Ethiopia: Local Government in Ethiopia – Design Issues and Their Implications
There is growing global recognition of local government as an important level of government both as an institution of democratic participation and the delivery of basic services. It is also used to accommodate ethnolinguistic minorities in countries with ethnically diverse populations. So much so that various regional and global institutions have adopted resolutions or charters calling on countries to empower local communities. The African Charter of Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development, adopted in 2014, recognizes local governments as “the cornerstones of any system of democratic governance”. The European Charter of Local Self-Government states that “local authorities are one of the main foundations of any democratic system”. The European Charter further stipulates that citizens’ right to participation is exercised “most directly” at local level. For this reason, the international instruments mentioned above require the recognition of local government as a sphere or level of government.
However, local government in Ethiopia is far from democratic. Rather, it is an instrument of control and oppression. This is due, among other things, to a deficient institutional design. This article begins with a brief description of local government in the political history of Ethiopia. It then discusses the constitutional status and institutional structure of local government. Finally, he explains how the deficient institutional structure has made local government undemocratic.
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Zemelak Ayetenew Ayele is Associate Professor at Addis Ababa University, where he is also Director of the Center for Federal Studies. He holds an LL.B from Addis Ababa University, a Higher Diploma in Federalism from the Institute of Federalism at the University of Fribourg, an LL.M and an LL .D from the University of the Western Cape (UWC). He has published widely in the area of decentralization and federalism in Ethiopia and Africa, including a book titled Local Government in Ethiopia: Advancing development and accommodating ethnic minorities.