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Dear Prof Bereket,
I am interested to know what your raction was to the following open letter sent to you by your former colleagues. As far as I know,there was no rebuttal from your side. I will take the liberty to publish the letter in its entirety so that others will have a view of it.
Thanks for your time.
Monday, September 10, 2001
FOR THE RECORD:
OPEN LETTER TO DR. BEREKET HABTESELASSIE
- Dr. Amare Tekle
- W/ro Amna Hassen Naib
- Ato Musa Hassen Naib
- Dr. Seyoum Haregot
- W/ro Zahra Omar Jabir
- Ato Zemehret Yohannes
We, the former members of the Executive Committee of the Constitutional Commission, have taken note of the several self-serving claims made in your recent articles and interviews relative to drafting of the Constitution of Eritrea and its "implementation", as well as certain issues that were discussed during the drafting process.
We had, individually and in discussion with each other, hitherto concluded that it would serve no useful purpose to publicly take exception, either individually or collectively, to your disregard for historical facts and the truth, to respect a hallowed Eritrean imperative that constraints responsible members of society from rash actions or reactions and to keep dignified silence in the face of impropriety by an errant colleague; in the conviction that history would be a better judge of our deeds and misdeeds and in the belief that truth will sooner or later triumph.
We have, however, been left with no option, in view of your continued molestation of the truth than to speak out for the record and in the interest of the truth. We speak, not in recrimination, but in the hope that, in your future "contribution" to the "democratization" and "well-being" of our country, you will pay heed to the noble tradition of Eritrea.
We shall not go into details about what transpired during the long drafting process. At present, we shall refer to three of your egregious pretensions.
1. Authorship of the Draft Constitution
You have repeatedly claimed, directly and indirectly, that you were the sole author of the Draft Constitution, often playing on the word "writing". The word "writing" is defined, inter alia, as (a) the faithful recording on paper of any decisions made, or ideas agreed upon, by a group (i.e. committee, commission, etc.) and (b) drawing up (composition) of a draft text based solely on one's value and belief systems. The first denotes collective authorship and the second individual effort. We then wish to ask you one simple question for posterity. Will you inform Eritreans, in clear unequivocal terms, which one of the above two tasks did you perform? As a corollary, you may also wish to inform the Eritrean public and our foreign friends:
· What was taking place in the meetings of the Executive Committee;
· What was the Eritrean population, at home and abroad discussing during the constitution-making process, preceding the first draft;
· What discussion took place in the Executive Committee concerning the preparation of the first draft;
· What draft was communicated to the 50 member Constitutional Council; and
· What was the role of the Constitutional Commission Council and the foreign and local Board of Advisors.
In short, we ask you to recall the whole constitution-making process and, with the clear conscience, repeat your claim for sole authorship of the Draft Constitution.
A propos, you have declared that the original Draft of the Constitution was in English. We are aware only of the Tigrigna text. It was in fact for this reason that we requested one of our colleagues to translate it into English.. If you had an English text why was it necessary to have the Tigrigna text translated?
2. The Issue of the Special Court
In an essay entitled PFDJ's War on Democracy and Justice (Awate.com, August 13, 2001), you wax indignant and fulminate in connection with the creation by the Government of Eritrea (contrary to what you say, the PFDJ does not have law-making powers) of the Special Court. Let us be honest. As a leading academic, the Chairman of the Constitutional Commission and a constitutional scholar at that, should you not have had the courage of your conviction to be among the first to protest as vehemently and as loudly then as you are doing now, five years after the enactment of the Special Court Proclamation? Or was there an incentive involved?
Let us be more direct. We hope you will recall as we all do that we had serious discussion on the matter both in official capacity and in private. You will recall that, during one of these meetings, one member raised the need to harmonize or bring into line some provisions of the law establishing the Special Court with the provisions of the Constitution, once it was ratified and becomes effective. Surely, that person was not you. We will be emphatic that, on the other hand, you supported the Government's action and the necessity of such special court with such extraordinary powers in developing countries to combat corruption. We do not mind your present change of heart, if it is rooted in honesty. On the other hand, we take special exception to your present fulmination and pretentious declarations as if you had been criticizing the Proclamation on Special Court all along for the last five years. Your first moral transgression and intellectual dishonesty maybe forgivable; your present immorality can never be. So what were your motives then, and what are your motives now? Surely, it cannot be the national or public interest.
3. A Pro Bono Service?
You have claimed on several occasions that, as Chairman of the Commission, you were rendering a pro bono service i.e. service without any remuneration. Yet, Asmara University records reveal that by arrangements with the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, the University of Asmara was paying you 50 per cent of your salary while you still continued to receive the other 50 per cent from the University of North Carolina. In effect, you were getting your full UNC salary. Moreover, that, upon your persistent supplication to settle your mortgage of USD 28,000 in America in its entirety, as a lump sum, the Government of Eritrea had to arrange for an additional salary of USD 2,500 per month from the Constitutional Commission for three years you served as Chairman of the Commission. This special salary was partly utilized to repay the money the Commission advanced to settle your mortgage in America. Part of this special salary was paid retroactively.
Finally, as you recall, the Constitutional Commission was required to submit a final Report on activities it accomplished and its financial condition in Tigrigna, Arabic and English. The Commission was expected to distribute this Report to the public at large and the donor community, who contributed funds for the operations of the Commission. Some members of the Executive Committee prepared the Tigrigna and Arabic versions. These versions of the final Report were made available to the public at large. You were requested to prepare the English version for distribution to the donor community. To-date, despite repeated pleas, you did not submit the English version. The Commission thus finds itself derelict in its responsibility towards the donor community in Eritrea.
We restrain ourselves from further comments on other equally weighty matters in the public interest. We still believe that each one of us should be and will be judged by history and the future generations of Eritrea.
Best collegial wishes,
Six (former) members of the Executive Committee of the
Constitutional Commission of Eritrea.