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Focus on Eritrean election Part 3

Focus on election 2001(Part three)
By Tesfamicael Yohannes
February 05, 2001 This article is going to debate based on the Comment on "Focus on the election" by Million Semere January 30, 2001 on

I would like to announce that for the rest of the period we have before the election 2001 my debutante on the election debate to be Million Semere. I forward my invitation to him so that the discussion will be continuous. In the mean time others who have interest to join may do so. The debate will be open. Following is I chose words like converge and diverge instead of agree and disagree as a means of expressing my opinion with Million Semere.

I read your article mentioned above and I admit that you impressed me by your gentle and civilized approach in commenting my article. I found some points which we converge on opinion and some we totally diverge. I am going to begin with the points we converge. When I say we converge I mean we need further elaboration to refine them so that after complete agreement on the points we put them aside and we deal further on the unresolved issues.

You said " Before one speculates the fate of PFDJ's vast business holdings, I believe , it would be important to inspect the front's objective when it decided to expand its business ventures. The front's official explanation for its involvement in the country's economical life has to do with price stabilization and introduction of entrepreneur and technology into the country's war ravaged economy and of course as a business venture it has to generate profit and the profit is used to set up a fund which is known as "hedri trust fund" with the aim of extending micro-credit scheme to rehabilitate former fighters and to make them productive citizens! with all its problems, this objective did its share in injecting some vitality into the ailing economy. Now those circumstances that compelled PFDJ to go into business with full force don't seem to exist anymore!"

My comment on the above said notion is you are correct when it comes to the motives of PFDJ in participating fully to stabilize prices and introduce of entrepreneur and technology. Example is the residence houses built in Sembel and in Massawa. In rehabilitating former fighters I think most of the burden was on the government shoulder. If you mean that it was PFDJ who did the funding I don't have a slight information about it. This issue needs more elaboration. What I don't understand is when you say that "Now those circumstances that compelled PFDJ to go into business with full force don't seem to exist anymore!". Do you mean that those issues had got full solutions or do you mean that since PFDJ is going to be transformed from front to party so that it won't be engaged in such activities?

You said "It has been ten years since Eritrea became independent, and it is undeniable fact that the business community is growing day by day and it seems that it is about time that PFDJ stays out of the price stabilization business and let the market forces take care of the price wars. As the fate of the Hedri fund, it could still continue, even if PFDJ transforms itself to a political party. All PFDJ business holdings could be easily transformed to a government body i,e, ministry of veteran affaires and the ministry of veteran affaires could run all those business by appointing board members composed of different political parties and continue to extend micro credit loans to rehabilitate our war heroes effectively."

My comment on the above issue is I think since we are uncertain about the fate of PFDJ what we can do at this particular time is to wait until the fourth congress of PFDJ and seem we converge on opinion that PFDJ should out of the price stabilization process and when it comes to the Hedri fund either it could be continued by PFDJ or other government bodies. The important thing is we want this operation to continue. So far so good we saw those issues which we have nearly similar opinion. Next is issues which we diverge completely.

You said " Personally, for the sake of the country's stability, I wish PFDJ stays intact and register itself as incumbent party."

My comment is I totally diverge in opinion with you when it comes PFDJ to register as one party. Yes it is true that stabilization of Eritrea is guaranteed. It means that those people in PFDJ are comrades in struggle for independence of Eritrea and they are dedicated to the well being of Eritrea. Their solidarity and unity is against all odds to foreign aggression and occupation of Eritrea. But when it comes to the composition of the members of this organization and the interest in peace time it is not as we imagine it to be. Some of them are communists, some are capitalists, some are democrats and some are dictators. They don't have a homogeneous way of thinking and their out look and world opinion differs from one horizon to the other .I don't think that this people are going to go together for long. If it were not for the war on the past three years for sure there would have been exposed the internal feelings and emotions. It is like a volcano that is suppressed until it erupts to explosion. This kind of suppression of feelings just for the temporary stabilization is dangerous. Now is the right time PFDJ to split to two or three parties and emerge with clearly defined programs so that early people could decide to join the party to its taste.

You said "IMO, it is imperative that PFDJ transforms itself into a genuine political party and make the use of its popularity to lead the nation . Then the next question would be if PFDJ transformed itself into a political party and braced itself to compete with any opposition party, then what would happen to its vast bossiness holdings? will it allow all political parties to own and operate business? If that happened, it will have disastrous implication on pure competition and market oriented economical system as political power and business don't go together! Then what is the solution?"

My comment to the above notion is it is ok PFDJ to transform itself to different political parties unlike you mentioned it to be one political party. In my opinion the finance and properties of PFDJ should be llocated fairly to the splinted parties. One thing that has to be clear is political parties can not drive business. Their job is to concentrate on politics. Though we are talking a little bit earlier to the draft governing to the formation of political parties in any way we are not doing harm as long as we are debating with the information available at hand this moment. We know that PFDJ using the opportunity it had accumulated power and finance a head from other organizations. Most importantly it have the influence to organize a vast amount of potentiality if it is going to transform itself to one party. I don't see any challenge to PFDJ and that will be unfair and unbalanced political situation for long time to be in Eritrea. My fear is there will be a dictatorial type hegemony of power in Eritrea. This power concentration will result to greediness to few people on the top and the masses will feel not to belong on the share and authority of the country. What will be the result? Take examples. Ethiopia of King Haile selassie. Somalia of Said Barrie. Yugoslavia of President Tito. Zaire of Mobitu Seseko. Haiti of Devaluer and others. Stable and good looking at the surface until the leaders are strong and alive. Therefore. what I say is let us look for a stable system than a seemingly stable of personalities.

In conclusion you said " However, all these changes shouldn't take place in a hasty manner to catch up with the year 2001 election. I believe that the 2001 election could take place with independent citizens running to grab the 150 parliamentarian seats and those independent parliamentarians could use the their position to formulate their ideologies for their new parties and cultivate followers for the next national election in 2006. In the mean time, PFDJ could gradually transform itself into a political party while supervising the smooth transition to a constitutional government. The period between 2001 and 2006 should give ample time for opposition parties to be formed and for PFDJ to transform itself into a political party. It seems that the real litmus test will be the election in 2006!

My comment is those individual parliamentarian are not going to be new persons. They are going to be of the same character. Those who are now on the national parliament are some of them elected by their respective districts and the others are popular figures from the armed struggle. By the way for those of you who are not familiar with the composition of the national council or nearly national parliament are 75 persons from PFDJ and the rest are elected by the people. There are people who purposely try to defame the constitution and now the low governing for formation of political parties and the rules and laws of waging political activities to the coming election is going to be ratified by the national council as it did for the constitution. The problem is since the government do not take care in informing the people of this type existence for those who are active in black mailing and defaming the government and the political situation in Eritrea have got ample opportunity to twist the politics out of reality. Example they said the constitution do not allow forming political parties. But now we are on process to forming political parties. They said the constitution is not ratified by members elected by the people. It is a mistake. I personally had participated in the election of a representing from Norway. We chose one person and he represented us. All this I want to mention is because of the repeated misinformation I read in some articles. Therefore, to come to the point Million you suggest the postponing of the formation and participation of the political parties to the next election 2006. I prefer the formation and participation in this election. The mistakes or we hope the good results we learn from this election will help us to refine and to do it with perfection for the election 2006. Thanks to the referendum we have ample experiences in waging elections and to make it internationally recognized election by inviting some observers it is possible to make litmus test this year. In my previous article I mentioned about Justice, economic growth, freedom and others. You mentioned only about stability. In my opinion that is not enough. Including solidarity and other topics should be assesed as well. Therefore I expect you to widen the debate and you can choose either to debate them one by one or collectively. I wait eagerly for your comment.

God bless Eritrea

Tesfamicael Yohannes

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