ERITREAN FORUM FOR NATIONAL DIALOGUE (EFND)
In 2013, a group of individuals who shared similar life experiences started the Eritrean Forum for National Dialogue (EFND). At the beginning, the group analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the dictatorial regime in Eritrea and specifically evaluated the internal and external factors that are helping it to continue and extend its existence. Based on this evaluation, the group came up with a political groundwork which can embrace all ranks of the opposition. As the goal of the opposition is to bring about change and a transition, the EFND came up with a fundamental structure and began its work for a peaceful transition.
The minimum political groundwork can be summed as “to replace the absolute dictatorship in the country, and create a free Eritrea where all citizens can live in peace, their human rights respected, political freedoms guaranteed under a constitutional government. The first goal of pro-democracy Eritrean groups and individuals is to take back the power which now monopolized under a very small group and give it back to the people.”
The EFND’s tasks
In order to facilitate the process of change the EFND has outlined the following tasks:
- To bring together individuals, groups, political organizations, associations, human rights activists with long experience in the Diaspora into the minimum political groundwork.
- To connect those political movements with same goals inside and outside the country.
- To meet in secret those individuals and groups opposing the regime inside the country and rally round until they assume leadership of the change process.
The organizing and course of action of the EFND
EFND is a people’s movement with a political goal. Therefore, the EFND is not a political party. To have a political goal does not mean regime change and replacing it with the EFND. In short, the EFND is not about competing for political power. It is there to act as a catalyst for change. To do this the EFND is ready to bring together groups which have so far been unable to bring change separately into the minimum political aim of all those who seek change.
The EFND believes that those with diverse political aspirations but are willing to fight for the political rights of the people of Eritrea should be part of the struggle for democracy. This makes it different than a political party. A political party exists to promote its own agenda and to take political power. This is its only and main aim. The EFND, however, and the individuals in it have no such political purpose other than to see that the Eritrean people free and in charge of their own political destiny.
The EFND divides its course of action into two. The first, all opposition should challenge the regime and prepare to lay the groundwork in Eritrea for the day when all Eritreans can participate in a free political climate. When this is ascertained, the second action will be to make sure that all Eritreans are able to engage in the politics to achieve their aspirations. In the end, to believe in the decisions agreed upon by the majority.
Core Principles of the EFND
- It is the birthright of every Eritrean to save the people from the suffering and ruin through peaceful means.
- The president of Eritrea is responsible for all the damage inflicted upon the people and country.
- Existing government officials willing to participate in the reform process could be part of this change. To save the country and people, all those who support change for a democratic order should be welcome.
- Change will come led by people from inside who are committed for this change. Any external force who wants to directly engage change in Eritrea is not acceptable.
- To accelerate common development and stable peace, there is need for close cooperation in the IGAD region that would lead to regional integration.
- In order to ensure stable peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Ethiopia should unconditionally implement the decision of the Boundry Commission and normalize bilateral relations.
Our Core Ethical Principles:
In any political struggle, there are differences and these are necessary for progress. There is no political way in which all agree upon. The only fact is that in the past 25 years, the slogans, “One political truth,” “One political leadership,” “One heart,” has been used to eliminate opposition or individual opinions. In this we have become victims of the deviousness of a small band of dictators. Those who opposed this clique are named traitors, stripped of their human rights, imprisoned, tortured and made to disappear. In order to challenge this reality, we believe it is our natural right to select our political goal and fight for it. Therefore, our pro democracy labor is to accept our differences and to campaign for the right of peoples to chart their own destiny. Our acceptance of each other and unity is how we measure our political maturity.
The Eritrean citizenship brought about by the sacrifices of many and entangled in decades of war, pain and suffering is the basis of our unity. The differences in our midst are in light of the big picture minimum. Those who have political opinions different from the usual are not the “enemy”. They just have an aspiration to find alternative solutions to the nations’ problems. All Eritreans are and should be respected. In this process of change, we abhor the PFDJ’s consistent undignified, demeaning, corrupting, and divisive games. Eritrea will be respected only when all her citizens are respected.
Innovative and forward-looking
History is a good teacher. However, to always look to the past hinders progress. In order to make the future bright and hopeful, our political journey has to reflect this. To protect the sovereignty of the nation, the high price paid by the population, its complex internal strife, the deterioration after independence does not in any way remove the people’s brave achievements. From this long journey we take the good and the bad and go on forward into the future.
It is the compilation of all that has passed and what it meant to the wishes of all citizens is what brought about the EFND’s initiative.
The EFND’s initiative is the outcome of the long struggle to live as free citizens and have a sovereign nation. The time is ripe and as we gain more wisdom from our history, it has made us realize there is more that brings us together than what sets us apart. Expectations are high and our legacy is ahead of us. Responsibility calls on all citizens to take back our long desired goals for democracy under the rule of law.
In remembrance of those who gave their lives so that we can enjoy life, independence, freedom and the pursuit of happiness in Eritrea.
We will never forget you.