A Dream Deferred

Gaim Kibreab


James Currey



This book gives a detailed description of Eritrea's post-war politics and is the first comprehensive analysis of the country's economy.
Eritrean independence under the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (now the People's Front for Democracy and Justice) became an international cause celebre during the 1980s. Eritrea was the first African nation to gain independence in the post-colonial period and appeared to be opening a new and progressive path in African politics. But the promise of the revolution was soon betrayed by the outbreak of war with Ethiopia, the PFDJ's increasingly repressive domestic policies, its mismanagement of the country's economy, and its hostile relations with its neighbours.
The PFDJ government dismantled existing formal and informal institutions, crippled the private sector, banned private newspapers, civil and political society organisations, expelled international NGOs and aid agencies when over two-thirds of the population were dependent on food aid, detained without trial journalists, thousands of dissidents, and former leaders of the liberation struggle, and turned national service from an instrument of nation building and national integration into an instrument of open-ended forced labour.
In this well-researched first account of post-independence Eritrea, Gaim Kibreab gives a detailed and critical analysis of how things went woefully wrong and how the former 'liberators' turned into oppressors with no respect for the rule of law, human rights and religious freedom.

GAIM KIBREAB is Professor of Research & Director of Refugee Studies, Department of Social & Policy Studies, London South Bank University

Published in association with the Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781846157226), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


September 2009
12 line illustrations
446 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Eastern Africa Series
ISBN: 9781847010087
Format: Hardback
James Currey
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Table of Contents

The Broken Promises, Demand for Change & Violation of Human Rights
Associational Life in Independent Eritrea
Towards an Explanation
The Demise of the Private Sector
PFDJ's Dominance of the Economy & the Consequences
Freedom of Association, Political Stability & Institutions
Shattered Promises: In Lieu of a Conclusion


[T]his is a keystone book on post-liberation Eritrea, which should be required reading for all with an interest in the nation or wider region. AFRICAN AFFAIRS

Kibreab has provided the most substantial contribution available in English to understanding the dynamics of this controversial country. [...] It advances a range of arguments with which all serious students have to engage. LUCAS BULLETIN

[E]in beachtliches Werk eines wahrhaft "concerned scholars", dem eine breite Leserschaft zu wünschen ist, hoffentlich in nicht zu ferner Zukunft auch in Eritrea selbst. PERIPHERIE

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