Paper | Federalism and Conflicts in Ethiopia


* Some scholars have commented that the adoption of Ethiopian federalism was a “fundamental error” because it is based on ethnicity, and will “deeply imprint” ethno-linguistic identity.

* The Unitarist approach looks at the federal system as an instrument to undo the assimilation efforts of previous regimes, particularly that of emperors Menelik and Haile selassie.

* Ethno-linguistic federalism per se does not necessarily cause ethnic conflict. Switzerland, Belgium and Canada are good examples of this point.

Federalism in Ethiopia

At just over 77 million, Ethiopia is the third-most populous country in Africa. Since 1991, Ethiopia has been implementing an ethno-linguistic federal politico-legal arrangement. As per Articles 1 and 47 of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic republic of Ethiopia, the country is a federation of nine ethno-linguistically divided regional states. These can be classified into three groups, based on (i) their population numbers, as minority or majority in the federation; (ii) ethno-linguistic diversity, as multi-ethnic or homogeneous; and (iii) way of life, as settled or pastoralist.1 The Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromia and somali regional states (taking the name of their majority inhabitants) are more or less ethnically homogeneous, with a dominant ethno-linguistic community at regional level.

Percentages of the population that are from their respective dominant ethno-linguistic communities in these states are as follows: Tigray 94.98%, Afar 91.8%, Amhara 91.2%, Oromia 85%, and somali 95.6%.2 The remaining four regional states(southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s region or SNNP; Gambella; Benshangul/Gumuz and Harari) are multi-ethnic, without a de jure dominant ethno-linguistic community. This does not mean there is no ethno-cultural dominant community in power, even if that community could be a minority in number.3 In an ethnic federal arrangement, a minority ethno-cultural community could have dominant power as a result of economic or/and political domination it exercises.

The Constitutional Rights of Ethno-cultural Communities in Ethiopia

Article 39(3 and 5) of the Federal Constitution assumes that every ethno-cultural community has its own territory, and confers the right to “a full measure of self-government which includes the right to establish institutions of government in the territory that it inhabits”. It also defines ethno-cultural communities as “Nation, Nationality or People… as a group of people who have or share a large measure of a common culture or similar customs, mutual intelligibility of language, belief in a common or related identities, a common psychological make-up, and who inhabit an identifiable, predominantly contiguous territory”. The Federal Constitution not only recognizes ethno linguistic identity, but it also establishes regional states based on such identity. The Federal Constitution has many striking features, one of which is the right of ethno-cultural communities to self-determination, including the right to establish a regional state or independent state. This makes the Ethiopian Constitution unique. Pursuant to the Preamble and Articles 1, 8, 39 and 40 (4) of the Constitution, Ethiopia’s ethno-linguistic federalism is such that the ethno-cultural communities as a group – not Ethiopian nationals – are sovereign, and are the building blocks of the federation. Constitutionally speaking, the constituent units of the Ethiopian federation are neither Ethiopian nationals nor the regional states, but rather the ethno-cultural communities. A combined meaning of Articles 9, 39 and 47 (2) of the Federal Constitution makes this point very clear. Moreover, the preamble to the Federal Constitution, which reflects the object and purpose of the Federal Constitution and the legislative intention of the framers, begins by saying:

We, the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia: strongly committed, on full and free exercise of our right to self-determination, to building a political community founded on the rule of law and capable of ensuring a lasting peace, bringing a democratic order and advancing our economic and social development can be fulfilled if only… individual and people’s fundamental freedoms and rights, to live together on the basis of equality and without any sexual, religious or cultural discrimination.4

Photo – Ethiopian pastoralist

Taking the purposive interpretation approach (the spirit and legislative intention) of the Federal Constitution, group/ collective rights of ethno-cultural communities are given an equal constitutional footing. Moreover, as stipulated in Articles 5, 8, 39 and 47, “all sovereign power resides in” the ethno-cultural communities, and they are entitled to self-determination and self-rule, and their right to establish regional or independent states of their own. The Constitution also confers on all ethno-cultural communities an internal authority in their affairs and empowers them to exercise and promote their culture, language and historical heritage through self-government. A conjoined reading of Articles 51 and 52 of the Constitution reveals that the regional states enjoy wide-ranging executive and judicial, but limited legislative, powers.5 The Federal Constitution, though mostly de jure, has reduced the federal executive branch of the government to a weaker status than ever before in the history of Ethiopia. However, there are serious disparities between de jure constitutional power granted to regional states, and the de facto power exercised by regional states.6

Under Article 39(4), the Federal Constitution has conferred to ethno-cultural communities not only the right of self-determination but also the right to secede and establish an independent state of their own. Of course, secession could only be exercised through long and stringent procedural requirements, such as: (i) the demand is supported by a two-thirds majority vote of the regional state legislature in which the ethno-cultural community is found; (ii) the federal government organizes a referendum for the ethno-community requesting such referendum within three years of that vote by the regional legislature; and(iii) the referendum is supported by a majority vote of the same ethno-cultural community. Similarly, the respective regional states are expected – as some already have – to grant special administrative status to ethno-cultural communities within a regional state with a dominant ethno-linguistic community. These administrative units are carved-out territories constituted as special zones (Leyu Zone) or special districts (Leyu Woreda). This indigenization of political power and self-administration at the lowest administrative levels –i.e., the Woreda has empowered indigenous people to take their destiny in their hands, as well as to reinstate their culture, language, historical symbols and other traditional institutions, including conflict-resolving mechanisms.7

Another important power of ethno-cultural communities is their collective ownership of land and its resources. The special right of pastoralist peoples to landform grazing and protection from displacement is also granted under Article 40 of the Federal Constitution. such a priority to the collective rights of ethno-cultural communities is not without reason, but a response to the past historical legacy of ethno-linguistic domination that prevailed for so long in Ethiopia.8 These constitutional provisions are the product of compromises by the ethno-linguistic based liberation forces that toppled the former military regime in Ethiopia.

The Federal Constitution is one under which ethno cultural communities are: first, the ultimate sovereign entities, where constitutional power of both the federal and regional states rests. Second, they are constitutionally entitled to establish regional states, or their own states, independent from Ethiopia. In short, under the Ethiopian federal system, ethno-linguistic communities constitute the federation.9 Federalism, in general, is a system of governance of great variance, depending on the problem(s) it is supposed to solve. It is better understood as a system with diverse features of state power-sharing.10 However, all federalist systems share some common broad characteristics – albeit with some varieties.11 the most important characteristic is that, in federalism, power is not delegated to regional states from the center, as in the case of a unitary system. Rather, the central government is delegated by, and obtains its power from, the regions. In federalism, the central (federal) government is not the author of its own power, for the ultimate power rests in the constituent unities – in the Ethiopian case, the ethno cultural communities. However, no single federal system is universally superior. Any constitution, as a political and legal institution, has to reflect the political history and principal social structure of the society it serves. In the drafting of the Ethiopian Constitution, Samuel Huntington pointed out:

A Constitution has to reflect the history, culture of the society, its level of economic development and social structure, ethno-linguistic composition, and most importantly the goals of its leaders. Political parties reflect the principal social identities and cleavages within society. In Ethiopia the principal cleavage appears to be ethno-linguistic…and regional [cleavages].12

Huntington goes on to argue that the Constitution, as a political and legal institution, reflects the political history and principal social structures of Ethiopian society. Most importantly, he suggests it has attempted a consociational accommodation of the principal forces of political mobilization – ethnic-based parties. Taking these historical facts and the nature of the political parties into consideration in the Ethiopia of the 1990s, majoritarian democracy would have furthered ethno-linguistic domination and disintegration13, while a simple unitary system would have allowed the majority ethno-cultural group (in number or in power) to remain permanently in power, leaving other principal forces of political mobilization and minorities in opposition or at the benign concessions of power.14 What is more, since most of the political forces that toppled the former Ethiopian military regime were mobilized along ethno-linguistic lines, suppressing political mobilization based on ethnicity would have been a recipe for the further disintegration of Ethiopia. Huntington made a similar point, noting that a “straight plurality system would lead to some ethno-linguistic groups being a permanent minority in their district and having no [meaningful] representation”.15

Constitutionally speaking, Ethiopian ethno-linguistic federalism can be taken as consociational in nature for two reasons. One, the Federal Constitution lays down the institutional arrangement for ethno-cultural communities to be meaningfully represented in all government institutions. Second, it has granted a sort of veto power through the right to unilateral secession against ethno-linguistic domination or tyranny from the center. Consequently, the Ethiopian federal system is designed to serve as a consociational institution where ethno-cultural communities “negotiate and compromise” for unified political and economic space.

Public Reaction to Ethno-linguistic Federalism

The Ethiopian People’s revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) –the ruling party in Ethiopia since 1991 and the architect of the Federal Constitution – is criticized from two opposing political positions. Some characterize the EPRDF government as pro-secession, relentlessly working to disintegrate the country. Others portray it as opposed to the self-determination aspirations of ethno-linguistic communities and intent of continuing the hegemonic domination of the central state that has prevailed for so long in Ethiopia. Those who favor the former position argue that EPRDF is implementing the constitutional right of ethno-linguistic communities, with an ultimate aim of disintegrating Ethiopia.16 They believe they have to fight to abolish or/and amend the federal nature of the Federal Constitution. These are avowed opponents of the federal system. They believe that EPRDF is sincere in implementing the Federal Constitution by respecting the ethno-linguistic federal arrangement, including the right to self-determination up to secession. They argue that, by legitimizing ethnicity as the only valid marker for membership of a homeland regional state, it has, however, impacted negatively on the economic and socio-political development of the country.

Conversely, those in support of the latter position argue that the EPRDF commitment to ethno-linguistic communities’ rights to self-determination is a sham, and a method of perpetuating the previous regimes of Ethiopia.17 They are of the opinion that the Federal Constitution is not being implemented fully. They demand – some groupings to the point of waging armed struggle – genuine implementation of the Federal Constitution. Some Ethiopian scholars, such as Ali said, even argue that a more aggressive fiscal federalism corresponding to the devolution of political power is necessary, if Ethiopia is to remain peaceful.18

In sum, even if both positions are in opposition to the ruling party they, however, have two diametrically opposed positions on the federal system: the first opposes ethno linguistic federalism and the Federal Constitution; the latter demands a full implementation of the same constitution. some scholars, for example Gamest, have commented that the adoption of Ethiopian federalism was a “fundamental error” because it is based on ethnicity, and will “deeply imprint” ethno-linguistic identity.19 In Ethiopia, ethno linguistic identities were already deeply imprinted before the adoption of ethno-linguistic federalism in 1994, as a result of the ethno-linguistic domination that had existed for so long. Ethiopia is an ethnically diverse country with a past political history of ethno-linguistic domination.20 Moreover, Ethiopian ethno-linguistic federalism is designed to address the “national question” (a popular name for the 1960s struggle against ethno-linguistic domination in Ethiopia).21 Politicized ethno-cultural communities are not new products of Ethiopian ethno-linguistic federalism. Rather, ethno-linguistic federalism is an outcome of the old mobilization and struggles of politicized ethno-cultural communities. This politicization of ethno-linguistic groups, or the ethnicisation of Ethiopian politics, is not a one-day event due to promulgation of the Federal Constitution; it is, instead, a product of Ethiopia’s long political history.

Nonetheless, what is new is that now ethnically-based political mobilization and power-sharing is constitutionally legitimized. Under ethno-linguistic federalism, communities are not only politicized cultural and linguistic communities, but also are entities bearing sovereignty with constitutional standing. In a nutshell, Ethiopian ethno-linguistic federalism is a response to the “unfavorable conditions” that prevailed in a unitary system. Ethno-linguistic communities are more “responsive to ethnic than to social or democratic slogan”.22 Politically speaking, it seems that mobilization along ethno-linguistic lines has been, and perhaps presently is, easier in Ethiopia than mobilization around overarching countrywide ideals and principles. But, it is wrong to assume that responsiveness to an ethnic slogan is necessarily anti-social or undemocratic. Ethno-linguistic liberation fronts were the forces that toppled the former military rule. They were also the main forces behind the drafting of the Federal Constitution. Logically, they would not commit suicide by promulgating a law that disbands them.

At a public level, the political reaction to the ethno linguistic federalist arrangement in Ethiopia can be summarized in three views: first, those who support ethno-linguistic federalism as a matter of the human rights of ethno-linguistic communities to self-determination, including the right to secession. These are forces of diversity and freedom. They support federalism even at the cost of unity, and they believe that federalism is the only means to promote freedom and check tyranny. This strand of thinking is similar to the theory of multiculturalism, which recognizes distinct groups within a society and allows them some space of public expression.23 second, there are those who believe that ethno-linguistic federalism, while regrettable, is the only way to keep the country unified and prevent its disintegration. This is a calculated version of unity. They view ethno-linguistic federalism as a means to strengthening unity, and they support diversity for the sake of unity. We may call them calculative federalists: inherently, they are opposed to secession. A third view is totally opposed to ethno-linguistic federalism. It seeks to do away with it and seeks another form of federalism, or a unitary system. unitarist in approach, they look at the federal system as an instrument to undo the assimilation efforts of previous regimes, particularly that of emperors Menelik and Haile selassie.24 This line of thought is similar to the theory of cultural assimilation, which encourages the absorption of minorities into the dominant culture. It is contrary to the principle of multiculturalism.25

Each of these positions has legitimate concerns that demand serious consideration – but not equally. The third position wrongly believes that only a unitary system will ensure the unity of the country. But this position could lead to policy of forced assimilation – and worse, blind nationalism.26 It could cause total disregard to democratic rights, group injustice and probably massive human rights violation, including ethnic cleansing and genocide. If such a view was to be implemented by force again, it could return the country to bloody civil war and gross violations of human rights. Moreover, it could lead, ultimately, to the disintegration of Ethiopia – the very situation the holders of this view abhor.

To put it in a historical perspective, the framers of the Federal Constitution had five choices. The first was a blanket denial of the existence of diversity and its political expression. The second was to promote Ethiopian nationality as an overarching ideology, thereby denying the existence of ethno-linguistic communities. The third was to promote Ethiopian nationality as an overarching ideology while recognizing ethno-linguistic communities, but disallowing any political expression and space for them. The fourth was to promote the right to self-determination as overarching, regardless of the implications for Ethiopian unity. Finally, there was the option to promote Ethiopian nationalism while also recognizing and allowing political expression and territorial self-rule for ethno-linguistic communities. This last option is perhaps the best of all the options for unity with peace and equality. It looks at federalism as an instrument for conflict management – a political solution to a political concern – and as a tool to contain disintegrative forces and to create a balance between the forces of unity and of diversity. It also addresses the concerns of the forces of diversity, and averts the secession inclinations. For this reason, it is predictable that there will always be strong resistance to any hasty change of the existing arrangement.

Ethno-linguistic Federalism and Localization of Conflicts

Another perhaps inherent problem of ethno-linguistic federalism is its tendency to localize and or create new conflicts. A good example is the case of Gambella, which is one of the ethnically-heterogeneous regional states without a dominant ethno-cultural community. In Ethiopia, regional states with a dominant ethno-cultural community (such as Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, Somali and Afar) seem less prone to inter-ethnic conflict than those without a dominant ethno-linguistic community. Gambella also exhibits the phenomenon of spontaneous and pastoralist migration (of the Nuer). The national identity of the inhabitants of its border areas is very fluid and, hence, cross-border migration – of the pastoral Nuer, the Anywaa refugees fleeing the conflict in Gambella to the Sudan, and Sudanese refugees fleeing to Ethiopia due to the civil war in Sudan – changes the ethno-linguistic population balance. It thus has a dynamic demographic composition. In ethno-linguistic federalism, demographic changes have huge effects on the power and resource-sharing system in ethno-linguistic arrangements.

The politics of numbers has a significant role in power-sharing. This has created arguments and disagreement about the outcome of the 1994 population census; because of the implications of the census, results for power-sharing between ethno-linguistic communities are profound. In Ethiopia, regional states with pastoralist populations seem more vulnerable than those with sedentary populations. Gambella is such a case. It has many pockets of 1980s resettlement villages and many old and newly constructed refugee camps, run by the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR). These settlement villages and refugee camps have often been at the center of conflict, and have been attacked repeatedly. The effect of large-scale migration (about 110 000 forced migrants) on a regional state such as Gambella, with a core population of only about 160000, can be huge.27

Hence, one could argue that, at a local level, Ethiopian ethno-linguistic federalism has sometimes created the very problem it was intended to address – namely, further ethno linguistic domination and conflict. But the point needs to be made that ethno-linguistic federalism per se does not necessarily cause ethnic conflict. Switzerland, Belgium and Canada are good examples of this point.

Conclusions and Implications

In comparison to previous regimes in Ethiopia, the federal system has empowered ethno-cultural communities in many areas of cultural, linguistic, social and political life, and has thereby, to some degree, offset the historical legacy of ethno-linguistic domination. It has also concretized the rights of minority and indigenous communities. However, even if the de jure equality of ethno-linguistic communities has been constitutionally ensured, much remains to be done to ensure de facto equality in many areas where marginalized ethno-cultural communities have had a limited capacity to make use of these constitutional rights. What is particular to Ethiopian federalism is that the right to self-determination, including that of secession, acts as a brake on any desire of a central government towards the tyrannical and discriminatory treatment of ethno-cultural communities. A reversal of the constitutional rights of ethno-linguistic communities, by either the central or a state government, would be politically costly. Any attempt at discrimination among ethno-cultural communities, or the domination of one ethno-linguistic community by another, or the unconstitutional seizure of political power at the center, would put the unity of the country at risk – as then ethno-linguistic communities could attempt their constitutional right to secession.

Other constraints, discussed above, are attributable to the immaturity of the federal system. The major problems can best be described as ones of implementation, interpretation, legal lacunae and shortcomings. A democratizing of the culture of all parties– especially that of the ruling EPRDF – is vital if the federal arrangement is to function well. Since EPRDF is an umbrella organization of four ethnic-based parties that control almost all the regional states, it exercises effective control over the federation through its member and affiliated political parties in the regions. This party chain of command has effectively replaced state control. Almost all decisions of the party are made and implemented using party structures, instead of the state structure. Procedurally, this system violates no laws; substantively, this party control does not encourage discourse and deliberative democracy. Its byproduct is also a weakened state institution and strong parties. While the Federal Constitution provides excellent formal institutional ground fora peaceful Ethiopia, and ownership of decision-making powers – including economic ones by local people – EPRDF’s party culture and structure inhibits the implementation of the constitution effectively.

The father of the constitution – EPRDF itself – has, through its organisational culture of democratic centralism and centralised party structure, weakened the federal system and regional state structures. The political constitution of EPRDF effectively antagonises the federal system it has built. In short, democratic centralism is an antithesis of federalism. For instance, regional state presidents are more accountable to the party than to their election constituents or parliaments. In addition centralising attitudes are also widely shared among technocrats and civil servants who prioritise economic efficiency or nationalism before administration of justice and protection of human rights. Thus another key binding constraint to an effective federalism in Ethiopia is the ruling party’s excessive control of regional party leaders and the central government resource-backed centralising drifts and attitudes. The gradual effect, however, can be devastating for the unity of the country when such strong party control weakens or vanishes, for the regional states may fall into the hands of extreme nationalist officials.

Other implementation problems, such as violations of the human rights of internal migrants, are often the result of a lack of understanding or lack of political will of regional state officials to implement the Federal Constitution properly. One way in which the leading difficulties in federalism and the relationship between the centre and regions could be tackled would be to conduct training on the relevant laws, to increase their knowledge among the concerned organs of the federal and regional state. This would facilitate the building of a human rights-protective federalism. Striking a balance between the forces of unity and diversity, between regional state power and federal power requires the educating and training of officials, academics and public servants at both the center and in the regional states.

A more important recommendation in this regard is the need for the promotion of a democratic pan-Ethiopian national unity based on equality, the rule of law, respect for human rights and commonly shared values in regard to the historic past, economic development and political commitments. In this regard, a deliberate policy of promoting consensus and unity in diversity around positive historic legacies has to be designed and implemented. The victory of Adwa, Ethiopia’s tolerance and long acceptance of all major religions, etc. could serve as unifying historical symbols for Ethiopia. While addressing historical grievances due to previous exclusionist regimes and rejecting any new political tendencies to bring back the old regimes of discrimination and exclusion, much has to be done in championing commonly appreciated and accepted legacies. The historic legacy of Aksum in culture, religion and language, the meaning of the victory at Adwa for all black and freedom-loving peoples, as well as the role of iconic Ethiopia leaders like ras Alula, are not necessarily incompatible with democratisation and the new constitutional federal experiment. The idea of national unity through the promotion of an historical legacy of an inclusive kind, as discussed by Donald Levine, is an important area of improvement.28 The introduction of civic education, democratic patriotism, the celebration of the Day of the Flag and the acknowledgement of the iconic leaders and emperors of Ethiopia would contribute much to a unifying project.


1/ Eshete, Andreas (2003) ethnic Federalism: New Frontiers in Ethiopian Politics. Paper delivered at 1st National Conference on Federalism, Conflict and Peace Building, UNCC, Addis Ababa, 5-7 May 2003.

2/ Central statistical Authority (1995) ‘The 1994 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Ethiopian regional Population Distribution and ethnic Composition’, statistical report 1, Addis Ababa: Central statistical Authority.

3/ Maru, Mehari Taddele (2004) Migration, ethnic Diversity and Federalism in Ethiopia. Unpublished dissertation, university of Oxford, refugee studies Centre, Queen Elizabeth House.

4/ The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Proclamation No. 1/1995, Federal Nagarit Gazeta No. 1, Addis Ababa

5/ Eshete, Andreas (2003), op. cit., p. 25.

6/ Maru, Mehari Taddele (2007) Ethiopian Constitution Protects Diversity. Federations Magazine, October/November 2007, Ottawa: Forum of Federations, pp. 16-36

7/ Watson, Elizabeth (2002) Capturing a Local elite: The Konso Honeymoon, 198-218. In James, Wendy et al (eds) Remapping Ethiopia: Socialism and After, Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa university Press, pp. 202–204.

8/ young, Crawford (1996) ethnicity and Power in Ethiopia. Review of African Political Economy, Vol. 23, no. 70; Eshete, Andreas (2003), op. cit.

9/ Maru, Mehari Taddele (2006) Federalism in Ethiopia: After Fifteen years. Journal of The horn of Africa, Vol. xxxVII, No 134, July.

10/ Eshete, Andreas (2003), pp. 4–5.

11/ Huntington, Samuel (1993) Political Development in Ethiopia: A Peasant-based Dominated-party Democracy? Paper presented to the Ethiopian Constitutional Commission, Addis Ababa, 28 March 1993, p. 263.

12/ Ibid. p. 267. 13 Kymlicka, Will (2004) emerging Western Models of Multination Federalism: Are they relevant to Africa? Paper delivered at the conference on ethnic Federalism: The Challenges for Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, 14–16 April 2004, p.

13/ Eshete, Andreas (2003), pp. 1-5.

14/ Horowitz, Donald (2001) Ethnic Groups in Conflicts, Berkeley: university of California Press, pp. 611–619.

15/ Huntington, Samuel (1993), pp. 272–274.

16/ Alem, Habtu (2004) ethnic Pluralism as an Organizing Principle of the Ethiopian Federation. Dialectical Anthropology, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 2–3.

17/ Ibid.

18/ Said, Ali (1998) Afar ethnicity in Ethiopian Politics, 107-115. In salih, Mohammed and Markakis, John (eds.) Ethnicity and the State in Eastern Africa, Stockholm: elanders Gotab, p.114.

19/ Turton, David (1997) War and ethnicity: Global Connections and Local Violence in North east Africa and Former Yugoslavia. Oxford Development Studies, 25: p. 81.

20/ Zewde, Bahiru (2004) What Did We Dream? What Did We Achieve? And Where Are We Heading? Paper delivered at conference of the Ethiopian economic Association, Addis Ababa, 11 January 2004; young, Crawford (1996) op. cit.

21/ Markakis, John (2003) ethnic Conflict in Pre-Federal Ethiopia. Paper delivered at 1st National Conference on Federalism, Conflict and Peace Building, UNCC, Addis Ababa, 2003, p. 5.

22/ Krylow, Alexander (1994) ethnic Factor in Post Mengistu Ethiopia, 208-243 In Zegeye, Abebe and Pausewang, siegfried (eds.)Ethiopia In Change Peasantry, nationalism and Democracy, London: British Academy Press, p. 240.

23/ Kymlicka, Will (2002) Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction to Multiculturalism, Oxford: Oxford university Press, pp. 327–376.

24/ Alem, Habtu (2004) op. cit., pp. 10–11.

25/ Alba, Richard (2003) Remaking the American Mainstream, Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

26/ Maru, MehariTaddele (2004) op. cit.

27/ Ibid.

28/ Levine, Donald (2009) Aksum as a ‘seedbed’ society. Unpublished article.


* The author Mehari Taddele Maru, is Doctor of Legal Sciences, an International Consultant on African Union affairs, and a Research Fellow at the NATO Defense College. The article was originally published on Conflict Trends magazine, of African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)

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