24 April 2019

Eritrea Focus

UN Secretary General’s former Africa representative calls for democratic change in Eritrea


London, 24 April 2019Ambassador Haile Menkerios, who served as the United Nations Special Representative to the African Union, and Eritrea’s ambassador to Ethiopia from 1991 to 2000, is calling for a “national conference of representatives of the Eritrean people that would decide on a transitional arrangement to ensure an inclusive process of building participatory democracy in the country.”

Ambassador Menkerios will make his remarks to ‘Building Democracy in Eritrea’, a two-day conference held at Senate House, University of London, from 24-25 April.

The landmark conference will hear from Ambassador Menkerios that only the formation of a new national body of representatives “can prevent violence” following the end of the current dictatorship.

President Isaias Afwerki has ruled Eritrea since independence in 1993. He has suppressed all opposition parties, crushed the independent media and imprisoned his opponents indefinitely.

Eritrea has “the notoriety of being perhaps the only country in Africa that does not have a functioning constitution, a legitimate elected government, nor legitimate and functioning governance institutions that ensure accountability,” Ambassador Menkerios will say.

Conference objective

The two-day conference is being organised by Eritrea Focus, in partnership with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the School of Advanced Study. It brings together more than 70 delegates from the USA, Europe and Africa, including academics, campaigners, members of the Eritrean diaspora, and international experts.

“The objective of ‘Building Democracy in Eritrea’ is to bring together Eritreans and international supporters to begin thinking about tangible, realistic objectives for the establishment of democracy and the administration of justice in the country”, said Habte Hagos, Chairman of Eritrea Focus. “The time for this is now.”

The lessons from Sudan and Algeria

The London conference meets as the Sudanese and Algerian uprisings are unfolding, and which serve as examples of how regime change can come about.  The aim of the conference is to look beyond Eritrea’s current dictatorship and to explore how democratic renewal can be assisted and encouraged.

Among those participating are:

  • Dr Bereket Habte Selassie, the author of the Eritrean Constitution
  • Ambassador Andebrhan Weldegiorgis, former Eritrean Ambassador to the European Union
  • Abraham Zere, head of PEN Eritrea
  • Dan Connell, eminent author and scholar
  • Prof Kjetil Tronvoll, of Norway’s International Law and Policy Institute, expert on the Horn of Africa
  • Prominent humanitarians working with the US Congress, the European Union and the British Parliament.

While the rapprochement between Eritrea and Ethiopia last year brought an end to the state of “no war, no peace” that persisted for 20 years, there are no signs that any reforms have been enacted to address the drastic situation of human rights within the country, which last month the UK Government said remained of “significant concern”.

“The almost absolute concentration of power in the hands of the President is both unstable and unsustainable”, says Habte Hagos. “The British Government acknowledges that we have seen no improvement in the situation of Eritreans following the peace deal with Ethiopia, and people continue to flee the brutal regime of indefinite conscription and the suppression of their most basic human rights. We must learn the lessons of dictatorships that fell but did not give way to democracy, and act quickly to set out the conditions that must be met for a future free from the tyranny of the past three decades.”


Notes to editors:

Eritrea Focus is an association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), human rights organisations, exile and refugee groups and individuals concerned with the gross abuses of human rights in Eritrea.

The objective of Eritrea Focus is to draw attention to the horrific abuses and suffering of Eritreans, both within the country and as refugees living abroad. We campaign for democratic accountability in Eritrea and the establishment of the rule of law, and actively engage with the international community in our efforts to achieve this.

Eritrea Focus provides secretarial support to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eritrea.

For media enquiries, contact:
James Killin
Tel: 020 7922 7719



  1. Inorder yor conference to be more succefull please call those of ELF cadres like Menghisteab Asmerom, Wedi Amar, Prof. Ghirmai Neghash, Prof. Anghesom Atsbeha, Prof, Tesfatsion Medhane ect…

  2. To all group who running to be free form the dictator who killing the people of Eritrea since 1991.
    I say to them go forwards not give tills to step-down this devil and un justify human.
    Thanks to all who help my folk.

  3. Good to hear that Mr Haile Menkorios we been waiting people like you a well experienced in a diplomatic work world wide. No it’s time to end a dictatorship ruling and building a New Democratic exercise era. We will be following you Mr Haile.
    May God help you with your work.

  4. Go for it. Keep working for peaceful ☮️ means of transition to democracy. Change for the better takes time. ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA WILL SHINE AS BRIGHT STARS.✌️😍😎☮️🇪🇹🇪🇷

  5. Too late is better than silently watching 👌 And not to repeat the same tragedy of 28 years 👿😂😻
    Let’s be inclusive and mosaic inviters to represent Eritreans in and out👌 ENCDC is one of the veteran opposition which has all multicultural in front of your face can’t be ignored 👌

  6. Please let’s fight for this despotic dictator. Dear our Ambassadors and all intellectuals. Keep your track, Go forward, organize and coordinate your peaple.

  7. Thank you for those people who are trying to make a difference especially to Mr. Haile Menkerios and the rest of others. Now is the moment to bring change in Eritrea. May God bless you and protect you and your families. Peace and harmony to our people and Eritrea!!!

  8. It’s a wonderful work you’re doing I hope you achieve your goal and send timely message to those concerned parties in Eritrea who are desperately looking for a change but worried about the consequences or outcome could be worse than the states quo when the dictator goes.

  9. Work for it and more for unity, our main weakness is division for non sense characterstics of uncivilized sociaty, focus for good

  10. Dear Ato Ghebrejohannes Anghesom,

    you are right. The London Conference for Democratic Change in Eritrea is perfect and right. If several national parties had participated, it would have been better. This is a good start, but in the future it would be better if the other thinking intellectuals were also represented at this national event, otherwise this is not a perfect solution for future diversity or pularitic society.

    In the Future National Question of the Eritrean Democratic State, the parties and mass organizations unite all the forces of the people for common action for the development of Eritrean society. In doing so they realize the coexistence of all citizens in the Eritrean community according to the principle that everyone bears responsibility for the whole.

    Dr. Bereket Habte Selassie (The author of the Eritrean Constitution), for the BBC interview has said that the final draft of the 1997 Eritrean Constitution is not completely satisfactory, but you never achieve perfection. He supported the 1997 constitution and asked all critics to accept and further improve it.

    After 22 years of drafting the Eritrean Constitution in 1997, it has not yet entered into force. We hope that the future democratic Eritrea, representatives from all over the country or representatives from eight former Eritrean provinces will meet to discuss the necessary amendments to the Eritrean Constitution, in particular, to improve intergovernmental negotiations and to introduce constitutional amendments to be submitted to a meeting of representatives of all provinces.

    Why does the PFDJ regime oppose the 1997 constitution from the very beginning?

    Because of the oppression system of the tyrant Isayas Afewerki and his party PFDJ in Eritrea, where arbitrary detentions, secret trials, disappearances without a trace were carried out daily. That is why the Eritrean constitution of 1997 has not yet brought the PFDJ regime into force.

    Already 22 years after the adoption of the Eritrean Constitution from 1997 until today not yet in force. We hope that the future Democratic Eritrea, representatives from across the country or representatives from eight former Eritrean provinces will meet to discuss necessary changes to the articles, in particular to improve inter-state negotiations and to convene constitutional amendments, to an assembly of representatives from all provinces of Eritrea. I hope future conferences will be in our promised country of Eritrea.


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