that unless elections are held, any proposal by the incumbent or opposition to establish such kind of structures is unconstitutional, too.

While the constitutional quandary is central, it is the government’s reticence to concede its political and legal limitations, and failure to negotiate with opposition parties on election deferment, that has led to an intractable problem. The destabilizing effect of a failure to tackle the current crisis will only contribute to further deterioration of an already unstable transition in Ethiopia.

Although it’s far from perfect—and still unconstitutional—a broad-based transitional government to lead the country through the pandemic and to elections is the best of a bunch of bad options.

The key challenge of such an arrangement would be the lack of trust between opposition parties and an inability to balance their ideological polarisation on the legitimacy of the constitution and ethnic federalism. For example, while the Oromo opposition and Tigray People’s Liberation Front are among those committed to the current federal arrangement, the National Movement for Amhara and Ezema cast the system as discriminatory and divisive and want the founding document revised.

Because of the democratic imperative, and due to these opposition fragilities and limitations, the transitional government must be limited. It should last only between the end of this parliament’s term, 5 October, and the next election; and that election would be held immediately after the pandemic has sufficiently subsided, with a shorter period of preparation than recently proposed by the electoral board.

There would be a mechanism for the opposition to have a consultative role for their views on key national issues to be considered, but the overall arrangement would still see the incumbent running the most important state institutions in order to ensure government continuity.

 

Date: 23/05/2020

By

 
Source: Bloomberg

 

23 May 2020

 

Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum in 2019.
Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum in 2019.

 

Photographer: Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty Images

Sudan has confiscated assets valued at $4 billion from former President Omar al-Bashir, his family members and associates, the country’s anti-corruption body said.

“Our initial estimates of the value of the assets, shares in different companies and buildings we have confiscated is $3.5 billion to $4 billion,” Salah Manaa, a spokesperson for the Anti-Corruption and Regime Dismantling Committee, said in response to questions. The body was set up late last year.

 

Bashir, who was overthrown by the army a year ago amid mass protests against his three-decade rule, was jailed in December after being found guilty of illicitly possessing millions of dollars in foreign currencies. He has also been indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity committed in the western region of Darfur.

 

It is a great coincidence to celebrate in one day both Eritrea’s Independence Day and Eid al-Fitr of 2020. Therefore, every one of us is sharing with other compatriots the best wishes on these two great days, which are, unfortunately, celebrated under abnormal situations. This year, the usual happiness and togetherness of  Eid  Day is adversely affected by the unusual Covid-19. On the other hand, the low mood Eritreans are again celebrating their 29th Independence Day this year is not because of the coronavirus. In fact, it is over a quarter of a century since the vast majority of the Eritrean people started celebrating this great day with mixed feeling: on the one hand, very happy because 24 May 1991 was an important step in their costly struggle for peace and democracy; and on the other hand, very sad because the years that followed that great day have not proven to be great.

By the way, I am afraid those to whom the message would be educative may not read any line further in this piece for they unfortunately do not care to know what others knew, thought and wrote about Isaias Afeworki  20, 30, 40 etc years ago. This writer is one of those who knew some aspects of the in-born intolerance, intransigence, never-ending grudge and hatefulness in Isaias Afeworki.

Twenty-one years ago this week in 1999, I happened to be a subscriber to an online/email discussion group called Dehai. It was heavily dominated by PFDJ supporters although it, ironically, allowed subscription to some critics of the regime like Saleh Gadi and me.  A few days before the 8th anniversary of Eritrean Independence, one of the Dehai discussants (I believe it was Dr Tesfa Mehari of UK) asked what the Eritrean people expected to hear from their president on that occasion. No doubt I was of the conviction that the man was as hard-headed as ever before, but as part of my input to the discussion – call it a realist sarcasm - I posted in the Dehai group on 23 May 1999 an article entitled: “A Draft 8th Anniversary Speech” for the Eritrean President.” The draft speech “hoped” Isaias will  confess his past mistakes and beg the people’s forgiveness.

Today (23 May 2020), I don’t have the drive to write or lament about the chain of tragic occurrences that continued to affect our ‘independent’ state ever since May 1999. But allow me to again say Eid Mubarak and Happy Independence Day while inviting interested readers (especially the young generation) to go over this 21-year old draft speech reprinted below as a piece in our sad recent history. Good reading or re-reading – and I tell you it is a must read “draft speech”!

***

A 1999 Draft Speech for Isaias on 8th

Anniversary of Eritrean Independence 

My Beloved Compatriots!!

Allow me to extend to everyone of you my sincere congratulations and greetings at this august occasion marking the 8th  anniversary of our independence - that brilliant feat of valour, which took us 50 long years of political and armed struggle, and in the realization of which all of us, in one  way or another, contributed immensely.

You know me as someone who usually speaks out his heart, sometimes to your detriment. You used to accept all what I said, and I thank you for that trust and loyalty. Well, that is what you thought of my straight-forwardness and me. But to be frank with you, I have my other side, a weaker side. I have not been admitting or telling you the serious mistakes I committed, and I thank you for not raising them by yourselves. Today, you will hear from me not the success stories, which are there speaking for themselves, but the shortcomings, the mistakes. But please do not equate mistakes to crimes.

You may already have come across some people who started associating me -of course wrongly - with Iraq's Saddam Hussein and the super ethnicist Serb dictator, Slobodan Milosevic. I don't want history to have me queued with those evil men. I must, with your help, start making corrections, now deemed to be absolutely necessary. Therefore, it is the down-to-earth frank part of me addressing you today. I will be brief and concentrate on the most important mistakes I committed, and made my government commit, in the past few years.

You all know that the most important national issue is that of unity of our people and I will focus on it; I admit it was a mistake on my part to have relegated it for so long. As you may recall, I have been telling you that there was no other nation as solidly unified as ours. Frankly speaking, that was not true. After half a century of war and suffering, you deserved peace with erstwhile enemies, all neighbours and harmony amongst yourselves. I promise to deliver both in the future. My address will, thus, concentrate on our national unity and good neighbourliness.

NATIONAL RECONCILIATION

After years of sweat and blood, your common struggle cleared all hurdles on the way to the desired goal. It was eight  years to the day today that Eritrean liberation fighters once again reached the immediate approaches to Asmara - proudly with guns on shoulder, and no one to challenge their brave march forward.

I confess that my first mistake of the past eight years was committed that day - Day One of Your National Independence. I know you do not expect me to say it, but I will say it for our common good and common future. Only the brave can say this, you know, and I have never been a coward.

On that day [of May 19991], my dear compatriots, I should not have entered Asmara alone.  I now realize that I should have stopped in the outskirts of liberated Asmara and call on all forces other than those in my ranks by addressing them in these words:

 «Here we are old comrades, finally a Free Nation! I will not enter Asmara leaving you behind. We had different ways. You did your part, I did mine. Let us not now talk as to who did better and when. It is for historians to allocate credit for roles our people played under their different organizations in the past. It is now a new era for our country and people and we are destined, rather condemned, to build it together with all the difficulties that we may encounter. Come all for a National Reconciliation Conference in the outskirts of your capital. By the way, I am inviting to this Conference even Abdalla Idris, who reportedly received support from our enemy, the Dergue, not very long ago. I know he made a mistake. But, so did I - one in 1970 inside Asmara at the Kagnew Base, and again in 1980, when I solicited the support of the Woyanes to help me liquidate an Eritrean front. So, let bye-gone be bye-gone. I will be magnanimous. We will start anew. »

I tell you that with such an invitation [in 1991], I could have brought all those weakened factions under a national fold, without any challenge to my authority. This may be true also for a long time to come and that is why I find it practicale to accommodate all others.

In the past, failure to reconcile with our compatriots/fellow strugglers caused us unnecessary problems. I do candidly admit today that the so-called “extremists” organized in the form of “jihad” were created because of an apparently exclusivist policy, which I now see was wrong.

I know I did not do my utmost to create conducive atmosphere in order to encourage the return of tens of thousands of Eritreans in the Diaspora. It was untenable political calculations and avoidable administrative red tape that inhibited the return of many of our people, some of them with lots of money by our standards. A friend was reminding me the other day that [ten] years ago I mentioned to you in a speech the figure of USD 2 billion to have been the estimated amount required for the rehabilitation of the country. The same friend also confided to me that Eritrea could have benefited from the inflow of well over USD 1 billion of investment capital from its own nationals abroad had my government succeeded to encourage its own people to come back and rebuild their future without constraints. This was true, my countrymen and women, because at least 100,000 of those Eritreans abroad coming in with an average of USD 10-15,000 each, could have easily brought in well over USD 1 billion in the initial period.  This amount could have worked wonders in this country. But, unfortunately, many of our compatriots had to remain where they were or go to Ethiopia; and we all know what has happened in Ethiopia to our people and their hard-won wealth during 1998-99.

Of course I regret for being partly a cause for the displacement of [70,000] or more Eritreans from Ethiopia. That was not all, though. The failure to assist the return of well over 500,000 long-time refugees from the Sudan was not the mistake of the UNHCH, the former UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs or of the international NGOs. Those international bodies were, we must admit, willing to help. They even came up with a repatriation plan costing some USD 263 million intended to be collected from voluntary donors. It was a mistake on my part to insist that the UN agencies/donors give us the money to do the job by ourselves or they go home. Those agencies went home, but our refugees stayed outside home. I am sorry for that. Our refugees deserved sympathy and assistance to return home.

It is an open secret that my government and I wrongly decided, from the start, to exclude other Eritreans outside our immediate circle from having any say in state affairs. This included not only opposition fronts but also individuals of independent stand. I decided on the issue of national flag, and also issued a decree defining who is Eritrean and who is not. On that basis, those who wanted to vote for the referendum carrying their own organizational identities were refused a say. I now appreciate their position and would no more dare call their stand an act of national betrayal. Believe me it was not. I misled you. In effect, what they were asking was participation in political decision making. Allowing them just that could have proven a good start in our long journey for democratic exercise in New Eritrea. Among other regrets I have is my decision to dismiss the participation of other political organizations and viewpoints in drafting of the constitution. I now see, and I beg you to concur, that our document has many flaws - including on the issue of official languages, for instance. I insisted on the fake equality of nine languages for official use. We will have to reconsider that too, in the near future.

You may remember that at one point during the past [ten] years, I stressed that those «Eritreans » who went to school in the Arab world have no place in the new Eritrea whose laws we determine, and that they better start looking for new homes where they will be able to use the language of their education and choice. It was a mistake; I should not have said it, at least not so bluntly. Such things take time to straighten out.

Before the start of Year 2000, Eritrea must put on the image that it deserves. We will not limit ourselves to revising laws; we will start implementing them correctly. This country will not again have political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. I will let in even the Jehovah's witnesses to come back home and live in peace alongside everybody. You will be reading and writing anything of your liking. I am changing our ways. The great organization that played historic role in the final stages of the liberation of this country is not to be blamed for all what I erred in recent years. The organization was tolerating my excesses in good faith. Immediately after this ceremony, I will submit my apologies and self-criticism to that great organization and its devoted members whose name I blemished recklessly since independence.

It is an occasion to renew our pride in the gallantry of the Eritrean Defense Forces, pride which is shared, I should not lie to you, by all Eritreans of all political colours. Let me also reassure everyone in this country that, in the future, we will not mobilize our youth for irrational wars.

My Countrymen and Women,

Allow me to take this opportune moment to table another important self-criticism regarding the unfortunate proclamation on the question of land. Many of you could have been affected by it. I will not dwell on details of the subject except mentioning the grave negative effect this decision had on large segments of our people, especially those in the former « demeniale » or colonial era state lands in the eastern and western lowland stretches of our country. By failing to make careful decision in consultation and the participation of everybody, we uprooted thousands of herdsmen and semi-peasants by expropriating their grazing lands. The law did not consider any state compensation for such action.

The beneficiaries of the expropriated lands were many among our close supporters and people with big money. We all know that what the herdsmen and semi-peasants had in their possession was mainly their land and the ever-diminishing number of livestock. Now they do not own land because they do not have the means to develop it; many of those whose land has been taken by the state still live in the squalor-ridden refugee camps across Eritrea's borders.

And bear with me to add the following example in order to underline the importance I personally attach to this subject: I do clearly remember what had happened in 1967 at the village of Sember in the Gash area. Fifty armed peasant settlers from other parts of the country were given land by the Ethiopian authorities who were interested in « pacifying » the region by killing or evicting its inhabitants and resettling others in their place. Those 50 innocent but armed peasants were killed, probably by angry young orphans from Sember, wearing fighters' uniforms. Anyway, at that time I was able to exploit that incident to create a unified political organization that I thought was needed. But similar killing incidents today by people evicted by our laws in the same Gash-Barka region will not serve any good purpose. After all, delivering social justice was one of our commitments. It is therefore high time that we straighten this anomaly before someone comes up to equate this situation to that of re-settlers in Palestinian farmlands. I already read somewhere this situation being described as remotely similar to the hated Ethiopian "nefTegna" type of settlements in the 19th century. That is why I request your support in rewriting our laws regarding ownership of land in New Eritrea. I will raise other burning issues in my forthcoming 20 June speech.

GOOD NEIGHBOURLINESS

Let me swear today by the Almighty God, for the first time, that I will never again commit mistakes that can turn our beloved Eritrea to a rogue state. You all know what I mean.

I cannot explain to you why, as of Day One of our Independence, I decided to brand all the Arabs not only as enemies but also as useless [beings] with whom little serious business could be done. Israel came first, although its right place should have been last in the list of our good friends and neighbours. I am sorry for that miscalculation. I have been correcting it fast.

I also realize now that there was no major reason to sever our economic, political and social relations with the Sudan, which in many ways was the strategic depth of our struggle and source of livelihood for many of our displaced people. It was only a crazy regime in Iran, which handed over a legally established embassy of a sovereign state to a liberation organization. I have done a similar mistake, but I will not repeat such unnecessary act in the future.

My language against others, including the United Nations, the Arab League, and the OAU has not been helpful, and I have taken a note on that.

Today, I will not talk about the martyrs at Hannish and the substantial amount of money spent for that small adventure. I will talk about it on 20 June. Also on the latter date, I will inform you all what you deserve to know about that irrational war with our southern neighbour, Ethiopia. I was aware of the fact that using force to reclaim a disputed territory –in our case mainly Badme - constitutes a serious mistake in international dealings. I have now decided to listen to your wishes, which you did not utter forcefully, as well as the demands of the international community and resort to peaceful means to regain our land, which has been left to Ethiopian occupation since 1981. I can no more deny the fact that I am partly the cause for the avoidable death and disability of many of your sons and daughters. Do not consider it a crime; I swear I will not repeat such a grave mistake.

I will continue to lead you to a brighter future. Just forget all shortcomings of the past. Keep supporting me, and especially those of you in the Diaspora.

Awet nhzbi Eritra !!

President Isaias Afworki

24 May, 1999

A Draft Speech for Isaias Afeworki 1999 2

May 22, 2020 News

Press Release

22 May 2020

Screenshot 2020-05-13 at 16.15.38

We note with concern the announcement that Danakali – an Australian based mining house, listed on the London Stock Exchange – is proceeding with its investments in Eritrea.[1]

In a statement the company said it was “in the final stages of completing the second phase of development of its world-class Colluli potash project in Eritrea, Africa.”

Danakali’s announcement makes no mention of the fact that its investment will strengthen one of Africa’s most repressive governments. Eritreans experience a complete absence of human rights, with no elections, no constitution, no freedom of expression or assembly and a President who has never been endorsed by an electorate.

Worse still, Danakali’s investment is a joint venture with the government, via the Eritrean National Mining Corporation. Dividends and other payments will strengthen this most repressive of regimes.  All employment is controlled by the state, with young men and women trapped in a system of indefinite military conscription that is termed ‘national service.’ Pay is minimal and women are frequently sexually abused. The United Nations has described this as a form of slave labour.  The abuses are so severe that they amount to what the UN said were ‘crimes against humanity.’[2]

Danakali quotes – approvingly – from another UN report which claims that the Colluli mining project will be a ‘game changer’ for the country. The company fails to say that the very report that they quote from also calls for Danakali to “By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization.”[3]

The ILO Global Jobs Pact requires: “vigilance to achieve the elimination and prevention of an increase in forms of forced labour” and “respect for freedom of association, the right to organize and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.”

Forced labour is endemic in Eritrea and enforced by the government. The freedoms of association, the right to organised and bargain freely are banned. The company appears to pay lip service to the codes of the United Nations, but little more.

We call on Danakali to re-consider its operations in Eritrea, until democracy allows its people to truly benefit from its investments.

[1] https://www.mining.com/danakali-closer-to-getting-eritrea-potash-project-off-the-ground/

[2] https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=20047&LangID=E

[3] https://www.danakali.com.au/images/stories/UNDP-Report-on-Colluli.pdf

May 21, 2020 Eritrea Focus, News

Screenshot 2020-05-13 at 16.15.38
20 May 2020

Eritrea Focus’s Response to Fetsum Abraham’s article “The renaissance of Eritrean Intellectualism in relation to Eritrea Focus”

On 17 May 2020, Fetsum posted an article on Assenna website with the above title which can be found by clicking here: https://assenna.com/fetsum-the-renaissance-of-eritrean-intellectualism-in-relation-to-eritrea-focus/
Fetsum’s article and carried by Assenna is very constructive and much appreciated. And it raises a number of important issues.

Clearly, a united response to the dictatorship in Asmara is long overdue. Planning for the day after is of the utmost importance if we are to build the new Eritrea which we all long for, that is at peace with itself and its neighbours. Eritrea Focus, bringing together as it does human rights groups and activists (Eritrean and non-Eritrean) is doing what it can to help in this process. To this end, we commissioned papers at the end of our April 2019 conference from scholars on a range of issues that can assist in this endeavour. They are designed to allow a smooth transition from dictatorship to the rule of law, so that the Eritrean people can at long last enjoy the fruits won for us by our martyrs.

It is not going to be easy achieving these objectives and an independent and democratic government of Eritrea will face enormous challenges.

Colonisation, our own internal civil war and the intolerable repression of our own government since 1991, has had a terrible impact on Eritrean society. Our people paid a huge price during years of conflict; bravely fighting for our independence and then in the brutal border war with Ethiopia. On top of this there has been the exodus of hundreds of thousands, fleeing the atrocious human rights that prevail in our country. Every Eritrean knows this; fewer have acknowledged the physical and psychological toll it has taken on us all. At the same time, Eritrea is situated in an unstable, sometimes hostile and unforgiving region. Asserting our nation’s interests has never been easy.

Papers dealing with these issues will be put before a conference from 29 June to 3 July this year. The conference will, unfortunately, have to be a virtual meeting, given the prevalence of Covid-19. It will also be narrowly based: an attempt to get these issues debated by small groups to try to thrash out the problems. Once the papers have been finalised, they will be made public and can be openly debated. We plan to hold a third conference at which they will be formally presented to a wider audience, hopefully in late 2020.

This represents the intellectual effort that Eritrea Focus is concentrating on. In addition, we are working with politicians in Britain and further afield to try to maintain the pressure for reform and democracy in our country. We have initiated a case against the UK Government for funding aid through the European Union that uses National Service conscripts in a form of slave labour. To highlight the issues of forced labour and human rights abuses we work with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Eritrea, for which we provide Secretariat support. We also work closely with a number of NGOs in Europe and North America to challenge forced labour in the extractive sector and in collaboration with them, produced the first report of its kind in 2018.  We have kept up contacts with the Tigrayan authorities to try to reduce the pressure on Eritrean refugees in northern Ethiopia. Other initiatives are under way, with our international allies.

It is – however – beyond the scope of Eritrea Focus’s remit to initiate an alternative Eritrean government. In saying this we are not suggesting that an alternative administration should not be established to step in once the current dictatorship falls. Quite the opposite. We are happy to encourage and assist such developments. But Eritrea Focus is an organisation that includes non-Eritrean supporters. The future government of Eritrea is something that only Eritreans can decide upon. Members of Eritrea Focus are welcome to participate in this important work as individuals, but as an organisation we must necessarily stand aside.

We trust that Eritreans, and supporters of Eritrean freedom, will appreciate and accept our position.

To:   Honorable Delegations of 47 Member States,

 UN Human Rights Council,

44th Session, Palais des Nations, Geneva

 To: H.E. Ms. Michele Bachelet,

 Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Palais Wilson, Geneva

 Subject: Extending the Mandate of the Special HR Rapporteur for Eritrea

 15 May, 2020

 Honorable UN HR Council Delegates at 44th Session,

Your Excellency High Commissioner Bachelet,

We, the undersigned Eritrean political opposition organizations in forced exile, are pleased to jointly address this memorandum on behalf of our people with the earnest aim of drawing your kind attention for appropriate action to the endless and never changing political and human rights situation in Eritrea, which is a member-state of this respected Council.

At the outset, we must acknowledge that we are grateful to this Council, whose sincere concern with the human rights situation in Eritrea, was manifested by its October 2012 action to appoint the first UN Human Rights Rapporteur for Eritrea and ever since  extended that mandate annually in order to keep the human rights abuser state  “under close scrutiny.” That was a solemn pledge made by this Council to Eritrean victims of human rights abuses.

It is true that the Eritrean authorities ignored implementing all recommendations of this august body and for the last eight years refused entry visa to this Council’s Human Rights Rapporteur for Eritrea. Yet, the Council’s aim of trying to keep the Eritrean government “under close scrutiny” was being continually achieved through the oral updates and annual reports of the mandated UN Special Envoys – Ms Sheila Keetharuth for the first six years and Ms Daniel Kravetz for the last two years.

Excellencies,

Eritrea remains a place of endless suffering to its people and a heartbreaking story to human rights activists and organizations familiar with the unparalleled human rights abuses in that country.

The extremely worrisome political, social, economic and human rights situation in Eritrea did not change from what it was last year, the year before and at least two decades before that. How come then that some of the 47 member states of the UN Human Rights Council are reportedly wavering on whether the mandate of the UN Human Rights Rapporteur for Eritrea should be extended or not?

We, the entire ensemble of Eritrean political opposition organizations in exile, therefore appeal to all Council delegates to this 44th Session to do the right thing - extend the mandate of Ms Daniela Kravetz for another term as a minimum sympathy and moral support to a six-million nation in a very dire human rights situation.  

Honorable HR Council Delegates,

Dear HR High Commissioner Bachelet,

We know that you are very well aware of the Eritrean situation. But, just as a reminder, allow us to repeat that, for the last 29 years, Eritrea remains to be an internationally recognized member-state of the UN and this Council:

  • Without a national constitution; without the rule of law;
  • Without state institutions and functioning branches of government;
  • Without national elections for over quarter of a century;
  • Without freedom of the press, assembly, worship and movement;
  • Without the right of visitation to its prisoners (not even by the ICRC);
  • Without the right of a day at court for prisoners;
  • As you know, the list is endless…

Your Excellencies also know that the fate the thousands of Eritrean prisoners is nothing but “detention until death,” as Ms Sheila Keetharuth told this Council a few years; that the open-ended enslavement of people under misnomer “national service” is still intact, and that about a third of the Eritrean population has been condemned to flee the country and live under the indignity of being refugees. 

To conclude, we the exiled Eritrean political organizations, appeal to you to kindly extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Eritrea, and also think of doing a little bit more to help change the sad situation in Eritrea.

Sincerely yours,

Chairpersons of

  1. Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change (ENCDC)
  2. Eritrean National Front (ENF)
  3. Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP)
  4. Organization of Unity for Democratic Change (UDC)
  5. United Eritreans for Justice (UEJ)
  6. Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO)

May 17, 2020 News

Interesting that it is the far-right, neo-fascist Alternative for Germany (AFD) that thinks it would be a great idea to increase cooperation with Eritrea.

Democratic parties are far more questioning.


Source: das parlament

Johanna Metz

No chance for cooperation with Eritrea

Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world. About every second of the approximately 3.5 million inhabitants lives below the poverty line. Only mining and the export of copper and zinc are profitable there, with the exception of China, foreign investors are avoiding the country. The reason is Isayas Afewerki’s regime. 

Since Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia in 1993, the president has abolished parliament, other parties, the free media, the rule of law and non-governmental organizations. There have been no elections for a long time. Countless detainees are held in prisons, and Eritreans in exile report on the disappeared, torture, child labor and other serious violations of human rights. Conditions caused 41,530 people to flee in 2018 alone.

The difficult situation is unlikely to change much in the future. Because, despite the “great development potential”, the Federal Government foreseeably sees no chance for bilateral development cooperation with the state. “The leadership rejects any cooperation,” said Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Norbert Barthle (CSU), last week in the development committee. It shows no interest in improving trade relations, although Eritrea is even entitled to duty-free and quota-free access to the European market. A dialogue on human rights in the country is also not desired. “Unlike in Ethiopia, progress has stopped in Eritrea,” concluded Barthle.

AfD application rejected 

The AfD group still urges the federal government to continue to approach the country. The problems are known, said a parliamentary group representative in the committee, but investment and potential should still be promoted. The AfD is convinced that with an economic upturn, politics will also change. But the other groups did not share this view. They refused an application (19/15071 ) of the AfD with the title “Starting and organizing economic cooperation with Eritrea”.

A member of the Union faction declared that the Eritrean government was not willing to change. In addition, human rights aspects should in no way be excluded from development cooperation.

The FDP also insisted on value-based DC, President Afewerki must be accused of violating human rights. The FDP, left-wing parliamentary group and the Greens also expressed the supposition that the AfD’s aim is less for the welfare of the people in Eritrea than for the country’s profitable mining sector and the opportunity to create new sales markets for German companies.

The SPD said that no one could be forced to help. All attempts by the federal government to build bilateral relations have been unsuccessful or openly rejected. A representative of the Greens accused Afewerki of blocking any international cooperation to prevent the serious human rights violations from being exposed in the past three decades.

Source=https://eritreahub.org/germany-debates-co-operation-with-eritrea-progress-has-halted

May 16, 2020 News, UN

Source: Bloomberg

U.A.E. Ran Covert Arms Flights to Aid Libya’s Haftar, UN Finds

May 15, 2020, 2:36 PM EDT
  • UN experts probing flights for embargo breach, diplomats say
  • Libya war has drawn in rival foreign powers, arms, hired guns
Members of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country's east strongman Khalifa Haftar, open fire during clashes with militants in Benghazi's central Akhribish district on Nov. 9, 2017.
Members of the self-styled Libyan National Army, loyal to the country’s east strongman Khalifa Haftar, open fire during clashes with militants in Benghazi’s central Akhribish district on Nov. 9, 2017.

Photographer: Abdullah Doma/AFP via Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates has been involved in operating a covert air-bridge to supply weapons to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar in contravention of a United Nations arms embargo on the North African country, according to a confidential UN report.

At least 37 flights in early January are being investigated by the UN panel of experts responsible for monitoring sanctions on Libya, according to two diplomats briefed on the report that was presented to the Security Council this month. Excerpts of the report were also shared with Bloomberg. The flights were operated by a complex network of companies registered in the U.A.E., Kazakhstan, and the British Virgin Islands to disguise the delivery of military equipment, the diplomats said.

The panel found an increase in secret flights from the U.A.E. and its airbase in Eritrea to airfields under the control of Haftar, who is fighting to defeat the internationally-recognized government based in Tripoli, the report said. Some of those flights, which transfer high volumes of weapons, were operated by two Kazakhstan operators, according to the diplomats.

Screenshot 2020-05-16 at 21.27.45

U.A.E. Ambassador to the United Nations Lana Nusseibeh said that while she hasn’t seen the report, the allegations outlined are “false” and the government denies “them in their entirety.”

Libya Arms Embargo Has Become a ‘Joke,’ Top UN Official Says (1)

“We regret such allegations are made against a State and then leaked to the press without first verifying their veracity with the State concerned,” Nusseibeh said in emailed comments. The U.A.E. will continue to cooperate with the UN panel, she said.

The Security Council is not obligated to take any action based on the experts report but members can refer it to their home countries for investigation. There was no immediate comment from Haftar’s spokesman.

What’s Behind Nine Years of Turmoil in Libya: QuickTake

Sitting atop Africa’s largest oil reserves, Libya has been all but ungovernable since a NATO-backed rebellion led to the 2011 killing of Moammar Qaddafi, who had ruled the country for more than 40 years. In recent years, a UN-backed government based in Tripoli has been battling for control of the divided country with Haftar’s forces, which launched a campaign to take the capital a year ago.

The war has quickly descended into a proxy conflict that has drawn in regional and global powers and become a magnet for hired guns, raising concerns in Europe about the spread of militants and migrants across the Mediterranean. Egypt and the U.A.E. have backed Haftar, who is also supported by Russian mercenaries, while Turkey has begun sending troops and supplies to the Tripoli government as the conflict escalates.

Western Mercenaries Went to Libya to Help Moscow’s Man, UN Finds The U.A.E. said it was “deeply concerned” about Turkish involvement in Libya. Turkey and Russia have both recruited and deployed Syrian mercenaries to fight on opposite sides in Libya, joining a crowded field of private soldiers in an increasingly complex conflict. The UN has repeatedly raised concerns that the arms embargo is being flouted by various camps, hampering efforts to bring an end to the war.

— With assistance by Naubet Bisenov