Renowned federalism scholar visits Ethiopia

Federalism scholar Ronald L. Watts gave addresses to both houses of Ethiopia’s parliament and to hundreds of students during a recent visit to the emerging federation located in the Horn of Africa.

Professor Watts went to Ethiopia to launch a new course on federalism for students taking their master’s degree at Addis Ababa University.

Prof. Watts, a co-founder of the Forum of Federations, spoke about the need for new federations to maintain a strong national government while maintaining the autonomy of its subnational units.

"For federalism to succeed,” he noted in his presentations, "you need both.”

A subnational unit in a federation is usually a state or a province.

Prof. Watts spoke on the subject of federalism in the 21st century to a capacity crowd at Addis Ababa University.

The speech was attended by the university president, senior officials, faculty and students, as well as senior members of the diplomatic community.

Prof. Watts also gave a speech to several hundred members of the upper and lower chambers of parliament in Addis Ababa, from both the governing and opposition parties.

Degefe Bula, the Speaker of the House of Federation, introduced the professor to the members of parliament. Following the address, Prof. Watts answered questions on issues dealing with fiscal federalism, minority rights and the organization of political parties in other federations.

Prof. Watts also held private meetings with Shitaye Minale, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Peoples’ Representatives, and Dr. Shiferew Teklemariam, the newly-appointed Minister of Federal Affairs,

Prof. Watts also had brief speaking engagements with faculty and students of the Ethiopian Civil Service College and the local media. Several articles and extensive interviews appeared in Ethiopian publications. His visit to Ethiopia took place from Nov. 10–21, 2008.

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