Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
The following documents are historical in nature. They relate to the struggle for independence, better governance and rule of law in Eritrea. These documents are a must to read by anyone who desires to understand Eritreans struggle for freedom, democracy and good governance. And it could help us as a guide to have a proper knowledge on the socio-political conditions of past, present and future Eritrea. It will assist us in our aspiration to build a better and prosperous country which will accommodate the basic freedom of its citizens.
And this blog from time to time will add more crucial historical documents whenever it has an opportunity to access such materials. As the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan once said, "Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family."
Report of the Detailed Findings of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea -2015
The Commission of Inquiry undertook its investigation in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 26/24.
Although the Commission was unable to visit Eritrea, it obtained first-hand testimony by conducting 550 confidential interviews with witnesses residing in third countries. It also received 160 written submissions.
On the basis of this body of evidence, the Commission found that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Eritrea under the authority of the Government. Some of these violations may constitute crimes against humanity.
In the present report, the Commission shows how the initial promises of democracy and rule of law, incarnated in the never-implemented Constitution of 1997, were progressively suppressed and then extinguished by the Government. It details how the Government has created and sustained repressive systems to control, silence and isolate individuals in the country, depriving them of their fundamental freedoms. Information collected on people’s activities, their supposed intentions and even conjectured thoughts are used to rule through fear in a country where individuals are routinely arbitrarily arrested and detained, tortured, disappeared or extrajudicially executed. The Commission also describes how, on the pretext of defending the integrity of the State and ensuring its self-sufficiency, Eritreans are subject to systems of national service and forced labour that effectively abuse, exploit and enslave them for indefinite periods of time.
Eritrean Catholic Bishop's Pastoral letter - 2014
Where Is Your Brother?
1. To our "...true child(ren) in the faith ..." and to all men and women of good will, "...Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord" (1 Tm. 1:2). In this Easter season when we celebrate Christ's victory over sin and death, it is our sincere wish that you re-clothe yourselves in the wisdom and understanding that He has poured out upon us so abundantly (cf. Ep. 5:8-9).
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, our faith is not merely "...the guarantee of the blessings we hope for, or the proof of the existence of realities that are unseen ..." but through it "...we know that the ages were created by a word from God ..." (Heb. 11:1-3) and in its light we understand the true meaning of the events unfolding in this world. Encouraged by this faith, we now address this present Pastoral letter to you.
2. In these times in which so many men and women, duped by a mistaken understanding of progress, distance themselves even more from the faith, "We always thank God for you all, mentioning you in our prayers continually. We remember before our God and Father how active is the faith, how unsparing is the love, how persevering is the hope which you have from our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Th. 1:3).The Year of Faith that has just ended has helped us "...to illumine our human experience from within, accompanying the men and women of our time on their journey. It clearly showed how faith enriches life in all its dimensions" (Lumen Fidei, 6).
We have had the grace to begin this Year of Faith with great enthusiasm, to live it while reflecting on our own spiritual journey, praying to God and praising the name of the Lord, and undertaking acts of penance. As part of all this we have had the gift of the new Eparchy of Segheneiti, a reward for the great faith of our fathers. For all of these things we raise a joyful hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord.
3. The Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, in his Motu Proprio Porta Fidei, offers inspired suggestions to the whole church and to us Pastors of souls, with particular reference to the times in which we live, " ...The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance. It often happens that Christians are more concerned for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment, continuing to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied. Whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, because of a profound crisis of faith that has affected many people" (Porta Fidei, 2).
4. It was precisely as an invitation to remain steadfast in the faith during these times of grave crisis that Benedict XVI announced the Year of faith. As the Apostle Paul exhorted his disciple Timothy to " ...concentrate on faith ..." (2 Tm. 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was young (cf. 2 Tm. 3:15), so we too, the Pastors of the Church of God in Eritrea, feel the duty to be vigilant so that "...no-one should become lazy in the faith" (PF, 15).
Dear brothers and sisters, in assuring you that we have prayed for you "...that your faith may not fail ..." (Lk. 22:32), we also feel keenly the exhortation that Jesus addressed to Peter that he should confirm the brothers in their faith. For his part, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium reminds us that God's question "Where is your brother?" (Gn. 4:9) is asked of each of us (EG, 211). And so it is that we write you this Pastoral Letter with the intention of sharing the burden of the problems and sufferings of our brothers, to experience "...the great joy of believing" (LF, 5) and to "... renew our wonder at the vast horizons which faith opens up, so as then to profess that faith in its unity and integrity, faithful to the memory of the Lord and sustained by his presence and by the working of the Holy Spirit" (ibid).
THE CLOSING OF THE YEAR OF FAITH
5. The initiatives of the Year of Faith sought to stimulate within us a desire to undertake a renewed journey in our life of faith. In this context, the closing of this Year was not so much its point of arrival but rather its point of departure for a horizon of life and faith towards which we journey fore-armed with the fruits that have enriched us over the past jubilee year.
We must rediscover what kind of joy and how much of it infuses our faith, what and how many are the differences between those who believe and those who don't, which privileges and divine preferences make up the gift of faith, what and how much joy might be missing that would indicate a lack or the loss of faith. Without this gift we lose our sense of direction and travel between the events of this life as in an endless ocean, with no key to understanding our beginnings or end. Everything is reduced to the limits of each individual circumstance. For the person of faith, however, God is the first and last point of reference for creation and for the world, fruit of his fatherly tenderness and providence that calls us to be co-responsible for the fulfillment of the realities created.
6. Without faith, pain and injustice have neither meaning nor release. With faith, God proposes himself to us as the One "...who will wipe away every tear" (Rv. 21:4) from the faces of those who suffer or are persecuted and He gives us the certainty that "...all humanity will see the salvation of God" (Lk. 3:6). Without faith, even the best of experiences in human existence - life, love, harmony, mercy, reciprocal help, goodness - are incapable of overcoming the limits of human mortality. With faith these experiences become the start of eternity. With faith, God in his goodness and providence is at the centre of the origin and fulfillment of every positive human experience and value; everything that we do has in Christ who "...leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection ..." (Heb. 12:2). Without faith, death is the end of everything and the final breakdown of every relationship. With faith, death marks the passing from this earthly sojourn to the beginning of fullness in God and to the restoration of union with those who have gone before us in the journey of life.
7. Without faith, the world is only a simple product of chance, our lives a mere straw in a bale of negative forces, and our destiny a condemnation to nothingness. With faith in God, we discover our roots in his creative goodness, we rediscover the reasons for a brotherhood that ties us to each other and we focus our attention on our final berthing in Him; life, however much loaded with problems and suffering becomes anchored in the guarantee that God represents for us. Everything that "...is not sweetened by Christ remains sour and bitter" (St. Bernard). Faith in the One who is "...the Way, the Truth and the Life ..." (Jn. 14:6) illumines and directs our existence. Without it we lose ourselves in the shadows, "...If you will not take your stand on me you will not stand firm" (Is. 7:9).
8. The affirmation that our faith "...is the victory that has overcome the world ..." (1 Jn. 5:4) does not imply hate or contempt for the world but an invitation to defeat pride, malice, hate and sin, and to overcome the limits of earthly realities through a deep communion with the Lord leading us to the fullness of life and joy. It is in faith that humanity's similarity to God emerges. It is in faith that we rediscover ourselves to be children of the same Father and thus brothers and sisters to each other, ready to help each other. In fact God, who "...created human beings to be immortal, he made them as an image of his own nature ..." (Ws. 2:23) never ceases to ask of us, "Where is your brother?".
"Man is constantly worked upon by God''s spirit, and hence can never be altogether indifferent to the problems of religion. The experience of past ages proves this, as do numerous indications in our own times. For man will always yearn to know, at least in an obscure way, what is the meaning of his life, of his activity, of his death (Gaudium et Spes, 41). As our Holy Father, Francis, has reminded us "...that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known him, not the same thing to walk with him as to walk blindly ...We know well that with Jesus life becomes richer and that with him it is easier to find meaning in everything" (EG, 266).
9. The Church, whose mission it is to shine the light of the Gospel on earthly realities (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 5), teaches that "...the light of faith does not make us forget the sufferings of this world. ...Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light. In Christ, God himself wishes to share this path with us and to offer us his gaze so that we might see the light within it" (Lumen Fidei, 57). It is in this context that the Church invites us to accept the question of God, "Where is your brother?". As Pastors of this local church, we are prepared to push this issue not for reasons of status or self-interest but from a true and sincere desire to serve. In fact "...authentic faith - which is never comfortable or completely personal - always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it" (EG, 183).
10.Seeing in the light of faith means to accept "...the great gift brought by Jesus" (LF, 1). In fact, " ...in God's gift of faith, a supernatural infused virtue, we realize that a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope. Thus wonderfully interwoven, faith, hope and charity are the driving force of the Christian life as it advances towards full communion with God. But what is it like, this road which faith opens up before us? What is the origin of this powerful light which brightens the journey of a successful and fruitful life? (LF, 7).
11."Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what is sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? What, finally, is that ultimate inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence: whence do we come, and where are we going?" (Nostra Aetate, 1). "By contrast, when a divine instruction and the hope of life eternal are wanting, man''s dignity is most grievously lacerated, as current events often attest; riddles of life and death, of guilt and of grief go unsolved with the frequent result that men succumb to despair. Meanwhile every man remains to himself an unsolved puzzle, however obscurely he may perceive it" (GS,21).
OUR PRESENT SIUATION
12.As we now turn our attention to our distant and more recent past, we find various reasons why we should offer praise to God. From the environmental point of view our homeland does not have great natural resources compared to many other countries; however it has enjoyed a relatively peaceful existence sheltered as it were from serious natural disasters. Traditionally our people are God-fearing, wishing to live in peace and harmony with others, far from inter-tribal or inter-religious conflicts. This people appreciate cultural diversity not as an excuse for division but rather as an opportunity for reciprocal enrichment. It looks to its future with balance and wisdom. In a word it is a people in love with and satisfied by peace. All this can only be explained by a history, culture and view of life deeply rooted in its age-old Christian faith. The question, "Where is your brother?", which today weighs on all our consciences, falls on ground that has always cultivated the values of solidarity and sharing among individuals, families and groups in all moments of life both happy and sad. We must pray unceasingly that these great values survive and continue to grow: "Lord, increase our faith". Indeed, as we shall indicate below, today there are new winds blowing - new currents of ideas, habits and practices that now threaten these same values.
While we acknowledge that a number of initiatives furthering the reconstruction of the country have been completed, at the same time, in as much as it is only natural to want more, we cannot put aside the issue of how much still remains to be done. There are wounds to be tended and healed. The positives must not blind us to the negatives that weigh upon the lives of our people and these embrace a wide range of dimensions and sectors: the personal and psychological dimensions as well as the social and public ones, everyday (material) life and likewise moral and spiritual standards. Pope Francis reminds us that "...It is up to the Christian communities to analyse with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country" (EG, 184).
The tragedies at Sea
13."A voice is heard in Ramah lamenting and weeping bitterly; it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more" (Mt. 2:17). During the months of September and October of last year, precisely at the time when at home nature reawakens and we gather the fruits of the earth, at the beginning of our traditional calendar year, our country and people were struck by a tragedy that shook even the outside world: the drowning of hundreds of our young countrymen in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. This was the climax of an odyssey that has been going on for years over mountains, rivers, deserts and seas at the mercy of criminal human traffickers. We cried so much at home and in public "...The roads to Zion are in mourning; no one comes to her festivals now. Her gateways are all deserted; her priests groan; her young girls are grief-stricken; she suffers bitterly" (Lm. 1:4). The words of the prophet break through the tears of Rachel as evoked in the Gospel of Matthew. Both passages refer to the events of 587 B.C. when the Babylonian invaders pushed Israel out of Jerusalem, gathered them on the plain of Ramah (today called Ramallah) and burned the city. After this the people of Israel were taken as hostages to Babylon. Rachel, who represents the people and the mothers of Israel. Cries for her children "who are no more". In remembering this great sorrow of Israel, the prophet does not block a horizon of hope and return for the people.
14.The Evangelist Matthew, in recalling the tomb of Rachel at Bethlehem, connects it to the slaughter of the Innocents as decreed by Herod. Rachel is inconsolable because her children "are no more". But this is a cry that rises to the ears of God who is the only one able to offer her consolation and to heal the wounds of her soul - not only with words but also with hope and with the resurrection of the dead. In this way the cry "they are no more" is transformed and transfigured by the certainty that the fault has been redeemed by the resurrection of Jesus.
That tragedies such as those that have so sadly marked the history of our own land in these last decades should come to pass at the borders of a developed continent is truly, and as the Holy Father often repeats, unacceptable and incompatible with the standards of civilization and progress reached today.
With Rachel, mother of us all, and with all mothers, we raise our cries and our prayers to God. While we implore God's mercy that our young people who have died may find in Him that peace and serenity that they sought for in vain on this earth, to their parents, families and relatives we extend our most sincere sympathies assuring them of our active support and compassion in their mourning.
Mass flight from the Country
15. Now however we must listen attentively to the voice of the Lord who is making us uncomfortable and asking us "Where is your brother? Where is your nephew, your niece? How are they living?" And in turn we ask ourselves: who is addressing the very sad state of affairs? Responsibility for it is to be placed at a variety of doors on a variety of levels. The roots of it, in fact, are complex and run deep and should be seen within a larger and more detailed picture: "Where, in such situations does our country as a whole stand?" This is a question that we cannot dodge by saying: Am I perhaps the one responsible for my brother?
We must acknowledge frankly that the attraction of a better standard of living abroad has ended up creating unrealistic hopes and unrealizable illusions that in their turn induce our youth and their parents to an indiscriminate use of options as for example unplanned, ill prepared and even false marriages. There are also those who allow themselves to be seduced by the hope of a permanently subsidised life abroad and refusing to look for any kind of alternative at home.
These cases aside, the tragedy of the fundamental choices in question and the root of the problem is undeniable. And these pose very grave questions: how much longer can this chaotic human exodus go on? How come the tough conditions endured by those who flee across the desert and across the sea, the financial burden that it entails, the serious risks to life that are run do not convince the youth to forego such adventures, or better mis-adventures, of such magnitude? Given that so many of these stories end in tragedy, is there no other alternative solution?
We might realistically ask ourselves if this situation of "neither peace nor war", which we have lived for some time, has not brought us to the present position. So, what is missing? Is it political will or the lack of an actual possibility of bringing it to an end? If the international community has not yet played its part in this regard, and given that every individual is the first one responsible for the solution of his own problems, it is in the interests of the injured party to assume in primis the initiative for his own release. This does not take away from the fact that whoever holds a role of responsibility has the obligation to ask our youth - rather than condemn them to the exploiters and human traffickers - if it is it not better to identify ways and strategies for getting out of this absurd situation of "neither peace nor war"? In so far as such a desire is conspicuously lacking, so it is that thousands of young men and women, attracted by the prospect of even a minimum of freedom, dignity and quality of life risk themselves in a desperate race against torture and death.
16. It is in the nature of things that wild beasts struggle with man for life. Unfortunately, today we have arrived at a situation in which the axiom about man becoming a wolf to his fellow man (homo homini lupus) is becoming true: man, created in the image and likeness of God, has been transformed into merchandise for commerce, butchered and mutilated for his vital organs. This is all for discreditable profit. We are participating in unheard of events, a return to the law of the jungle. We ask ourselves: if the consciences of the authors of these crimes have lost all feeling, how is it possible that the rest of the world tolerates it? Can the governments of the states of the perpetrators and the victims of these crimes really say that they have exhausted all the means at their disposal to put things right? What can we say? The truth is that "...when the order of values is jumbled and bad is mixed with the good, individuals and groups pay heed solely to their own interests, and not to those of others. Thus it happens that the world ceases to be a place of true brotherhood. In our own day, the magnified power of humanity threatens to destroy the race itself" (GS, 37). For as long as things remain as they are, surely we cannot escape the judgment of God, but neither can we escape that of our own times or of history.
On the other hand, there is no lack of voices who are rightly calling for a precisely planned and coordinated response, a change of mentality, and tangible, effective and incisive interventions. It is necessary to focus on the question of targeted legislative and political strategies. To neglect this issue renders all of us gravely responsible in front of God, and in front of humanity, "...For at the judgment seat of Christ we are all to be seen for what we are, so that each of us may receive what he has deserved in the body, matched to whatever he has done, good or bad" (2 Co. 5:10).
The Quality of Life
17.We know well the wounds that afflict our people today, condemning some to death and others to survival in misery - poverty, endemic illnesses such as HIV-AIDS, exile and all that goes with it .....
In a spirit of brotherly sharing and solidarity we appeal to God for eternal repose in his Kingdom for the former and for the latter the power and consolation of God.
For many years now our land has been undergoing an on-going process of desertification. Timely initiatives are now needed to bring this process to a halt and to protect the integrity of creation. We must make our people aware of what is going on "...God wants us to be the stewards of creation and of our brothers and sisters" (Pope Francis). Only in this way will creation, in its turn, come back to being a steward to us.
It is not only our natural resources that are abandoning us but also our human wealth:
- Thousands of educated young people, or those with notable intellectual potential, are leaving us in what in effect we might term a "brain drain",
- Children re-join their parents abroad in journeys with one-way tickets
- Parents re-join their children abroad and, once they have acquired the relevant documents of residency, do not return home any more.
In a word, we find ourselves having to balance the books with a real and proper drain on our resources and human energies. What will become of a country whose most productive facets lack all appeal? It is people with all their potential who make a nation what it ought to be.
18.We are terrorized by the prospect of a drastic depopulation of the country. Certainly, the memory of and nostalgia for one's own country will continue to stay with the exiles abroad. But, in history, there are very few cases of the mass return of exiles to their country of origin. Among the generations that the country has lost, probably for ever, there are not only those of the youth and the middle-aged but also the babies born and brought up abroad. If we now do nothing to ensure that these generations do not lose contact with their roots, the country will have serious problems to face. This is the cry of alarm that is rising from the country and is addressed to all - to individuals and to families, to the elderly, to the political authorities and to the religious leadership. We need to run to the shelters with courage and creativity to stop those who have not yet left and to call back those who have already gone.
19.In our times there is a clear changing of place from that saying of our fathers, " ...one's own land is as insatiable as one's own eye" to that which has come to dominate today, "...your home land is where your well-being is foremost". If either claim is of undeniable value, then, the solution is yet another: to explore ways and means that allow the country to offer the citizen a true and effective possibility for self-fulfillment. We take the opportunity to repeat what we wrote in another Pastoral letter in 2001, "...There is no point in just asking the question, "Why are our youth choosing to go abroad?" - for no-one leaves a country of milk and honey to seek another country offering the same opportunities. If one''s homeland is a place of peace, jobs and freedom of expression there is no reason to leave it to suffer hardship, loneliness and exile in an effort to look for opportunity elsewhere" (God Loves This Country, 29).
Psychological and Moral Situations
20.For the above-mentioned reasons and for a thousand others equally incompatible with life and human dignity, there is a prevailing uncertainty over the future of people. There is a growing disdain for the value of human life, a tendency to look for solutions to one's own problems using means and methods that eschew morality. On the other hand, the delusion engendered as result of the non-achievement of the ends proposed, the uselessness of one's own aspirations, looking to distant lands as the only alternative for self-fulfillment., are bringing a growing number of people to frustration and desperation. They find themselves looking at a horizon that grows always darker and heavier.
Alongside this, the breakup of the family unit inside the country - through military service unlimited in terms of time and monetary reward and through the imprisonment of many young people in actual prison or in punishment camps - is exposing to misery not only elderly parents with no visible means of support, but also entire families and it is having serious consequences at the economic level as well as at the psychological and mental levels.. The rapid, almost endemic, distribution of illnesses such as diabetes, blood pressure problems, and cardiac conditions is among the more immediate signs of the above.
21.A general weakening of moral social values and thus the pillars of a life together is to be noted, a tendency towards incurable forms of social decadence (cf. Jr. 4:11-21).
a. The Family
For various reasons - among them once again national military service, the impact of communications technology and the mass media, and the conditions of life for the youth - the influence of the elders and of parents on their children and upon the youth in general is diminishing visibly. We wish to urge elders and parents not to abdicate their just responsibilities, even though many negative factors seem to challenge them, to continue to exercise their role of mediation and persuasion, not to let themselves be seduced by private concerns, to be outward looking; above all to save the family, because the continuance of the family is the salvation of the country. Since the family is the ground where brotherhood flowers and flourishes, the question "Where is your brother?" refers above all to the family circle. The family is the nucleus of the Church and the foundation of society. It is there that "... the various generations come together and help one another grow wiser and harmonize personal rights with the other requirements of social life" (GS, 52). Thus "...All those, therefore, who exercise influence over communities and social groups should work efficiently for the welfare of marriage and the family" (GS ibid).
b. Moral Re-building
22. A public power no longer at the service of the common good but an instrument for monopolising private or group interests, and the furthering of selfishness, favouritism, corruption ...displays signs of an incipient, or maybe advanced, moral emergency. Corruption is not limited to financial transactions but encompasses all those behaviours which have been uprooted from the common criteria of public and personal morality. The tendency of looking after one's own interests is spreading without evaluating much less denouncing the morality of the means used to gain it. Hiding the truth and encouraging deceit are basic elements of corruption. These are all symptoms of a moral ill-health which we must cure with a restoration of the principles of transparency and responsibility and, on a deeper level, with a leap of conscience and fear of the Lord. If nothing is done then anarchy, injustice, and violence will triumph undisputed. To the religious leaders of every denomination rests the duty of reawakening consciences, of encouraging the conversion of hearts and minds, and to the civil authorities rest the duty of initiating a political system that is clear, transparent and lawful.
23.A trait that is characteristic of the tradition of our people is the sense of what is lawful, respect for the institutionalized moral code. In our tradition there is more respect for the one who appeals to the norms of the law than to the one who threatens with the force of arms. Might it be that because this tradition is ever more surely disappearing that corruption now seems to pervade the fabric of our social life together? Since the principle of lawfulness cannot be set aside from any project for moral and social reconstruction, one can never finish insisting on its importance. In treating someone accused of an offence, justice cannot and must not be disassociated from humanity and compassion.
Every legal case must be lawfully based on this premise, reasoned according to the proper procedures and brought to its conclusion at the right time. More generally, the engaging of the principle of constitutionality, a demand acutely understood and pressingly invoked by whoever appreciates the value of justice and liberty, can no longer be disregarded.
Within this same issue there is also the question of the actual absence of an open discussion of the problems of the country, of mature and dispassionate dialogue, of access to objective and verifiable information. The gossip, the indirect whispering, the bad-mouthing, the deceit or, in the best of cases, the lack of interest in the common good ...are in large part the fruit of incorrect information, or worse still, of direct and systematic disinformation. The lack of dialogue, of reciprocal listening, of mutual impartiality is enlarging and deepening our differences and restricting the space available for a lasting solution to our problems.
24.In order that education might play its fundamental role of solid basis for cultural and social progress, for the integral growth of the youth and for the over-all development of the country, it must urgently make provision for the institutions to which it has been deputed should be enlarged, renewed and modernized. It must take up again, adapt, contextualize and inculturate the more advanced principles and methodologies that have accompanied the growth of more developed countries. The wise use of educational experiences from elsewhere could be a fount of great enrichment.
As in the past, so in the present, the Church is open to every possibility of offering its contribution in this field, promoting the values of truth, brotherhood, freedom, equality, democracy, justice, the rights and dignity of each person, and of lawfulness.
"...Hence, the social order and its development must invariably work to the benefit of the human person ...This social order requires constant improvement. It must be founded on truth, built on justice and animated by love; in freedom it should grow every day toward a more humane balance" (GS, 26).
e. Straightened Economic Circumstances
25.When we think that at this time our families live, or survive, only thanks to remittances coming from family members abroad - on the one hand as our fathers used to say "God permits problems, yes, but never without a way out" - we feel a sincere sense of gratitude, on the other hand we realise that this dependence on family members abroad cannot be a permanent solution. If we do not create opportunities fro work, if the youth are not allowed the possibility to make themselves self-sufficient, if we do not put an end to the stagnation of agriculture, commerce, and industry, we will never break out of this vicious circle of dependence and poverty. We do well to insist on the self-sufficiency of the nation but we should not forget that this is achieved through the self-sufficiency of individuals and families. Elegant and high-sounding slogans are not enough. We need opportunities for employment.
The exorbitant prices of consumer goods, the absolute insufficiency of salaries, the unstoppable climbing of rents, the prolonged block on building, the impossibility of dedicating oneself to work of one's choice ..... have brought us to a desperate economic emergency. How can we get out of this situation if there is no room for private initiative, enterprise or creativity? How can we speak about the independence and the dignity of a nation without presupposing the dignity and independence of the people? It is no longer a question of a standard of life more or less comfortable but of the problem of living or not living, of the lack of the most essential goods such as water, bread light .... We ask, in the name of everyone, for the attention of the public authorities and their duty to create an economic system worthy of the dignity of the human person.
f. Moral and Spiritual Life
26.We are very worried about the moral and spiritual wounds that afflict our society. At times we ask ourselves if there might not already be a process in action aimed at changing our identity, a progressive overturning of values and of the moral code, the insinuation of principles for the dismantling of the ethical conscience. The words of St. Paul come to mind, "...People will be self-centred and avaricious, boastful, arrogant and rude; disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, irreligious; heartless and intractable; they will be slanderers, profligates, savages and enemies to everything that is good; they will be treacherous and reckless and demented by pride ..." (2 Tm. 3:2-4). Devil worship that is often disguised as modernity, might also take shape in this way. Are the rumours that satanic cults are also active in our society totally groundless? We do not know but the fact that we are speaking about it at all must be worrying, "...Unlike former days, the denial of God or of religion, or the abandonment of them, are no longer unusual and individual occurrences. For today it is not rare for such things to be presented as requirements of scientific progress or of a certain new humanism" (GS, 7).
Also here nearer to home there are creeping tendencies seeking to push religion - as the inspiring principle of life and the measure of human morality - into a corner or to exploit it for merely monetary ends. There are pseudo-religious propagandists in whose preaching the redemptive value of suffering and of the cross is rendered completely meaningless or despised. We must instill at all times an understanding that religion is the value that most deeply forges the conscience of people and builds up true freedom and an authentic sense of life.
27.The serious consequences that follow from using religion as a tool for division and disunity, instead of a principle for cohesion and unity and a true sense of belonging to the national community, will have escaped no-one's notice. Without an authentic relationship with God and with the dictates of a good conscience and a true sense of religion, it becomes difficult to create balanced and harmonious social relationships. The success of dialogue, of the settlement of differences and collaboration for the common good, is based on the ability to listen, on reciprocal respect and on a feeling for justice that every true religious sense inspires.
28.Another aspect that, in our society, has come to impose itself with all its destructive burden is the degeneration of the relationship with money. When money becomes the criterion upon which all social relations are based, inevitably one falls into a practical form of machiavellianism for which the end justifies the means. And this is what we see happening in various sectors of public life: in commerce, in the offices, in marketing, in house rents; the search for money is the only thing that matters, beyond all morality and every respect for man, his dignity and his rights. What else but money can be behind the horrific trafficking of human beings, the buying and selling of vital organs, prostitution ....? Only a return to a proper sense of religion can free us from slavery and from the worship of money, the falsest god of them all. The apostle Paul warns us, "...We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it" (1 Tm. 6:7). And Jesus, "...No-one can be the slave of two masters .... You cannot be the slave of both God and money" (Mt. 6:24).
The Root of all Evil
29.Sin: this is the root of all evil, personal and social. Life centred exclusively on itself, profit, greed, corruption, irresponsibility, things that poison our social life together, are the venomous fruit of this "dark evil" in our lives. The taking root and propagation of similar deviations is the true and great threat to the unity, peace and the life itself of the nation. Even if, as has already been said, responsibility for the evils of the country show themselves at different levels and in different circumstances, no-one can hold himself innocent in this regard so that "...If we say, 'We have never sinned,' ......his word has no place in us" (1 Jn. 1:10).
The only way for an authentic growth for the people , the only principle upon which to found a society reconciled and worthy of the values inherent to human dignity, is the restoration of the absolute centrality and primacy of God and thus to man a return to reflecting God's image and likeness, "...If Yahweh does not build the house in vain do its builders toil" (Ps. 127:1)
When we speak of a "nation" we do not refer simply to a territory, we mean a people that share the same historical journey, the same cultural values, the same moral ideals, the ability to deal with moments of serenity and of difference in a spirit of unity and solidarity. Any journey towards true and authentic progress presupposes the care, promotion and development of this shared scheme of values.
30.We have spoken above of our people as a "people in love with ...peace" (No. 12) and this is a great blessing. Nevertheless "...Peace is not merely the absence of war; nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies; nor is it brought about by dictatorship. Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called an 'enterprise of justice' (Is. 32:7). Peace results from that order structured into human society by its divine Founder, and actualized by men as they thirst after ever greater justice" (GS, 78).
The true enemy of peace is injustice (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2317). Respect for persons, for their dignity and their rights is the corner-stone of peace. The absence of such respect destroys the foundations of peaceful human coexistence. For this reason we ask for the liberation of all those who have been arrested and those who have been waiting under arrest for longer or shorter periods of time. Justice should be administered to all those who have been detained illegally, those forgotten in prison ...These are times when the disturbing question "Where is your brother? .... Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground" (Gn. 4:9-10) resonates more strongly than ever.
In this Easter period, in which the nation, too, celebrates its twenty-third anniversary of independence, it is the duty of all of us to pray that the Lord may bless this country and make it a land of hope, peace and justice. It is equally important that all of us - people and the religious and state authorities - join forces to let this happen. We know well that the people are indefatigable in their prayers for peace. Based on the word of Jesus, "...Whatever you ask for in my name I will do" (Jn. 14:13) we are sure that our prayers will not be in vain. Thus we open hearts and minds to He who tells us "...Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (Jn. 14:27)
"You will be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8): Evangelization
31."...There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim" (LF, 4). To ensure that the flame of faith always remains alive and its light always bright means nothing less than putting into practice the words of Jesus, "...you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to earth's remotest end" (Ac. 1:8).
This demanding word from the Lord is addressed to us today. When, at the beginning, the community of the faithful was gathered by the Apostles it grew prodigiously and today the Church is growing still. We, too, are called to insert ourselves into this current of life and witness. Replying to the same call, the first proclaimers of the Gospel in our land, St. Frumentius and the nine Roman Saints and, in more recent times St Giustino de Jacobis and the missionaries of successive decades have revived and revitalised the ancient flame of faith. The blessing of gathering the mature fruits of their witness and preaching has fallen to us. In our country, the faithful of the Catholic Church who are organised into four Eparchies, are trying their best live their vocation reading the signs of the times and following the teachings of the universal Church.
32.We pay our filial respects to all the bishops, priests, religious both male and female, and faithful who have passed on to us the flame of the faith while, following in their footsteps, we undertake to keep it burning always more brightly. Historically the Catholic faith is expressed through its efforts to provide continuity to the evangelizing word and to the work of Jesus through a multiplicity of initiatives: education, care of the sick and of orphans, women's promotion within a complex programme for the integral promotion of the whole person. This is an activity that the Church continues to carry forward also today deepening and enlarging it the context of an attentive reading of the signs of the times. It is, in good measure, one kind of response the Lord's question, "Where is your brother?".
It is worrying to see the risks that the faith has to runs among our countrymen, particularly the youth, who, uprooted from their homes live dispersed in so many countries of the world. . In general everyone is required to acknowledge the need not take the duties of the faith for granted, not to become too materialistic, to keep our consciences healthy, that sin exists, that we must not ignore our limits, and to trust ourselves to the grace of God. The first step to take in this direction is penitence: to recognize our weaknesses, never tire of asking forgiveness for the wrong we have done, to forgive those who have done wrong to us, and not to repay one evil with another .....
33.Our journey of faith in general, and that of the Year of Faith in particular, require of us urgent renewal. This necessarily calls us to an examination of conscience on the quality of our relationship with God the Father, with our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the life-giving Holy Spirit. And then there is our relationship with other people: what is the spiritual situation of our Christian faithful? What is the moral and human situation of our society in general? How is my brother and my sister whom I look on with the eyes of faith faring? "...The Second Vatican Council presented ecclesial conversion as openness to a constant self-renewal born of fidelity to Jesus Christ .... There are ecclesial structures which can hamper efforts at evangelization, yet even good structures are only helpful when there is a life constantly driving, sustaining and assessing them. Without new life and an authentic evangelical spirit, without the Church's "fidelity to her own calling", any new structure will soon prove ineffective" (EG, 26).
34.The teaching and life of Jesus, as with those of his disciples, aligns itself with the little seed that, in order to grow and bear fruit, must first fall to the earth and die. This is the plan of life for every Christian within the Church. Therefore we must not let ourselves feel discouraged by the tests and sufferings that we must face for the sake of the faith, aware that "...when I am weak then I am strong" (2 Co. 12:10). Jesus' words should be of comfort "...There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom" (Lk. 12:32).
Regarding our journey in the future we can treasure the words that the recently canonised Pope John XXIII spoke in has address at the opening of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council "...our duty is not just to guard this treasure ...but earnestly and fearlessly to dedicate ourselves to the work that needs to be done in this modern age of ours, pursuing the path which the Church has followed for almost twenty centuries (Pope John XXIII, opening address - article 6.3). Our mission as Church today is that of dedicating ourselves witnessing and evangelization with immutable faith and untiring dedication, in the certainty that the Holy Spirit, who acted through the Apostles, will not hesitate to give us the strength, desire and will to bring to fulfillment the work we have started (cf. Ac. 2:2-9; 4:13.29.31; 9:27-28).
35.In what tangible ways can we reinvigorate our witness? We must be merciful and reconciliatory and live conforming not to the norms of this world (Rm. 12:2) but to Christ, taking upon ourselves the problems and sufferings of our neighbour, "...In loyalty to their country and in faithful fulfillment of their civic obligations, Catholics should feel themselves obliged to promote the true common good. Thus they should make the weight of their opinion felt in order that the civil authority may act with justice and that legislation may conform to moral precepts and the common good" (AA, 14). The Church herself, in her leaders and her members, must pursue her prophetic mission through a journey of penitence and conversion, "...If you repent, I shall restore you to plead before me .... You shall be as my own mouth. They will come back to you ..." (Jr. 15:19).
It is not difficult to identify the priorities which must guide the action of the Church in the present and in the future. Over centuries our experience has passed on the centrality of the liturgy and of catechesis hand in hand with everyday life. The following documents of the universal Church indicate in a particularly way the basis for prioritising our choices: 1. Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium); 2. Pope Paul V's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi; 3. Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Redemptoris Missio; 4. The 2012 General Synod of Bishops papers dealing with New Evangelization; 5. Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.
In a word evangelization consists in the announcing of Christ, Redeemer of the world. This is the joyful message that the Church transmits to men in every moment "...welcome or unwelcome" (2 Tm. 4:2). And this is the most precious gift that we offer to the country so that it might live by listening to the word of God, participating in the sacraments and the divine liturgy and giving witness to it with our lives.
Weaknesses in our Life of Faith
a. b >Nominal Christians
36.One of the problems that Vatican II has tackled with lively concern is that which it defines as "nominal Christianity". For example Gaudium et Spes refers to it, "...This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age" (GS, 43).
The nominal Christian lives and works by leaving to one side the presuppositions of faith, not making them guiding principles of existence but adopting a more selectively opportunistic approach to evangelical principals and living outside the liturgical life of the community of believers; in short although baptised he/she does not live the duties that derive from their baptism (cf. EG, 15). St. John gives us proper advice, "...Children, our love must be not just words or mere talk, but something active and genuine" (1 Jn. 3:18).
37.This is one sector of society that awaits new evangelization. This means, as Pope Paul VI said during his visit to Latin America (Haiti), a proclamation carried out with new impetus, a new spirit, and renewed creativity and credibility. All the above presupposes an attentive reading of the changes taking place within our society so that we might respond with a proclamation that knows how best to adopt the language, pedagogical criteria, methods and new means that are available. In the same context of evangelical duty we now add the pastoral care of those who are far from the Church, those who hunger and thirst for God but have found no way of satisfying that yearning. In fact in every human being there is an innate need for God, and only by meeting the Lord can man find true peace and tranquillity (St. Augustine).
38. All the members of the Church are called to involve themselves in this new evangelization. The conscientization of the lay faithful in this regard is a task that can be neither delayed nor postponed. Since evangelization expresses itself above all through a life of witness, a coherent synthesis between the Gospel and daily life must be established, "...the laity should vivify their life with charity and express it as best they can in their works. They should all remember that they can reach all men and contribute to the salvation of the whole world by public worship and prayer as well as by penance and voluntary acceptance of the labours and hardships of life whereby they become like the suffering Christ (cf. 2 Co. 4:10; Col. 1:24)" (AA, 16).
39."I am astonished that you are so promptly turning away from the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are going over to a different gospel" (Ga. 1:6). This is how St. Paul reprimands those who have lost their fervour for the faith and become apathetic. Seeing how quickly certain deplorable forms of behaviour, such as the use of magic, adultery, deceit, robbery, corruption, extra-martial betrayals, are spreading even in our society, we cannot but feel that the reprimand of Paul is addressed also to our society.
"...Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call" (CCC, 29). These are all manifestations of that complex and detailed phenomenon called secularism or spiritual worldliness. "...Do you not realise that people who do evil will never inherit the kingdom of God? Make no mistake - the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, the self-indulgent, sodomites, thieves, misers, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers, none of these will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Co. 6:9).
c. Inadequate Christian Formation
40. "...Always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you have" (1 P. 3:15). This is a duty that presupposes deep knowledge, the assimilation of the message of the faith, doctrinal study, preparation for sacramental life and the growth of a sense of Church. At a time when it is totally inappropriate to try to live the elementary notions of the faith as learned in infancy, there exists a kind of religious illiteracy that must be overcome. "...In the historical conditions in which he finds himself, however, man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God by the light of reason alone .... This is why man stands in need of being enlightened by God''s revelation" (CCC, 37-38).
Strengths in our Life of Faith
a. Faith in the Providence of God
41."...Continue to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 P. 3:18). It is in the total trusting of ourselves to God's grace and to his help the we must seek the solution to our problems, not through recourse to magicians or diviners, "...All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead, or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honour, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone" (CCC, 2116).
b. Fidelity to the Church
42.Following the 'whole Christ' is the characteristic of the true believer. The body is not separate from the head of Christ and so it is absurd to affirm, "Christ yes, the Church no" and thus to deny the Church and her teachings the same faith and love as that reserved for Christ. Both are needed if we are to guarantee our completeness and maturity in the faith.
c. Following the Cross of Christ
43. "...As the Church has always held and holds now, Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation. It is, therefore, the burden of the Church''s preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God''s all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows" (NA, 4). To follow Christ means to accept to carry his cross, "...If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt. 16:24). Our faithfulness and dedication to the Church grows in the measure to which our faithfulness to the cross of Christ increases. Acceptance of the will of God in every moment of life and patience and perseverance when things are difficult is the fruit of our being rooted in the mystery of the cross. In that moment when suffering and difficulties mark our life and we ask, "Why? Why me?", the only answer we can find is in the cross of Christ. This answer is equally valid for the difficulties faced in the priestly life, religious life, married life and family life. Christianity was born and has flowered in the cross, and the Christian, returning to the foot of the cross finds there the reason to persevere when times get tough.
d. Listening to the Word of God
44."...Human beings live not on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Mt. 4:4). "...The days are coming - declares the Lord Yahweh - when I shall send a famine on the country, not hunger for food, nor thirst for water, but famine for hearing Yahweh's word" (Am. 8:11). One of the greatest aims of the Year of Faith was to give new life to this hunger and thirst in the people of God and to make of the Word of God the source of their renewal.
In line with Vatican II, we trust that "...through the reading and study of the sacred books "the word of God may spread rapidly and be glorified" (2 Th. 3:1) and the treasure of revelation, entrusted to the Church, may more and more fill the hearts of men. Just as the life of the Church is strengthened through more frequent celebration of the Eucharistic mystery, similar we may hope for a new stimulus for the life of the Spirit from a growing reverence for the word of God, which "lasts forever" (Is. 40:8; see 1 P. 1:23-25)" (Dei Verbum, 26). Given that "not to know the Scriptures is not to know Christ" (St. Jerome), we urge parish priests and the pastors of the people of God to zealously promote the reading and knowledge of Sacred Scripture.
It is encouraging to note signs of a reawakening of interest in the reading of the Bible. At the same time we remind the faithful that it is of the greatest importance that such reading be constantly linked to a healthy interpretation and faithful to the teaching of the Church. The translation of the Bible into our local languages is a blessing. We must continue in these efforts with the proper preparation and competence.
e. Sacramental Life
45. Recalling the promise of Christ, "...Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28), "...The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God''s word and of Christ''s body" (DV, 21). Since the Eucharist is "...the fount and apex of the whole Christian life" (Lumen Gentium, 11) it is not possible to build the church without it. In our country there exist age-old traditions of popular piety. It is necessary that these, if they are to preserve and develop their essential characters, be constantly fed by an intense sacramental life. The Year of Faith just ended is a particular instance of this.
With joy we note in our people the desire and will to participate in the holy Eucharist. At the same time, we would like to recommend that such participation be attentive and spiritually demanding. This must be evidenced in the fruits that just such participation produces in daily life, which in turn must be reinvigorated through access to the Sacrament of Penance, the reception of Holy Communion, by the unity of family life based on holy matrimony, until leaving this world with the sacrament of the Sick.
With Mary "Star of the Sea"
46.Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our sincere wish for you is that, following in the footsteps of Mary "Star of the Sea" you may live and grow safe in faith, hope and charity. Only if you live the present time strong in this faith and in this hope (cf. Ep. 5:16; Col. 4:5) and you await the future anchored in patience (cf. Rm. 8:5), will you give true and effective witness to the Gospel of Christ the Lord. In this regard, the exhortation of the Vatican Council remains true "...Let them not, then, hide this hope in the depths of their hearts, but even in the program of their secular life let them express it by a continual conversion and by wrestling "against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness (Ep. 6:12)" (LG, 35).
May Mary most holy - to whom Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, turned with these words, "...When you hastened with holy joy across the mountains of Judea to see your cousin Elizabeth, you became the image of the Church to come, which carries the hope of the world in her womb across the mountains of history. But alongside the joy which, with your Magnificat, you proclaimed in word and song for all the centuries to hear, you also knew the dark sayings of the prophets about the suffering of the servant of God in this world. Shining over his birth in the stable at Bethlehem, there were angels in splendour who brought the good news to the shepherds, but at the same time the lowliness of God in this world was all too palpable" (Spe Salvi, 50) - be of comfort, incentive and inspiration.
To rise with Christ means to pass from darkness into the light. If we are not children of the light, we will not see the truth. And without the truth there is no freedom (cf. Jn. 8:32). "...Every time I pray for you all, I always pray with joy for your partnership in the Gospel (Ph. 1:4); on all of you we invoke the freedom, peace and joy that the Father has given to us through the resurrection of his Son, and to which has called us to be strong and credible witnesses.
O Maria "...you were in the midst of the community of believers, who in the days following the Ascension prayed with one voice for the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14) and then received that gift on the day of Pentecost. The "Kingdom" of Jesus was not as might have been imagined. It began in that hour, and of this "Kingdom" there will be no end. Thus you remain in the midst of the disciples as their Mother, as the Mother of hope. Holy Mary, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you. Show us the way to his Kingdom! Star of the Sea, shine upon us and guide us on our way! (SS, 50)
Star of the new evangelization, help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world. (EG, 288)
The Catholic Bishops of Eritrea - 2014
Eritrea - Ethiopia Boundary Commission Decision - 2002
CHAPTER VIII – DISPOSITIF
8.1 For the reasons set out above, the Commission unanimously decides that the line of the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia is as follows:
A. In the Western Sector
(i) The boundary begins at the tripoint between Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Sudan and then runs into the centre of the Setit opposite that point (Point 1).
(ii) The boundary then follows the Setit eastwards to its confluence with the Tomsa (Point 6).
(iii) At that point, the boundary turns to the northeast and runs in a straight line to the confluence of the Mareb and the Mai Ambessa (Point 9).
B. In the Central Sector
(i) The boundary begins at the confluence of the Mareb and the Mai Ambessa (Point 9).
(ii) It follows the Mareb eastwards to its confluence with the Belesa (Point 11).
(iii) Thence it runs upstream the Belesa to the point where the Belesa is joined by the Belesa A and the Belesa B (Point 12).
(iv) To the east and southeast of Point 12, the boundary ascends the Belesa B, diverging from that river so as to leave Tserona and its environs to Eritrea. The boundary runs round Tserona at a distance of approximately one kilometre from its current outer edge, in a manner to be determined more precisely during the demarcation.
(v) Thereafter, upon rejoining the Belesa B, the boundary continues southwards up that river to Point 14, where it turns to the southwest to pass up the unnamed tributary flowing from that direction, to the source of that tributary at Point 15. From that point it crosses the watershed by a straight line to the source of a tributary of the Belesa A at Point 16 and passes down that tributary to its confluence with the Belesa A at Point 17. It then continues up the Belesa A to follow the Eritrean claim line to Point 18 so as to leave Fort Cadorna and its environs within Eritrea. The Eritrean claim line is more precisely depicted on the 1:100,000 Soviet map referred to by Eritrea in its final submission on 20 December 2001. Point 18 lies 100 metres west of the centre of the road running from Adigrat to Zalambessa.
(vi) From Point 18, the boundary runs parallel to the road at a distance of 100 metres from its centre along its western side and in the direction of Zalambessa until about one kilometre south of the current outer edge of the town. In order to leave that town and its environs to Ethiopia, the boundary turns to the northwest to pass round Zalambessa at a distance of approximately one kilometre from its current outer edge until the boundary rejoins the Treaty line at approximately Point 20, but leaving the location of the former Eritrean customs post within Eritrea. The current outer edge of Zalambessa will be determined more precisely during the demarcation.
(vii) From Point 20 the boundary passes down the Muna until it meets the Enda Dashim at Point 21.
(viii) At Point 21 the boundary turns to the northwest to follow the Enda Dashim upstream to Point 22. There the boundary leaves that river to pass northwards along one of its tributaries to Point 23. There the boundary turns northeastwards to follow a higher tributary to its source at Point 24.
(ix) At Point 24 the boundary passes in a straight line overland to Point 25, the source of one of the headwaters of a tributary of the Endeli, whence it continues along that tributary to Point 26, where it joins the Endeli.
(x) From Point 26, the boundary descends the Endeli to its confluence with the Muna at Point 27.
(xi) From Point 27, the boundary follows the Muna/Endeli downstream. Near Rendacoma, at approximately Point 28, the river begins also to be called the Ragali.
(xii) From Point 28, the line continues down the Muna/Endeli/Ragali to Point 29, northwest of the Salt Lake, and thence by straight lines to Points 30 and 31, at which last point this sector of the boundary terminates.
C. In the Eastern Sector
The boundary begins at Point 31 and then continues by a series of straight lines connecting ten points, Points 32 to 41. Point 41 will be at the boundary with Djibouti. Point 40, lies equidistantly between the two checkpoints at Bure.
An Open Letter From G-15 To All Members of The PFDJ - 2001
This letter is a call for correction, a call for peaceful and democratic dialogue, a call for strengthening and consolidation, a call for unity, a call for the rule of law and for justice, through peaceful and legal ways and means.
For some time now, regular meetings [of the Central Council and the National Council] have not been held. Believing that the best way to resolve problems is through meetings and democratic dialogue, we requested twice through signed letters that President Isaias Afewerki, as chairman of the Central Council [of PFDJ] and the National Council [of the state], convene meetings of both bodies, but he twice failed to respond positively to our requests. Those of us who made these requests have, as responsible members of both bodies, now chosen to write this open letter to all members of the PFDJ.
Most of us have spent more than a quarter century in the struggle for independence, and many of us have at different times served our country at high levels of responsibility. We have witnessed and taken part in the bitter struggle of our people for liberation, and are now serving the Front, the State and the people as members of the Central Council (the legislative body of PFDJ) and the National Council (the legislative body of the State).
It is obvious that our country is in a crisis. This crisis is the result of the weaknesses of the PFDJ and the Government, and the invasion of our country by the enemy.
Our aim is to find remedies for the weaknesses of the PFDJ and the government so that people participate in discussions and decisions of important national issues to enable Eritrea to come out of this crisis, to pave the road for peaceful, legal and democratic transition to a truly constitutional government, and to establish guarantees for Eritrea to become a peaceful and stable nation where democracy, justice and prosperity shall prevail.
In the Eritrean reality, guaranteeing and consolidating internal democracy within the PFDJ is essential to ensure a democratic process of transition and the establishment of a democratic constitutional government; and our aim and message is this, and only this.
I. Experience of Eritrean People's Liberation Front
Before Liberation (1970-1991)
The Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), in its experiences from 1961 until 1969, was unable or unwilling to:
Establish a clear national program,
Form an effective strategy for liberation,
Ensure and protect the human and democratic rights, unity and cohesiveness of the people and its army,
Tolerate differences of views, and
Adopt a participatory approach in the execution of its programs.
This created an internal crisis within the ELF. As democratic resolution of the problem was denied, the EPLF was formed as a democratic alternative in order to confront the challenge effectively and to establish a free and democratic Eritrea through the consummation of a national democratic revolution.
2. Preliminary stage (1970-1976)
For those forces who later formed the EPLF, this was a stage of rejecting the negative experiences of the ELF, identifying weaknesses in their internal unity and in their capacity to effectively defend themselves in the civil war, and the promotion of the principles of democratic dialogue and peaceful resolution for secondary contradictions.
The doctrine that "the Eritrean field could not tolerate more one liberation front" was defeated. The bitterness of the civil war and the losses and setbacks it caused created a suitable environment for nationalist and democratic principles and practice, and led to the weakening of sub-national ideas and groupings, as well as undemocratic and corrupt practices.
Although the road to such an outcome was not always smooth and flawless, it led to the creation of the EPLF which in its congress in early 1977, came out with a clear political program, established strict laws to guide its practice, declared a strategy of people's war, i.e. liberating the land and the people step by step, introduced transparency and accountability appropriate to the stage of the liberation struggle.
3. EPLF until liberation (1977-1991)
From 1977 until the liberation of Eritrea (1991), although it can not be said that the EPLF was perfect in its leadership and its organization of the people, or that its internal democracy equally satisfied all its members, not only its legislative and executive organs, but also its institutions which were governed by the conditions of the war were, in accordance with the constitution, transparent and accountable, and relatively satisfied the expectations of most members and the people.
Even if there were some problems and certain people were occasionally mistreated mainly due to lack of proper management, the majority of the members of the front:
Believed that they played a part and contributed in all aspects of the struggle;
Had unity of purpose and action that astonished friend and foe alike;
Accepted organizational decisions and regulations not as edicts and decrees from higher authority, but as their own decisions, which they executed with dedication;
Had strong ties and unshakable faith in each other and the various levels of their leadership;
Held meetings (admittedly not regular always and at all levels) to identify deficiencies and take corrective action, built on strengths, and used criticism and self-criticism as well as objective periodic evaluations;
Strengthened the struggle by keeping secrets from the enemy while obtaining secrets from the enemy;
Respected and cared for not only each other but also the people, listened to people's problems and tirelessly worked to solve them; and
Above all else, were confident and ready for the highest sacrifice.
Although not completely successful, the EPLF made an effort to work together with other liberation forces to achieve unity. At its Second and Unity Congress in 1987, it formed a broad national democratic front and decided that it will form a multi-party democracy in independent Eritrea.
In order to defeat the colonizer, the EPLF made optimum use of its human, financial and material resources. It made accurate and objective assessments of itself and the enemy. It reinforced its strengths and corrected its weaknesses, while exploiting the enemy's weaknesses and trying to weaken enemy strengths. It did this without boasting and shouting, preserving its resources, and taking considered decisions of when to attack, when to defend, and if necessary, when to retreat.
While no one denies that there were problems in organizing and mobilizing people inside and outside, there is no doubt that the EPLF:
Raised resoundingly the voice of Eritrean revolution around the world;
Reflected the Eritrean people's desire and longing for independence;
Raised expectations for a democratic Eritrea.
Until independence, the people had absolute confidence in the EPLF, EPLF members trusted their leaders, and the leaders equally put excessive trust in the General Secretary. All activities were based on trust and more or less family type style of work. Beginning the late 80's, however, absolute trust and the uncontrolled family type of work started to cause problems.
4. EPLF later PFDJ: After Liberation
A. Before Referendum (1991-1993)
From the time of liberation until Eritrea was declared a sovereign nation through the referendum, the EPLF had recognized itself as the Provisional (Interim) Government without making any changes, and ruled Eritrea as such.
If it had any difference with the pre-independence phase, it is only that during this time, the concentration was on setting up government departments, implementing emergency rehabilitation and resettlement programs and preparing for the referendum.
Although it was understandable that problems associated with transition would arise during the two-year interim period, no attention was given to handling veterans and the disabled, mass organizations and the people in general. Although problems and complaints were there, they were simply ignored and brushed aside as "results of loss of direction" instead of being handled seriously.
B. After Referendum (1994-2001)
1. Regarding the PFDJ
1.1. Its goals and plans
In its third congress held from 10-16 February 1994, the EPLF changed its name to Peoples Front For Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), and to reflect the new era, revised its programs and constitution and established a new national charter and a transitional constitution with the following tenets:
Vision: The establishment of a peaceful, just, democratic and prosperous Eritrea.
Vision goals: To ensure national harmony, political democracy, economic and social progress, social justice, cultural revival, regional and international cooperation and stability.
Principles: To be governed by national unity, active popular participation, the decisive role of man, social justice, self reliance, strong link between the leadership and the people.
Core political program: To establish a democratic, constitutional political order that allowed pluralism.
Important issues discussed or decisions taken at different meetings of the Central Council of the PFDJ included the following:
At the second session of the Central Council (28-02-94), a proposal was presented for the Council to work through committees and to establish internal rules and regulations.
At the third (26-08-94) and fourth (14-08-95) sessions, it was decided:
To identify and separate government assets and PFDJ assets;
That PFDJ businesses work strictly obeying the trade law and the laws of the market, and aim at helping the disadvantaged in our society;
To establish a trust (Hidri) to administer PFDJ businesses.
At the fifth (25-03-96) and sixth (22-04-97) sessions, it was decided to postpone the holding of the fourth party congress until the first half of 1998, and a preparatory committee was formed.
At the eighth (29-01-00) and ninth (02-09-00) sessions, the following decisions were made after thorough discussion of the issues:
To form a body to study the structure and method of work of the government and the PFDJ;
Meetings of legislative and executive bodies to be held at regular intervals;
To immediately commence preparation necessary for the implementation of the constitution and to work in accordance with legal procedures;
To accelerate resolution of issues of land allocation;
To regulate and improve the salaries of military personnel;
That people's complaints should be heard and resolved;
Government media should be effective and invite wide participation;
PFDJ organization must allow wide participation as before;
Internal democracy in the PFDJ must be ensured;
To form a committee that would review in detail the conduct of the war with the Woyane as well as the peace process, and to advise the President on the same in the future;
To form a committee to study policies, decision making processes, method of work, distribution of authority, and accountability and control in the PFDJ and the government;
To form a committee to investigate allegations of violation of the rights of a Central committee member.
In addition, it was decided that the fourth congress be held within six months (i.e. by 02.03.2001), and preliminary preparations were discussed.
1.2 What happened after all these decisions?
Until now, the Central Council has neither internal rules and regulations nor committees to facilitate its work.Regular meetings of the Executive Committee (scheduled to be held monthly) and Central Council (scheduled to be held every four months) of the PFDJ have not been held. Since 1994, the Executive Committee should have met 84 times; instead, it met only 11 times. 73 meetings (i.e. 86.9%), which should have been held, were never convened!
In the three years of the war with the Woyane, the Central Council met only twice, both in 2000, instead of the scheduled nine times! As the Chairman decides on all matters between meetings of the Executive Committee and Central Council, he became the sole decision-maker as a result of these circumstances. The negative consequence of this became evident during the Woyane invasion. Transparency, accountability, democratic processes and participatory decision-making were abandoned.
Traits that were instrumental to the success of our struggle for liberation like transparency, accountability and wide participation were slowly forgotten. Mismanagement in the affairs of the PFDJ and the government became worse and worse. Even at critical moments, people were sidelined. The confidence of the people in the front, front members in the front's leadership, and the front's leadership in its chairman was shaken and diminished.
On the basis of the constitution of the PFDJ, the Central Office of the PFDJ should administer the affairs of the Front, ensure the independent existence and continuity of activities of the Front, execute the policies, programs and decisions of the Central Council, and, through its Secretary, be accountable to the Executive Committee and the Central Council. The Central Office has, however, exceeded its mandate and interfered in the affairs of the government, and taken measures that weaken front and government institutions and institutional work in general.
The Central Office has gone so far as to endanger the unity of the PFDJ and the people, as well as the security of the nation, by conducting a dangerous and malicious campaign, without the approval or knowledge of the legislative and executive organs of the front, against some members of the Central Council.
Smear campaigns and name-calling have replaced constructive criticism and self-criticism. No periodic, objective and productive evaluations based on concrete realities and criteria are made; thus, it has not been possible to correct errors and consolidate strengths. The lack of concern for the common good, nurtured complacency and a "why should I care" attitude in others.
The establishment of PFDJ business entities had an honorable purpose. However:
They lack transparency and accountability;
They don't follow legal procedures;
They are neither guided by a clear policy nor have professional administration;
They mix front and government businesses;
They have become vengeful enemies of and negative examples for private businesses instead of encouraging them through fair competition and partnership;
They are not run by a trust as decided by the Central Council, and they have never presented reports of their accounts to the Central Council as they should;
They have never been audited, and thus have never paid taxes to the government on the basis of audited statements;
Even if it cannot be said that they have done nothing good, they have lost credibility and goodwill among the people and front members.
It was decided that the 4th congress of the PFDJ shall be held at the beginning of 1996, and if conditions did not permit, it would be postponed for a maximum of only six months. The fact that it has not been held up to now (2001) is inexcusable. Cognizant of this fact, the Central Council, in its 9th session, decided that the congress be held in March 2001, but none of the tasks (appraisals) that have to be done as preparation to the congress have been done, and the obstacles to its holding have become obvious.
II. What Type of Crisis are we in?
A. What is the Crisis?
The problem is that the President is conducting himself in an illegal and unconstitutional manner, is refusing to consult, and the legislative and executive bodies have not performed their oversight functions properly.
The confidence of the general membership of the front as well as the general public in the leadership and the party has been reduced. This phenomenon has come as a result of alienation that accumulated over time, and it was highlighted as a result of the war with the Woyane and its disastrous consequences. People want a transparent, accountable, institutionalized and legal administration. The people are asking for past experiences to be objectively assessed, corrective measures to be taken, and on the basis of lessons learned, illegal practices to be discarded and correct and institutionalized practices developed to create an atmosphere in which confidence can be restored.
One side is saying:
Human and democratic rights of citizens should be guaranteed.
As there was in the defense of the sovereignty of our nation, let there be now too broad participation by PFDJ members and the general public in the appraisal and evaluation of past experiences.
Let the PFDJ and the government take concrete measures to implement and guarantee their professed aims of establishing a constitutional government.
Let a constitutional government be established through free and fair elections.
Let differences inside the front and the government be resolved peacefully, democratically and legally.
The other side:
Argues saying our professed goals cannot be implemented now because suitable conditions have not yet been created, and there is the danger of "sub-national sectarianism";
Argues further that the we should not have an open discussion, assessment and evaluation because this could lead to a rift between the government and the people, and our enemies may exploit the situation;
Characterizes any criticism as anti-front and anti-unity, and is quick to portray it as and equalize it with serving the enemy's agenda;
Closes all legal avenues and forums for dialogue and shelves decisions that should be implemented;
Is delaying the front's congress and national elections to perpetuate the existing order;
Attempts to muzzle any serious views and opposition by instilling fear, and threatening to take illegal and undemocratic action.
After liberation, the people expected peace and improvement in their lives. However, when the unexpected war with the Woyane came, the people, on top of all the sacrifices they made during the struggle for liberation, had to make heavy sacrifices again to defend their sovereignty, and now find themselves victims of heavier hardships and agonizing displacement. As long as the danger from the enemy was present, the people restrained themselves and chose not to speak loudly against government weaknesses and mismanagement. But instead of taking action to correct its mistakes, the government has tried to cover them up and to silence criticism by threats creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. The people have thus now started to express their concerns and speak out.
B. How can the crisis be resolved?
When the President is ready to be governed by the constitution and the law, and when the legislative and executive branches perform their legal functions properly;
When confidence is placed on the members of the front and the general public, and they are allowed to exercise their right to participate in open discussions of important national issues, and when the legislative and executive organs of the PFDJ and the government hold their regular and emergency meetings and exercise their powers;
When the PFDJ's and the government's experiences of the past seven years are discussed and reviewed in open forums with wide public participation, and lessons learned are utilized for the future;
When the law of party formation is proclaimed, and parties are allowed to form and are encouraged to compete peacefully and freely;
When elections to the Fourth Party Congress are conducted freely and fairly, and the future of the PFDJ as a political party/organization, which must be governed by the same party laws to be proclaimed, is democratically decided at the fourth congress;
When assurances are in place for free and fair national elections, and when preparatory steps (proclamation of election law, party law, and formation of electoral commission) for the elections are quickly taken;
When the impartiality of the mass media is assured to encourage the protection of human rights, freedom of expression and political discourse;
When the formation and freedom of action of civic organization are allowed and encouraged;
When the Special Courts are dismantled;
When those who have been imprisoned for a long time without a court order are brought before a regular court of law;
When the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed;
When participatory procedures are established to formulate clear and declared policies to address the gap in the standard of living, the lack of job and educational opportunity in different localities and communities.
III. Why this letter and at this time?
BECAUSE all legal means to resolve this crisis in the legislative bodies have been blocked, frustrated. The President has refused to convene meetings of the legislative bodies, but continues to express his views and taking illegal action. Front members have the legal right to know the current situation and to state their views and criticisms.
As the conduct of the PFDJ and the government deteriorated and became more erratic, particularly concerning the Weyane war and its consequences, an attempt to revive wider participation in decision-making, eliminate existing weaknesses and reinforce our defense was made at the eighth session of the Central Council (28-29 January 2000).
At this meeting, the president was asked why regular meetings of the legislative organs were not held, and an impassioned demand was made to hold regular meeting on time in the future. The president, however, not only tried to present the unacceptable excuse that conditions were not conducive to hold meetings, but arrogantly added that he was not going to call meetings in the future either if he did not feel it was conducive to do so.
Since the Woyane was getting ready for its offensive, the issue was not raised at the twelfth session of the National Council to avoid giving moral ammunition to the enemy. The president however continued to take wrong, illegal and vengeful measures that could serve the enemy's purpose.
At the ninth meeting of the Central Council which was convened from 31 August to 2 September 2000 (after the third invasion), and to some extent at 13th session of the National Council, which was held from 29 September to 2 October 2000, the following were raised, among others. Genuine reviews to be conducted, to look forward and establish deadlines for holding the front congress and national elections, measures which are necessary preparation for such to be taken, and important issues requiring preparatory study to be studied. Since military and diplomatic efforts had to be strengthened, the Council also decided to form a military committee to do an appraisal of our record in these areas and to advise the president in the future. However, obstacles are being placed to block the implementation of any of these decisions.
In January 2001, the president, by way of the Central Office of the PFDJ, conducted a disturbing open smear campaign accusing high officials of regionalism and treason. Seminars were conducted that suggested there was a fifth column inside the country, that equated honest criticism with aiding the Woyane's agenda, and that threatened action would be taken against the targeted high officials. This was done to silence free expression and muzzle criticism, and to avoid proper evaluation. This disturbed and created serious concern among the people and members of the front.
Although the illegal and negative handling of the issue by the President and the Central Office of the PFDJ was provocative, we decided to avoid confrontation as there was as yet no guarantee for a peaceful end to the war with Ethiopia, and took the initiative to resolve the problem through legal means and dialogue. We started to consult with other members of the Central Council to ask for meetings of the Central and National Councils whose regular time was past due.
Upon hearing of our initiative, the central office of the PFDJ had circulated a letter (Annex 1), on August 7th 2001, threatening members of the National Council not to sign on a petition calling for a meeting of the National Council. We thought this action improper and were forced to counter with our own letter to all members of the National Council the following day explaining the situation (Annex 2). On 12-03-2001, the President rejected our request (Annex 3).
Copies of our letter of 20 February 2001, asking the President to convene meetings of the Central Council of the PFDJ and the National Council, which reached him on 13 March 2001 (Annex 4), his negative reply (Annex 5), our second letter again asking for meetings explaining the reasons for our call (Annexes 6 A & B), and the President's second negative response (Annex 7) are all enclosed with this letter. Legal requests received illegal responses, and our attempts to resolve problems through meetings and democratic dialogue, not only fell on deaf ears, but attempts were also made to mis-present it in an illegal and undemocratic way.
Thus, our efforts to amend and correct the mistaken path of the PFDJ and the government, our attempt to ensure a democratic transition to a constitutional order, our resolve to obtain these results through democratic and legal means at the leadership level has failed to bear fruit. Having no other means at our disposal, and rejecting resort to illegal means, we bring this open letter to you. We believe every member has the right to know about the crisis and our views on how to solve it. We believe every member has the right and the duty to know about the democratic solutions available, and we perform our duty in bringing this crisis to your attention in this open letter.
Just as we bear ultimate collective responsibility for our performance as leaders, we are obliged to bear equal responsibility for correcting our failures. Since our failure to lead properly has injured the people, we are prepared and determined to make amends and compensate our people by working tirelessly to build, in concert with other PFDJ members and the general Eritrean public, an accountable and responsible government in Eritrea.
If there is any accusation against any member of the Central and National Councils, from the President on down, then we support and believe, that instead of blackmailing, the accusation should be openly leveled at the subject member during a meeting of the appropriate Council, and if it merits legal action, for the appropriate court to handle it through due process of law. Every member of the Central Council of the PFDJ and the National Council must be accountable in the performance of his duties or his handling of financial records, and, as a public official, in his morality. We call for the creation of an independent body that includes members of the general public, to investigate every member.
If we do not take corrective action immediately but instead continue as we have been, then it is not hard to imagine from the experiences of the past ten years the devastating consequences that await us. We need act in concert to resolve our differences, to avoid our security being compromised and our internal unity is weakened, thereby exposing us to becoming victims of external forces. This is a serious national affair. Determined, courageous, capable and nationalist Eritreans must play their role. Let them utilize their capacity to contribute their share to their country. Let us take practical lessons from the Woyane invasion. We should never risk compromising our hard won independence and making our fertile land barren. Time is passing, and our external enemies have not folded their hands waiting for us.
We shall continue our struggle to establish the rule of law. We shall continue to struggle to implement the sacred ideals and principles of the front and our national constitution. We shall continue to struggle using every legal and democratic means available. We have no ambition other than making these sacred ideals a reality. We take this opportunity to call on all PFDJ members and the Eritrean people in general to express their opinion through legal and democratic means and to give their support to the goals and principles they consider just.
1. Mahmud Ahmed Sheriffo
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
2. Haile Woldensae
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
- Ministerial cabinet member
3. Mesfin Hagos
- Member of the Central Council and the Executive Committee of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
4. Ogbe Abrha (General)
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
5. Hamid Hmd
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
6. Saleh Kekya
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
7. Estifanos Seyoum (B. General)
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
8. Berhane GhebreEghzabiher
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
9. Astier Feshatsion
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
10. Mohammed Berhan Blata
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
11. Petros Solomon
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council - Ministerial cabinet member
12. Germano Nati
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
13. Beraki Ghebreslassie
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
14. Adhanom Ghebremariam
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
15. Haile Menkerios
- Member of the Central Council of PFDJ
- Member of the National Council
Peoples Front For Democracy and Justice (PFDJ)
7 March 2001
Honorable Members of Central Committee Peoples Front For Democracy & Justice
Based on information provided by some members of the Central Council, a petition calling for a meeting of the Central Council is going round to collect signatures from members.
Our transitional Constitution provides for an emergency meeting to be held where 2/3 of the members call for one. Even though this right exists, it has never been exercised in the past. Before such a step is taken, it is appropriate to ask the Chairman, directly or through the Central Office, to convene such a meeting. Prior to the distribution of the petition paper, an application for a meeting was not rejected. Even if there is no reason to collect signatures to call a meeting, it would have been proper for the members who have chosen to take this action to present it openly to all members of the Central Council. For this reason the current circulation of a petition calling for a meeting is out of order.
The Central Office of the PFDJ, with this letter, transmits this notice to members of the Central Council.
Honorable Members of the Central Council of the PFDJ
We refer to a letter dated yesterday, 7 March 2001, written under the letterhead of the Central Office of the PFDJ with an unknown signatory, and distributed to members of the Central Council. It states that, "certain members of the Central Council are circulating a petition collecting signatures to call for a meeting of the Central Council," and that this is "out of order."
This letter states:
Our transitional Constitution requires the Central Council to hold an emergency meeting upon the application of 2/3 of its members;
This right admittedly exists, but has never been used;
Before such a step is taken, it is appropriate to ask the Chairman, either directly or through the Central Office, to hold a meeting;
Prior to the distribution of the petition letter, a request for a meeting was not rejected;
There is no reason to collect signatures and to call for a meeting;
It would have been appropriate for the members who have opted to take this action, to present their request openly to members of the Central Council.
The letter declares that the Central Office of the PFDJ is issuing this notice because the current circulation of a petition calling for a meeting is out of order.
We, the undersigned members of the Central Committee are some of those who have been meeting and talking quite openly with any member of the Committee calling for a meeting of the Central Committee. Because based on the constitution of the PFDJ the meeting is overdue, because there are urgent situations regarding our unity and security as a people and a nation, because it is our public and national duty and responsibility, and because all responsible members of the Central Council, cadres and members are eagerly awaiting that the unity of our people and the security of our nation are safeguarded.
Based on our constitution [PFDJ transitional Constitution], between the regularly scheduled meetings to be held every 4 months, it is mandatory to hold an emergency meeting if 2/3 of the members call for it. This is a right guaranteed by our struggle, not a right to be begged for or handed out. The letter, while it admits the existence of this right, claims that we have never exercised it in our history. It is true that because of innocent trust in our leadership and its central organs, and because to a certain degree collective participation and understanding existed on many issues, meetings were not held as scheduled, and obviously it cannot be said that problems were not created as a result. This was not only wrong, but as genuine trust was betrayed, collective action was abandoned, and collective understanding was eroded, no one can deny that the negative consequences have continued to grow.
To say that we should not use a right because we have not exercised it in the past, however, is failing to learn from past experience, only looking backward, not to know your realities, and to fail to look forward and to building a responsible and accountable government in the future. Innocent trust cannot be exploited forever.
At the January 2000 meeting of the Central Council, the argument that meetings should be held as scheduled and the consequent holding of the follow up meeting of the Central Council on time was a step forward, and it is a fact that this permitted the discussion of some issues on a timely basis. At that meeting, a call to hold all future meetings on time was made. What is being requested now is convening a meeting that is overdue, and that does not require a call by 2/3 of the membership. This is a right of the Central Council and not a gift from someone or other. This is not something that should be cancelled because it is problematic or inconvenient for the Chairman of the Central Council. If the time for the regular meeting is up or past, a call for the chairman to convene the meeting can be oral or written, made individually or collectively. Because it is a legal right. There is no reason or obligation that the request be made through the Central Office.
The letter states that there is no reason to collect signatures to call for a meeting. This is an extremely regrettable and irresponsible statement. In spite of the fact that the campaign by the Central Office in January 2001 among PFDJ members (and the general public) caused major upheaval and concern on the one hand, and provided the enemy with moral ammunition on the other, the Central Office fails to recognize the importance of calling an emergency meeting of the Central Council to safeguard the unity and the security of the nation, although the due date for the regular meeting is long past. Maybe the Central Office did not want to.
This illegal and irresponsible smear campaign by the Central Office of the PFDJ, which contradicts the discussions and decisions passed at previous meetings of the Central Council, which is unknown to and certainly not a decision of the Executive Committee of the PFDJ, which has been kept secret from members of the Central Council, which can divide the nation and create chaos, which can destroy the people's hope of restoring their lives after the damage they have sustained, which appears aimed at controlling the preparation for elections at any cost, which has seized the authority of the Central Council and the Executive Committee of the PFDJ, and prevented them from performing their constitutional duties, which is being conducted in a manner devoid of national responsibility by the Central Office of the PFDJ, has created an undeniable political crisis, for which responsibility must be borne.
Not only for those responsible members of the Central Council who care about the unity and security of the nation above all else, including above holding office, but also for any Eritrean nationalist, the need, reason and urgency to convene the meetings is obvious and they are anxiously awaiting them. To state that there is no reason for convening meetings is to choose chaos, regardless of its consequences, instead of solving problems legally in constitutionally mandated meetings.
3. The letter states, "It would have been appropriate for the members who have chosen to take this action, to openly present it to members of the Central Council."
Was it not clearly stated at the January 2000 meeting of the Central Council that henceforth all regular meetings would convene on time?
Has four months not elapsed since the August 2000 meeting of the Central Committee?
Had the date for the regular meeting not arrived or passed when the Central Office commenced its irresponsible smear campaign?
After the irresponsible smear campaign, didn't members of the Central Council as well as cadres and other members of the front express their concern and openly declare their support for a resolution of this issue at a meeting of the Central Council?
Aren't those members of the Central Council calling for a meeting, conducting their contacts with other members openly?
If there is an issue a member wants to communicate with other members of the Central Council, other than meetings of the Central Council, or the Central Office wills it, is there any way or means (Magazine, Radio or other communication device etc.) to do so?
Is it illegal to call for a meeting of the Central Council when the due date has elapsed or when there are problems?
Is trying to hide reality openness, or is openness calling for a meeting whose due date has elapsed and which is desperately needed to solve problems?
Finally, the set date for the meeting of the Central Committee has come and gone (two months have passed). There are important situations requiring a meeting, and the right to call for a meeting is in order. It is a right that cannot be revoked by any hapless posturing of the Central Office of the PFDJ. The responsibility entrusted to us by the PFDJ and the people demand it, and we would like all members of the Central Council to know that, along that of others, our call for an urgent meeting of the Central Council also remains in place.
If we do not get a positive reply, after a limited period, since we have no open access to the mass media which is in the hands of the Central Office of the PFDJ, in order to fulfill the responsibility and trust placed in us by the front and the people, we shall be forced to express our views openly to the PFDJ membership and the general public. We shall not be responsible for the consequences.
1. Mahmoud Sherifo.................................Signed
2. Haile Woldensae.................................Signed
3. Petros Solomon..................................Signed
4. Mesfin Hagos.....................................Signed
5. Ogbe Abrha.......................................Signed
6. Berhane Gerezgiher..............................Signed
7. Saleh Kekia.......................................Signed
8. Hamid Hmd.......................................Signed
The State of Eritrea
Office of President
This morning you sent me a letter with signatures. If it is for my information, I have seen it. In general, I only want to say that you all are making a mistake.
To the Honorable Isaias Afewerki
Chairman of Central and National Councils
The date for the regular meetings of the Central and National Councils have passed, and in addition, there are issues (situations) that call for an emergency meeting. We, the undersigned members of the Central and National Councils thus request that you convene the meetings shortly.
Victory to the Masses
1. Mahmud Ahmed Sheriffo......................Signed
2. Haile WoldeTensae.............................Signed
3. Petros Solomon..................................Signed
4. Mesfin Hagos.....................................Signed
5. Ogbe Abrha.......................................Signed
7. Saleh Kekya.......................................Signed
8. Hamid Hmd........................................Signed
9. Alamin Sheik Saleh...............................Signed
10. Estifanos Seyoum...............................Signed
11. Berhane GebreEghzabhier....................Signed
12. Astier Feshatsion................................Signed
13. Mohammed Berhan Blata......................Signed
14. Germano Nati....................................Signed
15. Musa Rabaa.......................................Signed
16. Nati Ibrahim......................................Signed
17. Beraki GhebreSlassie...........................Signed
18. Adhanom GhebreMariam.......................Signed
19. Haile Menkerios...................................Signed
The State of Eritrea
Office of President
Again today you have sent me another letter. I have seen it. I repeat, you are making a mistake.
To: Honorable Isaias Afewerki
President of the State Of Eritrea
Subject: Request for meetings of the Central Council and National Council
Those members of the Central Council and National Council who previously sent a request for meetings of the Central Council and the National Council accompanied with their signatures, are not satisfied with your response of: "You are making a mistake". We say there are problems that should be solved in meetings, and steps that need to be taken urgently to guarantee a democratic transition to a constitutional order. Now again, we ask you to convene the meetings, whose mandatory regular dates have already passed, within the month of March.
We are sending, as an attachment, a document describing the problems we see and the solutions we expect.
Victory to the Masses!
Those members of the Central Council who previously sent a signed request.
Problems that have been created and their solutions
Eritreans living inside and outside, initially to make independence a reality, and when the war with the Woyane erupted to defend national sovereignty, enlisted their beloved children with their blessing, gave their money, property and labour with complete dedication to their country. Their goal was, not only seeing an independent Eritrea, but also to see the unity of the people assured, with all around equality and social justice, with public accountability and with peace and harmony. However, the general public and front members are not satisfied with the leadership and management of the front and the Government. The illegal and irresponsible seminars of the PFDJ Central Office and the inexcusable steps being taken by the President are creating not only concern, but may also create harmful consequences.
There are attempts, in some quarters, to explain these problems as results of frustration caused by the war with Woyane. However, these problems started largely after independence, especially after 1994, and accumulated thereafter becoming worse, until at the time of the war with Woyane, these problems put the nation's existence at risk. The problems are that legal and institutional methods of working, collective decision making in important issues, accountability and democratic management became slowly weakened and diminished. Mutual concern, respect and trust disappeared; the powers of legislative and executive bodies were usurped.
In order to solve these problems and to guarantee transition to a constitutional order, the meetings held in January and August-September 2000 addressed these issues and made important decisions. However, later on, the decisions were twisted, misinterpreted and shelved. Observing the danger in this crisis, concerned members of the Central Council, without being tempted into a tit for tat, presented their request for already late, legally mandatory meetings of the Central & National Councils. But this was rejected. While a legal and responsible request was rejected, the misguided seminars of the Central Office of the PFDJ, which had no blessing of the Executive Committee and Central Council, had found full support from the Chairman, and thus the crisis has reached a dangerous level where it is liable to explode.
Intentions of taking illegal and unnecessary action are being hinted, but these problems cannot be solved except through peaceful, democratic and legal discussion and understanding. As such, even now it is still necessary to convene emergency meetings of the Central and National Councils, and the following issues should be discussed and action taken on them:
Legislative branches should perform their proper function and confirm their oversight responsibility over the Executive branch.
Meetings of legislative branches should be held at regular times and whenever emergency meetings are requested.
The seven year experience of the PFDJ and the Government need to be evaluated objectively to become starting points for the front's congress and the constitutional government to be established after elections; conditions and forums for open and free discussions should be created, and committees that are accountable to the Central and National Councils should be established to conduct the discussions.
Draft legislation for elections and political parties, as permitted by law, need to be provided for discussion by the people. The respective appointed committees should gather opinions on them, and the finalized drafts brought to the National Council for ratification.
Elections for the front congress and the constitutional government must be free and fair. Guarantees that the Election Commission shall be impartial must be provided.
In order to respect human rights and freedom of expression, the Special Courts, as well as the "Investigation Committee" illegally formed by the President, must be dismantled. The letter and spirit of the Press Law must be respected; the independence of the judiciary confirmed, and the government must operate under a declared and open annual budget.
If this is not done, we shall officially declare that we are unable to properly perform the duty entrusted to us by the members of PFDJ and the people, and we shall be obliged to decide not continue being tools of this incorrect administration.
From: P/ Isaias
N. I.: A290301.RTF
I have, this morning, received and seen the letter you sent, dated 28/3/2001, in the name of those members of Central Council who had previously signed a request.
I do not want to go into its false and baseless content and say anything.
Because I have chosen to be tolerant, I will patiently avoid any invitation to an argument.
But if by continuous provocation, you want to escalate problems by exaggerating non-existent issues, it is your choice.
Again I ask you to refrain from this mistaken path and come to your senses.
Eritrean Catholic Bishop's Pastoral Letter - 2001
God Loves This Country
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." (Lk 4:18-19).
1. To this nation that God loves, to its leaders and all who live in it, to the faithful who are under our care and responsibility, and to all those of good will: may the grace and peace of God our Father be with you! The mission of the Church is to proclaim God's salvation plan to mankind. Parallel to this, the Church has the duty of enlightening the earthly and temporal conditions of humanity with the spirit of the Gospel (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 5). For this reason the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of today's world are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the Church as well (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 1).
As the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the independence of Eritrea takes place at a time when we are coming out of a devastating two-year war and when we are preparing for important new elections we are reminded that God still loves this nation. He takes care of its people and continues to work wonders in the present as in the past. We, therefore, feel that we have an obligation to share words of consolation, hope, guidance and encouragement, given our current religious, economic and sociopolitical situation.
We, the Catholic Bishops of Eritrea, offer you a new the consoling word of God as announced by the prophet Isaiah: "Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated" (Is 40:1-2).
TEN YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
Gratitude to God
2. Ten years ago, when the thirty years of devastation and war were over and the Eritrean People's Liberation army entered the capital in triumph an event which provoked an unprecedented sense of joy and consolation we published a pastoral letter as a means of helping the new nation focus and reflect upon this historic event. In that letter we wrote: "We give thanks to God with an open heart and a humbled spirit, for he has brought us freedom: freedom from many years of war, freedom from unsuccessful peace deals and freedom from desperate living conditions." Since we had thanked God who had worked wonders on our behalf at the time, it is only right and proper that we do the same again now ten years on. Among the events for which we now give thanks is the successful outcome of the popular referendum which, through hard work and careful coordination, allowed Eritrea to poll its citizens on the question of national independence and thence to take its rightful place as a fully recognized state among the family of nations. Then, after thirty years of severe deprivation, came the reconstruction of the nation came. Though if not yet complete, it began promising success at home and admiration abroad. And thirdly, alongside these events, there was also the formulation and approval by the Parliament of the new national Constitution. Such positive developments took place in a context of peace, and were indeed blessings from God (cf. Eph 1:3).
Over the past three years, however, Eritrea has been caught up in a number of serious difficulties with large numbers of her citizens killed, disabled, displaced, deported, unprotected or left to no man's border trenches. The consequences of these difficulties have been far reaching. Reflecting on this situation, and given that God has enabled us to weather the worst and to glimpse a new horizon of peace, our first task as spiritual leaders is to identify the lessons that must be learned and to thank God once again for not abandoning us. Our main message, therefore, is: "You shall know that I am the Lord" (Ek 37:14), "Praise the Lord, who is so good" (Ps 136:1).
Freedom is God's Gift
3. From the outset of creation the human person has been marked with the gift of freedom. Because of this gift, the individual aspires to a specific claim of dignity, having been created in the image of God himself (cf. Gn 1:26-27; Ws 2:23; Si 17:3-10).
Freedom, then, is born with human persons and it becomes their portion forever. We use all the means at our disposal to protect this God-given gift and, if necessary, we may even resort to force to keep and protect it from those who may try to snatch it from us. Human beings make sacrifices for, and dedicate themselves to, the cause of justice, but we should not lose sight of the fact that it is God who, in his own mysterious ways, ultimately guides history in its journey towards the supreme goal of true freedom. "For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; serve one another through love" (Gal 5:13). Freedom, therefore, does not offer a license to do as one pleases, nor does it offer an escape from one's duties and responsibilities. It is rather a decision to opt for, and be committed to, what is good. God himself says: "I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse" (Dt 11:26).
Freedom is intrinsically connected with our God-given potential of mind and will (Gaudium et Spes, 17). When we talk of independence and freedom in Eritrea, we envisage a truly free nation whose freedom is the sum of the freedoms of its nationals. We, therefore, necessarily include freedom of conscience and creed, freedom of speech and press, freedom of communication and freedom of association and assembly. Only when all the citizens of the nation enjoy this kind of comprehensive freedom can we speak of a truly free nation. The State has the duty of guaranteeing freedom to all the citizens who live within it and who abide by its laws.
For a valid assessment of our current situation, perhaps we might usefully start by asking ourselves a couple of basic questions. What was our starting point? Where are we now? At the same time, and as part of an individual and national effort, we might also make an honest examination of conscience. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil" (2Cor 5:10). So it is that we must ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions: Have we always done what is right for all our citizens? Have we, or how have we, used/abused our freedom? Have we always respected the rights of others? How have we understood justice? Have we used that gift of freedom and independence attained at such a high price worthily?
A Time of Peace and Development
4. In a previous Pastoral Letter (Peace and Progress) we indicated that peace is not only the absence of war but it is also a safeguard for the rights of others. It is an expression of a full human life and the development of human well-being in all of its dimensions: "... As we speak of a new society and of development worthy of a human person there is a point that needs to be stressed: without a holistic and integral human development, one cannot speak of authentic development. Development cannot be measured only in economic terms. For development to be just and right, it has to be holistic and integral. This means that it has to be participatory where all of its citizens have a share and has to develop all the different dimensions of human life. Its goal, then, is to strive towards the fullness of the human condition..."
5. After Eritrea gained her independence, the nation's attention was concentrated on the peace and the development the country might enjoy. Expectations were high both inside and outside the country. Many people convinced themselves that these goals might well be achieved without having to overcome too many major obstacles. Indeed, at first, things went on well, with significant progress being made in the fields of education, health, energy, infra-structure, and even more promisingly rural development. The Church, for her part, contributed enthusiastically to rural development. The Church is not an NGO and should never be confused with one. The Church's efforts in the field of development, however, are not based on partiality, religious considerations, nor on any motive of proselytism: "By her nature and mission the Church is universal, in that she is not committed to anyone culture or to any political, economic or social system. She strives to consolidate the communities of people according to the dignity and hope placed on them by Christ" (Gaudium et Spes, 42). Her place in society, as witnessed throughout history, comes not from any other source or authority but Christ.
Before Independence, the activities of the Church had been severely impeded by an oppressive political system, and some of its structures, properties and buildings had been illegally "nationalized." The Church is still waiting for this injustice to be redressed by the current government which set out in 1991 to right the wrongs of the past. We are more than a little surprised that our claims have not yet been dealt with. Since we are concerned with an important question of justice, this is an issue that the Church does not intend to allow to simply disappear.
6. All projects of development be they initiated by the government, the Church, NGOs or the private sector need to encourage wide participation. Any partiality, favoritism, or privilege, shown to one group against another, will necessarily limit the potential for development and growth. It is true that in the fields of economy and trade, many people held high hopes for accelerated economic growth. Leaving aside the growth figures recorded by the World Bank, where a different system of assessment pertains, some people believed that the level of growth actually achieved fell far short of the country's potential. However, granted that unbridled capitalism is not acceptable (Centesimus Annus, 42), a participatory economic system run on a suitable scale might have met with more success, especially at the poorer ends of the private economic sector. Though we do not claim expertise in such matters, we do feel it important to urge those most closely concerned with this issue to broaden their horizons for the country's benefit.
7. Basing ourselves on our reflection and observation of the past ten years, we would like to offer some recommendations. Given that development should be holistic, integral and participatory so that each dimension of human life may receive its due benefit we would like to suggest that structures be found that allow the flow of information and complaint from the lower sectors of society to the higher ones. The policies made by the government affect the lives of the ordinary populace (the so-call "broad masses") very directly. It is to be expected that people who complain about taxes not to mention other measures have a role in their establishment or control. It is not enough for policies to be made at the higher level and then be imposed by law on the people through administrators who are answerable only to their own superiors, while the people have no means of redress. It is to be noted with sadness that, even before the latest war broke out, transparency and public accountability were not the most prominent features of the country's administration. This malaise is even more evident in our courts and legal system. There is an avalanche of complaints.
The government did acknowledge this problem; but its excuse of a lack of properly prepared personnel is quite difficult to understand ten years after, with little progress having been made. Fortunately, we do not have a lawless society; generally our people are law-abiding and with a profound respect for order. However, this well known fact does not exempt the authorities from instituting legal provisions to keep corruption from blossoming, or from addressing those instances where corruption has already become an issue.
We believe that the setting up of such structures is of great urgency and importance. No one denies that one of the fundamental issues in our world today is the right of workers to a pension and to a proper living wage. The salary of workers, administered in the name of our current "National Service", should take into account the situation of the worker and the conditions of his family and other dependent members. The rights of civil servants and public-sector workers also have to be protected (Laborem Exercens, 19). The extremely lengthy delay in land redistribution adds yet a further burden on our people. The cost of rental homes has sky-rocketed, while the difference between what a worker must pay for his shelter and what he brings home in wages is grossly unfair. Though we cannot claim a full grasp of the dynamics of price-controls, it seems clear to us that the just resolution of the problem of land redistribution would go some way towards lessening the people's economic burdens; they could then construct shelters according to their means. The right to shelter is, after all, one of the more basic human rights (Pacem in terries, 11).
Culture and Identity
8. For quite some time now, we have been witnessing a gradual infiltration of attitudes and behaviors that negatively affect the historical traditions and the cultural identity of the people. It is our considerate view that certain government's programs are intentionally geared to destroying the existing order out of hand. Why, for instance, should the traditional September feast of Mesqel, which is rooted in the cycle of the seasons in this part of the world, be replaced by the New Year celebrations held during the western month of January? Why should the western feast of Christmas take precedence over the traditional feast of Lidet? How can this make Eritreans feel more united? Why should the Ghe'ez alphabet have been modified? How are the people supposed to be proud of their history, culture, heritage and their adherence to the principle of self-reliance if that very culture is in the process of being eroded by the government? In the same vein, why are people being alienated from their respective religious practices Moslems as well as Christians by the programming of national events at precisely those times when people would otherwise be about their religious duties? It would appear that there is perhaps some hidden agenda.
Wedding ceremonies today are another cause for concern. While we fully accept the religious and cultural importance of these events, they have nonetheless become much too expensive and indeed have become a kind of socio-economic competition. Thus we heartily endorse a social and cultural change. Returning to the question of the alienation of people from their religious observances (e.g. the youth who have to practice on Good Friday in preparation for national celebrations that occur much later in the year), we emphasize that this seriously disrupts the formation of our youngsters' consciences with regard to their religious duties. Therefore, we strongly urge the government to reconsider its current practice.
9. Though the first few years of peace and development contained many good things, the overall social life of our people has been undergoing an increasing process of deterioration particularly on the levels of morality and conscience. The principles of faith and fear of the Lord, the real foundation of our culture, have been painted over intentionally. Traditionally, freedom was always taken to include a range of concepts:
knowledge of, and faithfulness to, one's duties and responsibilities;
the option for, and fulfillment of, what was perceived to be good;
family unity and responsible behavior;
trust, compassion, solidarity, hospitality and generosity.
Today these values are fading fast, to be replaced by socially irresponsible behaviors, evidenced by attitudes of avarice, betrayal and licentiousness. These new attitudes are to be found in a particularly striking way in the dealings between tenants and landlords, consumers and merchants, employers and employees.
10. The negative changes in the individual and social behavior of the people are indicative of a diminished sense of a healthy fear of God. People seem to believe that, now that they are free from political domination, they may also consider themselves free from the rule of God (i.e. his commandments). This is a dangerous conclusion: "Be careful not to forget the Lord, your God, by neglecting his commandments and decrees and statutes which I enjoin on you today: lest, when you have eaten your fill, and have built fine houses and lived in them, and have increased your herds a flocks, your silver and gold, and all your property, you then become haughty of heart and unmindful of the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery" (Dt 8:11-14).
What always characterized our people in the past was their option to live by God's decrees and commandments. The knowledge of God's wisdom and law was at the heart of their sense of belonging. To throw away this gem is tantamount to throwing away our people's identity. The development of social life and the teaching of the fear of the Lord are not two contradictory values. They are complementary. To strengthen the latter is to secure lasting foundation for the former. Faith, therefore, is expressed in the here and now while its relevance is as valid in the heaven we are able to create on earth as it is in heaven above.
An Unexpected War
11. If there is anything we can learn from history it is that "we have learned nothing." In our Pastoral Letter of 1991 we asked as to what we had learnt from the past. The answer given at that time was that "War should never be repeated." We then went on to quote: War is but useless slaughter (Pius XI); Nothing is lost by peace, everything can be lost by war (Pius XII); Not war, but peace must guide the destiny of humanity (Paul VI); War is an absurd phenomenon and always unjust (John Paul II).
We had hoped that our memory of the war would remain only as a warning and a reminder to future generations of the folly of our past. We desired a new life, free from war, for our people forever. This was not to be. Two good neighbor countries, extolled as such by the international community, unexpectedly forgot the progress they had made and went to war against each other leaving countless casualties on the battlefield and even more people, both at home and abroad, dumbfounded. Resentment soon turned into hatred, intentionally fostered and manipulated by the governments of both warring parties. There could be no winners!
12. A part from the human casualties, the damage caused to the society by this most recent war occurs at many levels. As manpower and resources were used for the war, the greatest damage was in the areas of development and reconstruction,. Alongside the economic tragedy, war brings social, moral, spiritual and human losses. In war every one loses. There is no winner. We cannot hide our deep sorrow at the fact that the war was not averted when there was still time to do so. We could only stand by and watch as events escalated. Some of the more immediate tragedies of this war are obvious: households left to carry heavy economic, social and moral burdens because many of their members including parents have been sent to the front; women whose husbands had been conscripted, left to run their families with no economic or social resources; people in the border areas having already lost livestock, belongings and farmland collected in camps for the displaced; Eritreans who lived and worked in Ethiopia forcibly repatriated and their property confiscated; the economy of the country destroyed by mobilization, since those involved in production were conscripted; the lives of the country's youth either disrupted or destroyed; and all short and long-term plans for development suspended.
13. This war has far-reaching consequences by creating a vacuum within the country and in people's lives. Similarly, another vacuum has been created within the international community. Especially during the third and last offensives when civilians were killed, their rights abused, extended territories occupied, and nobody quite knew what would happen next the international community's response was one of indifference and silence.
The Platform for Peace
14. "Even though, apparently, war seems to resolve them [disagreements], to choose the violence and conflict as a solution always exacerbates the problem; for this reason the Holy See has continuously encouraged peoples and governments to reject the spirit of violence and power, terrorism and armed conflict" (John Paul II, Address to the Eritrean Ambassador, Dec. 14, 2000). We, the religious leaders of both countries have tried to encourage a peaceful solution to the crisis. On June 18, 2000 an agreement "on the cessation of hostilities" was finally reached and duly signed. Our hearts were filled with joy and we gave the agreement our full support. We thanked God for softening people's hearts and for providing us with a forum for peace. We thank our peace-loving people, always ready to pray, and all those governments and associations who worked so tirelessly so that the conflict may come to a peaceful end. Our appreciation goes also to both governments for accepting the peace deal and facilitating the peace process.
Seek Peace and Follow it
15. We implore the giver of peace, our Lord and God, to make this peace-agreement truly beneficial for our people and country. Peace is everlasting if it comes from God. If it is purely human it will be short-lived. The God who loves this country is again offering his peace to us: "Peace be with you" (Jn 20:19). It is our duty to prepare hearts worthy of that peace. It is important that we ask ourselves: 'Why did peace fade away so quickly? Perhaps our hearts were not prepared for it. Perhaps we did not thank God sincerely enough for it. People of Eritrea, seek peace and follow its path! We believe that neither the people nor the government wanted this devastating war. If there is anything we want to tell our people and the government it is this: let us use and choose words and deeds that invite and stimulate peace.
16. We need to develop a global spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. From our Christian tradition we know that only the person who forgives will eventually triumph; the winner is the one who is capable of mercy/forgiveness (cf. Mt 5:7). In the mass-media and in all our dealings we now need to convey messages of reconciliation and forgiveness. The rhetoric of threat and intimidation can only destroy the progress so far made during the recent peace talks. Our people have the right not only to desire, but also to hear, words of hope and messages of solace.
We are conscious that the people who live near the border are those most affected by this war. If things go as expected, they should soon be able to return to their homes. Even after the formal process of border demarcation has taken place, we have to be in a position to dress and heal the wounds caused by so much destruction, so as to Be able close this chapter of our history marked by hatred, and to pave the way to a future of peace with hope for our two peoples" (Pres. Isyas Afewerki, at Algiers, Dec. 13, 2001).
To make this viable and tangible, cross-border reconciliation initiatives should be set up to mediate between the peoples most immediately involved. This is the responsibility that the government, religious leaders and elders of both countries should carry out. We encourage all involved to do their best so that the peace process may reach ultimate success. As St Paul puts it, "Finally, brothers, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you" (2 Cor 13:11).
17. The reconciliation we have spoken about extends itself not only to our enemies, but also to ourselves. We will need to evaluate how we have used our opportunities. Since human nature is flawed, we need to strike the right balance. Our society needs to coordinate a thorough-going program of reconciliation and forgiveness no effort should be spared in this enterprise, and every view-point should be represented. If the slogan "one people one heart" is to become a reality, we must reject any intentionally divisive terminology along with an "us and them" mentality. Again we insist on the importance for our society of internal reconciliation and unity. To ignore this call is for the country to court disaster: "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and house will fall against house" (Lk 11:17; cf. Mt 12:25).
18. As we enter the antechamber of peace, we are faced with new challenges and much hard work. In effect, no-one in the country has been left untouched by the socioeconomic crisis. The Church pledges its support to those who will be working to rebuild the people's lives. At the same time, we appeal to, and encourage the, world humanitarian community to offer and accelerate their support even more generously so that the people may sooner be able to stand on their own feet, and life may begin again. Today many NGOs and UN peacekeeping missions are making their way into the country.
We appeal to our people and the government to offer their full support so that the peace plan may speedily achieve its aims. We also appeal to all the NGOs and humanitarian relief agencies to do their best to help the needy of the country. At this moment and given the grave humanitarian emergency that faces us it would be senseless to adhere blindly to the albeit appreciable principle of self-reliance. The clock is running and the country's needs are many and great. If both "giver" and "receiver" act with due sensitivity, there is no reason why "dependency" should ever become an issue in Eritrea.
19. We know that soon we should be looking forward to the start of military demobilization, when thousands of soldiers will be returning to society and to employment as well as to their families and friends. We offer them our warmest welcome. We are aware of the conditions under which they have had to live over the past few years. We cannot ignore the human and spiritual wounds inflicted on them. Their successful reintegration into civil society will require much in the way of patience and hard work. Specific rehabilitation programs along with secure financial assistance-packages will become necessary.
To accompany these, we also foresee a need for complimentary programs to encourage spiritual, moral and psychological rehabilitation. The service-personnel returning home are seriously disadvantaged from the spiritual and religious point of view, for having lost all contacts with this area of their heritage. It is a vacuum that we will have to seek to fill-in, possibly through specific religious programs. Any life stripped of its spiritual dimension will, in fact, act negatively on both the individual and the social levels. People who, because of this war, have been crippled or maimed will require particular help, if they are once again to become confident members of society. Special care will be required for the families of those who have been killed during the war. Such help should also take into account the social, economic and political changes that have occurred since these events took place, and it should be continued for as long as it may be needed.
20. The war deaths constitute an unbridgeable gap in the lives of the families who have been left behind. We understand the pain that the latter will be enduring. But empathy and sympathy are not enough. We are duty-bound to back up our words of consolation with practical help, which may very well take the form of financial support. At the same time, we have to make sure that our departed children have not died in vain by avoiding past mistakes and, above all, by working for the growth of a society that is firmly grounded on the principles of justice and legality.
21. In line with the peace agreements, troops are being re-deployed at some distance from the front-line. This move has a direct impact on the towns and villages that take them in. A serious decline in moral standards has been detected in these areas with the expansion of a "military ethic" among civilians, the increased incidence of HIV/AIDS, the deterioration of general moral behavior, and the overall breakdown of traditional social structures. To ignore this alarming state of affairs would amount to self-deception. We, therefore, recommend that intensive seminars on "social behavior" be offered to troops and people alike. If a solution is to be found, as it is, all sectors of society need to be included in the process.
22. It is in family-life that the most deleterious effects of the war are felt. Having huge distances to travel, and staying away for lengthy periods of time, family members in military service have little chance to influence family affairs. Frequent and lengthier visits should be encouraged. The need for a proper and on-going guidance in moral matters, and access to counseling for problems of loneliness, isolation and other personal problems, require viable solutions.
We abhor certain methods of military discipline, because in the long run ruthlessness can only breed ruthlessness. As far as religion is concerned, we recommend that troops be allowed freedom of conscience and worship in reasonable compatibility with military regulations and respect of other soldiers religious sensibilities. We are convinced that the employment of military chaplains of all faiths would go a long way towards the solution of many of the above problems. This would also help to deal with the problem of the spread of new religious sects among the military.
0UR FUTURE PLANS
23. The teaching of the Church and, more specifically, the documents of the Second Vatican Council maintain that the human person is not only the pivot of creation but also the lens through which our world should be viewed. We have been created in God's image (cf. Gn 1:26) and have been chosen as the head and the steward of creation (Gaudium et Spes, 12). The main consequence of this view is the belief that creation exists for our benefit. This belief may then be further extended to include the existence of the nation. The nation exists for the people, not vice versa. To ignore this truth is to risk making people slaves of social and economic structures instead of the other way around.
24. How, then, are we to avoid making ourselves slaves? We must build a just society based on a fair constitution. This is no easy task. The process has a beginning. But is never definitely concluded, as it needs to be subjected to constant change. A Constitution embodies the law of the nation. It is a covenant entered into by both the people and the government that is to administer it. It is also a device by means of which the people are able to control the administrative authorities. Such a Constitution does not exist for its own sake, but rather as a structure to promote the just and truthful administration of society, and to ensure unity and equality within that same society. By extension it also provides a solid base for true development. The following are some from among the most basic principles upon which, we believe, we may seek to establish a just society based on a fair constitution.
1. Plenary humanism in development: the term development refers to more than economic growth. Just and transparent development involves all the people and touches upon all aspects of human life. Sometimes, it may appear that self-contained humanism i.e. where the divine is of no account succeeds in its aims, and may seem to be able to foster development. This, however, is only a temporary gain. In the long run, having no outside standard to measure themselves against, people will turn against other people. Ultimately, a world without God makes humanity inhumane (Populorum Progressio, 14;24).
2. Social justice and issues of human rights are the fundamental identifying elements of a just society. As individuals and as citizens earning our living through honest labor, we need to be treated justly. The less privileged in society are entitled to the same respect as those in the higher echelons. The guaranteeing of a just wage is both a right and a duty. God himself warns us not to ignore this duty: "Woe to him who builds his house on wrong, his terraces on injustice, who makes work his neighbor without pay, and gives him no wage (Jr 22:13). God is on the side of the oppressed; so let us not oppress them in turn. "For I know the Lord will secure justice for the needy, their rights for the poor" (Ps 140:13). To those then who, for whatever reason, quit their jobs, just and proper remuneration must be made.
3. A tradition of legality. The Eritrean society has traditionally held the exercise of law and the demands of rights and duties in high esteem. From ancient times, laws crafted over the centuries regulated social life at the regional, provincial, district and village levels. They were the basis for claim to justice for everyone. Along with these laws, the values of hard work, cooperation and solidarity were ever present. All of this belongs to our tradition. It is not the product of imitation or imposition from outside. We need to show, by word and deed, that this tradition has not been uprooted; that our society still respects those who work hard and those who offer their services for the good of all; that there will be no agenda that will allow the emergence of "privileged" or "unprivileged" classes of citizens; and that jobs and responsibilities are distributed according to criteria of competence rather than convenience.
25. Equality and unity are enhanced rather than threatened by pluralism. Equality in the areas of justice, law, rights, duties as well as economic and social opportunities make for a stable and well-ordered society. Freedom and democracy cannot exist without this foundation. Given that freedom is ultimately a gift from God, we would like to share some further thoughts on the kind of freedom we are talking about:
1. Freedom of Religion: this emanates from the very nature and identity of humanity itself (Pacem in Terris, 11). It includes, among other things the right to freely express one's ideas and beliefs, to worship, to teach, to publish, freedom of association and freedom from external interference, including the government, in matters of belief and religion (Ibid. 12-13). Today there seems to be a serious misunderstanding about the role of Religion in society as a result of a calculated effort to portray it as divisive and contrary to development and to womens promotion. While we repeat that this is absolutely not correct, we take this opportunity to declare our opposition to all attempts to obstruct religious development, or to use religion as a means to divide people or enkindle negative feelings and attitudes.
2. Freedom of speech and press: in order to convey and receive the message of truth, freedom of expression is a sine-qua-non precondition. This universally acknowledged right is a natural consequence of the freedom of conscience and thought (Pacem in Terris, 26-27). Truth, transparency, and freedom are the corner-stones of a truly democratic society; all the citizens have the right to search for the truth and to express their thoughts and opinions.
3. Human rights are not only part of a mature and healthy democracy, they are its very foundations. In our 1991 Pastoral Letter we wrote: The priority of the person finds its most vital and essential expression in the enjoyment of our basic human rights be they ethical (respect for the person), cultural (freedom to search for the truth and to express ones own ideas), educational (right to schooling), religious (right of free public and private worship according to the dictates of ones conscience), political (right to active participation in public life and affairs), and so forth. It is precisely through respect of these rights that the structures and functions of society can come to be of service to man.
4. Preparation for elections: official government sources have indicated that, by the end of this year, elections will be held. This is good news, and we urge the government to see it through. How were the preparations for the 1993 referendum handled? What preparations are in hand now? Let us enter these elections with the same openness of spirit and calm efficiency as we did for the referendum.
5. Where there is a just Constitution there will be an effective legal system. Though, ten years ago, we may have lacked sufficient prepared personnel, this should not be the case anymore today. Society in Eritrea respects the law: so it should not be too difficult to find competent and efficient citizens at home to do the job. We wish to think that the government of Eritrea works and cares for its people. Nonetheless, with the passing of time certain bad habits do develop. Care must be taken to keep our legal system free from suspicion. It is ultimately for the government's good that there be an institution to screen and point out where mistakes have been made.
6. The lack of a trustworthy legal system engenders corruption. We are of the opinion that it will be very difficult to claim immunity from charges of corruption in this country. Wherever there are human beings, there are also mistakes. As human beings in Eritrea are much the same as elsewhere, care should be taken to ensure that corruption does not become endemic either now or in the future. If it is true, as the saying goes, that "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", the solution is an effective legal system. It should be borne in mind that a lack of accountability will surely wreck society.
26. The family is the proper context where we find the foundation and marked identity of Eritrean society. A society is strong and united to the extent to which it promotes strong and united families. As the most precious social institution and the wellspring of our society, the family must be cherished and protected. There can be no doubt that some national programs (summer camps, national service, etc.,) are negatively affecting the family and many of its values. The above mentioned programs may very well benefit the country, but why at the expenses of the family? Could these programs not be run in a way that they may be of benefit to our families as well? One of the aspects that are causing the most serious damage to family life is physical separation: wife-husband, parents-children
Another serious problem is gender promiscuity. Isolation and loneliness generates a disorderly life-style: responsibilities are deserted, illegal conjugal relations occur, mistakes are covered up, divorce rates soar, one- parent families increase as do the numbers of teenage parents, and marriage contracts are drained of life. We need to fix these problems before the family completely loses its identity. It is public knowledge that the families both of the displaced and of those engaged in national service find themselves in grave psychological and financial difficulties. When a family's bread-winner is sent for service, or youth from the rural areas are taken for service of one kind or another, proper provision should be made for the financial well being of those left behind. Ultimately, what would be the gain if the family falls apart while one or more of its members is away serving the country?
27. The cost of living in Eritrea is getting out of hand even for those who have salaries. How will it be faced by those who have no income? Matters become even more serious when military or other forms of national service deprive families of their main sometimes their only income. Many families face destitution, and complaints are rife. This state of affairs demands immediate attention. In our traditional society begging was considered shameful; today it is visibly increasing among both the civil as well as the "service sectors of society. In conscience, we need to redress the balance for all those who are in need. We therefore appeal to our people, but above all to the government so that the necessary steps are taken to handle the problem urgently.
28. The status of women in our society is another issue that requires attention. Much has been said, and even done in terms of rights, equality and quality of life, and this must continue. However, not all that has been said and done was necessarily for the benefit of women. It is important to avoid the risk of going to the other extreme. Balance is needed here as much as in any other issue. During the past thirty years women have been directly involved in armed conflicts. It was the inevitable consequence of war. But war and armed conflicts are not ideals to cherish, even less so for women, whose vocation as the source of life and whose sense of compassion are a most great blessing for society. Experiences of past conflicts should remain as memories of courage and determination from which we might learn much, not as something to be looked at with nostalgia.
Life, from its very beginning, involves guardianship-stewardship, and this is especially true with regard to women: as mother, the woman is the core of the family and thus of the whole society; as wife, she shares with her husband the same dignity and the same responsibility over the family and the children. In short, woman, as mother, is the emblem of a nation. Scripture says: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28). Today women married or in consecrated life are given the opportunity to offer their specific contribution and influence society positively. This is a welcome trend whereby women can fully participate in the political, economic, educational, and religious life at both the national and international levels. This is a right that needs to be fostered and further developed.
Yet, womens social responsibilities should not relegate their vocation to family life to a secondary role. This awesome vocation is of an unparalleled importance (cf. John Paul II, Woman a Teacher of Peace, 6). One cannot fail to notice that much of the propaganda purportedly promoting womens social and political equality is, instead, becoming more harmful than advantageous to them. We highly endorse the recommendation that women, like men, should have from their earliest childhood equal access to education as well as parity in employment and salary. However, this equality should be one of dignity and rights, not one of hardship and disgrace. For this reason, the Church mandated to advocate the dignity and uniqueness of all people and to do all it can so that justice and peace may prevail was, and is, actively involved in the holistic promotion of women, ensuring that their rights are respected and promoted. We guarantee that the Church will continue to offer her contribution in the future as well.
29. The program known as "Coordinated Religious Education", through which the Ministry of Education permitted religious instruction to be given in public schools, was very beneficial. No explanation was given when this program was terminated. We believe that it should be reinstated and that teachers, methods and materials should be selected and prepared. Those responsible in the Church for this activity are ready to begin discussions on this matter with the Ministry of Education at their earliest convenience.
We feel that it is most important for all of us to raise, and reflect on, the following vital questions: What are our youth thinking and saying today? How do they view their country? Do they trust the administrative system? Does the country's economic development and social and religious stability give them cause for hope? If hope has evaporated, then they have no future to look to at home, and it is only obvious that they will look for solutions elsewhere. They will simply abandon their mother country and will look for a better future abroad.
A nation that is unable to harness the potential of its youth is doomed to instability. Indeed its very existence as a country may be put into question. We believe that we, as both civic and religious leaders, have a great responsibility to bear. There is no point in just asking, "Why are our youth choosing to go abroad?" for no-one leaves a country of milk and honey, as the saying goes, to seek another country offering the same opportunities. If one's homeland is a place where peace and freedom are enjoyed and employment is available, there is no reason to leave it to endure exile, loneliness and hardships of all kinds.
30. Our youth will soon be returning home burdened with grim memories. Wounded by war and war-propaganda, many of them will be physically, mentally, morally and spiritually scarred. These wounds will need time to heal, and society must be able to offer them a healing environment. In war the individual has no time to think, to speak and dream freely: he is a victim. The returnees need to be assisted and eased back into civilian life as they face new life situations and problems. They should be offered employment and opportunities that will meet their desire to participate fully, once again, in the life of the society to which they belong. They also need to be protected from feelings of despair, nihilism and related negative tendencies.
Our recommendation is that their integration into society be carefully planned. Their economic, religious and social lives should be meticulously studied. This huge task should not be left to the government alone. All parties NGOs, Religious groups etc. should be asked to offer their contribution, too. The psychological and moral wounds of the returnees are, in our view, particularly serious. Our young men and women facing such situations should be encouraged to share their experiences and help each other through the mass-media programs and extensive seminars.
31. With the first official recognition of the existence of this devastating disease, official government response was and still is focused on the extensive promotion of condoms. The fact remains however that HIV/AIDS is still in rampant increase. The government programs seem to have done little except, again, to boost the sale and the spread of condom. The failure of this first program resulted in the introduction of a new slogan: "one partner with one", the message of which is, to say the least, ambiguous: does this refer to a matrimony context? Or does it refer to relationships before or outside of marriage? What kind of union is it the one based on the one-partner-with-one slogan, which is entered into in a total disregard for marriage as envisaged by moral law and by our customary laws? Are sexual relationships to be evaluated in terms of personal choice only? If fear of contracting HIV/AIDS is the only reason for staying with one partner, what does that say about the value of intimate human relationships? What about the role of the conscience in the life of the individual? How long can relationships ultimately based on fear be expected to last? Should they last?
What needs to be done, we believe, is for religious leaders and educational institutions to pool their efforts and strive to re-establish a moral basis for behavior among the youth, to reawaken their faith in God and their sense of responsibility towards society. Such a program would include a re-introduction to the values and dignity of marriage, the value of abstinence and virginity before marriage and the pivotal importance of family life. Every means at our disposal should be employed to carry out this far-reaching awareness campaign. Similarly, involving the minds and hearts of our youth in activities such as sports, education, arts, work, service, and good deeds, both moral and spiritual, will help guard them from damaging behaviors and incidental sexual relations.
Our newspapers, for the most part, encourage promiscuity and infidelity. What we need is mature, informed, corrective and educational media contributions, if we are to help our youth. The country's Religious and Faith communities should form their own committees to deal with the HIV/AIDS issue. A national coordinating committee should be formed, as well, to enhance the sharing of experiences. We strongly support the formation of a trauma-counseling-healing-center where HIV-AIDS patients could be cared for.
A TIME OF SPIRITUAL RENEWAL
32. Jesus Christ began his ministry on earth with the following words: "...The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raise, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed the one who takes no offence at me" (Mt 11:4-6). The Church, founded by Christ and sent to the whole world, accomplishes her mission by following the words of Jesus and approaches the whole of human kind, for "The whole creation is waiting with eagerness for the children of God to be revealed. It was not for its own purpose that creation had frustration imposed on it, but for the purposes of him who imposed it with the intention that the whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God " (Rom 8:19-21).
The Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, strives to put the power of salvation at the service of all (Gaudium et Spes, 3). Grace, freedom and salvation can only be attained through repentance and through the acceptance of Gods mercy. Reconciliation with God and reconciliation with our fellow human beings are likewise dependent on these same two prerequisites. Over the past three years, in preparation to the 2000 Jubilee Year, the Catholic Church throughout the world has been using all her energies to make such a reconciliation a reality. During this important world event, the message of reconciliation, penance, mercy and salvation was repeatedly proclaimed (John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994, 14).
A Jubilee focuses on three objectives:
an evaluation of the past;
an assessment of the present;
a proposal for future plans and projects.
Concomitantly, the Jubilee is a time for correcting the mistakes of the past in a spirit of repentance, and for giving thanks to God for the blessings of both the past and the present. It is a time when people are called to assess their current situation in reference to Gods plan and will, and to amend whatever needs to be amended. It is also a time to look forward to the future, to renew our covenant with God and to move on to meet the new horizons of our faith.
Our past Christian Journey
33. "I am continually thanking God about you, for the grace of God which you have been given In Christ Jesus; in him you have been richly endowed in every kind of utterance and knowledge; so firmly has witness to Christ taken root in you (1 Cor 1:4-6). We have received our prophetic and apostolic Christian traditions through St Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria, who sent St. Frumentius, the revealer of light, as our first bishop. Abune Selama brought us the Gospel when we were still gentiles. St. Justin de Jacobis gave new life and vigor to our Christianity for no lees than 22 years. He came at a time when we needed re-awakening, and was prophetic enough to see the value of, and thus to work with, our ancient traditions, values and customs. We give thanks to God who provided us with such a loving and tireless apostle.
We remember with great admiration the long list of bishops, priests, consecrated men and women and dedicated lay faithful, who received the teaching and testimonies of faith and life and, with great zeal and competence, passed them on to us. Today we, too, want to move on, renewed in spirit and bolstered by the example of St Justin de Jacobis. In particular, we urge our Priests and Religious to collaborate with our people in true charity and humility. It is our mission and calling to proclaim the living and liberating message of the Good News and to incarnate it in the daily lives of our people. It is fitting for us to give thanks to God, who enabled our "Little flock" (Lk 12:32) to offer a significant Catholic contribution to the life and the growth of this country over many years, bearing witness to the Gospel and to its redeeming message.
The Situation Today
34. As we consider our unique spiritual heritage, so much impregnated with a profound reverence for God, we need to ask ourselves: where have we reached in our journey towards God today? The ability to maintain a distinctive faith-identity is the product of a strong Christian formation and dedication of the faithful, as are most of our social institutions. Today we have to admit that with the infiltration of new customs and constant social changes our courage in championing the Gospel-values has diminished and, with it, the possibility of being "The light" and "The salt" within the society.
Behaviors and attitudes that are completely alien to our traditional Christian ethos are becoming both normal and acceptable: shameless prostitution, witchcraft, betrayal, avarice, divorce, cohabitation; abandonment of established religion, expansion of questionable sects, and a shuttling between the two; secularism and the growth of an ungodly life-styleare but a few from among the manifestations of the general moral and spiritual decline visible in our society today. Dominated as we are by what has become fashionable, we may easily forget the meaning and the implications of Jesus words: "They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world" (Jn17:14).
If we are to accomplish our vocation and mission effectively, we will need to formulate and implement together a national pastoral plan that will help the Christian faithful to defend their faith and their identity from confusing and ever-changing attitudes, and thus become courageous witness of the Gospel With specific regard to Matrimony, let us not forget that we belong to a tradition that, locally, has become proverbial as an emblem of fidelity and stability: "Like the marriage of the Catholics." This is a tradition that once again we need to refresh. Only then will we be able to become credible, when we speak about HIV/AIDS, about pre-marital chastity, about abstinence, about fidelity and perseverance in marriage, and about a society that thrives on trust. We have first to understand these values ourselves and then bear witness to the others by both our words and our example. Let us not be swayed by the whims, fads or fashions of the moment.
We remind our Catholic faithful that they are called to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed, and to become the light of the world. It is our duty to engage with other Christian Churches in a respectful and loving dialogue, and to pray together cognizant of our distinctive identities. Distinctiveness, in this context, is the indispensable guarantee against syncretism or confessional relativism which would only lead to unnecessary confusion and to an even greater split. In this time of great confusion, the Catholic faithful need to study deeply, and hold firmly onto, the Word of God and the truths of their Tradition.
It is good to be acquainted with current trends among the new sects mushrooming in the country, but one must first know ones own faith and be adequately equipped to meet the challenge that they represent. Feeling as if sent to re-awaken our faith, they show an aggressiveness which can have an effect only on people whose religious education is superficial. Faith as a simple cultural tradition alone does not prepare us for such a challenge. We need to grow steadfast in what we believe. Strengthened by our faith in Gods love, our acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Savior and the Lord, our obedience to the Holy Spirit who guides and enlightens the Church, our faithfulness to the established Christian teaching, united in communion with the Saints, we will then, like the first Christians, be able to enlighten the confused.
We must be always ready to show to those who consider faith as an archaic tradition and pretend to live in a godless world the reason for our hope (cf. 1 Pt 3:15), with all gentleness, compassion and reverence, but also without fear or shame. This is what we mean when we exhort you to set your being different as an examples for others, in a concrete manner: by staying away from all mischief, oppression, lie, theft, corruption, bribery, avarice, adultery, drunkenness, licentiousness, and egotism.
Embracing the Values of the Gospel
35. Our society traditionally motivated by, and publicly expressive of, its healthy fear of God still needs to be renewed by the Spirit of the Gospel, so that creeping "paganism" may not overtake it by stealth. This new call to Evangelization is, therefore, aimed at proclaiming the Good News not only to those who do not know it, but also to those who have heard or embraced it, but are seriously affected by the contemporary secularizing mentality and way of living. For this reason, we are now called to re-evangelize our own society.
In this new age, we Christians need again to arm ourselves spiritually and proceed on our journey with courage as true witnesses of Christ. Our father St Justin de Jacobis, in his evangelical creativity and ability to work in collaboration with others, is a unique example for us. Despite all the difficulties and challenges of his time, he prepared books, formed pious and hard-working priests and catechists, and involved lay people in his evangelizing mission. This is an example we need to follow even today. Closeness to the daily life of the people and to their problems is the great lesson that St. Justin has bequeathed to us, one that our priests and religious will treasure as a means of spiritual growth alongside with the community of the faithful. To transform society from within, while helping to bridge differences, is what commitment to re-evangelization is calling us to, today.
36. In this effort, priority must be given to the Christian formation of our people with a particular focus on specific groups: the family should be closely assisted so as to be deeply rooted in its vocation as the cell of the people of God, the small domestic church; the youth need an accompaniment that could possibly be organized by age-groups; the workers should be offered a form of accompaniment suitable to their life and work conditions; diocesan and religious seminarians are expected to have the formation and the training that their future pastoral mission requires.
The Future Journey of Our Church
37. The jubilee we have just celebrated has given us an opportunity to reflect on our situation past and present and helped us to prepare ourselves for the journey that lies ahead of us. We have been called on to strengthen our Christian spirituality through prayer, witness and service.
The Church as the Family of God
The local Catholic Church in Eritrea is a portion of the Universal Church and, as such, is a small "Family of God". This concept covers a range of specific meanings and purposes: solidarity, mutual love, unity, harmony, fraternity, mutual acceptance, collaboration. Cooperation, mutual trust and compassion. It also combines references to the deep traditional roots of the family unit in Eritrea and the style of Christianity as expressed in the African context a synthesis between Gospel values and Africanness.
Finally it incorporates a call to faithfulness, on-going renewal and continuity. We strongly believe that all these values should be strengthened, developed, and their validity guaranteed. In recent times, this spirit has been most evident in the way that Eritrean deportees from Ethiopia and returnees from the Sudan were welcomed home. In this climate, love, reconciliation, and peace will naturally prosper. If we are to succeed in becoming truly a family of God, these are the signs that we must manifest. There can be no doubt that the Church has the potential to offer a substantial contribution to the development of local society, but this will only come about if we are able to turn ourselves into a spiritually healthy and committed family of God. To this end, we must encourage serious dialogue, understanding and trust. A spirit of harmony and unity will prevail in our Christian Churches if we work with diligence and sincere commitment.
Similarly we look forward to stronger links with our Sister Churches through increased activity in the ecumenical sphere, and with our Muslim brothers through inter-faith dialogue. As children of the same Father, it is only right that attitudes of fraternity and understanding unite us. It is the firm intention of the Catholic Church to contribute so that these relationships may continue to grow and deepen.
As we encourage a spirit of collaboration, understanding and tolerance in the religious sphere, we extend the same invitation to the leaders in the civil, political and government spheres. We strongly urge our government officials and political leaders to develop a spirit of dialogue and sharing among themselves and at the same time with the general public, the other parties, the Churches and spiritual leaders, so that our Nation may truly feel itself to be one family.
Witness and Prayer
38. Clear Christian witness and deep spirit of prayer should be both the source of the strength and the distinguishing mark of the Catholic Church. Her members are called to become the "Salt of the earth and the light of the world" (cf. Mt 5:13-16). However, we have to confess that in our lives both individual and social there are signs and evidences that are clearly inconsistent with what we believe about our own calling as witnesses of the Gospel. As already mentioned, in the last few years our society has been witnessing a growing decline of moral values: traditional social structures are being abandoned, marriage is rapidly losing its social and religious significance, abortion and divorce are becoming common-place and the practice of witchcraft is on the increase.
So far, many Christians have had little or nothing to say in response. Even worse, growing numbers among them are being trapped by the prevailing trend. This is clearly a far cry from the vocation of believers who claim to be steeped in a Christian tradition, to be enlightened by the person and the teachings of Christ, to be partakers of the Eucharistic mystery. The time has come for us to take stock of our situation and make a radical examination of conscience. We must ask ourselves how we have reacted to the precepts of the Gospel, the teachings of the Church and the thrust of our Christian spirituality. We need conversion.
The first step is to return to the practice of regular prayer. The second is to put into practice the most fundamental law of Christian life namely love of God and neighbor (cf. Mk 12:30-31; Jn 13:34; 1Cor 13). Prayer and thanksgiving make up the essence of our response to the God who revealed himself to us in Christ. Prayer involves focusing oneself heart and soul on God, believing and proclaiming that he is the source, purpose, support and sustenance of our life. Jesus insists that we pray (cf. Mk 11:24; Mt 7:7-11; Lk 9:13) as he did himself conversing with the Father (cf. Lk 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18; 10:21) sometimes in thanksgiving and blessing (cf. Mt 11:25-27; Lk 10:21-22) and, at other times, in appeal and imploration (cf. Mk 14:33-36; 5:78). Christian life without prayer is unthinkable. Prayer is about being vitally connected with God and with our vocation to holiness and to evangelization. Liturgy, the prayers of our Christian tradition, but above all the Holy Eucharist, are the loci where our prayer life reaches its apex. It is there that the faithful in our parish communities and family-groups should return to renew and refresh their spiritual energies.
A Serving Church
39. "We present ourselves once again to this country, as it struggles to come to terms with its new historical position, in the way assigned us by the Gospel. Our particular mission is to serve" (Peace and Progress, p. 37). A Church that effectively wants to bear witness to its faith can only do so through her service. Like the deacons of the New Testament (cf. Acts 6:1-7), the Church has an obligation to serve the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the victims of war. As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, so we are called to serve one another.
Let those in the family husband, wife, children practice mutual service with love and joy so that authentic service may be rendered in the church and in society. If properly planned and implemented through suitable means, this service can become for us the best way of fulfilling our social responsibilities. Work as the Old and New Testaments indicate is a vocation, a mission and a service (cf. Mk 6:3; Mt 13:55; Hos 20:9; 2 Th 3:6-12). It is by developing a proper attitude towards work that we achieve the betterment of ourselves, the development of a self-reliant Church and the improvement of the world to which we belong.
40. We conclude this our letter with a word of encouragement to all people of good will in this country: as we treasure the lessons from our remote and recent past history, let us strive to develop a true spirit of peace, reconciliation, harmony and collaboration, now and in the future. We strongly recommend that an extra effort be made to create a society where all the members may find tranquility, stability and safety; where our children and youth may grow up in an atmosphere of serenity; where adults may find fulfillment in their work and joy in their families; and where our elders may find shelter and warmth in their twilight years. We place our plans and commitments under the protection and the guidance of God, for, only through his wisdom, can people learn to respect, serve and guide each other.
- We call on you, the Catholic faithful, who are under our particular pastoral care, "So that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Pt 2:9), "Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtues, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love" (2 Pt 1:5-7). In this way, by strengthening yourselves, you can make a positive contribution in the society to which you belong and bear witness to the Gospel.
- We call on you, our Catholic families. Your vocation is to become true and authentic "Domestic churches". Let the light of the Holy Spirit guide you and make you a source of light for others. May you find strength and courage in the covenant of our Faith and inspiration in the example of the Holy Family in Nazareth.
- To you, our Catholic youth, we say: as Simon, in embracing Jesus, was able to glimpse into the bright future contained in his promise of salvation, so we too see ourselves, our future and our hope reflected in you: "Let no-one have contempt for your youth" (1 Tm 4:12). Be steadfast in your faith, but first find it and embrace it. "You will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith, and of the sound teaching you have followed" (1 Tm 4:6).
- We call on you, the clergy, our primary collaborators in the pastoral care of our flock: we acknowledge your perseverance, service and commitment. We assure you that "When the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive an unfading crown of glory" (1 Pt 5:4) and recommend you to the Lord's care so that you may remain always firm in your vocation of priestly service. We also recommend our seminarians to God's care and call on them: follow your vocation conscientiously, bathed in the light of God, so that one day soon you may worthily take up the baton of committed service to Gods people.
- To those in religious life we say: you have consecrated your lives to make life itself holy and to bring the lost sheep back into the fold. You have embraced the evangelical counsels of poverty, obedience, and chastity for the sake of Gods kingdom: continue living your consecration generously and joyfully, with your torches lit, your lamps bright, illuminating both the Church and the society to which you belong. May your lives be a spotless example to others.
May Our Lady continue to intercede for us with her Son so that our people may soon find true and lasting peace. May the LORD bless you and keep you! May the LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! May the LORD show you his face and bring you peace! (Num 6:24-26).
Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Eritrea on the 10th Anniversary of Independence 24 May 2001
Catholic Bishops of Eritrea
Algiers Peace Agreement - 2000
Agreement between the Government of the State of Eritrea and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic
of Ethiopia (the "parties"),
Reaffirming their acceptance of the Organization of African Unity ("OAU") Framework Agreement and the Modalities for its Implementation, which have been endorsed by the 35th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, held in Algiers, Algeria, from 12 to 14 July 1999,
Recommitting themselves to the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, signed in Algiers on 18 June 2000,
Welcoming the commitment of the OAU and the United Nations, through their endorsement of the Framework Agreement and Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, to work closely with the international community to mobilize resources for the resettlement of displaced persons, as well as rehabilitation and peace building in both countries,
Have agreed as follows:
The parties shall permanently terminate hostilities between themselves. Each party shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the other.
The parties shall respect and fully implement the provisions of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities.
In fulfilling their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions relative to the protection of victims of armed conflict ("1949 Geneva Conventions"), and in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the parties shall without delay, release and repatriate all prisoners of war.
In fulfilling their obligations under international humanitarian law, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the parties shall without delay, release and repatriate or return to their last place of residence all other persons detained as a result of the armed conflict.
The parties shall afford humane treatment to each other's nationals and persons of each other's national origin within their respective territories.
In order to determine the origins of the conflict, an investigation will be carried out on the incidents of 6 May 1998 and on any other incident prior to that date which could have contributed to a misunderstanding between the parties regarding their common border, including the incidents of July and August 1997.
The investigation will be carried out by an independent, impartial body appointed by the Secretary General of the OAU, in consultation with the Secretary General of the United Nations and the two parties.
The independent body will endeavor to submit its report to the Secretary General of the OAU in a timely fashion.
The parties shall cooperate fully with the independent body.
The Secretary General of the OAU will communicate a copy of the report to each of the two parties, which shall consider it in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement and the Modalities.
Consistent with the provisions of the Framework Agreement and the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, the parties reaffirm the principle of respect for the borders existing at independence as stated in resolution AHG/Res. 16(1) adopted by the OAU Summit in Cairo in 1964, and, in this regard, that they shall be determined on the basis of pertinent colonial treaties and applicable international law.
The parties agree that a neutral Boundary Commission composed of five members shall be established with a mandate to delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border based on pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902 and 1908) and applicable international law. The Commission shall not have the power to make decisions ex aequo et bono.
The Commission shall be located in the Hague.
Each party shall, by written notice to the United Nations Secretary General, appoint two commissioners within 45 days from the effective date of this agreement, neither of whom shall be nationals or permanent residents of the party making the appointment. In the event that a party fails to name one or both of its party-appointed commissioners within the specified time, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall make the appointment.
The president of the Commission shall be selected by the party-appointed commissioners or, failing their agreement within 30 days of the date of appointment of the latest party-appointed commissioner, by the Secretary-General of the United Nations after consultation with the parties. The president shall be neither a national nor permanent resident of either party.
In the event of the death or resignation of a commissioner in the course of the proceedings, a substitute commissioner shall be appointed or chosen pursuant to the procedure set forth in this paragraph that was applicable to the appointment or choice of the commissioner being replaced.
The UN Cartographer shall serve as Secretary to the Commission and undertake such tasks as assigned to him by the Commission, making use of the technical expertise of the UN Cartographic Unit. The Commission may also engage the services of additional experts as it deems necessary.
Within 45 days after the effective date of this Agreement, each party shall provide to the Secretary its claims and evidence relevant to the mandate of the Commission. These shall be provided to the other party by the Secretary.
After reviewing such evidence and within 45 days of its receipt, the Secretary shall subsequently transmit to the Commission and the parties any materials relevant to the mandate of the Commission as well as his findings identifying those portions of the border as to which there appears to be no dispute between the parties. The Secretary shall also transmit to the Commission all the evidence presented by the parties.
With regard to those portions of the border about which there appears to be controversy, as well as any portions of the border identified pursuant to paragraph 9 with respect to which either party believes there to be controversy, the parties shall present their written and oral submissions and any additional evidence directly to the Commission, in accordance with its procedures.
The Commission shall adopt its own rules of procedure based upon the 1992 Permanent Court of Arbitration Option Rules for Arbitrating Disputes Between Two States. Filing deadlines for the parties' written submissions shall be simultaneous rather than consecutive. All decisions of the Commission shall be made by a majority of the commissioners.
The Commission shall commence its work not more than 15 days after it is constituted and shall endeavor to make its decision concerning delimitation of the border within six months of its first meeting. The Commission shall take this objective into consideration when establishing its schedule. At its discretion, the Commission may extend this deadline.
Upon reaching a final decision regarding delimitation of the borders, the Commission shall transmit its decision to the parties and Secretaries General of the OAU and the United Nations for publication, and the Commission shall arrange for expeditious demarcation.
The parties agree to cooperate with the Commission, its experts and other staff in all respects during the process of delimitation and demarcation, including the facilitation of access to territory they control. Each party shall accord to the Commission and its employees the same privileges and immunities as are accorded to diplomatic agents under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The parties agree that the delimitation and demarcation determinations of the Commission shall be final and binding. Each party shall respect the border so determined, as well as the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the other party.
Recognizing that the results of the delimitation and demarcation process are not yet known, the parties request the United Nations to facilitate resolution of problems which may arise due to the transfer of territorial control, including the consequences for individuals residing in previously disputed territory.
The expenses of the Commission shall be borne equally by the two parties. To defray its expenses, the Commission may accept donations from the United Nations Trust Fund established under paragraph 8 of Security Council Resolution 1177 of 26 June 1998.
Consistent with the Framework Agreement, in which the parties commit themselves to addressing the negative socio-economic impact of the crisis on the civilian population, including the impact on those persons who have been deported, a neutral Claims Commission shall be established. The mandate of the Commission is to decide through binding arbitration all claims for loss, damage or injury by one Government against the other, and by nationals (including both natural and juridical persons) of one party against the Government of the other party or entities owned or controlled by the other party that are (a) related to the conflict that was the subject of the Framework Agreement, the Modalities for its Implementation and the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, and (b) result from violations of international humanitarian law, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions, or other violations of international law. The Commission shall not hear claims arising from the cost of military operations, preparing for military operations, or the use of force, except to the extent that such claims involve violations of international humanitarian law.
The Commission shall consist of five arbitrators. Each party shall, by written notice to the United Nations Secretary General, appoint two members within 45 days from the effective date of this agreement, neither of whom shall be nationals or permanent residents of the party making the appointment. In the event that a party fails to name one or both of its party-appointed arbitrators within the specified time, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall make the appointment.
The president of the Commission shall be selected by the party-appointed arbitrators or, failing their agreement within 30 days of the date of appointment of the latest party-appointed arbitrator, by the Secretary-General of the United Nations after consultation with the parties. The president shall be neither a national nor permanent resident of either party.
In the event of the death or resignation of a member of the Commission in the course of the proceedings, a substitute member shall be appointed or chosen pursuant to the procedure set forth in this paragraph that was applicable to the appointment or choice of the arbitrator being replaced.
The Commission shall be located in The Hague. At its discretion it may hold hearings and conduct investigations in the territory of either party, or at such other location as it deems expedient.
The Commission shall be empowered to employ such professional, administrative and clerical staff as it deems necessary to accomplish its work, including establishment of a Registry. The Commission may also retain consultants and experts to facilitate the expeditious completion of its work.
The Commission shall adopt its own rules of procedure based upon the 1992 Permanent Court of Arbitration Option Rules for Arbitrating Disputes Between Two States. All decisions of the Commission shall be made by a majority of the commissioners.
Claims shall be submitted to the Commission by each of the parties on its own behalf and on behalf of its nationals, including both natural and juridical persons. All claims submitted to the Commission must be filed no later than one year from the effective date of this agreement. Except for claims submitted to another mutually agreed settlement mechanism in accordance with paragraph 17 or filed in another forum prior to the effective date of this agreement, the Commission shall be the sole forum for adjudicating claims described in paragraph 1 or filed under paragraph 9 of this Article, and any such claims which could have been and not submitted by that deadline shall be extinguished, in accordance with international law.
In appropriate cases, each party may file claims on behalf of persons of Eritreans or Ethiopian origin who may not be its nationals. Such claims shall be considered by the Commission on the same basis as claims submitted on behalf of that party's nationals.
In order to facilitate the expeditious resolution of these disputes, the Commission shall be authorized to adopt such methods of efficient case management and mass claims processing as it deems appropriate, such as expedited procedures for processing claims and checking claims on a sample basis for further verification only if circumstances warrant.
Upon application of either of the parties, the Commission may decide to consider specific claims, or categories of claims, on a priority basis.
The Commission shall commence its work not more than 15 days after it is constituted and shall endeavor to complete its work within three years of the date when the period for filing claims closes pursuant to paragraph 8.
In considering claims, the Commission shall apply relevant rules of international law. The Commission shall not have the power to make decisions ex aequo et bono.
Interest, costs and fees may be awarded.
The expenses of the Commission shall be borne equally by the parties. Each party shall pay any invoice from the Commission within 30 days of its receipt.
The parties may agree at any time to settle outstanding claims, individually or by categories, through direct negotiation or by reference to another mutually agreed settlement mechanism.
Decisions and awards of the Commission shall be final and binding. The parties agree to honor all decisions and to pay any monetary awards rendered against them promptly.
Each party shall accord to members of the Commission and its employees the privileges and immunities that are accorded to diplomatic agents under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
This agreement shall enter into force on the date of signature.
The parties authorize the Secretary General of the OAU to register this agreement with the Secretariat of the United Nations in accordance with article 102(1) of the Charter of the United Nations.
For the Government of the State of Eritrea: Isaias Afewerki, President
For the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia: Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister
For the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria: Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of the Republic
For the United States of America: Mme Madeleine K. Albright, Secretary of State
For the United Nations: M. Kofitannan, Secretary General
For the Organization of African Unity: M. Salim Ahmed Salim, Secretary General
For the European Union: Mr Rino Serri, Special Representative of The Presidency.
Source: United Nations General Assembly Security Council, A./55/686-O/2000/1183, Distr.: General, 13 December 2000
Constitution of Eritrea - 1997
Ratified by the Constituent Assembly,
On May 23, 1997
Chapter I: General Provisions 522
Chapter II: National Objectives And Directive Principles 524
Chapter III: Fundamental Rights, Freedoms And Duties 527
Chapter IV: The National Assembly 533
Chapter V: The Executive 537
Chapter VI: The Administration Of Justice 541
Chapter VII: Miscellaneous Provisions 543
We the people of Eritrea, united in a common struggle for our rights and common destiny:
With Eternal Gratitude to the scores of thousands of our martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the causes of our rights and independence, during the long and heroic revolutionary struggle for liberation, and to the courage and steadfastness of our Eritrean patriots; and standing on the solid ground of unity and justice bequeathed by our martyrs and combatants;
Aware that it is the sacred duty of all citizens to build a strongand advanced Eritrea on the bases of freedom, unity, peace, stability and security achieved through the long struggle of all Eritreans, which tradition we must cherish, preserve and develop;
Realising that in order to build an advanced country, it isnecessary that the unity, equality, love for truth and justice, selfreliance, and hard work, which we nurtured during our revolutionary struggle for independence and which helped us to triumph, must become the core of our national values;
Appreciating the fact that for the development and health ofour society, it is necessary that we inherit and improve upon the
traditional communitybased assistance and fraternity, love for family, respect for elders, mutual respect and consideration;
Convinced that the establishment of a democratic order,through the participation of and in response to the needs and interests of citizens, which guarantees the recognition and protection of the rights of citizens, human dignity, equality, balanced development and the satisfaction of the material and spiritual needs of citizens, is the foundation of economic growth, social harmony and progress;
Noting the fact that the Eritrean womens heroic participationin the struggle for independence, human rights and solidarity, based on equality and mutual respect, generated by such struggle will serve as an unshakable foundation for our commitment to create a society in which women and men shall interact on the bases of mutual respect, solidarity and equality;
Desirous that the Constitution we are adopting will be acovenant between us and the government, which we will be forming by our freewill, to serve as a means for governing in harmony this and future generations and for bringing about justice and peace, founded on democracy, national unity and the rule of law;
Today, 23 May 1997, on this historic date, after active popular participation, approve and solemnly ratify, through the Constituent Assembly, this Constitution as the fundamental law of our Sovereign and Independent State of Eritrea.
CHAPTER I: GENERAL PROVISIONS
Article 1 The State of Eritrea and its Territory
Eritrea is a sovereign and independent State founded on the principles of democracy, social justice and the rule of law.
The territory of Eritrea consists of all its territories, including the islands, territorial waters and airspace, delineated by recognised boundaries.
In the State of Eritrea, sovereign power is vested in the people, and shall be exercised pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution.
The government of Eritrea shall be established through democratic procedures to represent peoples sovereignty and shall have strong institutions, accommodating popular participation and serving as foundation of a viable democratic political order.
Eritrea is a unitary State divided into units of local government. The powers and duties of these units shall be determined by law.
Article 2 Supremacy of the Constitution
This Constitution is the legal expression of the sovereignty of the Eritrean people.
This Constitution enunciates the principles on which the State is based and by which it shall be guided and determines the organisation and operation of government. It is the source of government legitimacy and the basis for the protection of the rights, freedoms and dignity of citizens and of just administration.
This Constitution is the supreme law of the country and the source of all laws of the State, and all laws, orders and acts contrary to its letter and spirit shall be null and void.
All organs of the State, ail public and private associations and institutions and all citizens shall be bound by and remain loyal to the Constitution and shall ensure its observance.
This Constitution shall serve as a basis for instilling constitutional culture and for enlightening citizens to respect fundamental human rights and duties.
Article 3 Citizenship
Any person born of an Eritrean father or mother is an Eritrean by birth.
Any foreign citizen may acquire Eritrean citizenship pursuant to law.
The details concerning citizenship shall be regulated by law.
Article 4 National Symbols and Languages
The Eritrean Flag shall have green, red and blue colours with golden olive leaves. The detailed description of the Flag shall be determined by law.
Eritrea shall have a National Anthem and a Coat of Arms reflecting the history and the aspiration of its people. The details of the National Anthem and the Coat of Arms shall be determined by law.
The equality of all Eritrean languages is guaranteed.
Article 5 Gender Reference
Without consideration to the wording of any provision in this Constitution with reference to gender, all of its articles shall apply equally to both genders.
CHAPTER II: NATIONAL OBJECTIVES AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES
Article 6 National Unity and Stability
As the people and government strive to establish a united and advanced country within the context of the diversity of Eritrea, they shall be guided by the basic principle unity in diversity.
The State shall, through participation of all citizens, ensure national stability and development by encouraging democratic dialogue and national consensus; and by laying a firm political, cultural and moral foundation of national unity and social harmony.
The State shall ensure peaceful and stable conditions by establishing appropriate participatory institutions that guarantee and hasten equitable economic and social progress.
Article 7 Democratic Principles
It is a fundamental principle of the State of Eritrea to guarantee its citizens broad and active participation in all political, economic, social and cultural life of the country.
Any act that violates the human rights of women or limits or otherwise thwarts their role and participation is prohibited.
There shall be established appropriate institutions to encourage and develop peoples initiative and participation in their communities.
Pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution and laws enacted pursuant thereto, all Eritreans, without distinction, are guaranteed equal opportunity to participate in any position of leadership in the country.
The conduct of the affairs of government and all organisations and institutions shall be accountable and transparent.
The organisation and operation of all political, public associations and movements shall be guided by the principles of national unity and democracy.
The State shall create conditions necessary for developing a democratic political culture defined by free and critical thinking, tolerance and national consensus.
Article 8 Economic and Social Development
The State shall strive to create opportunities to ensure the fulfilment of citizens rights to social justice and economic development and to fulfil their material and spiritual needs.
The State shall work to bring about a balanced and sustainable development throughout the country, and shall use all available means to enable all citizens to improve their livelihood in a sustainable manner, through their participation.
In the interest of present and future generations, the State shall be responsible for managing all land, water, air and natural resources and for ensuring their management in a balanced and sustainable manner; and for creating the right conditions to secure the participation of the people in safeguarding the environment.
Article 9 National Culture
The State shall be responsible for creating and promoting conditions conducive for developing a national culture capable of expressing national identity, unity and progress of the Eritrean people.
The State shall encourage values of community solidarity and love and respect of the family.
The State shall promote the development of the arts, science, technology and sports and shall create an enabling environment for individuals to work in an atmosphere of freedom and to manifest their creativity and innovation.
Article 10 Competent Justice System
The justice system of Eritrea shall be independent, competent and accountable pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution and laws.
Courts shall work under a judicial system that is capable of producing quick and equitable judgments and that can easily be understood by and is accessible to all the people.
Judges shall be free from corruption or discrimination and, in rendering their judgment, they shall make no distinction among persons.
The State shall encourage equitable outofcourt settlement of disputes through conciliation, mediation or arbitration.
Article 11 Competent Civil Service
The Civil Service of Eritrea shall have efficient, effective and accountable administrative institutions dedicated to the service of the people.
All administrative institutions shall be free from corruption, discrimination and delay in the delivery of efficient and equitable public services.
Article 12 National Defence and Security
The defence and security forces of Eritrea shall owe allegiance to and obey the Constitution and the government established thereunder.
The defence and security forces are an integral part of society, and shall be productive and respectful of the people.
The defence and security forces shall be competent and be subject to and accountable under the law.
The defence and security of Eritrea depend on the people and on their active participation.
Article 13 Foreign Policy
The foreign policy of Eritrea is based on respect for state sovereignty and independence and on promoting the interest of regional and international peace, cooperation, stability and development.
CHAPTER III: FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, FREEDOMS AND DUTIES
Article 14 Equality under the Law
All persons are equal under the law.
No person may be discriminated against on account of race, ethnic origin, language, colour, gender, religion, disability, age, political view, or social or economic status or any other improper factors.
The National Assembly shall enact laws that can assist in eliminating inequalities existing in the Eritrean society.
Article 15 Right to Life and Liberty
No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law.
No person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law.
Article 16 Right to Human Dignity
The dignity of all persons shall be inviolable.
No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
No person shall be held in slavery or servitude nor shall any person be required to perform forced labour not authorised by law.
Article 17 Arrest, Detention and Fair Trial
No person may be arrested or detained save pursuant to due process of law.
No person shall be tried or convicted for any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence at the time when it was committed.
Every person arrested or detained shall be informed of the grounds for his arrest or detention and of the rights he has in connection with his arrest or detention in a language he understands.
Every person who is held in detention shall be brought before a court of law within fortyeight (48) hours of his arrest, and if this is not reasonably possible, as soon as possible thereafter, and no such person shall be held in custody beyond such period without the authority of the court.
Every person shall have the right to petition a court of law for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Where the arresting officer fails to bring the person arrested before the court and provide the reason for his arrest, the court shall accept the petition and order the release of the prisoner.
Every person charged with an offence shall be entitled to a fair, speedy and public hearing by a court of law; provided, however, that such a court may exclude the press and the public from all or any part of the trial for reasons of morals or national security, as may be necessary in a just and democratic society.
A person charged with an offence shall be presumed to be innocent, and shall not be punished, unless he is found guilty by a court of law.
Where an accused is convicted, he shall have the right to appeal. No person shall be liable to be tried again for any criminal offence on which judgement has been rendered.
Article 18 Right to Privacy
Every person shall have the right to privacy.
(a) No person shall be subject to body search, nor shall his premises be entered into or searched or his communications, correspondence, or other property be interfered with, without reasonable cause.
No search warrant shall issue, save upon probable cause, supported by oath, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Article 19 Freedom of Conscience, Religion, Expression of Opinion, Movement, Assembly and Organisation
Every person shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief.
Every person shall have the freedom of speech and expression, including freedom of the press and other media.
Every citizen shall have the right of access to information.
Every person shall have the freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice.
All persons shall have the right to assemble and to demonstrate peaceably together with others.
Every citizen shall have the right to form organisations for political, social, economic and cultural ends.
Every citizen shall have the right to practice any lawful profession, or engage in any occupation or trade.
Every citizen shall have the right to move freely throughout Eritrea or reside and settle in any part thereof.
Every citizen shall have the right to leave and return to Eritrea and to be provided with passport or any other travel documents.
Article 20 Right to Vote and to be a Candidate to an Elective Office
Every citizen who fulfils the requirements of the electoral law shall have the right to vote and to seek elective office.
Article 21 Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and
Every citizen shall have the right of equal access to publicly funded social services. The State shall endeavor, within the limit of its resources, to make available to all citizens health, education, cultural and other social services.
The State shall secure, within available means, the social welfare of all citizens and particularly those disadvantaged.
Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in any economic activity and to engage in any lawful business.
The State and society shall have the responsibility of identifying, preserving and developing, as need be, and bequeathing to succeeding generations historical and cultural heritage; and shall lay the necessary groundwork for the development of the arts, science, technology and sports, thus encouraging citizens to participate in such endeavors.
The National Assembly shall enact laws guaranteeing and securing the social welfare of citizens, the rights and conditions of labour and other rights and responsibilities listed in this Article.
Article 22 Family
The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and is entitled to the protection and special care of the State and society.
Men and women of full legal age shall have the right, upon their consent, to marry and to found a family freely, without any discrimination and they shall have equal rights and duties as to all family affairs.
Parents have the right and duty to bring up their children with due care and affection; and, in turn, children have the right and the duty to respect their parents and to sustain them in their old age.
Article 23 Right to Property
Subject to the provisions of SubArticle 2 of this Article, any citizen shall have the right, any where in Eritrea, to acquire and dispose property, individually or in association with others, and to bequeath the same to his heirs or legatees.
All land and all natural resources below and above the surface of the territory of Eritrea belongs to the State. The interests citizens shall have in land shall be determined by law.
The State may, in the national or public interest, take property, subject to the payment of just compensation and in accordance with due process of law.
Article 24 Administrative Redress
Any person with an administrative question shall have the right to be heard respectfully by the administrative officials concerned and to receive quick and equitable answers from them.
Any person with an administrative question, whose rights or interests are interfered with or threatened, shall have the right to seek due administrative redress.
Article 25 Duties of Citizens
All citizens shall have the duty to:
owe allegiance to Eritrea, strive for its development and promote its prosperity;
be ready to defend the country;
complete ones duty in national service;
advance national unity;
respect and defend the Constitution;
respect the rights of others; and
comply with the requirements of the law.
Article 26 Limitation Upon Fundamental Rights and Freedoms
The fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under this Constitution may be limited only in so far as is in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, health or morals, for the prevention of public disorder or crime or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Any law providing for the limitation of the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed in this Constitution must:
be consistent with the principles of democracy and justice;
be of general application and not negate the essential content of the right or freedom in question;
specify the ascertainable extent of such limitation and identify the article or articles hereof on which authority to enact such limitation is claimed to rest.
The provisions of SubArticle 1 of this Article shall not be used to limit the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under Articles 14(1) and (2); 15; 16; 17(2), (5), (7) and (8); and 19(1) of this Constitution.
Article 27 State of Emergency
At a time when public safety or the security or stability of the State is threatened by war, external invasion, civil disorder or natural disaster, the President may by a proclamation published in the Official Gazette declare that a state of emergency exists in Eritrea or any part thereof.
A declaration under SubArticle 1 of this Article shall not become effective unless approved by a resolution passed by a twothirds majority vote of all members of the National Assembly. A declaration made when the National Assembly is in session shall be presented within two days after its publication, or otherwise, the National Assembly shall be summoned to meet and consider the declaration within thirty days of its publication.
A declaration approved by the National Assembly pursuant to SubArticle 2 of this Article shall continue to be in force for a period of six months after such approval. The National Assembly may, by a resolution of twothirds majority vote of all its members, extend its approval of the declaration for a period of three months at a time.
The National Assembly may, at any time, by resolution revoke a declaration approved by it pursuant to the provisions of this Article.
A declaration of a state of emergency or any measures undertaken or laws enacted pursuant to it shall not:
suspend Articles 14(1) and (2); 16; 17(2); and 19(1) of the Constitution;
grant pardon or amnesty to any person or persons who, acting under the authority of the State, have committed illegal acts; or
introduce martial law when there is no external invasion or civil disorder.
Article 28 Enforcement of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms
The National Assembly or any subordinate legislative authority shall not make any law, and the Executive and the agencies of government shall not take any action that abolishes or abridges the fundamental rights and freedoms conferred by this Constitution, unless so authorised by this Constitution. Any law or action in violation thereof shall be null and void.
Any aggrieved person who claims that a fundamental right or freedom guaranteed by this Constitution has been denied or violated shall be entitled to petition a competent court for redress. Where it ascertains that such fundamental right or freedom has been denied or violated, the court shall have the power to make all such orders as shall be necessary to secure for such petitioner the enjoyment of such fundamental right or freedom, and where such applicant suffers damage, to include an award of monetary compensation.
Article 29 Residual Rights
The rights enumerated in this Chapter shall not preclude other rights which ensue from the spirit of this Constitution and the principles of a society based on social justice, democracy and the rule of law.
CHAPTER IV: THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Article 30 Representation of the People
All Eritrean citizens, of eighteen years of age or more, shall have the right to vote.
The National Assembly shall enact an electoral law, which shall ensure the representation and participation of the Eritrean people.
Article 31 Establishment and Duration of the National
There shall be a National Assembly which shall be the supreme representative and legislative body.
The National Assembly shall be composed of representatives elected by the people.
Members of the National Assembly shall be elected by secret ballot of all citizens who are qualified to vote.
Members of the National Assembly are representatives of the Eritrean people as a whole. In discharging their duties, they are governed by the objectives and principles of the Constitution, the interest of the people and the country and their conscience.
The first session of the National Assembly shall be held within one month after a general election. The term of the National Assembly shall be five years from the date of such first session. Where there exists a state of emergency which prevents a general election from being held, the National Assembly may, by a resolution supported by not less than twothirds vote of all its members, extend the life of the National Assembly for a period not exceeding six months.
The qualifications and election of the members of the National Assembly, the conditions for vacating their seats and other related matters shall be determined by law.
Article 32 Powers and Duties of the National Assembly
Pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution:
the National Assembly shall have the power to enact laws and pass resolutions for the peace, stability, development and social justice of Eritrea;
unless authorized pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution and law enacted by the National Assembly, no person or organisation shall have the power to make decisions having the force of law.
The National Assembly shall be bound by the objectives and principles of the Constitution, and shall strive to realise the objectives stated therein.
The National Assembly shall approve the national budget and enact tax laws.
The National Assembly shall ratify international agreements by law.
The National Assembly shall have the power to approve government borrowing.
The National Assembly shall approve a state of peace, war or national emergency.
The National Assembly shall have the power to oversee the execution of laws.
The National Assembly shall have the power to elect, from among its members, by an absolute majority vote of all its members, the President who shall serve for five years.
Pursuant to the provisions of Article 41(6)(a), (b) and (c) hereof, the National Assembly may, by a twothirds majority vote of all its members, impeach or impeach and charge the President before the end of his term of office.
The National Assembly shall have the power to approve an appointment pursuant to this Constitution.
The National Assembly shall establish a standing committee to deal with citizens petitions.
The National Assembly shall have the power to enact all resolutions and to undertake all such measures as are necessary and to establish such standing or ad hoc committees as it deems appropriate for discharging its constitutional responsibilities.
Article 33 Approval of Draft Legislation
Any draft law approved by the National Assembly shall be transmitted to the President who, within thirty days of its receipt, shall sign and have it published in the Official Gazette.
Article 34 Chairperson of the National Assembly
During the first meeting of its first session, the National Assembly shall elect, by an absolute majority vote of all its members, a Chairperson who shall serve for five years.
The Chairperson of the National Assembly shall convene all sessions of the National Assembly and preside at its meetings, and shall, during the recess, coordinate and supervise the operations of the standing and ad hoc committees and the Secretariat of the National Assembly.
The Chairperson of the National Assembly may be replaced by an absolute majority vote of all the members of the National Assembly.
Article 35 Oath
Every member of the National Assembly shall take the following oath:
I, __________, swear in _________________ that I will be faithful and worthy of the trust the Eritrean people placed on me; that I will uphold and defend the Constitution of Eritrea; and that I will endeavour to the best of my ability and conscience for the unity and development of my country.
Article 36 Rules of Procedure in the National Assembly
The National Assembly shall have regular sessions and shall determine the timing and duration thereof.
At the request of the President, its Chairperson or onethird of all its members, the National Assembly shall convene emergency meetings.
The quorum of the National Assembly shall be fifty percent of all its members.
Except as otherwise prescribed by this Constitution, any question proposed for decision of the National Assembly shall be determined by a majority vote of those present and voting, and in case of a tie of votes, the Chairperson may exercise a casting vote.
The National Assembly shall issue rules and regulations concerning its operations and tasks and the organisation of the standing and ad hoc committees and its Secretariat, as well as the rules governing the code of conduct of its members and transparency of its operations.
Article 37 Office of the National Assembly and Powers of its Committees
The National Assembly shall, under the direction of its Chairperson, have a Secretariat, which shall provide services to the National Assembly and its committees.
The various committees established pursuant to the provisions of Article 32(12) shall have the power to summon any person to appear before them to give evidence under oath or to submit documents.
Article 38 Duties, Immunities and Privileges of Members of the National Assembly
All members of the National Assembly shall have the duty to maintain the high honor of their office and to conduct themselves as humble servants of the people.
No member of the National Assembly may be charged for any crime, unless he be apprehended in flagrante delicto. However, where it is deemed necessary to lift his immunity, such a member may be charged in accordance with procedures determined by the National Assembly.
No member of the National Assembly may be charged or otherwise be answerable for statements made or submitted by him at any meeting of the National Assembly or any meeting of its committees or any utterance or statement made outside the National Assembly in connection with his duty as member thereof.
The duties, responsibilities, immunities and compensation of the members of the National Assembly shall be determined by law; and all members shall be entitled to the protection of such immunities.
CHAPTER V: THE EXECUTIVE
Article 39 The President: Head of State and Government
The President of Eritrea is the Head of the State and the Government of Eritrea and the CommanderinChief of the Eritrean Defence Forces.
The executive authority is vested in the President, which he shall exercise, in consultation with the Cabinet, pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution.
The President shall ensure respect of the Constitution; the integrity and dignity of the State; the efficient management of the public service; and the interests and safety of all citizens, including the enjoyment of their fundamental rights and freedoms recognised under this Constitution.
Article 40 Qualification to be a Candidate to the Office of the President
Any member of the National Assembly who seeks to be a candidate to the office of the President of Eritrea shall be a citizen of Eritrea by birth.
Article 41 Election and Term of Office of the President
The President shall be elected from amongst the members of the National Assembly by an absolute majority vote of its members. A candidate for the office of the President must be nominated by at least 20 percent vote of all the members of the National Assembly.
The term of office of the President shall be five years, equal to the term of office of the National Assembly that elects him.
No person shall be elected to hold the office of President for more than two terms.
When the office of the President becomes vacant due to death or resignation of the incumbent or due to the reasons enumerated in SubArticle 6 of this Article, the Chairperson of the National Assembly shall assume the office of the President. The Chairperson shall serve as acting President for not more than thirty days, pending the election of another President to serve the remaining term of his predecessor.
The term of office of the person elected to serve as President under SubArticle 4 of this Article shall not be considered as a full term for purposes of SubArticle 3 of this Article.
The President may be removed from office by twothirds majority vote of all members of the National Assembly for the following reasons:
violation of the Constitution or grave violation of the law;
conducting himself in a manner which brings the authority or honour of the office of the President into ridicule, contempt and disrepute; and
being incapable of performing the functions of his office by reason of physical or mental incapacity.
The National Assembly shall determine the procedures for the election and removal of the President from office.
Article 42 Powers and Duties of the President
The President shall have the following powers and duties:
once every year, deliver a speech in the National Assembly on the state of the country and the policies of the government;
subject to the provisions of Article 27 hereof, declare state of emergency, and when the defence of the country requires, martial laws;
summon the National Assembly to an emergency meeting and present his views to it;
sign and publish in the Official Gazette laws approved by the National Assembly;
ensure the execution of laws and resolutions of the National Assembly;
negotiate and sign international agreements and delegate such power;
with the approval of the National Assembly, appoint ministers, commissioners, the AuditorGeneral, Governor of the National Bank, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and any other person or persons who are required by any other provisions of this Constitution or other laws to be appointed by the President;
appoint justices of the Supreme Court upon proposal of the Judicial Service Commission and approval of the National Assembly;
appoint judges of the lower courts upon proposal of the Judicial Service Commission;
Appoint and receive ambassadors and diplomatic representatives;
appoint high ranking members of the Armed and the Security Forces;
subject to the provisions of Article27(5)(b), reprieve offenders and grant pardon or amnesty;
establish such government ministries and departments necessary or expedient for the good governance of Eritrea, in consultation with the Public Service Administration, and dissolve the same;
preside over meetings of the Cabinet and coordinate its activities;
present legislative proposals and the national budget to the National Assembly;
confer medals or other honours on citizens, residents and friends of Eritrea in consultation with the relevant organisations and individuals.
Subject to the provisions of Article 52(1), remove any person appointed by him.
Article 43 Immunity from Civil and Criminal Proceedings
Any person holding the office of the President may not be:
sued in any civil proceedings, save where such proceedings concern an act done in his official capacity as President, in which case the State may be sued;
charged with any criminal offence, unless he be impeached and charged under Article 41(6)(a) and (b) hereof.
After a President vacates his office no court may entertain any action against him in any civil proceedings in respect of any act done in his official capacity as President.
Article 44 Privileges to be Given to Former Presidents
Provisions shall be made by law for the privileges that shall be granted to former Presidents.
Article 45 Oath
Upon his election, the President shall take the following oath:
I, ____________, swear in ___________ that I will uphold and defend the Constitution of Eritrea and that I will strive with the best of my ability and conscience to serve the people of Eritrea.
Article 46 The Cabinet
There shall be a ministerial Cabinet presided over by the President.
The President may select ministers from among members of the National Assembly or from among persons who are not members of the National Assembly.
The Cabinet shall assist the President in:
directing, supervising and coordinating the affairs of government;
conducting study on and preparing the national budget;
conducting study on and preparing draft laws to be presented to the National Assembly;
conducting study on and preparing the policies and plans of government.
The President shall issue rules and regulations for the organisation, functions, operations and code of conduct relating to the members of the Cabinet and the Secretariat of his Office.
Article 47 Ministerial Accountability
All cabinet ministers shall be accountable:
individually to the President for the administration of their own ministries; and
collectively to the National Assembly, through the President, for the administration of the work of the Cabinet.
The National Assembly or its committees may, through the Office of the President, summon any minister to appear before them to question him concerning the operation of his ministry.
CHAPTER VI: THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Article 48 The Judiciary
The judicial power shall be vested in a Supreme Court and in such other lower courts as shall be established by law and shall be exercised in the name of the people pursuant to this Constitution and laws issued thereunder.
In exercising the judicial power, courts shall be free from the direction and control of any person or authority. Judges shall be subject only to the law, to a judicial code of conduct determined by law and to their conscience.
A judge shall not be liable to any suit for any act in the course of exercising his judicial function.
All organs of the State shall accord to the courts such assistance as they may require to protect their independence and dignity so that they may exercise their judicial power appropriately and effectively pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution and laws issued thereunder.
Article 49 The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court shall be the court of last resort; and shall be presided over by the Chief Justice.
The Supreme Court shall have:
sole jurisdiction of interpreting this Constitution and the constitutionality of any law enacted or any action taken by government;
sole jurisdiction of hearing and adjudicating upon charges against a President who has been impeached by the National Assembly pursuant to the provisions of Article 41(6)(a) and (b) hereof; and
the power of hearing and adjudicating cases appealed from lower courts pursuant to law.
The Supreme Court shall determine its internal organisation and operation.
The tenure and number of justices of the Supreme Court shall be determined by law.
Article 50 Lower Courts
The jurisdiction, organisation and function of lower courts and the tenure of their judges shall be determined by law.
Article 51 Oath
Every judge shall take the following oath:
I, _____________, swear in _____________ that I will adjudicate in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and laws enacted thereunder and I will exercise the judicial authority vested in me, subject only to the law and my conscience.
Article 52 Removal of Judges from Office
A judge may be removed from office before the expiry of his tenure of office by the President only, acting on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, pursuant to the provisions of SubArticle 2 of this Article for physical or mental incapacity, violation of the law or breach of judicial code of conduct.
The Judicial Service Commission shall investigate whether or not a judge should be removed from office on grounds of those enumerated in SubArticle 1 of this Article. In the event that the Judicial Service Commission decides that a judge be removed from office, it shall present its recommendation to the President.
The President may, on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, suspend from office a judge who is under investigation.
Article 53 The Judicial Service Commission
There shall be established a Judicial Service Commission, which shall be responsible for submitting recommendations for the recruitment of judges and the terms and conditions of their services.
The organisation, powers and duties of the Judicial Service Commission shall be determined by law.
Article 54 The Advocate General
There shall be an Advocate General whose powers and duties shall be determined by law.
CHAPTER VII: MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
Article 55 Auditor General
There shall be an Auditor General who audits the revenues and expenditures and other financial operations of government and who reports annually his findings to the National Assembly.
The Auditor General shall be appointed for five years by the President with the approval of the National Assembly and shall be accountable to the National Assembly.
The detailed organisation, powers and duties of the Auditor General shall be determined by law.
Article 56 National Bank
There shall be a National Bank, which performs the functions of a central bank, controls the financial institutions and manages the national currency.
The National Bank shall have a Governor appointed by the President with the approval of the National Assembly. There shall be a Board of Directors whose members shall be appointed by the President.
The detailed organisation, powers and duties of the National Bank shall be determined by law.
Article 57 Civil Service Administration
There shall be established a Civil Service Administration, which shall be responsible for the recruitment, selection and separation of civil servants as well as for determining the terms and conditions of their employment, including the rights and duties and the code of conduct of such civil servants.
The detailed organisation, powers and duties of the Civil Service Administration shall be determined by law.
Article 58 Electoral Commission
There shall be established an Electoral Commission, operating independently, without interference, which shall, on the basis of the electoral law, ensure that free and fair elections are held and administer their implementation; decide on issues raised in the course of the electoral process; and formulate and implement civic educational programmes relating to elections and other democratic procedures.
An Electoral Commissioner shall be appointed by the President with the approval of the National Assembly.
The detailed organisation, powers and duties of the Electoral Commission shall be determined by law.
Article 59 Amendment of the Constitution
A proposal for the amendment of any provision of this Constitution may be initiated and tabled by the President or 50 percent of all the members of the National Assembly.
Any provision of this Constitution may be amended as follows:
where the National Assembly by a threequarters majority vote of all its members proposes the amendment with reference to a specific Article of the Constitution tabled to be amended; and
where, one year after it has proposed such an amendment, the National Assembly, after deliberation, approves again the same amendment by fourfifths majority vote of all its members.
Eritrea Referendum Result - 1993
The United Nations Observer Mission to Verify the Referendum in Eritrea (UNOVER) was established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 47/114 of 16 December l992.
The mandate of UNOVER was to verify the impartiality of the referendum authorities and organs, including the Referendum Commission, in all aspects and stages of the referendum process; to verify that there existed complete freedom of organization, movement, assembly and expression without hindrance or intimidation; to verify that there was equal access to media facilities and that there was fairness in the allocation of both the timing and length of broadcasts; to verify that the referendum rolls were properly drawn up and that qualified voters were not denied identification and registration cards or the right to vote; to report to the referendum authorities on complaints, irregularities and interferences reported or observed and, if necessary, to request the referendum authorities to take action to resolve and rectify such complaints, irregularities or interference; and to observe all activities related to the registration of voters, the organization of the poll, the referendum campaign, the poll itself and the counting, computation and announcement of the results.
UNOVER deployed observers in all districts of Eritrea, and covered, from 23 to 25 April, most if not all, of the 1,014 polling stations. The core observer team, composed of 21 members from 21 countries, arrived in early February. They were joined the week before the vote by 100 UN observers. A total of 38 countries were represented.
In addition, more than 40 observers were deployed in Ethiopia and in the Sudan to verify the vote of Eritreans in those countries. United Nations designated representatives also observed the referendum in several other countries including Canada, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the Scandinavian countries and the United States
On the basis of the evaluation performed by UNOVER, I have the honour, in my capacity as Special Representative of the Secretary-General, to certify that on the whole, the referendum process in Eritrea can be considered to have been free and fair at every stage, and that it has been conducted to my satisfaction.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Eritreans who helped UNOVER perform its mission. This of course includes the members of the Referendum Commission and the Eritrean authorities as well as all Eritreans.
The results of the referendum were as follows:
|Region||Do you want Eritrea to be an independent and sovereign country?||Total|
Source: Eritrea Birth of a Nation, Published in 1993 by the Government of Eritrea, Dept. of External Affairs
Organization of African Unity, AHG/Res. 16(I), Border Disputes Among African States
Border Disputes Among African States
The assembly of Heads of State and Government meeting in its First Ordinary Session in Cairo, UAR, from 17 to 21 July 1964,
Considering that border problems constitute a grave and permanent factor of dissention;
Conscious of the existence of extra-African manoeuvres aimed at dividing African States;
Considering further that the borders of African States, on the day of their independence, constitute a tangible reality;
Recalling the establishment in the course of the Second Ordinary Session of the Council of the Committee of Eleven charged with studying further measures for strengthening African Unity;
Recognising the imperious necessity of settling, by peaceful means and within a strictly African framework, all disputes between African States;
Recalling further that all Member States have pledged, under Article IV of the Charter of African Unity, to respect scrupulously all principles laid down in paragraph 3 of Article III of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity:
SOLEMNLY REAFFIRMS the strict respect by all Member States of the Organization for the principles laid down in paragraph 3 of Article III of the Charter of the Organization of African Unity;
SOLEMNLY DECLARES that all Member States pledge themselves to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence.
The Constitution of Eritrea - 1952
The Constitution of Eritrea, adopted by the Eritrean Constituent Assembly on July 15, 1952.*
In the name of Almighty God,
Trusting that He may grant Eritrea peace, concord and prosperity,
And that the Federation of Eritrea and Ethiopia may be harmonious and fruitful,
We, the Eritrean Assembly, acting on behalf of the Eritrean people,
Grateful to the United Nations for recommending that Eritrea shall constitute an autonomous unit federated with Ethiopia under the sovereignty of the Ethiopian Crown and that its Constitution be based on the principles of democratic government,
Desirous of satisfying the wishes and ensuring the welfare of the inhabitants of Eritrea by close and economic association with Ethiopia and by respecting the rights and safeguarding the institutions, traditions, religions and languages of all the elements of the population.
Resolved to prevent any discrimination and to ensure under a regime of freedom and equality, the brotherly collaboration of the various races and religions in Eritrea, and to promote economic and social progress.
Trusting fully in God, the Master of the Universe.
Do hereby adopt this Constitution as the Constitution of Eritrea.
PART I. GENERAL
Adoption and ratification of the Federal Act
1. The Eritrean people, through their representatives, hereby adopt and ratify the Federal Act approved on 2 December 1950 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
2. THEY UNDERTAKE TO OBSERVE FAITHFULLY THE PROVISIONS OF THE SAID ACT.
CHAPTER I. STATUS OF ERITREA
Territory of Eritrea
The territory of Eritrea, including the islands, is that of the former Italian colony of Eritrea.
Autonomy and federation Eritrea shall constitute an autonomous unit federated with Ethiopia under the sovereignty of the Ethiopian Crown.
Legislative, executive and judicial powers
The Government of Eritrea shall exercise legislative, executive and judicial powers with respect to matters within its jurisdiction.
Matters coming within the jurisdiction of Eritrea
1. The jurisdiction of the Government of Eritrea shall extend to all matters not vested in the Federal Government by the Federal Act
2. This jurisdiction shall include:
(a) The various branches of law (criminal law, civil law, commercial law, etc.);
(b) The organization of the public services;
(c) Internal police;
(f) Public assistance and social security;
(g) Protection of labour;
(h) Exploitation of natural resources and regulation of industry, internal commerce, trades and professions;
(j) Internal communications;
(k) The public utility services which are peculiar to Eritrea;
(l) The Eritrean budget and the establishment and collection of taxes designed to meet the expenses of Eritrean public functions and services.
Contribution by Eritrea to the expenses of the Federal Government
1. Eritrea shall bear its just and equitable share of the expenses of Federal functions and services.
Assessment and levying of Federal taxes
2. The Government of Eritrea shall assess and levy in Eritrea, by delegation from the Federal Government, such taxes as are established to that end for the benefit of the whole of the Federation.
Revenue from customs duties
3. Within the revenue which accrues to Eritrea shall be included the customs duties on goods entering or leaving the Federation which have their final destination or origin in Eritrea, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 4 of the resolution of 2 December 1950 of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Representation of Eritrea in the Imperial Federal Council
1. The Eritrean representatives in the Imperial Federal Council, composed of equal numbers of Ethiopians and Eritreans, shall be appointed by the Chief Executive with the approval of the Assembly. They shall be formally invested in office by the Emperor.
Participation of Eritreans in the Federal Government
2. Eritreans shall participate in the executive and judicial branches and shall be represented in the legislative branch, of the Federal Government, in accordance with law and in the proportion that the population of Eritrea bears to the population of the Federation.
Persons who have acquired Federal nationality in Eritrea under the Federal Act (Section A, paragraph 6 of the General Assembly Resolution 390 A (V)) and have been granted Eritrean citizenship in accordance with the laws of Eritrea shall be citizens of Eritrea.
Rights of Federal nationals who are not Eritrean citizens
1. On the basis of reciprocity, Federal nationals who are not Eritrean citizens shall enjoy the same rights as Eritreans.
2. Federal nationals shall enjoy political rights in accordance with the Eritrean Constitution and laws on the basis of reciprocity.
CHAPTER II. REPRESENTATION OF THE EMPEROR IN ERITREA
The Emperor has a representative in Eritrea
There shall be a representative in Eritrea of His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Ethiopia, Sovereign of the Federation.
Rank of the Representative of the Emperor
The Representative of the Emperor shall, on all occasions, have the place of precedence at official ceremonies in Eritrea.
Administering of the oath of office to the Chief Executive before the Representative of the Emperor.
Formal investment of the Chief Executive in office
The Chief Executive, elected by the Assembly in accordance with Article 68, shall take the oath of office in accordance with the provisions of Article 72. The Representative of the Emperor, having noted that the Chief Executive has been elected by the Assembly, shall formally invest him in office in the name of the Emperor, Sovereign of the Federation.
Opening and closing of sessions of the Assembly
At the opening and closing of sessions of the Assembly, the Representative of the Emperor may deliver the speech from the throne in which he will deal with affairs of common interest to the Federation and to Eritrea.
Transmission of legislation to the representative of the Emperor
1. When draft legislation has been voted by the Assembly, the Chief Executive will transmit it immediately to the Representative of the Emperor.
2. If the Representative of the Emperor considers that draft legislation voted by the Assembly encroaches upon Federal jurisdiction, or that it involves the international responsibility of the Federation, he may transmit a request to the Chief Executive within twenty days after the vote by the Assembly for reconsideration of the draft legislation by the Assembly, indicating his reasons for doing so.
Promulgation of legislation
The Representative of the Emperor will promulgate legislation in the manner laid down in Article 58.
CHAPTER III. DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT IN ERITREA
The principles of democratic government
The Constitution of Eritrea is based on the principles of democratic government.
Respect for human rights
The Constitution guarantees to all persons the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Organs of government are provided for by the people and shall act in the interests of the people
1. All organs of government are provided for by the people. They are chosen by means of periodic, free and fair elections, directly and indirectly.
2. The organs of government shall act in the interests of the people.
Rule of law
1. The organs of government and public officials shall have no further powers than those conferred on them by the Constitution and by the laws and regulations which give effect thereto.
2. Neither a group of the people nor an individual shall arbitrarily assume the exercise of any political power or of administrative functions.
3. Public officials shall perform their duties in strict conformity with the law and solely in the public interest.
4. Public officials shall be personally answerable for any unlawful acts or abuses they may commit.
The electorate shall consist of those persons possessing Eritrean citizenship who:
(a) Are of male sex;
(b) Have attained the age of twenty-one years;
(c) Are under no legal disability as defined by the law; and
(d) Have been resident for one year preceding the election in the constituency where they shall vote.
1. The Federal flag shall be respected in Eritrea. Flag, seal and arms of Eritrea
2. There shall be a flag, seal and arms of Eritrea, details of which shall be decided upon by law.
CHAPTER IV. HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS MS
Section I. Provisions reproduced from the Federal Act
Provisions reproduced from the Federal Act
The following provisions of paragraph 7 of the Federal Act shall be an integral part of the Constitution of Eritrea:
“The Federal Government, as well as Eritrea, shall ensure to residents in Eritrea, without distinction of nationality, race, sex, language or religion, the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental liberties, including the following:
(a) The right to equality before the law. No discrimination shall be made against foreign enterprises in existence in Eritrea engaged in industrial commercial, agricultural, artisan, educational or charitable activities nor against banking institutions and insurance companies operating in Eritrea;
(b) The right to life, liberty and security of person;
(c) The right to own and dispose of property. No one shall be deprived of property, including contractual rights, without due process of law and without payment of just and effective compensation;
(d) The right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right of adopting and practising any creed or religion;
(e) The right to education;
(f) The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
(g) The right to inviolability of correspondence and domicile subject to the requirements of the law;
(h) The right to exercise any profession subject to the requirements of the law;
(i) No one shall be subject to arrest or detention without an order of a competent authority, except in case of flagrant and serious violation of the law in force. No one shall be deported except in accordance with the law;
(j) The right to a fair and equitable trial, the right of petition to the Emperor and the right of appeal to the Emperor for commutation of death sentences;
(k) Retroactivity of penal law shall be excluded.”
Section II. Other provisions
Freedom and equality before the law
Everyone is a person before the law
All persons are born free and are equal before the law without distinction of nationality, race, sex or religion and, as such shall enjoy civil rights and shall be subject to duties and obligations.
Prohibition of torture and certain punishments
No one shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Right to freedom of movement
Everyone resident in Eritrea has the right to freedom of movement and to the choice of place of residence in Eritrea subject to the provisions of Article 34.
Freedom of conscience and religion
The right to freedom of conscience and religion shall include the right of everyone, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
No discrimination to the detriment of any religion
No economic, financial or political measure of a discriminatory nature shall be taken to the detriment of any religion practised in Eritrea.
Recognition of religious bodies as persons before the law
Religious bodies of all kinds and religious orders shall be recognized as possessing juristic personality.
Consequently, any religious denomination or any group of citizens belonging to such denomination shall be entitled:
(a) To establish and maintain institutions for religious, educational and charitable purposes;
(b) To conduct its own affairs in matters of religion;
(c) To possess and acquire movable and immovable property;
(d) To administer its property and to enter into contracts.
Religious instruction and worship in public schools
No pupil attending a public school shall be required to take part in any religious instruction at such school or attend any religious service at such school.
Freedom to express opinions
Everyone resident in Eritrea shall have the right to express his opinion through any medium whatever (Press, speech, etc.) and to learn the opinions expressed by others.
Right to education and freedom to teach
1. Everyone resident in Eritrea shall have the right to education. The Government shall make every effort to establish schools and to train teachers.
2. The Government shall encourage private persons and private associations and institutions, regardless of race, nationality, religion, sex or language, to open schools, provided that they give proof of the required standards of morality and competence.
3. The instruction in the schools shall conform to the spirit of the Constitution.
Associations and companies
1. Everyone resident in Eritrea shall have the right to form associations or companies for lawful purposes.
2. Companies or associations shall enjoy fundamental freedoms in so far as their nature permits.
3. Such companies or associations shall be regarded as persons before the law.
Protection of working conditions
1. Everyone resident in Eritrea, regardless of nationality, race sex, or religion, shall have the right to opportunity of work, to equal pay for equal work, to regular holidays with pay, to payment of. dependency allowances, to compensation for illness and accidents incurred through work and to a decent and healthy standard of life.
2. Everyone resident in Eritrea shall have the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Control by law of the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms
1. The provisions in the last sub-paragraph of paragraph 7 of the Federal Act apply to the whole of Chapter IV of Part I of the Constitution. This sub-paragraph reads as follows:
“The respect for the rights and freedoms of others and the requirements of public order and the general welfare alone will justify any limitations to the above rights.”
2. In applying the aforementioned provisions, the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms may be regulated by law provided that such regulation does not impede their normal enjoyment.
Duties of individuals
Everyone shall have the duty to respect the Constitution and the laws, and to serve the community.
CHAPTER V. SPECIAL RIGHTS OF THE VARIOUS POPULATION GROUPS IN ERITREA
Nationals of the Federation, including those covered by subparagraphs (b) and (d) of paragraph 6 of the Federal Act, as well as foreign nationals, shall have the right to respect for their customs and their own legislation governing personal status and legal capacity, the law of the family and the law of succession.
Property rights and rights of real nature, including those on State lands, established by custom or law and exercised in Eritrea by the tribes, the various population groups and by natural or legal persons, shall not be impaired by any law of a discriminatory nature.
1. Tigrinya and Arabic shall be the official languages of Eritrea.
2. In accordance with established practice in Eritrea, the languages spoken and written by the various population groups shall be permitted to be used in dealing with the public authorities, as well as for religious or educational purposes and for all forms of expression of ideas.
PART II. THE ASSEMBLY
CHAPTER I. COMPOSITION AND ELECTION OF THE ASSEMBLY
Creation of an Assembly representing the Eritrean people
1. Legislative power shall be exercised by an Assembly representing the Eritrean people.
2. Members of the Assembly shall represent the Eritrean people as a whole, and not only the constituency in which they are elected.
Number of members of the Assembly
1. The Assembly shall be composed of not less than fifty and not more than seventy members.
2. Within the limits prescribed in the preceding paragraph, the number of members shall be fixed by law.
1. The territory of Eritrea shall be divided into electoral constituencies, each electing one representative.
2. These constituencies shall be established in such a way that they will be approximately equal in population. The boundaries of the constituencies shall be fixed by law.
All members of the electorate shall be eligible for election to the Assembly provided that:
(a) They have reached the age of thirty;
(b) They have been resident in Eritrea for three years and have been resided in the constituency for two years during the last ten years;
(c) They are not disqualified for any reason laid down by law; and
(d) They are not officials of the Eritrean or Federal Governments, unless they have resigned at the time of presenting their candidature.
The two voting systems
1. The members of the Assembly shall be elected either by direct or indirect ballot.
2. The system of voting to be used in any given constituency shall be laid down by law.
3. Voting by direct ballot shall be personal, equal and secret. For this purpose, a roll of qualified voters shall be drawn up, and revised from time to time. The system for establishing electoral rolls shall be fixed by law.
4. The first stage of voting by indirect ballot shall be conducted in accordance with local custom. At the second stage, voting shall be personal, equal and secret.
Election by direct ballot and election at second stage in the case of indirect ballot
1. If a candidate for the Assembly obtains an absolute majority of the votes cast he shall be declared elected.
2. If no candidate obtains an absolute majority, as defined in paragraph 1, a second ballot shall be held, and the candidate who then obtains the greatest number of votes shall be declared elected.
Electoral High Commission
l. An electoral High Commission consisting of three persons appointed by the Supreme Court established under Article 85 shall be responsible for supervising all electoral proceedings (including the compiling of electoral rolls), and for preventing or putting a stop
2. The High Commission shall appoint, in each constituency, from among the electors of that constituency, a representative to act under its authority.
3. The said representative shall be assisted by an advisory election committee, consisting of members chosen by him from among the electors of that constituency.
As soon as an election period has been declared open in accordance with the law every candidate shall be entitled to be represented on the committee.
4. The implementation of the present article shall be prescribed by law.
Disputed elections to the Assembly
1. At the opening of the session following an election, the Assembly shall confirm its members. All members whose elections are unchallenged shall be confirmed simultaneously.
2. In any case where an election is challenged, the Assembly shall decide, by a two-thirds majority of the members present, whether the challenged election is valid, provided that such two-thirds majority shall be not less than one half of the members of the Assembly in office.
3. In the event of a member's election not being confirmed, he may, within three days following the adoption in the decision by the Assembly, appeal to the Supreme Court established under Article 85, but shall not take his seat until the Supreme Court has given its decision.
Term of the Assembly
1. The Assembly shall be elected for a term of four years.
2. Members shall be eligible for reelection.
3. If there is a vacancy during the term of an Assembly, a by-election shall take place. No by-election can, however take place within six months of the election of a new Assembly.
CHAPTER II. SESSIONS AND MEETINGS
1. The Assembly shall hold two regular sessions each year.
2. The Assembly shall meet in regular session on a date to be specified by law. This session shall continue for at least one month.
3. The opening date of the second regular session shall be fixed by the Chief Executive after consulting the President of the Assembly. This second session shall be devoted primarily to voting the budget and the Assembly shall consider no other matter until the budget has been voted. The session shall not close until the budget has been voted as prescribed in Article 60.
4. The closing date of regular sessions shall be fixed by the Chief Executive after consulting the President of the Assembly.
5. With the consent of the President of the Assembly, the Chief Executive may suspend a session for a period not exceeding twenty days.
l. The Chief Executive may convene the Assembly to a special session.
2. The Chief Executive shall convene the Assembly to a special session whenever a written request is submitted by not less than one-third of the members.
3. When the Assembly is convened to a special session by the Chief Executive on his own initiative, only the questions set forth in the notice convening the Assembly shall be discussed.
The Chief Executive shall fix the closing date of the session.
4. When the Assembly is convened to a special session at the request of not less than one third of its members, it shall determine its own agenda. The Chief Executive shall fix the closing date of the session in agreement with the President of the Assembly.
Two thirds of the members of the Assembly shall compose a quorum.
Rules of procedure
The Assembly shall adopt its own rules of procedure.
Officers of the Assembly
The Assembly shall elect its officers at the opening of the first regular session of each year or at the beginning of a new Legislature. The officers shall consist of a President, a Vice-President and, if the Assembly so desires, other officers.
CHAPTER III. STATUS OF MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY
Swearing-in of members
Before taking up their duties, members of the Assembly who have not served in the previous Legislature shall take, in accordance with the faith and the customary practice of the individual concerned, the following oath before the President of the Assembly:
“I undertake before Almighty God” (or an invocation conforming to the faith and the customary practice of the member of the Assembly concerned) “to respect the Federation under the sovereignty of the Imperial Crown, loyally to serve Eritrea, to defend its Constitution and its laws, to seek no personal advantage from my office, and to perform all my duties conscientiously.”
1. Members of the Assembly shall not be liable to prosecution for opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties.
2. Members of the Assembly shall not be arrested or prosecuted without the authorization of the Assembly, save that in case of flagrant delict they may be arrested, but the prosecution, even in this case, shall be authorized by the Assembly. When the Assembly is not in session, such authorization may be given by its officers. The Assembly may subsequently decide that proceedings shall be discontinued.
Remuneration of members of the Assembly
1. Members of the Assembly shall receive a remuneration fixed by law.
2. No increase of remuneration shall take effect until the term of office of the Assembly voting it has expired.
CHAPTER IV. POWERS OF THE ASSEMBLY
General powers of the Assembly
The Assembly shall vote the laws and the budget, elect the Chief Executive and supervise the activities of the Executive.
Section I. Legislative functions
Drafting and adoption of legislation
1. Draft legislation may be introduced into the Assembly by members of the Assembly or submitted to the Assembly by the Chief Executive.
2. Such legislation shall be considered, discussed and put to the vote as provided in the Assembly’s rules of procedure.
Request for a reconsideration
1. Draft legislation adopted by the Assembly shall be immediately transmitted by the President of the Assembly to the Chief Executive.
Approval of legislation by the Chief Executive
2. The Chief Executive will transmit it as soon as received to the Representative of the Emperor who may request, in accordance with the provisions of Article 14, that it be reconsidered by the Assembly.
3. If the Representative of the Emperor, exercising the prerogatives for which provision is made under Article 14, has transmitted a request to the Chief Executive for reconsideration, giving his reasons for doing so, the Assembly must take a further vote. The draft legislation must obtain a two-thirds majority vote to be adopted.
4. If the draft legislation has been adopted after reconsideration, as provided in the preceding paragraph, or if the Representative of the Emperor has not exercised his prerogatives under Article 14, the Chief Executive must within twenty days after the vote taken by the Assembly, either approve the draft legislation and transmit it to the Representative of the Emperor for promulgation within five days of its receipt, or return it to the Assembly with his comments.
5. If the Chief Executive shall have returned the draft legislation to the Assembly, the Assembly shall reconsider the draft legislation and take a further vote on it. If the draft legislation is then adopted by a two-thirds majority, the Chief Executive shall transmit it to the Representative of the Emperor for promulgation within five days of its receipt.
6. All draft legislation adopted in accordance with the provisions of this article but not promulgated within the time limit laid down in paragraphs 4 and 5 of this Article, shall come into effect after publication by the Chief Executive.
Section II. Budget
Submission of the draft budget by the Chief Executive
1. At least one month before the opening of the second regular session of the Assembly, the Chief Executive shall submit a draft budget for the next financial year.
2. The draft budget shall cover the whole of the revenue and expenditures of the Government of Eritrea for the next financial year.
Examination and adoption of the budget by the Assembly
1. During the month preceding the second regular session of the Assembly, the Assembly Finance Committee shall examine the draft budget submitted by the Executive and report to the Assembly.
2. A general debate on the draft budget shall be held at the beginning of the second regular session of the Assembly. Within ten days following the closure of the debate, the Executive shall submit a revised draft budget including the amendments it may decide to make to its first draft as a result of the observations made by the Assembly.
3. The Assembly shall then proceed to examine the various items of the budget:
(a) It shall first adopt the expenditure estimates with or without amendments, only the total estimate for each Executive Department being put to the vote. The Assembly may not increase the estimates proposed in the draft budget unless increase is balanced by corresponding estimates of revenue and has received the consent of the Executive.
(b) The Assembly shall then adopt, with or without amendments, the revenue estimates chapter by chapter, each of which shall be put to the vote separately.
4. The complete budget shall be adopted before the beginning of the financial year; otherwise, the amended draft budget submitted by the Executive as provided in paragraph
2 above shall be deemed to be adopted, provided the Executive has itself observed the time-limit laid down in Article 59 and in the present article.
All taxation and expenditure must be authorized by law.
No tax shall be levied and no expenditure shall be incurred unless authorized by law.
Form of the budget
A law shall be enacted governing the form in which the budget is to be submitted and voted on each year.
Credit for urgent expenditure
1. When voting the budget, the Assembly shall include a credit for urgent expenditure.
2. The amount of this credit shall not exceed 10 per cent of the expenditure estimates.
3. At the beginning of the following session of the Assembly, the Chief Executive shall report on the use he has made of this credit. The Assembly shall take a vote on this report.
Accounts for past financial years
1. Within eighteen months following the close of each financial year, the Executive shall submit the accounts for that financial year to the Assembly for approval.
2. An Auditor-General, independent of the Executive, shall be elected by the Assembly.
3. The principal function of the Auditor-General shall to examine the annual accounts, and to make a report to the Assembly containing his observations on them at the time of their presentation to the Assembly.
4. The method of election and the matters within the competence of the Auditor-General shall be established by law.
Section III. Election and supervision of the Executive
Election of the Chief Executive
The Assembly shall elect the Chief Executive as provided in Article 68.
Supervision of the Executive by the Assembly
1. Members of the Assembly may submit questions in writing or short questions orally to the Executive, which shall reply.
2. At the request of ten members of the Assembly, a debate may be held on the Executive’s policy. The Executive shall be entitled to intervene both in the course of the debate and before its closure.
PART III. THE EXECUTIVE
CHAPTER I. COMPOSITION AND APPOINTMENT
Composition of the Executive
The Executive shall consist of a Chief Executive assisted by Secretaries of Executive
Election of the Chief Executive
1. The Chief Executive shall be elected by the Assembly by secret ballot; if a candidate obtains two thirds of the votes cast he shall be declared elected. If no candidate obtains the requisite number of votes the candidate receiving the least number of votes shall be removed from the list and the Assembly shall vote again on the remainder repeating the process if necessary until a candidate obtains the required number of votes.
2. Only Eritrean citizens having attained the age of thirty-five years and in possession of their political rights shall be eligible for the office of the Chief Executive.
3. The Assembly shall elect a Chief Executive at the opening of each new legislature.
4. In case of death or resignation of the Chief Executive, the Assembly shall elect a successor within fifteen days. If the Assembly is not in session, the President of the Assembly shall convene it to a special session. The newly elected Chief Executive shall remain in office until the expiry of his predecessor’s term.
5. The Chief Executive shall be eligible for re-election.
Appointment of Secretaries of Executive Departments
1. The Chief Executive shall have power to appoint and dismiss Secretaries of Executive Departments, who shall be responsible to him.
2. Only persons qualified to be members of the Eritrean electorate shall be eligible to hold office as Secretaries of Executive Departments.
3. The Chief Executive shall select the Secretaries of Executive Departments in such a way as to ensure as far as possible a fair representation in his council of the principal groups of the population and the various geographical areas of the territory.
4. The number and the functions of Secretaries of Executive Departments shall be prescribed by law.
The office of the Chief Executive or of Secretary of an Executive Department is incompatible with the holding of any other administrative or judicial office.
Acting Chief Executive
The Chief Executive, on being elected, shall designate one of the Secretaries of Executive Departments to act for him if he is temporarily prevented from discharging his duties or, if his post fall vacant, until such time as a new Chief Executive is elected.
Swearing-in of the Chief Executive
Before taking up his duties, the Chief Executive shall, according to his faith and customary practice, take the following oath in the Assembly before the Representative of the Emperor:
“I undertake before Almighty God” (or an invocation conforming to the faith and the customary practice of the Chief Executive) “to respect the Federation under the sovereignty of the Imperial Crown, loyally to serve Eritrea, to defend its Constitution and its laws, to seek the welfare of the Eritrean people in the unity of its inhabitants bound together by ties of brotherhood, whatever their race, religion or language, and to seek no personal advantage from office.”
Swearing-in of Secretaries of Executive Departments
Before taking up their duties, Secretaries of Executive Departments shall, according to their faith and their customary practices, take the following oath publicly in the Assembly before the Representative of the Emperor:
“I undertake before Almighty God” (or an invocation conforming to the faith and customary practice of the individual concerned) “loyally to respect the Federation under the sovereignty of the Imperial Crown, loyally to serve Eritrea, to respect its Constitution and its laws, to seek no personal advantage from my office and to perform all my duties conscientiously.”
Council of the Executive
The Chief Executive shall from time to time summon a council of the Secretaries of Executive Departments. This Council shall advise the Chief Executive on matters of general policy and on any questions he may submit to it.
Removal from office of the Chief Executive
1. The Chief Executive shall not be answerable for any act performed by him in the course of his duties except for a grave violation of the Constitution. He shall be answerable for failure to dismiss any Secretary of an Executive Department committing a grave violation of the Constitution.
2. In such circumstances, the Chief Executive may be impeached by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Assembly in office, and tried by the Supreme Court established under Article 85.
3. If the Supreme Court finds the charge to be proved, it shall order the removal from office of the Chief Executive. It may, furthermore disqualify him from performing any executive function or legislative duty.
4. Removal from office shall be without prejudice to any proceedings which may be instituted if the acts committed by the Chief Executive constitute offences under criminal law.
CHAPTER II. POWERS OF THE EXECUTIVE
Enumeration of powers
1. The Chief Executive shall ensure that the Constitution and the laws are enforced. He shall have responsibility for the direction of the Executive and Administrative Departments and public services. He shall be Chairman of the Civil Service Commission for which provision is made in Article 82, and shall make appointments in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.
2. He shall be responsible for the internal police of Eritrea and, to this end, he shall issue regulations conforming to the Constitution and the laws to ensure the maintenance of public order and security.
3. He shall convene the sessions of the Assembly as provided in Articles 48 and 49 of the Constitution.
4. Each year, at the opening of the first regular session, he shall give an account to the Assembly of his conduct of affairs and report on the general situation of Eritrea.
5. He shall have the power to propose legislation. He may request the Assembly to reconsider draft legislation. He shall publish the laws after their promulgation or under the provisions of Article 58.
6. He shall submit to the Assembly a draft annual budget and the accounts for the preceding financial year, as provided in Articles 59, 60 and 64.
7. He shall have access to and the right of addressing the Assembly. He may be represented in the Assembly and its Committees by the Secretaries of Executive Departments.
8. He shall issue the regulations required to implement the laws.
9. He shall issue orders as provided in Article 77.
10. He may temporarily limit certain provisions of the Constitution as provided in Article 78.
11. He shall take the necessary measures for the suppression of brigandage, as provided in Article 79.
12. Official documents issued by the Chief Executive must be counter-signed by the Secretaries of the Executive Departments concerned.
Power of the Chief Executive to issue orders when the Assembly is not in session
1. In the interval between sessions of the Assembly the Chief Executive shall have authority to issue, when necessary, orders governing any matter within the jurisdiction of the Government of Eritrea except matters dealt with in Chapter IV of Part I of the Constitution provided that such orders are compatible with the Constitution and the laws in force.
2. Such orders shall be submitted to the Assembly which must approve or repeal them within a period of two months from the opening of the session following their promulgation.
3. Failing a decision by the Assembly within the above mentioned period, orders issued by the Chief Executive shall be deemed to be confirmed.
Limitation in time of emergency of certain constitutional provisions
1. In the event of a serious emergency which endangers public order and security, the Assembly may, on the proposal of the Chief Executive, adopt a law authorizing him to impose, under the conditions provided for in Article 34, temporary limitations on the rights set forth in Chapter IV of Part I of this Constitution.
2. The authorization thus given by law shall be valid for a maximum period of two months. If necessary, it may be renewed under the same conditions.
3. During the interval between sessions, the Chief Executive may, if it is urgently necessary, issue an order prescribing the measures referred to in paragraph 1. In such cases, a special session of the Assembly shall be convened, as soon as possible and, at the latest, within twenty days following the promulgation of the order, to adopt a law approving, amending or repealing the said order.
Suppression of brigandage
1. If public order and the security of persons and property in Eritrea are threatened by organized brigandage, the Chief Executive shall, after making a proclamation to the people, adopt the exceptional measures necessary to suppress such brigandage.
2. The Chief Executive shall inform the Assembly of the measures he has taken.
CHAPTER III. THE ADMINISTRATION
Conditions of appointment of officials
Officials shall be chosen for their ability and character; considerations of race, sex, religion or political opinion shall not influence the choice either to their advantage or to their disadvantage.
Status of officials
1. The general status of administrative officials shall be fixed by law.
2. The special status of the various categories of administrative officials shall be fixed by regulations.
Civil Service Commission
1. A Civil Service Commission, under the chairmanship of the Chief Executive or his representative, shall be created.
2. This Commission shall be responsible for the appointment, promotion, transfer and discharge of officials and for taking disciplinary action against them.
3. The composition of this Commission, the procedure for the appointment of its members, and the conditions under which it will function will be determined by law.
l. The Constitution recognizes the existence of local communities.
2. Municipalities shall be accorded the management of their own affairs.
3. Officials responsible for the administration of village and tribal communities shall be selected from persons of those local communities.
4. The conditions for the application of the preceding provisions may be determined by law.
PART IV. THE ADVISORY COUNCIL OF ERITREA
Advisory Council of Eritrea
1. An Advisory Council of Eritrea is hereby established.
2. The function of the Council shall be to assist the Chief Executive and the Assembly, with a view to achieving economic and social progress in Eritrea. To this end it may:
(a) Draw up plans for the development of the country’s resources and for the improvement of public health and hygiene;
(b) Put forward proposals concerning finance and the budget and the organization of the administration and the public services;
(c) Give advice on draft laws submitted to the Assembly;
(d) On the request of the Chief Executive or of the Assembly, prepare drafts of laws, regulations or orders.
3. The composition and organization of the Council shall be fixed by law.
PART V. THE JUDICIARY
Judicial power shall be exercised by a Supreme Court and by other courts which will apply the various systems of law in force in Eritrea. The organization of these courts shall be established by law.
Qualifications required of judges
1. Judges shall be chosen from persons of the highest moral reputation and known to be well versed in the customs and legislation peculiar to the various systems of law which they are required to apply.
2. Before taking up office, judges shall, according to their faith and their customary practice, take the following oath:
“I swear before Almighty God (or an invocation conforming to the faith and the customary practice of the judge concerned) to be a faithful guardian of the law and to administer it impartially and independently in order to ensure that justice shall reign supreme in Eritrea.”
Independence of the judiciary
3. The judiciary shall be independent and must be free from all political influence. The Assembly and the Executive shall not give orders or injunctions to the judges, nor shall they bring any pressure to bear on them.
Status of judges
4. The status of judges shall be established by law.
Appointment of judges
1. Judges shall be appointed by the Chief Executive on the recommendation of the President of the Assembly who shall be supplied with a list of candidates by a Committee composed of the President of the Supreme Court and two judges chosen by the members of the Supreme Court and of the court or courts immediately inferior thereto.
2. The President of the Assembly shall recommend to the Chief Executive two candidates for each appointment.
3. The list of candidates drawn up by the committee provided for in paragraph 1 must include at least three names for each appointment.
Responsibility of judges
The Supreme Court provided for in Article 85 shall have jurisdiction in respect of criminal or disciplinary responsibility of judges for acts in connection with the discharge of their duties.
Composition of the Supreme Court
1. The Supreme Court shall consist of not less than three and not more than seven judges. On the proposal of the Court, the number of judges may be decreased or increased by law.
2. Judges shall be appointed for a period of seven years, which period may be renewed.
Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction in the following matters:
(1) As a court of last resort with respect to appeals from final Judgments on points of law, and also to the extent provided by law with respect to appeals both on questions of law and fact.
(2) Conflicts of jurisdiction between courts.
In the event of a question involving conflicting jurisdiction, proceedings shall be suspended and the issue shall be presented to the Supreme Court, which shall determine the competent jurisdiction.
(3) Disputes concerning the constitutionality of laws and orders.
If the constitutionality of a law or order is challenged before a Courts proceedings shall be suspended and the issue shall be presented to the Supreme Court which shall decide whether such act is constitutional.
(4) Actions based on administrative acts brought against the Government of Eritrea or other public bodies, unless courts have been established by law to try such cases.
(5) Criminal and disciplinary responsibility of judges as provided in Article 88.
(6) Responsibility of the Chief Executive as provided in Article 75.
PART VI. AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION
Compliance with the Federal Act and the principles of democratic government
1. The Assembly may not, by means of an amendment introduce into the Constitution any provision which would not be in conformity with the Federal Act.
2. Article 16 of the Constitution by the terms of which the Constitution of Eritrea is based on the principles of democratic government, shall not be amended.
Amendments to the Constitution
1. Any amendment to the Constitution must be submitted in writing either by the Chief Executive or by a number of members of the Assembly equal to one quarter of the actual number of members.
2. A period of twenty days must elapse between the submission of an amendment and the opening of the Assembly’s discussion thereon.
Conditions governing the adoption of amendments
1. If an amendment is approved by a majority of three quarters of the members of the Assembly in office, the amendment shall be declared adopted.
2. If an amendment is approved by two successive legislatures by a majority of two thirds of the members present and voting or by a majority of the members in offices the amendment shall be declared adopted.
Entry into effect of amendments
3. Any amendments to the Constitution adopted by the Assembly according to the provisions of the foregoing paragraphs will enter into effect after ratification by the Emperor, Sovereign of the Federation.
PART VII. TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS
Entry into force of the Constitution
1. This Constitution shall enter into effect following ratification of the Federal Act by the Emperor of Ethiopia, and following approval by the United Nations Commissioner, adoption by the Eritrean Assembly and ratification by the Emperor of Ethiopia of the Eritrea Constitution.
2. The Administering Authority shall continue to conduct the affairs of Eritrea until the transfer of power to the Government of Eritrea has taken place.
Laws giving effect to the Constitution
1. Any laws giving effect to the present Constitution, adopted by the Eritrean Assembly convened by the Administering Authority, shall enter into effect simultaneously with the Constitution.
2. Such laws shall conform strictly to the principles and provisions of the Constitution.
Legislation remaining in force when the Constitution comes into effect
1. Laws and regulations which were in force on 1 April 1941, and have not since been repealed by the Administering Authority and the laws and regulations enacted by that Authority, shall remain in force so long as they have not been repealed and to the extent that they have not been amended.
2. In the event of conflict between such laws and regulations and this Constitution, the Constitution shall prevail in accordance with Article 90 (3).
Respect for obligations contracted on behalf of Eritrea
1. Obligations of any kind regularly contracted by the authorities administering Eritrea up to the date on which the Constitution enters into force shall remain valid for the Government of Eritrea and must be respected provided that such obligations relate to matters within the jurisdiction of Eritrea.
2. As from the date of the entry into force of the Constitution any undertaking regularly concluded by the Executive Committee established by the Administering Authority before the date of the entry into force of the Constitution shall remain valid and must be respected.
3. The provisions contained in paragraph 1 shall not apply to obligations terminated by the Peace Treaty with Italy of 10 February 1947 or by the Resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 29 January 1952.
Retention of officials in office
Administrative officials and judicial officials whether Federal nationals or not, holding office when the Constitution enters into force, shall continue in office. They may be dismissed only on three months’ notice.
Term of the first Assembly
The Assembly responsible for adopting the Constitution shall exercise the powers of the Assembly as provided in the Constitution for a period of four years after the Constitution enters into force.
Source: UN 1952
The United Nations Assembly Resolution 390(V) - 1950
390 (V). Eritrea: Report of the United Nations Commission for Eritrea; Report of the Interim Committee of the General Assembly on the Report of the United Nations Commission For Eritrea
Whereas by paragraph 3 of Annex XI to the Treaty of Peace with Italy, 1947, the Powers concerned have agreed to accept the recommendation of the General Assembly on the disposal of the former Italian colonies in Africa and to take appropriate measures for giving effect to it,
Whereas by paragraph 2 of the aforesaid Annex XI such disposal is to be made in the light of the wishes and welfare of the inhabitants and the interests of peace and security, taking into consideration the views of interested governments,
The General Assembly, in the light of the reports * of the United Nations Commission for Eritrea and of the Interim Committee, and Taking into consideration
(a) The wishes and welfare of the inhabitants of Eritrea, including, the views of the various racial, religious and political groups of the provinces of the territory and the capacity of the people for self-government,
(b) The interests of peace and security in East Africa,
(c) The rights and claims of Ethiopia based on geographical, historical, ethnic or economic reasons including in particular Ethiopia's legitimate need for adequate access to the sea,
Taking into account the importance of assuring the continuing collaboration of the foreign communities in the economic development of Eritrea,
Recognizing that the disposal of Eritrea should he based on its close political and economic association with Ethiopia, and
Desiring that this association assure to the inhabitants of Eritrea the fullest respect and safeguards for their institutions, traditions, religions and languages, as well as the widest possible measure of self-government, while at the same time respecting the Constitution, institutions, traditions and the international status and identity of the Empire of Ethiopia,
A. Recommends that:
1. Eritrea shall constitute an autonomous unit federated with Ethiopia under the sovereignty of the Ethiopian Crown.
2. The Eritrean Government shall possess legislative, executive and judicial powers in the field of domestic affairs.
3. The jurisdiction of the Federal Government shall extend to the following matters: defence, foreign affairs, currency and finance, foreign and interstate commerce and external and interstate communications, including ports. The Federal Government shall have the power to maintain the integrity of the Federation, and shall have the right to impose uniform taxes throughout the Federation to meet the expenses of federal functions and services, it being understood that the assessment and the collection of such taxes in Eritrea are to be delegated to the Eritrean Government, and provided that Eritrea shall bear only its just and equitable share of these expenses. The jurisdiction of the Eritrean Government shall extend to all matters not vested in the Federal Government, including the power to maintain the internal police, to levy taxes to meet the expenses of domestic functions and services, and to adopt its own budget.
4. The area of the Federation shall constitute a single area for customs purposes, and there shall be no barriers to the free movement of goods and persons within the area. Customs duties on goods entering or leaving the Federation which have their final destination or origin in Eritrea shall be assigned to Eritrea.
5. An Imperial Federal Council composed of equal numbers of Ethiopian and Eritrean representatives shall meet at least once a year and shall advise upon the common affairs of the Federation referred to in paragraph 3 above. The citizens of Eritrea shall participate in the executive and judicial branches, and shall be represented in the legislative branch, of the Federal Government, in accordance with law and in the proportion that the population of Eritrea bears to the population of the Federation.
6. A single nationality shall prevail throughout the Federation:
(a) All inhabitants of Eritrea, except persons possessing foreign nationality, shall be nationals of the Federation;
(b) All inhabitants born in Eritrea and having at least one indigenous parent or grandparent shall also be nationals of the Federation. Such persons, if in possession of a foreign nationality, shall, within six months of the coming into force of the Eritrean Constitution, be free to opt to renounce the nationality of the Federation and retain such foreign nationality. In the event that they do not so opt, they shall thereupon lose such foreign nationality;
(c) The qualifications of persons acquiring the nationality of the Federation under sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) above for exercising their rights as citizens of Eritrea shall be determined by the Constitution and laws of Eritrea;
(d) All persons possessing foreign nationality who have resided in Eritrea for ten years prior to the date of the adoption of the present resolution shall have the right, without further requirements of residence, to apply for the nationality of the Federation in accordance with federal laws. Such persons who do not thus acquire the nationality of the Federation shall be permitted to reside in and engage in peaceful and lawful pursuits in Eritrea; The rights and interests of foreign nationals resident in Eritrea shall be guaranteed in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 7.
7. The Federal Government, as well as Eritrea, shall ensure to residents in Eritrea, without distinction of nationality, race, sex, language or religion, the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental liberties, including the following:
(a) The right to equality before the law. No discrimination shall be made against foreign enterprises in existence in Eritrea engaged in industrial, commercial, agricultural, artisan, educational or charitable activities, nor against banking institutions and insurance companies operating in Eritrea;
(b) The right to life, liberty and security of person;
(c) The right to own and dispose of property. No one shall be deprived of property, including contractual rights, without due process of law and without payment of just and effective compensation;
(d) The right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right of adopting and practising any creed or religion;
(e) The right to education;
(f) The right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;
(g) The right to inviolability of correspondence and domicile, subject to the requirements of the law;
(h) The right to exercise any profession subject to the requirements of the law;
(i) No one shall be subject to arrest or detention without an order of a competent authority, except in case of flagrant and serious violation o f the law in force. No one shall be deported except in accordance with the law;
(j) The right to a fair and equitable trial, the right of petition to the Emperor and the right of appeal to the Emperor for commutation of death sentences;
(k) Retroactivity of penal law shall be excluded;
The respect for the rights and freedoms of others and the requirements of public order and the general welfare alone will justify any limitations to the above rights.
8. Paragraphs 1 to 7 inclusive of the present resolution shall constitute the Federal Act which shall be submitted to the Emperor of Ethiopia for ratification.
9. There shall be a transition period which shall not extend beyond 15 September 1952, during which the Eritrean Government will be organized and the Eritrean Constitution prepared and put into effect.
10. There shall be a United Nations Commissioner in Eritrea appointed by the General Assembly. The Commissioner will be assisted by experts appointed by the Secretary- General of the United Nations.
11. During the transition period, the present Administering Authority shall continue to conduct the affairs of Eritrea. It shall in consultation with the United Nations Commissioner, prepare as rapidly as possible the organization of an Eritrean administration, induct Eritreans into all levels of the administration, and make arrangements for and convoke a representative assembly of Eritreans chosen by the people. It may, in agreement with the Commissioner, negotiate on behalf of the Eritreans a temporary customs union with Ethiopia to be put into effect as soon as practicable.
12. The United Nations Commissioner shall, in consultation with the Administering Authority, the Government of Ethiopia, and the inhabitants of Eritrea, prepare a draft of the Eritrean Constitution to be submitted to the Eritrean Assembly and shall advise and assist the Eritrean Assembly in its consideration of the Constitution. The Constitution of Eritrea shall be based on the principles of democratic government, shall include the guarantees contained in paragraph 7 of the Federal Act, shall be consistent with the provisions of the Federal Act and shall contain provisions adopting and ratifying the Federal Act on behalf of the people of Eritrea.
13. The Federal Act and the Constitution of Eritrea shall enter into effect following ratification of the Federal Act by the Emperor of Ethiopia, and following approval by the Commissioner, adoption by the Eritrean Assembly and ratification by the Emperor of Ethiopia of the Eritrean Constitution.
14. Arrangements shall be made by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as the Administering Authority for the transfer of power to the appropriate authorities. The transfer of power shall take place as soon as the Eritrean Constitution and the Federal Act enter into effect, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 13 above.
15. The United Nations Commissioner shall maintain his headquarters in Eritrea until the transfer of power has been completed, and shall make appropriate reports to the General Assembly of the United Nations concerning the discharge of his functions. The Commissioner may consult with the Interim Committee of the General Assembly with respect to the discharge of his functions in the light of developments and within the terms of the present resolution. When the transfer of authority has been completed, he shall so report to the General Assembly and submit to it the text of the Eritrean Constitution;
B. Authorizes the Secretary-General, in accordance with established practice:
1. To arrange for the payment of an appropriate remuneration to the United Nations Commissioner;
2. To provide the United Nations Commissioner with such experts, staff and facilities as the Secretary General may consider necessary to carry out the terms of the present resolution.
316th plenary meeting,
2 December 1950.
The General Assembly, to assist it in making the appointment of the United Nations Commissioner in Eritrea,
Decides that a Committee composed of the President of the General Assembly, two of the Vice-Presidents (Australia and Venezuela), the Chairman of the Fourth Committee and the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Political Committee shall nominate a candidate or, if no agreement can be reached, two or three candidates, for the post of United Nations Commissioners in Eritrea.
The Committee established by the General Assembly under the above resolution to nominate a candidate or candidates for the office of United Nations Commissioner in Eritrea agreed to nominate the following candidates:
Mr. Victor Hoo (Assistant Secratary General);
Justice Aung Khine (Burma);
Mr. Eduardo Anze Matienzo (Bolivia).
The General Assembly, at its 325th plenary meeting on 14 December 1950, elected by secret ballot Mr. Eduardo Anze Matienzo to the office of United Nations Commissioner in Eritrea.
* See Official records of the General Assembly, Fifth Session, Supplements, No. 8 and 14.
United Nations Resolution 289 (IV). Question of the Disposal of the Former Italian Colonies - 1949
In accordance with Annex XI, paragraph 3, of the Treaty of Peace with Italy, 1947, whereby the Powers concerned have agreed to accept the recommendation of the General Assembly on the disposal of the former Italian colonies in Africa and to take appropriate measures for giving effect to it,
Having taking note of the report of the Four Power Commission of Investigation, having heard spokesmen of organizations representing substantial sections of opinion in the territories concerned and having taken into consideration the wishes and welfare of the inhabitants of the territories, the interests of peace and security, the views of the interested Governments and the relevant provisions of the Charter,
C. With respect to Eritrea, recommends:
1. That a commission consisting of representatives of not more than five member states, as follows, Burma, Guatemala, Norway, Pakistan and the Union of South Africa, shall be established to ascertain more fully the wishes and the best means of promoting the welfare of the inhabitants of Eritrea, to examine the question of the disposal of Eritrea and to prepare a report for the General Assembly, together with such proposal or proposals as it may deem appropriate for the solution of the problem of Eritrea;
2. That in carrying out its responsibilities the Commission shall ascertain all the relevant facts, including written or oral information from the present administering Power, from representatives of the population of the territory, including minorities, from Governments and such organizations and individuals as it may deem necessary. In particular, the Commission shall take into account:
(a) The wishes and welfare of the inhabitants of Eritrea, including the views of the various racial, religious and political groups of the provinces of the territory and the capacity of the people for self-government;
(b) The interests of peace and security in East Africa;
(c) The rights and claims of Ethiopia based on geographical, historical, ethnic or economic reasons, including in particular Ethiopia’s legitimate need for adequate access to the sea;
3. That in considering its proposals the Commission shall take into account the various suggestions for the disposal of Eritrea submitted during the fourth regular session of the General Assembly;
4. That the Commission shall assemble at the Headquarters of the United Nations as soon as possible. It shall travel to Eritrea and may visit such other places as in its judgment may be necessary in carrying out its responsibilities. The Commission shall adopt its own rules of procedure. Its report and proposal or proposals shall be communicated to the Secretary-General not later than 15 June 1950 for distribution to member states so as to enable final consideration during the fifth regular session of the General Assembly”.
250th plenary meeting,
21 November 1949.
The Bevin-Sforza Plan - 1949
The Bevin-Sforza Plan (Bevin-Sforza Agreement) was a 1949 agreement between the foreign ministers of Britain and Italy, Ernest Bevin and Carlo Sforza, agreed plan of dividing the former Italian colonies Eritrea, Libya and Somalia.
And this historical document is prepared with a special relevance to Eritrea from an extract of a 730 page of an Italian Foreign Affairs official document entitled: "I Documenti Diplomatici Italiani Undicesima Serie: 1948-1953 Volume Iii, 1 Luglio 1949 26 Gennaio 1950, Roma, 2007".
It should also be read by considering that it is done with the help of an online Italian to English translation tools. Therefore, for more accurate translation of the document one may advise to seek an assistance from a human professional expertise.
In the colony longed, Eritrea, after the resignation to the request of trusteeship implied in the compromise Bevin-Sforza, the Italian position remained firm on the argument of the independence of the country, albeit with supplies of various kinds, territorial and not in favor of Ethiopia, but the decision on his fate was also postponed.
The Foreign Minister, Sforza, The Minister Alessandrini, Guidelines For The Conversations Of London. [Rome, July 5, 1949].2
1) The Italian Government is of opinion that we should embrace the aspiration of the Eritrean independence. This aspiration has now the repose of the soul of all parties Eritreans except that of the unionist which, however, according to the information in the possession of the Italian Government, is in grave embarrassment to continue to support the thesis of the annexation of Ethiopia in front of a vast and strong movement such as that which occurred in all the territory for independence, and to which also the Italians adhere. The Italian Government and also of the opinion that only on a project of this nature would be possible to collect the necessary majority of the votes in the U.N.
2) The Government admits that Eritrea is not however still in conditions to organize an independent living. For this the proposals made to the British Government was designed the constitution of an international Commission with the task of studying and propose to a subsequent meeting of the U.N. a draft statute for the establishment of the State of Eritrea. This Commission could be composed of the three governments more interested: Italy, England, Ethiopia, which could be added a Muslim government (for example, Pakistan, or Lebanon, given the particular competence of this last country in which they live, as in Eritrea, a community of different religion and origin).
3) It is the view of the Italian Government, which during the transitional period, during which it must be prepared and then put in opera the statute of the State of Eritrea, it is necessary to normalize the political and economic life of this territory. In this regard there were detailed conversations in Asmara, between the console Gropello and Mr. Mason.
Minister In Panama, Mariani, The Foreign Minister, Sforza Telespr. 817/340. Panama, July 15, 1949 (perv. 25).3
Reference: Telespresso Ministerial n. 3/2660 / C. 26 June U.S.1.
I spoke with both the Foreign Minister and Dr. Ricardo J. Alfaro, the head of the Panamanian delegation to the United Nations, our new official view on the future of Eritrea.
First, he assured me once more and before the ambassador of Peru, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, that the full support of his government in question, declaring that it would indeed support the return of Italy to its former colonies.
Second, I confirmed with absolute luxury of particular aversion of the representatives of the major Eritrean parties, which he listened in Lake Success, at any kind of annexation to Ethiopia and told me that he believes its wise and timely decision of the Italian government, which he respond in the final part of the note attached to the minutes of the Telespresso.
Minister In Panama , Mariani , The Foreign Minister , Sforza Telespr. 7799/385. Panama, Paris, July 16, 1949, 21:55 hours (perv. 7 of 17 hours).4
Quai d'Orsay, which determined its line of action in the colonial question, sent instructions to Washington because this is done in contact with the Department of State Embassy: France is in favor of the Five Advisory Committee of putting in operation the independent of Tripolitania provided that happen by exclusive Committee same with strictly limited interference of the British administration and provided it is not place a time limit exhaustive his works.
Eritrea for any solution that does not jeopardize French interests in Obok.
For Somalia, return to Italy.
Referring more widely to courier.
Ambassador To Rio De Janeiro, Martini, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, Telespr. 2530/666. Rio De Janeiro, July 16, 1949, (perv. 21).5
With reference to pre-travel correspondence and particularly to telegrams Codes: Ministry n. 4591 / C. and n. 4593 / C. May 31 u.s., I have the honor to report that I did not fail to bring to the attention of this Government and to illustrate appropriately the reorientation of Italian as outlined in the declaration of the President Council delegates of the various ethnic groups of Tripolitania and Eritrea.
I had the opportunity, even recently, to return to the subject during conversations with this foreign minister and senior officials of Itamaraty, and it has been repeated that Brazil will continue to support in the international arena the Italian point of view and to skirt our action, in the spirit of statements made to us at the time in question, and in the context of the attitude followed during the last Assembly of the United Nations.
Embassy of Great Britannia Rome, The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Note Minutes 372. Rome, July 18, 1949.6
His Majestys Embassy presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with reference to the Ministrys Note verbale n. 3/2658 of 6th June on the subject of the future of Eritrea, has the honour to state that His Majestys Government have made a careful examination of the proposals therein put forward by the Italian Government. Nevertheless as His Majestys Ambassador has already informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs His Majestys Government in the United Kingdom do not consider that there are any grounds for modification of their previously declared policy regarding the disposal of Eritrea. In reaching this conclusion they have been influenced by the following consideration. In their study of the problem of the disposal of Eritrea which preceded the formulation of the policy they advocated at the recent session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, His Majestys Government considered very carefully, among other possibilities, the alternatives of immediate independence or independence after a period of trusteeship. They then reached the conclusion, however, that Eritrea could never exist as a viable independent state. Both politically and economically it is an artificial creation with no real unity and no prospect of financial stability.
2. His Majestys Governments study of the problem led them furthermore to the conclusion that Eritrea possessed no real unity. The central provinces of the territory are inhabited by Tigrean Copts linked by language, race and religion, with the population of the Ethiopian provinces of the Tigre. These Eritrean Copts amount to nearly half of the population of the whole territory and an overwhelming majority of them desired incorporation in Ethiopia. Geographically and economically these provinces are intimately linked with Ethiopia. The Ethiopian claim to them, therefore, appeared incontestable and was generally recognized as such at the recent meeting of the General Assembly.
3. At the same time His Majestys Government recognized that among the Muslim population of the territory there was strong opposition to incorporation in Ethiopia. His Majestys Government accordingly did not propose cession to Ethiopia of the Western provinces, whose 300.000 inhabitants are with few exception Muslim. In this manner the number of Muslim to be transferred to Ethiopian sovereignty would be reduced to the minimum.
4. While it is true that the majority of the population of Eritrea as a whole can be considered as opposed to annexation to Ethiopia (although even so this majority is a small one), this is not true of that part of Eritrea which would be ceded to Ethiopia under the foregoing proposals.
5. In their Note Verbale the Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred to the opinion of the Chief Administrator of Eritrea that the majority of the population was contrary to annexation to Ethiopia as also to Ethiopian trusteeship. It is not understood to what expression of opinion by the Chief Administrator this reference relates. It is, however, true that the evidence taken by the Four Power Commission in 1948 showed that all political parties in Eritrea were opposed to the division of the territory. The motives behind this opposition varied, however, considerably in the case of the various parties. The Unionist or pro-Ethiopian party, advocated unity in order to establish their claims to cession of the whole of Eritrea to Ethiopia. The parties opposing cession to Ethiopia did so as a tactical move in order to be in a position to claim that in the territory as a whole the persons they represented constituted a majority.
6. While it is true that voting in General Assembly of the United Nations regarding the disposal of the Western province failed to produce the requisite majority in favour of its incorporation in the Sudan, the fact remains that the resolution for incorporation of the remainder of Eritrea in Ethiopia was the only proposal for the future of any of the former Italian territories in Africa which, whatever the motives of the various delegations, found anything like universal acceptance. In the Political Committee of the General Assembly only six votes, namely those of the Soviet Union and its satellites, were recorded against the proposal. This majority was not sustained in the plenary session of the General Assembly but certain delegations there voted against the proposal in order to demonstrate their displeasure with the Ethiopian delegation, which had voted against the proposal for Italian trusteeship of Tripolitania in Committee I. The voting therefore in the Political Committee must be regarded as a far better indication of opinion on the problem of Eritrea than that in the plenary session.
Ambassador a Washington, Tarchiani, The Foreign Minister, Sforza T. Secret 7905/568. Washington, July 19, 1949, 20.55 Hours, (perv. 9 of 20 hours).7
I exhibited in Rusk my reservations about the possibility that Britain accepts constitution committee throughout Libya that is also for Cyrenaica. He admitted that not having yet been able to ascertain exactly reactions of the British, but added that hope are not entirely negative.
About Eritrea, Rusk has confirmed that American attitude is unchanged. About Somalia he said that the United States intend to resubmit proposal Italian trusteeship.
I also saw McGhee, the new assistant secretary for Africa and the Levant, which I repeated exposure the Italian point of view and that of course was not able tell me anything more of Rusk.
The Consul General A Wellington, De Rege, The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sforza, T. Secret To Courier 8606/012. Wellington, July 28, 1949, (perv On 5 August).8
Telespressi ministerial 3/2383 of June 3, 3/2490 and 3/2660 of 11 June 26
I again entertained secretary general about this issue of colonies expressing myself in the second ministerial instructions mentioned above. He told me that he found in the Washington vintage Assembly of the U.N. about the fate of our colonies, while not having been able to attend, Mr. Fraser had a reported belief that he is very reluctant to support the project Bevin-Sforza that it could not in any case be resubmitted in its original form. He even wonders if it is appropriate to insist on the concept of maintaining spirit informant project. I explained that for us this means agreement and collaboration with Great Britain in Africa and the mutual recognition of mutual interests in order to find solution for the problem together with our colonies and in collaboration with Europe Africa. He did not reply but he did not seem convinced because he added that to the point that, where there are things today, he personally believes that granting independence without reference to past projects is the only way to solve problems in Tripolitania and Eritrea and therefore recommends to the Prime Minister to support in principle this solution.
He thinks that granting independence is then less difficult to deal with new countries and agree on close ties Anglo-Cyrenaica and Italian-Tripolini, though, according to his knowledge, the British government would now already have some difficulty getting the Emir Idris es Senussi, who backed the Arab League would require independence, to consent to the establishment in Cyrenaica military bases and air ships that are absolutely necessary for the defense Great Britain and the Western world.
He acknowledges that solution of Senussi is anachronistic and harmful to the development of the territory and be due error of the British Government had made a promise and commitments taken during conducting war and without any real political necessity. A this regard Mr. McIntosh expressed his distrust of the Arab League from which there would expect any constructive contribution but troubleshooting the Middle East.
It is therefore not surprising if, while the wrote thought italian government about Eritrea, There is therefore no wonder that, while the Italian Government thought expounded about Eritrea, he has demonstrated little enthusiastic participation Muslim State work preparation independence Eritrea itself. He seems to be however ignore particular attitudes Arab countries and Asian face proposed annexation of Eritrea to Ethiopia because he was very surprised at how much I told him about it.
Minister To Jeddah, Zappi, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, T. Secret 8552/62. Jeddah, August 3, 1949, 20 hours (perv. 11:40 hours of 4)9
I conferred yesterday with Ibn Saud and Faisal about matters of Tripolitania and Eritrea. Both the King that the Emir have stated that Saudi Arabia's support for the independence of the two countries. About all Libya under Senussi, His Majesty was limited to say that Tripolitania people should be left free to decide what suits them to do, but it is clear that His Majesty would welcome Libya under Senussi.
About Eritrea Ibn Saud and Faisal have formally declared that Saudi Arabia will support independence throughout Eritrea. Faisal does not consider it would be appropriate that this declaration is brought to the knowledge in printing as the question will have to be discussed by the Political Council Arab League on 20 current.
Follow report by courier.
Ambassador In London, Gallarati, Foreign, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, T. S.N.D. 8646/381. London, August 6, 1949, 15.05 hours (perv. 16 hours 8)10
I asked about Eritrea to know clearly the thought of the British Government and a date also need to be determined on voting in the U.N. must be unique for whole issue of our colonies or divided to different territories. After much hesitation and later my persistent questions, Wright replied that the British government was forced to keep its popular project division of Eritrea between Ethiopia and Sudan. I said that our attitude today is strongly opposed partition also following news confirming that the vast majority inhabitants are favorable of independence (ratio Gropello 3/3036 / C. of 27 July). I drew his attention on serious responsibility that Britain assumes about the future passing of Ethiopia cities and civilian populations. He replied that the Foreign Office is examining project guarantees for Italian citizens and interests and that it would be delighted to cooperate with us in the roll out such projects. I replied that I can not accept to collaborate because the Italian government argues otherwise. I still added that I reported to V.E.
The Secretary of State of The United States Of America, Acheson, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, L. Personal Secret. Washington, August 9 194911
I appreciate your writing to me personally about the question of the colonies and am glad to have a candid expression of your thoughts. I sincerely hope that the informal discussions which have been taking place through diplomatic channels will result in the acceptance of a position which is mutually satisfactory to the people and Governments of the Four Powers and of the other countries closely concerned, and which can be presented to the General Assembly in September with the strong likelihood of its adoption.
Most of the questions raised in your letter probably have been answered by Ambassador Tarchiani in his report to you of our current views. I am pleased to note that as regards the proposals of independence for Libya and Italian trusteeship for Italian Somali land our thinking is along lines similar to yours. This should provide us with a good beginning in our efforts to build an agreed position. After careful reassessment of our earlier proposal for Eritrea we continue to believe that it offers the most satisfactory long-run solution to the problems of that area. As you know, our proposal includes special safeguards for the Italian inhabitants and provides for appropriate municipal charters for the cities of Massawa and Asmara. We will welcome your further views on all of these questions and we are ready, of course, to discuss any differences frankly with you.
I know that in the trying days ahead you will be working without thought of yourself to achieve stability and economic well-being for Italy and all of Western Europe.
Ambassador In London, Gallarati, Foreign, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, T. S.N.D. 8885/390-391. London, 12 August 1949, 22.30, (perv. 8 of 13 hours)12
I send the following telegram Alessandrini:
"I had long talk today with Strang, present Wright, Russell and Stewart. Strang said that talks were very constructive and useful as they leave already see possibilities of implementation of the agreement between Italy, Great Britain and the United States on all points except the question of Eritrea. France, he added, will eventually join. He continued by saying that the recommendations of the Foreign Office must of course be subjected to Minister Bevin immediately after his return from Strasbourg. Meanwhile, it is good to clarify some points, beginning with the negative ones.
Eritrea: Britain regrets having to confirm in a clear and unequivocal that it will be definitely linked promises made to Ethiopia and that therefore will support thoroughly before UN Assembly known thesis division. I warmly repeated notes arguments against this decision but Strang asked me do not insist. He therefore accepted that the Assembly vote of U.N. takes place separately on various individual colonies. For my part I stated that Eritrea to assume full freedom of action, regardless of any agreements for other colonies.
The Minister In Canberra, Del Balzo, The Minister Of Foreign Affairs, Sforza, Telespr. Confidential Urgent 1485/010. Sydney, August 13, 1949, (Perv. 19)13
For Eritrea recognized our logical argument it is impossible to deny the latter how much you are willing to grant to Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. He also expressed his consent to our analysis of past votes on Southeastern Eritrea, adding that the Australian delegation had been very perplexed in front of fiduciary mandate assigned to Ethiopia. He immediately pointed out, though, not to be now able to express opinion about the probability of acceptance of our latest proposals; he asked me that if I knew the British and Arab reactions. I replied that I wasn't informed but that, as soon as they were aware, I would notify it of those rules concern. He told me he will much appreciate any news I can provide in this regard.
The Foreign Minister, Sforza, The Chairman of the Board, DE GASPERI, L.1. Strasbourg, August 14, 1949.14
Eritrea. Not interested but I told him that we dropped the compromise of Bevin-Sforza, and we had to support the independence.
Eritrea. I took note that it was favorable to the body and told him that even for Eritrea had to demand independence.
Bevin. No, we are engaged with the Negus. Moreover, it is true that I can no longer complain to you our compromise; but it also would protect well today Italians over there.
I replied that, at worst, his involvement with the Negus could be maintained with a theoretical statement admitting into practice independently Italo-Eritrean guaranteed by a local International Commission.
Bevin. It is an idea; I will think about it.
The Secretary General To Foreign, Zoppi, Charg D'affaires Washington, Luciolli L. Secret 3/3352. Rome, August 18, 1949.15
2) Eritrea: propose the independence and integrity of this country with the establishment of an international commission to prepare this independence. By now it should remain the British administration (is inevitable!) That but we should do more largely. It is to save the country from partition and destruction and to gain time, which is not difficult to get yourself because if also our thesis, which should sign the South American, Arab and Asian, does not prevail, but we can not do even that prevail to compromise Bevin-Sforza which the British remain faithful enclosing a commitment with the Negus. They therefore have told us that for Eritrea us and them remain free and that will decide the U.N. This will ensure that, along with London, propose that the final vote resolutions territory by territory.
The Assistant Business, Washington, Luciolli, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, T. Secret 9235/681-682. Washington, August 22, 1949, 20.20 Hours, (perv. 7.40 Hours Of 23)16
2) Eritrea. US has closely observed the recent demonstrations in favor of independence, but continue to favor, at least for now, the division between Ethiopia and Sudan, with warranty protection minorities and special municipal statute Asmara and Massawa.
Ambassador In London, Gallarati, Foreign, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, T. Secret 9363-9364-9365/407-408-409. London, August 25, 1949, 22.10 Hours, (perv. 7.30 Of 26)17
Eritrea. I reaffirm vigorously the impossibility for Great Britain to withdraw from known project. Respond by saying that for our part we decided full support to project independence. Bevin replied that now everything was entrusted, on this point, the vote of the House and he had still confident in the success of the English thesis, which he claims include be guarantees for the protection of Italian interests.
Charge D'affairs Washington, Luciolli Room, To The Minister For Foreign Affairs, Sforza, T. Secret 9426/704. Washington, August 26, 1949, 19.40 Hours, (perv. Hours 8 Of 27)18
I have once again exposed to Department has been our position based on letter secretary general 3/3352 of 18 August.
State Department thanked and, referring also to offer any Costa clarifications made to the US embassy, asked me the following questions:
1) How Italian Government would think to reconcile unit with Libyan treaty of Italo-Tripolino. (In this respect American attitude is indicated in my telegram 6822: agreements with Libya, applies only to Tripolitania).
2) What do we mean by "special Status" Italian destined to become, according to our proposals, "citizens in its own right" of the new State.
3) If, in speaking of "integrity" Eritrea, we also refer to area Assab referred in the past we have provided for transfer to Ethiopia.
Ambassador In London, Gallarati, Foreign, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, T. S.N.D. 9558-9559-9560/414-415-416. London, August 30, 1949 , 21.13 Hours, (perv. 7 Of 31 Hours)19
(1) His Majestys Government adhere to their former proposal that the Eastern provinces of this territory should be ceded to Ethiopia with the necessary safeguards, and that in default of a better solution the Western province should be incorporated in the neighbouring Sudan.
(2) His Majestys Government are opposed to any proposal for the creation of an independent Eritrean state because the territory, besides not being economically viable, possesses neither the national, racial, linguistic or geographical unity which is essential for the creation of an independent statal entity. Such a proposal would in their view be dangerous since the proposed state would have no means of self defence and would be a prey to civil strife. Such a proposal would also deny the 450,000 odd Coptic Christians satisfaction of their declared desire of incorporation within Ethiopia.
The Foreign Minister , Sforza, The Diplomatic Missions In Latin America, Telespr. Secret 3/3529/C. Rome, 1st September 194920
2) To Eritrea. We propose that it is enshrined the principle of independence and that of its territorial integrity within its present borders (corresponding to those prior to the war in Ethiopia).
If necessary, you can admit that, without prejudice to the immediate recognition the principle of the complete independence of Eritrea, its implementation can be postponed for a few years. In this case, during the transitional period the administration of the country should be assisted by a UN Commission which should also have the task of preparing the projects for the establishment of the new state.
It should be noted that if our thesis does not prevail, and where, as desirable, does not prevail even that of the partition (and every effort must be made for this purpose), the issue would be postponed. What would be facilitated by the fact that in the next Assembly this will not vote on a unique resolution, but individual votes for each territory. In the event of postponement therefore you should have in mind the convenience of providing at least the appointment of a Commission to study and not to leave the administration of occupying a full freedom to create was in fact contrary to our interests and those of the territory.
As regards territorial integrity, it is known that the great majority local party is mindful that no piece of Eritrean territory is ceded to the United neighbors. It is true indeed that the Italian government declared several times in the past that it was willing to give the port of Assab to Ethiopia with a limited hinterland and a corridor that would ensure the contiguity with the Empire, but this was a commitment that Italy made subject to and in the eventuality that was assigned the administration trustee of the rest of Eritrea. Now that it is no longer in office Italian, but as an independent state, the Italian position is that we should respect the point of view and the desire of the peoples concerned. Therefore the Italian Government does not consider to take a stance on this issue that can be deplored by the people themselves. On the other hand it is to consider that in the meantime has intervened an Anglo- French (May 1949) which provides a similar concession to the port of Zeila.
The Assistant Business In Paris, Giustiniani, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, T. Secret 9756/441. Paris, September 3, 1949, 14.50 Hours (perv. 18.30)21
Eritrea: France will join the solution that will be agreed by the main interested (itself does not consider this); is ready to support special-status Italian residing there.
Minister To Cairo, Fracassi, The Secretary-General To Foreign Zoppi, T. Secret 9838/85-86. Alexandria, September 5, 1949, Part. 0.15 Hours of 6 (perv. 9 Hours) 22
Azzam Pasha welcomed reminder sent to me with your letter 3/3479 of 29 August, which I explained at length today. Even project motion around Tripoli met with his approval. Suggests only title friendly, and in order to avoid misunderstandings about the actual intentions for Italian independence of the country, not too accurate method of treaty to be concluded between Italy and future government Tripolitania. In your opinion what matters above all to Italy is to get that Assembly recommends signing the Treaty. To this end suggests (and awaits our urgent approval thereof) that point to two motion Tripolitania ends with the following words: 'omission... special interests of the two States and their citizens in the two countries. "
Eritrea declared its adherence to staff our argument in favor of independence or alternatively administration by the UN International.
He attributes it to the utmost importance affirmation general principles freedom of peoples matching purposes of Arab League. Does not exclude the possibility that certain Arab states take in the Assembly favorable attitude thesis division, mainly as a result of other interventions. On a personal and confidential, he added abhor the idea that Eritrea may fall under the domination Ethiopia which is the most retrograde of the world.
Rest waiting telegraph instructions.
Ambassador Washington, Tarchiani, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, T. Secret 9881/747. Washington, September 6, 1949, 19.30, (Perv. 7.30 By 7)23
I saw assistant Secretary of State of Middle East Africa. Subject to any clarifications resulting from communications announced with his 4361, I explained to McGhee our position. For his part, he has confirmed to me that the US government adheres to the principles recently exposed in the various capital, but is ready to consider viewpoints of other governments so as to reach a satisfactory compromise.
McGhee then asked me what would be our reaction to the referral solution of Eritrea's question, giving me a feeling that the Department is already looking into this possibility. I answered, repeating known arguments, that my instructions were to insist immediate independence for the territory, but that was my impression that partition of Eritrea, unjust and damaging to the local people, the Italian government would preferred referral.
The Secretary -General To Foreign Zoppi, Ambassador Washington, Tarchiani, L. Secret 3/3658. Rome, September 8, 194924
I refer to your telegram 747 of current six.
The postponement of the Eritrean question can be clearly seen by us acceptable to avoid a greater evil, that is, its division between Ethiopia and Sudan. But a mere postponement would agree to accept it only in the absence of better. If we have the safety and I think we should have it to reject the Anglo -Saxon project on the division, we would agree to lead the vote.
This is even more important also in relation to the situation on-site. If the project partition was rejected at U.N. its supporters would fit in Eritrea's other solutions, but if this fundamental question remains suspended, you will continue to resubmit. From a distance and even before knowing the orientation of the individual delegations difficult to determine, especially in matters of procedure, a specific directive. However you mention that, in my opinion, could be the procedure that could possibly better correspond to our interests, if the situation will carry it out.
1) Presentation and rejection at the Political Committee of the Anglo-Saxon project Partitioning (According to our records, this project should not get even a simple majority, if decidedly fought by South Americans).
2) Presentation of our project and vote on independence, with or without amendment provided for an international committee monitoring during transitional period. (According to incomplete data that we have, this project, although it will not achieve the two-thirds majority, has a certain probability to obtain a simple majority, and, in any case, a vote best of that project on the Anglo -Saxon).
3) Presentation of a project then the reference, in the preamble of which, however, is possibly alluded to the principle of independence that expressly provide the appointment of a Commission study (which of course we should join), to investigate the matter, possibly to go on site to ascertain the actual condition of Eritrea and the real aspirations of its people and to prepare a draft agreement to be submitted to the fifth meeting.
Such a motion, not only would finally remove the danger of annexation with Ethiopia and mortgaging somehow the orientation of the future decision, but would benefit significantly to improving the situation on the ground, both in terms of public safety, and economic point; since both the Italians and the natives could finally orientate and would be released from the nightmare, that paralyzes them, a possible Ethiopian administration.
Minister In Karachi, Trimmed, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, Telespr. Confidential Urgent 3885/369. Karachi, September 8, 1949, (perv. 14)25
On the occasion of the presentation of my credentials, the foreign minister, after the ceremony, called me aside and, repeating what I has already been said, that is particularly important to keep up the issue immediately and in full independence of Eritrea, he told me that, in his view, it would be appropriate that the next Assembly, some delegation to be presented a project a resolution containing the precise and defined question, that is, if the people of Eritrea prefer the immediate and full independence or annexation with Abyssinia. The draft resolution should therefore be limited to this simple alternative, with the exclusion of any other reference to trusteeship, partitions etc. Faced with a resolution as follows, the Pakistani delegation would vote certainly for independence. That was by Zafrullah Khan to me reiterated on my precise question.
At my request then, because he himself is not done promoter of this project, the minister told me that he had thought to take the lead, but had then had to give it up for reasons that could not escape me and who abstained from my needs. And these reasons I sought in the attitude of certain groups of Arabs in favor annexation of Abyssinia parts of Eritrean territory and, at the same time, the desire not to hurt the interests of the British, equally favorable, at least as can finding it here, to a dismemberment of Eritrea, with partial annexations with Abyssinia and Sudan.
In reporting the above, I wish to draw the attention of this Ministry that Zafrullah Khan kept me on its own initiative, this discourse, while, as already announced, is found in Karachi Minister of Ethiopia in Cairo (see my reports n. 3826/359 of 31 August 1949, n. 3880/366 8 corr.), which, as turns out, would come here especially to plead with the Government of Pakistan to the Ethiopian question because of our colonies.
The Assistant Business In Montevideo, Solar, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, Telespr. Confidential 2935/543. Montevideo, September 9, 1949, (perv. 14)26
I recently had conversations about the issue of the settlements with the Italian new foreign minister, Dr. Cesar Charlone, with State Secretary at the Ministry Foreign Affairs, Luis Tammaro - who took office last Wednesday and with different officials in the same Department. They have, as a result of as previously done, exposed and illustrated our point of view on the issue the colonies according to the instructions and documentation sent to this Embassy out by this Ministry, placing last in relief - in relation to Telespresso ministerial n. 3/3397 / C. August 23 u.s.1 - how and why the US face project to the Italian government maintains its point of view.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Charlone, proved very interested to know in detail our point of view in the matter, particularly in Regard to Eritrea: I then left some notes and copies of studies and articles.
In the last conversation I had with him, he has proven to be aware the project and the US while not expressing a clear opinion on the project same I repeated that greatly interested him the Italian point of view, of which he wished to be kept in all its aspects and possible developments.
At the conclusion of the interview, the minister said in Charlone me a more resolute that the known sentiments of sympathy and favor of Uruguay to Italy remain unchanged and that the Uruguayan delegation to the UN take place, as in the past, as much as possible favorable action in Italy and its aspirations.
I then said that the head of the Uruguayan delegation will be the ambassador to Washington, Dr. Dominguez Campora, while it is not yet determined what the other members of the delegation itself.
The new Secretary, Luis Tammaro, which I reviewed today, has spoken on same lines of his minister, but showing steadfast love for Italy more zeal. He hath said, in confidence, that will be pleased to give all his personal support that Italy and Italian interests are supported by Uruguayan delegation at U.N. the most effective action: "... I am the son of Italian and I am proud: you can count on me as on an Italian." Dr. Tammaro - Declaring himself well aware of the US project - told me to appreciate our thesis in respect of the colonies; thesis he wanted to consider especially under the aspects of what they allow, in comparison to other possible at the present time, the protection of the population and Italian interests. About Eritrea Dr . Tammaro has proven to assess what particular retrogression of civilization would be for that country 's annexation to the Empire of Ethiopia.
The undersecretary Tammaro has confirmed to me that the minister Charlone shares his sentiments in favor of Italy, and he too has asked me to hold it as much as possible aware of the developments of the question.
Officials of the Ministry of foreign affairs I have had conversations about this, especially with the secretary general Dr. Pacheco and the acting director general for political affairs (Asuntos Diplomaticos) minister plenipotentiary Federico Grunwaldt The Cuestas.
The latter was explicit in expressing his personal point of view on us project. In the case of Libya, said minister Grunwaldt - the formula proposed by the Department of State is very complicated, and seems to have the purpose of delaying the answer to the question, of course, to take advantage of the situation, the occupying power: it does not seem to give no guarantee the protection of Italian interests. What is worse - he agreed - it would be for the Italian interests the proposed division of Eritrea; the special statutes proposed for the city of Asmara and Massawa have practically that little value: "When the country is dominated by the Ethiopians and there implanting the feudal regime and practically still slave of Negus, throughout Eritrea would be brought back a century."
The F.F. Director of Political Affairs has also said he believed the issue as Italian colonies of the United States that do not follow a line of conduct England established the position of which they consider their first interest strengthen. And Britain, as the Minister considers Grunwaldt, would maintain inspiration in question in an anti - Italian. It would be your impression fact that Britain does not want to give up the advantage, had with the victory, eliminate Italy as African power in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. It is true that the situation in Italy and in the world after the war is clearly changed, "but English are slow to change their ideas and their feelings." My partner has confidently asserted that the insistence of English in its thesis directed substantially to minimize the presence of Italy and North Africa exclude it from the Red Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay is aware of from several sources.
Minister To Ciudad Trujillo, G. Rossi Longhi, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, Telespr. 479/347. Ciudad Trujillo, September 10, 1949, (perv. 16)27
As for Libya and Eritrea, I again pointed out as these areas must be considered, for obvious reasons, as indivisible, and that then the Italian government could not accept in principle a breakdown part of them and that it was therefore to be hoped that the Assembly will recognize the principle of the integrity of those territories and which were held in account the wishes expressed in repeated occasions by local people to come to their independence and autonomy government.
Ambassador In London, Gallarati, Foreign, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, T. Secret 10284/442. London, September 16, 1949, At 18 (perv. 8 of 17 Hours)28
I spoke yesterday with Mayhew and subsequently with Strang on the issue colonies, asking their personal impressions on our respective proposals and the chances of the same in Lake Success.
Mayhew (I had not seen for some time because of his absence from London) I said that the Foreign Office are considered satisfactory agreements reached with us except for Eritrea. It is considered here, in fact - and this has been expressed in quest Embassy even at the level offices - that the British proposal is not the solution "Ideal" of the problem, but the most acceptable in the conflict of conflicting interests. There Italian proposal, if successful, could lead to very serious consequences immediately creating a local situation of open conflict that you want to all costs avoid. As willed avoid the possibility of Soviets political interventions. I replied on my part with all the familiar arguments, noting further that it seemed curious that a Labour government to take a solution that, if it were accepted, would simply be a historical absurdity and that seemed worthy of deliberations the Congress of Vienna.
Ambassador In Moscow, Brosio, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, Telespr. 1949/625. Moscow, September 16 194929
My goal was to try to have a news story or a feeling about the position of Soviet; but unfortunately Gromyko after listening to me long and hard and giving me some questions, do not let me understand a lot of Soviet's intentions.
He limited himself to say about "the Soviet position will be exposed to the Assembly," Adding that "among our suggestions and Soviet proposals is still a big difference"(he was referring to the last Soviet proposals, relative protecting collective).
Among the questions made to me, if there was one proposing the independence of Tripolitania and Eritrea and we would definitely ruled out the possibility of protection. Then I replied that, since we actually wanted independence of the two territories, the protection seemed to me (as a personal interpretation) incompatible with that position. I had by this question, and from the way I was made, the impression that Gromyko always thought in terms of protection, and, of course, a collective protection, glue inclusion, well understood, the Soviet Union among the powers of administrators.
And it is likely that this is, at least in the initial, the renewed attitude the Soviet delegation to the Assembly.
The Regent The Legation In San Jose, Door, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, Telespr. 783. San Jos, September 16, 194930
In view of the imminent departure of the delegation of Costa Rica to the U.N. This morning I had an interview with the secretary of the Government Junta, which currently deals with international issues, given that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was hired by President Figueres.
After having confirmed the views of our government about the fate of African territories, and have well shown that any procedure to arrive the autonomy and the independence of Eritrea that much of Tripolitania not must be, for obvious reasons, entrusted to the administering power, I did understand according to the instructions of the dispatch ministerial n. 3/3397 / C. in August 23 us, come to me only yesterday, to be aware of the project the American press confidentially to the Member States of U.N.
Mr. Oduvber, after taking careful note of the above and to me also confirmed the US communications, told me that the instructions for the delegation were:
1) Somalia: Italian trusteeship without time limitation.
2) Tripolitania: Italian trusteeship. No difficulty but to support the autonomy and independence of Tripolitania if that was the desire of the Italian Government and the opinion of the other Latin American states, safeguarding course Italian interests, and with the guarantee of effective and free expression popular.
3) Eritrea: the US project of partition is not well; none answer was given in this regard by the Government of Costa Rica, who prefers follow the opinion of the majority of Latin American States, which will therefore be sensed at the same U.N.
I have reason to believe, therefore, that the delegation will follow essentially the point of view expressed by the majority of Latin American States and not to that proposed from the United States if it differs substantially from that. The action our observer at U.N. should therefore not have difficulties, if necessary, to determine the final approach of the delegation to our views on the issues proposed.
Minister Alessandrini, The Foreign Minister, Sforza, New York, Precisely. New York, September 21, 194931
Clutton said he had confidence in a resolution of the Libyan issue the end of this session and in terms more or less similar to those plotted in London. "
He immediately added that he fears that it is not possible to reach a solution to the question of Eritrea and the Somali issue during this session. I asked if he really believes that the question of Somalia will also be deferred, he told me to fear that.
I did this all the arguments militate in favor of the need to a resolution of the matter in the Somali sense to us clearly in favor, reminding the assurances given by Bevin and telling him that I was full assignment English on the support mainly in respect of the necessary pressure on Asian states. Clutton said that the support of English will not be missed, but he believed his duty to make us present the doubts about the possibility of the British delegation to reach a solution for both the Eritrea and Somalia at this session.
It is the first time that the issue of Somalia and Eritrea are the issue, if not combined, at least posed by the British on the same line.
Ambassador Tarchiani, The Secretary-General To Foreign Zoppi, T. Secret 10673/255. New York, September 24, 1949, 18.32 Hours, (perv. 7:30 25)32
Had a cordial meeting today along with American delegate Jessup which is now entrusted discussion on question of colonies.
Although differing about details, even substantial, we have found that the principles of independence and unity are based views of the two Governments about problem solving in Libya.
American perspective agrees with ours about Somalia. However, this by the way, Jessup confirmed dangerous mood that begins its way in the Assembly and environments on which British have twice entertained Alessandrini: feeling that is that our approval of trusteeship for Somalia to take place if it will be simultaneously met Ethiopian aspirations of Eritrea.
Jessup also drew my attention to probability, where our part it folds on a reference solution Eritrea proposing creation Commission studies, United Nations decide to send a similar commission in Somalia. I answered problems that were quite different as in the first case their opinion check opportunity and equity sharing territory annexations and other states, while in according to the principles of future independence and control of the United Nations would be respected because implicit institution trusteeship. I added that partition and annexations are unpopular both Hispanics and to Arab- Asian and account should be taken of opinion both groups if you want to reach final solutions or transitional for the three problems.
The Assistant Business In Beirut, Vinci, The Foreign Minister , Sforza, T. Secret 10948/47. Beirut, September 30, 1949, 20.20 Hours, (perv . 22 Hours)33
My Telespresso urgent 0211.
Become aware of the instructions in the study have not failed to appeal to every possible argument to this , among other things as , despite intentions manifested, plan chosen was more English than our next project.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs came finally in the determination of prepare the following instructions UN to delegate Lebanon who trusts will be approved from Riad Solh:
1) Principle convenience: independence Libya;
2) Tripolitania: a) independence under the conditions proposed by Italy; b) term: the closer to the Italian thesis no later than two years; c) Commission not just with international advisory competence and prerogatives aimed ensure freedom elections;
3) Cyrenaica: practical acceptance factual situation;
4) Unit: left to the free expression of will of the inhabitants.
I reserve telegraphing decisions this past President of the Council also for Eritrea so now predominates favorable opinion of our thesis.
The Foreign Minister, Sforza, The Chairman Of The Board, De Gasperi, T. Secret 11162/286. New York, October 4, 1949, Part. 1.40 Hours of 5 (perv. 7:30)34
Yesterday and today I received and talked to all sorts of delegates included the entire group of Mohammedan who offered me a cup of tea. Also received the American delegate who exercised strong final pressure on me in order to compromise about Eritrea while adding that, whatever my answer, the United States would remain favorable to us for Somalia. I took note of this but I confirmed that we must ask independence for Eritrea. With Argentine delegate we still accentuated close collaboration.
I believe more and more that even new to resist any pressure my presence is more useful to Rome. Schuman also feels the Yugoslav situation imposes travel to Paris and soon as I start tomorrow. With Schuman I had a very serious conversation about Eritrea and what in the telegraph Zoppi you will report. Tarchiani who participated and was fully informed of all my contact is found in the best condition to continue any future negotiations.
The Secretary -General To Foreign Zoppi, The Minister In Belgrade, Martino, T. Secret 8641/252. Rome, October 6, 1949, 15:30 pm.35
Yugoslav delegate of U.N. for Libya has proposed independence, annexation Ethiopia eastern provinces of Eritrea, collective protection for western Eritrea and Somalia. Our Delegation in U.N. represents opportunities V.S. calls attention that Government especially on the Somali question why even vote Yugoslavia may have its importance. Please insist coast because in continuing discussions that Government is associated proposal to mandate Italian Somalia or, at worst, to refrain from vote. This could be facilitated by the fact that the proposal for collective protection will not find many members and supporters will present its so easy excuse to change their primitive statements. Even while aiming Italo - Yugoslav favorable vote that Government on Somali issue would have its importance.
Ibid., p. X.
*The extract from the document entitled: "I Documenti Diplomatici Italiani Undicesima Serie: 1948-1953 Volume Iii, 1 Luglio 1949 26 Gennaio 1950, Roma, 2007" with special relevance to Eritrea will continue ...
Treaty of Peace With Italy - 1947
Section IV-Italian Colonies
1. Italy renounces all right and title to the Italian territorial possessions in Africa, i.e. Libya, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland.
2. Pending their final disposal, the said possessions shall continue under their present administration.
3. The final disposal of these possessions shall be determined jointly by the Governments of the Soviet Union, of the United Kingdom, of the United States of America, and of France within one year from the coming into force of the present Treaty, in the manner laid down in the joint declaration of February 10, 1947, issued by the said Governments, which is reproduced in Annex XI.
Joint Declaration by the Governments of the Soviet Union, of the United Kingdom, of the United States of America and of France concerning Italian Territorial Possessions in Africa
(See Article 23)
1. The Governments of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the United States of America, and of France agree that they will, within one year from the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace with Italy bearing the date of February 10, 1947, jointly determine the final disposal of Italy's territorial possessions in Africa, to which, in accordance with Article 23 of the Treaty, Italy renounces all right and title.
2. The final disposal of the territories concerned and the appropriate adjustment of their boundaries shall be made by the Four Powers in the light of the wishes and welfare of the inhabitants and the interests of peace and security, taking into consideration the views of other interested Governments.
3. If with respect to any of these territories the Four Powers are unable to agree upon their disposal within one year from the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace with Italy, the matter shall be referred to the General Assembly of the United Nations for a recommendation, and the Four Powers agree to accept the recommendation and to take appropriate measures for giving effect to it.
4. The Deputies of the Foreign Ministers shall continue the consideration of the question of the disposal of the former Italian Colonies with a view to submitting to the Council of Foreign Ministers their recommendations on this matter. They shall also send out commissions of investigation to any of the former Italian Colonies in order to supply the Deputies with the necessary data on this question and to ascertain the views of the local population.
Convention Between Italy and Ethiopia for the Settlement of the Frontier Between the Italian Colony of Eritrea and the Provinces of the Ethiopian Empire - 1908
CONVENTION Between Italy and Ethiopia for the Settlement of the Frontier Between the Italian Colony of Eritrea and the Provinces of the Ethiopian Empire, Signed at Addis Ababa, 16th May, 1908
His Majesty Victor Emanuel, in his own name and in the name of his successors, by means of his Representative in Addis Ababa, Cavaliere Giuseppe Colli di Felizzano, Captain of cavalry, and His Majesty Menelik II, King of Kings of Abyssinia, in his own name and that of his successors, desiring to regulate definitely the frontier between the Italian Colony of Eritrea and the provinces of the Ethiopian Empire, have determined to sign the following Convention:
Art. I. From the most easterly point of the frontier established between the Colony of Eritrea and Tigre by the Convention of the 10th July, 1900 (No. 125) the boundary proceeds in a south-easterly direction, parallel to and at a distance of 60 kilometers from the coast, until it joins the frontier of the French possessions of Somalia.
Art. II. The two Governments undertake to fix the above-mentioned frontier-line on the spot by common accord and as soon as possible, adapting it to the nature and variation of the ground.
Art. III. The two Governments undertake to establish by a common accord and as soon as possible the respective dependency of the limitrophe tribes on the frontiers on the basis of their traditional and usual residence.
Art. IV. The two Governments undertake to recognise reciprocally the ancient rights and prerogatives of the limitrophe tribes without regard to their political dependence, especially as regards the working of the salt plain, which shall, however, be subject to the existing taxes and pasturage dues.
Art. V. The two Governments formally undertake to exercise no interference beyond the frontier-line, and not to allow their dependent tribes to cross the frontier in order to commit acts of violence to the detriment of the tribes on the other side; but should questions or incidents arise between or on account of the limitrophe tribes the two Governments shall settle them by common accord.
Art. VI. The two Governments mutually undertake not to take any action, nor to allow their dependent tribes to take any action, which may give rise to questions or incidents or disturb the tranquility of the frontier tribes.
Art. VII. The present Convention shall be, as regards Italy, submitted to the approval of Parliament and ratified by the King.
Done in duplicate and in identic terms in the two languages, Italian and Amharic. One copy remains in the hands of the Italian Government, and the other in the hands of the Ethiopian Government.
Given in the city of Addis Ababa, the 16th day of the month of May, 1908.
GIUSEPPE COLLI DI FELIZZANO.
(Seal of Menelik).
Sir Edward Hertslet, 1967, The Map of Africa by treaty, Great Britain, Germany and the United States, Third Edition, Volume III, Routledge, London.
Annex to the Treaty of 1900, regarding the frontier between Eritrea and Ethiopia - 1902
Annex to the Treaty of 10th July, 1900, regarding the frontier between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Treaty of 15th May, 1902, regarding the frontier between the Sudan and Ethiopia
His Majesty the Emperor of Ethiopia, Menelik II, Major Ciccodicola, Italian Minister in Ethiopia, and Lieutenant-Colonel Harrington, His Britannic Majesty's Agent in Ethiopia, have mutually agreed that:
Art. I.-The frontier Treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea, previously determined by the line Tomat-Todlue, is mutually modified in the following manner:
Commencing from the junction of the Khor Um Hagar with the Setit, the now frontier follows this river to its junction with the Maieteb, following the latter's course so as to leave Mount Ala Tacura to Eritrea, and joins the Mareb at its junction with the Mai Ambessa.
The line from the junction of the Setit and Maieteb to the junction of the Mareb and Mai Ambessa shall be delimited by Italian and Ethiopian delegates, so that the Canama tribe belong to Eritrea.
Art. II.-The frontier between the Sudan and Eritrea, instead of that delimited by the English and Italian delegates by the Convention of the 16th April, 1901, shall be the line which, from Sabederat, is traced via Abu Jamal to the junction of the Khor Um Hagar with the Setit.
The present Agreement shall come into force as soon as its ratification by the British and Italian Governments shall have been notified to the Emperor of Ethiopia.
In faith of which His Majesty the Emperor of Ethiopia, Menelik II, in his own name and that of his successors; Major Ciccodicola, in the name of His Majesty Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy, and his successors; and Lieutenant-Colonel Harrington, in the name of His Majesty Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, and his successors, have signed the present Note in triplicate, written in the Italian, English, and Amharic languages identically, all texts being official, and have thereto affixed their seals.
Done at Addis Ababa, this 15th day of May, 1902.
(L.S.) JOHN LANE HARRINGTON, Lieutenant-Colonel
(L.S.) MAGGIORE FEDERICO CICCODICOLA.
(Seal of His Majesty The Emperor Menelek II.)
Treaty Between Italy and Ethiopia, for the Delimitation of the Frontier between Eritrea and Ethiopia - 1900
Treaty Between Italy and Ethiopia, for the Delimitation of the Frontier between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Signed at Addis Ababa, 10th July, 1900
(Ratified by the King of Italy, 13th April, 1901.)
In the name of the Holy Trinity
His Majesty Humbert I, King of Italy, and His Majesty Menelek II, King of Kings of Ethiopia; in the desire to regulate the question of the frontier between the Colony of Eritrea and Ethiopia which has remained open since the conclusion of the Treaty of Peace of Addis Ababa of the 26th October, 1896 (17 Tekemt, 1889), have agreed on and concluded the following Convention:
Art. 1 - The line Tomat-Todluc-Mareb-Belesa-Muna, traced on the map annexed, is recognized by the two Contracting Parties as the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Art. 2 - The Italian Government binds itself not to cede or sell to any other Power the territory comprised between the Line Tomat, Todluc, Mareb-Mai, Ambessa-Mai, Feccia-Mai, Maretta-Mai, HaMahio, Piano galine Faraone, and the line Tomat, Todluc, Mareb, Belesa, Muna, left by His Majesty Menelek II, King of Kings of Ethiopia, to Italy.
His Majesty Menelek II, King of Kings of Ethiopia, in his own name, for himself and for his successors, and Captain Federico Ciccodicola, in the name of His Majesty Humbert I, King of Italy, for himself and his successors, in mutual agreement, have written this convention, in the Italian and Amharic languages, both to be considered official save that in case of error in writing the Emperor Menelik will rely on the Amharic version, and in witness of their approval have sealed it with their seals.
Written in the city of Addis Ababa, the 10th July, 1900 (3 Hamlie, 1892, year of Pardon).
(Seal of the Emperor Menelek.)
(L.S.) Capitano FEDERICO CICCODICOLA, Representative of His Majesty the King of Italy in Ethiopia.
1. Sir E. Hertslet, Nov 1, 1967, The Map of Africa by Treaty, pp. 460
Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Pact II - Treaty of Addis Ababa - 1896
Italy and Ethiopia
October 26, 1896
In the name of the Sainted Trinity
His Majesty Humbert [Umberto] I, King of Italy, and His Majesty Menilek II, Emperor of Ethiopia, wishing to end the war and resume their old friendship have agreed on the following Treaty.
To conclude this Treaty, His Majesty, the King of Italy delegated as his Plenipotentiary, Major Cesare Nerazzini,Chevalier des Saints Maurice et Lazare, Officier de la Couronne d'Italie. Major Nerazzini's authority having been duly authorized, His Excellency Major Nerazzini, in the name of His Majesty the King of Italy, and His Majesty, Menilek II, Emperor of Ethiopia and of the Galla countries in his own name, agreed on and concluded the following acts:
Since the two negotiating powers have not been able to agree on the question of frontiers, and since they wish to call a truce and establish peace without delay, thus assuring their respective countries the benefits of peace, it has been decided that within a year's delay, beginning as of this day, trusted delegates of both His Majesty, the King of Italy and His Majesty, the Emperor of Ethiopia, shall establish definite frontiers in the spirit of friendly talks. Until these frontiers are definitely fixed and agreed upon, the two Contracting Parties agree to observe the status quo ante. Each Party shall strictly refrain from crossing the provisory frontier which shall be determined by the flow of the Mareb, Belessa and Mouna Rivers.
Being in complete accord on the terms of this Treaty, His Majesty Menilek II, Emperor of Ethiopia, in his own name and His Excellency, Major Nerazzini, Emissary for His Majesty, the King of Italy, have approved and signed it.
Done in Addis Ababa, the 17th Tekemt, 1889 (corresponding to the 26th of October 1896).
[L.S.] MAJOR CESARE NERAZZINI
Plenipotentiary Emissary of His Majesty, the King of Italy
(signed by His Majesty, the Emperor Menelik II)
Ratified by His MajestyRome, 6th of January, 1897.
Sent to Parliament24th of May, 1897.
1. Axelrod, Alan, and Charles L. Phillips. "Treaty of Addis Ababa." Encyclopedia of Historical Treaties and Alliances: From Ancient Times to the 1930s, vol. 1. New York.
Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Pact I - Wuchale Treaty - 1889
Uccialli, Treaty is a treaty between Italy and Ethiopia, which takes its name from the center (Wechale) where it was signed (May 2, 1889) between the Count Ugo Antonelli, Italian plenipotentiary, and Menelik, Negus of Shoa, on the verge of become emperor of Ethiopia. Consisting of 20 articles, was written in Italian and Amharic.
To remove any ambiguity about the limits of the territories over which the two Contracting Parties shall exercise the rights of sovereignty, a special committee composed of two Italian delegates and two Ethiopians will trace on the ground with appropriate signs a permanent boundary line whose benchmarks are established as follows:
The boundary between Italy and Ethiopia shall follow the plateau.
Starting from the region of Arafali, the villages of Halai, Segeneiti, and Asmara shall be within the Italian boundary.
Adi Nefas and Adi Johannes, in the direction of the Bogos tribe, shall be within the Italian boundary.
From Adi Johannes the boundary between Italy and Ethiopia shall be marked by a straight line running east and west.
The monastery of Debra Bizen, with all its property, shall remain in the possession of the Ethiopian Government, who shall not, however, be able to make use of it for military purposes.
The caravans to or from Massawa on Ethiopian territory will pay a single customs duty of 8 per cent on the value of the goods.
Power of either Party to modify Treaty after 5 years, on giving a year's notice. Concessions of Territory to be unalterable.
In witness whereof, Count Pietro Antonelli on behalf of His Majesty the King of Italy, His Majesty the King of King Menelik of Ethiopia, in his own name, signed and affixed their seal to this Treaty, at the camp Uccialli of 25 miazia 1881 corresponding to May 2, 1889.
Imperial Seal of Ethiopia
For His Majesty the King of Italy Pietro Antonelli
Ratification of MS, Monza, September 29, 1889
1. Sir Edward Hertslet, 1894, The Map of Africa by treaty, Vol. I, Abyssinia to Great Britain, London.