UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
ARDU - Afar Revolutionary Democratic Union
ARDUF - Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front
CERA - Commission for Eritrean Refugee Affairs
CRS - Catholic Relief Secretariat
ECE - Evangelical Church of Eritrea
EDLM - Eritrean Democratic Liberation Movement
EDM - Eritrean Democratic Movement
ELF - Eritrean Liberation Front
ELF-RC - ELF-Revolutionary Council
ELF-UO - ELF-Unity Organisation
EPLF Eritrean People's Liberation Front
ERRA - Eritrean Relief and Rehabilitation Association
ERD - Emergency Relief Desk
PFDJ - People's Front for Democracy and Justice
PGE - Provisional Government of Eritrea
PROFERI - Programme for Refugee Reintegration and Rehabilitation of Resettlement Areas in Eritrea
** POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS **
DRAFT CONSTITUTION BY NOV 95
(Economic Intelligence Unit via RBB 11 Jul 95) ...[The] 50-member Constitutional Commission anticipates that the draft constitution will be completed by November and submitted to the proposed Constituent Assembly by April or May 1996.
ERITREA MAKES A CONSTITUTION
(NA Sep 95)
Eritrea is nearing the end of a massive two-year process of popular participation to draft a Constitution.
In 1993, the government pledged a four-year transitional period, during which a constitution, laws on political parties and the press would be drafted, and elections to be held in 1997.
In March 1994, the legislative arm, the National Assembly, established the Constitutional Commission of Eritrea (CCE) to draft a constitution. It has 50 members, including 20 women. Its Chair is Dr Bereket Habteselassie, for many years Eritrea's representative at the UN.
Members represent all elements of Eritrean society--ex-fighters and PFDJ members, those who were in the diaspora during the struggle, rural and urban populations and the nine nationalities, but not the opposition parties.
An advisory board is made up of community elders and religious leaders from the provinces and nationalities. A board of advisors consists of foreign experts who bring the experiences of other countries.
CCE branch offices were opened in five zones and the capital, Asmara...
This immense task has involved hundreds of meetings; the CCE held international conferences in July 1994 and January 1995, bringing together political scientists, historians, and sociologists from Eritrea and abroad on aspects of constitutional development.
By May 1995, it was estimated that over 1,000 meetings had been conducted all over Eritrea, with about half a million people attending, an extraordinary effort at popular participation although disappointingly the participation of women has been minimal. Eritrea has, as a late comer to independence, the opportunity to learn from others.
ERITREA HOPES BATTLEFIELD AUSTERITY WILL WIN PEACE
(Reuter 17 Jul 95, by Nicholas Kotch)
ASMARA - Foreign businessmen dare not offer bribes in Eritrea, Africa's newest state, where austere former guerrillas are firmly in command.
"If there is corruption in a society everything is in ruins.
"There is no corruption in Eritrea now. If we do everything properly, if money laundering, drugs and corruption are kept out, we can achieve our goals," said Tekie Beyene, acting governor of the Bank of Eritrea, the central bank.
Like the rest of the key players in Asmara, the Italianate inland capital, Beyene is an "ex-fighter".
This means he paid his dues with the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), in Beyene's case from 1980 until victory over Ethiopia's then-Marxist government in 1991...
Everyone pays income tax in Eritrea, even foreign aid workers whose occasional squeals are ignored.
The government imposes a two percent levy on the salaries of tens of thousands of Eritreans abroad, whether trading in the Gulf or driving a taxi in Washington, D.C.
Diplomats say foreign businessmen, attracted to the Red Sea state by the lure of oil and mineral reserves and reconstruction contracts on the horizon, are never asked for bribes and offer them at their peril.
"This is the cleanest government by far I have ever had the pleasure of being associated with anywhere. I haven't heard of one piece of corruption," said Robert Houdek, the U.S. ambassador in Asmara.
"There is a big difference here compared with the rest of Africa," said Herbert M'Cleod, representative of the United Nations Development Programme.
"People are much more interested in their country than in themselves. They all made sacrifices."...
Civil service salaries were paid for the first time in June after four years of almost unpaid labour.
"We used to get 130-150 birr ($18-$21) a month, enough for cigarettes and tea. Now we are upgrading to an average of 1,000 birr ($140)," said Beyene, the acting central bank governor.
"Our goal is a small, highly efficient and highly paid civil service.
"As we all know, people who work in government in Africa are badly paid and looked down upon, which pushes them towards corruption," he added...
(AC 4 Aug 95, p.7)
At the end of August, the ruling party is planning a special conference. High on its agenda will be the party's `vision': many policies, such as pruning the bureaucracy and demobilising fighters, have gone down badly. Four years after its key role in defeating Ethiopia's Mengistu Haile Mariam, there is a feeling the party--which has changed its name from Eritrean People's Liberation Front to People's Front for Democracy and Justice--has not made the transition from liberation movement to government. Nor are Eritreans so willing to make great sacrifices in peacetime, as they did in over 30 years of war.
Those concerned about the all-pervading PFDJ and its monopoly on power are a potential, though not yet vocal, centre of opposition. More important in the short term is the restructuring of the military. The government has cut the army to some 55,000 troops from about 95,000. The plan is to end up with about 35,000--still a very large force for Eritrea's two million people. But Asmara aspires to a major regional role and wants to maintain its army's high standing.
After his January visit to Washington, President Isayas Aferworki indicated he wanted a professional army and said the United States would provide funds and training. His requests for arms were turned down. There are now 30 US military advisors/ trainers/ de-miners based in Keren and more are expected. Egyptian and Israeli advisors are more closely involved with National Service training or anti-Sudan government activity. The USA has strongly encouraged Eritrea in its anti-Khartoum policies and was enthusiastic about May's Sudanese opposition meeting in Asmara (AC Vol 36 No 14).
Yet the army is unsure of its future. Size, demobilisation and pay are all open questions. Protests over pay in 1993 led to over 100 alleged ringleaders being gaoled but pushed Asmara to create a formal pay structure. The government also swiftly purged Department 72 (security, previously known as Halewa Sowra) restructuring it as the Department of Political Security.
The National Service programme has had a mixed reception. The second batch of 26,000 youngsters passed out of Sawa military training camp in July: 250,000 are due to be trained in five years. Some soldiers believe the real aim of National Service is to disband the liberation army and build a more malleable force.
Changes in command have fed army unease. At the EPLF's Third Congress in February 1994, one of the most popular military figures, Mesfin Hagos, received the second highest number of votes for election to the Central and Executive Committees, reportedly only one less than Isayas. He then became Defence Minister. This was widely welcomed but his popularity in the army and his reported disagreements with government over army policy saw him replaced within a year by the army Commander at liberation, Sebhat Ibrahim (AC Vol 35 No 23). As Sebhat tried to establish control and weed out potential critics, other leading figured were dismissed, including Filipos Woldeyohannes and other unit commanders. Current army leaders were significant in the liberation war, including: Chief of Staff Haile Samuel `China', Ground Forces Commander Berhane Gebregziabher and the Chief of Operations, Teklai Habteselassie. The debate over the army's future is set to continue: there are still key officers who are not party members...
PRESIDENT TELLS RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS TO STAY OUT OF
(SWB 8 Jul 95 [VBME in Tigrigna, 7 Jul 95])
President Isayas Afewerki yesterday in his office met and briefed religious leaders on the government's policy regarding the role of religious institutions.
President Isayas briefed the leaders on the importance of the separation of politics from religion and vice versa. He clearly stated that religious institutions should depend only on contributions from their congregations and followers and not on the alms of foreigners. He also assured them that the government would try to assist them.
However, he said religious institutions are not allowed to establish relations with or to represent any foreign government or political organization or to participate in any political activities for or against the government [of Eritrea].
Finally, the president said development programmes and social services were first and foremost the responsibility of the government and the people, and not of religious institutions. However, he said they could help with financing [the development programmes] but had no responsibilities for planning or implementing them. He said a decree would be issued in the near future regarding this issue...
** HUMANITARIAN ISSUES **
THE USE OF FOOD AID: LEARNING FROM THE PAST
(ERRA Newsletter Apr-May 95, editorial, p.1)
Eritrea has been depending on steadily increasing amounts of emergency food aid for the last two decades as a result of recurrent drought and war. In recent years, up to four out of five Eritreans have been dependent on food aid. There is now a growing awareness that Eritrea has remained dependent on food aid for too long. There is no doubt that this has serious economic, political and social repercussions.
The people and the government of Eritrea are committed to laying the foundations for a sustainable economic development. One of the major goals that has to be achieved sooner than later is food security through adequate local food production. In this regard, the strategy laid out in the new economic policy of the government emphasizes the need for increased food production including environmental conservation, distribution of required inputs, and infrastructure development.
At present there are various applications of food aid, including free distribution, Food for Work (both used for several years) and, on a limited scale, Cash for Work. However, keeping in view the avowed goal of food self-sufficiency in the long-run, the new government plan stipulates a moratorium on free food distribution, except to the most needy groups. The emphasis will be on a combinaiton of Food for Work and Cash for Work. Both Food for Work and Cash for Work taken separately have some problems. Perhaps a more practical approach for Eritrea is to use a proper mix of the two taking [the] local situation into consideration. This is a more realistic option which, due to its flexibility, serves better the long-term interests of the recipients.
It is against this background that ERRA has decided to initiate a dialogue with donors on issues related to the rational use of food aid in Eritrea. The monetization of food aid for Cash for Work projects, coupled with realistic prices and timely delivery, is essential if Eritrea is ever to achieve food security and ERRA hopes that donors will cooperate in this regard by showing flexibility in the use of food aid...
SEMINAR FOCUSES ON WOMEN'S ROLE IN PEACE
(NN/hrnet.africa 13 Aug 95 [EP 29(?) Aug 95])
A national seminar recently held at the headquarters of the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW) discussed current situations in the Horn of Africa and women's role in promoting peace. The seminar picked "Women in Peace Process" as the central topic of discussions. It brought together 60 women participants from the country's different regions. The participants issued a "Position Statement on Peace" at the end of the seminar besides planting a Peace Tree to manifest their commitment to pecekeeping. Major statements by the July 29 seminar follow:
* Call for Eritrean women's enhanced role in maintaining peace; and joining hands with women counterparts in the region in a unified voice for peace;
* Call upon governments and political factions to reconcile their differences through peaceful negotiations. A similar workshop on peace, organized by Novib and the Fund for Peace, was held in Addis Ababa May 1-3 in which women from the region representing different NGOs resolved to join hands and have a unified voice for peace. They also issued "Strategic Initiative for the Horn of Africa" (SIHA)...
SCHOOL OF MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY OPENS
(EP 10 Jun 95)
A School of Medical Technology was inaugurated in Asmara this week. The new school aiming at training anesthetists, senior ophthalmic assistants, senior laboratory technicians, pharmacy technicians and X- Ray technicians is part of a national effort to overcome shortage of health personnel. 150 ex-fighters have been admitted to the school already and courses are scheduled to begin this month. Training in two other fields - dental therapy and assistant midwifery - are due to start shortly...
** ERITREA--SUDAN **
/HAB/ For more on the Sudanese opposition meeting in Asmara, see "Opposition" under Sudan.
RULING PARTY TO HOST CONFERENCE OF SUDANESE OPPOSITION PARTIES
(SWB 15 Jun 95 [VBME in Tigrigna, 13 Jun 95])
Mr Amin Muhammad Sa'id, secretary of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice [PFDJ], said in a press statement to the Eritrean news agency yesterday [12th June] that the PFDJ would host [a meeting of] all Sudanese opposition forces in Asmara. Mr Amin said these parties and organizations would be holding a meeting embracing all the forces struggling against the existing political regime in Sudan. He added that the PFDJ had very strong ties and relations with all the Sudanese political parties during its 30 years of armed struggle. In the light of the request made by the Sudanese brothers to hold their meeting in Asmara, the PFDJ would do its best to give them excellent hospitality...
SUDAN TIGHTENS SECURITY ON BORDER WITH ERITREA
(Reuter 22 Jun 95, by Alfred Taban)
KHARTOUM - Sudan has beefed up security on its border with Eritrea in response to a meeting in Asmara of Sudanese rebels and political exiles, a senior military official said.
Major-General Mohammad Abdalla Oweida, head of the security and defence committee of Sudan's Transitional National Assembly, said on Wednesday security had been tightened at government buildings and installations in the border areas.
Army and police forces had also heightened vigilance at border posts, bridges, main roads and ports, he added...
ERITREA SAYS SUDAN SEEKS TO DESTABILISE AFRICA
(Reuter 22 Jun 95, by Tsegaye Tadesse)
ADDIS ABABA - Eritrea accused Sudan of seeking to destabilise the African continent on Thursday, dealing a blow to Organisation of African Unity (OAU) efforts to end their dispute.
Eritrean Foreign Minister Petros Soloman, replying to a statement by his Sudanese counterpart to OAU foreign ministers, said Eritrea had long raised the problem with the U.N. security council.
"The deep-seated problem with the government of the Sudan rooted in its well-known policies of expansion and subversion to destabilise not only Eritrea but the whole region and indeed the continent long compelled the government of Eritrea to submit its case to the U.N. security council," Petros said in a statement...
OAU SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS AGAINST ESCALATION OF SUDAN--
(SWB 27 Jun 95 [RSR in English, 25 Jun 95])
The secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity [OAU], Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, has urged avoiding escalation on the situation between the Sudan and Eritrea.
Responding to a question on the Eritrean position that it does not want the OAU to deal with its dispute with Sudan, Salim said the OAU is responsible in such case[es] and that all states are obliged to abide by any resolution issued by the organization.
** FOREIGN RELATIONS **
PRESIDENT RECEIVES CREDENTIALS
(EP 10 Jun 95)
President Isaias Afwerki yesterday received the credentials of new heads of diplomatic missions.
During a ceremony at the State Guest House on June 9, ambassadors, Rochsjad Dahlan of Indonesia, Caetano da Costa Pereira of Portugal, T. A. G. Makambe of Zimbabwe, Vassilios Vassolos of Greece, and Jan Dubbeldam, head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Eritrea, respectively expressed readiness to further promote friendly relations. The Greek Embassy in Addis Ababa disclosed that Mr. Socratis Bourboulis has been appointed Honorary Consul General in Asmara.
US DIPLOMAT COMMENDS ERITREAN STATESMANSHIP
(EP 10 Jun 95)
The birth of the State of Eritrea was not a miracle but rather the product of "wisdom and foresight" by patriots who abided by a transition process that led to a non-violent process of Eritrea's independence, said career US diplomat Mark Baas.
Mr. Baas, who was U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia immediately following the overthrow of the Mengistu regime in 1991, told a panel discussion on Eritrea, held on Capitol Hill June 2, that after Ethiopia was liberated from the Mengistu dictatorship, "the Eritreans demonstrated very great statesmanship and foresight" in their dealings with the new Ethiopian government.
The United States Information Agency (USIA) quoted him as saying, Eritreans "could have said we are independent today, we won by right of arms, and we are going to declare independence."
Instead, said the diplomat, Eritreans agreed to wait until the end of a two-year transition period to hold a referendum that led to the declaration of independence on May 24.
Mr. Bass, who was an international observer to the Eritrean referendum in 1993, further stated that when he visited Eritrea, he was struck by how "law-abiding" the population was.
Noting that he once had a meeting with President Isaias Afwerki in Asmara, he said: "I was surprised to see him walk into the hotel lobby all alone with no security guards.
This would never be done in America or in any of the neighboring countries."...
SO-CALLED "VOICE OF ERITREA" BROADCAST FROM IRAQ
(SWB 10 Jul 95 ["Voice of Eritrea" in Arabic and Tigrigna 6 Jul 95])
Broadcasts in Arabic and Tigrigna
A broadcast calling itself "Voice of Eritrea" and carried on an Iraqi shortwave transmitter on 17740 kHz is currently being heard at 1600-1700 gmt. This broadcast was first heard on 19th June (poor reception delayed positive identification).
The broadcast is in both Arabic and Tigrigna (in the latter language the announcer does not sound like a native Tigrigna speaker). It identifies itself in Tigrigna as "Ezi nay Eritrea fenewe Demtsi eyu" ("This is the Voice of
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