Ethnic Federalism and Conflict in Ethiopia

Alexander Haymanot Abrha


Ethiopia adopted ethnic federalism and restructured the regions along ethnic lines as soon as the EPRDF took political power by overthrowing the Marxist military government in 1991.  EPRDF has advocated ethnic- federalism by stressing that it could empower and equalize the diverse ethnic communities and reduce conflict. However, since the introduction of the ethnic federal project in 1991, there have been wide-ranging claims especially by many Ethiopian intellectuals that the ethnic federal structure would collapse in a short time and the country could immerse into ethnic conflicts. The aim of this article is therefore to examine the prevalence of ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia and to explore the major reasons of the conflicts that existed in the past four years. There are contending views, for and against federalism in Ethiopia. And though it may be accurate to state that the founding principles of federalism have few ideological shortcomings, it may be that technicality issues that hamper the imposed federal system in Ethiopia. Thus, ethnic conflicts prevailing in Ethiopia may be caused by such technicality problems and the ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia needs an urgent reconsideration before the case moves to the worst scenario.

Keywords: Conflict, Ethnic, Ethiopia, Federalism

DOI: 10.7176/RHSS/9-13-03

Publication date:July 31st 2019

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