The UK-based Eritrean National Dialogue Forum in cooperation with the Eritrean Information Center organized a conference in London between 7 and 8 April 2018 under the slogan, "Political discourse and joint action for a coherent society". Attending the conference were representatives of Eritrean political and civil organizations, national figures and media activists. The conference was opened by a solemn moment of silence in honour of Eritrean martyrs followed by a short introductory speech by the organizers.
The secretariat of the conference, chaired by Mr. Abdurahman Sayyid (Bohashem), included Messrs Negash Osman and Amanauel Beraki. Arabic/Triginya Translations were made by the secretariat assisted by Messrs Ahmed Negash and Suleiman Saeed.
The following papersf were presented by panelists:
1. The vision of the Eritrean People's Democratic Party (EPDP) in trust building and promoting joint action by opposition organizations presented by Menghesteab Asmerom;
2. Eritrean opposition organizations: between unity aspirations for joint action and the challenges of internal shortcomings and outside interventions as presented by Beshir Ishak;
3. The theme of people's democratic movement was presented by Abdurazaq Mohammed Mussa.
EPDP Chairman Menghesteab Asmerom spoke in great detail about the cause of mistrust and the possible ways of overcoming them. He also dwelt on explaining the EPDP proposal of 4 June 2017 for joint action by adhering to basic principles listed below:
1. Protecting Eritrea's territorial sovereignty;
2. Removing the autocratic PFDJ regime with its organs of repression;
3. Installing a democratic multiparty system of participatory governance;
4. Submitting to rule of law and guaranteeing basic liberties and democratic rights.
The EPDP Chairman further clarified that the spheres identified for joint action can be executed by organs staffed by people selected on merit basis from participant organizations and experts from outside them.
On his part, Mr. Beshir Ishak spoke on the complimentary roles of political and civil organizations and that diversity is not a problem as such although how to manage it is not well addressed in the Eritrean arena. He also warned about the hasty creation of coalitions that do not last long. He listed the main shortcomings as follows:
1. Lack of clear understanding of political power;
2. Absence of a clear strategy;
3. No clear message conveyed to our people at home and abroad;
4. The negative consequences of dependence on noon-Eritrean sources;
5. The difficulty of conducting a struggle away from home.
Finally, the highly educative and innovative presentation of the third panelist, Mr. Abdurazaq Mohammed Mussa, absorbed the attention of everyone in the conference. He stressed on the importance of enabling the people to be the real actors and not expectants of results from the action by others. He said what is important is a guiding vision and not the ongoing tags-of-war over who will lead the organizations. He emphasized the importance of identifying the shortcomings, and that shortcoming have to be identified independent organs and not by those in executive positions.
Mr. Abdurazaq M. Mussa did not gloss over the fact that mistrusts in the organizations and the society will persist as long as the formal programs and positions are undermined by informal mobilizations.
After extended discussions, it was agreed that a joint statement of the will be issued.
In his concluding note, Mr. Omer Zerai, chairman of the organizing committee thanks all participants and confirmed that the conference was funded only by the organizers.
The EPDP Chairman recommended that the statement of Mr. Abdurazaq Mohammed Mussa be translated in two languages for wider distribution.
Mr. Menghesteab Asmerom told the EPDP Information Office that he was fully satisfied with the outcome of the conference at which the EPDP vision and proposal for joint action was highly appreciated. He alos had a short interivew with the Arabic TV channel of Eritrean Information Center. Also attending the conference were Mr. Amanuel Beraki, EPDP Central Council member, and Mr. Goitom Mebrahtu, chairman of the UK branch of EPDP.