Consociation and Power Sharing as A Guarantee for Minorities

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Addis Ababa University


The FDRE Constitution gives ri g ht s to Nations, Nationaliti es and Peoples (NNPs) of E thiopi a. The soverei gn po litical power resides in NNPs. The y are entitled to se lf-determinat ion including secession. The ri ght to se lf-determination, as enshrined under Article 39, includes the right to language, culture and hi stor y, the right to a full measure of se lf-gov ernment including the ri ght to establish institutions of goverr1ll1 e nt in th e te rritory that it inhabits and to equitable repr esentati o n in the state and federal governments. The federal set-up is de limited predominantly a long ethn olingui stic criteria. These reco gni tion and empowerment of divers ity is an important move toward s accommodating the diverse nature of the soc iety. But , there are majoritarian characteristics in Ethiopia which convinces that the guarantees under the FDRE Co nstitution are not s ufficient. The executive is controlled by one party which also enjoys a majority in the parliament. There is a unicameral legislature and absence of an independent arbiter of the constitution. Lack of PR electoral system for the election of members of the HPR with other problems necessitates the need to look for consociational democracy in order to achieve and maintain stab le democ racy and legi timacy. Consociational democracy with four defining characteristics which includes grand coalition, autonomy, proportionality and minorit y vet offers sufficien t representation a t t he center and considerable autonomy for ethno-linguistic groups . There is po s itive favorab le condition in Ethiopia to make the current 'semi-consociational' arrangement fully consociational. The federal arrangement should be amended to give the H oF the power make laws and over-represent minorities; the electoral system should that of PR; the principle of proportionality should be applicable in military, police and civil servic e. Political elites of di ffe rent ethno-linguistic group s should cooperate for a negoti atio n with o compromise and tolerance. Their role in multi-ethnic soc ieties vital in order to bring about stabi lit y and le gitimacy that is sought in bring a bout.



Consociation and Power Sharing