[AUDIO-VIDEO] A National Charter for Eritrea – Full

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Adopted by the 3rd Congress of the EPLF/PFDJ
Naqfa, February 10-16, 1994


Today, Eritrea finds itself on the verge of a new chapter in its history. For fifty years,
the country and its people suffered under colonial rule. The colossal task of ridding
itself of this colonial rule, and establishing national independence and dignity, has
been achieved. For the first time, the people of Eritrea have become masters of their
own country and hold their future in their own hands. What appeared to many as a
dream, has now become a reality. We fought against enemies who had superior
capacity, with meager outside support, relying on our people and own capacity, with
heavy sacrifices, tremendous effort, vigilance, political maturity and ingenuity. Our
struggle was not limited to combating the enemy; we laid the proper foundation for an
independent country. Finally, in a referendum in which the entire population
consciously and enthusiastically participated, 99.8% voted for national independence.
It would be no exaggeration to claim that such an achievement has few equals in the
history of liberation movements. It is a testimony to, and a manifestation of the
political maturity of the people of Eritrea and its leadership. Achieving national
independence and sovereignty is the conclusion of an important chapter in the history
of the people of Eritrea, yet at the same time, the beginning of a new chapter. Today,
the people of Eritrea face the task of building a peaceful, just and prosperous society,
a task which is more difficult and more complicated than the past task of achieving
independence. Unless peace, justice and prosperity prevail in Eritrea, the
independence we won with heavy sacrifices will be meaningless. That is to say, if we
do not lift people out of poverty and deprivation, safeguard their human and
democratic rights, and improve their material, cultural and spiritual lives, attaining
independence will not amount to anything. We must pass on to our children a country
that is free from war and conflict, a country of which they can be proud, a country in
which independence, peace and prosperity prevail.

The struggle to build a better future for the people of Eritrea starts in earnest after
independence. We, the generation that brought about independence, have shouldered
the historic responsibility to pass on to future generations the basic elements for
modern and just society. The current transitional stage presents simultaneously both a
historic responsibility and a challenge. The actions we take and the choices we make
at this historical juncture represent a rare opportunity, the proper use of which is a
heavy responsibility and thus, a big historical challenge. The main and timely
question is thus: is the generation that successfully concluded the independence
struggle equal to this historic task?

The answer is, it must be. Otherwise, all our generation’s struggles and contributions
to Eritrea and its people would have been to no avail. It would mean the mission is
only half-complete. The mission must be concluded by building an independent and
modern Eritrea. This is the mandate of our country, of our people and our martyrs.
That the building of peace and development is more difficult and more complicated
than winning war has been repeatedly proved. Several African and other countries
which started with high hopes following their attainment of independence or
conclusion of victorious revolutions are cases in point. The experience of such
countries has been the replacement of old exploiters by new ones, deterioration of
national economies and people’s standard of living: all experiences of failure.
To repeat such sad experiences would amount to making all our costs and sacrifices
worthless and condemning ourselves and future generations to further wars and
suffering. However, we are not condemned to repeat such mistakes. We can bring
lasting peace, justice and prosperity to our Eritrea. We owe it to ourselves, to our
martyrs and to our children to make Eritrea a country to be proud of and worthy of the
tremendous sacrifices we paid for its independence.

Good intention alone, however, is not sufficient. Other countries failed, not for want
of good will. To bring about independence, we needed political programs, military
strategies, and strong and mature organizations. Similarly, to build a modern and just
society, we need a sustainable political program based on clear principles and an
effective, broad-based, organizational structure to enable the full participation of
everyone. The purpose of this document, “A National Charter for Eritrea,” is
therefore, first, to clarify the basic guidelines needed for our future national and
democratic journey; second, to identify a political program which can effectively
guide a broad-based national and democratic Movement; and third, to develop the
appropriate organizational procedures and basic principles for such a political

“A National Charter for Eritrea” is not copied from books or from the charters of
other countries. It starts from the realities of our country and society, and from our
rich experience. It does not borrow wholesale any analyses or formulas that are
fashionable in today’s world either. Rather, by critically examining all ideas and
relating them with the realities of our society and our experience, the purpose is to
chart an independent line that works.

Our Charter is not a dogmatic, closed and dry document. It is open to new ideas and
experiences; it is a dynamic document which develops and is enriched through
practical experience. Because the document describes our vision and ideals, it should
not be taken as something that will be implemented in a short period even within a
few years. It is something that will be implemented stage by stage over a long period
of time. It is a document of general principles and goals that guides our journey,
directing us to our destination and what we need to do to reach that destination.

>> Read Full Charter in English