BY KEBOUR GHENNA
The French president, Emanuel Macron, will be visiting Ethiopia in March of this year. He comes at a time when things are not going well in France. A nationwide insurgency of the working class has established a foothold that’s spreading like a house afire. Every Saturday for over twelve weeks, protesters have been disrupting or blocking roads, traffic circles and freeway toll plazas, gathering in the squares of villages, taking to the streets of towns, marching in massive numbers through city boulevards, and confronting violent police repression. These insurgents demand social equality, wage increases, a halt of militarism, reinstitution of the wealth tax, and the overthrow of unpopular governments, making Macron look an awful lot like a modern-day clone of Louis XVI (beheaded in 1793).
Recently, the unpopular Mr. Macron made some concessions to demands of the Yellow Vests. They’re not impressed!
The gilets jaunes, as they’re known in France, emerged from nowhere via social media. They are not the product of organized unions or political parties. They are structure-less with no leaders, hence making them potent, volatile, and difficult for the police and government to handle. They do not follow the codified rules of protest. Their diverse demands range from an end to the eco-tax to the resignation of Mr. Macron – and even his replacement with a military general.
Dear readers, welcome to the future of revolution of the world: seamless, simple and frighteningly powerful.
Ethiopia, like France, is in the middle of a crisis. The proximate cause is a power struggle in Ethiopia, and a tax increase in France. But in both cases the trouble runs much deeper…
In Ethiopia, we have no yellow vests…yet, but a relatively popular Prime Minister who is trying to confront the disruptive power of ethnic nationalism. Ethnic nationalists are concerned above all by the fortunes of their own tribe. In countries like Ethiopia, made up of regions and people of various ethnicities, co-operation does not come naturally to them. And yet, despite this, the Prime Minister is pushing to change the tone of politics by shifting Ethiopian politics away from ethnic nationalism. Mr. Macron, who has been preaching the virtues of multilateralism in Europe, may find his ideological soul mate in Dr. Abye on this issue.
On the economic sphere both leaders are trying to focus on the impossibility of reforming or fixing a broken economic system. So what could the two leaders talk about? Apart from more pragmatic concerns about France’s economic and geopolitical interests, that is.
Definitely not about how to boost people’s purchasing power, or how to increase employment, or raising pensions, fixing homelessness, increasing numbers of undernourished children, or even raising funding for public services such as hospitals, schools, and transportation, especially in rural areas.
Many of the problems the French people suffer are multiplied many fold for Ethiopians. Mr. Macron could not cure these headaches. Dr. Abye has yet to propose his solutions.
Macron is dealing with an uprising against the oligarchy that has destroyed democracy. Abye is still trying to work on alternative politics within the same old unpopular EPRDF. Both leaders seem to have trivialized politics away from ideology towards only gaining and keeping power.
Can they learn from each other’s experience? I doubt it.
But at least Mr. Macron can share his En Marche experience, a new type of party-movement hybrid; founded without the institutional support of a previous party or protest movement, or the appeal of a well-known public figure. It swept him to power only a year after its launch. In contrast, Dr. Abye has no political structure of his own. He rose from mid-level party officialdom to become party leader and prime minister in no time (miraculous event). Unlike Macron he has followers but no movement.
And yet, dear readers, to transform a country, a structure is a must, a fundamental of politics! Will Dr. Abye continue as an EPRDF enthusiast, or choose to be a maverick as Macron. and launch a party of his own. Time will tell anytime soon.
Ready or not the future of Ethiopia will be played in 2019.
Editor’s Note : This article appeared first on Kebour Ghenna’s facebook page
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