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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

By Tsegaye R Ararssa*
  1. 1.     Introduction
What is the story of the Ethiopian federal experiment? What stories does it tell? And what stories can be told about it? Feeding from and into the ever polarized and polarizing ‘debate’ on Ethiopia’s politics, Dr Taye Negussie recently argued that the Ethiopian federal arrangement is synonymous with apartheid’s ‘racial federation’. In a similar vein, Dr Asfawossen Asrate also remarked that “ethnic federalism amounts to nothing but apartheid.”[i] In this piece, I seek to explore the tales the Ethiopian federal experiment tells (and masks) with a view to shedding light on whether, by juxtaposing the two systems, there emerges a tale of two federations or two tales of two differently unjust governance systems.
In what follows, I will first offer a sketchy ‘description’ of the federation in context. I will then discuss what to look for in a federal system as its fundamental features. I do this in order to determine whether the tale is of two federations in the strict sense. Next, I will make an excursion into why, in spite of its deficiencies and the injustices it masks, Ethiopia’s federation is not the same as apartheid. Lastly, I submit the claim that while the Ethiopian state practice can be likened to apartheid on many other grounds, its adoption of federalism won’t be one of these grounds. Throughout this piece, I argue that the story of apartheid and the story of the Ethiopian federal experiment form two stories, two different tales, of repressive governance systems, not one. For the story of apartheid is not a story of a federation.
I also argue that the story of the Ethiopian federation is a story, for now, of ‘an unfortunate means to a legitimate end.’ It is unfortunate because it is heavily contested and unnecessarily so.[ii] Its end is legitimate because it aims at restructuring the state on a morally just set of premises.[iii] In the longue duree of Ethiopian history, it can be told as a story of the first steps in the unbreakable quest for freedom from the bondage of an ethnicized/racialized hierarchy imposed by the Abyssinian Empire on the ‘other’ peoples of Ethiopia. It is a story of a relentless pursuit of ethno-cultural justice by (subaltern) folks who took a stride towards emancipation through self-determination. It is a story of devising an alternative model of ‘nation-and state-building’. Owing to the current ‘authoritarian constitutional rule’ that cunningly deploys law to mask the repression, co-optation, and manipulation of legitimate national aspirations (thereby perpetuating pre-existing injustice), federalism has not delivered the promised emancipation. In excavating this story and responding to the inapt association with apartheid, I will mainly rely on a close reading of the Ethiopian constitution along with its immediate antecedents and the story it tells about both the past and the future so that we can locate the federalism in that story. By so doing, I will also highlight, in passing, how different the assumptions, principles, and goals that motivated apartheid are from their counterparts in Ethiopia.



The Ethiopian Government has dispelled rumours of alleged cases of the Ebola in the country.
An East Africa correspondent reports that information that Ebola may have been brought into the country by two Chinese who travelled to Nigeria went viral in Addis Ababa last week.
Ahmed Amano, the Director, Communication, at the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, told the media in Addis Ababa that the two Chinese national tested negative to the Ebola virus.
The Chinese were treated for malaria after being admitted at the Korean hospital in Addis Ababa, he said.
Amano said the Ethiopian Government had taken measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including screening of passengers from West Africa on arrival at Bole international airport in Addis Ababa.
“The airport is already checking passengers who are coming from West Africa countries with cases of Ebola.”
The media recalls that the Ethiopian Government has established a National Committee on Ebola, headed by the Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn.
The health official said a special treatment centre with 15 beds had been provided with three special ambulances in case Ebola patients are detected in the country.
He said another task force set up by government was in the process of importing protective equipment for the health professionals.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU, Paul Lolo, said the Embassy was not aware of any case of the Chinese national who allegedly travelled from Nigeria.
Lolo reiterated Nigerian Government’s commitment to containing spread of Ebola virus after a Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, brought the disease to Lagos on July 20.
Source:Daily Times NG