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Ethiopia to host continent’s first International Conference on Federalism

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 11, 2010 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopia will host the 5th International Conference on Federalism, first ever to be hosted by an African country; previous conferences took place in North America, Asia and Europe.

The conference will be held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, from 14-16 December 2010 under the theme: ‘equality and unity in diversity for development introduction’.

The conference is expected to attract about 600 participants worldwide.

According to ethiopianfederalism.org, the 5th International Conference on Federalism provides a forum for academicians and practitioners to discuss issues of federalism and decentralization.

The conference is organized by the Ethiopian government in partnership with the Forum of Federations and provides a forum for sharing experience related to challenges associated with the governance and operation of federal and federal-type systems.

Ethiopia is a country, which contains a large ethnic diversity with more than 80 ethnic groups and the horn nation says its federal system is well working.

At workshop organized in Addis Ababa on Thursday, Government Communications Affairs minister, Bereket Simon said “Ethiopia’s federalism system has been getting recognition at the international level”.

“The selection Ethiopia to host the 5th International Conference on Federalism (ICF) shows the worldwide recognition of the country’s federal system’’ he added.

Bereket said maintaining democracy in Ethiopia means empowering its nations, nationalities and peoples giving recognition to their identity. Ethiopia’s ruling party and their allies won 99% of the country’s general election earlier this year, with opposition parties claiming the vote had been rigged.

By bringing the conference to Ethiopia the organizers hope to offer a unique opportunity to include African perspectives in the discussion on achievements and challenges of federalism.

While federalism has been regarded with some reluctance in the majority of African countries for various reasons, Ethiopia is one of the few African countries which opted for a federal democratic system after the overthrow of the military regime that had ruled the country until 1991.

Director General of the Office for the 5th ICF, Solomon Tadesse, says hosting the conference in Addis Ababa is pride not only for Ethiopia but also for Africa.

(ST)