Saturday, 22 August 2015

The founding meeting of the Eritrean Peoples’ Revolutionary Party

The founding meeting of the Eritrean Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (the clandestine party of the EPLF)

Ahmed Tahir Badouri, in his book, ‘Journey through the memory’, in Arabic recalls;

The founding meeting was held at Mount Gedem. We met secretly there at night accompanied by Abubaker Mohamed Hassen. The other colleagues came in the morning. We took breakfast and tea. Later we were called to what is now known as a conference hall. The opening ceremony was on 04.04.1971. The meeting was opened by martyr Abubaker who presented the agenda and items for discussion that was approved without any additions. There was a humble participation due to the need for secrecy. This was done in agreement with the ‘Revolutionary Nucleus’ that was formed in Southern Dankalia by PLF1. The Meeting was attended by the democratic elements in both groups (he means PLF1 that was formed in Dankalia and by the Isaias or Ala group as it was known). Those who attended according to their responsibilities were: Mohamed Ali Omero, Isaias Afeworki, Ramadan Mohamed Nur, martyr Abubaker Mohamed Hassen Gadi, Mahmoud Ahmed Sherifo, Mesfin Hagos, Ibrahim Ali Affa, Ali Seid Abdella, Maasho Embaye, Ahmed Mohamed Nur Hilal. Ahmed Saleh al Gaisi, and Ahmed Tahir Badouri.

Romadan Mohamed Nur chaired the meeting and presented the elaborate founding documents of the Party, analysis of the current situation in relation to the formation of the party and the front in general. The draft and the bylaws of the party, its objectives, and the organizational framework, and a leadership concept based on democratic centralism were presented. The papers were thoroughly discussed, and were amended or additions were included and were later approved unanimously. The organizational structure of the party and its name were discussed in detail. It was agreed to change the name from ‘The Eritrean Communist Party’ which I think was taken from the Sudanese Communist Party, to the “Eritrean Peoples’ Revolutionary Party” named after the ‘Vietnamese Peoples’ Revolutionary Party’. Consideration was also taken that people may be sensitive to the use of the word, communist. A temporary leadership of three persons were chosen, who were Romodan Mohamed Nur, Isaias Afeworki and Abubaker Mohamed Hassen

The secrecy of the party required very rigid discipline.

Source: Ahmed Tahir Badouri’s book, ‘Journey through the memory’, Pages 144 – 146

It is to be recalled that Isaias Afeworki was the only one from his group (Ala) who attended the meeting. Both Mesfin Hagos and Embaye Maasho were from PLF1 who was formed in Dankalia. So it was handed over to Isaias who later used it as a means to have full control of the EPLF. Yemane Teklegiorgish narrates in his interviews with Assenna that Isaias told them at the second Congress of the party in 1987, that the party leadership never met in 10 years and he did not present any reports on the activities of the party. Thus unlike the way Dan Connel introduced the party, it was a one-man show and was at the service of the President rather than the front.

Dan Connel, was very much a spokesperson for the EPLF, until the rift of leadership in 2000. Every thing about the EPLF and Isaias was revolutionary and every thing about the ELF was reactionary. He fed his readers what he heard from Isaias Afeworki or his colleagues, without any scrutiny. Since 2000, his writings have become more objective.

In his book, ‘Against All odds’ he writes:

“ In the late 1966, Isaias, Romodan and Haile Woldetensae- the core of the future leadership of the EPLF, joined several dissidents to establish a small study circle…
Ironically, it was Azien Yassin (It was difficult for him to comprehend that Azien or a Mohamed or any one from the ELF could be a revolutionary at that time, he does not know that the leftists in the ELF were closely related to the Sudanese Communist Party, one of the strongest communist parties in Africa, during that period), who brought the writings of Mao Zedong to the group, though China was fashionable then as a model for peasant-based revolutionary struggle)”.. Pages 79 – 80.

-         Perhaps Dan Connel does not know that Ahmed Adem Omer, who was in the China group with Isaias was the first Secretary General of the clandestine party of the ELF, the ‘Labour Party’

“ The embryo of the EPLF’s vision was expressed in ‘Our struggle and its goals’, drafted and laboriously typed in 1971 by Isaias. It was his first experience with a type writer.” Page 83

-         This one looks like 03 (the propaganda for Isaias)

Because Isaias went to Prince Mekonen Secondary School, Dan Connell elevates it to an elite school

And this was Mahmoud Sherifo's view on the role of Isaias:

And this is what Mahmoud Sherifo said on the issue as written on Dan Connell's book, "Conversations with political Prisoners": 

Dan Connell: ¨The conversation with Mahmoud Sherifo took place after I presented my paper on the 'Eritrean Peoples' Revolutionary Party' at the Eritrean Studies association. It was conducted at his invitation to correct what he perceived to be mistakes in the paper- mainly singular focus on Isaias as the driving force in the conception and construction of the party". 

Connell:" In my paper, I described one element of democratic forces starting in '66, with Isaias, Musie and others. Who else was involved then". 

Sherifo: in '66 Isaias, Musie and Durue may have been 'democratic', as far as individuals, but they were not even in the field." 

Connell: "No, they were in Kassala, so who was there". 

Sherifo: " '67 Durue was with me in the 5th Division, he was in the field for a while, then he left to Kassal. Isaias was in China, so they were not the core in the field: If Isaias had any influence in the Party, then it came after he came back from China"

Compare what Dan Connell wrote about the origins of the ‘Eritrean Peoples’ Revolutionary Party’ to the eyewitness account of Yemane Teklegiorgish ( interviews in 20 parts) and you can see the contrast.

Yemane’s account on how Isaias run the show alone:


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