Few Eritreans would have the audacity or imagination to attempt this comparison, but then Professor Bereket Habte Selassie is no ordinary author.
Best known as the author of the Eritrean constitution (tragically now declared ‘dead’ by President Isaias Afwerki) he is also a prolific author.
His latest book “Desecrators of the Sacred Trust. The Apotheoses of Donald J. Trump and Isaias Afwerki. Two Preening Would be Kings and their Dark Agendas” is a comparison between these two odious men.
On the face of it this would seem a strange comparison.
Yes, both are presidents who rule their countries, but there it would seem to end.
Professor Bereket argues that this is a mistake.
In his view neither are suited to leadership roles. Both are narcissists who have inflicted immense damage on their countries and their peoples.
And both could be charged with a variety of offenses – in Professor Bereket’s view. Attempts to hold President Trump to account have, so far, not achieved their goal. He has resisted a myriad of court cases. Perhaps if he loses today’s election his protection will end and he will face justice.
Professor Bereket argues that President Afwerki could be charged with treason – surely one of the harshest crimes anyone could face. The professor says his suppression of the constitution, despite the fact that it was approved by the National Assembly and ratified by a Constituent Assembly suggests he is guilty of this crime.
But the book goes into a range of other issues.
In particular it examines the way in which President Isaias reacted when greeted by thousands of Ethiopians during his visit to Addis Ababa in July 2018. Isaias turned to Prime Minister Abiy and said:
“Go right ahead: lead us! I give you my wholehearted leave to lead us.”
It was an extraordinary statement from a president who once led his country in its 30 year struggle for independence.
As Professor Bereket puts it: “His behavior looked and his words sounded very much like the fealty expressed by a repentant vassal at the feet of an overlord.”
The professor is not alone in this judgement. Many Eritreans were deeply offended by what Isaias said that day. Few have expressed this sentiment as eloquently as Professor Bereket.
There is much that anyone interested in Eritrea – or the wider Horn – will find of interest from reading Professor Bereket’s latest publication.