Press Release

·         EUDC on Transitional Period as ratified in its second congress Feb 2015

·         Second Chapter

·         After the fall of the totalitarian PFDJ regime, EUDC believes that the group that seizes power should set up a provisional government for a very short period of time. Thereafter, through national conference that includes all political forces, civic societies, religious leaders, community elders, women’s associations, intellectuals and prominent national figures, a transitional government will be established.

·         Work earnestly to make the duration, tasks and mandates of the transitional government effective, peaceful and democratic.

·         The transitional government will draft the constitution and laws derived from the constitution to be approved by the public.

·         Respect the sovereignty of the people, obey the people’s decisions, fulfill their demands, and work to implement it.


1. Implications for the Immediate Aftermath of Transition to Change

Irrespective of how the PFDJ regime is toppled, by violence or otherwise, securing law and order in the immediate aftermath will pose enormous challenges. 

Rigorous consultation in the planning for appropriate plan of action and associated contingencies and measures in collaboration with internal partners will be critical in enforcing law and order, in order to lay an enabling environment for securing stable and smoother transition from early on. 

1.1 Immediate Actions for consideration - the devil is in the details!!

·      The Provisional Transitional Council (a provisional body which takes responsibility for the immediate aftermath of the change) should delegate a small strong team, with relevant experience, to coordinate actions to ensure peace, security and stability in the immediate transition;

·      Appoint provisional military leaders to take responsibility for maintaining law and order, under the direct guidance of the Transitional Council;

·      Breaking pre-identified critical nodes of Isaias’ networks:  among the 3 EDF Army Core, the instruments of suppression – the NS and the PFDJ security unit, including, neutralizing key leaders of PFDJ’s security and defence establishment (detain and no extraordinary  execution allowed);

·      Assigning the police force and identified loyal defence contingents to enforce law and order across the whole country;

·      Once security is ensured, the Transitional Council should broadcast the broad tenets of the Transitional Programme and broad plan of action to begin democratic change process.

·      Keeping the Eritrean people informed with regular broadcasting on hour by hour developments, to keep the public to stay calm, avoid criminality and arbitrary revenge action; 

·      Assign a team to ensure provision of public services – food, medicine, transport facilities, water and electricity supply;

·      Inform the international community of the new developments including the overview of the Transitional Process and key goals of the Transitional Council; and

·      Establish immediate contacts with the neighbouring governments – Djibouti, Ethiopia and Sudan - to inform them of the new political developments, including the transition measures the Transition Council has outlined to pursue and clearly call and solicit their positive collaboration.

These actions will require rigorous prior identification and persuasion (co-option) of individuals who would subscribe and commit to: the necessity for change and agree on the transitional programme established by the Transitional Council.  The team should be composed of representatives of the parties and Civil Society organizations in the Transitional Council, including the political parties and high ranking officials and military leaders of the PFDJ regime who committed to collaborate with the aims and objects of the Transitional Council. 

Importantly, this team will need to work on detailed plan of action, including contingency plans to be ready for implementation on the day after.

1.2 Towards Positive Civil-Military Relationship

After a successful stabilization measures during the immediate aftermath of the regime change, the Transitional Council should draw out the civil-military relationship required to consolidate democratic change. The core principles of the Transitional Council’s agenda with regard to restructuring the military’s role in the government should underline the acceptance of:

·         The elected civilian Head of State and/or Government as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the supremacy of elected officials of State over appointed officers at all levels;

·         Subservience of decisions regarding the goals and conduct of military operations to the political and strategic goals established by the civil authority; the military establishment, including other security arms of the state as appropriate implement the doctrine, strategies, work plans as approved by the civilian leadership of the Ministry of Defence, delegated by the Chairman of the Transitional Council, and other strategic establishments as instituted in the Constitution and enacted by law;

·         The application of the enlightened principles to all military investigations and trials; and acceptance of the right of civil authority that is the Supreme Court, to review any actions or decisions taken by military judicial officers.

1.3 The Transitional Council will need to develop a model of civil-military relations that is workable and suited to Eritrea, in light of experience, one that preserves the core capabilities of a professional military force without enabling it to indulge in politics. Such model of civil-military should include the following elements:

·         The Constitution should specifically set forth the purpose of the armed forces (along the following lines but not exclusively) to:

Ø  Defend Eritrea from external aggression;

Ø  M­­aintain territorial integrity and secure its borders from violation on land, sea and air;

Ø  Suppress insurrection and act in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by Eritrea’s Head of State and Government, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly, in conformity with the Constitution.

·         Introducing appropriate provisions under the Constitution relating to:  instituting the Head of State and Government as a commander in chief of the EDF, criteria governing the appointment of senior military officers through the Ministry of Defence, the role of Council of Ministers (or Cabinet of Ministers) legislative scrutiny and approval of budgetary allocations and disbursements, tendering processes of contracts.

·         The Ministry of Defence to lead the professional, organizational, technological and operational development of the EDF in order to boost the military’s currently undermined regimentation and esprit de corps.

·         Articulating and review of the EDF’s goals, doctrine and structure under the constitution, led by the Commander in Chief, the Head of State and Government and the Minister of Defence.

·         Institute a civilian executive – the Minister of Defence – as an arm of government to guide the implementation of the prescribed short and long-term plans and strategies of the EDF as established through the civilian approval and parliamentary legislative process.

·         Parliament to play a strong role in the introduction of a quota system in officer recruitment and appointment in order to reflect the multi-ethnic composition and central  political character of the country (depending on the nature of government that will be decided by Eritrea’s constitution  – central, a hybrid of federalism and decentralized ...etc.)

·         The provisional government should exert significant efforts to establish democratic and effective civil-military relations to consolidate democratization.   These efforts should include professionalizing and rebranding of the military, to move forward the goal of regaining citizens’ confidence and pride in their military institutions.

·         In the longer term, a Department of Civil-Military Affairs should be established with the goal of recasting the army’s image and strengthening its capacity to tackle contemporary challenges facing the nation. The department’s mission could be to win back public support and confidence in the military. It will primarily serve as an interface between the EDF and the civilian populace, promoting effective civil-military relations in the areas of human rights, rule of law, negotiations, and liaison and conflict management. The Department could initiate interactive discussions between the army, mass media, civil society groups, academia, students of tertiary education institutions, the National Assembly, and other paramilitary organizations. 

The Transition Council may also consider debating whether or not there is a need for establishing a Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission, to investigate human rights abuses that were perpetrated during PFDJ/Isaias’ rule.  The panel, if agreed, could be convened to ascertain or establish the causes, nature and extent of human rights violations or abuse, identify the person[s], authorities, institutions or organizations which may be held accountable and determine the motives of the violations, determine whether such abuses or violations were the product of deliberate state policy or whether they arose from abuses by state officials; or whether they were acts of any groups or individuals, recommend measures which may be taken whether judicial, administrative, legislative or institutional to redress the injustices of the past and prevent or forestall future violations or abuses of human rights.