October 26, 2019
Addis Ababa (ENA) – Federalism has been a center of discussion in Ethiopia, which introduced a federal system in 1994. Many agree that federalism is proper for Ethiopia, which is home to more than 80 ethnic groups.
Concerns were also voiced on the ethnic-based federal structure that the Horn African nation has been implementing, saying it undermines national unity and harmony by promoting division on ethnic lines.
Panalists of a daylong panel discussion held in Addis Ababa to discuss on relevance and significance of federalism agreed that Ethiopia has no option other than federal structure.
They emphasized that the federal system has brought significant change regarding self administration and entertaining cultural and language diversity.
However, the structure doesn’t bring the desired result due to limitations in implementation.
Noting that federal system is necessary for a country like Ethiopia, State Minister of Peace, Dr. Seyoum Mesfin said while presenting a paper during the discussion, the federal system has managed to address problems.
However, serous gaps were observed in the implementation of the system particularly in self administration, accommodating diversity, land administration, and engagement in national issues.
Solving the gaps and build strong and efficient institutions would make the system more effective, he noted.
Planning and Economic Development Commissioner of Oromia Regional State, Dr. Teshome Adugna said self administration, which is fundamental for sustainable development and national unity, is the result of the system.
Beyond recognizing the right of people, self administration would also ensure prosperity of the country and efficient use of resources, he added.
Saying that creating integration among regional states was missed over the past years, Teshome emphasized the need to create such integration to enhance harmony and national unity.
Vice President of Meles Zenawi Leadership Academy, Tsegaye Mamo said the federal system is intended to guide power sharing among federal and regional states and nurturing spirit of cooperation.
Unfortunately, Tsegaye said gaps were observed in these areas due to narrations that focused on differences rather than nurturing national unity.
He further noted that, the system would bring the desired result if maximum effort will be exerted in strengthening democratic institutions, nurture the culture of accommodating diversity and engage in nations building.
The discussants noted that efforts being underway by the ruling party to merge coalition members and affiliate parties to form a single national party would somehow address problems related to division on ethnic lines.