An official declaration in 2003 asserted that, “in accordance with the prevailing wish of the people, it is not the time to establish political parties, and discussion of the establishment has been postponed.”
The People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) is the ruling party in Eritrea. Opposition political parties are not legal and do not have a political presence in the Eritrean government. Opposition groups in Eritrea include the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Eritrea, the Eritrean Islamic Salvation Movement (Eritrean Islamic Jihad), the Eritrean Liberation Front, the Eritrean National Alliance, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front-Democratic Party, and the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization.
Senior Eritrean officials continue to collect millions of dollars per year through unofficial revenues by means of private business arrangements involving PFDJ-run companies domestically and abroad. The Government of Eritrea maintains a global financial structure that is not registered in the name of PFDJ and that includes tax havens, secret trusts and companies incorporated under the names of officials and, in most cases, the names of private individuals.
The exiled political parties are too weak and divided to bring about a change of government on their own. It is folly for the Eritrean Democratic Alliance to be based in Addis Ababa, as many Eritreans, even those unhappy with Isaias, still see Ethiopia as an existential threat to Eritrea. This enables Isaias to argue that sedition equals treason.
The Eritrean National Alliance (ENA) is a 3,000-strong organization of 10 opposition groups. It was established in Khartoum in 1999, in part as an attempt by Sudan to retaliate against Eritrean support for the National Democratic Alliance, a Sudanese opposition group.
The following groups belong to the ENA: the Eritrean Liberation Front, the Eritrean People’s Conference, the Eritrean Islamic Salvation Movement, the Eritrean Liberation Front-Revolutionary Council, the Eritrean Liberation Front-National Council, the Eritrean People’s Democratic Liberation Front, the Eritrean Revolutionary Democratic Front, the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Kunama/Eritrea, the Eritrean Democratic Resistance Movement Gash-Setit, and the Eritrean Initiative Group.
These groups are a mix of liberation organizations marginalized during the struggle for independence, ethnically based groups, and the Sudan-sponsored Eritrean Islamic Salvation Movement (Eritrean Islamic Jihad). All are based in Sudan, from where some stage occasional and mostly ineffectual raids into western Eritrea. The strength of another group operating in Eritrea, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization, currently is unknown.
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