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Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF)

Eritrea became an independent state in 1993, following an internationally monitored referendum in which citizens voted overwhelmingly for independence from Ethiopia. The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), which led the 30-year war for independence, has controlled the country since it defeated Ethiopian armed forces in 1991; its leader, Isaias Afwerki, serves as the President. The People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), the core of the former EPLF, which split off from the Government in 1994, is the sole political party. The Government continues to delay its stated program to hold elections. Elections originally scheduled for 1997, and later delayed until 1998, were postponed indefinitely due to the outbreak of a border conflict with Ethiopia. The Government human rights record worsened in several areas; and serious problems remain.

Citizens do not have the right to change their Government, which is dominated by the PFDJ. The Government is dominated by the PFDJ, which came to power in the 1993 popular referendum in which over 90 percent of voters chose an independent Eritrea managed by a transitional government run by the PFDJ rather than electing to remain part of Ethiopia. The PFDJ still has not fulfilled the ambitious program that it initially outlined for a transition to a democratically elected government in 1997. Elections originally scheduled for 1997 were postponed until 1998. However, an electoral commission was established in 1997 to draft an electoral code for 1998 elections, but accomplished little because of the outbreak of the border conflict with Ethiopia, and elections again were postponed, this time indefinitely. The government leadership also stated that public education and institutional structures were needed before multiparty democracy would be established.

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Updated Friday, October 29, 1999 1:36:57 PM