A man carries a table as he walks past the ruins of a building in the port city of Massawa, Eritrea July 22, 2018. Picture…
FILE - A man carries a table as he walks past the ruins of a building in the port city of Massawa, Eritrea, July 22, 2018.

GENEVA - A U.N. investigator is condemning an Eritrean crackdown on fundamental freedoms and religious practice in a new report, as well as the country’s harsh, indefinite military service and widespread abuse.

Hopes that Eritrea, which has been accused of human-rights abuses, would institute reforms after it signed a historic peace agreement with Ethiopia in 2018 have not materialized.  If anything, a U.N. report on its human rights situation has found widespread human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearances, sexual violence and torture.

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea Daniela Kravetz deplores the government’s repression of religious freedom.  She says Christians practicing without government approval are arrested, as are those who belong to nonrecognized Christian congregations.  She says Muslims also are targeted, arrested and jailed.

She finds no justification for Eritrea’s failure to reform its compulsory national service.  She says that failure cannot be justified on the grounds that economic conditions in the country do not permit job creation or salary hikes for conscripts.

“There are, however, immediate measures that the authorities could take that do not depend on economic reforms, such as stopping the ongoing roundups of youth for forced conscription, separating secondary education from military conscription and putting in place mechanisms to monitor and prevent abuses against conscripts, in particular against female conscripts,” she said. 

Kravetz is calling for the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.  She says people are arbitrarily arrested because of their opposition to the government or their beliefs as conscientious objectors.  She says they often are jailed for decades, without any recourse to justice or relief.

Eritrean Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Tesfamicael Gerahtu, calls the report politically motivated and ill-intentioned.  He says it portrays his country in a negative light and does not reflect any of its positive achievements.

He notes Eritrea is at peace after two decades of conflict.  He says Eritrea is in the process of resolving the many social and economic problems that have arisen during that time but adds there is no quick fix.

Source=https://www.voanews.com/africa/un-decries-lack-reforms-and-widespread-abuse-eritrea

Somalia: Refugee returnees to Somalia, 31 January 2020

Friday, 28 February 2020 18:49 Written by

Source:UNHCR

Published:20 Feb 2020

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This figure includes Voluntary Repatriation from Kenya (84,974) and Assisted Spontaneous returnees from Yemen (5,087) as well as 1,478 returnees from other countries such as Djibouti (822), Libya (467), Sudan (143), Eritrea (34), Angola, Tunisia, Gambia, China, Cambodia and others. Somali refugees from these or other countries who return spontaneously without assistance from the UNHCR are not included. During the month of January 2020, no new refugee returnees were recorded.

Source=https://reliefweb.int/report/somalia/somalia-refugee-returnees-somalia-31-january-2020

The complex and sometimes hostile relationship of the Eritrean and Tigrayan authorities appears to have hit another low.

An official statement from the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) [below] contained strong warnings for President Isaias. He was told not to interfere in Ethiopian affairs.

Esteemed People of Eritrea,

The people of Tigrai and TPLF have never wavered or compromised on the quest of the Eritrean people for freedom. As a result of the sacrifices we jointly made, we won over the brutal Dergi regime and achieved victory. You have determined your destiny and the people of Tigrai and the TPLF are, as always, proud of this achievement. Nonetheless, in the last 20 years we had been locked in an unnecessary conflict and we both paid dearly as a result. We all realize the scar this has left.

It should not be forgotten that the relationship between the TPLF and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) have been littered with periods of cooperation and conflict.

The EPLF helped the TPLF when the Tigrayan movement was first formed, with training and equipment. They then fell out over strategy and tactics, before cementing an alliance that resulted in their forces co-ordinating the capture of Asmara and Addis Ababa in 1991. Eritrean troops even provided Prime Minister Meles with security in the first months of his rule.

But bitter disputes have also characterised their relationship. The Eritrean closed the route into Tigray at the height of the 1984-85 famine, leading to thousands of deaths. PM Meles warned his Eritrean hosts not to 'scratch old wounds' when he came to celebrate the formal independence of Eritrea in 1993. And - of course - there was the tragic border war of 1998, sparked by a conflict over the village of Badme.

Now there is increasing tension along the Eritrea-Ethiopia border once more. The TPLF blocked the removal of heavy weapons and equipment by the authorities in Addis Ababa in January 2019. The Tigrayans feared renewed fighting along the border.

 

Screenshot 2020-02-19 at 08.11.05

 

Tigrayans blocked military trucks from leaving Shire and Zalambessa, January 2019

There is now a war of words once more, while the land border between Eritrea and Eritrea is closed.

 The bitter words from the TPLF were matched by President Isaias, during his recent interview on Eritrean television.

 An extract of what President Isaias had to say is below. So too is an article on the current situation and comments from the commentator Rene Lefort.

 

Screenshot 2020-02-19 at 08.28.02

 

 

 


 

Source: Borkena

 

TPLF leaders warn Eritrean president, solicit support from Eritrean People

 

 

TPLF leaders warn Eritrean president over what they call “interference in Ethiopian affair” while pleading to Eritrean people to forget the “scar” and work together for “mutual benefit.” Some express concern that TPLF could start war in Ethiopia

 

 TPLF _ Eritrean President Seyoum Mesfin. Photo credit : Tigray TV via BBC Amharic

borkena

February 17, 2020

Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) seized the 45-anniversary celebration as an opportunity to showcase the extent of militarization.

In over a week-long series of events leading to Yekatit 11 (February 19), the day ethnic Tigray Nationalist political organization launched the armed struggle in the wilderness of Dedebit against the military government of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam, military parades have been the centerpiece of the anniversary celebration. Some ethnic Tigray opposition figures were warning that TPLF could start war.

The organization has issued a statement on the occasion.  Its heading reads “TPLF Official Statement on the Occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the Launching of the Armed Struggle of the People of Tigrai, 11 Lekatit 2012 Ge’ez C.(February 19, 2020).” Noticeably, Ethiopian calendar is used but it is described as “Ge’ez C”-the way it is referred to as in Eritrea.

The statement made a reference to the 17 years of armed struggle without any  support from elsewhere:“”The people of Tigray endured the tough and costly journey with extreme forms of commitment and without asking for any external support, alternate partner, or pause.” Often, TPLF used to say that “all Ethiopians struggled to overthrow Fascist Derge regime.”

Then it goes to condemn what it called “parasitic decadence that occurred within the EPRDF in the last 3 to 4 years” – a reference to the reform measures after TPLF lost power following a pervasive and sustained protest in the country.  And the narration was to the “Esteemed People of Tigrai” and “Esteemed Members of the TPLF”

It also painted an image of the imminent disintegration of Ethiopia due to policy measures of the political force that is currently holding power. “In the last couple of years, the country has suffered from heinous violations of law and unfolding crisis, and now it is on the verge of disintegration,”  it said.

Under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, says TPLF, “the country has become a playing field for all sorts of external actors.”

After soliciting support from a different section of the population apart from TPLF members and people of Tigray, the statement lastly pleaded to the people of Eritrea. “The people of Tigrai and TPLF have never wavered or compromised on the quest of the Eritrean people for freedom. As a result of the sacrifices we jointly made, we won over the brutal Dergi regime and achieved victory… Nonetheless, in the last 20 years we had been locked in an unnecessary conflict and we both paid dearly as a result. We all realize the scar this has left.”

And what TPLF wants is for the people of Eritrea to “revitalize mutual benefit…, and advance towards an era of mutual development.”

 

 

The message for the Eritrean president is different. And it is not in the statement.  In an event organized as part of the anniversary, leading TPLF leaders like Seyoum Mesfin, who has served as foreign minister for a long time, complained that the Eritrean president is interfering in the internal affairs of Ethiopia.

Tsegaye Berhe, another prominent TPLF leader, said t “If Isaias interferes in Ethiopian internal affairs, his hands will break, but he will bring about nothing,” as reported by BBC Amharic on  Monday.

In an interview with Eritrea’s national TV, president Isaias indicated in the situation in Badme is worse after the peace agreement with Ethiopia, and that is because of TPLF leaders who are not willing to cede it to Eritrea.


Tigray People's Liberation Front/TPLF/

Source: TPLF

Screenshot 2020-02-18 at 20.53.56

TPLF Official Statement on the Occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the Launching of the Armed Struggle of the People of Tigrai, 11 Lekatit 2012 Ge’ez C.(19 February 2020)
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We are celebrating the 45th anniversary of the launching of the armed struggle of the people of Tigrai against the then prevailing enormous oppression, discrimination, and violence in our country, Ethiopia.

When we do so, we renew our promise to move forward with greater fortitude by remembering the past commitment and various achievements of the people of Tigrai and by charting our future with better clarity and stamina.

When the people of Tigrai resorted to raising arms, it was well-aware of the consequences of such an engagement in terms of human, material, environmental, psychological, and all sorts of sacrifices. Yet, it was left with no option but to pursue it to realize its noble cause. The people of Tigrai waged the armed struggle to eradicate, once and for all, the yoke of oppression it, particularly, and the subjugated Ethiopian nations, nationalities, and peoples shouldered and to establish a democratic and inclusive federal system of governance in its place. It, moreover, envisioned sustainable peace and affluent economy from which everyone benefits based on mutual respect, self-rule, equal participation, equity, self-rule, and self-determination.


The people of Tigrai endured the tough and costly journey with extreme forms of commitment and without asking for any external support,alternate partner, or pause. After paying colossal price in all its forms, the people of Tigrai eventually managed to remove from power the absolutely-anti-democratic and fascist Dergi/WPE regime that was the vanguard of poverty, backwardness, and all forms of discrimination and violence, and open a new and brighter chapter in the history of this country. Following the downfall of the Dergi regime and saving the country from the verge of collapse, the people of Tigrai played an indispensable role in inaugurating a constitutional system in which all nations, nationalities, and peoples of the country and all political forces participate equally. After the promulgation of the Constitution, the people of Tigrai played its unreserved positive role so that such a globally exemplary multinational federal system of governance is built and an inclusive, democratic, and renewed Ethiopia is established. Consequently, a system that guarantees self-rule and an equitable participation at all tiers of government, including at the federal level, of those who suffered from within and outside; those who were forced to be ashamed of who they are or what they profess, wear, or eat for centuries; those who were discriminated because of their identity, was realized. Such unattended burning demands of Ethiopians that lasted for decades or even centuries as the right to self-determination, ownership of land, popular sovereignty, and all democratic and human rights are addressed by the Constitution.

In this new chapter of history, developmental democracy, a path that halted Ethiopia’s hurtling descent and paved the road for advancement was introduced. Our country, Ethiopia, has registered tremendous and shining successes by following this befitting path to overall development. A country otherwise known for aid dependency has joined the club of the few fastest growing economies in the world. And this was sustained for about two decades. The country is able to realize, with its own resources, mega projects that were never heard of nor attempted before in the land. As a result of the achievement of fast and equitable development, millions of citizens are uplifted from abject poverty every year. Peace and security was maintained; sovereignty of the country was ensured; positive image and acceptability of the country and its positive influence regionally and globally was greatly enhanced. Similar outstanding achievements are visible in the social sector including but not limited to health and education as well as infrastructure development.
Thus, the 27 years before the advent of the so-called change in Ethiopia were years of freedom from the yoke of oppression and discrimination, accelerated development, peace, democracy, and generally glowing renaissance; unlike the claim of the naysayers that they were years of darkness.

Esteemed People of Tigrai,
Esteemed Members of the TPLF,

Developmental democracy, which was the mother of all the great achievements in Ethiopia in the last decades, is now being challenged by parasitic decadence that occurred within the EPRDF in the last 3 to 4 years. As a result, the peace that reigned in this country is now stained; the fast economic growth is halted; the democratization process is endangered. The TPLF did everything it could to save the system by strongly fighting the parasitic decadence within itself to no avail because the other sister parties in the EPRDF failed to do so and the decadent forces prevailed in holding key positions within the EPRDF following the latter’s leadership reshuffling in March 2018. The new leadership that represented the decadent elements of the EPRDF and that came through duplicitous schemes completely sidelined developmental democracy, resorted to autocracy, and joined the camps of rent seeking and parasitism that the EPRDF identified as a danger to the system and the country and warned against years back during its deep renewal. Now, they are out there in their worst forms for everyone to observe. In the last couple of years, the country has suffered from heinous violations of law and unfolding crisis and now it is on the verge of disintegration.

Institutions and institutionalism are being destroyed. Reversal of the country’s achievements accompanied by monstrous violations and actions in both the economic and the political fronts are prevalent. The Constitution, which is the only reliable savior of the country, is violated and rule of law is endangered; the multi-national federal system is being shattered in day light; a long sustained peace is sullied; unity of the people is deeply wounded; development is halted; integrity and sovereignty of the country is scorned, as never witnessed in Ethiopia’s history, and the country has become a playing field for all sorts of external actors: be they strong or feeble. Because of this, the very existence of the country is endangered in a more disastrous way than ever. The result has so far been for citizens to lose their life and property just for belonging to a certain identity or group; the prevalence of worst forms of violence and illegal evictions; extra-judicial killings of top military leaders who had spent their entire lives safeguarding the country; turning universities from premises of education and research to compounds of turmoil and uprisings; the loss of student lives and kidnapping of citizens including students has become a daily occurrence.
Furthermore, the party that controlled state powers legally and that brought about development, peace, and rule of law to the country- the EPRDF - is demolished following the betrayals and absolutely anti-democratic and illegal actions of the other sister parties and replaced by a newly and illegally established so-called prosperity party. The TPLF and its members are being purged from federal and Addis Ababa offices despite the fact that the EPRDF is yet the legal incumbent party all over Ethiopia and its term is yet to expire come next September. Anti-democratic actions, abductions, insecurities, and threats have taken absolute prevalence in the country; the political ecosystem has become so restraining; political parties, journalists, and individuals who promote different ideas from the so-called reform agenda are being attacked, abducted, and imprisoned.

Esteemed People of Tigrai,

Esteemed Members of the TPLF,
Though the political situation in the country at the moment is challenging, our organization, the TPLF, is doing a commendable job in curbing the threats that are coming from all corners by relying on its popular goals, experience, and internal strength. It is confronting the forces of chauvinism so that rule of law and order prevails in the country. It is particularly waging a frontline resistance, as always, so that the survival and security of the people of Tigrai is guaranteed at any time and place. Haphazardly gathered chauvinists are launching a fight by creating a front to rollback the Tigrai people and TPLF’s efforts to maintain the multi-national federal system, rule of law and order, and defend citizens particularly Tigraians from attacks. They are leaving no stone unturned to intimidate the people of Tigrai and its leading organization, the TPLF. The defeated chauvinists are working relentlessly to maximize the ‘window of opportunity’opened for them by traitors from within the EPRDF to smash the people of Tigrai and consign it to subjugation and oppression once again.

Nonetheless, our people have no wish nor interest to pay back in kind; our people do not uphold the eye-for-an-eye thinking. Our goal is to bring about development and compensate the losses suffered by our people as a result of long sustained and imposed backwardness, wars, and dismal poverty. We keenly understand that the survival and security of the people of Tigrai is determined by the successes we attain in the overall development endeavors, the transformation we achieve in the area of good governance, and by the triumph we register in the area of sustainable peace and security. Our agenda is nothing but peace, development, democracy, and to struggle to maintain the multinational federal system that is based on equality and that provides equal chance to all peoples of Ethiopia.
We urge all stakeholders to note that the efforts to derail us from our noble causes by trying to intimidate, encircle, and subdue our people and their leading Organization will bear no fruit. Let alone in these days, it was impossible to silence the people of Tigrai in the earlier days through indiscriminate attacks and famine. We will surely overcome whatever challenges we are facing and never go downhill and eventual victory is certainly with us as we are waging a just struggle.
Esteemed People of Tigrai,
As always, you are pursuing a just struggle by upholding your noble cause and committing yourself to the maximum extent possible by siding with your leading Organization and with utmost clarity of thoughts without being distracted by those who tried hard. You are marching forward without loosening your grip on your goals and renewing and strengthening your leading Organization on the way. You are moving forward by upholding your principled treasures and displaying exemplary roles without being sidetracked by challenges and provocations. Your Organization, the TPLF, immensely respects your struggle and countering the aggressions that manifest themselves in different forms. There is no doubt that the challenges could reappear by changing their forms. The chauvinists and their partners hell-bent on destroying the country are frustrated by the iron-strong unity of our people are working hard to infuse division within the people of Tigrai by allocating huge public resources including government offices as an enticement to few traitors and by resorting to such issues as localism, religious fundamentalism, and exaggerating certain governance-related demands and questions. They are expected to fabricate such conspiracies in the future as well. Our people will also steadfastly hold onto its time-tested wisdom and capacity of separating the wheat from the chaff, and throwing away the latter to the dustbin of history. You should fight against those who want to endanger your survival and security from within and outside like a stinger.

By recognizing the plain fact that your survival and security is guaranteed by the overall struggle you undertake, you must pursue your development endeavors in more vigorous ways; struggle against anti-peace and anti-development thoughts as well as inclinations; administer your resources wisely; save; refrain from wasting your properties and resources; guard your peace; scan your lands lest traitors set foot on it; get organized and strengthen your overall struggle; your Organization, the TPLF, will always stand shoulder to shoulder with you in all your struggles against all forms of aggressions. The TPLF Central Committee appreciates and respects the overall struggle and commitment so far and calls upon the people to get ever ready for further struggle and victory.
Esteemed Members of the TPLF,

The chapter of the struggle we are in is different in substance and form from anything we experienced in our history. On one hand, because of the extraordinary betrayal of those once who struggled with us, the EPRDF is demolished illegally and undemocratically. And this has left the TPLF as the only organization among members of the EPRDF to defend developmental democracy and all attacks against this path from within and outside are geared towards the TPLF. Yet, our people are heroically defending against the attacks and we call upon our people to further strengthen their resistance. On the other hand, we call up on our people to pursue, with utmost sense of urgency, organization, and in a manner that compensates losses that we may have incurred as a consequence of previous inefficiencies on the agenda of peace, development, democracy, and ensuring justice that we launched anew in our State.
Esteemed Families of Martyrs, Disabled Veterans, Fighters, and All Accumulated Human Resources of Our Struggle,
Your organization, the TPLF, duly notes that you are infuriated by the fact that the peace, democracy, and development that prevailed and started to thrive in the country because of your sacrifices are once again endangered. And you are struggling with exemplary steadfastness to maintain the system and the popular causes by setting aside the many pressing and legitimate, yet unattended, demands that you have. There is no option in the future too but to scale up your struggle in an organized manner. As you did it in yesteryears, your Organization, the TPLF, calls upon you to make history again in defending our people against current as well as anticipated attacks by siding with your people and leading organization and byutilizing the tremendous experiences you have accumulated.
Esteemed Youth of Tigrai,
As we once reiterated “when hard times befall, you should not betray the responsibilities assigned to you by your forefathers”, you are conducting a reasonable struggle and you contributed not only for Tigrai but also you are doing a proud job to alter the balance of politics in the country. You are making a new golden history on the top of the history of your forefathers. Your organization, the TPLF, is proud of your contributions. We are confident that you will foil all sorts of conspiracies that may occur in the future that aim to sow division within your people through your strong organizations and high-level of awareness. Your organization, the TPLF, will stand with you in your struggle to defend your people and resolve your all-rounded challenges.

Esteemed Women of Tigrai,

During the armed struggle, you made history by winning against all odds and by displaying extreme forms of commitment that history will never forget and by shouldering double oppression. You have made similar proud history in building a democratic system of governance and bringing about development. You are also engaging in defending your people with high levels of commitment like a Tigress defending her new born. Your Organization, the TPLF, highly appreciates your contribution so far. We are confident that you will make similar history in our all-rounded struggle in the future. Your organization, the TPLF, assures you that we will work together with the highest possible attention to address the multifaceted challenges you face.
Esteemed Scholars and Business Community of Tigrai,
It is known that your contribution in the fight to eradicate poverty and backwardness in all its forms was tremendous. You are committing your knowledge and resources to overcoming the current challenges by taking full responsibility and standing with your people. We highly appreciate your contributions so far and the Central Committee of the TPLF calls upon youto maximize all the opportunities and give all what you can to benefit your people and win over the challenges.

Esteemed Tigrai Community Residing Abroad,
Standing with your people and your organization, the TPLF, you have made unforgettable history by contributing through your knowledge, money, and life sacrifices during the armed struggle. After the completion of the armed struggle, you have been contributing what is expected of you so that overall peace and development reigns in the country. Similar to what you have done in the past, you are struggling with full commitment and unity to overcome the challenge faced by your Organization, the TPLF, and the people of Tigrai. The TPLF Central Committee highly appreciates your contributions so far and calls upon you to scale up your struggle to an even higher level and stand with your people in their endeavor to defend their noble cause.
Esteemed Opposition Parties and Civic Associations of Our State,
Opposition parties and civic associations in our State, you certainly understand that you are the fruits of 11 Lekatit. We understand that your contribution to the prevalence of peace, development, and building democracy in our State is substantial. TPLF particularly appreciates those of you who are struggling to ensure the survival and security of the people of Tigrai and those of you who are working hard to overcome the challenges faced by the people of Tigrai. We are hopeful that you will stand with your people in the future struggle as well and prove so practically, without being influenced or challenged and the TPLF vows to support your struggle.

Esteemed Forces of the Constitution and the Multinational Federal System,It is recorded in history and you are well aware of the sacrifices paid by the people of Tigrai and its leading organization, the TPLF, to create advanced, democratic, sovereign, and peaceful Ethiopia in which all the nations, nationalities, and peoples participate on equal basis. The rule of law, peace, and federal system of governance that were the results of heavy sacrifices are now being violated and the country is descending to disintegration. The continuity of the country is guaranteed only when the Constitution and the federal system of governance are respected. Thus, we assure you that TPLF will work with you in strengthening and scaling up the struggle you have already begun to save the Constitution and the multinational federal system.

Esteemed Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples of Ethiopia,
Through our common struggle and the sacrifices we made, we have succeeded in building a country that benefits all of us and ensures our equal participation. Nonetheless, this right that was achieved through your struggles and sacrifices is now endangered by forces of chauvinism. We are living witnesses and we can see from the reality on the ground that violating the Constitution and the federal system of governance will lead us to disintegration and apocalypse. TPLF calls upon you to struggle together, as we did earlier, to save the Constitution and the federal system of governance.


Esteemed People of Eritrea,
The people of Tigrai and TPLF have never wavered or compromised on the quest of the Eritrean people for freedom. As a result of the sacrifices we jointly made, we won over the brutal Dergi regime and achieved victory. You have determined your destiny and the people of Tigrai and the TPLF are, as always, proud of this achievement. Nonetheless, in the last 20 years we had been locked in an unnecessary conflict and we both paid dearly as a result. We all realize the scar this has left. Now, the TPLF calls upon you to once again revitalize our mutual benefit, history, and relations, and advance towards an era of mutual development.


MesmernaAtseni-inaNimekete! (Let’s holdfast to our principled path in our resistance!)
Eternal Glory to Our Martyrs!TPLF Central Committee
Lekatit 2012/February 2020
Meqhele


Commentary by Rene Lefort

Source: Tweets

1. The last “TPLF official statement” is not only surrealistic, but terribly damaging for the Front and the so-called “democratic transition”: it discredits itself and accentuates its “bunkerisation” by its own.

2. During 27 years, Ethiopia lived in a paradise. “Years of freedom from the yoke of oppression and discrimination, accelerated development, peace, democracy, and generally glowing renaissance… A globally exemplary multinational federal system of governance”.

3. But then Ethiopia shifted to the hell. The evils? The classical “anti-peace, anti-development, chauvinist, rent-seekers” elements, but now the “traitors” pushing for a “parasitic decadence”, etc. etc. In this listing, the famous “lubricious vipers” only are missing…

4. Through their “monstrous violations”, they have “completely sidelined developmental democracy, resorted to autocracy, and joined the camps of rent seeking and parasitism”, “destroying the country” and putting it “on the verge of disintegration”.

5. What happened in between? Despite “the TPLF did everything it could to save the system… decadent forces prevailed in holding key positions within the EPRDF”. Full stop. Why? Absolute silence about anything else.

6. There was not even the shadow of a tiny cloud in this former haven. Millions of people raised up for years against authoritarianism, oligarchic capture and a biased federalism, among others? The country plunged into an existential crisis? These basic facts are simply set aside

7. Finally, the TPLF “assures… it will work with the esteemed Forces of the Constitution and the Multinational Federal System”. The TPLF harshly repressed them for years. How could they take this appeal as credible when the Front describes these years as a golden age?

8. The content and the form of this statement are firmly against TPLF’s leadership positions heard two months ago in Mekele. They were realistic, open minded, in one word rational, and even self-critic. Has the Front recently made a U-turn?

9. This Manichean and blind statement is either a calamitous propaganda exercise or, if it expresses the Front’s actual position, the TPLF is not only shooting itself in the foot but also damages even more a transition already in a very perilous way.

South Sudan inches towards a unity government

Tuesday, 25 February 2020 22:52 Written by

South Sudan's leaders shake hands

Source: The Economist

After 12 deals failed to bring peace, will the 13th prove lucky?


ONCE FETED as liberation heroes, South Sudan’s ageing leaders are now better known for fighting each other and failing to make up. The country won independence from Sudan in 2011, after a referendum, and plunged into civil war two years later. Since then, President Salva Kiir and his former deputy-turned-nemesis, Riek Machar, have struck no fewer than 12 agreements, none of which brought lasting peace. On February 22nd the two sides are supposed to form an interim government of national unity—nine months and two missed deadlines behind schedule. Many observers worry it will be Groundhog Day for South Sudan. But as the deadline approaches there are tentative signs that this time it might not.

South Sudan's leaders shake hands

Mr Kiir and Mr Machar (pictured; Mr Kiir in a hat) both belonged to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the political arm of the rebel army that fought for independence. Rivalries between the two men and their respective tribes—Dinkas and Nuers—have roiled the country for years. A peace deal signed in 2015 saw the return of Mr Machar to the capital, Juba, to take up his post as vice-president in a coalition government. But in 2016 fighting erupted again and Mr Machar fled. It has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and the flight of more than a third of the population.

Since September 2018, when the latest peace agreement was signed, violence has subsided. Rebel generals visit government-held towns, aid reaches most of the country and civilians can move about more or less unhindered. The hope is that this will allow Mr Machar to return to Juba again as vice-president. Rebels and government forces are to be integrated into a national army of 83,000 men and elections are to be held in three years.

Prospects brightened following diplomatic pressure from neighbouring countries and threats of more sanctions from America. On February 15th Mr Kiir announced that he had cut the number of states from 32 to ten. This is seen as a big concession. The opposition has long decried the Dinka-dominated government’s unilateral division of South Sudan into 28 states (later 32) as ethnic gerrymandering. “Everyone is hopeful now,” says Jale Richard of Eye Radio, a broadcaster in Juba. It also helps that some rebel groups that were not part of the current peace agreement signed a truce last month.

But it is too soon to celebrate. Mr Kiir has not simply restored South Sudan’s ten original states, as Mr Machar had demanded. Instead he wants to form ten states and three “administrative areas”. One of these will be Ruweng, a Dinka enclave in Unity, Mr Machar’s home state. As it happens, Ruweng holds about 80% of South Sudan’s oil—the country’s only sizeable export.

On February 17th Mr Machar flew to Juba with Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council, in a last-ditch attempt to reach a compromise with Mr Kiir. Even if one is reached, Mr Machar needs convincing that he can safely return to Juba. Wary of what happened in July 2016, when the government sent helicopter-gunships to kill him, Mr Machar wants a 3,000-strong joint protection force. “He considers having military manpower in Juba the same as having political power,” notes Ahmed Soliman of Chatham House, a think-tank in London. Although the government has agreed to this joint force, it is reluctant to remove its own troops from the capital. Alternatives such as peacekeepers supplied by African governments would require lengthy discussions.

The bigger issue is that the latest deal, like those before it, aims to do little more than restore the balance of power between the president and his rival. “We’re essentially trying to reset the button to 2013—back to the very problem which kick-started this war,” says Mr Martell.

Source=https://martinplaut.com/2020/02/20/south-sudan-inches-towards-a-unity-government/

Mubarak ruled Egypt for 30 years until he was deposed following mass protests

Hosni Mubarak in a cage in court during his trial in Cairo in 2012

Hosni Mubarak in a cage in court during his trial in Cairo in 2012. Photograph: STR/EPA

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s autocratic former president who ruled with an iron fist for three decades before being toppled during the Arab spring protests in 2011, has died aged 91.

Mubarak became a symbol of thuggish and brutal authority after taking power in 1981 following the assassination of Anwar Sadat. His reign was marked by the emergence of a paranoid and cruel police state supported by a network of sprawling military businesses and corrupt crony businessmen. Many Egyptians see echoes of Mubarak’s style of leadership in their current leader, the former general Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

The former president’s family said he had recently been taken to hospital and was in intensive care following an operation to remove a stomach tumour.

A statement from the office of the Egyptian presidency praised Mubarak’s military record in the 1973 war against Israel, naming him “one of the leaders and heroes of the glorious October war”. “He assumed command of the air force during the war that restored dignity and pride to the Arab nation,” it said.

Egypt’s armed forces also released a statement of mourning for the longtime air force officer and military leader. “The General Command of the Armed Forces mourns one of its sons, and one of the leaders of the glorious October war,” it said. Three days of mourning were announced.

Mubarak speaking to Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington in 2010.
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Mubarak speaking to Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington in 2010. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

US administrations showered Mubarak with billions of dollars in military aid, viewing him as a bulwark against regional terrorism and a key driver of “cold peace” with Israel. In the west, Mubarak became seen as a draconian but businesslike leader who could be relied on to keep western interests intact and maintain peace with Egypt’s neighbours. Tony Blair once praised him as “immensely courageous and a force for good”.

Yet at home, unemployment, poverty and resentment about Mubarak’s lavish lifestyle continued to grow. A years-long loosening of some of the more draconian elements of his rule, allowing Islamists to obtain seats in Egypt’s parliament as independents in 2005 and allowing limited press freedom, could not stop a rising tide of discontentment.

In January 2011, following the ousting of Tunisia’s longtime ruler in the first act of what became known as the Arab spring, protesters overtook Tahrir Square in central Cairo and other major Egyptian cities demanding an end to Mubarak’s time in power.

His cronyism, his corrupt leadership and his security forces’ cruel treatment of the Egyptian populace galvanised a generation. Protesters called for “bread, freedom and social justice” and an end to military rule

Timeline

After Tahrir Square

25 February 2011

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak steps down after almost 30 years in power amid anti-government Arab spring protests. Rallies continue all year.

25 January 2012

Islamist parties win drawn-out parliamentary elections.

25 June 2012

Mohamed Morsi of Muslim Brotherhood wins presidential election. Mubarak sentenced to life in prison for complicity in killing 800 protesters in 2011.

25 July 2013

Army overthrows Morsi.

25 August 2013

Security forces kill hundreds in pro-Morsi camp.

25 May 2014

Former army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi wins presidential election.

25 May 2015

Morsi sentenced to death. Egypt's appeal court orders retrial in 2016.

25 October 2015

Isis claims responsibility for bombing Russian plane in Sinai. Crew and 224 tourists killed.

25 November 2016

IMF approves three-year $12bn loan to Egypt designed to help country out of economic crisis.

25 April 2017

Suicide bombers kill dozens at two churches as worshippers celebrate Palm Sunday.

25 November 2017

Egyptian airstrikes on northern Sinai after militants assault on a mosque kills 305 people.

25 January 2018

Sisi announces he will run for a second term.

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Mubarak oversaw a violent response that resulted in the deaths of at least 846 people, according to a later government inquiry. After 18 days of protests, his 29-year reign was ended in a 30-second video message from the then vice-president Omar Suleiman. “My fellow citizens, in the difficult circumstances our country is experiencing, President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak has decided to give up the office of the president of the republic,” he said. Protests rapidly became celebrations, as demonstrators chanted “we have brought down the regime”.

“Hosni Mubarak was the first Egyptian president since Nasser to leave office standing. He lived long enough to go from experiencing disgrace to witnessing an even more brutal dictator replace him that has left many in Egypt missing his presidency despite how reviled he once was,” said Timothy E Kaldas of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

Mubarak was the first of the leaders toppled in the wave of Arab uprisings to face trial. In scenes that captivated Egyptians, he appeared in a courtroom cage on a range of charges.

Mubarak being taken into the Cairo courtroom on a gurney in September 2011.
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Mubarak being taken into the Cairo courtroom on a gurney in September 2011. Photograph: AP

In 2012 he was jailed for life for conspiring to murder protesters and sent to Cairo’s Tora prison, though he was occasionally moved to the Maadi military hospital nearby amid claims of failing health.

In 2015, he was sentenced in a separate case to three years in prison, accused along with his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, of embezzling public funds for the renovation of presidential palaces, part of a long and protracted set of corruption charges, as well as attempts to reclaim money held in Switzerland. His sons were acquitted this month over a separate set of charges concerning illicit trading.

In 2017, Mubarak was acquitted by Egypt’s highest appeals court of conspiring to kill protesters. He was freed from the Maadi military hospital, where small crowds of supporters routinely gathered outside his bedroom window in support.

Mubarak’s reign was seen by critics and supporters alike as a prototype for that of Sisi, who seized power in a military coup after a brief rule by Egypt’s only democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. Morsi died in court last June following allegations of prolonged medical neglect in prison.

Many of those who rose to prominence in the uprising against Mubarak have since been imprisoned or left the country amid a crackdown on civil society and free speech under Sisi.

Asked to comment on Mubarak’s release from prison in 2017, the human rights lawyer Mahienour El Massry, who was rearrested in a crackdown after fresh protests last year, said: “In the eyes of those who believe in the revolution he will always be a criminal killer and the godfather of corruption. This might be another round that we have lost, but we will keep on fighting to change the inhuman regime that releases criminals and imprisons innocent people.”

Source=https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/25/hosni-mubarak-egyptian-president-ousted-during-arab-spring-dies-at-91?CMP=share_btn_link

Eritrean-Swiss association in Geneva, which has been helping in the integration of refugees since its creation in 2015, decided at a congress held on 22 February 2020 to expand its future activities, including the establishment of a new Eritrean centre where community members can meet frequently.

  Eritrean Community Holds Congress in Geneva 1

Known as ASEPE (Association Suisse-Erythree pour l’Entraid), the Eritrean-Swiss charity has been supporting through volunteers newly arriving Eritreans who were in urgent need of assistance for starting new life in Switzerland. 

The ASEPE chairman and committee members presented activity reports at the congress and stated that ASEPE’s major achievements included providing basic language training to young refugees, guidance in administrative and paper-works that were essential in starting an integrated-life in Geneva. The association also obtained legal recognition and support from the Geneva authorities and succeeded to create a network of contacts that can help ASEPE grow further.

Congress members, including young beneficiaries of the programme, thanked the committee members and teaching volunteers for their dedicated work for the benefit of vulnerable refugees. The congress also decided that the ASEPE continue with expanded programmes in the future.

To this end, the outgoing ASEPE executive committee members were requested to continue cooperating with a newly elected provisional committee till the next extraordinary congress this year at which a revised work programme can be debated and adopted.

Eritrean Community Holds Congress in Geneva 2

The outgoing committee members were ASEPE chairman Tedros Eyasu and his team composed of Sophia Ammar, Olivia Heller, Awet Aregay and Tedros Teklemariam.  Their close collaborators in different association responsibilities and activities included Merachew Berhe, Tseggai Tesfaldet, Ahmed Surur and Abdalla Mohammed Ali.

The successfully ended congress finally elected a new provisional committee consisting of Ghenet Tewelde, Tekle Tesfamariam,  Denden Ghebre, Medhine Estefanos and  Bereket Andemariam. Merachew Berhe will also work with the transitional team.

 

Desert Locust situation update - 17 February 2020

Wednesday, 19 February 2020 07:02 Written by

Report

Widespread breeding in progress in the Horn of Africa

The situation remains extremely alarming in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia where widespread Desert Locust infestations and a new generation of breeding threatens food security and livelihoods in the region. The situation is less worrisome in Uganda and Tanzania.

Kenya. Swarms continue to mature and lay eggs in northern and central counties where hatching and band formation are increasing. At least one swarm arrived in a tea plantation in the southwest county of Kericho while other swarms have been seen further north in Turkana county. There have been no new reports of swarms near Mt. Kilimanjaro. Aerial and ground control operations continue in most areas.

Uganda. Several mature swarms moved northwards within 12 northeastern districts from 9–13 February. Although a few swarms were desperately laying eggs on the surface of the ground, there is a possibility of successful laying in a few limited areas. Control operations were undertaken by the military in one area.

Tanzania. There have been no new reports of swarms after those that entered from the north on 9 February and moved towards Arusha and Moshi.

South Sudan. On 17 February, a mature swarm entered Magwi county in the southeast from Lamwo district in northern Uganda and was moving towards Torit west.

Ethiopia. Ground and aerial control operations continue against mature swarms in the Somali, Oromiya and SNNPR regions, including the Rift Valley. Cross-border swarm movements with Kenya continue to be reported. Breeding is underway but more details are awaited concerning its scale and geographical spread.

Somalia. Breeding is in progress in central areas near the Ethiopian border between Beled Weyn and Gaalkacyo where groups of hoppers and adults are present. Breeding is also underway in the northeast where late instar hopper bands were seen earlier in the month near Garowe.

Red Sea area. Breeding is in progress along both sides of the Red Sea in Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Eritrea where hopper groups, bands immature adults groups have formed that is likely to cause swarms to form shortly. Several immature swarms have moved from the coastal plains to the interior in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Control operations are in progress in all countries but remains limited in Yemen.

Southwest Asia. Breeding continues on the southeast coast in Iran. The situation is calm along the India border in Pakistan while a few small swarms appeared in cropping areas in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan. In India, control operations are underway against a few residual summer-bred swarms that persist in parts of Rajasthan.

Source=https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/desert-locust-situation-update-17-february-2020

Shadow report to the CEDAW Committee

Monday, 17 February 2020 08:09 Written by

February 16, 2020 Reports, UN Ocha, Uncategorized

Source: Network of Eritrean Women and Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights.

Submission to the 75th Session of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

Screenshot 2020-02-16 at 08.26.03

                               Submitted 13 January 2020 

Joint Submission by the Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR)  And The Network of Eritrean Women (NEW)

Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR)

Report compiled by: N. Kidan

Approved by Executive Committee: 10 January 2020

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Website: http://www.emdhr.net.za

Contents

  1. Executive Summary…………………………………………………………………………………………………..3
  2. Constitutional, legislative and institutional framework……………………………………………..4
  3. National service & gender-based violence against women………………………………………..6
  4. Women’s Human Rights Defenders & Freedom of Association………………………………….9
  5. Human Trafficking……………………………………………………………………………………………………..10
  6. Education…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..11
  7. Conclusions & Questions for GoSE………………………………………………………………………….….12

References and Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………………14

1.   Executive Summary

  • The Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR) is an    independent civil society organization (CSO), dedicated to advocating for democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Eritrea and the protection of refugee rights.  Founded in 2003 in the Republic of South Africa, the programmes of the EMDHR are primarily aimed at those within the country who are severely constrained by a lack of civil liberties, in addition to supporting Eritrean CSOs in the diaspora develop their organisational capacity.
  • The Network of Eritrean Women (NEW) is an independent, diaspora-based, non-profit organisation set up to support Eritrean women. NEW aims to help facilitate and provide the tools for Eritrean women to assert their human rights and pursue personal empowerment, development and social change. NEW provides cultural and linguistic specialist advice, information, advocacy, workshops and wellbeing drop-ins targeted to support Eritrean women.
  • In this shadow report, we provide a high-level critique of the Government of Eritrea’s (GoSE) sixth periodic report, submitted under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In the absence of an operational constitution, democratic institutions, transparency and accountability, the rule of law cannot be said to exist in Eritrea and any consideration of the protection of women’s rights must be viewed within this wider context. This literature review focuses on: i. Absence of rule of law; ii. Indefinite National Service and its impact on girls/women; iii. Curtailment of women’s right to freedom of association; iv. Human trafficking; v. Barriers to girls accessing education.
  • Eritrea formally gained its independence in 1993 following a protracted 30-year war with Ethiopia. In the years which immediately followed, there was a period of relative political openness. In 1994, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) transformed itself into the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), the current ruling party. A Transitional National Assembly (legislature) was formed and a number of independent media and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) emerged. The Constitution was ratified in 1997, and to many, it appeared that Eritrea was on an upward trajectory towards constitutional governance.
  • These nascent democratic institutions were extinguished following the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia, and the human rights situation in the country substantially deteriorated. The PFDJ refused to implement the ratified constitution, disbanded the transitional legislature in 2002, brutally cracked down on dissent, condemned Eritrean youth to indefinite military/national service, tantamount to slavery and consolidated the position of Isaias Afewerki as head of a totalitarian, one-party state.
  • In the 18 months since Isaias Afewerki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed signed the joint declaration during the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace summit in Addis in July 2018, no steps have been taken to institutionalize the agreement and the Eritrean people are yet to reap the dividends of ‘peace’. The GoSE have made no announcements regarding implementing the constitution or phased demobilization of Eritreans trapped in indefinite military/national service. Thousands of Eritreans, including women and underage girls remain incarcerated in Eritrea’s vast prison network having not received due process. The political space remains firmly shut for independent CSOs, media, associations and trade bodies.

2.   Constitutional, legislative and institutional framework

 

  • In 1994, a Constitutional Commission was established to draft Eritrea’s constitution (Selassie, 1998). The draft constitution laid out the organization of state apparatus, separation of powers, citizen’s rights and provisions for a multi-party system and national elections. The Constitution was ratified in May 1997 (Dirar and Tesfagabir, 2011) but subsequently shelved in 1998 following the outbreak of war with Ethiopia.
  • Post-independence, a Transitional National Assembly was formed to serve as the country’s legislative body until nationwide elections would be held to elect all 150 members of the Assembly. Assembly elections scheduled for December 2001 were postponed indefinitely, and to date, there is no sitting legislative body. Legislative powers have been completely subsumed by the GoSE who exercise legislative, judicial and executive functions, contrary to the constitutional principle of the separation of powers.
  • Laws are issued by Executive Order, implemented/enforced in a wholly arbitrary manner, and the judiciary lacks independence. Although low-level community courts exist, citizens are unable to file a complaint for human rights violations, and as such, there is no mechanism for Eritrean citizens to hold the GoSE to account. The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (COI) have stated: “In the absence of a constitution, an independent judiciary, a national assembly, and other democratic institutions, the Commission has found no progress in establishing the rule of law” (HRC, 2016).
  • Following the Eritrea-Ethiopia Summit in July 2018, the GoSE has taken no steps or provided any updates regarding implementing the constitution, despite assurances from Presidential Adviser Yemane Gebreab in 2016 that a Committee had been established to ‘consider’ drafting a new constitution (HRC, 2016). Eritrea remains in violation of Article 25 of the ICCPR and Article 13 of the ACHPR.

 

  • Whilst the GoSE has enacted proclamations in certain areas relating to the CEDAW Convention, in practice, these policies are often not implemented or fail to meet their objectives. Women’s rights are not protected because Eritrea doesn’t have an independent legislature or judiciary to provide checks and balances on the Executive. The COI have noted: “Without any meaningful reform, the Commission remains concerned about the political will of the Government of Eritrea to ensure the rational and effective implementation of any law, old or new.” (HRC, 2015).
  • In June 2019, the GoSE seized and shut down all 22 Catholic-run health clinics in the country, denying healthcare to thousands of vulnerable people in rural areas, including mothers with small children (Catholic Herald, 2019). To justify its decision, the GoSE cited a previously unenforced 1995 proclamation which stipulates that all social institutions (including clinics) must be operated by the State. The move was politically motivated and illustrates how the GoSE enforces the law in an inconsistent and arbitrary manner, with no mechanisms for affected parties to challenge the decision via the courts.
  • In para 18 of the GoSE submission to CEDAW, it states that “discrimination on the grounds of sex is prohibited in all national laws.” In paragraph 23, the submission goes on to list examples of proclamations enacted post-independence which “respect, protect and fulfil the rights of women and abolish gender-based discrimination.”  Nevertheless, the COI found that: “discrimination against women exists in various areas of Eritrean society and that some of the legal reforms which appear gender neutral, such as the new land tenure system, indirectly discriminate against women in practice” (HRC, 2015):
  • The land tenure system (Proclamation No. 58/1994) removed de jure discrimination against women owning land and property and at the surface appears to be gender-neutral; in practice, the system indirectly discriminates against women and girls who face disproportionate difficulties in accessing and owning land/property due to the barrier of citizenship, denial of their legal autonomy and traditional practices.
  • Article 4 of the land tenure proclamation states that “every Eritrean citizen shall have a usufruct right over land”. Those who fail to complete national service obligations or obtain a formal discharge are unable to obtain citizenship and, therefore have no rights to access land. Due to the fear of harassment and sexual violence in military/national service, many young women and girls enter early marriages or motherhood to avoid entering national service (HRW, 2019). Consequently, many fail to undertake or complete national service obligations and are unable to access land, social services or GoSE sanctioned employment, illustrating how discrimination against women intersects with other human rights violations (HRC, 2015).
  • At village level, the distribution of land is in most cases handled by land distribution committees, where traditional attitudes towards women’s land rights can prevent the equitable distribution of land. In Muslim communities, Sharia law takes precedence over domestic laws, limiting women’s inheritance to half of what a man is entitled.

3.   National Service and gender-based violence against women

Military/National Service

 

  • At the end of 2018, UNHCR reported 507,300 Eritrean refugees receiving protection under its mandate worldwide (UNHCR, 2018). Indefinite military/national service is frequently cited by as being the principal push factor driving Eritreans to flee the country. National Service Proclamation No. 82/1995 requires citizens between the ages of 18 and 40 years to participate in an 18-month active national service programme. The active programme is stated to comprise of six months of military training followed by 12 months of active military service and/or development work. In 2002, the national service programme was illegally extended from 18 months to an indefinite period, with many conscripts having served for decades. (HRC, 2015; HRW, 2019a);
  • Proclamation No.11/1991 provided the statutory basis for national service prior to the promulgation of the current National Service Proclamation (No. 82/1995); its provisions exempted married women and single mothers from national service duties. The 1995 National Service Proclamation removed these exemptions for married women and mothers, contributing to the disintegration of families. Whilst the GoSE claims that married women and single mothers are exempt, there is no legal basis for this claim and where they are exempted, this is done in an arbitrary manner and at the discretion of the recruiting officer (HRC, 2015).
  • The GoSE uses the secondary school system as a means to channel students (including underage children) into a life of indefinite service; since 2003, all secondary school students are rounded up to complete their final year (12th grade) at Sawa military camp, a harsh, isolated location near the border with Sudan. Every year, tens of thousands of students are forcibly separated from their families and transported to Sawa, where they undertake 5 months of military training in addition to preparing for their National Secondary Education Certificate Examination (the ‘matricula’). After one year at Sawa and depending on their performance in their exams, some are assigned to civil service positions, while most are placed in military units, where they work as forced laborers on private and public works projects for an indeterminate duration (HRW, 2019a).
  • The COI report documented a number of grave human rights abuses in the GoSE’s military/national service programme, including:
  • It’s indefinite and arbitrary duration which routinely exceeds 18 months;
  • The use of conscripts as forced labour in a wide range of activities, including private enterprises owned by the military and ruling elites’;
  • Rape and torture perpetrated in military camps and other inhumane and degrading conditions (HRC, 2015).
  • There is substantial evidence that rape and other forms of sexual violence is still prevalent in military/national service. Some young women are also forced to perform household chores for military officers in Sawa, Wi’a and other military training camps, with some reporting that they were forced into sexual acts and were subjected to physical and mental punishment if they didn’t comply, in some cases, the women are imprisoned or forced to have abortions (HRC, 2015; HRC, 2016; HRW, 2019a).
  • The COI has observed that “there [was] a complete denial by the State of the extent of violence against women within its borders,” which contributed to silencing Eritrean women and hindering their ability to seek recourse to justice. It concluded that Eritrea failed to protect, prevent, punish, and remedy acts of sexual violence committed against women, thereby facilitating a culture of impunity (HRC, 2015).
  • Eritrea’s military/national service programmes violate Article 565 of Eritrea’s Transitional Penal Code which criminalises enslavement. They also violate Article 8 of the ICCPR, Article 5 of the ACPHR, and the Slavery Convention of 1926. Aspects of the programmes also violate Articles 9, 10, 12, 17 and 22 of the ICCPR, Articles 8, 12, 15 and 18 of the ACHPR, and the 1930 and 1957 conventions on forced labour. The COI concluded that the programme constitutes the crime against humanity of enslavement (HRC, 2015).
  • In paragraph 11 of the GoSE concluding observations on the 5th periodic report, GoSE states that: “In times of peace, National Service members do not have any other obligations once they finish their military training and fulfil their duty of service.” In the 18 months since the declaration of peace was signed with Ethiopia, not a single announcement has been made regarding plans for phased demobilization and limiting national service to 18 months.

Arbitrary detention

  • Eritreans continue to be subject to arbitrary imprisonment without recourse to the courts. The thousands of detainees held in Eritrea’s vast prison network include political dissidents, journalists, members of unregistered religious denominations and other prisoners of conscience. Imprisonment is indefinite, often incommunicado and detainees are subjected to harsh punishment including torture (HRC, 2015). In 2017, The OHCHR Special Rapporteur noted: “The Commission found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Eritrean officials have committed the crime of torture, against persons under their control. It concluded that the use of torture was, and remains, an integral part of the Government’s repression of the civilian population.” (OHCHR, 2017).
  • Many prisons are located underground or in shipping containers, which can result in extreme temperature fluctuations due to Eritrea’s climate. Prison cells are overcrowded and hygiene conditions are poor, with inadequate sanitary hygiene provision for women.  Women are generally kept in cells separate from men, though reports of sexual assault and rape are still rife e.g. prison guards (HRC, 2015).
  • Eleven former high-level officials have been detained incommunicado since 2001 for calling for the implementation of the Constitution. GoSE has ignored repeated calls by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Human Rights Council (to which Eritrea was elected a member in 2018) to release them or at least bring them to trial.
  • A. A., a U.S. citizen and daughter of former Information Minister A. A. A., has been detained incommunicado for over seven years. Now 22, C. was only 15 years old when she was arrested in December 2012 whilst attempting to cross the border into the Sudan. Her father had defected one month earlier and sought asylum in Australia following irreparable differences with the President. Ciham has never been charged with a crime, has not been brought before a court of law and has been denied access to lawyers and her family. Human Rights Watch (2019b) observed: “By holding C. A. A. incommunicado from the age of 15, the government has effectively disappeared her.”
  • Mother of three daughters, S. D. was arrested in Asmara on the 15th of November 2003 and detained incommunicado in Karchele prison. It is alleged that her arrest was instigated by her husband, B. R., with whom she had been engaged in divorce proceedings. She was arrested just days before she was due to attend court to file for custody of their children. To this day, her whereabouts and the state of her well-being is unknown.  In 2005, it was reported that S. was in poor health following a kidney operation (Amnesty International, 2005).  and S. are just two high-profile examples of how GoSE tramples on the rights of women and the Eritrean citizenry in general.
  • Detention continues to have a discriminatory effect on women. The COI noted that: “The special needs of pregnant and nursing mothers and women with children in detention continue not to be met; in some recent instances leading to miscarriage or an infant becoming seriously ill.” (HRC, 2015).

 

  • The GoSE issued a new criminal code in 2015, but its procedural safeguards, requiring warrants for arrest, access to defence counsel, and the right to habeas corpus petitions, remain largely unimplemented (HRW, 2018).

 

4.   Women Human Rights Defenders & Freedom of Association

  • The aversion of the GoSE to independent Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) goes back to 1996, when it dismantled the Eritrean Women War Veteran’s Association (BANA). Founded in 1994, BANA was created to help recently demobilised women fighters transition into civilian life. By 1996, its almost 1000 members had set up successful cooperatives and the association had raised significant revenue from international donors. When BANA refused to fall under the control of the state sponsored National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW) and later the government’s Demobilisation Agency, it was shut down and its assets seized (Connell, 2010). As of January 2020, the GoSE’s prohibition of independent CSOs persists.
  • Article 19 of the unimplemented Constitution of Eritrea guarantees the right to freedom of association. Furthermore, Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Eritrea has acceded, also guarantees the freedom of association.  Despite these commitments, the GoSE has failed to comply with its obligations.
  • In Paras 28-30 of the GoSE submission, it claims that women have the right to “association and assembly in various capacities and diverse interest groups.” The GoSE cites the Transitional Civil Code of Eritrea (Articles 404-482) as the relevant regulatory framework enabling the establishment of independent, non-profit associations, claiming these organisations have their own structure, leadership programme and source of income. In reality, the organisations which GoSE claim to be independent women’s associations in fact fall under the umbrella of the state controlled National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW).
  • Proclamation No. 145/2004 of 2005 (Non-governmental Organization Proclamation) places onerous restrictions on the scope and operation of NGOs, empowering the authorities to exert control over their activities. Article 2(1) limits the definition of NGO to those engaged in relief and/or rehabilitation work, thereby excluding human rights CSOs and women’s associations. The proclamation states that any NGO wishing to operate inside Eritrea must apply to the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare, who must inform applicants of the outcome of the application within 30 days. The Ministry has failed to process the application of any NGO not supportive of the actions of the GoSE, effectively banning the operation of any independent CSO inside Eritrea (Civicus, 2019). As a consequence, independent women’s associations, such as the NEW can only operate outside Eritrean borders; this state of affairs poses major challenges for CSOs in holding the GoSE to account.

5.   Human Trafficking

5.1           A large and increasing number of Eritrean women and girls, including unaccompanied children flee the country illegally to avoid national service, not least because they fear being sexually assaulted (HRW, 2018). As a consequence, women increasingly become victims of violence, human trafficking and smuggling (CEDAW, 2015; OHCHR, 2015). At the end of 2018, UNHCR recorded 507,300 Eritrean refugees receiving protection under its mandate – more than 10% of the country’s population – thus maintaining Eritrea’s position as the ninth largest country of origin for refugees (UNHCR, 2018). The true figure is in fact much higher, as these statistics don’t take account of pending asylum cases and those who have not come to the attention of UNHCR.

5.2           De jure restrictions make it notoriously difficult for Eritreans to leave the country legally.  A valid travel document, valid exit visa and a valid international health certificate are required in order to leave legally.  In order to obtain an exit visa, Eritreans must prove that they have completed national service duties or that they have been granted an official exemption from it, in addition to providing authorities with compelling reasons for leaving the country (EASO, 2016).  Since national service is indefinite, very few Eritreans receive the discharge papers required to leave the country legally.  Women under the age of 30 and men under the age of 54 are reportedly the groups most commonly denied exit visas (USSD, 2017).  These strict exit control procedures and limited issuance of passports, compel many Eritreans to leave the country illegally, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking abroad, primarily in Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Libya. When Eritrean girls and women become refugees, many are abused by traffickers, raped and tortured and go on to suffer further human rights abuses (HRW, 2014).

5.3           Despite the introduction of the Eritrean Penal Code of 2015 which criminalized some forms of trafficking in persons, the United States Department of State noted in its ‘Trafficking in Persons Report’ (2018): “The Government of Eritrea does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.”  Eritrea is one of 21 countries ranked as Tier 3, meaning they do not meet minimum anti-trafficking standards. The report noted that the government did not share information on its overall anti-trafficking efforts, or report any trafficking investigations, prosecutions, or the identification and protection of any victims. Moreover, the GoSE did not report holding any complicit officials accountable for trafficking crimes despite credible reports of such complicity (Also see: COI, 2015). GoSE has not reported any efforts to address the lack of formal procedures for identifying victims or referring victims to care, nor did the GoSE provide any services to victims (USSD, 2018).

6.   Education

  • Eritrea faces low enrolment and high dropout rates of girls throughout the education system. Enrolment rates are particularly low among school-aged girls, declining significantly in middle and secondary school. Between 2017 -2018, only 43.8% of children who graduated from middle school entered secondary education. In the same time period, over 50% of secondary school-aged students were not in school, with girls disproportionately affected (HRW, 2019a; MoE, 2018).
  • This state of affairs is aggravated by the policy of forcing high school students to complete their 12th grade at the notorious Sawa military camp. A significant number of Eritrean girls, often at the behest of their families, take the strategic decision to enter into early marriages and/or motherhood – dropping out of the school system before Sawa – as a means of avoiding indefinite national service. GoSE have made no efforts to address this direct consequence of the national service programme which presents a barrier to girls accessing education (HRC, 2016; HRW, 2019a).
  • Students at Sawa face harsh living conditions, military-style discipline, corporal punishment for minor infractions and forced labour, creating an environment unconducive with educational attainment. Students are: “beaten with sticks; made to roll in soil while being beaten; left in the sun for prolonged periods of time with their hands tied; and made to carry heavy water containers and do repeated physical exercises for minor infractions” (HRW, 2019a).  Recent evidence suggests that military officials continue to sexually harass and exploit female students at Sawa, validating the findings of the COI (HRW, 2019a).  All military officials and trainers at Sawa are men, which makes it difficult for girls to seek protection and have their specific welfare needs met.
  • In paragraph 77 of the GoSE submission, it states that: “All the teachers and supervisors (at Sawa Secondary School) are civilian staff of the ministry.” This is patently false; a 2019 report by Human Rights Watch found that national service conscripts make up the vast majority of teachers in secondary schools across the country and are given no choice on becoming a teacher, the subject(s) they teach or where they are located. Their service period is indefinite and they face stiff sanctions, including imprisonment if they attempt to leave their job. This lack of choice and meagre salaries have resulted in a demotivated teaching corps and poor quality instruction (HRW, 2019a). In its 2019 report, Human Rights Watch noted: “Many students experience poor quality of instruction due to an unmotivated or often absent teaching corps—with teachers skipping lessons and many teachers fleeing abroad—resulting in an unconducive learning environment. As a result, students miss lectures and units as there is no one to teach them, or classes are merged. On occasion, students are without any teacher at all for weeks on end” (HRW, 2019a).

7.   Conclusions and Questions for GoSE

The protection of women’s rights and their full participation in society can only be guaranteed by the full implementation of the Constitution, separation of powers, freedom of association (and other fundamental rights) and a shift from a climate of impunity, to one of justice. We propose the following high-level questions for GoSE:

  1. When will the GoSE set a clear roadmap for the full implementation of the ratified 1997 Constitution, reconvening the National Assembly and holding national and regional elections?
  1. When will the GoSE either bring to trial or release all those detained in its prison network without due process? Furthermore, what steps are being taken to guarantee the independence of the judiciary?
  • Does the GoSE intend to remove de jure and de facto restrictions on the operation of independent CSOs in Eritrea, particularly women’s associations?
  1. In relation to point iii, will the GoSE permit international organizations (including the UN Special Rapporteur) and independent CSOs access to the country to verify the human rights situation on the ground? This would include access to Eritrean’s held in detention incommunicado, in order to enable independent verification of their health and welfare? Pregnant women/girls and those with young children are a priority.
  1. When will the Government announce plans for the demobilization of military/national service conscripts, an end to the illegal extension of national service beyond 18 months and the conscription of those under 18 years old?
  1. Will the GoSE commit to ensuring that Grade 12 education does not incorporate compulsory military training? Will GoSE also commit to ensuring Eritrean youth have the option of completing secondary education at other secondary schools, since Sawa military camp poses disproportionate health/safety/welfare risks, particularly to young girls?
  • Will the GoSE commit to enhancing educational opportunities for women, including formal vocational training and creating an environment conducive to self-employment/entrepreneurship?
  • How does the GoSE intend to provide effective channels for women to raise issues of gender-based violence and discriminatory practices, particularly in the context of military personnel?
  1. How does the GoSE intend to strengthen its mechanisms for ensuring that the perpetrators of sexual violence against women, human trafficking and other serious crimes are reported and prosecuted? Furthermore, what steps will GoSE take to protect women and girls from human trafficking and what provision will be put in place for victims?
  1. Will the GoSE commit to reforming its restrictive policies governing the issuance of passports and also commit to ending the exit-visa system, to ensure that Eritrean’s, out of desperation, do not have to resort to clandestine methods of leaving the country, putting them at risk of human trafficking and the torture and sexual violence associated with it.

National Dialogue for Reconciliation

Monday, 17 February 2020 08:04 Written by

What is Dialogue and What are its benefits?

How can we perform dialogue?

Coming and Holding Together!

The Stockholm formula

Dialogue is the platform that encourages diversity of thoughts and opinions but not suppressing them. It leads to mutual understanding of problems and opportunities and search for common understanding. In practicing dialogue, there is an agreement that one person's concepts or beliefs should not take precedence over those of others, and common agreement should not be sought at the cost of the others.

We believe dialogue is the main instrument to discuss the opportunities and problems for democratic transition and to develop strategies to address the issues of common interest.

A dialogue to be effective must be built on certain principles that serve to guide and structure the discussions.

We , in the Eritrean opposition struggling from dictatorship to democracy need dialogue within ourselves and listen each other for a deeper awareness and understanding of what is actually taking place nationally, regionally and globally.

I think the conflict between the various political and civil society organizations is not about the main issues but of personalities and individuals. Our focus has been on personalities instead of issues. The methods of our communication were not based on the ideal theory of dialogue but it was a debate or negotiation. The word dialogue comes from the Greek language meaning dia- through and logus meaning thoughts. Let flow your thoughts freely. Look below the difference between the terms.

Debate                                                 Negotiation                                             Dialogue  

Get victorious                                   compromise                                 Exploring for common good

Blame                                                pressure                                       Listening

Mine best                                         mediation                                 crafting solution together

Twisting                                        suspending                                           inquiring  

The benefits of dialogue

  

  • generate momentum to reinforce the democratic process.
  • enables to assess the pace of the transition.
  • helps us the assess/ evaluate the experience of the past years in the opposition camp.
  • enables us to identify of issues of priority.
  • allows us to evaluate the impact of external democracy assistance.

Dialogue and conflict

Conflict in itself is not necessarily negative. It is unmanaged conflict, where stakeholders attempt to resolve their disputes through unconstitutional or even violent means, that poses the most complex problems

If we all believe in democracy, democracy is all about managing conflict peacefully. In the Eritrean opposition case, dialogue can also act as a mechanism to help prevent, manage and resolve conflict.

- As a mechanism for the prevention of conflict. By bringing various actors together for structured, critical and constructive discussions on the state of the nation, dialogue can result in consensus on the reforms that are needed to avoid confrontation and conflict.

I urge the leaders of all political organizations avoid confrontations and come together round table discussion.

  • As a mechanism for the management of conflict. Dialogue can help put in place democratic institutions and procedures that can structure and set the limits of political conflict. Democratic leaders provide mechanisms for political consultation and joint action that can peacefully manage potential conflicts.
  • As a mechanism for the resolution of conflict. Political dialogue can defuse potential crises by proposing appropriate peaceful solutions. Democratic institutions and procedures provide a framework to sustain peace settlements and prevent the recurrence of conflict.

What should be the guiding principles for the dialogue in national reconciliation between the opposition forces

I  hope all the opposition forces believe in these principles

  • Partnership and cooperation promoting democratization.
  • Disseminating democratic principles in all areas of the cooperation
  • Deepening the dialogue at both national and international level
  • Assessing the democratic struggle
  • Assisting the democratic development

Dialogue framework

  • We in the Eritrean opposition the capacity and will of the dialogue to identify the challenges, analyzing the participants, evaluating available resources.
  • Participants: political society, civil society, national and international experts both at the national and international dialogue promoting the Eritrean peoples aspirations and expectations.
  • Objectives: Analysing the dynamics of the transition, seeking a national consensus on priorities and searching for effective cooperation.
  • Assessing results and monitoring the implementation.

Who can be the actors and their roles at the intra-Eritrean National Dialogue ?

Three key functions to be fulfilled in the dialogue for democratic change at the national level

Analysis function. By providing a comprehensive analysis of the constraints and opportunities for further democratization, the dialogue contributes to diagnosing the flow of events and experiences at the national and regional level.

Dialogue function. By providing a platform for change of experiences and lessons learned and a forum for building consensus on the challenges and opportunities for democratic change, the dialogue contributes in itself to the consolidation of democracy. It should ultimately lead articulation a democratic reform agenda with specific policy recommendations primarily defined by the national participants and thus owned by them.

Brokering function. By providing international institutions and donor agencies involved in and committed to democratization with a reference framework, the dialogue contributes a mechanism to assist the international partners to identify concrete support measures, better target their interventions and co-ordinate their assistance.

The national dialogue for democratic change could be structured around three main groups with specific roles:

The Dialogue Group: Composed of prominent national experts and key players in the process of democratic change in Eritrea .

The dialogue group should be sufficiently representative and have legitimacy and leverage to make the dialogue meaningful and sustainable. The members of the dialogue group should hence be carefully selected, based on their professionalism, reputation and willingness to enter into a genuine dialogue.

The Expert Group. Composed of international experts with undisputed credentials and reputation, the expert group provides the national participants with comparative experiences and lessons learned in other contexts which could be of assistance in the design of democratic change in Eritrea.

The Support Group: Both National and international organizations Composed of representatives of the international community involved in and committed to the democratic process in Eritrea represented as observers of the dialogue. The support group constitutes a structure assisting the democratization process in Eritrea. External partners or facilitators should not dictate but can only support the process of democratic change.

It is of utmost urgency that all the opposition political organizations convene a conference- platform where they can come out with one national political charter and form one leadership.

 The recent joint communiques of the four political organizations –

 

  1. ENCDC
  2. EPDP
  3. Eritrean Unity for Democratic Change
  4. Eritrean Unity For Justice

Is appreciable and hope it will gradually include the remaining organizations

It is a political maturity to create a political space for a national dialogue that would lead us to reconciliation instead of confrontation.

Ending the conflicts in the opposition camp requires more political courage than simply neglecting each other in minor things.

I urge all the political organizations regardless of their affiliations to come to their minds and take responsibility and show political courage.

References and further readings

  1. Lijphart, Arend. 1977. Democracy in plural societies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  2. Horowitz, Donald L. 1985, Ethnic Groups in conflict. Berkeley. CA: University of California.
  3. Dialogue for Democratic Development, by IDEA- International Institute Electoral and Assistance

Source: Assena

Fetsum: The Sudanese Constitutional Charter to Genuine Democracy (extension of part 1)

Fetsum: The Sudanese Constitutional Charter to Genuine Democracy (extension of part 1) Dedication: I dedicate this article to the very promising ERITREA FOCUS for its latest strategy to diffuse the dictator and democratize the nation through

Fetsum: The Sudanese Constitutional Charter to Genuine Democracy (extension of part 1)

Dedication: I dedicate this article to the very promising ERITREA FOCUS for its latest strategy to diffuse the dictator and democratize the nation through genuine transitional phase.

I strongly believe we have to rally behind this group’s strategy which I consider the most significant development as of today considering its brain power and diplomatic essence on the fundamental question of the Eritrean people.

I feel more relaxed now as a result because self- respect is something we should earn through excellence to use it as a foundation for respect from others. In the meantime, I strongly suggest that ERITREA FOCUS give maximum  attention to the Sudanese democratic journey as one of its research materials and good luck!

It seems like many Eritreans are worried about their sovereignty in the relationship between Abiy and Isaias. But this should not stop us from researching more for bright future. In my case, I am not worried as much and I know the situation is at our disposal. We can change it and that is what matters to me. I am not going to waste my time thinking about it for Democracy cannot wait because of fear and we should continue learning to achieve it through knowhow and unity. In so saying, neither does a challenge appear without impact nor can it be confronted without considering its destination. We have a challenge (dictatorship) and its inherent destination (genuine democracy); we cannot overcome the challenge to face the destination empty handed. We need to remove the dictatorship as our main challenge while simultaneously crystallizing the destination through basic knowhow. One does not have to wait for the other and both can be simultaneously executed without destructive interference. I think we have started moving forward in this regard, the latest ERITREA FOCUS’s press release being the witness to this effect.

This article is about the legalized form of the last article and my last effort on the matter. You may find it monotonous in a way but I could not help it.

Introduction: The Sudanese “Draft Constitutional Charter for the 2019 Transitional Period” disclosed on 6 August 2019 was an agreement between the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change and has 16 Chapters but I will only discuss it partially in this opportunity and enjoy.

Chapter 1: General provisions

  • Repeal and Exemption

[2]      (a.) The Transitional Constitution of Sudan of 2005 and the constitutions of provinces is repealed, while the laws issued thereunder remain in force, unless they are repealed or amended.

Comment: It was not about reformation but total transformation of the system. There was a transitional constitution in 2005 whose CHAPTER II [57] says: “The tenure of office of the President of the Republic shall be five years, commencing from the date of assumption of office, and the same President may be re-elected for one more term only”. But Bashir did not allow it to be implemented until his downfall in 2019. The constitution had then to be amended to accommodate reality while partially repealed as a result. Here, the signatories disqualify the old transitional and provincial constitution keeping the laws conditionally active while open for amendment.

Chapter 2: Transitional period

[6]      (a.) The duration of the transitional period shall be 39 Gregorian months, starting from the signing of this Constitutional Charter.

  • Mandate of the Transitional Period (in compact form)

[7]  During the transitional period, state agencies perform the following duties:

(3-8)  Hold accountable members of the former regime by law, carry out legal reform, rebuild and develop the human rights and justice system, and ensure the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, Guarantee and promote women’s rights in Sudan in all social, political, and economic fields, and combat all forms of discrimination against women. Establish mechanisms to prepare to draft a permanent constitution for the Republic of Sudan, hold a national, constitutional conference before the end of the transitional period, enact legislation related to the tasks of the transitional period.

Comment: All past transitional governments failed to answer the society’s democratic call except the current one that the world considers genuine and scientific. This transition is real and has the responsibility to legally draft the country’s permanent constitution within its legal time limit. Ours is a lot simpler because the dictator neither ratified nor changed the constitution to serve his interest unlike in the Sudanese experience where the consecutive dictators kept changing it through the years. The 1997 Constitution was produced by our best Lawyers and Social Scientists of the time and quite a few international scholars, and ratified by then people’s Assembly. All we have to do is amending it if necessary through legal procedures and utilizing it forever.

Chapter 3: Transitional period bodies

[9]  The bodies of the transitional government consist of the following: (a) The Sovereignty Council , which is the head of state and symbol of its sovereignty and unity; (b)  The Cabinet, which is the supreme, executive authority of the state; (c) The Legislative Council, which is the authority responsible for legislation and oversight over the executive’s performance.

Chapter 4: Sovereignty Council: Composition of the Sovereignty Council

[10]    (a.) The Sovereignty Council is the head of state, the symbol of its sovereignty and unity, and the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, Rapid Support Forces, and other uniformed forces. It is formed by agreement between the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change.

(b.) The Sovereignty Council consists of 11 members, of whom five are civilians selected by the Forces of Freedom and Change, and five are selected by the Transitional Military Council. The eleventh member is a civilian, selected by agreement between the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change.

(c ) Over the first 21 months of the transitional period, the Sovereignty Council is chaired by someone selected by the military members, and in the remaining 18 months of the transitional period, starting from ……. 2021, it is chaired by a civilian member selected by the five civilian members who were selected by the Forces of Freedom and Change.

Comment: Whatever they agreed on in the last few months (see the last article) has now become the country’s law within the transitional phase. The Sovereignty Council serves as the coordinator of the entire process behind the unified support of the people and the intellectual and professional associations of the country.  The situation necessitated a POWER SHARING arrangement between the Army and the people but they collectively decided the Council to be 100% independent of the political parties and to consist 45% (5 individuals) from the Army and 55%  (6 individuals) from the people. Yet, the Civilian side had to have a leverage over the Army by at least 10% more power and they legally assured that privilege in this grassroots based confident ride to democracy .

  • Competencies and Powers of the Sovereignty Council

[11]    (a.) The Sovereignty Council exercises the following competencies and powers:

  • (i) Appoint the Prime Minister selected by theforces of Freedom and Change;
  • (ii) Confirm the Cabinet members appointed by the Prime Minister, from a list of candidates provided by the Forces of Freedom and Change;
  • (iii)  Confirm the heads of regions or governors of provinces, according to the case, after they are appointed by the Prime Minister;
  • (iv)  Confirm the appointment of members of the Transitional Legislative Council after they are selected in accordance with the provisions of Article 23 (3) of this Charter.

Chapter 5: Transitional Cabinet

[14]    (a.) Composition of the Transitional Cabinet: The Cabinet is composed of a Prime Minister and a number of ministers not exceeding 20 from national talent of independent counsel, appointed by the Prime Minister from a list of candidates from the Forces of Freedom and Change, and confirmed by the Sovereignty Council, except for the Ministers of Defense and Interior, who is nominated by the military component of the Sovereignty Council.

(b.)  The Forces of Freedom and Change selects the Prime Minister, and he is appointed by the Sovereignty Council.

Comment: The Sudanese people have decided to go for Prime Minister and the Cabinet as the superior power in the country. This is the EXECUTIVE body of the government. Through the articles, the independent Sovereignty Council (the 11 individuals) appoints a neutral Prime Minister exclusively selected by the FFC “Forces of Freedom and Change” without the involvement of the Transitional Military Council in the government as well discussed in the last article. The Prime Minister then selects his Cabinet.

Chapter 6: Common provisions for constitutional positions

  • Financial Disclosure and Prohibition of Commercial Activities

[18]  (a.) Upon assuming their positions, members of the Sovereignty Council, Cabinet, governors or ministers of provinces or heads of regions and members of the Transitional Legislative Council submit a financial disclosure including their properties and obligations, including those of their spouses and children, in accordance with the law.

(b.) The chairman and members of the Sovereignty Council and ministers, governor and ministries of provinces or heads of regions undertake to not practice any profession or commercial or financial activity while occupying their positions. They do not receive any financial compensation, gifts, or work of any type from any non-government entity, whatever the case may be.

Comment: This is one of the most mandatory procedures in any transitional arrangement as such to avoid corruption during the transition period and that is what we have to do in our situation. They did it in many countries including Liberia and ready to do it in Sudan.

  • Prohibition on Candidacy in Elections

[19] The chairman and members of the Sovereignty Council and ministers, governors of provinces, or heads of regions, are not be entitled to run in the public elections that follow the transitional period.

Comment: All transitional government elements are restricted from running for political office in the upcoming democratic election. This is to further avoid conflict of interest in the system and to have a clean electoral committee for the democratic election ahead. They did it in many countries including Liberia and ready to do it in Sudan.

Chapter 7: Transitional Legislative Council [Assembly]

  • Composition of the Transitional Legislative Council

[23]  (a.)  The Transitional Legislative Council is an independent, legislative authority. The number of members therein shall not exceed 300 members, and it represents all forces participating in change, except for members of the National Congress and political forces that participated in the former regime until its downfall;

(b.)  The participation of women is not be less than 40% of the membership of the Transitional Legislative Council;

Comment: The 40% translates to guaranteed 120 sits at minimum but still offers unlimited opportunity for women in the most important branch of the government. Gender equality was guaranteed to certain extent by that many women in the Assembly but to full extent considering the open ended opportunity in the clause. We need to empower our women as such to have a decent and prosperous society in our country.

(c.)  67% of the members of the Transitional Legislative Council are selected by the Forces of Freedom and Change, and 33% are selected by other forces who did not sign the Freedom and Change Declaration. The appointments take place and the percentages of each force are determined in consultation between the Forces of Freedom and Change and the military members of the Sovereignty Council; 

Comment:  Most of the Sudanese opposition forces had signed the Declaration with the exception of few that I did not find important to research for this discussion. But Sudan has about 20 political parties where few of them signed the document. I am not sure here but part of the 33% of the Legislative Council could have been assigned to the political parties which is normal in a situation as such; a part of it given to the other portion of the society that did not sign the document. In any case, the people at minimum occupy 67% of the sits in the parliament in this situation without other sits in the rest of the council (out of the 33% sits).

Chapter 8: I have avoided many case laws so far but Chapter 8 deals with the formation of the independent Judiciary Council.

Chapter 9:

[47] Equality before the law

People are equal before the law, and have the right to the protection of the law without discrimination between them because of ethnicity, color, gender, language, religious faith, political opinion, racial or ethnic origin, or any other reason.

[55]  Freedom of belief and worship

Every person shall have the right to freedom of religious belief and worship. They shall have the right to profess or express their religion or belief through worship, education, practice, performance of rituals, or celebrations, in accordance with the requirements of the law and public order. No one shall be compelled to convert to a religion they do not believe in or to practices rites or rituals they do not voluntarily accept.

Comment: People have the freedom to worship, educate and learn, practice, perform rituals and celebrations related to their beliefs but “in accordance with the requirements of the law and public order”. The freedom given in [55] is not out of the control of the regime and so cannot be used to politicize them in the country. Believers must respect law and order to enjoy their belief and worship because freedom comes with responsibility directed towards the benefit of a society as a unit (peaceful coexistence, nationalism, territorial integrity and equality, etc.). in my opinion, the clauses manifest the emergence of secular democracy in Sudan; the separation of religion from politics, which I think signifies the end of Sharia and other religious means of politically controlling the people.

[57]  Freedom of assembly and organization

(a.)  The right to peaceful assembly shall be guaranteed, and every person shall have the right to free organization without others, including the right to form political parties, associations, organizations, syndicates and professional unions, or the join the same in order to protect their interests.

(b.)  The law shall regulate the formation and registration of political parties, associations, organizations, syndicates and professional unions, in accordance with what is required by democratic society.

(c.)  No organization shall have the right to work as a political party, unless it has the following:

(i) Open membership for all Sudanese, regardless of religion, ethnic origin or place of birth;

(ii) Democratically elected institutions;

(iii) Transparent and open sources of funding.

[58] The right to political participation

Every citizen has the right to political participation in public affairs, as regulated by law.

Comment: The 22 political parties in the country and new political parties must respect the laws associated with Chapter 9 [57]. The upcoming Independent Election Commission is expected to crystalize the preliminary clauses in here  but they suggest the minimum requirements for political party qualification in the country.

In our case, there were 13 organizations including the liberation movements (Kunama and Afar) listed as members of EDA (Eritrean Democratic Alliance) in 2008. We shall see what happens but it is clear that we cannot accommodate ethnic and religious political parties like many other societies in the classification. The subject in relation to the people vis-à-vis political parties is clear but some kind of agreement has to be reached between the people and our liberation fronts with maximum concern and respect for us to make it together to the end. There is no doubt genuine democracy that empowers our minorities should help the unity built on trust and nationalism.

Chapter 16: Miscellaneous provisions

[70] (b.)  The Transitional Military Council [TMC] shall be dissolved once the constitutional oath is sworn by the members of the Sovereignty Council.

Comment: With this case law, the 5 members of the government from the Army (TMC) are legally conditioned to melt into the people and they did after they took the oath on 17th  August 2019. The African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and representatives from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, President Kenyata of Kenya, President Salva Kiir (South Sudan), President Idriss Deby Itno (Chad) and President Faustin-Archange Touadéra (Central African Republic), attended the ceremony. The parasite was hibernating in Adi Hallo singing the blues by then when President Kenyatta said “the nation’s structure of government should reflect its heterogeneity to guarantee inclusion for all [and that] a peaceful and united Sudan is in the best interest of the region and the whole of Africa”.

In conclusion, the Sudanese style of democratizing the country is indeed in “the best interest of the region and the whole of Africa”. The situation will greatly influence our region for the better. It will be impossible for Isaias to continue his absolute dictatorship without a good partner to that end. Abiy is just a survivor that deals with him in fear of the Weyanes and may be in dreaming state about our ports but he played a good role in Sudan, meaning that he is potentially part of the democratic environment in the region. Being in the middle of Democracies in Kenya, Somalia (excluding the Alshabab effect), Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan should then feel like swimming in the ocean with no land in sight for that paranoid dictator with thick mustache under his nose (symbol of dictatorship in a way (Hitler Sadam, Bashir, etc.). No one can rely on him as a strategic ally in the near future. Even that privilege is becoming very hard for him to sustain. In short, there is no better regional situation for us to change the situation and everything will change if we change the way we do things.

To wrap it up, the nature of transition to democracy is known to many societies on planet earth and we can keep on discussing a nation at a time to that effect. But I believe Liberia’s and Sudan’s experience would be enough to give us the head start towards the basic knowledge of the matter so we can confidently apply it in the very near future. This article completes my thesis on Transitional Government leaving the best of the subject for ERITREA FOCUS to deal with.  Thank you and good luck.