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Eritrean Lowlanders League (ELL): Position Statement on Current Developments, and Geneva Demonstration & Meeting.

Based on our established principles and stated objectives, we have always striven for lasting peace, stability, justice, and equality for the Lowlands in particular and the Eritrean people in general.

In line with this principled position, we welcomed the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s initiative to resolve the border issue with Eritrea based on the unconditional acceptance of the Algiers Agreement and Annexes thereto.

However, we have explicitly expressed our reservations about the eligibility of the hegemonic ruling regime in Eritrea as a reliable partner in a meaningful peace process.

We have also emphasized the inadequacy of this step in itself to bring about lasting peace between the two neighbouring countries and peoples, as the necessary internal peace in Eritrea is so far inexistent due to the regime’s intransigence to meet national entitlements that constitute an essential foundation for the establishment of a comprehensive and sustainable peace.

We therefore call upon the international community not to rush into lifting UN sanctions imposed on the regime, but to the contrary call for maintaining them to increase the pressure on the regime until it meets all national and regional requirements.

Recently, against the backdrop of the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s initiative and its repercussions, we have noted accelerated activity by some political and civil forces in the diaspora that intend to exploit the current stagnation in the opposition camp and thus try to overstep the existing frameworks instead of working towards unity and wider participation based on a clear vision that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders.

In our opinion, these forces seek to create a new reality under the pretext of saving the country from the dangers posed by recent developments. Thus, attempting to mobilize the Eritrean diaspora under the exaggerated necessity to create a new opposition leadership through haphazardly arranged election mechanisms that they hope will give legitimacy to the process they are pursuing.

Moreover, this move does not take into consideration previous failed attempts to create collective frameworks and leadership. It also does not overcome the mind-set, and consequently the practices of exclusionism and hegemony that dominated the Eritrean arena for so long.  Such a process will certainly not lead to a successful collective leadership that represents the wide Eritrean spectrum and create a qualified and able leadership that can adequately deal with the critical prevailing and expected political conditions.

Any attempt to resolve our homeland’s crises without due regard to the principle of pluralism, diversity, and equitable sharing of power and wealth, will inevitably lead the proposed new opposition leadership to repeat the failures of the past, as it has not alienated itself from the exclusionary approaches of the regime.

 The ongoing preparations for a demonstration on 31st August, and a subsequent meeting on 1st September in Geneva can only be seen in the same aforementioned context, a scramble to build organizational structures away from the adoption of the right foundations that lead to a national consensus that ensures the proper participation of all national components.

On the ground, the players are putting the final touches to stage the show of “Alternative leadership in the diaspora to salvage the Homeland”, in an apparent move to exploit the prevailing state of despair and resentment among the diaspora emanating from the inability and lack of interaction required at this critical stage to respond effectively to the challenges ahead, and specifically Eritreans’ concern about the future of their country. Thus, taking advantage of the situation to control the opposition and leadership abroad for purposes that do not serve the common interests of all national components, and that does not divorce itself from practices of hegemony and exclusion.

Therefore, we at ELL reaffirm our principled position that supports any effective, collective action-plan that is based on well-studied and clear programs and goals to bring the country out of its crises. This should be done through fair representation and participation of all stakeholders to ensure the rights of all constituents and achieve national consensus amongst the national components of the country.

In this regard, we have followed with interest the popular and elitist activities that took place in America and led to the Denver Manifesto, which adopted basic principles as a footing to establish collective plan with the aim of achieving harmony among the people to realise the changes they aspire to, while at the same time stressing the importance of mending the social fabric damaged as the result of policies of hegemony and loss of mutual trust.

We believe that this is a good beginning in terms of procedures and content, and we find it in line with our Social Contract initiative of 2016 calling on all concerned to make it the base and condition for any successful collective action plan aimed at realising the people’s aspirations for change and as a guarantee for the basic rights and interests of all national components. Any proposal to bring about change while not based on these principles overlooks the existing realities on the ground and is bound to fail, which makes it more important that we all heed the lessons learned from our previous experiences.

With regard to the upcoming Geneva events, we at ELL intend to actively participate in the demonstration that will be held on August 31st to express our utter opposition to the regime and its machinations to circumvent upholding the rights of our people and its attempts to escape sanctions and accountability for human rights violations it inflicted on the Eritrean people. However, we will boycott the meeting that follows to elect an interim or permanent new leadership due to the aforementioned considerations.

In conclusion, we call upon all patriots to show a strong presence at the August 31st demonstration in Geneva to express their opposition and utter rejection of the regime and its manoeuvres to escape international monitoring and sanctions. We also call on all concerned to exercise high vigilance and deep awareness and not get carried away with spontaneity, rushing behind calls or projects that do not achieve the unity and effectiveness of collective action, and instead act as a bulwark to protect and serve the goals and interests of our people and stand firmly against attempts that infringe on these rights and interests.

The Executive Committee

Eritrean Lowlanders League

23  August 2018

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