This paper seeks to examine the causes and management of ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia, with a particular reference to the two major ethnic groups, the Amhara and Oromo. Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic country where various ethnic groups have lived together for millennia, in relative peace. Over the last few years, intra-ethnic conflicts have intensified. Even though the two major ethnic groups, the Amhara, and the Oromo, have much in common, nowadays conflicts have also redefined their relationships. This paper, drawing on social-psychological theory, argues that the causes for the conflict between the two ethnic groups are: competing narratives; institutionalised negative prejudices; and the ruthless campaign of unbridled ethnic entrepreneurs−politicisation of ethnicity. It further contends that the ethnic federalism, which was ostensibly devised in 1994, to alleviate nationalistic passions and manage inter-ethnic conflicts, has compounded ethnic conflict. Finally, it suggests that some of the tenable solutions are to change narratives, settle past accounts through national reconciliation and revisit ethnic federalism.
Key words: Ethnic conflict, Amhara, Oromo, ethnic federalism, narratives, symbolic politics, ethnic entrepreneurs.
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