Ethipia aims for 'legitimate state at local level'

Ethiopia’s nomadic communities are still being excluded from democratic representation, the minister of federal affairs acknowledged on Wednesday.

GebreAb Barnabas said that “good governance and democratisation” had failed to “spread adequately” to Ethiopia’s remote pastoral areas.

Nomadic pastoralists make up some seven-million people in Ethiopia and are widely recognised as one of the most politically under-represented groups in the country.

The minister was speaking at a conference organised by the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). He said the ministry aims to bolster democratic reforms in the country’s nine regions.

He told experts in good governance that highland areas of the country had made important progress in democratic reforms and transparency.

“In the ranks of the populations of the pastoral and minority states, however, not much has been achieved as yet,” GebreAb added.

He said the Ethiopian government was planning mass public consultations in eastern Ethiopia.

“Later on we’ll proceed to conduct local government elections and for the first time we will have a legitimate state at local level,” he added.

“Elected local governments exist elsewhere in the country but it is just beginning in the pastoral areas,” he stated.

The pastoral areas of Ethiopia are in Afar and Somali regions and parts of the Kenyan border areas.

Jarso Mokku, from a non-governmental organisation promoting the rights of pastoralists—the Pastoral Community Initiative—welcomed the move by the government.

“If the government does not listen to the voice of the pastoralists then the pastoralists will find themselves left out of the debates that affect their lives,” said Mokku.

He noted that most of the policy debates were held at federal or national level.

He said the PCI was currently working on a major initiative funded through the World Bank to help promote good governance among pastoral communities. - Irin

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