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Press and consolidation of power in Ethiopia and Uganda.

Stremlau, Nicole A (2008) Press and consolidation of power in Ethiopia and Uganda. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Guerrilla commanders Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Ethiopia's Meles Zenawi seized power in 1986 and 1991. Both made press freedom a prominent and credible policy to differentiate themselves from their predecessors in seeking domestic and international support in their efforts to consolidate power. Nevertheless, each still presides over a highly centralized autocratic regime, with limited opportunities for political contenders to contest free and fair national elections. There are, however, important differences. In Uganda the press has remained vibrant and open despite 2006 election tensions, while in Ethiopia much of the private press was dramatically closed after the 2005 electoral contests. Why the press has evolved differently in Ethiopia than in Uganda and what the role of the press has been under the current systems are core questions to be addressed in this research. In neither country can the media be studied separately from politics. The analytic framework of the thesis therefore highlights four key political variables, as well as four key media variables. The selected media variables are: the polarisation of the press; ideologies of journalists; institutionalisation of the press; and government interventions; and the selected political variables are: the ideology of the liberation movement; the process of state construction and the consolidation of power; reconciliation, trust and confidence building; and international dimensions. Each case study also includes a brief history highlighting the differences in the earlier development of the press in Ethiopia and Uganda. Because of the dearth of existing literature, the thesis has built on comparative literature from other regions and has relied on extensive field research, including semi-structured interviews and oral histories with key political and media actors for what is one of the first substantial pieces of research examining the press in contemporary Ethiopia and Uganda. The argument that emerges from this analysis is that the press can play an important role in building peace, encouraging reconciliation and facilitating dialogue in the aftermath of civil wars. It primarily does so through providing a space for different elite factions to negotiate power, reconcile competing versions of history and build a common national vision. This process has developed differently in Ethiopia and Uganda and accounts for some current discrepancies in their political and press systems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Mass Communications
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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