Ethiopia: Government and Politics

Posted: February 14, 2008 in Uncategorized

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Party and Government: Until 1974 revolution ruled by an imperial regime whose last emperor was Haile Selassie I. Following revolution, a socialist state based on principles of Marxism-Leninism, led by Workers’ Party of Ethiopia. Constitution promulgated in 1987 created People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. In theory, National Shengo (National Assembly) highest organ of political power, but real power centered in hands of Mengistu Haile Mariam, president and commander in chief of armed forces.

In May 1991, Mengistu regime overthrown by coalition of forces led by Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A National Conference in July 1991 created Transitional Government of Ethiopia, consisting of a president and a prime minister, a seventeen-member Council of Ministers, and an eighty-seven-member Council of Representatives. Transitional government to last not longer than two-and-one-half years. Meles Zenawi, former head of EPRDF, elected president by Council of Representatives. In mid-1993 new constitution being drafted to come into force not later than early 1994.

After May 1991, Eritrea controlled by Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF). EPLF set up Provisional Government of Eritrea under its leader, Issaias Afwerki. In a referendum held April 23-25, 1993, more than 98 percent of registered voters favored independence from Ethiopia. In May 1993, Government of Eritrea was formed, consisting of a National Assembly with supreme authority, a State Council with executive powers, and a president. Issaias Afwerki elected president by National Assembly. New government to last not longer than four years, during which democratic constitution is to be written.

Judicial System: As of mid-1993, new judicial system in process of being established.

Administrative Divisions: In mid-1991 Transitional Government of Ethiopia created twelve autonomous regions on basis of ethnic identity, plus two multiethnic chartered cities (Addis Ababa and Harer). Each region broken into districts (weredas), the basic unit of administration. On June 21, 1992, elections were held to fill seats on wereda and regional councils.

Foreign Relations: In late 1980s, Ethiopia relied on Soviet Union, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Israel, and various East European countries for military assistance and on Western nations for humanitarian aid and small amounts of economic assistance. After mid-1991, transitional government reoriented Ethiopia’s foreign relations from East to West, establishing warm relations with United States and western Europe and seeking substantial economic aid from Western countries and World Bank. Ethiopia also active in attempts to mediate the civil war in Somalia

International Agreements and Memberships: Numerous, including Organization of African Unity and United Nations and a number of its specialized agencies, such as World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

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