Isaias Afewerki’s Democracy Allergy

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Just for the record, there is no such thing as “universal democracy� or “one democracy fits all.� This would defy the cultural and ethnic diversity of the planet we inhabit. Therefore, democracy is defined by the National Constitution of any given political entity, society, or country.

Africa News Update

The ruler of Eritrea, President Isaias Afewerki, delivered his widely publicized and anxiously awaited interview on US-Eritrea relations as promised and on time this weekend, 19 August; it was widely broadcast via state-owned EriTV that was then relayed to regime-friendly websites via the internet.

Afewerki, in the two-hour interview, addressed the issue of the depressingly constant domestic calls for constitutional governance, i.e., in Eritrea. In order to make his case and in yet another futile attempt to counter such just domestic calls, the president ventured into making a parody of democracy, as practiced in India that he labels the world’s largest democracy and the USA.
Mr. President, you are entitled to say all you want in eternity about democracy as practiced all over the world, but with all due respect, no one in Eritrea is calling for a carbon copy of democracy ala India, America, or any other country; what about the democracy as dictated by our national constitution that was drafted under your personal auspices and active participation and then ratified with your unequivocal consent—remember?  

Unless you are having second thoughts about it and are considering declaring our National Constitution a recipe for the fragmentation of the Eritrean society along our vertical diversity, which the people of Eritrea would never buy.

Your persistent reference to “societies being split in an ethnic, religious, regional and sectarian manner” as in the Iraqi case you cited, between Sunnis and Shiites, Kurds, etc., every time you are confronted with the issue of democratic governance in Eritrea, is utterly baseless and tantamount to fear mongering.

Like every initial national constitution, the Eritrean National constitution is not perfect but it is good. Perfection cannot be the enemy of the good or negate the good. Just for the record, there is no such thing as “universal democracy” or “one democracy fits all.” This would defy the cultural and ethnic diversity of the planet we inhabit. Therefore, democracy is defined by the National Constitution of any given political entity, society, or country.

No two nations are the same; hence there is no one democracy template that would meet the needs, wills, wishes, and interests of two different societies. Democracy in Eritrea is fashioned and customized solely from Eritrean perspectives as stipulated and dictated by our national constitution not a copy of this or that country.   Constitutional governance and democracy is a just form of governance, solemnly entrusted to those charged with governing for strict implementation.

Democratic governance cannot and does not rule out economic imbalance in the absolute nor does it promise or lead to equal wealth to all but certainly grants all equitable access to wealth.

One cannot fault constitutional governance and democracy for gross economic imbalance to the extent that exists in India; you cited an example of 77% of the population living under poverty. This would be like blaming democracy for systemic governmental corruption.

Let me say for the purpose of clarity that the national constitution is not a piece of paper but a message and solemn covenant between the governed and the governors. President Afewerki is certainly entitled to his “no comment” response to the US plan to put his governmental authority on the list of “terrorism sponsors.” Yet silence in the face of such damning accusations and looming concrete punitive measures is tantamount to consent.   Finally, as far as the closure of the Eritrean consulate in Oakland is concerned, the president urged Eritreans in America to utilize their right to freedom of speech to protest the consular closure by contacting their congressional representatives.

Well said, Mr. President; how about congratulating American democracy at least for granting its citizens freedom of speech that you can now call upon to make your case, but which freedom is a rare commodity in Eritrea?  

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