Eritrean Leader Pledges to Draft New Constitution

Addis Ababa — Eritrean president, Isaias Afeworki, on Saturday announced that the Red sea nation will launch drafting a new constitution.

Afeworki made the announcement while delivering congratulatory speech to tens of thousands of his supporters gathered at Asmara stadium to celebrate the country's 23rd Independence Day anniversary.

The reclusive east African nation, Ethiopia's former province, never conducted general elections since emerged as a new nation in 1991.

The country ratified a new constitution in 1997, but president Afeworki who is ruling the tiny nation since independence failed to implement instead turned the country in to a one-party state.

In his speech, the Eritrean leader accused the US government and its regional allies citing to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen of long declaring war against it to cripple efforts of nation building process.

Eritrea had been engaged in war with Ethiopia Yemen and later with Djibouti over border disputes and accuses the US as the Architect behind the conflicts.

With regard to the 2009 sanctions the UN Security Council imposed against Eritrea for negative roles in Somalia and the region, Afeworki said the passed resolution by the UN body was another manifestation in the chain of predatory and unwarranted hostility against the country.

He said the sanctions were intended to silence the voices of the Eritrean people from seeking justice in securing occupied sovereign territories.

"The central aim of these concerted hostile acts is to weaken all the endowments of the Eritrean people and vanquish its resistance" he said.

The crowd reacted in a loud and continued applause cheering the president when he announced the country was set to draft a new constitution based on important lessons gleaned from what he said were hostile external schemes aimed to derail nation building process.

"I would thus like to announce in this occasion that a constitution drafting process will be launched in order to chart out the political roadmap for the future government structure" Afeworki said while concluding his speech.

As well as military parade by the Eritrean defence forces, cultural dancing and music were also performed by Eritrean, Sudanese and Ugandan artists group.

OPPOSITION REACTION

An Eritrean opposition group has however down played the announced planed constitution saying an "empty pledge".

Ibrahim Haron, leader of the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) shortly after the announcement told Sudan Tribune that the promise made by the president was only a psychological game aimed to prolong his grip on power.

He said the fanciful remarks of the president were the usual cheap propaganda aimed to divert the attention of the mass from the worst political and socio- economic crises the country is facing.

The opposition official said such "deceive by a leader" to its people was unacceptable.

"I call upon the people of Eritrea at home and abroad not to be misled by the false remarks of the president" said Ibrahim.

Ibrahim vowed his group would continue armed struggle to oust the "dictatorial" regime in Asmara.

Eritrea has zero-tolerance to dissent and there are no any legally functioning opposition political groups in the country.

In 2001, the government of Eritrea arrested 11 top government officials including ministries for demanding democratic reform in the country. The senior government officials remain in prison up to date.

Thousands of others who called for reform remain languishing in the country's secret detention facilities.

Since independence, the country has been a one-party state, led by the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), a regime considered as one of the most repressive in the world.

According to reports, Eritrea actually is Africa's last remaining official one-party state.

Considering the level of political repression, some international right groups have refereed Eritrea as the North Korea of Africa.

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