Most of the Eritrean People never regretted their independence from Ethiopia, and their thereby becoming a sovereign country among the other nations. They also appreciated the heroes who brought about national freedom. At this moment in time most of the Eritrean people are fed up and would like this government to go. The fighters with the president as their leader have turned from heroes to villains.
The form of government which was chosen then is supposed to be a powerful presidential system. In 1997 a constitution was approved by the National Assembly but never implemented in practice. There has not been any free and fair elections since independence nor is there is any independent legislative, judicial or executive powers in the country. All political and economic power is in the hands of the Party (Popular Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ).
The government of Eritrea, that is the Ministries, have no power at all. For a few years the National Assembly and the Cabinet of Ministers used to hold nominal meetings at more or less regular intervals. Now it is only the Cabinet of Ministers who are summoned whenever the President wants them. At times it includes also regional administrators and army generals and it all looks so fake that almost no one believes what comes out on television, radio, newspaper and website. There is one daily news paper, two TV stations, one short wave and one FM radio, one mobile company: all owned by the government. According to UN International Telecommunication Union figures, Eritrea has the lowest figure globally of cell phone users, with just 5.6 percent of the population owning one. Private means of social communication is not allowed.
Since the border war with Ethiopia (1998-2000) the Political Situation in Eritrea has gone from bad to worse and has reached a very alarming level now. The government has gradually turned into a totalitarian system where all the basic human rights, such as freedom of expression, the right to justice, to property and to worship have been totally denied to the individual person as well as institutions. The power of the president is now a complete dictatorship. At the moment there reigns on the part of the government the obsession to control everything and everybody. There is also total militarization of the population including men in their sixties and seventies. Weapons are being distributed almost to everybody like candy and accordingly a general mood of panic is created in the whole country. This is carried out in particular by a well organized and widespread secret intelligence network which on purpose creates suspicion and mistrust among the people. The policy of the rulers is clearly that of ‘divide et impera’! Eritrea is a country where no human rights are respected, either in the choice of religion, the right to a fair trial, the right to vote in free elections, the right of movement to look for work and food, the right not to join the army.
Generally speaking there is no rule of law. The courts are not functioning and thousands of people are lingering in prisons that are run in subhuman conditions. For political prisoners there is no trial and the terms of their detention is ‘incognito’ as it is unending. Their relatives are not allowed to visit them nor told about their whereabouts. It really depends on the whims of those who arrest one. Hence, if one has money and some big advocate in higher places, one’s prison term may be shortened or even totally cancelled. (J.L.)