Nationalism and Constitutional Revision

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    In the wake of 1990s Ethiopia embarked a new path that mainstreamed ethno-centric political and administrative establishments. This new path ushered the rectification of ethnic based federal arrangement that fused ethnic identity with territorial boundaries. In the same vein, the proliferation of ethno-nationalist party further crystalized ethnic polarization. Despite the anticipated dividends of promoting ethno-nationalist orientation to the extent of constitutionally endorsing the right to secession, the present day Ethiopia is stranded by simmering inter-ethnic tensions and conflicts, ethnically motivated evictions and killings and an arms race between ethnic groups as it is manifested in the case of the excessive militarization of Regional Special Forces (Liyu police). Furthermore, it has become a common phenomenon for ethno-nationalist elites to proactively engage in hate speech and discursive confrontations that involves calling for the disintegration of the country unless their demands are met. On the other hand, the call for the elimination of ethnic based federalism and banning of ethnic politics by politicians and citizens who advocate ‘state-nationalism’/ Ethiopian nationalism/ is growing day by day. This group blames both the promotion of ethnic identity and ethno-centric political establishments as an existential treat to individual citizens and Ethiopia as a country. As a remedy they propose a constitutional arrangement that promotes citizenship centred political system not to mention their desire to see the existing administrative boundaries reorganized in such a way that shuns ethnic considerations.

    In light of the above, the author of the essay is expected to highlight the core arguments of ethno-nationalists and state-nationalists along with their stance on the revision of the 1995 FDRE constitution, interrogate their arguments and aspirations against the existing political and social context, and explore feasible mechanisms for reconciling the dichotomy of ethno-nationalisms and state-nationalism with or without revising the current constitution.

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