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Title:Indigenous institutions as an alternative conflict resolution mechanism in eastern Ethiopia: the case of the Ittu Oromo and Issa Somali clans
Author:Tenaw, Zigale Tamir
Periodical:African Journal on Conflict Resolution (ISSN 1562-6997)
Geographic term:Ethiopia
conflict resolution
customary law
Abstract:The study was conducted in eastern Ethiopia where the Somali and Oromo ethnic groups live. The main purpose was to examine the roles and challenges of the indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms practised as an alternative to modern methods among the Ittu Oromo and Issa Somali clans. The study employed a qualitative research approach under which key informant interviews, focus group discussions, observations and informal discussions were conducted. Key informants and focus group discussants were selected purposively. It was found that territorial expansion, resource competition and cattle raiding were considered as the main causes of violent conflict in the area. Boundary disputes between the two regions have been associated not only with the accessibility of resources, but also with issues of identity. According to the participants, the indigenous institutions can play a major role in preventing and resolving intra-ethnic conflicts. There are cases of government support for indigenous institution leaders, especially where there is proximity between such leaders and the current political system. Government intervention in the indigenous systems can also result, however, in the weakening of customary institutions in the area. The absence of a single common binding indigenous institution that governs inter-ethnic conflict in the area is another challenge for indigenous systems of conflict resolution. Indigenous institutions can deal effectively with many conflicts caused by the above mentioned factors, but since they also have certain limitations, serious thought should be given to the option of appropriately integrating modern and indigenous institutions. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]