Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism is turning out to be a curse

4 mins read

By Asress Mulugeta

Political activists from the Oromo ethnic group in Ethiopia. PHOTO | FILE[/caption]Ethnic-federalism as governing system had been implemented and tested in a number of countries of the world. But it has lead all of them to violent disintegration. The real reason for the failure ethnic federalism in those countries was not economic or lack of democracy. It was simply because of the politicization and manipulation of ethnic relations by the ruling regimes, the regional ethnic elites and/or external forces. This shows how ethnic-federalism is destined to fail. Lack of democracy, unfair share of power and resources among ethnic groups are the other main factors that fuel ethnicization, ethnic conflicts and eventual disintegration of a country.

Since its implementation back in 1990s, the Ethiopia’s ethnic federalism system has never brought any positive aspect to Ethiopian people peaceful coexistence rather it has been a cause of more dangerous ethnic tensions and/or conflicts. For the last two decades, many Ethiopian scholars has been constantly giving a stern warning that the ethnic tensions and/or conflicts in Ethiopia could easily spiral out of control and might slide into a Rwanda type genocide if the ruling minority TPLF, keeps sowing ethnic animosity between different ethnic groups of the country. What has been unfolding in Eastern Ethiopia in the last couple of weeks is the continuation of TPLF’s divide and rule plan that the state-sponsored armed Somali Janjaweed militia gangs are terrorizing people in Oromia – Somali regions, killing and displacing thousands.

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The track record of the minority TPLF lead government in the last couple of decades shows that with an absolute control of the security and the military, TPLF has been directly and indirectly inciting ethnic conflicts  and carrying out killings in the Amhara, Oromo, Gambela, Ogaden and other regions of the country. But the recent ethnic conflict and killings in Somali-Oromo region is alarming.  Since the conflict started, hundreds of people have been killed and more than 450 thousand Oromo people have been forcefully evicted from Somali region. The ongoing ethnic conflict in Somali-Oromia border was initiated by TPLF organized, funded and armed Somali militia groups.

TPLF has been single-handedly ruling the country for over quarter a century. The major ethnic groups of the country such as the Oromo and Amhara have been staging massive protests that began in November 2015. After killing thousands of people and jailing tens of thousands, the government declared in October 2016 a state of emergency. The ruling minority oligarchy still continues to deliberately fabricate ethnic tensions and wage proxy wars against the major ethnic groups of the country such as the Oromo and Amhara to cow them into submission.

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The on-going large scale ethnic tension and/or conflicts in Somali, Oromia and Amahara regions of the country are major prelude to the balkanization of Ethiopia. The TPLF’s barbaric plan to disarm one ethnic group while arming to teeth the invading other minority ethnic group is a major genocidal policy. Plotting this kind of evil policy and using proxy militias to wage covert wars against one ethnic group should be stopped before it led the country to Syrian and Yugoslavian like quagmire that we cannot extricate from.



  1. I am not worried about the war between Oromos and Somalia region, that is easy considering the land dispute war that is on the making between Oromos and Amharas land dispute, as we are all aware the NEfetegna kings ( Menilike and Haileselassie) had stolen huge fertile land from Oromos and these land still occupied by the debub Amhara. Sooner or latter the civil war will break lose.

  2. It seems an all out civil war is inevitable unless Woyane is sent back to Dedebit right away. Whether Woyane is taken out of power soon or not, Woyane is doomed to not have a say in Ethiopian politics anymore. Actually if civil war starts Woyane will suffer worse than what Woyane suffers if it’s officials continue to hold on to their power . That is why Woyane is working to not have a civil war on it’s hand knowing Ethiopian people won’t let Woyane sit and watch while the rest of Ethiopian die due to the lack of a proper governing body in the country. .

  3. has to be clear on Amhara elites. there are new elites who are working on the side of federalsim , who are equally fighting against the elites fighting to return the country to the One country one language project. The elites who dominated the opposition in side and outside the country are preaching to dismantle the federal order. Those group of people when they refer to Ethiopians they innocently mistaken with Amhara speaking people. National unity is an agenda to snatch back power . It is not about democracy, human right or election. It is to take power and destroy federalism.
    The writer did right in making things clearer. Those elites are defeated in the battlefront. the federal system was built on their death. when they lost hope we will see they will change political agenda . They are looking a sexy agenda and a sexy politician. But Ethiopian are conclusion enough on what federalism is them .
    federalism despite it is introduced by TPLF/EPRDF it is a better system. But if it is a better system what is the probelm if it supported by TPLF. What should be the options of TPLF. I beleive it is one of the most importnat forces who shakes the old regime. It defeated the DERGE and the system superimposed on Ethiopians. what moral do one have to criticize EPRDF for introducing democracy.
    Another importnat point is that some tend to forget the country is poor. What EPRDF is doing is to mobilize people to fighting poverty. we cannot blame EPRDF for poverty. we could blame it if is not helping to end poverty . the resultant is EPRDF is making history in this regards.
    EPRDF is scoring several points while the opposing elites are lurking on and on endlessly in a sort of blasphemy the name Weyane.
    stand up against poverty . defend federal democracy. Ethiopia is fucked up because of Amhara shinfilatu tatbo ye,ytera hizb eyale, the so called Ethiopia will be the most back ward raw meat eating cannibals country. even with woyan the volture group are left to devour what is left of the so called dead Ethiopia.Do you know what the extremists is killing them ? Woyen is making history in Ethiopia,the history which they never Imagen it, or did it when they are in 4 killo for 100 years.
    Woyen ,Eprdf just did it with in 22 years.
    This is what is killing them sorry,guys to little to late !!!!!
    But for you Extremists i have this massage,don’t exploit the name of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian flag for your Owen personal use.
    Be EthiopianS, support the GRD OF Ethiopia. part-spate on the economic development of nation building.
    Don’t sabotage your country with the enemies of your country, like Egypt,Eritrea,and the greedy westerners who like t exploit the wealth of the nation.
    Be Ethiopians,and do as Ethiopians. Government comes, and Government goes,but Ethiopia is there for generation to come,like our ancestors, and the generation like me and you that’s all !!!
    as all ways long live Ethiopia !
    long live Eprdf !
    long live woyen !
    i am 1st tegraway and next Ethiopiawe !!!
    no one well ever take away my praied as Ethiopiawe,
    (betwan satatena-gebewan tatnalech ayhun)
    Its clear that only the Amhara elites such as Thedros kasahun (TEDDY AFRO) and the few Amharanized are against the ethnic Federalism and obviously seek a centralized Ethiopian State so they can impose their Amhara domination on others. You want to see whether Ethnic Federalism works in Ethiopia?Look nowhere just look at Addis Ababa city admistration.Addis people like it so much the federal autonomy given
    to administer their city..So Addis people like federalism and enjoying it. No mercy for those who need us to think in cluster like them (successors of so called minilik). We are many and one, There is grate determination by the most hamble citizens to keep this ethinic federalism, no question about that. Long live to our constitution of ethinic fedaralism.cannot afford to be equal. In the pre-1991 era, Amharic was the only official language in every corner of the country. As a result, Amhara children had no problem getting admission to schools. Upon graduating, they had no constraints in moving around the country to seek better job opportunities. The same was true for well-connected Amharic speaking business owners. They could open up a shop or restaurant in Jijiga or Nekemte without having to speak the local language. The burden of learning the language was transferred from the businessman offering the services to local residents who seek those services. In other words, the locals had to learn Amharic in order to do business with them on their own homeland.
    Ethiopian are going forward with federalism that the people chose! anyone can write anything,but no one is going to stop Ethiopia from is’s renaissance! individual Amhara elites plus elites from Oromo,Tigrai & other nations & nationalities had made Ethiopia their families,in laws ,friends…… employment opportunity land ,but now the people are administering themselves,therefore, the is no way of reversing the status quo! the next phase should be a more liberated federalism, so the people could take most matters on their own hands! all the federal gov”t should be collect taxes, protect the country”s security,foreign affairs…!
    In those days, without speaking Amharic an individual from the Somali or Oromia region, who had no access to schooling, cannot even be hired as a driver, storekeeper or gardener in any government institution.

    The 1991 reform flipped the odds by putting an end to Amhara’s privileged status at the expense of three-quarters of the country’s population. For those who had been favored for so long, the leveling of the field may seem unfair. But one reality must sink: a return to an Ethiopia where Amhara’s are once again the overlords is a foregone conclusion.

    These groups don’t realize that their supposed unity agenda has adverse effects on the very virtues they vow to protect. The Amhara politicians’ demagoguery is filling Amharic-speaking innocent youth with illusions and empty hopes that everything that came with TPLF will go with it – soon. As a result, instead of adjusting to the changes in the system, most Amharic-speaking groups line up behind their politicians to abolish the system.

    Once while traveling from Finfinne to Adama, I sat next to a young lady who cried hysterically all the way. Hoping to commiserate with her situation, I inquired what was wrong. She state that she had just graduated from a private college in Nursing and the Oromia Bureau of Health only selected their own “applicants” – those who spoke Afan Oromo. Puzzled by her anger, I politely asked how she hoped to work in rural Oromia without speaking the language. She reasoned never envisioning that not speaking a language would be a barrier to employment, and even confessed once ridiculing or walking out of Afan Oromo classes.

    Many are running into similar problems. But instead of hoping against hope for a return to ‘united’ Ethiopia with Amharic as the only official language, Amharic-speaking individuals residing in the south should consider adjusting themselves to this irreversible reality.

    At the moment, two opposing political narratives are dwarfing the struggle for justice and freedom in Ethiopia. While those who advance the ‘united Ethiopia’ political paradigm are hoping to undo the country’s ethnic federalism, their opponents are struggling to consolidate the gains that came with the structural changes. Had it not been for their amnesia, there are several lessons the Amharic-speaking elite could learn from the changes of the last two decades. Eritrea went while a loose confederation could have easily been pursued. And they blame TPLF for making the country landlocked. Continued attempts to scoff at national self-determination of ethnicities will only replicate this mistake.
    during the Amhara rulers era, only Amhara and very few others had the chance to become educated. they imposed only Amharic as a language so that they can be able to implement their veron in other regions. this resulted the internal clashes which brought their decendance.

    the remains of those times are now trying to bring the old culture back. the country is much better off today than those era. btw, Eritrea’s case was mainly as a result of the poor mishandling of the Amhara rulers of the past. by the time EPRDF grasped power, it was too late.
    And the Amhara elites have only themselves to blame for it.
    our inferiority complex is killing you! May God forgive you! You ran away when Woyane was eliminating your Derg , but now you are running your mouth! What a lowly man! Why you didn’t stand like a man & fight woyane? You are an Inferior man!

  4. The curse is failing of Amhara elites to understand social movements. It is not federalism per se. Even under the diificult conditions set by the TPLF to divide and rule it worked well until 2005. So it is not the federal structure, rather the failure of implementation of the federal structure according to the constitution. Pro-Amhara ethiopianists have failed the Ethiopian people time and again in the last 70 years. Their diagnosis of the problem is faulty and the solution follows suit. They are now crying that federalism is a curse simply because it did not sit well with their ideology. The fact is that the TPLF used it for divisive purposes and still use it as wage. Interestingly the vast majority of the people are content with the federal arrangement. Any thing short of addressing the injustice of the past and the present is going to boomerang on the perpetrators of injustice.


    We woud’t have all these socioeconomic mess in Ethiopia had not corrupted tribalist Amhara kings for the past 100+ years if did not oppress Oromos and stolen Oromos land to reward to Their Showa Amhara tribe. We would not be in these mess today had not systematically oppress non Amhara Ethiopia specially Tigreans, Eritreans sidamas etc…

    I am afraid fixing and correcting NEFETEGNA Amharas mess take generations of not centures.

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