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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Opinion
Eritrea: On The Issue Of The National Constitution

Commentary

In its nascent form, democracy is defined as governance strictly according to the expressed, in writing or otherwise, wishes and will of the governed, the people. The people of Eritrea have expressed their wishes and will for democratic governance in writing and exists in the form of a document that we call the Eritrean national constitution. This constitution has been voted on and ratified without ands, ifs, or buts in 1997 with the knowledge, active participation, and unequivocal consent of the head of the military junta, Isaias Afewerki and his ruling cronies.
 
After 4 years of discussions, the people of Eritrea have opted for and have gotten a written constitution and that is the only way we know how to govern our country. Accordingly, in Eritrea, democracy is defined by and emanates from all the provisions of our written national constitution. Sophomoric and intellectually pretentious arguments and charlatan political punditry aside, therein lies the connection between democracy and written constitution in Eritrea.
 
The people in Britain and New Zealand have chosen a different route of achieving ‘strong’ democratic governance without a written constitution. Kudos to them, that is their God-given option. In Eritrea, the issue is not and never has been whether or not we should have written or unwritten constitutional governance. We in Eritrea have long opted for and decided to be governed by a written constitution and there is no reason why this written constitution would not lead us to even stronger democratic governance than anywhere else? There is no other way of governing our country legitimately until we, the people, decide otherwise.
 
If the citizens of Eritrea did not have sense of democracy/written constitution, why was the Eritrean national constitution drafted and ratified in the first place? Why would the people of Eritrea including dictator Isaias Afewerki and his ruling “People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ)” work so hard and for 4 long years to draft and ratify a national constitution that is ‘insufficient to guarantee democracy’ in the first place? Stop insulting the intelligence of the people of Eritrea. If you want to declare our national constitution void, power to you. But don’t blame it on democracy-ignorance of the people of Eritrea.
 
Did the citizens of Eritrea that “did not have sense of democracy” know what they were doing when they participated in the treasonous worldwide referendum? May be they all voted the way they did without knowing and understanding what it was all about? That would be too much democracy?
 
Our national constitution is not perfect but it is good and certainly guarantees so much democracy as provided for therein. Should democracy get undermined, the blame lies on the shoulders of those that were entrusted with the solemn duty of executing democratic governance not democracy itself. Blaming democracy for administrative failures is a way of whitewashing bureaucratic corruption.
 
Our national constitution can be seen as implemented then and only then, when and only when our country is governed constitutionally. That has not happened ever since the ratification of our national constitution and is not the case today. In the absence of our national constitution, Isaias Afewerki and co. have neither the authority nor the legitimization to govern our country let alone implement the national constitution. Where would Isaias and co. draw their authority and legitimization from to implement the national constitution or articles of the constitution?
 
In order for articles of our national constitution to be implemented, it is necessarily mandatory for our national constitution to be in effect in words and deeds first. One cannot invoke articles of a national constitution that has neither been implemented nor is in effect and while the country is not at all governed according to the letters and dictates of the national constitution. Only in PFDJ’s Eritrea! Nice try.
 
The Junta in Eritrera has neither the authority nor the legitimization to develop laws for that is the job of an elected legislative branch of government, which doesn’t and cannot exist prior to the implementation of the national constitution. Try it again.
 
There is nothing wrong with holding local elections, but in the absence of the national constitution, such elections have no constitutional validity. Suspending constitutional rights during war is certainly not unique to Eritrea. But Eritrea is not at war with any body nor is there a martial law in place, no reason for that. The state of ‘no-peace-no-war’ is far from being at war. National security and defense indeed have utmost priority but how does constitutional governance hamper the country’s ability to defend and protect itself.
What is lacking in Eritrea is not elections but constitutional governance that necessarily entails but is not limited (as is being propagated by charlatan politicians) to elections.
 
The essence of democratic governance/democratic state is established once as provide for by our national constitution. This does not change after every election nor is contingent upon the mode of election cycle. The purpose of elections is to put those that have proven best able and qualified than any other competitors to preserve and execute constitutional governance not to undo or change it.
 
One cannot blame democratic elections for failing to yield the desired effect in Ethiopia. The 2005 elections did yield democratic results but the barrel of the gun denied that. Thanks for the hint. Isaias and co. may employ the same method should democratic elections, if and when it ever happens, do not turn out in their favor. Stop fear mongering!
 
Constitutional governance certainly cannot be achieved overnight. But how do you rule our country in the absence of constitutional governance in the meantime? By the barrel of the gun? Or unwritten constitution that allows Isaias and co. to perpetuate their tyrannical grip on our country?

We welcome the submission of articles for possible publication on Garowe Online. Please send an e-mail to:   contact@garoweonline.com . The opinions expressed above are solely the author's and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position or have the endorsement of Radio Garowe/Garowe Online news group.

 

 
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