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International Journal of Political Science and Development

Vol. 4(1), pp. 115, January, 2016. 

DOI: 10.14662/IJPSD2016.004

ISSN: 2360-784X



Research Paper



Ethnic Federal System in Ethiopia:  Origin, Ideology and Paradoxes


Temesgen Thomas Halabo*


*PhD candidate in Peace and Security Studies, Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. E-mail: thomas.temesgen@yahoo.com


Accepted 31 January 2016



Despite the evolution of multiethnic Ethiopia by territorial conquest, successive feudal regimes were embarked on hegemonic project of building a nation–state.  However, this had brought the National Questions as the politico-ideological agenda by the Ethiopian Student Movement (ESM).  The ESM advocated Marxist–Leninism as their ideological curricula and promoted self–determination up to secession as a solution to the National Questions. Descended from the ESM, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its satellite armed groups assumed the state power as the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) after waging a successful armed struggle against socialist military regime in 1991. As a legitimate response to the National Questions, the TPLF/ EPRDF adopted a federal system that was explicitly based on ethnicity and formalized ethnic rights to self-determination up to secession. By transforming itself into multi-ethnic EPRDF, the TPLF enlarged its programme and ideology nationwide with the ambition of creating a renewed, ‘revolutionary–democratic centralist federalism’ instead of an enforced unitary state. Accordingly, the normative base for ethnic federalism in Ethiopia is undoubtedly connected with ideology of the TPLF. With its triple radical and pioneering approaches: federalism, ethnicity and principle of self–determination,  Ethiopia has gone further than any other African states and further than almost any state worldwide. 


Keywords: Ethnic Federal System, National Question, Ethiopian Student Movement, Ethno–National Movements, Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front, Marxist Military Autocracy and Paradoxes


Cite This Article As: Thomas, Temesgen (2016). Ethnic Federal System in Ethiopia: Origin, Ideology and Paradoxes. Inter. J. Polit. Sci. Develop. 4(1): 1-15






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