Mobility and ethnic federalism in Ethiopia
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Ethiopia’s federal dispensation, ushered under the 1995 Constitution, guarantees ethnic groups – constitutionally termed as “nations, nationalities and peoples” – a wide array of self-rule rights. The Constitution also provides for a number of individual rights, including the free movement of citizens within the country. In a federal setup where subnational and local boundaries are constructed along ethno-linguistic lines, the mobility of individuals presents both opportunities and challenges. While the free movement of citizens provides unique opportunities including fighting stereotypes, facilitating inter-cultural exchange, and reinforcing cultural bonds, it has also the potential to create tension with members of the host community that perceive mobility of individuals as a threat against their constitutionally recognized self-rule rights. This paper examines how the Ethiopian federal setup, without adequate legal framework, is struggling to address these competing demands and, as a result, has probably undermined both citizenship and ethnic rights.