Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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ALEMNEH Agajie, Injibara College of Teachers' Education

Federalism is increasingly promoted and utilized in countries with multi-ethnic population composition as a means to guarantee minority rights and safeguard the harmony and integrity of the state. In this regard, one of the innovative changes in post-1991 Ethiopia was the foundation of the transitional charter which brought the Transitional Government of Ethiopia underlining Self Determination and self Government as core principles to restructure Ethiopia under federalism in order to address the questions of Nation, Nationalities, and Peoples of Ethiopia. The existence of Awi Nationality as one distinctive ethnic group/minority with its own culture and language has made it necessary for the existence of Awi- Nationality Administrative Zone as self- governing entity with three organs of government- elected nationality council (legislative), administrative council (executive) and judiciary at zonal level in the form of local government. This study explores the protection and the implementation of the minority rights of Awi nationality/ethnic group with respect to self-determination, self-administration/self-rule, representation and its practice of language rights through the use of exploratory research. It uses qualitative research methodology by combining case study as designed to get reliable and pertinent information from the participants of the study about their practices of exercising political power, how they rule by themselves, challenges they encountered when exercising their rights, some of the opportunities that helped them in protecting their rights as a minority. Besides, it was suitable to describe the existing situation about how minority-based political power exercise is implemented, what factors affect the minority to exercise their constitutional rights and which factors are helpful for the practice of their rights and solving their economic, social and political issues. The data were analyzed in terms of critical interpretation and thematic categorization. Accordingly, the result of the study shows that though there are good changes or there is also a good beginning in this regard, however, the implementation of such constitutional rights was going on at low pace than expected due to lack of good governance [because of lack of rule of law and legitimacy], lack of implementation of constitutional rights, low commitment of administrators, financial dependence of zone administration from the regional government, regional interference on zonal affairs and less decentralized power/ authority of legal nature, and lack of awareness/education in exercising the minority rights by the people. Lastly, it is recommended to enhance institutions that foster the decentralisation of power to local government in order to fully implement those constitutional rights at the grass root level.