Ethiopia Government and Politics

State and politics

Ethiopia Country Flag

Reference: Ethiopia Flag Meaning

According to, Ethiopia is formally a democracy with multi-party systems, but in practice has functioned as a one-party state governed by the revolutionary democratic front of the Ethiopian people.


According to the 1994 Constitution, Ethiopia is an ethnically based federation of nine states with regional autonomy. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of ET and its meanings of Ethiopia. Self-government allows the right to withdraw from the federation. The constitution provides for a federal parliament with two chambers: the Representative Council with a maximum of 550 directly elected members with five-year terms, and the Federal Council, which after the 2015 election has 153 members elected by the state parliaments.

Jointly, the Chambers elect the President of the Federal Republic every six years. The president has the most ceremonial duties and can be re-elected at most once. The Council of Representatives elects a prime minister, who has the principal power, and takes a position on the government members he appoints.


Ethiopia’s leading party is the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EFRDF), composed of a number of ethnically-based organizations with the Tigrean Liberation Movement Tigrean People’s Liberation Front as the Leading Party. When it took power in May 1991, it presented a “national contract” which promised, among other things, self-determination for Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic groups and granted full independence to the province of Eritrea, which came into force after a local vote in 1993.

EFRDF leader Meles Zenawi was elected chairman of a two-year transitional regime, after which general elections to a constituent assembly were held in 1994. Meanwhile, however, strong contradictions had arisen within the EFRDF. Following armed clashes in 1991 between EFRDF troops and forces from Oromo’s liberation front , the latter government left in connection with the 1992 regional elections in which the EFRDF and allied parties received 90 percent of the vote.

Political dissent and others threatening the regime’s power position have been suppressed in various ways. Electoral boycotts and party fragmentation within the opposition gave the EFRDF overwhelming dominance over Parliament after the 1995 and 2000 elections. This meant that the regime in many Ethiopians’ eyes did not appear legitimate.

Ahead of the 2005 elections, two major opposition alliances were formed, which received strong support, especially in the larger cities, and claimed that they had actually won the election but were deprived of the victory by cheating. Demonstrations and protest actions led to severe riots, which were fought off with deadly shootings and mass arrests. When the EFRDF’s position of power was seriously threatened for the first time, the regime’s repression was threatened, for example by changes in the law in the late 00s, which severely limited the possibility of critical journalism.

In the 2010 election, the EFRDF again stood virtually without opposition and together with allied parties were given all but two mandates. In August 2012, Meles departed Zenawi, who has led the country since 1991, and was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. In the 2015 elections, the EFRDF received 500 out of 547 seats and the others went to the government alliance support parties. The opposition accused the regime of harassing its opponents and was supported by Amnesty International, which reported systematic abuse.

In the same year, violent protests against the regime broke out among the Oromo and Amhara people groups, which cost hundreds of people their lives. An emergency permit was introduced in October 2016 and again in February 2018. In the same month, Hailemariam Desalegn chose to submit his resignation application. He remained as prime minister and chairman of the EFRDF until April when Abiy Ahmed was appointed as his successor on both posts.

The newly appointed head of government immediately began to undertake major reforms; he signed a peace treaty with Eritrea (see Eritrea), removed the stamp of terror from several rebel movements and allowed its representatives to return from exile and made peace with Ogaden’s national liberation front (see Ogaden). The new government presented in October 2018 was significantly smaller than the previous ones and half of the ministers were women. In the same month, Sahle-Work Zewde (born 1950) became the country’s first female head of state.

Abiy has also promised that the 2020 elections will be free and fair. A leader of the opposition was appointed in November 2018 as head of the electoral authority.


The legal order in Ethiopia has its origins in Roman law but is now codified according to continental European pattern. In addition to the Supreme Court in Addis Ababa, there are provincial and district courts. The most important codifications are the Civil Code, the Commercial Code, the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Act. The death penalty is punished for some serious crimes.

Human Rights

Under the Constitution, Ethiopia is democratic, but the democratic traditions and institutions are weak and the country’s authorities limit the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly.

In a July 2013 report, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized Ethiopian police for systematic torture and mistreatment of prisoners in the country’s largest detention center, Maekelawi in Addis Ababa. Several opposition politicians, regime-critical journalists and organizers of protest actions are held captive on loose grounds, and several arrests stem from a recently adopted anti-terror law (2009) that has resulted in severely limited freedom of assembly in the country.

In recent years, the country’s human rights groups have been forced to cut down on operations, and a number of organizations have closed completely. Several of Ethiopia’s human rights activists have fled because of threats, and for those organizations that still operate in the area of ​​human rights, the climate is threatening. Equally bad is the existence of independent media as more journalists have fled Ethiopia than any other country in the world during the last decade. The Constitution itself meets high demands for freedom of expression and press, but in the Press Freedom Index that Reporters Without Borders compiled for 2013, Ethiopia is ranked 137th out of a total of 179 countries, which is a deterioration compared to the previous year.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Council, EHRCO, and Amnesty International report on civil and political rights violations in the form of arbitrary detention and torture. The death penalty is allowed by law but is rarely enforced.

Violations of economic, social and cultural rights occur, as well as discrimination on grounds of gender and political affiliation. Although prohibited by law, forced labor is often used as a form of punishment.

Violence, sexual violence and discrimination against women and children is a widespread problem in the country. Genital mutilation is prohibited by law, but three out of four women in Ethiopia are estimated to have been exposed to it. Women’s access to the judicial system is limited, especially regarding marital disputes, abuse or rape. Other serious offenses against women and even children are forced labor, prostitution and human trafficking. Homosexuality is prohibited by law and can lead to imprisonment.

Heads of State from 1270

1270-85 Yikunno Amlak
1285-94 Yagba Siyon
1294-98 Yagba Siyon’s five sons
1299-1314 Widim Re’ad
1314-44 Amde Siyon
1344-71 Seyfe Arad
1371-80 Niwaye Maryam
1380-1412 Dawit
1412-13 Tewodros
1413-30 Yishaq
1430 Indriyas
1430-33 Hizba Neñ
1433 Mihrka Neñ
1433-34 Bedl Neñ
1434-68 Zera Ya’iqob
1468-78 Be’ide Maryam
1478-94 Iskindir
1494 Amde Siyon (II)
1494-1508 Na’od
1508-40 Libne Dingil
1540-59 Gelawdewos
1559-63 Minas
1563-97 Serse Dingil
1597-1603 Ya’iqob
1603-04 Ze-Dingil
1605-07 Ya’iqob (2nd time)
1607-32 Susinyos
1632-67 Fasiledes
1667-82 Yohannis
1682-1706 Iyasu the Great
1706-08 Tekle Haymanot
1708-11 Tewofilos
1711-16 Yostos
1716-21 Dawit (III)
1721-30 Bakaffa
1730-55 Iyasu II (the little one)
1755-69 Iyo’as (I)
1769-1855 “Era of princes”
1855-68 Tewodros (II)
1868-72 Tekle Giyorgis (II)
1872-89 Yohannis (IV)
1889-1913 Minilik II
1913-16 Iyasu (Prince)
1916-30 Zewditu
1930-74 Haile Sellassie I
1974-87 military council (dergen)
1987-91 Mengistu Haile Mariam (President)
1991-95 Meles Zenawi (president, interim)
1995-2001 Negaso Gidada (President)
2001-13 Girma Wolde-Giorgis (President)
2013-18 Mulatu Teshome (President)
2018- Sahle-Work Zewde (President)

Ethiopia Head of Government

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