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The Constitutional Right to Self-determination as a Response to the ‘Question of Nationalities’ in Ethiopia

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Characterising the crises of Ethiopian state-society relations in the 20th century as resulting from ethnic/national oppression, proponents of the ‘question of nationalities’ who have been in control of state power since 1991, have devised an ethnic-based federal system that bestows the right to secession on every ethno-national group in the country. This article argues that the diagnosis of the problems of 20th century Ethiopia as only resulting from national oppression is counterfactual. The problems that drove the Ethiopian state close to the brink of collapse during the final decade of the last century resulted from a host of factors, to which the controversial fact of ‘ethnic oppression’ contributed only a small and instrumental part. The article seeks to show that bad governance and the unbearable economic and social misery of the Ethiopian people as a whole were the most important reasons for the state crises that were experienced.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Addis Ababa University School of Law, Ethiopia


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