The Politics of Ethnicity in Ethiopia

Actors, Power and Mobilisation under Ethnic Federalism

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Most governments in Africa, seeing the political mobilisation of ethnicity as a threat, have rejected the use of ethnic differences as an explicit basis for political representation. The one prominent exception is Ethiopia, which since 1991 has imposed a system of ethnic-based federalism that offers each ethnic group the right of ‘self-determination’. This book provides a detailed empirical study of this system at work in the complex multiethnic environment of southern Ethiopia. It finds that ethnic self-rule, in combination with the power politics of an authoritarian regime, has produced both intended and unintended outcomes. While arguably easing large-scale ethnic conflicts, it has led to ‘ethnicisation’ of local socioeconomic disputes and to sharper inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic divides, often to the disadvantage of historically marginalised groups.
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Biographical Note

Lovise Aalen, Ph.D. (2008) in Political Science, University of Oslo, is Senior Researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway. Her other publications include a wide scope of studies of Ethiopian politics, among them Ethiopia since the Derg: A decade of Democratic Pretentions and Performance (co-editor; Zed Books 2002).

Table of contents

CONTENTS
Preface and Acknowledgements ...................................................... vii
Abbreviations ..................................................................................... xi
Selected Glossary ............................................................................... xiii
List of Maps and Tables ................................................................... xv
Chapter One Introduction: The Limits of Institutions in
Multiethnic Societies ..................................................................... 1
Chapter Two ‘National Self-Determination’: Federalism the
Ethiopian Way ............................................................................... 25
Chapter Three The Historical Trajectories of Local Ethnic
Polities: The Sidama and the Wolayta ....................................... 55
Chapter Four Ethnic Politics in Play: Implementing
Self-Determination in a South Ethiopian Context .................. 95
Chapter Five Crafting Ethnic Politics: The Formation of
Parties in Sidama and Wolayta ................................................... 109
Chapter Six Dealing with Local Minorities: The Persistence
of Discriminatory Practices under Ethnic Federalism ............ 127
Chapter Seven Identities or Resources at Stake?
Controversies on National Self-Determination in Sidama
and Wolayta ................................................................................... 147
Chapter Eight Conclusion: The Facets of Ethnic Federalism 179
References ........................................................................................... 195
Index ....................................................................................................203

Readership

Political scientists, anthropologists, development practitioners, and policy makers dealing with multi-ethnic societies, federalism, ethnic conflict regulation, and the nature of ethnic identities. Africanists and readers of Ethiopian politics and societies.

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