In Harena, Northern Ethiopia, local-level political competition for the post of metehadaderi (governor) had twofold impacts. On one hand, it played a role in ensuring the right of every person to participate in the political process, usually exercised by supporting one of the village contenders. On the other hand, it was a cause for social and economic conflict within the community. In other words, it brought winners and losers. The process and outcome of political competition was particularly influenced by wealth or economic capacity and it led to social disruption and an open clash as well among the members of the village. The finding of this study demonstrates that a political contestant used to divide the people into ‘core supporters’ and ‘opponents’. Thereby, he tended to work accordingly, after being assumed the village administration. Moreover, the taking-over of political power by a new local governor or metehadaderi and his decision on the access to available resource such as the nature of land distribution and the social interaction could affect the community. By using data largely drawn from Mekelle Tourism bureau, this paper aims to illustrate the nature and process of local-level political competition, legitimacy and its implications for intra-village contacts.
Key words: Conflict, leadership, competition, legitimacy, land tenure.
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