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Constructive Dialogue With Dr. Bereket Habteselassie (Sixths in series)
Today’s topic is implementation of the Constitution of Eritrea. After writing a constitution, its implementation might be delayed due to different circumstances. As some times, in the history of making laws or passing bills showed us its delay in its implementation. There were cases that bills passed by parliament as forbidding children to work under the age of eighteen but didn’t implied for long times. In process, the implementation of laws or bills would be realized, but the first step is to be courageous and mature enough to pass the resolution. In Eritrean case, the courage and the modest is, the ability in achieving writing the constitution. It is written and ratified. It exists. Now the question is how to imply it? But, first a brief explanation of reason why not implied to this time? First of all, that we need to investigate is, what was the motive of writing the constitution of Eritrea? Was it a purpose or a systematic mechanism to make a regime shift in Eritrea? If that was the purpose then it was an advanced mechanism of plot, unprecedented in the history of man kind. But, I hope that is not. To the contrary, the constitution of Eritrea was written and ratified for its all good intentions. To make Eritrea a land of law, democracy and stability. Therefore, it is not appropriate to consider or take the constitution of Eritrea ultimately for the purpose of regime shift. It has to be founded on, taking in consideration, the stability of the land as its corner stone of its implementation. Stability of Eritrea is the most important point. Even in dynamic conditions the requirement is stability. Secondly, that we need to look at is, the interest of the ruling body and the interest of the land. If it was meant to leave empty handed the governing body, even not taking in consideration their security, then it was selfish and one sided view simply to rush to the implementation of the constitution. How sure are we that still they don’t find that stands for taking revenge against the governing body? Until today, the slogan is dictator, dictator, dictator... and so on. Where is the concern? Where is the brother hood? Where is the solidarity? Still, the hate is intact. Therefore, first we have to be quite sure that the hate is removed and brotherhood is taken in its place. That is nothing to ask, it is simply a matter of standing for inclusion method. To show brotherhood, solidarity and unity with diversity. After that implying the constitution of Eritrea will not be the favor of one side and disfavor to the other side. The implementation of the constitution of Eritrea is not a question that somebody becomes the angel and the other becomes the devil. I don’t believe that those who are advocating the implementation of the constitution of Eritrea, this time, are better democrats or concerned better than the other for the welfare and wellbeing of the Eritrean people. Not at all. In fact they could be the worst violators of freedom and liberty of the Eritrian people. When Derg came to power, it was advocating about human right, democracy and passed very decorated laws and proclamations. But, the realty was worst than that of the deposed king by Derg. My opinion is, before implementing the constitution we have to show brotherhoods, solidarity and give comfort to each other by giving room that the other part can get a place to live together in future. And that is inclusion method. As long as there is hate, anger and a sentiment of taking revenge by exclusion method the implementation of the constitution does not bring honey and milk to the Eritrian people. Thirdly, that we need to take in consideration when it comes to implementation of the constitution of Eritrea are, the prevailing petty, but grave concerns, of the issues, flag, currency, property of land, military service of young generation, the wealth of PFDJ and the issue of language. I think, it is appropriate to have deep analysis of the aforementioned issues. I will try my best to elaborate one after the other. The issue of flag of Eritrea. It is not going to be a wonder to see two flags during the election time in Eritrea. One flag is, now the internationally recognized national flag. This flag is a symbol of EPLF and now of PFDJ. The opposition groups, except EPLF-DP, do not recognize the EPLF flag as the national flag. They have their own flag and if they come to power they would like to implement their flag. What is going to happen to Eritrea? Imagine the scenario of the bloodshed that is going to follow, simply because of the difference of flag. This has to be resolved first before the implication of the constitution. My suggestion is, the opposition groups to make their stand clear about the issue of flag and that is they to officially recognize the flag of EPLF to be the national flag and under it they to use their flag only as a symbol of their party. At the same time PFDJ has to have a separate flag than the national flag as a symbol of its party. It means the existing national flag to remain as the only flag of Eritrea Nacfa, Currency of Eritrea. The name Nacfa, is given to the currency of Eritrea, to commemorate the sacrifices of the beloved fallen martyrs of Eritrea, in defending this devastate small town, at the crucial time of existence or not existence, of the resistance to colonialism in Eritrea. In the currency Nacfa, one way or the other the flag of Eritrea is presented. What is going to happen in case the opposition groups come to power? For sure, they are going to ask for change of the currency, because they feel that it does not represent them. Therefore, before demanding the implementation of the constitution the issue of currency has to be resolved, and that is the opposition groups to officially recognize the Nacfa as the sole currency of Eritrea. Property Land in Eritrea. The Eriterian government had proclaimed that land of Eritrea belongs to the state. The opposition groups oppose it and they discredited it. They vow to make void and null the proclamation and they insist on implying land as citizens of Eritrea property. All, those who are purchasing land and constructing residences houses or building manufacturing plants or conducting agricultural schemes are going to be affected in case the opposition groups come to power. Mostly, those who are taking land in the demobilization process and some of them as veterans of the armed struggle are going to badly damaged, in case the opposition groups come to power and make the proclamation of land of the existing government null and void. The remedy from getting in to this unpleasant situation is, the opposition groups to officially recognize the proclamation of the land of Eritrea as the property of the state. Military Service of the Young Generation. I believe that, incase the opposition groups come to power, they will be in favor to continue with the military service of the young generation of Eritrea. Maybe, who knows the condition might be better than the existing situation. The question here is just to ask the Eritrian government to make the situation more humanly and be concerned as well to the futurity of the young generation. My suggestion is to be consistent with its implementation. That is, there should not be more requirement than the officially recognized period of service. It is said 18 months and that is enough. Because the young has to plan for its futurity as well. It is good that the government to be concerned in a planned implementation after the end of the service. But, that is simply good gesture and difficult in its implementation. People have their own means to exist if they are allowed to look for their existence. Therefore, when it comes to military service, the issue is going to be a matter of convenience. Wealth of PFDJ. It is obvious that, in election time, PFDJ is going to have the upper hand when it comes to dispersing money and wage its activities. In my opinion, the opposition groups except EPLF-DP (I consider them a fragment of PFDJ), have no moral obligation to ask for share. And I believe that, some of the opposition groups have some wealth of their own. One can speculate that, because of their long time existence. The Issue of Language. The constitution of Eritrea, explicitly affirmed that there is going to be working language in Eritrea. To declare an official language in Eritrea is bypassed by the constitution. In my opinion, I don’t support to have an official language to be declared. My argument is the complexity of the composition of the Eritrean society would bring a majority and minority phenomenon with declaration of official language. The best solution when it comes to the language issue is the strengthening of English language as a medium of intellectualism. Especially, taking in consideration globalization and the roll Eritrea plays because of its natural strategic place, the working language would do more favor to development and best communication with rest of the world than declaring official language But, saying so, this would be left for the parliament of Eritrea to discuss it and pass resolution whether as an amendment to the constitution or a separate law by itself. Finally, to write a constitution is just like slicing a cake. Implying it is not as easy as we imagine it being in advanced societies. There are a lot of issue at stakes. Therefore, before rushing to condemn and harass the government to imply the constitution, first let us discuss of reconciliation. Let us discuss to give comfort to each other. Let us give assurance to the existence of the other side. Let us give recognition and respect to the existing governing body, if we wish to get recognition and respect in case the opposition groups come to power. We have to think that, if the opposition groups come by subversive actions, the governing body and its supporters are going to make subversive actions to the opposition body that comes to power. The point is before the implementation of the constitution, first inclusion method has to be assured. To be continued. God bless Eritrea Tesfamicael Yohannes Oslo, Norway

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