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Ethiopian Journal of the Social Sciences and Humanities

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Does Federalism Reduce Ethnic Conflict? Evidence From the Ethiopian Experience

Zerihun Berhane, Samuel Tefera

Abstract


This paper discusses the issue of federalism and conflicts in Ethiopia by posing the question: to what extent does the current system of ethnic Federalism help to reduce ethnic tensions and conflicts? Although federalism is taken by many as a typical strategy for avoiding ethnic conflict and promoting democracy in multi-ethnic societies, the Ethiopian experience largely suggest that the system is not reducing ethnic tensions and conflicts. Ethnicity being the major organizing principle of the federal system in the country, promotes conflicts stressing the primordial notions of ethnicity and mobilization. It has encouraged differences and competition over the control of power and resources at a local level. Thus, conflicts are increasing, becoming more decentralized and protracted. These suggest that in the Ethiopian context, there is a need to move away from using ethnicity as a sole criterion and to organize the federation using geographical and economic considerations. This would further help to reduce the current ethnic strife by encouraging civic nationality and trust among people.

Keywords: Conflict, Ethnicity, Federalism, Ethiopia





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