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Ethiopia Experiencing Ethnic Federalism: Could Inclusive Parliament and Policy Reforms Prevent Crises?

By Amanuel T Muhzun 
September 21, 2017


The situation in Ethiopia is now relatively stable. But it is still important to discuss the main sources of conflict through examining the real experiences as well as prevailing objectives during this tough era in regional geopolitics and global trends. Substantial economic progress has been achieved across the country and that must be protected. However, experience has shown that the principles of ethnic federal packages are causing various crises and a complicated future. The absence or missing opportunities to share the state power with opposition parties and other stake owners for better government policies are also factors of ongoing instability. It is always worthy to correct mistakes by identifying cause and effect of potential threats with great inclusive participation in governance.

Nowadays, the EPRDF Government and many of the formal oppositions are reaching agreements on many soft agendas to discuss the crisis so far focusing on mal-governance and corruption. On the other side, various oppositions and other persons in the diaspora have had several conferences over the situation in the country. Of course there are certain concerns of underlying issues that require universal consensus and responsibility. Ethiopia needs articulated statesmen to draw out insightful provisions and proper measures suiting national unity and socio-economic developments.

f41ca581e32dd44164959ba020e168c5 african culture african history 696x636 1Similar to history of many countries having internal dynamics in nation building, Ethiopia’s territorial integrity has been developed through diversification and coexistence with its numerous ethnic populations. Ethiopians share a long common history of responsibility, struggle and interests. Then, the best attitude is to inspire and coordinate our peoples that they must share concerns to live together in harmony and progress rather than face the aftermaths we learn from other states in the world as the result of ethnic conflicts, sectarian motives, secession and other destabilizations.

Therefore the intension of this lengthy article is to address and deliver cohesive understanding of underlying issues that are major concerns to Ethiopia and move towards a better direction for today and the future. The writer is breaking down the whole essay into subtitles to identify the main focal points while mentioning to some posts of intellectual commentaries carrying comprehensive objectives and reconciliatory attitudes in expressing public interests. hope this courteous assessment package or discussion paper would contribute somethings of its own during dialogues for short and long term provisions.

  1. Experiences of conflicts in ethnic based governance

Since the introduction of nine ethnic based federal system early in 1990s, Ethiopia has been experiencing numerous difficulties between many of its regional states mainly of border controversies and identity issues. For example: tense conflicts between administrative regions of Ethiopian Somali (Ogaden Region) with Oromia Region; South Ethiopian Peoples Region with Oromia; Amhara region with Tigray region; Oromia with Beneshangul region; Gambella region with Oromia region; Afar region with Amhara region have all experienced ethnic conflicts. In the meantime, tense conflicts in several regions had killed hundreds and displaced thousands of people in their own country.

Furthermore, I have to mention the following violent incidents after November 2015 to update the reader with the stories of ethnic and tribal conflicts in the country: The controversial Addis Ababa Master Plan causing wide protests in many areas of ethnic Oromia region including the Irreecha annual festival; conflict between Amhara and Kemant ethnic communities within Amhara Region; conflicts between Konso and Alle communities in Southern Ethiopia Peoples Region mainly due to ‘Segen Town establishment plan’; Wolkait-Tzegede districts are conflicts troubling Tigray and Amhara Regions. Sadly, around one thousand people were killed in all of that recent violence. A large scale of public property and businesses had also been destroyed. That was very critical moment since the EPRDF (Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front) came to power in May 1991. I think there is still related dissatisfaction and tension on the horizon, but people ought to address them in civil and non-violent ways.

I watched the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation TV News as a large group of elderly and government representatives from both the Amhara and Tigray regions convened in Mekele and in Gondar in regard to Wolkait controversy and exchanged understanding and apologies in traditional civility where they agreed to get things back to normal and more solidarity. Yes, other areas in the country such as between Ogaden and Oromia Regions that are experiencing conflicts could practice similar ways. But such administrative and traditional mechanism is not enough unless the underlying issues or fundamental ethnic policies and sentimental problems are addressed wisely.

  1. An inclusive parliament could bring a better governance

The euphoria to which EPRDF ruling party announced 100 percent winner in May 2015 election was very discouraging and worrisome news versus the  desire to achieve reliable economic progress and harmony in Ethiopia. That election in particular was a missed opportunity to gain inclusive understanding and transparent concessions in policy making. The ruling party showed again its greediness by holding power in monopoly rather than enfranchise others. It is bad scenario when electoral laws and regulations appear to play unequitable and exhausting election formulas.

Constructive participations of opposition parties and insightful individuals in Ethiopia’s parliament would have been contributed a kind of check and balance role referring to legislative, judiciary and executive duties and press the EPRDF government to correct mistakes in a timely manner.  A successful inclusion of stakeholders in substantial levels of parliament, governance and the economy might have attracted rebel movements to engage in political pluralism and defuse arduous attacks and proxy hostilities.

Therefore wide inclusion in Ethiopia’s parliament can raise public engagement in elections giving shared responsibility and enough confidence to political leaders thereby avoiding the threat of angry violence and destruction. All such positive courses and transparent behaviours are general perspectives for a political culture of peaceful transition of the state power, trust and full national stability as well as steady progress in various spheres of economic and social developments.

  1. Public reactions and commentaries during the crisis

The Ethiopian people in general would love to see their country very united, economically viable and build fairer governance. Majority Ethiopians do recognize and respect that all the provinces of their country have been inhabited by mixed ethnic communities for generations. Although people know somehow about the concerning national issues at hand, the crisis has raised public awareness to engage responsibly and figuring out as what went wrong. Many believe that majority people were very dissatisfied particularly with the election results of May 2015, unhappy with ethnic rules and angry with poor governmental practices such as corruption and nepotism. There has been confusion and division within the diaspora community causing more social dichotomy.

I would like to raise the following commentaries or arguments among some other relevant posts capturing public attention during popular dialogues. They make good senses and deserve credit because these points of view tell the need for major reforms to Ethiopia. The EPRDF government has to consider very well such open and crucial scholarly commentaries.

In the early outbreak of the crisis Dr. Mesay Kebede, made up his personal review over the long article written by former chief of staff of the Ethiopian armed forces General Tsadkan Gedretensaye. Both exchanged correspondences of dialogues and opinions touching many national concerns, and possible motives of those violent protests in the country. They debated on ethnic policies and weakness in governance. Such exchanging of views and feelings between entities holding different attitudes and certain similarities should be encouraged because they could bring friendship or rapprochement and understanding into the whole spectrum of national issues. I appreciate the bold and outspoken personality of Gen. Tsadkan who has contributed a considerable background stories and analysis while his sympathy for TPLF/EPRDF appears still unbroken.

Dawit Woldegiorgis who is passionate for Ethiopian unity as a whole in his piece “The Case of Rwanda: Lessons for Ethiopia” explained how hate was built-up between ethnic groups in Rwanda and the story of the sad genocide and his live work experience during the shocking aftermath. Shasleka Dawit warned such human and moral destruction should never happen to the people of Ethiopia! Many people had also expressed such emotions of anger and fears.

Ato Obang Metho likes Ethiopians to disengage from the cycle of revenge and hate while addressing his views in promoting a common vision for democratic and unified Ethiopia through reconciliation and restorative justice.

Ato Yusuf Yasin Mohammad during Amharic interview with ESAT communications and in his publication of June 2015 “አሰባሳቢ ማንነት፣ በኣንድ ሃገር ልጅነት የኢትዮጵያ እጣ ፋንታ” warned to ethnic based governance and narrow ethnic rival groups to examine ethnic federalism and achieve unity in diversity for Ethiopia.

Dr. Haile Delebo in his Amharic interview with ESAT as well as in his text version of October 2016 emphasised some historic baselines of communities in Ethiopia denoting shares of mixed identities and he stressed that our peoples have been living together for centuries through intermarriages and socio-economic interrelations.

Tedla Woldeyohannes (PhD) in his article “Ethiopia: Why Deny Ethiopian National Identity?” made a critical analysis over unpopular attitudes especially to the behaviour of some Oromo elite activists. Tedla stressed the importance of Ethiopian unity in diversity.

Ato Solomon Regassa in his writing “On the question of mixed ethnicity in Ethiopia” emphasized the danger and zero-sum nature of ethnic-nationalism. He said that history shows ethnic nationalism has led to many wars.  Solomon also made a logical analysis on the common values of many people of mixed ethnicity in Ethiopia recommending to Ethiopia’s House of Federation to include the real choice of “mixed ethnicity” category in a population census and national statistics.

Ato Abdissa Zerai in his article “Ethiopia: Overcoming the Current State of Interregnum” made substantial analytical arguments related to ethnic morals and motivations. Abdissa has said it well in his piece that Pan-Ethiopian identity has suffered a collateral damage due to ethnic based cleavages. He expressed that the institutionalization of ethnic politics can be examined in the Ethiopian context, and all parties ought to work together to achieve political convergence in the country.

Ato Mesfin Feyesa is a good orator activist who made appealing comments on ESAT in favour of Ethipiawinet, unity and fraternity. He raised the cause and problems of ethnic federalism in the country while strongly advising to extremists and anti-unity elements to correct their unpopular stances. Similar comments have been told by many people condemning extremism. And nothing is personal!

I like the recent piece by Ato Jemal Y. Adem “A mono/multi-ethnic state in the context of language and its implications” which is in favour of sharing concerns and constructive thoughts as opposed to divisive ethnic lines. He said: “There are about 6,500 spoken languages in the world. If the country has to be built by the people who speak the same language, we should have 6,500 countries by now. But there are only 195 countries to this date”…. “If having a single language was a pre-requisite to establish a nation, Somalia would not have been a failed state”….”There are dozens of ‘independent’ Arab countries in the Middle East. If the language, Arabic, were the unifying power, We would have seen a ‘State of Arabs’ rather than a country called Saudi, Qatar, Yemen, Egypt…..the reality is quite the opposite”. Jamal added.

  1. Government reaction and steps in attempting to resolve the crisis

The EPRDF party congress and its subordinate administrations has officially admitted to its mal-governance such as corruption and rent seeking behaviours. It has also admitted the need to make electoral reforms to accommodate to those who are not represented. I do appreciate to the government leaders for admitting at least these deficiencies.

The government is now carrying negotiation platforms with registered oppositions. It has been engaging in raising peoples’ awareness and participation through various mass media, such as the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC). Various forums for peace and understanding, intellectual discussions, the movement to restrain corruption and more promises in the national economic endeavours are underway. The President and the Prime Minister of the Country said that their government is pardoning and helping in raising big awareness to those involved in violent protests, while making the allocation of ten billion Birr (around 500 million US dollar) federal budget, and much more finances promised by regional administrations towards the increasing youth unemployment challenges in the country.

On the other front, Ethiopian authorities and the mass media at large were heavily engaged in accusing particularly Egypt. Recorded correspondences of varying information including live graphic accounts were continuously displayed to the Ethiopian public as evidences saying Egypt is sabotaging by using some diaspora elements that contributed to instigate the local violence and destruction against interests of their own country, Ethiopia. Media coverage of Egyptian news in frenzy and threat to the Grand Renaissance Dam (GDR) of Ethiopia which is under construction with great public enthusiasm was also included in those recorded information. Isaias Afeworki of Eritrea is frequently labeled as a proxy by many Ethiopian authorities and media outlets.

Top authorities and their subordinates in general are still reiterating the government’s firm positions in keeping the current constitution, ethnic federalism and associated policies. For example: In December 2016 four gentlemen who were members of the ‘Constitution Drafting Committee’ appeared on the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC). They all were stubborn and told their story with great satisfaction saying there was extensive public engagement and careful dialogues over the concepts of the Ethiopian Federal Constitution which came into force in December 1994.

The Ethiopian government declared ‘State of Emergency’ in the country in October 2016 and lifted it in early August 2017. That is when Mr. Siraj Fegessa the Minster of Defense and Command Post Secretariat reported to Parliament saying the situation is almost back to normal.  So far, the government is cursing diaspora opposition and rebel groups alleging for the crisis without any important approaches known to the public. At this point of time, the EPRDF Government has the chance not to ignore critics and make policy reforms to prevent possible crisis.

  1. The Developmental State Policy demands full stability

The Ethiopian government is talking about peace, diversity and socio-economic renaissance. The majority of Ethiopians love such national rhetoric. The government is praising the ‘Developmental State Policy’ introduced since 2002, and other major national economies including industrial parks within the transformation process. Afforestation activity is also underway improving the ecosystem and habitat as well as various economic benefits to the country. The fundamental principle of Developmental State Policy has greatly developed the poor economy of several Asian countries, such as China, Japan and South Korea. Of course there appears to be much easier ways to mobilize homogeneous societies to achieve the desired goals.

There is also great importance to stress that Ethiopia’s economic policy has been open and cooperative with many countries in the world. For example: The African Growth and Opportunity Act, ADOA has helped in stimulating economic growth for Africa with the cooperation of the United States trade opportunities. The European Union partnership and economic assistance to Ethiopia is also considerably commendable. Chinese investment is indeed helping African economy grow. The Government has to be very careful especially with retaining major assets of the country to empower various economic developments, reduce public debt and encourage the confidence of Ethiopians.

Ethiopia`s national security issues, cost effective infrastructural developments and dealing with key economic investments have to be carefully assessed in terms of the surrounding geopolitics as well.  To begin with, it ought to have had a very close cooperation and share of social and economic interests with Eritrea. The lost opportunity between Ethiopia and Eritrea is very painful in the dimensions of survival and security. There are much more clearly existing evidences subjecting both peoples to growing pressure of the regional geopolitics.  I feel distress that there have been ignored recommendations in regard to the best prospects possible. This writer is an Eritrean by birth now living in the diaspora. I am benevolent commentator who do not have affiliation with any political party anywhere.

In this crucial time towards national growth and economic transformation the Ethiopian government must guarantee the achieved developments through major reforms or correct wrong national and geopolitical policies. The Developmental Policy should admit to critics having good reason while making this economic plan participatory enough to accommodate all-inclusive popular diversity and various stake owners.

  1. Understanding ethnic based governance and implications

There is nothing wrong in following or practicing the social components of own ethnic identity whatever languages, cultures, traditions and multicultural festivals. All those genuine interests of all peoples shall deserve great value by the general public and governments.

But it sounds wrong when regions are purportedly delineated by language and ethnicity forming identity based ethnic federalism as a type of a government. The system is complex in nature because of multi-ethnic or multi-regional and local power structures influencing people towards sectarian identity makeups losing common national grounds. Ethnic policy could sideline or neglect identity and political rights of mixed-ethnic heritage and minority people within ethnic regional states. Ethnic rule tends to develop much more alliance to own ethnic group soliciting for particular political and economic advantages rather than admiring principles belonging to the whole society in a country.

Many countries have suffered and declined from the hardship of ethnic or tribal federalism. For example: the disintegrated federal system of Yugoslavia’s states was based on ethnic identities having different banners. On the other hand, many federal states such as Australia, Germany, USA, Canada and Brazil are portrayed quasi majority homogenous so their main focus is on economic and technological progress rather than dealing with deep problems of typical ethnic or religion issues. Africa has a lot to learn from such countries.

Furthermore, ethno-federalism structures such as in the case of Ethiopia comprises multifarious divisions and restrictions, challenging technical components that hinder free public movement, lacking safety and confidence in social and economic relationships between peoples in the same country. It may also pose some difficulties to mobilize people for a common cause for instance when defending the country’s sovereignty or national interests is required. Striving for identity based ethnic federalism could sooner or later bring many regional states into serious conflicts for various interests with one another causing constant instability.

The troublesome nature of ethnic federalism could experience stressful or controversial administrative guidelines and economic scenarios between central government authorities and regional officials as well as other peripheries in handling and coordinating the system itself. All the aforementioned experiential indicators do predict that holding the odds or persisting in Ethiopia’s ethnic federalism would exacerbate the emotional risks of ethnic-nationalism and associated ailments. That can trigger major instability no matter what political party is in power. That is why corrective measures are so in demand for the way out.

  1. Understanding internal and external situations

Ethiopia is still poor country facing various challenges as well as political threats in its economic crossroads. Frequent draught in many parts of the country has still been crucial to Ethiopians and their government has had considerable success in mitigating the calamity.  Close cooperation particularly between the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) states is important in challenging draught. The situation in Ethiopia appears to be a talking topic even outside the country reflecting multiple economic and ideological interests in the presumption of market and resources in a global world. There are helpful co-operations, and there are bad dogs soliciting behind the bars.

Under those situations and related circumstances that are worrying issues, if government authorities are pushed in harsh allegations, undiplomatic or disorderly manner, they would provoke more resistance in defence or self-preservation and down the road they may lose control of the state machinery and drive the population into chaos and total destabilization without intermediary power to hold and transform the country. That is why the ruling party need to listen to major critics holding constructive views and make constitutional and policy reforms.

Although there is global responsibility towards achieving universal peace, there are several evidences telling once a country is in trouble and open to intervention, it may not determine its own destiny for recovery or stability. Other external powers may have to take over the course of change with no way out. Global experiences should help us to practice much more patience of wisdom and learn not to lose the apparent social peace and achievements in the Ethiopian economy.

Remember: Ethiopia is today the home to over 100 million in population and that livelihood demands full stability. Note the unusual immigration crisis and growing trends of hate and discriminations in the world today. The country has always been favoured as the seat of the African Union (AU) and considerable international focus so it has to display exemplary images of strong unity and integrity. This poor African nation is hosting to more than 900,000 refuges. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mr. Filippo Grandi had visited to Ethiopia during the ‘World Refugee Day Commemorative Ceremony’ held in Gambella in June 2017 and he praised the country for protecting refugees with its limited resources.

  1. The benefits of non-violence and peaceful transfer of power

John F. Kennedy (1960 – 1963), known as the charismatic President of the United States, in his public speech had quoted to what a wise man said. “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it”.    

The Government has to listen to critics and views of others and others have to understand the general situation of Ethiopia to deal with the pace of time and condition in much less adversarial ways. In other words, it is necessary to Ethiopia to get into a constructive conflict resolution dialogues by avoiding hindering preconditions and reach at integrated agreements, rather than rivalling between ethnicities and entities.

In the best spectrum therefore, it should be very important to see the EPRDF ruling party, formal oppositions and other stakeholders including in the diaspora, exchange constructive ideas through respect, flexibility and understanding and reach at a popular benchmarks for a step by step constitutional and policy reforms. In addition to that, diplomacy and communication between the government and armed rebel groups is the best option of responsibility to safeguard the country by all means. Prisoners and personnel in exile that have demanded or commented legitimate political and economic issues peacefully would have to be credited for good insights, released and rehabilitated. Such amicable atmosphere can help defuse hostility and harness constant tension of fears of violence while allowing all parties to work with full confidence efficiently and get ready to compete at any national election.

In this regard, opportunity for constructive dialogues and growing relationships will lead to gain fair seats in the Ethiopian parliament and eventually acquire the state power through peaceful transition. Through any peaceful means however, oppositions would at least earn measurable seats in the next parliament and grow accordingly.  If the EPRDF ruling party is defeated, it may reform itself with the best popular programs and engage in the country’s affairs as opposition political party.

Ethiopian President Mulatu Toshome has announced to the country’s Parliament that electoral reforms will be made. Political parties including the ruling party are now making some changes to improve the electoral law, and all parties are expected to grow much more in inclusiveness and move forward beyond that electoral scope. In the meantime, the EPRDF/TPLF ruling party as well as oppositions inside and outside of the country are being required to revise their own political programs including names of certain organizations for best amendments to suit negotiations for national harmony.

The EPRDF ruling party has to recognize what former US President Barak Obama and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during respectively visits in July 2015 and January 2016 to Addis Ababa advised African leaders “not to cling to power”.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom I greatly respect for her wisdom and fairness especially in this time of considerable international instability including heavy immigration crisis, during her official visit to Ethiopia in October 2016 told Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in Addis Ababa, “In a democracy there always needs to be an opposition that has a voice in the best case in parliament.”

Reconciling chasms of intolerance over ideological, economic or politically different programs would not be easy with every single party or entity unless a sort of exit strategy is outlined. In my sincere view, some necessary providence of amnesty or even a kind of ‘reciprocal immunity’ or a quid pro quo for mistakes that may be financial or political faults committed by government incumbents and possibly by opposition figures or entities including in the diaspora should be negotiated accordingly.

In that manner, authorities, opposition figures or other individuals will have to be given relief as a necessary protection and guarantees to live freely in their own country, Ethiopia, when they complete their terms in public services or assignments, or get retired. Those are very important preconditions during negotiations while conceding wrong doings and responsibilities. As such, government officials, oppositions inside and outside of the country as well as the public at large need to improve common behaviour towards intuitive tolerance and mutual coexistence. Approaching and accepting purposeful exit strategy or safe passage are alternative customary to achieve peace and unity in the country. It sounds weird but that is the way I see it.

  1. The country is entitled “Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia”.

It sounds good name indeed! But the country is having functional ethnic based structures and administrations through the Constitution and Government policies.

The current constitution has been adopted since December 1994. There are cohesive statements in the ‘Preamble’ of this constitution. It says for example; “Fully cognizant that our common destiny can best be served by rectifying historically unjust relationships and by further promoting our shared interests;” There are many good concise Articles in the Document. For example: there is a clear summary about the “Rights to Equality” in Article 25 of the constitution regarding equal protection of the law to all persons. Article 29 states “Democratic Rights” (Rights of Thought, Opinion and Expression) where the responsibility of the citizen in using those rights is also stipulated in this Article.

The Article 41 statement on “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” in its section 1 says “Every Ethiopian has the right to engage freely in economic activity and to pursue a livelihood of his choice anywhere within the national territory”. Article 89 in its “Economic Objectives” stipulates equitable share of wealth, opportunities, and sharing benefits from the country’s human and material resources. But many of those attractive contents in the constitution may have been lacking proper understanding and proper implementation due to the shortage of resources and/or burden of ethnic based administrations.

The Flag is stated in Article 3 of the current Ethiopia’s Constitution. Take note for clarity and let all people equivocally understand to avoid bickering that the EPRDF government did not change the Ethiopian Country Flag other than putting the new emblem on the same Flag. The previous governments of the Country had their own different emblems. The purpose of designing an emblem as many countries do occasionally is mainly to identify historical backgrounds, ideological, and other values of various social systems.  Honour The Ethiopian Flag!

There are several heavy impactful Articles that are threatening the value of this constitution. For example: circumstantial facts and experiences are showing that Article 39 particularly section 1 and section 4 appear very consequential to the general public in the context of geographic stability, economic and social patterns in Ethiopia. In connection to that challenge, Article 62 in particular section 3 would need a review for amendments as it is directly associated to decide on Article 39.  There may be some more Articles and informal practices diminishing the value of the Constitution that I am not able to specify here.

With regard to constitutional amendment, there are Article 104 and Article 105 allowing address concerns. But there would have to be enough pressure in the Ethiopian parliament and other important areas of participations to quote and use those two articles efficiently. I think it is a matter of following legal procedures and building mutual commitment through working together to make necessary constitutional amendments, or make changes. Many countries do review their constitutions and make changes.  Making policy reforms for best alternatives are also common. Why not Ethiopia?

  1. Possible Solutions through Constitution and Policy Reforms

The current constitution will have to be reconciled and restructured with some parts of the constitutions during the two previous regimes in Ethiopia. It would be possible to cooperate and make necessary changes. There may be a little interesting section back from the monarchy rule. Some areas in the Constitution that was popular during the Dergue government “People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia” would have to be revalued in order to help make structural and administrative arrangements. Take note that Ethiopian provinces and districts had been reconfigured or delineated during the past regimes claiming to suit national unity, economic and social harmonies. Experiences from other countries and creative insights are also helpful in making constitution, policy reforms and administrative boundary limits.

The EPRDF Ruling Party is vested with certain power of authority and it can take common administrative measures, or make easy reforms as a government. However, this government would not have to reform or amend the constitution and major policies alone which are almost imposed during its TPLF/EPRDF rule. There is much virtue in common aspiration and conscionable meeting of minds to review this constitution in historical and wide inclusive manners. Such wise approaches would bring permanent stability and inspire peaceful transformation through establishments. Public satisfaction grows in stability rather than reiterating the exclusionary habit of seeking to draft another new constitution and get it destabilize over and over again.

Federalism is narrated as decentralization of power in a complex of political spectrum. But federalism must not be a dogma of decentralization of power when there are fears of destructive social polarities. It is necessary to restructure Ethiopia’s federal system to have well improved or integrated governance and prevent the country from the presumptions of deeply rooted ethnic conflicts and disintegration. Constitutional developers and policy makers have the opportunity to see best options in dealing with national concerns. In my opinion, a large inclusive parliament with a powerful federal democratic republic at the centre can be good alternative to the existing ethnic based federalism as to mediate or gradually avoid sectarian sentiments of ethno-nationalism and other tensions of division in Ethiopia.

Applications of fair and transparent federal rules and regulations from top down and vice versa is necessary to implement because all citizens deserve to feel indulged or confident that they have the right to live, work and own property in any part of the country. Local communities including at a village and tiny urban levels in the country have to be treated with best rules of law for basic compensation packages supported with endowment benefits when a land or a given property is transferred for government or private use. The same rights should apply to habitants of surrounding rural lands merging into cities or municipalities. Property rights and valuable transactions can resolve dissatisfactions and manage conflicts between all involving parties in rural and urban settings. People resettlement programs could be arranged to support indigenous communities with the best means of subsistence as to allow friendly integration.

It is very important to develop inclusiveness of power and work confidence for any central government in office to hold the population and the country together. Supporting the system with enough presence of well-disciplined federal police forces and related services in all administrative peripheries in the country is necessary for national economic developments and public safety at large. In the process, various types of public referendum or hearings may also be conducted to earn peoples’ consent and fix issues of concern. Understanding the fundamental principles of multiethnic existence and more establishments of popular institutions can eventually bring economic harmony and the atmosphere of social democracy in Ethiopia.

  1. Valuing ethnic cultures for social harmony

I love with great respect the beauty of the mosaic cultures of Ethiopia that all are valued national assets while being shared in the livelihoods and social festivals of its people. Considering the contribution of the EPRDF rule, the annual festivals of multi-ethnic Ethiopia including encouragement of museums and social sports are bringing friendship and mutual integration between the peoples of the country.

More focus on social sports, some socially authentic or attractive words, phrases, fine arts, names, symbols, anthems and proverbs during communications from any ethnic community in the country may be used in harmony with other domestic languages. For example: some of our artists-singers are using other local languages in mixture with Amharic, which is the lingua franca of Ethiopia. All those combined cultural, traditional and acquired values have important role in inspiring the sense of full equality and is unity in diversity.

  1. Further insights for reconciliation and rehabilitation

Reconciliation is another perspective of public negotiation in promoting forgiveness and clear resentment to enhance the national strategy. The word reconciliation by itself has the flavour of forgiveness for the sake of peace.  In many circumstances, reconciliation can be as easy as building consensus and integrity through understanding, nothing else.  Ethiopian Prof. Ephraim Isaac and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu are among the good examples in applying flexible traditional and share of concern methodologies during reconciliations.

However, it seems appropriate method to acknowledge real historical facts and examine resentments or retributions that deserve reconciliation and are quite possible in Ethiopian traditional and societal contexts. Ethiopia’s nation building and challenges is similar to historical process of so many countries in the world. Several countries have used the frameworks of reconciliation successfully.

It is unacceptable to observe some people engage in orchestrating and disgracing history with disinformation, denials or fallacies of sectarian hypocrisy. Such wrong stories or vague emotions are not only confusing the large innocent, but stirring-up more differences and resentments between our peoples rather than help in seeking the right way of reconciliation and rehabilitation to which Ethiopia needs as a country.

Great attention has always been required in reconciliation; because when real resentments are suppressed or denied sympathy, they are consistent with conflicts and disharmony. Friendly government policies, inclusive orientations through the Ethiopian mass media, including impartial writings of historical events as well as artistic exhibition or performance can all contribute substantial influence in shaping common psychological makeup and public harmony.

History can teach how to examine experiences and encourage us to reconcile or handle the same kind of mistakes that we do repeat often. That is why history deserves public respect because it requires putting great efforts to educate or tell facts as well as explore real events as much as possible. I do have great respect for credible scholars and authors such as Prof. Lapiso Delebo, Prof. Bahru Zewde and a few others who have made a lot of inclusive or impartial historical references especially on Ethiopian medieval and modern ages including the progression in her sovereignty that contribute to the whole Ethiopian public and beyond the horizon. Historical resources that are available in Ethiopia and abroad deserve great care and broad knowledge when transferring into digital technology.


A few days before the conclusion of Ethiopia’s national election campaign in May 2015, I made personal efforts to provide an impartial account and analysis over the general dialogues between registered political parties including EPRDF which was transmitted through Ethiopian TV in Amharic from Addis-Ababa. Finally, I have courteously included my opinion for the need to amend Ethiopia’s Constitution in a wide-inclusive manner and thereby reform policies over the following three triggering or very concerning issues: (1) “Dealing with Ethnic Federalism” (2) “Farm Land Management” (3) ”Focus for building close relationship with Eritrea”.

It is wrong to carry the “Pandora’s box” (big trouble/very harmful) when it is necessary to make constitution and policy reforms to avoid various crises and ensure the country holds together.  For more detailed accounts of election 2015, as well as contemporary national and geopolitical issues, please read my previous article Ethiopia: Wishing Peaceful and Transparent Election for Policy Reforms” posted on nazret.com and other websites since May 13, 2015.

Unity and Progress to Ethiopia!         

The writer, ATM is trained in conflict resolution and negotiation. (atmwiseup@hotmail.com)


More Resources:

የኢትዮጵያ ረጅም የህዝብና የመንግሥት ታሪክ

ደራሲ፡  ዶ/ር ላጲሶ ደሌቦ

አዲስኣበባ ንግድ ማተሚያ ቤት  –  1982 ዓ.ም.

Axum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity

Author: Stuart Munro-Hay – Edinburgh University Press, UK 1991

A History of Modern Ethiopia, 1855 – 1991

Author: Bahru Zewde

Eastern African Studies, Second edition, Addis-Ababa University Press, 2001

Autonomy: Flexible Solutions to Ethnic Conflicts

Author: Ruth Lapidoth – United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC, 1997

Constitution-making and Reforms: Options for the process

Authors:  Michele Brandt, Jill Cottrell, Yash Ghai, Anthony Regan

Switzerland –  Interpeace Publisher, 2011


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