by Aklog Birara, PhD
“Despite the EPRDF’s authoritarianism and reluctance to accept genuine multi-party competition, ethnic-based political positions and parties have proliferated in recent years. This process, however, is not driven by democratization or the inclusion of opposition parties in representative institutions. Rather it is the result of a continuous polarization of national politics that has sharpened tensions between and within parties and ethnic groups since the mid-1990s. The EPRDF’s ethnic federalism has not dampened conflict, but rather increased competition among groups that vie over land and natural resources, as well as administrative boundaries and government budgets.”
Ethiopia: Ethnic Federalism and Its Discontents, International Crisis Group Africa Report N°153, 4 September 2009
“In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed wealth is something to be ashamed of.”
Confucius, Chinese Philosopher
Whether it is a well governed nation such as the United States where income inequality has reached a shameful level and the middle class squeezed by the one percent rich that is getting richer; or in a poorly governed, aid dependent and corrupt country such as Ethiopia where competition for natural resources and physical space is intense and corruption and illicit outflow disgraceful, the social impacts are the same. In the latter, the poor are getting poorer; and youth continue to leave their country in droves. Witness the hundreds of Ethiopian migrants in Kenyan, Malawian and Mexican jails; witness the number of Ethiopians stuck in North Africa, Yemen and other parts of the world. What system drives them out of their homeland? Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Would more and more Ethiopians face the same agony Afghanis, Eritreans, Syrians, Iraqis face? Does ethnic-based exclusion and marginalization play a role? Ethiopia’s experiment in ethnic federalism is not working. In fact, the system masks repression and oppression in the name of ethnic-based amity, stability and anti-terrorism. Ethnic-based marginalization and cleansing are covered up by Kilil elites and government owned media.