The Eritrean People's Democratic Party (EPDP) attended on observer status the 39th Congress of the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP) held between 8 and 12 April 2017 in Gothenburg, the country's second largest city after Stockholm.
Representing the EPDP at the Congress was Mr. Zehaie Keleta, the deputy chairman of the Sweden Committee for the EPDP foreign office. Himself a SAP member, the EPDP representative could hold wide-ranging contacts and side-talks with party members and government officials in addition to distributing in an effective manner the solidarity message addressed to the congress by EPDP Chairman, Mr. Menghesteab Asmerom.
The Congress in Gothenburg elected Lena Radstrom Baastad as new Party leader
The EPDP message urged the congress to revisit and put into concrete action its two resolutions on Eritrea adopted at its 37th Congress. It is to be recalled that the two resolutions pledged to support Eritrean non-state actors struggling for democratic change in their country and to take measures towards stopping the Eritrean regime from collectings its illegal 2% tax from Swedes of Eritrean origion and refugees.
During the 39th Congress of the fraternal Swedish SAP party, which is also the leading party in the ruling coalition it formed, Mr. Zehaie Keleta made an impressive outreach with party leaders and government ministers. Besides holding sufficient explanatory talks with Ms. Margot Wallstroem, the Swedish Foreign Minister, and with Mr. Jan Eliasson, a veteran top Swedish politician and former UN deputy secretary general, the EPDP delegate also meet for brief chats with the outgoing and incoming chairwomen of the Swedish party; with ministers of interior, migration/refugees, finance, national defence, the chairman of the Swedish trade unions as well as with the Mayor of Gothenburg.
EPDP delegate in souvenir poses with UN's Jan Eliasson and Foreign Minister Wallstroem.
At its opening, the congress was under the shock of the tragic terrorist act in the Swedish capital of Stockholm that claimed many lives. At the same time, the incident energized the unity and resolve of the party for serious action to strengthen measures on national security and as such agreed for the training of up to 10,000 policemen between now and 2024.
The 350 voting delegates elected by acclamation the 43-year-old Lena Radstrom Baastad to be the new party chairperson.
Resolution adopted by the 39th SAP Congress were based on their long-held social democratic principles.
Printed below is the full text of the EPDP Chairman's message to the Congress of the Swedish Social Democratic Party:
Eritrean Message to Congress of Fraternal
Swedish Social Democratic Party
8 April 2017
Distinguished Congress Delegates,
This is a modest Eritrean memorandum to your Congress wishing you a successful convention that addresses all the issues listed in your Agenda as well as those issues adopted as future undertakings of parties in the Progressive Alliance of which we in the Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) are founding members.
It is with trust and hope for action that we recall the two important resolutions of your 37th Congress in support of Eritreans struggling for democratic change in our country.
It is known to you congress delegates that Eritrea became a sovereign state at the end of long struggle for self-determination and national independence. When Eritrea became independent over a quarter of a century ago, we and our friends hoped to see a model African state. Sadly, what Eritreans experienced in the last 26 years has been different from their long-awaited dreams for peace, security and democracy. The country still remains without a constitution, without an elected government, without freedom of press, religion, association; without freedom for domestic mobility … and the people are being subjected to all kinds of abuses.
Today's Eritrea leads Africa in being the number one jailer of journalists and violator of basic human and political rights. The shocking picture of cruelty in today’s Eritrea can be illustrated by mentioning cases of thousands of prisoners, including the Swedish Dawit Isaac.
Dear Congress Delegates,
It is time to recall that all freedom-loving progressive forces, including your party, were in the forefront of fighting colonialism several decades ago. However, those same progressive friends did little to help bring about democracy and the rule of law in Africa. We therefore wish to call on you to address that question, and give urgent attention to Eritrea.
The urgent message from us in the EPDP today is the call upon this Congress to support in a concrete manner, and based on its 37th Congress resolutions, the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Eritrea through non-state political and civil society actors in exile that are opposed to the repressive regime in the country.
It is also appropriate for this message to refer to the shocking terrorist incident in Stockholm the other day that we condemn in the strongest terms possible. We hereby convey to the affected families and the Swedish nation as a whole our deepest sympathies and condolences.
We once again wish this Congress a resounding success!!
NB: We are proud to pass this modest message to your august Congress through our party member, Mr. Zehaie Keleta, who is also one of your Congress participants.
Chairman, Eritrean People's Democratic Party (EPDP) in exile.