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Focus on Eritrean election Part 5

Focus on election 2001 (part five)
By Tesfamicael Yohannes
March 12, 2001
I recall my article "focus on election 2001 part three" date Feb. 05, 2001 and part four date Feb. 22, 2001 at

The start for pluralism and accommodation of different behaviors of our society seems on way. We Eritreans have learned through hardships tolerance and unity among us and it has became the foundation of our existence. Before I proceed splashing my words for different subjects at the same article, I am going to begin to concentrate on the actual issues of the draft for election and party formation. It gives me belong ness to Eritrean nationhood whenever I mention of distinguished and highly respected fellow Eritreans. This time my all respect goes to the extremely intelligent Professor Tekie Fessehtzion. I call him the precious library of Eritrea. I think he is a person whom we Eritreans are proud to mention him as our Eritrean property. Based on the above said respect I quote from his famous articles in visafric the following notion.

Professor Tekie said in his article Election-2001: A call for constructive engagement date March 8, 2001 at Visafric "In keeping with the National Assembly’s request, two committees have drafted election rules and rules for political formation. In the name of the National Assembly, the committees have submitted for discussion and review in open forums with the view of providing input for incorporation into the two laws. The good faith gesture to the public to engage in a national deliberation on the substance and form of the rules for conducting competitive election is most welcome. Its a call for constructive engagement in the country’s future, an open invitation for any Eritrean to get involved in the country’s political life. It is a call all those who say they love their country should heed, including those who see themselves as foes or allies of the government." What a nobel say? Look particularly at the selection of words and I put my emphasis he said "It is a call all those who say they love their country should heed, including those who see themselves as foes or allies of the government". Here the primary issue is the love of the country called Eritrea. Do we love Eritrea from deep of our heart? this is a litmus test every citizen of Eritrea should ask himself or herself. Am I true lover of Eritrea? If the answer is yes then what is proposed by the government is not take it or leave it draft. It is a draft, the public to discuss, which part to be accepted, modified, rejected or amend it. The choice is open. I commend the positive and constructive discussions on this issue by professor Teckie. He mentioned a lot of issues to be resolved by dialogue. Examples are the quota for women, the participation of the armed and security personnel and the exclusions of some sectors of the population by imposing some restrictions due to requirements for fulfilling obligations.

One remarkable concern apart from all those mentioned above which I accepted them positively is, I admit with great caution my difference on the pessimism sited by Professor Tekie that the coming election 2001 will not be multi party election. He professes it is going to be nonpartisan election. His worry is, there is no time left for concerned people to form a political party before the election 2001. He postponed that activity of multi party for the election 2006. Well taking in consideration the suggestion of Million Semere in his article by the title " focus on the election (part three) date Feb 07, 2001 on, the multi party election to be postponed to 2006 election, it sounds that forming political parties is not as such as easy as it seem to us.

Recalling my argument with Salhi Gadi a person whom I have great respect and I really loved reading his article at Dehai. On reconciliation issue around 1999 when I asked that I never saw a political party program from the opposition groups he without due consideration to my concern or with out paying a slight respect to my worries he simply bluffed my request by saying that I quote from his article on Dehai, reply to me, date 25, June 1999. He said "Your claim that no group to date has came out as a political party with a program from ELF groups. I will differ with you here. Regardless of your approval or disapproval of the Eritrean political opposition, I am afraid to differ with you that they all have political programs and you can find most of it on the internet. I might add , it is a cocktail of programs ranging from the extreme to the moderate; and driven by demands of all sorts: religious demands, ethnic grievances, justice, system of governance, press freedom, overthrowing the government and even (this for you) power sharing." After reading the above statement of salhi Gadi I to be honest with you I felt sorry for Salhi Gadi as a writer with good english but lacks sizeable content. I said to my self Salhi Gadi's writing are like sweet cakes with out nutritional values. My point was, if there were really political programs was not the duty of the concerned political groups to give civic education of their programs to their people?. Now to come to the point if the opposition groups could not formulate a political program from previous document then what were they struggling for? I thought that at the time the draft for forming political parties emerged with no time the opposition groups to appear with their political programs. Up to date I heard nothing about a political group that claims it has a political program that will help it to be qualified as a political party. Here follows my suggestion. A political program that unites groups of concerned people can possibly look as follows.

Conservative political program: The value of human beings as individual living in harmony among others. The respect of his or her belonging as an individual in a society. The keeping or preserving of the traditions, culture and heritage of a society. The respect for older generation. Ownership of land, house, banks, schools, hospitals by individuals or shares. Less expenditure for public services and low income taxes. There are other aspects of conservatism as well. Those who are interested to come out as conservative party they can gather and can come with a program that identfies their stand for the benefit of the country and well-being of its people.

Labor poltical program. The value of human beings as collectively living in harmony. Opening of an opportunity all to get job. By imposing high taxes on income to finance institutions for the well being of the society. Schools, hospitals, large industries, public services and others to be under firm control of the state. There are more to deal with a political program concerning the vision of labor political parties.

The above mentioned is not to say that this is a political program of this or that political party. That is not my job. I just mentioned why is it Professor Tekie do not have the confidence that the opposition political groups could not come out with a political program that can help them to participate on the coming election? I prefer, this time not to waist to much time unnecessarily to the discussion for the draft for the election and forming political parties. This time let us discuss the draft for making it workable for the coming election by accepting the draft as quickly as possible and proceed to discuss on forming political parties. Our discussion on political programms of different visions and opinions will enhance in shaping our attitude to which political party our tendency will be. A political party can formulate its vision generally on the following issues.

1. The X party's view of human beings
All people are created different, but inherently and inviolably equal. To promote positive development opportunities, the X party's politics are based on faith in people as individually. The Y party's politics are based on faith in people as collectively. The X party will oppose the concentration of poltical and/or economic power by supporting the development of a democracy based on private ownership which encourages the distribution of power. The Z party supports the collective share of power and so on.

2.Respect for others
The X party bases its policies on respect for other individuals' inalienable and invioble value. Respect for diversity. Equality, rather than conformity, is the goal of a society that respects diversity. A demand for conformity can threatens equality and liberty. Financial differences are not a problem to a society. Party Y believes that financial differences are the causes of unfairness to a society and creates a problem for collective development.

3. Freedom and anchorage.
The X party will strive to strengthen the social conditions required to ensure freedom and opportunity for individuals. The Z party will strive to ensure for collectively of the society. The X party believes that individuals are responsible for defending their country against outside threats. Compulsory conscription must be a credible program, treating all involved parties equally. The Y party believes that defending a country is the task of the government and opposes for compulsory conscription instead supports for well trained, equipped and modern army.

4. Economics and welfare
The X party will strive to promote an economic policy which is stable and predictable, and which does not postpone for future generations to deal with. Accordingly our country's economic should not be based only on petroleum revenues. The Z party enhances the development of our country on revenues from petroleum so that the future generation will get comfortable life.

The above mentioned type argument separates who is who. Therefore, my opinion is to see different attitudes and to listen differently for compare and contrast reasons. It would have been admirable concerned people to come out with their program that they think would be a benefit for Eritrea. The following topics could be included in the discussion for party programs.

5. Security
6. Protection of privacy
7. church and faith
8. Knowledge institutions
9. culture
10. organizational activities
11. Information and the public debate
12. Financial freedom
13. wealth creation
14. Family and fellowship
15. The environment and resources
16. International co-operation

Finally, now we are in a free and democratic society Eritrea. What it remains is learning to live by experience. We start it now. How will be the appropriate question? First we have to feel free. Because we achieved it. Second to be tolerant and accept diversity as means of unity in our society. If we believe that different views that converge by constructive dialogue to comment interest then we are on the correct path to a free and democratic society. And that is to live in harmony. Healthy discussion is not to submission to the will of one side but to confront and challenge the discussion to come to a compromise. No winner, no loser but compromise should be our goal.

God bless Eritrea

Tesfamicael Yohannes
Oslo, Norway

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