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Constructive Dialogue With Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie
Tesfamicael Yohannes
December 23, 2001

I read the article "GRAMMAR OF ERITREAN POLITICS : [This is the first of a continuing series] Past Imperfect—Future Indefinite By Bereket Habte Selassie December 20, 2001, in

The series articles, by Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie, are going to be lessons of contemporary Eritrean politics in the future. I predict. This is a good opportune for me, to learn, a lot from the highly distinguished and a man with no match to his ability and knowledge regarding to the contribution on scholar materials to the Eritrean politics.

It is my interest and I am obsessed nowadays to raise an issue how to transform the common sense Eritrean politics to scientific Eritrean politics. Therefore, pleas allow me to say few words about, what I mean by common sense versus scientific Eritrean politics, before I analyze and comment the main subject of this article.

Common sense Eritrean politics versus scientific Eritrean politics.

Whenever I meet an Eritrean, after greetings the first question is (dehai adi entay alo) what news about our country do you have? As usual, we start with news gathered from fabricated sensational news and continue comments to what said and heard, non stop, for long hours. Finally, as usual, we became angry or desperate for failure to come to a concluding constructive points and ends with hot tempered disagreement, even for not serious or relevant issues. The question here is, how many of us do we gather information’s from different sources and digest the issue before we release it as facts? Another good example of the common sense Eritrean politics is: Some body told me that, the majority who joined EPLF or ELF were, simply for the cause of the noble notion, the independence of Eritrea. Most of them are politicized after they joined the groups. The hate that developed to one another of these two groups was mainly due to the exploitation by the two groups using the common senses Eritrean politics. Neither EPLF nor ELF publicized a scientific theory of Eritrean politics.

The question now will be, what is the scientific Eritrean politics? The trivial answer will be the analysis of the political, social and economical aspect of Eritrea. The divisive politics of EPLF and ELF, the poor organized and desperate social life and finally the shuttered economy. That is why Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie said, "Past imperfect”. I understood his phrase "past imperfect” for the failure of Eritrea, not to study the past historical materialism, lack of concentration to the present concerns and the complete failure of not able to predict the future. While countries like Norway could predict for 50 years as long plan, for 20 years as medium plan and 4 years as short plan, Eritrea could not say what "year 2002” is going to look politically, socially and economically. It is interesting to hear that for the first time budget for year 2002 is outlined. At least that gives us hope that our government is learning. It is not only the economy, but the politics and the social life as well should have outlined for the year 2002. Therefore, studying the past, concentrating to the present concern and based on that predicting the future, is what I call scientific Eritrean politics. Out of desperation, Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie said, "Future Indefinite”.

Now, let us come to the main issue of this article. I want to have a constructive dialogue with Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie. As long as, his article are going to be in series my constructive dialogue will proceed parallel with his articles. I don’t take it for granted that Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie will keep his promise to write continuously in series. If he keeps his promise, then there is great chance that the Eritrean politics is going to transform to scientific Eritrean politics.

I am going to start from his article when he told us about his sisters death. I felt saddened that he didn’t managed to attend her funeral. Was that to happen to an Eritrean? It remind me, once my friend was saddened by the present political turmoil in Eritrea and he was feared that the usual, ones in two or three years visit to Eritrea will be not pleasurable to go there. I hope that the Eritrean government will be assured the support of its people and feel confident that, to let the situation of Eritreans abroad be peaceful coexistence with its country. When we come to realize that the interest of the personalities within the government should be respected, like wise the interest of the common people including the interest of intelligentsia abroad, then realizing that inclusion method wins over the exclusion method we are practicing now, then there is the possibility we to solve the present problem to comprehensive and satisfactory result to all of us. Now, our main problem is we are using exclusion method.

Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie, is excluding PIA, in the future political life of Eritea. Let us look what Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie said on this point. Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie said, " Others have written about the power vacuum that might destabilize Eritrea, should something happen to Isaias. Such concern proceeds on the wrong assumption that the Eritrean people are incapable of deciding on what to do in the event of his demise or incapacitation. This assumes that there is no one but Isaias to lead the nation, that he single-handedly liberated Eritrea. This is an insult to the living veterans and to the martyrs.” End of quotation. Here lies the problem of Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie vis-a-vis PIA. I think, Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie is looking for complete change in the Eritrean leadership. According to the definition of revolution, Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie, is now becoming revolutionary and not reformist. On this occasion, I would like to mention that, now I categorize Mesfin Hagos as reformist, after I read thoroughly his interviews at Mesfin Hagos is not looking for complete change, but by keeping the present leadership, to change it to radical progressive leadership. Therefore, I conclude that while Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie is using exclusion method Mesfin Hagos is using inclusion method.

Next, I would like to add to the curriculum of Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie’s school of Eritrean politics, a subject called metaphysics besides the teaching grammar. Let me begin, by the approach of, Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie, when he said, " my mind flashes back to that afternoon when I made an arrangement for Isaias and Abdelkader Ramadan to meet to discuss issues of the fratricidal war and ways of ending it. It was their first meeting after their days together as members of Jebha in the late 1960s, before the split of the ELF. I observed their body language as they shook hands and sat on the chairs arranged in a way to break the ice. Their encounter was tense and awkward and I cracked some jokes to reduce the tension.” End of quotation.

I have to admit that, the contribution of Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie to the Eritrean cause, from mediation among the warring factions to the leading on writing the constitution of Eritrea is beyond my capacity to appreciate it. Some times, I stood to support him, when I observed that, some people tried to twist the fact that he materialized the Eritrean constitution. I would have been fascinated, if Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie had said that he made a study of the two warring factions and handed them before the meeting they to analyze the subject matter of their discussion. By doing so, it would have been easy to consolidate the converging opinions and to deal with the divergent opinions. Here is what I call the metaphysics study. That is, the angle of divergence could be narrowed, limit as the angle of divergence approaches zero, the divergent views comes to coincide to one line. If the metaphysics study would have been added to the grammar of Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie, for sure, it would not ended up tragically like we witnessed it in 1982.

An interesting point mentioned by Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie is while leadership is practicing divisive acts, it detained veteran fighters on the name of unity. He said, "… The supreme leader not only does not mind such division, he is actively encouraging it. He and his minions are fanning the fire of the religious and provincial strife, even as they hypocritically sing patriotic songs and detain and persecute veteran fighters in the name of unity.” End of quotation. My opinion regarding the detention of the veteran fighters is cautious. On one hand I realize the duty of the government to protect law and order of the country. On the other hand, the government to use systematic annihilation of its opponents on the name of unity is unacceptable. The best way is to file a charge immediately, precisely and on the logical way of accusation than to emphasize on picking strong charges to intimidate an opponent. I would like the accusations made by the government against the veteran fighters, to be changed, instead of accusing them as treason to the sovereignty of the country which is not logical taking in consideration half of their age fighting to the independence of Eritrea, to be reinstated as threatening to the law and order of the country.

My expectation regarding the detained veteran fighters is the government to release them immediately, besides allowing them to participate in the saying of the future of the country. They to openly declare that: they to work for an all inclusive political atmosphere by letting the Eritrean government fulfil its duty with out disruption from other corners.

Conclusion, Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie has promised to be continued. Next: II. PFDJ’s Tawdry and Desperate Media War. When he said "Tawdry”, according to the advanced learners dictionary meant "showy, brightly colored or decorated, but cheap or in bad taste”.
Regarding this topic, since I am not member of PFDJ, I am not going to bother to defend what ever points are against PFDJ. My participation in the constructive dialogue, is going to be, to add, metaphysical analyze besides the grammar of Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie. On this occasion, I invite to all readers of Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie’s articles to participate constructively and try to make a dialogue with great respect to the distinguish scholar. I believe there is a lot that we are going to learn from him. I wish him long age and health.

God bless Eritrea
Tesfamiacel Yohannes
Oslo, Norway

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