Political Pluralism in Favorable Grounds and For a Good Cause
One of the issues that the special interest groups have been blaming Eritrea for is the issue of “Political Pluralism.” In their way of thinking, political pluralism stands for the creation of a conducive ground designed to create chaos. What does political pluralism mean to those quarters? What about its true and plausible meaning? This article is an analysis of the subject.
Political pluralism at present takes up an illogical definition. Long before the US endorsed Mikhail Gorbachev and put an end to Socialism and brought down the Berlin Wall; before the concept of political pluralism was considered fashionable and its advocacy proclaimed as “end of history”; the EPLF had incorporated political pluralism in its broader sense in the Front’s political program back in the mid-1980s, first and foremost for its own satisfaction!
Political pluralism is not defined by the number of political parties or elections held. Its principal foundations lie instead in the actual participation of the people in the sociopolitical, economic and cultural activities of the country, regardless of whether this is attained by a single party or multiparty political system. As a matter of fact, many countries have proven that the presence of more than one party and elections (which today are nothing more but staged performances) do not in fact warrant a genuine political administration. Political pluralism should never stand for something that is embellished and enforced on the people by particular political strata just to foster their narrow interests. If that was to be the case, then political pluralism would change into an organization that, under the pretext of political parties, would fall victim to internal and external submissions and serve as a tool to a group that survives through oppression of peoples. And this is where the Eritrean concept of Political Pluralism in Favorable Grounds and For a Good Cause takes its origins from.
It’s natural for economic, social, political and cultural gatherings, all driven by common interest, to exist within societies. The establishment of a participatory political system that reflects all those interests is therefore of vital importance. A political system that aims to create chaos and unrest, divide societies, incite conflicts between clans and tribes, can hardly be said to have political pluralism. Political pluralism should have as its aim the establishment of a system that serves the people and that is run by political forces that see their interests from different perspectives.
Perpetrators, who seek to sell to Eritreans their immature doctrines in the name of political pluralism, don’t need to be reminded that the Eritrean people will never succumb to their destructive intentions. The people and government of Eritrea have their own political culture that puts the interests of the people and the nation first.
Assertions that “there should be political pluralism” or “the opposition should be able to participate” are nothing but insignificant tales. First of all there are no opposition groups in Eritrea. Our biggest opponent is the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who has been creating problems and still trying to enflame conflicts. We are only a small nation striving to attain food security. Ever patriotic, the Eritrean people is a people who has been relentlessly working hard to rebuild its war-ravaged nation and improve its livelihood, while at the same time trying to establish powerful institutions that embolden the strong sense of unity and harmony it cultivated during the long years of its liberation struggle. Its task of utmost priority has been improving its livelihood, ensuring basic social services, and laying the necessary infrastructure for economic development.
The primary vision of the Eritrean people takes foundation in six important principles: national unity (harmony), political democracy, economic and social development, social justice, cultural renaissance, and regional and international cooperation.
“Advancing development and equal opportunities to all sides and engaging the people in one and just setting, and thereby ensuring political stability, national unity (harmony), economic and democratic development, social justice and cultural progress… make up our firm objective, and one we paid precious lives for…” President Isaias Afwerki was once quoted as saying. This is because the corner stone for Eritrea’s national development strategy was founded on this vision.
The quarters who are disapproving the vision that Eritrea has endorsed on its own free will, and who are uttering their pretentious concerns for pluralism and elections … why do not they talk about their ally countries that have monarchial systems and hold no elections? Why do we not hear them ask about one Arab state that has four degrees of citizenship? And by which standards are they seen accusing China, which has no Christian, Muslim or Hebrew religions, of violating religious freedom? The answer is clear and simple.
These questions or accusations usually forwarded by journalists actually emanate from the intelligence agencies of these quarters. The journalists may not be hired or directly paid by the intelligence agencies, but they are intentionally or unintentionally fed with false information and made to ask the wrong questions based on the wrong information, eventually disseminating the wrong information. How can a mass medium that never talks about the thousands of prisoners in Guantanamo be labeled as credible mass medium? By which standard?
Coming back to the Eritrean context, we as people have our own history and experience. The people and government of Eritrea have no intentions to leave their country vulnerable in the name of political pluralism. We had to go through a distinct political process to guarantee our sovereignty, and that political process is continuing trying to attain a political system that fosters the interests of the majority of our citizens. We have our own principles and we will not consent, for the sake of political pluralism that one side will be at the lowest level while the other looks down from above. What we call political pluralism is a system that has no segregation in the social structure, one that ensures the political participation of all segments of the society and respects the equality of women.
The technique of dividing societies that we are witnessing in several African countries is not a demonstration of political pluralism but rather a political problem obstructing the process of political pluralism. One doesn’t need an inquisitive mind to see the destructive outcome of dividing countries in North, South, East or West or in terms of clans and ethnicities. This segregation policy is what brought the current ethnic discrimination practices in Ethiopia, making the country a setting for disaster. Those who accept segregation as a blessing are always the weak and the ones who suffer from inferiority complex. And there is no way of running things more dangerous than this. The peoples in our region should be able to overcome these temptations.
Dividing the people with different names was tried upon us (Eritreans) way back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, but we overcame it during our liberation struggle. Believing that “divided by clans and religious affiliations we could never attain freedom and drive away our enemies,” we looked beyond inferiority and became united as people. We established a political system that united the society despite its social and cultural differences, and proved that diversity was always a blessing and never a curse. We went as far as beyond our geographical borders and sought friendship and bilateral relations with our neighbors. Consequently, we have been able to build a unity and harmony that takes the society to an advanced social, economic and cultural level, thereby creating a conducive atmosphere for the citizens’ all rounded participation.
What we mean when we say citizens’ participation is the direct participation, and not political parties based on ethnic or religious affiliations. We have numerous examples of the destructive outcomes of similar practices. When the US administration welcomed Mobutu Seseseko because he had allowed the formation of 34 parties, he became corrupted at the expense of his own people and accumulated billions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts. But in the end, he was seen off by only 17 people as he met his creator.
The Stanford University had once quoted Hosni Mubarak as saying “Without democracy and political pluralism the world is insignificant for me” and told us to impart such rare wisdom on everybody we came across so that the whole world knows.
There were over 80 parties in Somalia during the 1960s. But what was the aim behind that? Nobody knows the answer. If such kind clan-based divisions are encouraged, there can be no stability. If there is anyone who aspires for a democracy that is based on divisions, then that person must be someone who wishes for civil wars and disruption of the economic progress.
As Eritreans we have overcome segregation politics. And if minor problems exist, they are externally sponsored. There have been attempts and provocations to create rifts between Christians and Muslims, Copts and Catholics, Protestants and Catholics, as well as within the Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim faiths. But all these were plotted from outside. And if anyone were to try and be part of this external gambit, infringing the trust of Eritrean martyrs, should be vehemently admonished. The Eritrean people has been living in harmony for centuries; has overcome different divisive politics during its struggle; and is therefore confident that any attempts to disrupt its unity will fail without a trace.
We have managed to go beyond the natural differences within a society and build a social harmony and a strong national unity, and we are exerting relentless efforts to build institutions that ensure the continuity of that momentum. The political process that aims for stability and social justice is progressing well and in the way we want it. We are not willing to be engaged in pretentious political pluralism and election stunts, just to please those loudmouths. We have instead resorted to drafting policies that can ensure the flourishing of a heightened nationalist mental psyche and high-level popular participation, and we are ward for their implementation. And this process will, in no way, be disrupted by hostilities and external interferences. The history of the Eritrean people is a force that has its foundations in the concord of all religions and ethnic groups as well as the culture of living together in harmony. A force of unity built upon the trust of martyrs!!