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Title:The House of Federation: the practice and limits of federalism in Ethiopia's second federal chamber
Author:Bihonegn, Tesfa
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies (ISSN 1753-1063)
Geographic term:Ethiopia
Abstract:Multiethnic Ethiopia has been 'exercising' federalism for the last two decades with unique constitutional and institutional designs. This article deals with House of Federation, the second chamber of the federal parliament, which, in both its composition and competence, hardly shares the attributes that characterize federal chambers elsewhere. While previous studies have focused on its powers of constitutional interpretation, this article attempts to provide a wider picture of the House of Federation by discussing its composition and competences, the constitutional and political underpinnings behind its (unique) design, and associated ramifications and paradoxes. It shows how representing individual groups rather than member states at the federal chamber, though constitutionally justifiable, is practically problematic in light of the powers constitutionally attributed to the House of Federation, which are predominantly regional in their dimensions and implications. With regard to its competences, the article argues, the fact that the House of Federation is non-legislative is not only an indication to the paucity of 'shared-rule' in Ethiopia, but also paradoxical in view of the emphasis on group 'self-rule' and the guardian powers that the House has in respect to the federal constitutional order. Discussing its considerable arbitration assignments, apart from the widely discussed constitutional interpretation, it demonstrates that Ethiopia's House of Federation is also unusually and predominantly adjudicative. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]