Ethiopians support constitutional amendments to add federal government languages and limit PM terms, divided on other changes


Ethiopians favour amending the country’s Constitution to make the federal government multilingual, limit the prime minister to two terms, and establish a Constitutional Court, a new Afrobarometer survey shows. However, they are divided on private land ownership, the right to self-determination, the national emblem, and the status of the capital city, Addis Ababa.

Large majorities say that the Constitution should be amended – rather than replaced or maintained as it is – to reflect the needs of contemporary Ethiopia and that ordinary citizens should be consulted during the review process.

Majorities also support designating more working languages – in addition to Amharic – for the federal government, instituting a two-term limit for the prime minister, and establishing a Constitutional Court separate from the House of Federation.

The survey shows some popular support – as well as significant opposition – regarding proposed constitutional provisions that have been controversial among the political elite. These include the removal of Article 39, which enshrines the right of nations, nationalities, and peoples to self-determination; the extension of land ownership rights to individuals; and removal of the emblem at the center of the national flag.

The survey results will feed into the ongoing debate regarding the Constitution in Ethiopia’s newly opened political space. The past two years have been marked by the return of opposition voices calling for constitutional changes and a proliferation of media outlets that have engaged the political elite in a series of debates on the Constitution.



  1. A national dialogue on such important issues OUGHT to precede any survey or polling to be credible & acceptable. Although I’m not quite certain as to the methodology used for this survey, under the prevailing circumstances where political ethnicity as a system is allowed to dominate the political life of Ethiopians, and in the absence of a thorough & sincere national dialogue & debate, I’m not at all surprised at the reported results.
    Because of the nature of the political system, people in the former USSR or the people of China or North Korea now, if asked about their constitution or governance, their answer would definitely conform to the system they are under. Thence, this survey, as reported SHOULD NOT be taken seriously until a national dialogue on such detrimental issues pertaining to the future of the nation takes place in advance & the Ethiopian people have the opportunity to hear alternative voices FREELY. The existing political narrative based solely on divisive & venomous ethnicity SHOULD not be the only choice the people of Ethiopia could have. They MUST be allowed to hear alternative narratives that would give them a choice to decide their future. Denying them alternative voices different from what they have had for the last three decades will not be fair, to sat the least.
    No one should have any illusions whatsoever that any election before holding sincere & serious national dialogue on the political system & future direction of the country WOULD EVER result in a genuinely pluralistic society & a system of justice & equality for all. Now is the time to do that & rectify the system.

    So help us God!

  2. My view is similar to that of Ayal-sew’s. A survey? covering the whole country? With all its diversities of all sorts, exasperated by current toxic bickering? OK, but what is the design of the survey?

    Survey as a method of understanding of opinions, at that politically oriented, in societies like Ethiopia seems to me inappropriate. My fear is that most respondents would rather tell you what they think you would like to hear than their own opinions. Perhaps multitude of qualitative approaches and above all open public discussions would help much better.

  3. For me, to start political discussions is like opening a can of worms. Let people learn on their own the pros and cons of the existing system.
    The only thing the government must concentrate on for now is to make sure that citizens’ rights to live in peace in the areas where they were they live and make a living. Forget about mobility to start new life in another kilil. That can wait. After all, the animosity is due to scarcity of resources. Hence people must make their living in their own kilils.
    Article 39 is also contentious and a source of disagreement. Trying to take it out might explode the country. Hence it must be handled very carefully.

  4. Helo!
    Do we know any detail about the survey company?
    Who financed it? Which region(s) was or were the survey or opinion pall done? Who commissioned the study?
    Why was it even allowed right now?
    Was the study design, people included, data analysis unbiased?
    Or is some one trying to check public temperature on what they might be doing in the future, should the current government stay in power?

    In my opinion, the study begs question as above before making it to the news as sound report

  5. This can not make any news or debate!!
    Do we know how this study was done, who commissioned it or why it is even done at this time T?
    Please try to be more objective

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