Ethiopia PM in Saudi Arabia, first official trip outside Africa.
Is it humanitarian gestures or political answers?
This, here, is the Prime Minister in a hospital in Saudi Arabia. He is seen here on the bedside of an ailing young lad who needed a medical treatment that is simply way beyond what his family could afford. …
This is good. By all measures, it is commendable. It’s a wonderful act of kindness. It’s a gesture in the direction of compassion.
It is good but not enough. It is humane but not political.
It is important but there are other equally important matters that seek equal or similar attention.
If this is innocently done, as we hope it is, the PM needs to be reminded to do more in the areas that need his political (not humanitarian) intervention.
If this is done as a tactic of gaining acceptance through these gestures of supposed benevolence, I think it should be frowned upon as cheap profiteering.
If this is done to mask, or evade, the more substantive and genuinely political tensions in the country, as we suspect it is, then it is diversionary tactic and should be condemned as such.
All said, while compassionate governance is good (and it is, as I have long argued that it needs to be practised in as much as possible), no amount of compassion or humanitarian gestures can address the key popular questions that are fundamentally political.
Political problems demand political solutions. Political questions demand political answers. Political demands require political intervention in the public realm. This is simply the rule.
Meles’s (and by extension, Hailemariam’s) tendency was to offer technical (development- and security-oriented) solutions to political problems. Needless to say, it was terribly misguided. Only that it was deliberate.
It looks like Abiy’s tendency is to offer humanitarian gestures and a rhetoric of compassion (or of charity and charitability) as the solutions to deeply political questions. Obviously, the two are incommensurate, and as such, won’t work in the end.
PS. Most of these gestures of compassion were constitutionally supposed to be the work of the ceremonial executive, i.e., that of the President of the Republic. Why is the PM doing this work which, while important, is not strictly within the domain of things that are his primary constitutional duties?
Breaking: @fitsumaregaa,Chief of Staff at #Ethiopia‘s PM Office, said PM #AbiyAhmed has “met & comforted” Halima,the “distraught but resilient mother” of Mohammed Abdul Aziz Yahya, the 16 yr old Ethiopian who was left paralyzed in #Jeddah hospital due to botched medical procedure pic.twitter.com/OBhjDefOrW
— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) May 18, 2018