Contested Power in Ethiopia

Traditional Authorities and Multi-Party Elections

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This book offers a comparative ethnography of the contested powers that shape democratization in Ethiopia. Although multi-party elections have become the norm in Africa, relatively little is known about the significance of non-state actors such as traditional authorities in electioneering. Focusing on Ethiopia’s competitive 2005 elections, this book analyzes how customary leaders, political parties and state officials confronted and complemented each other during election time. Case studies reveal the contemporaneousness of traditional authorities in modern politics, but also how multi-party competition reproduces traditional relations of domination among ethnic groups. The book documents the importance of customary authority in selecting party candidates and providing legitimacy to political parties, but also their limitations in a country dominated by a semi-authoritarian party-state.
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Biographical Note

Kjetil Tronvoll, PhD (2003) in political anthropology from LSE, is professor of human rights at the University of Oslo and Senior Partner of the International Law and Policy Institute. He has published extensively on the Horn of Africa, and his latest monograph is War and the Politics of Identity in Ethiopia (James Currey, 2009).

Tobias Hagmann, Ph.D. (2007), University of Lausanne, is a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley. He has published on politics in the Horn of Africa and is co-editor of Negotiating Statehood: Dynamics of Power and Domination in Africa (Wiley Blackwell, 2011).

Table of contents

CONTENTS

List of Maps, Photographs, Tables and Charts ......................................vii
Notes on Contributors ...............................................................................ix
List of Acronyms .........................................................................................xi

Introduction Traditional Authorities and Multi-Party Elections in Ethiopia ...... 1
Kjetil Tronvoll & Tobias Hagmann

Chapter 1 Electoral Politics in the Nuer Cultural Context .................31
Dereje Feyissa

Chapter 2 Fishing for Votes in the Somali Region: Clan Elders, Bureaucrats and Party Politics in the 2005 Elections .........61
Tobias Hagmann

Chapter 3 Family Connections: Inherited Status and Parliamentary Elections in Dawro, Southern Ethiopia .....89
Data Dea Barata

Chapter 4 A Revival of Tradition? Th e Power of Clans and Social Strata in the Wolayta Elections ....111
Lovise Aalen

Chapter 5 Cynicism and Hope: Urban Youth and Relations of Power During the 2005 Ethiopian Elections ....137
Daniel Mains

Chapter 6 Islam and Politics: The EPRDF, the 2005 Elections and Muslim Institutions in Bale ..................165
Terje Østebø

Chapter 7 ‘We Say they are Neftenya; They Say we are OLF’: A Post-Election Assessment of Ethnicity, Politics and Age-Sets in Oromiya ........................193
Charles Schaefer

Chapter 8 Customary Institutions in Contemporary Politics in Borana Zone, Oromia, Ethiopia ....................221
Marco Bassi

Chapter 9 Th e 2005 Elections in Maale: A Reassertion of Traditional Authority or the Extension of a Nascent Public Sphere? ........................................251
Donald L. Donham

Epilogue The ‘New’ Ethiopia: Changing Discourses of Democracy ...................269
Kjetil Tronvoll

Index .........................................................................................................289

Readership

Anthropologists, political scientists and development practitioners interested in democratization, multi-party politics, electoral studies and the study of power and politics in Africa and Ethiopia.

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