Deeply concerned by recent disturbing and confusing messages supposedly related to "future" Ethio-Eritrean relations, leaderships of a dozen Eritrean political and civil organizations of the Eritrean opposition camp voiced shock and disappointment during presentations and panel discussions on 4 August at the Eritrea Festival 2018 in Frankfurt.
They sensed dangerous threats to the hard-won national sovereignty and called for maximum effort and compromises towards creating a viable national movement to stop the one-man dictatorship in Asmara from doing more damage to Eritrea and its people.
Speaker after speaker at the Main Panel stressed the urgency of fulfilling the Eritrea Festival 2018 slogan which said:
Working in Unison, We Shall Achieve;
Voicing in Unison We Shall Get Heard.
Conducted under the moderation of Ms Adiam Teferra and Mr. Ghirmai Zemichael, the Festival Panel was declared open by a welcoming address of Mr. Tesfamariam Kibreab, chairman of the preparatory committee of the hosts, the EDA (Eritrean Democratic Association) and Europe branches of the EPDP. This was followed by a brief educational address of Dr. Klaus-Dieter Grothe of the German Green Party (see a separate story).
Speaking in Arabic and Tigrigna, the panel moderators then continued introducing and calling to the podium the day's panelists.
The Eritrean political and civil society representatives who appeared at the podium to clearly voice out positions of their respective organizations included Mr. Hussein Khalifa, chairman of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) who briefly conveyed his message in Arabic and let Mr. Berhe Ogbazghi read the statement in Tigrigna; Mr. Menghesteab Asmerom, EPDP chairman; Ambassador Andebrhan Weldegiorghis, executive committee member of the Forum for National Dialogue (FND/Medrek).
Others were Mr. Mensur Abdelhadi of the Eritrean National Salvation Front (ENSF); Mr. Saleh Sabah, chairman of the Eritrean Federal Democratic Movement (EFDM); Mr. Menghesteab Afeworki of the Eritrean Democratic Party (EDP); Mr. Kiflezghi Ghebdremedhin, chairman of Eritrean National Salvation (ENS-Hidri); youthful Abel Haile of the Unity of Eritreans for Justice (UEJ) a newly formed coalition founded in Israel; Dr. Mohammed Burhan Idris of the Nahda Party; Ms Alganesh Ghebre, of the Eritrean Women's Network; Ms Ghergish Negash of the EPDP Women's League; Mr. Bahta Hailemariam of the Eritrean Democratic Unity Front (EDUF-Sagem); Mr. Jamal Ismail of the Eritrean Lowland League (ELL); Mr. Kibrea Mesghina of the Eritrean Revolutionary Democratic (ERDF-Sedege'e), and Mr. G/Hiwet Kifle of the Eritrean Unity for Democratic Change EUDC).
In a separate consultation meeting, the organizational representatives discussed the issue of what is to be done and reached understanding on the following points:
- The positions stated by participant organizations are similar and mostly complimentary;
- The festival participant organizations are, like the rest of the Eritrean people, extremely disturbed by the latest unwelcome pronouncements of the Ethiopian Prime Minister and the Eritrean autocrat heading the unrepresentative clique in Asmara;
- These organizations, therefore, see the urgency of holding further consultations amongst them towards joint action taking into consideration existing Eritrean initiatives.
Following lunch recess on Saturday afternoon, the speakers were grilled by the audience which wanted to know what the way forward in addressing the threat to Eritrean sovereignty posed by the erratic one-man dictatorship in Asmara and the general trend in Ethiopia that is not reassuring to the age-old aspiration of the Eritrean people for peaceful existence as a sovereign nation.
Other festival events held on Friday, like the Europe Zone congress of EPDP branches and a seminar on the party renewal project are covered as separate stories. Despite the unusual heat, the all-night cultural programme for Saturday was conducted as led by young and veteran artists.