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Regionalism and democracy in Ethiopia

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ABSTRACT For centuries Ethiopia's rulers have attempted to overcome local bases of power and establish a strong central government. To the extent that this was achieved, it produced many largely ethnically based rebellions which plagued the country until the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front's victory in 1991. The new government, which had its origins in an ethnically based revolt opposed to the hegemonic position of the Amhara in Ethiopia, appears committed to devolving power to regional ethnic governments and has even granted them the right to independence. This article examines the background to this process, critically discusses constitutional provisions regarding national self-determination, and provides an overview of the experience of the regional governments and the role and obstacles they face in moving long-authoritarian Ethiopia towards democracy. Ethiopia's experience is thus instructive to other states in Africa contemplating or undergoing programmes of decentralisation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 1998

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