Politics of Ethiopia

Politics of Ethiopia takes place in a framework of a federal parliamentary republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament. The Judiciary is more or less independent of the executive and the legislature.

Political developments

In May 1991, a coalition of rebel forces under the name Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) defeated the government of Mengistu regime. In July 1991, the TPLF, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and others established the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) which consisted of an 87-member Council of Representatives and guided by a national charter that functioned as a transitional constitution.In June 1992 the OLF withdrew from the government; in March 1993, members of the Southern Ethiopia Peoples' Democratic Coalition left the government.

The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), an ally in the fight against the Mengistu regime, assumed control of Eritrea and established a provisional government. Eritrea achieved full independence on May 24, 1993.

President Meles Zenawi and members of the TGE pledged to oversee the formation of a multi-party democracy. The first election for Ethiopia's 547-member constituent assembly was held in June 1994. This assembly adopted the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in December 1994. The elections for Ethiopia's first popularly-chosen national parliament and regional legislatures were held in May and June 1995. Most opposition parties chose to boycott these elections. There was a landslide victory for the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). International and non-governmental observers concluded that opposition parties would have been able to participate had they chosen to do so.

The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was installed in August 1995. The first President was Negasso Gidada. The EPRDF-led government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has promoted a policy of ethnic federalism, devolving significant powers to regional, ethnically-based authorities. Ethiopia today has 9 semi-autonomous administrative regions that have the power to raise and spend their own revenues. Under the present government, Ethiopians enjoy greater political participation and freer debate than ever before in their history, although some fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press, are, in practice, somewhat circumscribed.

Zenawi's government was re-elected in 2000 in Ethiopia's first multi-party elections. The incumbent President is Girma Wolde-Giorgis.

Since 1991, Ethiopia has established warm relations with the United States and western Europe and has sought substantial economic aid from Western countries and World Bank. In 2004, the government began a resettlement initiative to move more than two million people away from the arid highlands of the east, proposing that these resettlements would reduce food shortages.cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/3640227.stm|title=In Pictures: Ethiopia's great resettlement|publisher=BBC News|date=2004-04-22|accessdate=2007-04-26]

Ethiopia held another general election in May 2005, which drew a record number of voters, with 90% of the electorate turning out to cast their vote. While the election was deemed by the European Union election observer team to fall short of international standards for fair and free elections, other teams drew different conclusions. The African Union report on September 14 commended "the Ethiopian people's display of genuine commitment to democratic ideals [http://www.ethioembassy.org.uk/news/press%20releases/Facts%20about%20the%20Recent%20Ethiopian%20Parliamentary%20Elections.htm On 2005 Ethiopian elections] ] and on September 15 the US Carter Center concluded that "the majority of the constituency results based on the May 15 polling and tabulation are credible and reflect competitive conditions". The US Department of State said on September 16, "these elections stand out as a milestone in creating a new, more competitive multi-party political system in one of Africa's largest and most important countries."Fact|date=April 2007 Even the EU preliminary statement of 2005 also said "...the polling processes were generally positive. The overall assessment of the process has been rated as good in 64% of the cases, and very good in 24%".

The opposition complained that the ruling EPRDF engaged in widespread vote rigging and intimidation, alleging fraud in 299 constituencies.Fact|date=April 2007 All allegations were investigated by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia in cooperation with election monitors, a process which delayed the release of the final results. In June 2005, with the results of the election still unclear, a group of university students protested these alleged discrepancies, encouraged by supporters of the Coalition for Unity opposition party, despite a ban on protests imposed by the government. On June 8, 26 people were killed in Addis Ababa as a result of rioting, which led to the arrest of hundreds of protesters.Fact|date=April 2007 On September 5, 2005, the National Elections Board of Ethiopia released the final election results, which confirmed that the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front retained its control of the government, but showed that opposition parties had increased their share of parliamentary seats, from 12 to 176. The Coalition for Unity and Democracy won all the seats in Addis Ababa, both for the Parliament and the City Council.

Street protests broke out again, when the opposition called for a general strike and boycotted the new Parliament, refusing to accept the results of the election.Fact|date=April 2007 The police forces once again attempted to contain the protests and this time 42 people were killed in Addis Ababa, including seven policemen, and another of whom later died because of fatal injuries caused by a hand grenade detonation. Thousands were arrested, and were taken to various detention centers across the country.Fact|date=April 2007 By February 2006, six hundred remained in custody, facing trial in March.Fact|date=April 2007

On 14 November, the Ethiopian Parliament passed a resolution to establish a neutral commission to investigate the incidents of June 8 and November 1 and 2.Fact|date=April 2007 In February 2006, UK Prime Minister Blair, acknowledging that the EPRDF has won the election, said he wanted to see Ethiopia resolve its internal problems and continue on a democratic path.cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4707232.stm|title=UK PM targets Ethiopia at summit|publisher=BBC News|date=2006-02-12|accessdate=2007-04-26]

Current politics

Since 1991, Ethiopia has established warm relations with the United States and western Europe and has sought substantial economic aid from Western countries and the World Bank.Fact|date=April 2007 In 2004, the government began a drive to move more than two million people away from the arid highlands of the east, proposing that these resettlements would reduce food shortages.

Ethiopia held another general election in May 2005, which drew a record number of voters, with 90% of the electorate turning out to cast their vote. While the European Union election observer team of Ana Maria Gomes deemed the elections to have fallen short of international standards for fair and free elections, other teams drew totally different conclusions. The African Union report on September 14 commended "the Ethiopian people's display of genuine commitment to democratic ideals",Fact|date=April 2007 and on September 15 the US Carter Center concluded that "the majority of the constituency results based on the May 15 polling and tabulation are credible and reflect competitive conditions".Fact|date=April 2007 However, it was noted that foreign election observers (including Gomes) were not given the authority and/or documentations in order to travel and monitor rural areas of the country.Fact|date=April 2007 Even worse, these delays occurred a couple of days before the election day and some have indicated the governments role in these delays, but couldn't provide substantial proof for their accusations.Fact|date=April 2007 Still, the US Department of State said on September 16, "these elections stand out as a milestone in creating a new, more competitive multi-party political system in one of Africa's largest and most important countries."Fact|date=April 2007 Even the EU preliminary statement of 2005 said that "...the polling processes were generally positive. The overall assessment of the process has been rated as good in 64% of the cases, and very good in 24%."Fact|date=April 2007

The opposition complained that the ruling EPRDF engaged in widespread vote rigging and intimidation, alleging fraud in 299 constituencies.Fact|date=April 2007 The ruling party complained that the main opposition party CUD's AEUP sub party had engaged in intimidation.Fact|date=April 2007 All allegations were investigated by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia in cooperation with election monitors, a process which delayed the release of the final results. In June 2005, with the results of the election still unclear, a group of opposition supporters protested these alleged discrepancies despite a one month ban on protests imposed by the government.Fact|date=April 2007 The government said that if there are no protests for one month, it would ease the high political tension in Ethiopia.Fact|date=April 2007 Street protests broke out again later in the year when the CUD opposition called for a general strike and boycotted the new Parliament, refusing to accept the results of the election.Fact|date=April 2007 The police forces once again attempted to contain the protests and this time forty-two people were killed in Addis Ababa, including seven policemen, and another of whom later died because of fatal injuries caused by a hand grenade detonation.Fact|date=April 2007 Thousands were arrested, and were taken to various detention centers across the country. On 14 November, the Ethiopian Parliament passed a resolution to establish a neutral commission to investigate the incidents of June 8 and November 1 and 2.Fact|date=April 2007 On September 5, 2005, the National Elections Board of Ethiopia released the final election results in which confirmed that the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front retained its control of the government, but showed that opposition parties had increased their share of parliamentary seats, from 12 to 176.Fact|date=April 2007 The Coalition for Unity and Democracy won all but one of the seats in Addis Ababa, both for the Parliament and the City Council. Now half of CUD, including Medhin have joined the parliament.

In February 2006, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, acknowledging that the EPRDF had won the election, said he wanted to see Ethiopia resolve its internal problems and continue on a democratic path. By February 2006, hundreds remained in custody, facing trial in March.Fact|date=April 2007 About 119 people are currently facing trial, including journalists for defamation and opposition party leaders for treason.Fact|date=April 2007 Human rights organisations have raised concerns over the well-being of some of these prisoners. However 8,000 prisoners have already been freed. [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4440232.stm|title=Mass release from Ethiopian jails|publisher=BBC News|date=2005-11-15|accessdate=2007-04-26] Concerns about the implications of these trials for the freedom of the press have also been raised.Fact|date=April 2007

Executive branch

President
Girma Wolde-Giyorgis Lucha
Independent
8 October 2001
-
Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi
EPRDF
August 1995The president is elected by the House of People's Representatives for a six-year term. The prime minister is designated by the party in power following legislative elections. The Council of Ministers as provided for in the December 1994 constitution is selected by the prime minister and approved by the House of People's Representatives.

Legislative branch

The Federal Parliamentary Assembly has two chambers: the Council of People's Representatives ("Yehizbtewekayoch Mekir Bet") with 547 members, elected for five-year terms in single-seat constituencies; and the Council of the Federation ("Yefedereshn Mekir Bet") with 110 members, one for each nationality, and one additional representative for each one million of its population, designated by the regional councils, which may elect them themselves or through popular elections.

Many opposition parties are represented in the Ethiopia Parliament where representatives from Oromia state hold the most positions and representatives from the Amhara State hold the second most position, in correlation with the population order of the corresponding states.cite web|url=http://www.ethiopar.net/English/hopre/hormemb.html#1|title=MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF PEOPLES' REPRESENTATIVES OF THE FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA (2005-2009)|accessdate=2007-04-26|publisher=Federal Parliamentary Assembly] Various opposition parties -- including the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, United Ethiopian Democratic Party-Medhin Party, Somali People's Democratic Party, EDL, Gambela People's Democratic Movement, All Ethiopian Unity Party, Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement and the Benishangul-Gumuz People's Democratic Unity Front -- hold many positions in the parliament.

Political parties and elections

Some other political pressure groups include the Council of Alternative Forces for Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia (CAFPDE) Beyene Petros and the Southern Ethiopia People's Democratic Coalition (SEPDC) [Beyene Petros] .

Judicial branch

The president and vice president of the Federal Supreme Court are recommended by the prime minister and appointed by the House of People's Representatives; for other federal judges, the prime minister submits candidates selected by the Federal Judicial Administrative Council to the House of People's Representatives for appointment. In May 2007, the Ethiopian Federal courts received “Technology in Government in Africa” (TIGA) Awards that is provided by Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Canadian e-Policy Resource Center (CePRC). . [http://ena.gov.et/EnglishNews/2007/May/02May07/24191.htm Ethiopian federal court receives TIGA award] ] The courts received the awards for their provision of efficient service for the public through the use of modern Information Communication Technologies (ICT).During the awarding ceremony held here, TIGA Executive Director Eric Davis said ICT plays a major role in achieving the development goals Africa has set to accomplish. The award is given in four categories and the Addis Ababa Revenue Agency and the Ethiopian Federal courts were given special awards for their activities on integrated revenue collection and courts reform program respectively.

Administrative divisions

Ethiopia is divided into 9 ethnically-based administrative regions (astedader akababiwach, singular — astedader akabibi) and 2 chartered cities*: Addis Ababa*; Afar; Amhara, Benishangul/Gumaz; Dire Dawa*; Gambela; Harar; Oromia; Somali; Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region; Tigray

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, ECA, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNU, UPU,WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

Royalists and government in exile

A group of Ethiopian royalists continue to operate The Crown Council of Ethiopia as a government in exile.

References

External links

* [http://www.ethiopar.net/English/contents.htm The Parliament of Ethiopia]
* [http://www.ethiopar.net/English/cnstiotn/consttn.htm Constitution of Ethiopia]


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