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EPU Research Papers ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

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EPU Research Papers ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
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   EPU Research Papers Issue 03/06 ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE   Research Project Co-ordinator: Ronald H. Tuschl     2   CONTENTS Ronald H. Tuschl: Editor´s Note...........................................................................3 Mesfin Getachew: Ethnicity and Ethnic-Conflict in Post-Federal Ethiopia: A case of Mai’so District Conflict Between Oromos and Somalis.....................................4 About the EPU....................................................................................................28 Editorial..............................................................................................................29   3   Ronald H. Tuschl: Editor´s Note The EPU (European University Center for Peace Studies) is an international, non-governmental organisation with UNESCO status, and is affiliated to the Austrian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR), also located at Stadtschlaining. It was founded in 1988 by Gerald Mader in his capacity as president of the ASPR, with the support of European UNESCO commissions. Primary Goals of the EPU are spreading the idea of peace in the spirit of the UNESCO;giving scientific and educational support to global peace building;promoting a "world domestic policy" based on sustainable development, cooperative responsibility and ecological security;contributing to the development of a global peace culture;training and improving individual capabilities in peace-making and conflict resolution.The third issue of the EPU Research Papers is the result of a research project which took place during the Spring Semester 2006 of the EPU. The authors of this issue are describing and analyzing the ethnic and religious conflicts of the southern hemisphere of this world society. Mesfin Getachew (Ethiopia) works out the causes and dynamics of conflict structures between Oromos and Somalis in Ethiopia at the Horn of Africa. Ronald H. Tuschl, Research Director and Editor Stadtschlaining, May 2006   4   Mesfin Getachew: Ethnicity and Ethnic-Conflict in Post-Federal Ethiopia: A case of Mai’so District Conflict Between Oromos and Somalis Introduction The historical process underlying in the creation of the modern Ethiopia state has been marked by power struggles and conflictual cleavages among diverse forces. These forces could be arrayed into twin contending categories. The first group aimed at consolidating political sovereignty under a centralized authority. The second, comprising centrifugal challenges, asserted local supremacy and resisted consolidation by the former. Somewhere between the two, there have been small and medium scale intra and inter-local frictions that develop into a situation of conflict. As Markakis states that: “The modern state of Ethiopia was formed in the second half of the nineteenth century. Up to that time, the boarder of the Abyssinian Kingdom enclosed the northern plateau, from Shoa in the south, The Awash River in the east, the bend of the Blue Nile in the west, and the highland region beyond the Mereab river in the North (that was to become the Italian Colony of Eritrea). Within their domain, the Abyssinians had assimilated most though pockets of Agaw speakers remained. Introduced in the fourth century, Orthodox Christianity reigned supreme. Islam was preserved among the minorities converted to this religion centuries earlier, and a form of Judaism survived among the Falasha people… Amharic was the official language and lingua franca of the kingdom ...(2004:11)” Accordingly, one can imagine the volatility of the state from this point. In our present, troubled world, Ethiopia can be seen as a main factor for stability in the Horn of Africa. The Horn of Africa is a highly complicated and deeply interwoven political region, with lingering conflicts and pressing social and economic problems. Thus, the stabilizing role of Ethiopia also with a view to Addis Ababa being the Head Quarter of the African Union is vital for herself, for the region and for Africa as a whole. Such comprehensive stability demands adequate management of societal conflicts. As in many other societies, ‘conflict in Ethiopia has been, and somehow still is to a certain extent, taboo. The word conflict is used quite often to refer to a physical confrontation such as fight, battle, or struggle. More fundamentally, conflict denotes disagreements on, or opposition to, interests or ideas’. In this sense, ‘conflict describes relationships in which each party perceives the other’s goals, values, interests or behavior as antithetical to its own’. Starting from this, there can be a multitude of ways to resolve such existing or perceived contradictions. Any society and any political system in the world have to try to develop its own institutions, organization, and systems to handle conflicts peacefully and to prevent violence. ‘What has to be prevented is violence, not necessarily conflict as such. Rather conflict can and perhaps should be accepted   5 as an inevitable component of all-social political relations, as well as an indicator of problems’. Finally, it should not be forgotten that conflict is a most powerful factor to bring about change and development in the above-mentioned definition. According to a Somalis proverbial saying “The solution to a Conflict is Talking about the Conflict.” Somali Proverb ‘The underlying causes of such inter and/or intra-group scenarios of conflicts are complex and intricate. As such, the conflicts were products of ramifications of various determinants of state and society relations and institutions. These causes may vary from tendencies of competition over scarce material resources, to aspirations of being dominant intra-group forces, to geographical, Psycho-cultural historical feelings or biases of non-complimentarily, to tensions induced by extra-group factors such as different forms of state intervention, resource alienation (especially land), Political-oppressions, etc. In spite of this complex patterns and processes, different modes of alleviating and deescalating conflict situations have emerged. The modalities may embrace traditional or indigenous methods of preventing, managing and resolving conflicts. In addition, there are formal modes of resolutions including either persuasive or coercive intervention by the state. Given this backgrounds of traditional or formal conflict resolution, the surge of tensions relating to questions of ethnicity or national identities in the post-1991 politics of Ethiopia attract a significant research interest. In this context, this study focuses on the border/territorial disputes between the Ittu/Oromos and the Issa/Somalies of Ethiopia. Both of which have traditionally been considered to belong to the same sort of group. Violent conflicts within and between the Somalis and Oromos pastoral tribal groups of the Southern and Eastern parts of Ethiopia are not a new phenomenon. Centuries of interaction between the two groups of people have created a complex pattern of ethnic and linguistic groups relationships. Currently the issues of where the administrative boundaries between the two Regional States should be drawn in areas of mixed cultural, linguistic and ethnic affiliations have resulted in boundary disputes besides the resource conflicts which already existed. Local tribal elites have emerged on both sides, exacerbating the problems, bearing the name of boundary dispute exploiting the situation. We need to see the root and immediate causes of the conflicts, the attempted interventions by the Federal government, and other efforts made by the Oromia and the Somali Regional states separately and/or together.
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