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Title: Ethnic federalism and the right to political participation of regional minorities in Ethiopia
???metadata.dc.contributor.*???: Christophe Van der Beken
Dessalegn Beza, Beza
Keywords: Ethnic federalism;Political participation;Minorities
Issue Date: Dec-2016
Publisher: AAU
Abstract: The Ethiopian way of federalism, markedly identified as ‘ethnic federalism’, in an attempt to respond to the long overdue demand of different ethnic groups, stratified the country into nine subnational units. Nonetheless, the construction of the subnational units, irrespective of its cutting-edge achievements, has brought ethnic antagonisms and competing ethnic nationalisms, which has resulted in majority-minority relations. The devolving of autonomy to ethnic groups, which is made along ethnic territorial lines, through empowering those considered indigenous to a particular territory by excluding nonindigenous ones, as witnessed over the years, has resulted in the creation of regional minorities in all of the subnational units, however to varying degree of tribulations. This approach has evenhandedly affected the political participation of regional minorities and their need for adequate representation and effective decision-making powers. In a situation where no particular territory in the country is ethnically homogenous, the federal design of devolving political power only to ethnic groups considered indigenous over a certain territory has effectively sidelined those who are not members of the regionally dominant and empowered ethnic group/s. For what it is worse, the trending political atmosphere, which by far has been less interested in accommodating regional minorities that are created as a result of this federal design, has done nothing other than further marginalize their quest for effective political participation. Based on a legal research methodology that uses both doctrinal and non-doctrinal analysis, the three regions of Benishangul Gumuz, SNNP and Oromia are examined to assess the specific political participation of regional minorities. Accordingly, based on primary data and looking into the existing literature, the status of regional minorities in Ethiopia is studied from the perspective of the three case study regions. The findings from the three case study regions reveals that the current ethnic federal arrangement -both in terms of its federal design and the operating political practice- has largely failed to respond to the demands of regional minorities. The federal design of granting territorial autonomy to ethnic groups has fallen short of giving territorial autonomy to all ethnic groups even to those considered indigenous. Under the trending circumstances, such an undertaking is impossible to realize. Apart from the granting of territorial autonomy, it has also, by design, excluded non-indigenous group from effective political participations in the respective regional state councils. Even in circumstances where they have been given restricted representation rights, their decision-making powers remain ineffective. On top of this, the political practice, as a continuation to the design, has denied these regional minorities an all inclusive and shared political atmosphere, accommodative of their interests. The thesis further argues, despite the promises made to empower all ethnic groups considered indigenous, indigenous regional minorities have also faced similar consequences of lack of effective political participation in the territory they are considered indigenous. The Ethiopian federal design in this respect has not kept its promise. As witnessed in the region of SNNP, out of the 56 indigenous ethnic groups, only handfuls are allowed political participation in terms of territorial autonomy (through the establishment of ethnic zones and liyu woredas). In circumstances where these indigenous regional minorities have political participation at the state council level, the majoritarian decision-making process makes them unable to counter any decision that goes against their interest. This exclusionary approach has led to numerous demands by these indigenous regional minorities for the respect of their right to political participation. The stubborn adherence on the part of EPRDF that a once and for all solution has been reached to ethnic groups demands has, therefore, greatly hampered the much needed resilience the Ethiopian approach should show in the accommodation of regional minorities. It is submitted here that, unless the various demands of the political participation of regional minorities are addressed by bringing in more choices of ethnic minority accommodation, the existing discontent will surely continue to the level of challenging the federal arrangement itself.
Appears in Collections:Thesis - Law

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