Federalism and Security

The Special Police in Ethiopia


  • Assefa Fiseha Addis Ababa University


Special police Ethiopia, ethno federation, peace and security, regional police


Ensuring security is one of the defining characteristics and central claims of a state. In federal countries there is a possibility for two or more actors at different levels to have some mandate over security. In the case of federal Ethiopia the security sector remains complicated. The constituent units have established special police in addition to the regular police, and its role and status remains contested. What is the constitutional basis of the special police? Do regional states have a mandate to establish such a police? Is it a force for stability or instability? How should it be regulated? These are the main questions that this article aims to investigate based on qualitative method, relevant comparative study, and empirical investigation into this rather complex sector. The findings show that the special police resemble more an army than a police force. It has also taken over the mandate of the army, which is a federal mandate. Lately, its size has increased significantly and retired army generals have begun to join it, hinting that the army is being drained.
The fact that the impact of the army is depleting owing to the ongoing civil war in the country and the constituent unit special police is slowly taking over mandate implies the center is losing control and the country is slowly falling apart along ethno- national fault lines. The article further explains the race behind the special police and proposes options on how to regulate it.

Author Biography

Assefa Fiseha, Addis Ababa University

(PhD), Professor of Public Law, College of Law and Governance, Centre for Federalism and Governance, Addis Ababa University




How to Cite

Fiseha, A. (2022). Federalism and Security: The Special Police in Ethiopia. Journal of Autonomy and Security Studies, 6(2), 96–130. Retrieved from https://jass.ax/index.php/jass/article/view/77