From Sahel to Asmara: shifts in the EPLF leadership and the making of a state ruling class
Paulos Asfaha (University of Geneva)
Paper short abstract:
Using collected data from EPLF acurrent and former party members, interviews and a recent fieldwork in Asmara, this paper intends to study Eritrean politicians and political elite making process in Eritrea. Emphasis will be put on educational, ethnic, geographic and social backgrounds.
Paper long abstract:
When the Eritrean People's Liberation Front captured Asmara, then capital of the ex-Ethiopian province in 1991, the movement quickly transformed its organisational structure into government of a de facto independent Eritrea. The liberation movement had already started to function as a quasi-government in what was then called "the liberated zones/ሓራ መሬት ኤርትራ". Since 1977 and the founding congress of the EPLF, its military and political elites ran the day-to-day activities of EPLF-held areas, EPLF-run refugee camps in the Sudan and established relations with various political organisations and states around the globe. The 1987 congress of the EPLF, the total control of Eritrea in 1991, the de jure independence of Eritrea in 1993; and the period following the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia can be considered as moments where new figures emerged from the ranks and files, power dynamics changed within the organisation; and veteran members were sidelined if not pushed aside. Even though shifts occurred within the state and party apparatus, the core of the EPLF and the following EPLF-led Eritrea can be restricted to slightly less than 150 persons. Who was co-opted into the higher positions of administration? What legitimacy did individuals have to reach their rank? Why were they promoted or excluded? Using collected data from EPLF archives obtained from current and former party members, interviews and a recent fieldwork in Asmara, this paper intends to study Eritrean politicians and political elite making process in Eritrea. Emphasis will be put on educational, ethnic, geographic and social backgrounds.
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