With the coming to power of Abiy Ahmed in April 2018 following a popular movement that was initially sparked in Oromia and then spread to other regions, there was a short period of euphoria over the country's political landscape. Ethiopians and the international community alike were optimistic of democratic transition that would lead to the opening up of political and media spaces, fair and free elections, consolidation of the multinational federal system, the strengthening of autonomy of regional states, peace and stability, equitable resource distribution and equal socioeconomic opportunities for citizens. But, to the dismay of many observers, Abiy and his entourages shifted the narrative to the restoration of imperial system rather than strengthening the already existing multinational federal system. The return to imperial imaginations is both discursively and practically evident in Ethiopia's political discourses, in particular since 2018. Polarized political views between supporters and critics of multinational federalism have not only created a tense political environment but also partly contributed to the war in Tigray and Oromia. The country's three-decade long experiment with the federal system now faces a serious challenge of reversal. As the thesis and antithesis of multinational federalism have become salient forces shaping the country's political order, this article seeks to contribute to the existing debate, in particular contextualizing the discussion within decolonial literature. I argue that the current controversy over the nature of state structure is part of the struggle between forces promoting the right to self-determination and those favoring a unitary system.

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