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altBy Fesseha Nair


Countries are no longer islands isolated from each other in our era of intertwined interests, as the foreign policies of countries are driven by interests.  Therefore, it must be well understood that foreign counties would have to take their respective positions towards Eritreaaccording to their political and economic interests.

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By Fesseha Nair


The case of interim –constitution and permanent constitution.


What is the difference between interim and permanent constitution.

Interim –constitution is a legal framework providing a basis for the democratic transition.

Interim or provisional or transitional are the various names given to the period from the fall of dictatorship to the permanent constitution.



In this article I will deal with why interim constitution is needed in Eritrea after the fall of the dictatorship.


Why interim constitution is an issue for discussion


The issue of constitution is the first issue that comes immediately after the fall of the dictatorship. The new democratic system will require an interim- constitution that establishes the desired framework of the transition from the fall of the dictatorship to the establishment of the permanent constitution.


Interim –constitution is supposed to govern during the transitional period – from the fall of dictatorship until the permanent constitution established.


It comes into effect when the regime falls and is handed over to a caretaker government composed the sovereignty of all political organizations. The interim –constitution will function as a basic law during the year of transition until an elected Assembly can draw up a permanent constitution inside the fixed time.


Many argue that what is the need of drafting a constitution at this time? We have already a drafted constitution of 1997 or the constitution of the federation of 1952.


Both the drafted constitutions of 1997 and of 1952 were not designed to manage the internal conflict of the Eritrean diversity. They were not arranged in a way that provides the people the opportunity to discuss on their fundamental rights and freedoms except they were granted by those who were in power.


The Eritrean people has never discussed on them freely and democratically.


The 1997 constitution drafted but not implemented/defunct was under the control of dictatorship. It was not people’s constitution but a one mans constitution and later called a worthless paper and was thrown away by the self- appointed president. If it was of the people why didn’t they defend their constitution and fight against the dictatorship?


When the constitution of the 1952 was violated by Ethiopian Emperor, we have seen student demonstrations and later labour unions demonstrations and it was these uprisings that were the background of the long armed struggle of liberation. But, why didn’t such uprising not happened by those who call themselves democrats in the opposition camp?


An interim constitution is the transitional basic law of the transitional caretaker government until the permanent constitution is drafted and processed. The reason why this issue is crucial and conflict issue is because there is no common understanding what kind of constitution unitary or federal constitution will be suitable to manage conflicts in Eritrea?


Here , I would like to quote Gene Sharps arguments. Gene Sharp in his book, “ From Dictatorship to Democracy” says that,


“In the interest of preserving the democratic system an impending dictatorial trends and measures, the constitution should preferably be one that establishes a federal system with significant prerogatives reserved for the regional, state, and local levels of government”


In Eritrea there are no functioning constitutions either unitary or federal. Therefore the need for interim constitution is of crucial importance. Those who ignore interim arrangements their aim is to establish themselves as new dictators under the 1997 constitution that was drafted under dictatorship without no freedoms.


Our struggle is not only to remove the dictatorship but looking forward how to arrange the period of transition from dictatorship to permanent constitution.


The Key features of the interim constitution:

-         Directive principles of the state/ State structure

-         Citizenship

-         Fundamental Rights & Duties

-         Fundamental freedoms

-         Interim Legislature

-         Interim- Government

-         Interim Court

-         Interim security provisions

-         Constitutional bodies

-         Autonomous and local administrations

-         Constituent Assembly

-         Transitional Justice and reconciliation

-         Other miscellaneous provisions


Transition from dictatorship to democracy is both fighting the dictatorship and at the same time laying the foundations for democratic transition.


For most of Eritreans in the opposition or those who support the dictatorship constitution means for them like a bible that comes from the heavens. Why do we need interim legal framework from the fall of the dictatorship to permanent constitution must be one of our agendas and prepare for it while struggling to topple the tyranny.


Constitutional arrangements provide us an important opportunity to manage our internal and external conflicts. When designing a legal framework citizens identify the fundamental values they believe in and the sort of institutions by which they want to be governed. This may involve inclusive and participatory national deliberation resulting in agreements that establish the country’s basic law. Did the 1997 constitution provide us the opportunity to manage our internal and external conflicts? Let our legal experts discuss on this issue.











By Fesseha Nair

Looking back to the history of state building some 3800 years ago, the ruler of small Mesopotamian city state, there was a ruler called Hammurabi-the ruler of Babylon. He was the supreme king of Mesopotamia. He told his people that his power comes from the divine- God and those who oppose his rule are evil and wicked.


He vilified his opposition and claimed that the divine justice is with him and no other. Hammurabi built a city state with the help of his gods and their particular vision of justice. State building or organizing a state in Eritrea looks like the city state of Hammurabi.


After the city states came the formation of national state systems in Europe, Asia and later in Africa. Most of the world’s national state formation was by coercion and accumulation of power. Because of these wars were fought internally and externally all over the world. The state formation in Eritrea is a war made state by coercion and accumulation of political power-legacies of dictatorship and assimilation.


In this article, I will be dealing why did the Eritreans failed to establish in building a democratic state?


The Eritrean political organization who came to power after the independence has no experience of state building except the legacies of western methods of coercion and accumulation that lead to internal and external wars.


Eritrea is the last country of the 193 member states of the United Nations. The path of state formation in Eritrea has been the same trajectory like that of Hammurabi of Babylon. Eritrea after 21 years as an independent and sovereign country is in state of crisis. Those who advocate Hammurabi’s system of dictatorship in Eritrea are today the main victims of the dictatorship.


Eritrea is a multi- ethnic and multicultural in its composition- a state organization that excludes any of this composition is failed to build a stable state securing peaceful coexistence.


The Eritrean internal conflict is based on the role of the state in the society and emanate chiefly from its structure and organization. The Eritrean scholars – supporting the Eritrean dictatorship directly adopted or copied the outdated method of state formation by coercion and accumulation without considerations of the Eritrean multi-ethnic society.


As we see and experience today both in the discussions opposing the dictatorship and the its supporters no one of them will take the main issues of conflict but except lip services on democracy, justice and human rights. Most of those who are against the dictatorship will not discuss about the future shape of the state after the fall of dictatorship except demanding the implementation of the 1997 constitution drafted under a dictatorship.


The Eritrean conflict analysis should be focused openly between those various interest groups and the issues that divide must come in the agenda.


The Eritrean opposition groups including civil and political organizations main issues must include political crisis in Eritrea and the method to solve it. The period of transition from dictatorship and the interim arrangements for the governing of Eritrea after the immediate fall of the dictatorship must be discussed.


The opposition forces for democratic change and their efforts to unite is still non con-convincing. There are a number of reasons for this to be:-


-         Lack of trust between the actors for democratic changes

-         Each side seeks an advantage than conflict resolution

-         Difference in understanding on state formation

-         Divisions within particular groups


The results of the national Dialogues and national conferences held in Ethiopia to form a united umbrella organizations including political and civic organizations failed to work together because the above mentioned are the main factors hindering them to work together.


Lessons learned from these conferences and dialogues are:-


-         There is a shortage in the processing of the negotiations of conflicts

-         There Eritrean opposition political arena is dominated by hardliners and there are no moderates.

-         Lack of common agenda based on democratic process of transition

-         There is no common understanding about the main issues of conflict


There are no case studies offering us insights in peace building and democracy in Eritrea except futile political debates based on oral discussions. The Eritrean scholars are partisan and for them bringing the issues of conflict and searching for their resolutions is a taboo or not be touched because they create new conflicts and bloodshed. But this is a wrong approach and never leads us to manage our conflicts by negotiations. In contrary, it is this partisan analysis of conflict that leads us to conflicts and bloodshed.


The task of the democratic actors is building peace by facing the immense challenges and the aim is to offer support and guidance along the way or path to form a state including all the diverse society of Eritrea where their interests and rights are guaranteed.

By Organizers

The Eritrean partnership for democratic change comprising political, civic and independent activists have organized a workshop on 29th September 2012 in commemoration of the 51st anniversary of the Eritrean peoples liberation armed struggle and the 11th year of the detention of the political leaders and journalists.

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UN Investigator: Too Early to Lift Eritrean Sanctions

Posted Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 at 7:15 pm

The head of the United Nations monitoring group on Somalia and Eritrea says it is too early to lift U.N. sanctions against Eritrea, despite a report suggesting the Asmara government no longer actively supports Somali al-Shabab insurgents.

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Eritrea's brutal trade in weapons and people that is too lucrative to stamp out

Refugees smuggled with arms from Eritrea to Sinai face weeks of torture as captives of criminal gangs – under noses of the UN

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Eritrea in Iran’s Crosshairs

July 18, 2012 | From


JERUSALEM—Eritrea’s extensive weapons and human trafficking industry is operating with the full support of the Eritrean government, according to a United Nations report that was leaked to a British newspaper this week. 

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By Fesseha Nair


The Eritrean National Council for Democratic Change an umbrella broad organization consisting political and civic society organizations has endorsed three documents in their congress held in Awasa – Ethiopialast year/ 2011.

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Everyone knows the non-human, miserable life situation that any Eritrean refugee in various altneighbouring countries is leading as a result of his/her escape from the oppression and abuse of the regime. It is their legitimate right to ask us to alleviate their suffering and provide them with a better life conditions. 

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By Rally organizers            

May 24th Eritrea’s independence Day the 21st anniversary was marked by a huge rally against the suppression of the tyranny in front of the Eritrean Embassy in the City of Stockholm.


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