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Development of the Eritrean People’s Struggle in the Field (1961-65)

Many of the people that joined the struggle early were from the Beni-Amer and Nara ethnic groups and the first argument among the fighters begun with the fighters from Beni-Amer complaining that Hamid Idris Awate was giving the better weapons to the fighters from Nara, the ethnic group he belonged. And to solve this difference, a meeting was held in Obel, place called Dura where the argument ended through discussion among the fighters.

In the years that followed- 1963-64-there was power competition among the soldiers joined the struggle from the Sudanese army, which were on the higher posts, and the ex-police and ex-bandit members of the Front. The individuals at the higher posts were propagating and creating differences among the fighters based on ethnicity to full-fill their personal desire. Despite their position, the group joined the struggle from the Sudan Army had huge differences among themselves, later their differences and competition divided the fighters into two.  And in the meeting held in December 1, 1963 in Kure, Taher Salem removed Abu-Tiara from his power by supporting Omer Ezaz.

With the not completely abolished ethnic and religious differences among the people of the country the appearance of such differences in the field was expected: what is worse was the higher committee that was supposed to create unity among the fighters and solve the differences was part of the differences and was further creating differences that escalated the situation And this was happening because of “the divide and rule” policy followed by the members of the higher committee and killing was the alternative taken by the committee to any kind of opposition. To mention some, in 1965 Haraka realizing the division and differences in the Eritrean liberation Front (ELF) organized a special unit that went to the field to start an armed struggle, the higher committee reaction to this was organizing a special unit to destroy the newly formed unit and the unit was destroyed in a place called Ela Tsaeda around Karura.

Despite the division among the leaders of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), the fighters were determined to fight against the colonization in the country and the number of people joining the front was still increasing. Despite the competition and differences the fighters were tolerating all the troubles of life and were ready to give their lives to the objectives of the front.  And the people were supporting the fighters both materially and morally. The continuous support of the people was also another factor to the increases in the number of the new recruits joining the front and the front was getting bigger with time. Considering this the leaders were expected to work on how to defeat the enemy but they were more concerned about ethnic and religious affiliations of the fighters and start dividing the fighters based on those factors.

Establishment of Various Units and Its Outcome

Members of the higher committee had no contact with the fighters in the field till mid 1965 and if they want to pass any information or order it passes through the unit in Khartoum, “Qyada Sewra” headed by Tahir Salem. As a result the division and competition in the field start to create differences within the members of the higher committee, and threatened by this latter outcome members of the higher committee come up with a plan that will allow them control the fighters in the field.

On July 1965, members of the higher committee called some of the leaders in the field and the supporters in Sudan to hold a meeting in Kessela. In this meeting, the army was divided in to four units under the pretext that the number of fighters is high which can’t be absorbed in one region, Barka, and the fighters should start attacking on other parts of the country as a result they need to scatter all around the country. They also selected people to be chairman and vice chairman of the units and also crowned two people to divide the fighters into the four units according to their ethnicity and religious affiliations.

They assigned the four units to the regions and districts of the country. Unit one was assigned to the former Barka province under the leadership of Mahmoud Tinay who was from the Beni-Amer ethnic group, Unit Two was assigned to former Sahel and Senhit province under Omer Ezaz who was from Bilen, Unit Three was assigned to former Akuleguzay, Seraie and Hamassien provinces under Abduelkirem Ahmed who was from Saho and Unit four was assigned to former Semhar and Denkil provinces under Mohammed Ali Omeru who was from Tigre ethnic group. And members of the units were assigned according to their religion and ethnicity and which lead to the further competition and differences among the fighters.

To be continued…………..


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