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Decentralization and the Management of Ethnic Conflicts in Ethiopia Handling Ethnic Conflicts in the Peripheral Areas of Oromiya Regional State The Case of Amhara vs. Oromo Ethnic Conflict in East-Wollega Zone


Author: Deribssa Abate
Year: 2003
Abstract: Struggle for existence and the variability in the chances of survival put societies in systems of conflicts. Conflicts exist when there are relationships between two or more parties who have or think they have incompatible goals with one another. Ethiopia is an ethnically complex country in that a large number of ethnic groups with distinct cultures, languages, origins and psychological make-up inhabit it. The conflict between Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups in East-Wollega Zone of Oromiya was between the resettlers of Amhara ethnic groups, from the neighbouring Amhara regional state, and the indigenous Oromo farmers of the locality on economic resources. This has resulted in a serious consequence, death and injuries of several people and destruction of houses and properties from both sides. The purpose of this study is to investigate the conflicts between Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups in East-Wollega zone of Oromiya. The study has focused on the political, socio-cultural and socioeconomic factors that have contributed to the escalation of confrontation between the two ethnic groups. Descriptive method that involves qualitative techniques is employed to investigate the problem. The technique used for data gathering is focus group interviews and personal interviews. The study reflected that the ethnic conflict between the two groups (Amhara and Oromo) in East-Wollega zone of Oromia is not some thing abnormal. It is a natural tendency that is mishandled indeed. A complex system of variables are involved in the conflict between the two ethnic groups. These variables could be categorized into political, socio-cultural and socioeconomic factors. Among the political factors are fast introduction of change after 1991 and lack of sufficient promotion of the changes into all citizens; the politicization of language and ethnocentrism and lack of commitment from the leadership; poor communication and lack of transparency in the local administrative machinery and use of ineffective techniques of conflict management. The study also revealed that the socio-cultural factors that are mismanaged in the case are the disparities between the cultural values of the two ethnic groups and the challenge thereof. The two ethnic groups have incompatible cultural values characterized with rivalry and the re-settlers lack the respect for the cultural values of the host community. In short, political complexity of the region, population pressure, and cultural disparities between the ethnic groups are among the major causes of the ethnic conflict. The study recommended that establishing permanent boundary between the regions help to solve the possibility of boundary disputes. Woreda and Kebele administrators need thorough training in conflict management. The importance of traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution should not be overlooked because they promote the awareness of the host community and re-settlers about the rights and responsibilities of all citizens.
Publisher: Not Published
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