The Edge of Ethnic Federalism, Prospects and Glooms in the Post-1991 Ethiopia

Abrham Meareg


Since EPRDF seized power following gravy bloodsheds of civil war, in 1991, 'ethnicity' institutes as a cornerstone to enjoy greater political, legal, political economy, and structural space by putting an end to the centralized system of administration. During the early 1990s, numerous political faction groups triggered and pattered by ‘socialism thought’ were considering 'ethnic' based federalism as a magic bullet to bring the long civil war to an end and save the nation of collapse. In the other side of the story, however, since the onset there was/is unfold doubt about the wisdom of giving greater political space to 'ethnicity'. On top, there was/is a debate about the continuing nature, form, and the role of it in the nation’s political discourse. This paper inquires, the two divergent roles, i.e. threats and prospects, ethnic based federalism in the contemporary Ethiopian politics. In addition, I attempt to assess the basic arguments proposed by various state and non-state actors; interest groups, academicians, politicians, national, and ethno-national groups from in and out point of views. In the prospects side, it glorified as a means to bridge out inclusive politics, development, democracy, and brotherhood among multi-cultural people of the country.  From the other opposite side, the continued emphasis on ethnic politics coupled with limited democratic practice, disintegration, a state of fear, barbarian politics, vacuum national consensus, political corruption, and pointless social classifications. Furthermore, it indicates the centrality of ethnicity in shaping state-society relations and governance pattern in contemporary Ethiopia. Consequently, the paper attempted to evaluate the ramifications of a growing trend of ethnic entrepreneurship and ethnic-centered politics in the nation. Finally, the paper concludes and forward recommends for cope out mechanisms of the stated problems.

Keywords: Ethnicity, Politics, Ethnic Entrepreneurship, Nation Building, Political parties


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ISSN (Paper)2224-5731 ISSN (Online)2225-0972

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