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date: 27 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Two highly controversial features characterize Ethiopia’s federal system. One is that the federal entities are drawn largely on ethno-linguistic lines. The second is that the arrangement grants the right to self-determination up to secession to nations and nationalities. Critics claim that the arrangement divides the country along ethnic lines and jeopardizes its unity by politicizing ethnicity. Supporters, on the other hand, contend that the arrangement unifies the country by granting ethnic identities protection against marginalization and thereby mitigating ethnically based insurgencies. Despite the controversies, the country has recorded impressive progress in areas of broad socio-economic development. It has also reduced political violence. However, the principal goal of the federal arrangement, which is to bring about a peaceful process of nation building, remains a major challenge. This chapter’s principal objective is to examine why the process of nation building remains fragile.

Keywords: federalism, citizenship rights, democratization, dominant party, ethnic identity, ethno-linguistic, movements, management of diversity, secession

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