What should be done to ease ethnic conflicts?

The government should identify the factors which trigger ethnic conflicts and set up their possible remedies, scholars say.

What are the causes which have been posing serious threat for the home of more than 80 nations, nationalities and people’s country? What should the government do to resolve ethnic conflicts? How effective is the federal system to accommodate differences?

Conflicts associated with unemployment, land grabbing, contraband trade, lack of good governance and improper implementation of the federal system have been triggering ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia and the government should work on these issues to troubleshoot conflicts sustainably, Peace and Security Studies Lecturer at Addis Ababa University, Daniel Adane argues.
He insists that the aforementioned causes should not pose threat on peace and stability. For the furtherance of the great nation and the government should be aware of these issues.

‘‘The ruling party (EPRDF) has told us many times that it has identified its limitations. We heard it vowing to stop ethnic tensions thoroughly. However, intimidation, killings and attacks are being committed among states and ethnic groups right now,’’ he says, adding: ‘‘the government should take swift measures before things spiral out of control. It should endeavor to root them out in good time.’’

Daniel calls upon the government to bring the perpetrators of ethnic conflict to justice so as to convey punitive measures awaits for others with a similar bent.
Beyond penalizing wrongdoers, the government should work on consolidating people-to- people relations.

‘‘Though the problem primarily arises not from the people, they should come together to discuss about their peace and stability. They should stand vigilant against anti-peace elements, who want to satisfy their hidden agenda at the expense of the people.They should develop their understanding regarding the federal system,’’ the lecture underscores.
For his part, Political Science and Political Relations lecturer at Mekelle University, Seifu Guesh (PhD) argues that basic infrastructures and developments endeavor should be expanded in states to create job opportunities for the people.

‘‘More than 70 percent of Ethiopian populations are youths who are below 30 . Most of them are unemployed. Nowadays, it is becoming highly difficult to get jobs.T he problem is there even if one graduates with excellent grades from colleges and universities,’’ he continues, ‘‘Most of the wealth should not be accumulated in Addis Ababa. Infrastructures such as roads, schools, health centers, water and electricity should be put in place in states especially in those lagging behind.’’
As far as practicing the federal system in a proper manner, Seifu urges federal and state governments to work in collaboration and to create awareness on what federal system means and how should the government practice it.

‘‘There is huge misconception of federalism in some parts of the country. Being granted federalism rights doesn’t mean a given state is a sovereign country. Such sentiments are destabilizing our country. Ethiopians should know that the Ethiopian constitution allows every citizen to live and work in every corner of the country,’’ he argues.

On the other hand, Political Analyst Abebaw Dagnachew points out that illegal trade is causing political unrest in border areas and urges government and other stakeholders to stop it immediately.

‘‘Illegal trade being undertaken in border areas creates conflict. The conflict being triggered between Somali and Oromia states could be taken as best example. About 800,000 people were displaced due to the conflict that broke out between the two states.’’ He adds that contrabandists have been making trouble to fulfill their selfish motives.

Another factor which has been causing ethnic conflict, according to Abebaw is the unequal distribution of resources and mismanagement.
‘‘There are resource constraints which could not be compatible with the population boom. Ethnic groups are clashing with each other to control resourceful areas. They are clashing to control land, water and grass. Hence, the border should be clearly demarcated,’’ he says, adding: ‘‘in addition to this, there is severe mismanagement of resources. There is a massive scale of corruption. The government budget being allocated for development is not properly channeled to the intended purpose.This has been causing anger, frustration and contempt among the people.’’

Besides, he stresses that disrespecting the rule of law has contributed to ethnic violations.
‘‘Had the rule of law been strictly observed, had the federal system was properly translated into action, there would have not been killings, displacements and destruction of properties.
Therefore, the government should take measure to safeguard the constitution, which is the supreme law in the country,’’ he underlines. Abebaw continues that land grabbing practices should be stopped since they are displacing people from their abode creating a grudge among the displaced people.

Ethiopia has been witnessing peace, stability and remarkable double digit economic growth over the last two decades. But ethnic conflicts have been berailing achieved changes aiming at further transformation.

The government, the people and other pertinent stakeholders should work in collaboration to alleviate ethnic conflicts, which pose serious threats for the existence of the nation. If so, Ethiopia will remain a stable and a fast growing federal state in Africa and beyond.

BY TSEGAY HAGOS – Ethiopian Press Agency

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