Later, we were asked (by the government of Eritrea and ambassadors from other countries) for our preconditions for rejoining the TGE at a meeting in Asmara, OLF clearly indicated that the composition of the “Ethiopian” defense force must be restructured immediately. The “Ethiopian” defense force was not assembled from all sectors of Ethiopia; the defense force was created from former TPLF rebel fighters, and as expected, its allegiance was to TPLF. Therefore, OLF put forth a proposal to create a nonpartisan defense force. We were willing to take a risk for the second time and rejoin TGE if that condition was met immediately. Even today, unless there are fundamental organizational changes in Woyane’s Ethiopian government, it is impossible to come to power through the electoral process.
VEDR: Going back to our previous discussion on the promises made to OLF when it joined TGE, why were you reluctant to join the London Conference? Also, what was the response from those involved at the Asmara meeting to OLF’s proposal to create a nonpartisan new defense force as a precondition for rejoining TGE?
LL: I will start with the second question, many at the Asmara meeting were skeptical about our proposal to create a nonpartisan new defense force; we presented detailed procedures on how to create that defense force. However, our proposal was declined, not by Woyane, but by President Isayas of Eritrea. I do not know why President Isayas took such a position about OLF’s proposal. Despite his role as a negotiator, President Isayas was first to criticize and decline our proposal as impractical - even before Woyane’s representatives had a chance to speak about it at the meeting.