Ethnic Federalism and Self-Determination for Nationalities in a Semi-Authoritarian State: the Case of Ethiopia LOVISE AALEN* 1. Introduction Together with a large part of the states on the African continent, Ethiopia struggles with a double challenge: how to accommodate an ethnically diverse population and at the same time enhance democracy. Many African states have introduced territorial and non-territorial measures to accommodate their ethnically diverse populations, ranging from federalism in Nigeria, to the moderate regional devolution in South Africa, and the unbalanced union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika in Tanzania. It seems, however, that Ethiopia has gone further than any of these countries in promoting eth- nic diversity through a federal system which is explicitly based on ethnicity. The main idea is to give ethnic groups, termed “nations, nationalities and peoples” the right to self-determination, which also includes the right to secession if certain con- ditions are fulfilled. 1 Sovereignty is not given to the member states of the federation, as is common in other federal systems, but “[a]ll sovereign powers resides in the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia” (Article 8.1). All languages are given equal state recognition (Article 5.1), and every national group has the right to develop
International Journal on Minority and Group Rights – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2006
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