Jawar has reformed himself—now let’s reform our divisive constitution


Abolishing ethnic homelands is the way forward for Ethiopia

In his recent longform Addis Standard interview, Jawar Mohammad raised some crucial issues pertaining to Ethiopia’s contemporary politics and its history. As usual, Jawar, commendably, did not shy away from forthright and nuanced discussion of important, controversial, thorny subjects such as multinational federation, nation- and/or state-building, and the need to tame both ethno-nationalism and Ethio-nationalism.

While it was a constructive contribution, some of the issues raised and arguments he made call for a deeper treatment and some for a critical response.

Jawar has made strategic shifts as a person and politician, becoming more accommodating of his opponents and a less strident advocate of Oromo nationalism. Earlier in his career, he did not reflect critically on the philosophical underpinnings of Ethiopia’s ethnic federation, even though he advocated for democratization of the multinational federation all along.

These shifts may be due to, inter alia, his period of introspection in prison, a painful realization of the danger emanating from the untethered horse of ethnic nationalism, the rise of a formidable Amhara nationalism which posed a security dilemma, and the ‘cognitive punch’ caused by a series of civil wars.

I believe these events have had a profound impact on his understanding of the complexities of Ethiopian politics and the need for a more accommodating approach.

Still, though Jawar is clearly grappling these days with Ethiopia’s most fundamental political dilemmas, he perpetuates confusion surrounding the concepts of multinational and multicultural federalism, is plain wrong about prioritising democratization of a deformed mode of federalism, and his notion of “progressive patriotism” needs debate and definition.

Three Decades of Ethnic Politics

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the institutionalization of ethnic federalism or, as many proponents call it, multinational federalism. With the dawn of the new constitutional order, the ethnonationalists declared victory, not so much over the ancien régime but over traditional Ethiopian nationalism, and hoped to foreclose any debate henceforth.

Ever since, we have witnessed a further entrenchment of ethnic politics in areas where it existed before and the birth of Amhara nationalism. Thus, after three decades, the discourse and practice of ethnic politics has become—quite unfortunately, but unsurprisingly—the main organizing political principle.

After all, a radical departure from the past through a new constitutional order meant the creation of a new generation that takes pride in such an order. Through institutional and ideological engineering, a new generation of ethnic federalists was created, and ethnicity became an increasingly prominent feature in all aspects of society.

But that is only part of the story.

The reality is that equality, justice, and fraternity among ethno-linguistic groups has not prevailed. The promised strong political community has not emerged. We are instead mired in endless political crises, ethnic conflicts, displacement, and an estranged society.

It is almost as if national integration was never intended.

This quick glance of our political experiment indicates that, on the one hand, ethnic politics will stay with us for the foreseeable future and, on the other, that there is a need to revisit our perilous journey and intervene in the mid-life crisis of our ethnic constitutional order.

Misguided Conflation

In this regard, I agree with Jawar that “we must also be careful not to take ethnicity as the alpha and omega of politics.” I take issue, however, with his conflation of federalism with multinational federalism and of multicultural federalism with a unitary nation-state.

Jawar´s conceptualization of federalism is misguided. He writes: “To analyze the ruling party’s alleged shift of state-building strategy from ‘multinational federalism’ to a ‘multicultural nation-state’, we need to go back and examine what has been attempted in the past and how it fared.”

This suggest that he thinks an attempt to create a multicultural federal state is an attempt to create a multicultural nation-state. However, that is not the case. A nation-state is formed by a cultural community that shares the same language, traditions, and history.

Federalism is a type of government primarily defined by the tenet of co-existing self-rule and shared rule. Multinational federalism is just one form; multicultural federalism another.

The essence of multicultural federalism is official recognition of cultural and linguistic communities within the state and empowering them to nurture their culture, language, religion, and interests.

Multicultural federalism is perhaps the most common institutional design in the world. India is as diverse (if not more so) as Ethiopia, and has adopted a multicultural federalism without becoming a nation-state. Closer to home, Nigeria also instituted multicultural federalism without existing as a nation-state.

The key aspect that India and Nigeria have in common is the sovereignty of “we the people”, the lack of a secession clause, and the absence of de jure ethnic homelands, the essential—and most divisive—element of multinational federalism.

It is misleading and unhelpful of Jawar to blur the lines between a multicultural federation and a nation-state—especially when we need one but not the other.

Divisive Framing

Similarly, I found Jawar’s discussion of multinational and multicultural federalism empirically unconvincing. Jawar asserts: “…they [Prosperity Party] aimed to carve out alternative support bases from unitarist constituencies and urban cultural, economic, and media elites.”

However, my empirical finding is that almost every organized political actor in Ethiopia is federalist not unitarist, including Prosperity Party, Ezema, Balderas, National Movement of Amhara, Enat Party, Equality and Justice Party, Hibir Ethiopia, Ethiopian Democratic Party and the new incarnation of Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party.

In the case of the ruling party, the party’s manifesto supports “ህብረ-ብሄራዊ ፌዴራሊዝም”—“multinational federalism”. Surveys of public opinion have also found strong support for federalism, including Afrobarometer findings this year.

Jawar is not alone in this dangerous false framing. Recall that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and its supporters accused the Prosperity Party regime of being unitarist as they prepared for war. Not only does the false federalist vs unitarist dichotomy breed division, it deflects from engagement with critical issues and undermines those sincerely concerned about the trajectory of our political order and call for revisiting a flawed constitutional design.

We must engage with real and consequential issues instead of shrouding them in mist.

Flawed by Design

Federalism is not inherently divisive, but ethnic federalism is. The common adage goes that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In the Ethiopian case, even this is not befitting because the journey started with bad faith.

That bad faith lies in the flawed design that, for all legal and practical purposes, aimed at the eventual unmaking of the Ethiopian polity and making of independent nations, should the marriage of convenience turn out to be inconvenient.

To use Prof. Adeno Addis´s words from a previous Ethiopia Insight commentary, Ethiopia’s 1994 constitution created “strangers and served as a suicidal pact.” Well, where are we today? Indeed, a time bomb has, from time to time, exploded, and we have already attempted suicide, the latest example being the war in and around Tigray.


Jawar repeatedly talks about democratizing the multinational federation as a midcourse correction. It is true that the practice of federalism and authoritarianism are strange bedfellows. But the democratization process can only make a difference if the design is not flawed from its inception. Structural problems need structural policy interventions head-on.

The structural problem is the design of the constitutional order itself. Whether the form of government is democratic or not, though important, is not the main culprit in the Ethiopian context. Jawar argues, “In the long run, EPRDF ideologues hoped that multinationalism would positively contribute to the state-building project by promoting social cohesion and solidifying its legitimacy.”

That is not the case, precisely because the constitutional design is flawed for it fails to craft a sense of “We, the people.” When the constituent elements are wilfully and shortsightedly disenfranchised, you cannot mend it through second-order fixes.

What is flawed by design cannot and should not be addressed by democratic practice. From the outset, democracy is dead in the kingdom of ethnic homelands. As Donald Horowitz succinctly remarked, “Democracy is about inclusion and exclusion, access to power, the privileges that go with inclusion, and the penalties that accompany exclusion. In severely divided societies, ethnic identity provides clear lines to determine who will be included and who will be excluded.”

This is the story of present-day Ethiopia: separate ethnic homelands, social fragmentation, political polarization, permanent exclusion of minorities, and other societal scars. Across the federation, individuals do not feels included in the political community unless they submit to the will of the homeland owners.

There is no democracy among strangers. Ethnic federation cannot be democratic; it is a fallacy of the highest order to expect otherwise. Without a sense of belongingness within a given political community, there is no democracy but instead the seeds of ethnic cleansing covered in a discourse of self-determination, multinational federation, and, theoretically, democracy.

The current structure is unsustainable, and all that has kept the lid on the ethnic homelands diverging more from each other was the centralized party system and the strong leader, the Marshall Tito of Ethiopia, late Meles Zenawi. As we have witnessed, with both gone, the center has barely held.

“Progressive Patriotism”?

As part of his call to meet in the middle, Jawar proposed a notion of “progressive patriotism”. But what and how much of each element, i.e., a progressive approach and patriot allegiance to the state, should feature? As usual, the devil lies in the details, but suffice to say finding the golden mean hinges on defining a national identity based on shared cultures and civic values.

It is a pity that we pride ourselves on having one of the oldest states in the world, on the one hand, and still in search of our national identity, on the other. Since what remained of disoriented revolutions and devastating civil wars was then severely battered by the unbridled practice of competing ethnic nationalism, the very conception of citizenship has become thin in contemporary Ethiopia.

So, within this context, what is the core minimum that hangs progressiveness and patriotism together? Part of the answer lies in defining and redefining the constituent element of the political order: “We, the people of Ethiopia.” In this regard, Jawar should have reflected more on how the order fared in building a national identity rather than primarily focusing on the state-building efforts of the EPRDF. The process and policies of forging a strong sense of belonging among Ethiopians are critically important in the current Ethiopian context.

As a starting point, the people can be defined in terms of thin cultural community and thick political community.

A thin cultural community refers to the parallel co-existence of diverse cultural groups and state identity built on civic nationalism.

A thick political community encapsulates integrating mechanisms such as inclusive biographical narratives, the de-ethnicization of political participation, minority protection schemes, the introduction of more official languages and a second language in each regional state, trimming the size of regions such that they will not threat the very existence of the state, the re-introduction of national volunteer service, all underpinned by economic integration.

It is hoped that an ever-thicker cultural community will eventually emerge, if things go well.

National Soul-Searching

It is encouraging that prominent people like Jawar are keeping the political discourse in motion. We cannot solve our perennial problems by downplaying them or, even worse, shying away from engaging with them. Pointing out the virtues and vices of the current constitutional order with objectivity has no substitution. The constitutional order is flawed by design and sustained by practice.

As we look ahead, the starting point in our soul-searching endeavor should be determining who we are and what we envision for the future. To this end, overhauling the constitution is non-negotiable.

But before that process even begins, we must change the practices that sustain the current political order. For that to occur, we “need to find room for compromise to begin a serious deliberation that will not leave any group feeling disenfranchised,” as Jawar himself suggested.


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Main Image: Jawar Mohammed; 21 May 2017; Dotohelp

This is the author’s viewpoint. However, Ethiopia Insight will correct clear factual errors.

Published under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

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About the author

Moges Zewdu Teshome

Moges is a doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary International Studies at the Vienna School of International Studies. He is also the host of the Buffet of Ideas-የሀሳብ ገበታ podcast.


  • Response to presentation of Jawar Mohammad’s interview
    It is obvious that Mr. Jawar Mohammad is a controversial former political activist for at least the past decade and now politician affiliated with some political party. He is broadly known for his radical ethno-centric ideology that stemmed from his believe and political assumption inculcated in his early school age. As Mr. Moges indicated in his article, Jawar “has made strategic shift as a person and politician.” Partly this may be right, however, to my reflection Jawar went through three stages of development with respect to his ethno-centric ideology (ECI) processes.
    1. The birth of his ECI was the concept of primordialism where blood ties, religion, language, custom and tradition predominantly attributing to be the characters promoting differences and similarities among the Ethiopian population and the culmination of his awareness to play a major role in political activism and spread division within the Ethiopian community.
    2. The next upheaval, in his ethno-centric view, was associated with the constructivism perception where, “Us vs. Them mentality” enshrines to prepare the community identified for a kind of revolution or reform as it was assumed and narrated that their people were oppressed, exploited, displaced and unfairly treated by the then rulers and political authorities and, therefore, created more anonymities among the Ethiopian people who lived together for long despite the differences, and such reflection was intended to effect division and conflict.
    3. The culmination of his ECI is based on the instrumentalism concept where territorial boundaries weigh more than blood ties, instead centers on attaining the economic power, political power, military power, and secure and assert dominance on society and social relation in the country in the pretext of enhancing Pseudo-democracy.
    Unlike Mr. Jawar conceptual reflection, “ethnicity must no longer be seen as an intrinsic property of individuals, territories, or institutions in opposition to civic(-republican) groupings of society and the associations or even corporatist institutions they establish, but as an empirical process of group formation through social organization and institutionalization (Marko, 2019, pp. 138–162).”
    Professor Tewodros Kiros in his book Ethiopian discourse (2011) stated this “false sense of belonging…is neither the complete picture nor carefully thought out” …. “that leaders have the responsibility to demask such moral and political miseducation and gently heightens the awareness of the citizens through a subtle transformation, and leaders or political elites have the duty to introduce citizens to the difference between nationalism and consciousness about belonging to nation.” (p. 26)

    Having stated the stages of remittance in Jawar ethnic politics, I agree with Mr. Moges’s three assumptions that Mr. Jawar’s “ shifts may be due to, inter alia, his period of introspection in prison, a painful realization of the danger emanating from the untethered horse of ethnic nationalism, the rise of a formidable Amhara nationalism which posed a security dilemma, and the ‘cognitive punch’ caused by a series of civil wars.”
    The last two assumption weigh more to the reality of what is happening in the past, let alone 27 years, particularly five or six years. We witnessed ethnic nationalism to its extreme and it became state sponsored waging division, conflict, and war among fellow Ethiopians. Ethnicism prevailed and at its worst pick in a negative sense. And we also are witnessing forcefully the rising Amhara nationalism that may shakes the power balance in the current political arena. I presume these two assumptions might have caused the strategic shift to Mr. Jawar Ethnic politics.
    I commend Mr. Moges for critically pointing the flaws perpetuated by Mr. Jawar with respect to Multinational federalism and multicultural federalism! Multinational federalism entails the nationalist identity fiction concept that may be against the political and constitutional unity of state and society as they claim the monopoly of political order and assume to be sovereign people within themselves in the society (Marko, 2019) What multiculturalism refers is a process with the equitable treatment of different cultures at a national as well as community levels.
    The question one can pose to Mr. Jawar is “Why did he reflect these to concepts (Multinational and multicultural federalism) in the way he did?”
    Here is my take!
    As intriguing politician as Mr. Jawar is, it is not surprising if he tone-down his radical perception of ethnic’s politics as he may be targeting the political power to achieve his core believes. This shows his political calculation, and he was also heard in an interview by Dereje Haile saying “one day the truth will come out” as if he was envisioning himself as an alternate candidate for power. There is nothing wrong with that. I am just projecting his strategy.
    As shroud politicians as he is, he acknowledges the pitfalls of the prosperity party and noticing the extreme measures the Prosperity Party is taking (የመደመር ፖሊቲካ የህዝብ ድጋፍ ማጣት) signaling the challenge facing the whole political trend and he intended presumably safe the current political team (ethnicism).
    On the other hand, patriotism is associated with cooperativeness in the sense that it embraces the coming together of community, individuals, and society to uphold the sovereignty of the country through maintaining diversity, and positive feeling in the sense of solidarity for a common cause. On the contrary, nationalism is associated with aggressiveness, competitiveness, lack of compassion, lack of cooperativeness, and feeling of superiority over others. The later were the values the Mr. Jawar was disseminating since his inception of political activism.
    Progressivism is a perception associated with movements and typically emphasizes to advance the situation in human society to “enhance social organization, science, and technology” as to the effect of social reforms. In modern political discourse, it is intrinsically related with a left leaning social liberalism. In some ways, it is against the long-established norms, religion, cultures and way of life of the society. So, progressivism may incur resistance and oppositions if not properly applied to bring common ground in the society’s social relationship. i.e., the economy, political as well as societal relations.
    Progressive patriotism in the context of the current political discourse may not accommodate all political faction prevailing inside and outside the country. The best assumption to recognize that there are lot of pitfalls significantly affection the population. Social insecurity, economic insecurity, political insecurity, instability in its maximum pick, vandalism in collective or individual, and above all, the prosperity party government is short of controlling and governing the country.
    Ones the government and the people, and the government and the opposing parties, individuals, leaders recognize the basic team or cause of the problem, and then all should project as to what communality, common values, interrelated and intertwined assists the people have in the society. Historically, what bring us together weighs more than what differentiates us, WE Ethiopians.

  • Dear Moges
    In his recent interview, Jawar employed physics terms to dichotomize Ethiopian political factions into “centrifugal force” for left-wing and “centripetal force” for right-wing groups. Although mischeif of the later force caused the reaction of the other, Jawar criticized both forces but seemed biased against the left-wing, ethnonationalist groups, framing them as destabilizing and extreme radicals, while mildly critiquing the right-wing centripetal forces. This unfair portrayal overlooks the action preceeding reaction of physics law and the historical context of state-building actions by the centripetal forces that led to reactionary ethnonationalist movements.

    Jawar’s attempt to appeal to right-wing politicians by disparaging ethnonationalist freedom fighters, including those from his own party, is seen as unnecessary and a harmfull dissent bias to his former constituency. Similar to the Prosperity Party (PP)’s recent attempts to sanitize historical atrocities and demonize the history of various ethnic groups, Jawar’s demise revisionist history approach undermines the legitimate struggles of past nationalist freedom fighters who aimed to democratize, not dismantle, the state. For instance, Jawar’s use of Oromo nationalism during the Qerro struggle highlights its power as a mobilizing force for positive change. However, his recent criticism of nationalism as a dangerous tool is inconsistent and risks alienating his supporters. Nationalism should not be belittled or misused for political convenience, as it has a clear and justifiable goal.

    Regarding the PP, Jawar’s stance lacks a clear strategy for reconciling different political forces and initiating a democratic transition. Consequently, as there is no shortcut to achieving his purported “Progressive Patriotism” without establishing a democratic platform, Jawar should have elaborated further or formulated strategies on how the two forces could reconcile or how a new political transition could be initiated in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s unity and democratic state-building require adherence to democratic values like equality, freedom, rule of law, and pluralism. The PP’s undemocratic leadership and failure to democratize the current federal system may lead to further conflict and instability.

    Contrary to that, Jawar’s appeal to the PP for reform and negotiation with armed groups is seen as overly simplistic. The state’s role in negotiations is not equal to that of armed groups, and blaming both parties equally undermines this fact. His recent equivocal stance on the PP leaves his supporters uncertain about his political direction. For detail read this opinion

  • A good article. From Jawar’s, Lidetu’s, Messay Kebede’s, and others’ discussions, over the past months, it seems the level of public political discourse is improving. There’s some kind of dialogue, at least…

    I still don’t understand how there can be a way out of our crisis given that the level of ethnic nationalism in Ethiopian has gone way past the threshold of possible de-escalation and compromise. It doesn’t seem that the cycle of ethnic outbidding can possibly be stopped. In addition, the centre is extremely weak. It seems that we are all awaiting a political catastrophe, inter-ethnic wars, genocide, etc., before the elites are sufficiently shocked and forced to moderate.

    But please continue with such dialogue, esp. real time live discussions with others. It’s the only way to perhaps avoid or ameliorate the coming catastrophe.

  • Moges, I found it very articulated and genuine article. My conviction is that you will never change “wrong actions and performers of it” while keeping in place the “bad idea/design”.

  • The depth and clarity of the analysis is breathtaking. Unless those ethnocentric advocates saved from their devastating journey by some miracles, they are the ones that pay ultimate price. Thank you Moges.

  • Habasha doesn’t stop day dreaming! I remember back in 2013 when Bayan Asoba gave interview in Amharic to the then ESAT regarding his organization’s (AFD) vision and political objectives within Ethiopia. Following that interview, the so called Fikire Tollosa wrote an article saying “Now it is time for AFD to abandon Qubee and embrace Saba alphabet to write Afaan Oromoo.” Similarly, just a single person called Jawar Mohammed who is in exile/Refugee Camp in Nairobi/Kenya gave interview to Addis Standard in English expressing his own view about Ethiopia’s future political fate and continuity as a country. Following this interview ዱኩኔ politician and intellectual called Moges Zewdu is proposing to eras the “ Ethnic Federalism”. By that he meant all nations and nationalities to stop using their own language and cultivating their cultural values. What a Savagery ambition though I was not surprised to hear from such clumsy individual!! Just to be clear, Oromias fate cannot be decided by a single person who is in a refugee camp nor by Habasha! Oromia’s fate can only decided by the Oromo people at large and their organization-OLA-OLF, period!!😎

  • The 1995 EPDRF led constitution has infected millions of individuals , activities and students in the last 30+years
    It was designed and manufactured in the pretext reason Ethiopia is old un disintegrated empire , ethnic and religion dominated and oppressed nation ,ethnic diversity , diversity is beautiful and giving unmeasurable more words.
    The constitution allowed regional States and ethnic groups to demarcate their boundaries as far as they can . The minorities in number being either dissolved or lost at list their cattle place, and finally being a ground place for conflicts b/n regional sates and displacing millions of innocent citizen of Ethiopia .these all happened to our country people just becouse Meles and his friends copied from the Soviet union constitution of 1920s and and Yugoslavia of 1918s
    The two united nations were , formed in 1922 and 1918 respectively .
    Soviet union was a temporary union of 15 independent countries notably , Russia Ukraine , Belarus , Arminia…..the other
    Yugoslavia was formed by unity of 5 independent country, serbia , Croatia , Slovak and the other.
    Ethiopia is a single country like that of kenya . Meles and his friends should have not given comparison Ethiopia b/n Soviet union or Yugoslavia , but he and his friends did it.

  • A political conversion of Jawar has occured and his rabit ethno unationalism is a bit mellowed for real ? Not sure. I don’t think such megalomanic and attention addict personalities would
    easily backdown from their old and familiar line of thoughts. If any thing, perhaps he is now sensing where the wind is blowing to or maybe he is trying to stay relevant while recovering from prison fatigue and the deep political alienation subjected to him by the notorious shape shifter and ruthless boss that is Abiy. That said, what Ethiopia needs is not necessarily endless talks, debates, reset magic bottons and
    constitutional panacea and so on. What it need is true democradization and decenralization underpinned by genuine multi-ethnic and multi-cultural federalism.

  • Preserving Principles of Self-Determination, Pluralism, and Democratic Inclusion in Ethiopia’s Constitutional Reform.

    “Jawar has reformed himself—now let’s reform our divisive constitution” from a basic principle perspective:

    The fundamental premise of the article is that Ethiopia’s current ethnic federalist system is flawed by design and must be reformed. However, this argument fails to consider the deeper historical and political context that led to the adoption of ethnic federalism in the first place.

    Principle of self-determination: The article argues that Ethiopia’s ethnic federalism, which grants self-determination rights to different ethnic groups, is flawed by design. However, the principle of self-determination for nations, nationalities, and peoples is a fundamental human right enshrined in international law. Stripping away this right would be a violation of this basic principle.

    Principle of diversity and pluralism: The author dismisses the notion of “multinational federalism” as a flawed concept, preferring instead a “multicultural federation”. However, Ethiopia is an immensely diverse country with deep-rooted ethnic identities. Recognizing and accommodating this diversity through a multinational federal structure is more aligned with the principles of pluralism and respect for difference.

    Principle of democratic inclusion: The author argues that “democracy is dead in the kingdom of ethnic homelands”. However, the devolution of power to ethnic-based regional states can be seen as an attempt to make the political system more inclusive and representative of the country’s diverse population, even if the implementation has been flawed. Dismantling this structure without securing meaningful democratic representation for all groups would be undemocratic.

    Principle of gradual reform: The article calls for a complete overhaul of the Ethiopian constitution, rather than incremental reform. However, abrupt and radical constitutional changes often lead to instability and resistance. A more prudent approach would be to engage in a gradual, inclusive process of constitutional review and amendment, building on the existing federal structure.

    Principle of national unity and cohesion: While the article highlights the shortcomings of ethnic federalism, it fails to offer a convincing alternative that would foster a stronger sense of Ethiopian national identity and unity. Caution is needed to ensure that reforms do not further exacerbate ethnic divisions and conflict.

    In conclusion, while the article raises valid concerns about the shortcomings of Ethiopia’s ethnic federalist system, it lacks a nuanced understanding of the historical and political context that led to its adoption. Any attempts at constitutional reform should be guided by the principles of self-determination, pluralism, and the need to address past grievances, while preserving the country’s territorial integrity and promoting democratic decentralization.

  • Moges, what a fallacy to attach the existence of the multi nation federalism to the will of one person? The MNF existed neither by the good will of Jawar, nor will it disappear because Jawar changed his mind, if he has changed his mind at all. The MNF has the support of tens of millions of Ethiopians, i. e. the overwhelming majority of the peoples of Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s problem is not the MNF, but that it is not sufficiently federal. You should also be aware of the voices, rational enough, that started to consider the nation state as the wrong model for countries in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

  • I wanted to flag this too:

    “Ethnic federation cannot be democratic; it is a fallacy of the highest order to expect otherwise.” India between 1952-1974 and 1977-2016 was democratic and ethnofederal. Plenty of scholars consider Canada and Switzerland ethnofederal (although this is more contested than India; nobody doubts India’s ethnofederal status). Both Canada and Switzerland have been democracies since the early 20th century.

    The author needs to familiarize himself with the relevant literature. One Horowitz quote is inadequate.

  • You are so intelligent that you got the main source of conflict in Ethiopia. The way forward should also be prescribed or suggested and I think heartfelt and open discussion is the only solution, otherwise, we could soon fall apart .

  • To be honest and fair with the situation of contemporary Ethiopian Empire, Moges’ long but untimely manuscript is cameofuluging the very notion of transforming the Empire from the dead louck of dying capitalist and chueovinist ideology that kept nations by iron feasts.
    If the Empire is to be transferred those nations down played under the assimilationst policy cpppied from the notorious French men need to be abolished for good🙂‍↕️
    Strong Federation and socio economic integration may only seem to be the way forward😃
    If not ….. Haa bultu dubbiin😅

  • Dear Moges,
    Thank you for this bold and bulls eye piercing piece. My hope is the futility of ethnic federalism is the first and foremost subject that will be debated whenever this illusive idea of negotiations (ድርድር) comes into play. In the mean time I think you are the best host the begin the discussion by inviting various political players/personalities/opinion makers to your media, so that there is some level of consensus on the issue.

  • A few points re. India. First, the author is wrong to claim India lacks de jure ethnic homelands; Telangana is the de jure ethnic homeland of Telugu speakers. Second, it’s unclear what he means by claiming that India has “sovereignty of we the people” as India continues to autocratize; most Indian Muslims would look askance on this claim. Finally, it’s true that India lacks a secession clause, but neither EPRDF nor PP has permitted secession anyway; this is a moot point.

    This conversation about Ethiopia’s constitution being “inherently” X Y or Z is stale and dated. Ethiopia should lift its citizens out of poverty and democratize.

  • Dear Moges:
    This is a well written, thought provoking and refreshing article! Thank you 🙏
    PS I am a regular viewer/listener of your wonderful and enlightening program የሀሳብ ገበታ! I would like to send you one of my articles, which I published in a series a few years ago; on the local (Ethiopian) Reporter Magazine (in Amharic) about the flawed Ethiopian constitution and the ethnic federalism. I will be happy to forward you if you kindly send me your email address. I like to hear your opinion.

    I look forward to hearing from you. Keep up the great job! You are doing a great service to our people and motherland, Ethiopia, in these difficult times! It needs bright and dedicated people like you, especially from the new generation to save her!!!

  • Ethiopia has committed genocide against its own people as monarch, military dictatorship and now as an Ehino-Federal state. Maybe it is time to confront the obvious, agree that we have core political differences, and a genocidal state shouldn’t continue to exist.

  • “Ethnic federation cannot be democratic; it is a fallacy of the highest order to expect otherwise. Garbage. If nations and nationalities cannot democratically elect their true representatives, what makes you think artificially created unitary Nation State can be democratic? Unitary State called Habasha empire.

    “A thick political community encapsulates integrating mechanisms such as inclusive biographical narratives, the de-ethnicization of political participation, minority protection schemes, the introduction of more official languages and a second language in each regional state, trimming the size of regions such that they will not threat the very existence of the state, the re-introduction of national volunteer service, all underpinned by economic integration.” This is the core of your argument. Integrating mechanisms to what end? By destroying existing nations and nationalities? Unitary State called Habasha empire. Trime the size of regional states (afraid of saying Oromia, but we get it). Who do you think you are fooling anyway? Trying to resurrect Jawar –the disgraced OPDO politician–to do your dirty work does not work. Regarding Oromia, the framers of OLF political program are available and you have to deal with that single true legitimate representative of the Oromo regarding Oromia. Hard pill to swallow for children of Naftegna elites. Albasa Dagaga

  • I dont believe that Jawar has graduated from his ultra nationalist political thought. However, it sounds a tactic shift to buy political currency and compensate the national wounds that he created in the last 6 years. There is no any grand issue that helps him as turning point to reorient his position except a tactical move of outsmarting PP.

  • Good article! Going Straight forward to my point, if the federal official language remains to be Amharic change of the status quo is less expected. We need to be honest, and do away with we are not colonized mentality. The truth is other traditional nation state or kingdoms were colonized by Amhara with the help of British. The Anglo-Ethiopia treaties testifies to this fact. To address this, making English Ethiopian Federal official language can be a solution , Just for communication and understanding. Teach Amharic and Afan Oromo in all Schools in all regions as subjects and should be compulsory for all. Give each region a chance to choose their own official language. Adopt Kiswahili as optional language to be taught in school as well. Ethiopia government should recognized the racial discrimination against the people of Gambella and Benishangul and find a way to address this vice which has become a limiting factor to their development as regions and as individuals. This is an insult to their contributions for Ethiopia. If we can regard imposed policies as dirty water, the leaders must take the responsibility of filtering the dirty water so that it is fit for drinking for all but with racial discrimination which has contributed to labelling some as not our people then if the people who are affected fall in the category of the not our people the leaders will not bother to filter the dirty water such as the case with refugees integration proclamation which is in the process of implementation in Gambella at the expense of lives of host community.

    • I was ethnic federalism advocate for many years. But now I am comingto the understanding that both ethno-nationalism and Ethio-nationalism must be tamed. Weighing to either camp is dangerous. An equilibrium point between this two can stabilize and pacify the nation for once and for all. As countries like India, every citizen must be convinced the need for a constitution that is suitable for genuine self rule of states and shared rule of the country in a such way that the SOVEREIGNTY AND UNITY OF ETHIOPIA is not compromised never ever.

      • What if some of us don’t want to be with Ethiopia, if I could, I would move my region off the border of Ethiopia even float it in the sky.

    • Why would we ever learn Swahili??

      You make some good points but also some bad points. Amharic dominated the country but to make English the national language will ruin our sovereignty. Also, can you tell me what contributions Gambella and Benishangul have made other than sports?

      It’s true our people have an unusual understanding of race, specifically skin color, but I would say a lot of it comes from Western influence. I want the people of Gambella to teach us how to love ourselves. Make sure your kids learn to speak Anuak or Nuer, not Swahili!!

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