Matters Of Interest

There are some things that happen in the world that catch the attention of people everywhere, regardless of nationality or political leanings. In such cases, as with the recent Presidential election in the United States, people are forced to ask themselves the 'why' question. One of these incidents was the tragic and deadly Irrecha celebration in Bishoftu. While the people of Ethiopia were asking themselves 'why' the government engaged in a campaign of blame. Now, following the instigation of 'deep reforms' that aren't so deep, the question people seem to be asking themselves is 'where do we go from here'

As we are all citizens of the world, notwithstanding differences of ideologies or politics, there are certain issues which interest us all as members of humanity. If that concerns some of the super-powers like the Brexit referendum in the UK or the US presidential election, the concern come closer to our homes. We have heard that there were many people who had foregone their sweet sleep keeping themselves abreast with the minute by minute changing figures at each voting state. The progress was breathtaking. Excitement and thrill were mounting. Every time the Democrats got the upper hand in this state or the next these well-wishing folks stood up and clapped their hands. Some even took the edge up to wild predictions and opened bottles of wine of their choice and started to toast the victory of the Democrats.

How did it come to that conclusion? Some people are not happy with the arrogance and the manner that Mr. Donald Trump had been displaying during the campaign for such a crucial post as the President of the most powerful nation on our planet. The other drawback was his concentration on personal attacks instead of talking about serious socio-economic subjects. His contender, Secretary Hillary Clinton tried to exploit his weak points and challenged him in the debate.

Donald Trump was a successful businessman in the real estate world, there is no denying that fact. He had nothing in the political world. It was as if the White House was on a tender and the billionaire had won the bid. Indeed, the results of the votes showed the unexpected. Trump was declared the winner. Trump, like anybody else, was taken by surprise. At first he could not believe what was written on the bulletin board. At least it took him some time before the victory had surged into him, let alone the rest of the world. Many were perplexed with the whole electoral system of the US.

And this puzzle did not come without reason. Contending for the presidency of the most powerful nation on the planet, saying that the first step he would take would be to extradite about 11 million immigrants, a President-elect ignoring the two-state solution and tolerating Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, withdrawing from the Middle East at all costs, a Presidential candidate vowing to repeal or replace Obamacare and one who does not believe in climate change and wants to discard the Paris agreement on mitigating global warming.

After he had some useful talks with President Obama in the White House for 90 minutes, the business promotional talks seem to be falling off the sales tree. His deportation schemes have gone down from 11 million to about 3 million subject to their criminal records. He also changed his mind from discarding the ObamaCare to finding valuable assets to maintain. We stand by to see what kind of a leader he is going to be. In the meantime, however, thousands of protesters in more than 10 states including New York, his birth place, have gone to the streets, shouting the “Not My President” to protest against the election. As far as popular votes are concerned, Clinton had the upper hand. Be that as it may, what do we have here at our door?

The Ethiopian political landscape has been constantly changing faster than we can keep track of, with changing events even before we go to the press. The best we can do, however, is to try to find the background stories behind these eventualities by trying to ask the “Why” question and recall the reasoning.

Trump may have anti-Muslim views or want to ignore climate change. But the Ethiopian stand on these issues has a different view. Despite what is written in the constitution, where it is clearly spelled out that governments and religions, whether Muslim or Christian are different, this government has surged into both and trespassed their freedom from one another. The synod’s clear internal law of the Patriarchal power until death has been trampled with, thus dividing the Orthodox Church into two-one as a political allegiance and the other as the synod’s resolute stand. The Patriarch with the rightful leadership had to flee the country. There is no better evidence than that of the intervention. The same can be said with what happened to members of the “Listen to our voices” committee members. Some were set free after being kept behind bars, while others are still languishing there.

Ministerial reshuffles and in some cases demotions and promotional steps have taken place while the 6 months’ state ofe is still on hold. In both cases the “Why” questions still wait to be answered. The peaceful protest which were triggered by the so-called revision of the master plan of the capital was reverberating from one or two towns and villages to more and more, getting stronger and stronger, and gathering more and more issues and human right issues.

The ”Irrecha” annual celebration held at Bishoftu and the OPDO intervention to take advantage of the occasion to promote their political ideologues where over a million people had gathered took things in the wrong direction too quickly to stopped by security forces.

Dozens died in a stampede. The natural instincts to flee looking for safety had lead people to fall into a deep trench that happened to be on their way. The fire accident at Kilinto prison cells galvanized the peaceful protests into a rage. Breaking and burning down investments was indeed suicidal. It ended up in harming the poor.

The ruling party or the Ethiopian Government had earlier blamed certain terrorist elements behind all these people’s rebellion. It even pointed its fingers to its Eritrean neighbors.

Later, however, a new and vital excuse found its way into the political scene of the country. Finger pointing at the discovered cause followed by apologies. A deep assessment was said to have taken place. The assessment was the most in depth in the last 15 years. It resulted in a reshuffle in defiance to what people really wanted or expected. We stand on our toes and wait for what the bunch of doctors and the elite will do. We might end up with the essence of Chinua Achebe’s “Man of the People” where political election race was just for the aim of “having a bite from the cake” or as one Kenyan writer wrote “It is Our Turn to Eat.”

We now ask the ‘where’ question. Where do we go from here? Unpredictable like the US presidential election?

Published on Nov 22,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 864]



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