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You searched for: Content Type Working Paper Remove constraint Content Type: Working Paper Publishing Institution Social Science Research Council Remove constraint Publishing Institution: Social Science Research Council Political Geography Ethiopia Remove constraint Political Geography: Ethiopia Publication Year within 10 Years Remove constraint Publication Year: within 10 Years Topic Federalism Remove constraint Topic: Federalism
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  • Author: Asnake Kefale
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Social Science Research Council
  • Abstract: This policy brief explores the prospects of deploying federalism as an instrument of peacebuilding in the context of emerging political reforms in Ethiopia. The ap- pointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister in April 2018 by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) marks a watershed moment in Ethiopia’s political history. The agenda of political reform adopted by EPRDF was largely due to two interrelated factors. First, the need to overcome the ap- parent fissures and constant power struggles within the party, especially since the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2012. Second, as a response to the youth-led mass anti-government protests which started in 2015, primarily in the two most populous regions of the country, Oromia and Amhara. While the ongoing reforms are generating some optimism, there are also wor- risome developments in parts of the country. More than 1.4 million people have been displaced from their homes. The causes of their displacement are inter- ethnic tensions and identity-based communal conflicts over issues such as the ownership of natural resources linked to people’s livelihoods and the location of territorial borders. Those hit hardest by internal displacement are communities living in Gedeo and West Guji in southern Ethiopia and in the border areas of the Oromia and Somali regions. There are also tensions between the Amhara and Tigray regions over the identity of Wolqait and Raya communities. Similarly, the Sidama ethnic group’s demand for regional status in southern Ethiopia has cre- ated tension in the area. Moreover, there are reports of a breakdown of law and order in parts of the Amhara and Oromia regions. A key issue in Ethiopia’s political reform is the future of federalism, in particu- lar, the strong emphasis placed on ethnicity and whether it will continue to be relevant. On the one hand, there are political forces (centrists) that see ethnic federalism as a root cause of the current crisis, while others contend that theproblems are due to non-adherence to the principles of true federalism. However, it is important to note that the federal system is crucial to Ethiopia’s stability, peace, and develop- ment. With the opening of political space, the future direc- tion of Ethiopian federalism is being hotly contested. There are political forces that aspire to remove the ethnic element from the federal system or change the system altogether from ethnic to geographic federalism. Such a course of ac- tion is fraught with danger. The reactions to the removal of the federal status of Eritrea in 1960 and the autonomy of South Sudan in 1983 demonstrate the inadvisability of re- versing regional or ethnic autonomy. In both countries, the rolling back of autonomous arrangements by central au- thorities was a key factor in the long-running conflicts that culminated in the secession of Eritrea and South Sudan, re- spectively. The government of Ethiopia (GoE) should, there- fore, consider the following policy recommendations.
  • Topic: Development, Reform, Political stability, Peace, Federalism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia