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altEritreans Facilitating National Dialogue for democraticTransition and

መድረኽ ንሃገራዊ ዘተ::


By Fesseha Nair


The writer ofthisarticlehave read twoconsecutive articles on national dialogue

And listen the voice ofMedrek for national dialogue at ASSENNA.

Calls for national dialogueshavebeensince 2002 in the Eirtrean Opposition forces as a resultofthese calls twoconventionswereheld in 2010 and 2011 respectively. National dialogues and national conferenceswerepractised in francophonewestAfricancountriesduring the transition period from dictatorshiptodemocracy.


It wassuccessful in somecountriesbutfailed in others.The national dialoguesheld by the Eritrean opposition duringpastyearswere not successfulinsteadofbringingtogether and form a strong opposition it has resulted in more divisions and splitting. The call for national dialogue by the new groupcalled EFND/Eritreans Facilitating for national dialogue is not different from the previous national dialogues.


In thisarticle, I wouldlike todeepen nationaldialogue, itsmeaning, itsimpact, necessaryconditions, methodolgicalframework, participation, the actors and theirfunctions

Deepening national dialogueamong the Eritrean opposition forces


In ourcase, ”National dialogue” is a toolthat provides an all inclusiveplatform for a transition from dictatorshiptodemocracy. Were the past national dialoguesheld in Ethiopia all inclusive? The mostimportant part of national dialogue is the assessmentof the needsof the transition from dictatorshiptodemocracy. Did the past national dialoguesheld in Ethiopiaassess the needsbefore the national dialoguewasconvened? Did it address the mian national issues?


Whatlessonshavewelearned from the previous national dialogues? Howshould national dialogue be structured?  What options, for new instruments have the new intiativetakers for national dialogue/ EFND tofacilitate the coming national dialogue?


National dialogue is the process ofconsultation and participation and is the instrument for democratictransition.


Whatare the necessaryconditions for national dialogueto be successful?


Anynatonaldialogueto be genuine and credible must fulfill the follwoingconditions:


-         Genuine will and consensus

-         Guiding principles

-         A transparent process

-         Inclusive

-         Genuine interestof all involved

-         Firmcommitmentamonggroupsthatconflicts and disputes be resolvedpeacefully.

-         Common agreement on the timeframe

-         Mechanisms must be established for dissemination of the process ofdialogue and sharing it with the wider public.

-         To be sustainable, dialogue must be owned and driven primarily by the democraticactors.   


National dialogueimpacts


In ourcase national dialogue is to:

-         reinforce and reunite the Eritrean opposition forcestoreplace the dictatorship and build a democratic Eritrea.

-          national dialogue has the potential ofcontributingtoconsolidate the transition,

-         provide an opportunitytoassess the speed of the struggle from dictatorshiptodemocracy,

-         helpusidentifypriorityissues for intervention and strengthenourcooperation programmes,

-         enablesustoevaluateforeignassistance.

-         Did the past national dialogues and conferencesheld in Ethiopiaimpacteduspositively or negatively?


Methodologicalframework for national dialogue


Organizing national dialogueneedsmethodsprovidingguidances on howtoorganize the dialogue and howtoensureinclusivityof all stakeholders in a dividedpolity like ours in Eritrea. A goodframeworkhelps u sto forge consensus and establish common prioritiestargeting at empowering the democratic force towindictatorship. The Eritrean opposition forceseitherpolitical or civil or individualsjointlyneedtoelaborate and define national dialogue process in itsfacilitation for planning and conducting the conference.


Whoare the participantsof national dialogue?


National dialogueshould be an inclusive and participatory process, including the entirespectrumofactorsinvolved in the struggle from dictatoshiptodemocracy in Eritrea such as political and civicorganizations and independents. It is helpfultoutilizethe  existing civil organizationsnetworks at global and regional level and neighbouringcountriesfacilitiesthatencourage the process and international partners observing the process canalso assist in facilitating the dialogue.


Eritrean National DialogueActors and theirresponsibilities


We Eritreans have no experienceoforganizing national dialogues. Wetake it simply by electing a preparatory committeewithout no knowledgeof the of the situation the country is facing. Therearethreekey elements thatareessentialto be fulfilled.


  1. 1.Analysisfunction: a Comprehensiveanalysisof the constraints and opportunitieschallenging the forces for democraticchange must be provided.
  2. 2.Dialoguefunction: It provides platformtoexchangeexperiences and lessonslearnedbuilding consensus on the challenges and opprtunities for the struggle from dictatorshiptodemocracy. It shouldultimatelyleadtoarticulating the mainpriorityissuesthat the participantsadopt and own.
  3. 3.Facilitatingfunction: it connectsyouwith the international institutions involved in democratization. It creatsmechanismshow the international support be coordinated.


Therearethreemaingroupswithspecificroles for facilitating national dialogue


  1. a.The dialoguegroup:Thisgroup must be composedof prominent national experts and keyplayers in the struggle for democratictransition.sufficiently representative and havelegitimacy and leverage to make the dialoguemeaningful and sustainable. The memebersshould be selectedbased on their professionalism, reputation nadwillingnesstoenter a genuine dialogue.
  2. b.The expert group: Thisgroup is composedof international experts withundisputedcredentials and reputation. Thisgroup provides the national participantswithcomparativeexperiences and lessonslearned in othercountrieswhichcould be ofassistance in the design of the transitionwe Eritreans aspire.
  3. c.Support group: Thisgroup is composedof international community in solidaritywith the Eritrean transitiontodemocracy as observersofdialogueassisting the democratization process and its implementation withoutdictating the process oftransition in their interests.


The writer ofthisarticleafterpinpointing the mainpointrequiredfor  nationaldialogue be genuine and sustainablewould like to forward proposals like this:


-         Letusestablish the necessaryconditions for developing national dialogue

-         Initiativet o engage in a dialogueshould be shared by all actors.

-         To be legitimate and meaningful the dialogue must be inclusive and participatory

-         Make sure the dialoguefulfills the objectivesoftransition.

-         Formulate an objctiveanalysis and develop national consensus on national agenda

-         Formulate a comprehensive agenda now at thistimeofstruggleagainst the dictatorship and post- dictatorship Eritrea in all spheresof live of the Eritrean citizens.

-         Facilitatedialoguethrough the useof external supporters.

-         Disseminate information about the national dialoguewidelytoforge national unity.

-         Institutionalize the dialogue at all levels

-         Empower the existing networks


A national Dialoguewill be moreeffectiveif the procedures and mechanisms on which it is builtarebaseddemocratic principles.


Letusdiscusswhyweneed all inclusive national dialogue a thistime.

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