Ethnicity and constitutionalism in contemporary Ethiopia

TitleEthnicity and constitutionalism in contemporary Ethiopia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsG.J. Abbink
Secondary TitleJournal of African law
Pagination159 - 174
Date Published1997///
PublisherCambridge University Press (vanaf 2001; daarvoor Butterworth, London)
Publication Languageeng
Keywords1994, constitutions, Ethiopia, ethnicity, identity, policy, politics

According to the policy of the government of the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), ethnic identity is the ideological basis of Ethiopia's political organization and administration and as such has been enshrined in the Federal Constitution of December 1994. Yet the Constitution's explicit reinstatement of ethnicity in law coincides with a politico-economic situation which has made ethnoregional groups more interdependent than ever before, and where the central State has come to play an essential role as a resource and a mechanism of redistribution. The author looks at the way in which ethnicity is translated in the clauses on nationality rights, noting the originality of the Constitution, on the one hand, and the difficulties and ambiguities surrounding the structures of implementation of the ethnicization formula, on the other. The impression arises that "self-determination" has been granted for rhetorical and ideological purposes, and that the central federal government has no intention of relinquishing real power. There is, furthermore, no possibility of judicial review by the courts of State executive and legislative powers. Nor has the Constitution solved the problem of reconciling the various generations of rights. Moreover, the failure to define or design the Ethiopian polity as an arena of compromise or issue politics creates problems for the realization of a country-wide democratic polity. Notes, ref., sum. (p. i)

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