Dr. Asnake Kefale received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. In 2013/14, he was awarded the Swiss Excellence Scholarship for post-doctoral research at the University of Fribourg. Dr. Asnake Kefale is currently an assistant professor of Political Science at Addis Ababa University. His research interests include, federalism, conflict management, political economy, and migration. He has authored a book and co-edited four books. He has also published articles in peer-reviewed journals and contributed book chapters to edited volumes. In addition to his university appointment, Dr. Asnake is a senior adjunct researcher at the Addis Ababa based policy think-tank, Forum for Social Studies (FSS). His APN research re-examines the role of ethno-federalist state building for political stability (peace) in Ethiopia.
Some of his publications include, “Ethnic Decentralization and the Challenges of Inclusive Governance in Multiethnic Cities: The Case of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia” in Regional & Federal Studies (2014), and Reflections on Development in Ethiopia: New Trends, Sustainability and Challenges, which he co-edited and contributed a book chapter titled “The Expansion of the Sugar Industry in the Southern Pastoral Lowlands” (Forum for Social Sciences, 2014).
In this proposed research, I plan to build upon my earlier studies on federalism and conflict management in Ethiopia and re/assess the record of Ethiopian federalism in maintaining political stability. This study seeks to examine those factors that could help explain the current political stalemate and instability from three interrelated perspectives. First, ethnicity and federal restructuring– unlike other federations, Ethiopia expressly empowers ethnicity. In other words, ethnicity is constitutionalised as the chief instrument of state organization in the federal and regional constitutions. Indeed, self-governance and autonomy in the Ethiopian federal system are premised on the matching of ethnic and politico- administrative boundaries. We contend in this study that rigorous ethnicisation of territory contributed to inter-ethnic tensions and conflicts. Second, federalism and political pluralism – the study examines how the narrowing of political space continues to affect federalism's ability to emerge as a sustainable instrument of conflict management. Indeed, since the controversial 2005 elections, the ruling party undertook a series of legislative measures that greatly curtailed political pluralism in the country. Consequently, there is now no representation of opposition parties in the federal and regional parliaments. Nor are there vibrant civil society and media in the country. The lack of open and peaceful platform for political protestation and contestation, we contend in this study, led to violent protests. Third, reforming Ethiopia's federalism – the study contends that all federations are 'works in progress' and need to adjust themselves from time to time in order to respond to their legal and institutional deficits and in response to new challenges. In light of this, the study is going to consider legal/constitutional and institutional reforms that would be required to put the Ethiopian federal system on a sustainable trajectory.