BY SOPHIA TESFAMARIAM,
Eritrea’s former Ambassador to the EU, Andeberhan Woldegiorghis, released a short “manifesto” of his new “political platform” through Youtube on 17 January 2014. This was apparently meant as a prelude to the still-born “Forum for National Dialogue” that was subsequently launched in London in early February 2014. I suppose it’s the modus operandi-or predictable script that he and his aging, ailing colleagues have been brought in to read from.
Before I present excerpts of his Youtube statement to give my readers a gist of his new “political perspectives”, allow me to share a brief 2007 encounter with the good Ambassador in Cairo, Egypt during a meeting there. When we ran into Ambassador Andeberhan in the lobby of the hotel we were all staying in, my colleague was excited to see him and went to greet him. He then turned to me and said, “You know Sophie right?”, and before he could say anymore, the good Ambassador extorted with, “No, I don’t know her”. He was telling the truth-but only a half-truth-or should I say, a selective truth.
You see, a few years back, he had come to New York with the late Minister Ali Said Abdella and for some reason, I did not make it to New York then. When Minister Ali called me to say hello, he told me that Ambassador Andeberhan had asked for me and that he was so looking forward to meeting me in person. So, yes, we had never met in person, but to deny any knowledge of me was a bit dishonest. Well, for the rest of the weekend, while he hobnobbed with the Ethiopian delegation-we stayed apart … but he also poured his guts out in a conversation with my colleague, as if to exonerate himself… More on that encounter and his tantrums in Cairo later.
I am questioning his motives today, as many Eritreans like me who have heard and read his previous speeches, are doing, as they see him flip flopping-creating a narrative to fit his newly found job-as it is not a profession-something he has said repeatedly, he was seeking. From what I have been able to find out about this man-while many praise him for this intellect-they tell me that his people skills are less than desirable-almost dictatorial…
Looks to me like he is now in a very complex, historical and moral conundrum-a volte-face mode that is untenable…considering his well-documented life and by all accounts, was given more opportunity than most. In any case, allow me to present some of his public statements, made passionately at various international forums in his Ambassadorial capacity, precisely on the issues he is now advocating.
As far as most Eritreans, like me, were concerned, Ambassador Andeberhan defected in 2006 for personal rather than political reasons. He declined to return home following the end of his ambassadorial posting to Brussels reportedly telling close confidants that he was less than excited about his new job as CEO of the National Bank, and that he wanted to see his sons study abroad. He also made no public announcements that would give any indication of serious grievances. So there are three plausible reasons why he has decided to lend his voice to the defunct “opposition” at this time.
As I have previously stated, members of the Eritrean Quislings League (EQL) seem to make their appearances-and debuts, when the minority regime in Ethiopia finds itself in another quagmire. They serve as the “Eritrean faces” for its agendas. So, from where I sit, the good Ambassador has either been bought to serve as their new spokesperson-as the others, like Assefaw Tekeste, Haile Menkorios, Paulos Tesfagiorgis and Bereket Habte Selassie have been rejected by the Eritrean populace and their integrity and credibility have been questioned for their treacherous activities … or is suffering from debilitating dementia… or is blatantly dishonest. I’ll allow the facts and the record to speak for themselves.
For brevity’s sake, and to remind him of his past Statements, allow me to simply juxtapose his YouTube statements with a verbatim replication of his vehement stance on those very issues prior to his current bout with selective dementia, or whatever it is that ails him today.
1./ Ambassador Andebrehan’s YouTube statement on the detained former government officials and political realities in Eritrea:
“… Since winning the war and exercising the right of self-determination in the form of independence, the people have not had the chance to choose their own government. In other words, the national liberation front of which of course I am a founding member of the Central Committee, it waged a long war, built an efficient war machine combat effective, achieved military victory. But it became ill suited running the affairs of a state. It failed to transform itself and its functions from waging a war of National liberation into running the affairs of state in time of peace. As a result, attempt to transform it from within was aborted and those who have attempted ended up in jail. I will not bore you with a long story, but in short, in 2001, the national assembly, which is the country’s parliament was suspended…”
Let us take a look at what he said in his statements to the EU-ACP Assembly and read excerpts of a letter sent to the Secretary General of the Inter Parliamentary Union (2001-2005):
“…The detention of certain individuals engaged in unlawful acts against the security and sovereignty of the State has nothing to do with any political views they may hold and/or express. Moreover, these individuals had no agenda of reform that sets them apart from the Government or the ruling Front of both of which they were among the leading members…. Ensuring national security is a cardinal responsibility of the state. Thus, the detention of culpable officials to ensure the security, stability and integrity of the State can, in no way, be construed as a general violation of human rights. Far from being ‘representatives of the opposition’ or ‘advocates of democratic reform’, the arrested were senior Government officials holding positions of high authority when they engaged in activities harmful to the security of the state in wartime…”
“… The National Assembly had duly addressed the issue of their parliamentary immunity and mandated the Government to appropriately deal with the matter…”
“…The gravity of the acts perpetrated by the former members of the National Assembly against the security and sovereignty of the State at a critical moment when its very survival was threatened by a brutal aggression. The extreme sensitivity of aspects of the case, arising from the implication of foreign powers in a plot to oust the President of the State must be highlighted. Hence, the handling of the case requires prudence and appropriate timing to avoid possible negative external ramifications…”
“… The question of whether to bring their case to trial before a court must be considered in conjunction with progress in the peace process, as the case entails extremely sensitive aspects pertaining to the implication of third countries and a possible negative impact on the peace process…”
“…Unfortunately, the paragraphs on Eritrea in the Motion on East Africa have been tabled without making the minimum effort to ascertain the real situation in the country. They fail to recognize, or be informed by, the evolving process, underway, of building a participatory political system through conducting transparent, fair and free elections at the local and regional levels. These successful local and regional elections, constituting an exercise in home-grown grassroots democracy, are the precursors of the planned national elections. Hence, the presumption of certain MEPs calling on Eritrea ‘finally to take the road towards democracy’ is superfluous, condescending and unnecessary. For this very reason, we appeal to the distinguished delegates assembled here to reject the condescending paragraphs on Eritrea…”
2./ Ambassador Andebrehan’s YouTube Statement on the Eritrea-Ethiopia war (Shamefully repeating Woyane’s narrative):
“… Eritrea went to war virtually with all its neighbors from 1995-2000. So we have utter repression at home and no war no peace situation with our neighbors. So the aim of the forum for national dialogue which has been recently established by most prominent Eritreans who escaped being jailed or suspended inside the country who are mostly in exile is first of all to bring about democratic transformation from within and bring about durable peace with Ethiopia … I will go the regional aspect Eritrea and Ethiopia went to war again 1998-2000 the international community came in there was UN sponsored peace building mechanism which has not yet secured the peace. So they have this state of affairs that can be best described a cold wars state of no war no peace where the borders are closed but these are the two closest countries, closest peoples in Africa. They shared a long history they have a shared culture and religion and many strategic interests. The two economies are complementary, so we believe that the future of the two country lies not in the kind of relations they have today but in reconciliation, in working together in economic integration … once the two countries abide by the final and binding decision of the boundary and Claims Commissions then the two countries can use classic diplomacy to restore normal relations between themselves and cultural diplomacy to actually heal the wounds of war to heal the animosity that exist…”
Now let us take a look at Ambassador Andebrehan’s corresponding public statements while in office until 2006:
“…We, in Eritrea, have always viewed this imposed conflict as senseless and futile, incurring unnecessary loss of life, wanton destruction of property, costly diversion of meager resources and lost opportunity for development and improvement of the human condition…. And we all know that Ethiopia launched an all-out invasion of Eritrea in May-June 2000, occupying large tracts of sovereign Eritrean territory in the West and South…”
“…Expeditious demarcation, as stipulated by the Algiers Accords, was meant to complete the peace process and lay the basis for the gradual rebuilding of reciprocal confidence, normalization of relations and the healing of the wounds of war between the two countries. …However, Ethiopia has been engaged in a deliberate and systematic effort to delay, obstruct and derail the demarcation process. To this end, it has sought, in collusion with other states in the region, to subvert Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity…”
“…All this is dictated by Ethiopia’s flagrant stance of non-respect for the sanctity of the colonial borders. This was the cause of its aggression in 1998 and remains at the heart of its willful obstruction of the demarcation process to date, thereby jeopardizing regional peace and security. Ethiopia’s noncompliance and threat to disrupt demarcation unless the BC alters its decision so as to grant it Badme, signify that war clouds are, once again, hanging over the Horn. Needless to say, the resumption of hostilities will visit another tragedy on the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia and pose a grave threat to regional peace and security…”
“…Ethiopia’s call for dialogue is thus a ruse that contravenes the Algiers Agreement, defies UN Security Council resolution…. Indeed, Ethiopia’s flouting of the international rule of law threatens to ignite new hostilities and disrupt regional peace and security…”
“…Today, Ethiopia stands in violation of the delimited colonial treaty border whose demarcation it obstructs. Defying UN Security Council resolutions, it continues to occupy and build new settlements on sovereign Eritrea territory …”
“…Ethiopia’s call for dialogue to amend the EEBC’s final and binding delimitation decision contravenes the Algiers Treaty, defies UN Security Council resolutions and flouts the international rule of law. If not reversed, Ethiopia’s intransigence poses a grave threat to the fragile peace between the two countries as well as to regional peace and security…”
3./ Ambassador Andebrehan’s YouTube statement on political liberties:
“…The basic ingredient of democracy is lacking, there is no freedom of expression, assembly and association, in fact it is illegal in the country for any people more than two for any group more than two or three people to get together to discuss a thing they conspiring and therefor it is illegal and they be detained under such circumstances…”
Notwithstanding the fact that the good Ambassador has not provided a single evidence for his YouTube assertions, allow me to present corresponding statements made on the same issue during his Ambassadorial tenure:
“…In the past few weeks, we have witnessed a seemingly concerted and increasingly negative depiction of the situation in Eritrea, precipitated by the detention of politicians and the clamp down of the private press, all exacerbated by the expulsion of the Italian ambassador. This portrayal of the situation in Eritrea is distorted, unjustified and unacceptable…”
“…The private print media has been suspended due to persistent contraventions of the country’s press code. The fact is the Government has merely ordered a temporary suspension in response to persistent contravention of the Press Code and the loss of independence under the inducement of foreign funding…”
“…National attention and resources are now refocused away from defense into reconstruction and development, into the systematic reduction and eventual eradication of poverty through rapid sustainable development and the equitable distribution of its fruits. Moreover, the last years has seen an extensive participatory process, involving the grassroots level, both at home and in the Diaspora… Eritrea remains committed as ever to good governance, to the accountable and transparent management of national resources, and to the persistent fight against corruption and economic crimes as a matter of state policy and practice…”
“…I wish to reiterate here that Eritrea’s commitment to the democratic process, respect for human rights, the rule of law and good governance is first and foremost a commitment to its people, to whom it is solely accountable. These are internal issues for Eritrea and its people to deal with in accordance with its respective historical processes as well as economic, political and social realities. They cannot be objects of imposition or willful interference by third parties…”
The stark comparisons outlined above illustrate, adequately, that Ambassador Andebrehan’s current political views do not cohere with his public positions and pronouncements of yesterday. Unfortunately, he cannot hide behind, and attribute his previous positions to “a sense of duty” and/or the exigencies for adhering to one’s “diplomatic briefs”. After all, he was an active member of, and duly attended, all the meetings of the National Assembly when the sad affairs of treason and sedition were debated in the legislative body…not to mention the fact that he was much younger then and even more agile…
What makes his YouTube presentation even sadder is that it is being made at a time when even the minority regime in Ethiopia itself is professing acceptance of the Algiers Agreement without any pre-conditions (another gimmick). It is coming at a time when almost everyone in the international community is calling on Ethiopia to abide by its treaty obligations and vacate from sovereign Eritrean territories. His appearance at this late hour-to serve as a tool for the defunct “opposition”- is not only shameful, but rather opportunistic…and from where I sit, he has nothing to offer that could possibly compete with what Warsay and Yikaalo are offering the Eritrean people, in terms of leadership, commitment and innovation…he is spent fuel.
In addition, as I said earlier, he also made statements to my colleague that were contrary to what he is now professing on YouTube. He told my colleague that he left because there was no “professional growth”, no “professional advancement” in Eritrea and that he was prevented from growing professionally. He mentioned his tenure at Asmara University, his position as Eritrea’s Commissioner at UNMEE, his Ambassadorship at the European Union, and claimed that he was pulled out of those positions in order to deny him the “professionalism” that he desired. It is with great pity that I write this piece today, as he of all people should know that in Eritrea, the single most important profession is that of a selfless tegadalay…
Speaking of tegadalay… in a 24 May 2013 write-up about Ambassador Andeberhan’s presentation titled “How To Build a Country From Scratch,” at an event co-sponsored by Drexel’s Office of International Programs and the Drexel Student Alliance of the United Nations Association on 21 May 2013, the Triangle reported the following:
“…Giorgis was a founding member of the central committee of the EPLF. After Eritrea gained independence, he served as president of the University of Asmara, governor of the Bank of Eritrea, a member of the Eritrean National Assembly, and an ambassador to numerous European nations and the European Union. Giorgis is currently a board member and senior adviser of the European Center for Electoral Support, a senior expert in the Peace and Security Section of the Global Governance Institute, and an adjunct professor of Diplomacy and African Politics at Vesalius College, Free University of Brussels…”
The most important part of his life…that of his tenure as a Hizbawi Gimbar (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front) fighter was conspicuously omitted. Today he is instead, known for the various anti-Eritrea “jobs” and assignments…If I were him, I would be thoroughly insulted!
How a man of his caliber, who left the United States to join the liberation movement and fight for the rights of the Eritrean people, could today serve those very same interests that robbed him and thousands like him of their youth and life as Eritreans for over 30 years is beyond me. How is it that the likes of Ambassador Andeberhan would succumb to temptations and end up working for the very same entities that robbed them of their own youth? Was it not the UN and the various agencies that he is now associated with responsible for the suffering of the Eritrean people for the last 50 years? Is it not the misguided and wrong US and European policy for Ethiopia that contributed to the deaths of his comrades in arms? The destruction of Eritrean villages, and robbed an entire generation of Eritrea’s youth their lives and limbs?
How he could bring himself to parrot Woyane’s anti-Eritrea rhetoric, stoop so low as to hobnob with the likes of Assefaw Tekeste, Bereket Habte Selassie-two men that he said were traitors for meeting with Meles Zenawi’s advisors in Japan during the 1998-2000 war, is truly sad, but also very telling of his desperate state of mind. The good Ambassador’s volte-face cannot be easily explained unless he is suffering from a debilitating bout of selective amnesia/dementia. One that strips you off your dignity, sense of purpose and respect of fellow compatriots…
Another more probable explanation, is that in his new “job”- he is merely the news anchorman-mouthpiece, paid to read a script written by his foreign handlers; a simple case, as it were, of “he who pays the piper picks the tune”. It should be recalled that the “Forum” leaders have been foolishly bragging to their minuscule audiences that “money is not indeed a problem”; thereby unwittingly giving away the sinister game that the big fish are playing… From what I have been able to find out about the good Ambassador, from those who know him best-is that he is the perfect catch-and his blabbering does make sense, as he is also notoriously known for his insatiable and exception greed in matters of food, money and other carnal vices…
I doubt that we can blame it on any illness, or even new found money….my gut feeling is that he is just being plainly and unconscionably dishonest…cowardly and un-Eritrean! Exactly, the kind of leadership Eritrea DOES NOT need or want. History and the people of Eritrea will judge him and his ilk harshly…betraying the rust of his compatriots is probably forgivable, but betraying the trust of Eritrea’s beloved martyrs is NOT.
More on Ambassador Andeberhan and his ilk in another sitting…
God save Eritrea from her own treacherous children…
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- 1st Session ACP –EU JPA (Joint Parliamentary Assembly), 11 October 2000, Brussels, Eritrean Delegation Statement on the conflict between Eritrea & Ethiopia
- 5th Session ACP –EU JPA, 31 March 2003, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, Eritrean Delegation Statement
- 5th Session ACP –EU JPA, 31 March 2003, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, Eritrea Delegation Statement
- 9th session ACP-EU JPA, 18 April 2005, Bamako, Mali, Eritrean Delegation Statement
- 9th session ACP-EU JPA, 18 April 2005, Bamako, Mali, Eritrean Delegation Statement
- 3rd & 4th Session ACP-EU JPA, 30 October 2001, Brussels, 20 March 2002 Cape Town, South Africa, Eritrean Delegation Statement
- Letter to the IPU Secretary Mr. Anders Johnson SG IPU
- 5th Session ACP –EU JPA, 31 March 2003, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, Eritrean Delegation Statement
- 3rd Session ACP-EU JPA, 30 October 2001, Brussels
- 4th Session ACP-EU JPA, 20 March 2002 Cape Town, South Africa, Eritrean Delegation Statement
- 4th Session ACP-EU JPA, 20 March 3002 Cape Town, South Africa, Eritrean Delegation Statement