By Tamiru Geda
London: The UK chapter of the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF) has taken an initiative to harmonize relations between Ethiopians and Eritreans. The front underscored that solidarity is the only way out of the current crises in the Horn of Africa sub-region.
At a public meeting held on Sunday, 24 January 2010 in London, several issues were raised such as the prevailing political and economic situation, election 2010 in Ethiopia, progress within EPPF, Ethiopians and Eritreans in the UK as well as solidarity and cooperation and future prospects were the main agenda of the day. The issue of solidarity and cooperation was hotly debated among participants. Ato Wondimu Mekonnen , renowned Ethiopian activist and known critic of the ruling party in Ethiopia said that Eritreans were responsible for carrying the TPLF on their shoulders and enabling it to take power in Addis. “You Eritreans, our brothers and sisters, are responsible for injecting Ethiopia with a poison called Weayne,” Wondimu said.
Following his remarks another participant named Mrs Sabira Mohamd , naturalized Ethiopian, said the re-unification of Ethiopia and Eritrean was vital in the region in terms of creating enduring peace and stability as well as harmony between the two people. Another Ethiopian also echoed her view and claimed that for him Ethiopia meant the geographic entity that includes Eritrea as part of the mainland of Ethiopia. Such and similar comments were made during the meeting and some Eritreans , who were among the invited guests, forcefully responded to the comments.
One Eritrean participant who was born in Ethiopia said that the reason why he and other Eritreans joined the armed struggle was due to the then prevailing social injustice in Ethiopia. “I personally have no interest for destabilizing Ethiopia,” he said.
“When TPLF seized state power, it dramatically changed its previous behavior that caused the existing problem in Ethiopia and the region. Our division helps the TPLF,” he noted. “We support the EPPF’s program because we found that it is a multi-national party, that aims to hand over power to the people. It is also the first Ethiopian party that enables to up such a forum between Ethiopians and Eritreans.”
He went on to say that we should learn from the history of Europeans, who once fought each other but now formed the European Union that is harmonizing common economic, political and social interests. “We are now benefitting from their strong economy as refuges. First let us fight for peace and stability and let us also hold dialogues among each other,” he said.
According to Sileshi Tilahun, Head of International Public Relations for EPPF such moves should be driven toward maintaining the long and historical ties between the two people. Sileshi underlined that the sprit of the forum was to generate solidarity and to move forward. “We should stop for a moment and see how the TPLF has been enjoying our division.”
At the public meeting, officials from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Sidama Libration Front, Eritreans and other friends addressed the gathering .The next public meeting is expected to be held in Washington DC. in the near future.