On May 1975, ELF held its second congress, and officially declared the end of the civil war: In this meeting it was also decided to officially establish dialogue with the People’s Liberation Front. As a result, ELF elected an assembly of 51 members and an executive committee of 9 members. Ahmed Nasser and Ibrahim Totil were elected as chairperson and vice-chairperson of the committee respectively. The newly elected leadership committee selected a committee of elders that would hold to assist in the mediation attempt with the People’s Liberation Front, but because of varying interests harbored by the individuals elected in the committee, they were not willing to meet with the committee elected by the People’s Liberation Front.
In addition, Leaders of ELF who were threatened by the ongoing discussions for unity, and the support of the public had begun to create hindrances because the only way that they would accomplish their objectives were through appearing to be collaborators of the unification process while secretly prolonging the actual process of unification. As a result, instead of meeting with the actual committee of the People’s Liberation Front they met with the envoy of the front abroad to discuss unity.
Despite their hunger of power, the leaders of ELF and the envoys of the People’s Liberation Front in the Diaspora had similar objectives in their meeting on September 1975 in Khartoum, the unconditional unity of both fronts was declared. The envoy in Diaspora had no power to conclude such agreement. On November 12, 1975 the People’s Liberation Front held a meeting and decided to continue the discussion with ELF where it elected a new committee, and rejected the agreement in Khartoum. In March 1976, Osman Saleh Sabe with his followers came to the country and established a new movement called ELF-PLF. Few individuals within the People’s Liberation Front without a firm stance were easily convinced of this new change and joined the newly established front which still leaves the agreement in Sudan.
Victories of the Eritrean Struggle and Dominance of the National Force
Due to the continuous flow of nationals to the fronts, the number and strength of both fronts were significantly bolstered. These were also the times in which all rifles were directed against one common enemy, i.e., the Derg regime. In the contrary, due to the internal disputes and opposition within the Derg the strength of the regime was deteriorating which enabled the liberation forces to win decisive battles. In the years of 1975-76 due to the continuous attacks on enemy bases and due to the blockage of road transportation enemy forces were limited only major urban centers of the country.
In 1976, Derg suggested a proposal for a ‘Peaceful Solution’ which was a ruse aimed at buying the Derg sometime within which it could build its forces. The proposal put forward allowed Eritrea have self-governance under Ethiopia.
However, the proposal was rejected by the liberation forces. Later in May 1976, the Derg conscripted around 30,000-40,000 Ethiopians under the pretext that Ethiopia is being invaded by Arabs who are waging proxy war against it through the liberation forces. Long before those new recruits were to reach Eritrea, the liberation forces fought and disbanded them while they were still in Tigray.
To be continued ……..