Eritrea/Government

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The new government faces formidable challenges. Beginning with no constitution, no judicial system, and an education system in shambles, it has been forced to build the institutions of government from scratch. The present government includes legislative, executive, and judicial bodies.

The legislature, the National Assembly, includes 75 members of the PFDJ and 75 additional popularly elected members. The National Assembly is the highest legal power in the government until the establishment of a democratic, constitutional government. The legislature sets the internal and external policies of the government, regulates implementation of those policies, approves the budget, and elects the president of the country.

The president nominates individuals to head the various ministries, authorities, commissions, and offices, and the National Assembly ratifies those nominations. The cabinet is the country's executive branch. It is composed of 16 ministers and chaired by the president. It implements policies, regulations, and laws and is accountable to the National Assembly. The ministries are agriculture; construction; defense; education; energy, mining, and water; finance and development; foreign; health; information and culture; internal affairs; justice; local government; marine resources; transport; trade and industry; and tourism.

The judiciary operates independently of both the legislative and executive bodies, with a court system that extends from the village through to the district, provincial, and national levels. On May 19, 1993, the PGE issued a proclamation regarding the reorganization of the government. It declared that during a four-year transition period, and sooner if possible, it would draft and ratify a constitution, prepare a law on political parties, prepare a press law, and carry out elections for a constitutional government. In March 1994, the PGE created a constitutional commission charged with drafting a constitution flexible enough to meet the current needs of a population suffering from 30 years of civil war as well as those of the future, when stability and prosperity change the political landscape. Commission members have traveled throughout the country and to Eritrean communities abroad holding meetings to explain constitutional options to the people and to solicit their input. A new constitution was promulgated in 1997 but has not yet been implemented, and general elections have been postponed.

Country name:
conventional long form: State of Eritrea
conventional short form: Eritrea
local long form: Hagere Ertra
local short form: Ertra
former: Eritrea Autonomous Region in Ethiopia

Data code: ER

Government type: transitional government
note: following a successful referendum on independence for the Autonomous Region of Eritrea on 23-25 April 1993, a National Assembly, composed entirely of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ, was established as a transitional legislature; a Constitutional Commission was also established to draft a constitution; ISAIAS Afworki was elected president by the transitional legislature; the constitution, ratified in August 1997, did not enter into effect, pending parliamentary and presidential elections; those elections have been postponed indefinitely following the start of the border conflict with Ethiopia

Capital: Asmara (formerly Asmera)

Administrative divisions: 8 provinces (singular - awraja); Akale Guzay, Barka, Denkel, Hamasen, Sahil, Semhar, Senhit, Seraye
note: in May 1995 the National Assembly adopted a resolution stating that the administrative structure of Eritrea, which had been established by former colonial powers, would consist of only six provinces when the new constitution, then being drafted, became effective in 1997; the new provinces, the names of which had not been recommended by the US Board on Geographic Names for recognition by the US Government, pending acceptable definition of the boundaries, were: Anseba, Debub, Debubawi Keyih Bahri, Gash-Barka, Maakel, and Semanawi Keyih Bahri; more recently, it has been reported that these provinces have been redesignated regions and renamed Southern Red Sea, Northern Red Sea, Anseba, Gash-Barka, Southern, and Central

Independence: 23-25 April 1993 referendum was held with vote for independence as the outcome; 24 May 1993 (from Ethiopia; formerly the Eritrea Autonomous Region)

National holiday: National Day (independence from Ethiopia), 24 May (1993)

Constitution: the transitional constitution, decreed on 19 May 1993, was replaced by a new constitution adopted on 23 May 1997, but not yet implemented

Legal system: operates on the basis of transitional laws that incorporate pre-independence statutes of the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, revised Ethiopian laws, customary laws, and post independence enacted laws

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President ISAIAS Afworki (since 8 June 1993); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: State Council is the collective executive authority
note: the president is head of the State Council and National Assembly
elections: president elected by the National Assembly; election last held 8 June 1993 (next to be held NA)
election results: ISAIAS Afworki elected president; percent of National Assembly vote - ISAIAS Afworki 95%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (150 seats; term limits not established)
elections: in May 1997, following the adoption of the new constitution, 75 members of the PFDJ Central Committee (the old Central Committee of the EPLF), 60 members of the 527-member Constituent Assembly which had been established in 1997 to discuss and ratify the new constitution, and 15 representatives of Eritreans living abroad were formed into a Transitional National Assembly to serve as the country's legislative body until country-wide elections to a National Assembly are held; only 75 members will be elected to the National Assembly - the other 75 will be members of the Central Committee of the PFDJ

Judicial branch: Supreme Court; 10 provincial courts; 29 district courts

Political parties and leaders: People's Front for Democracy and Justice or PFDJ, the only party recognized by the government [ISAIAS Afworki, PETROS Solomon]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Eritrean Islamic Jihad or EIJ; Eritrean Liberation Front or ELF [ABDULLAH Muhammed]; Eritrean Liberation Front-Revolutionary Council or ELF-RC [Ahmed NASSER]; Eritrean Liberation Front-United Organization or ELF-UO [Mohammed Said NAWD]

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IGAD, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador SEMERE Russom
chancery: 1708 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 319-1991
FAX: [1] (202) 319-1304

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador William D. CLARKE
embassy: Franklin D. Roosevelt Street, Asmara
mailing address: P. O. Box 211, Asmara
telephone: [291] (1) 120004
FAX: [291] (1) 127584

Flag description: red isosceles triangle (based on the hoist side) dividing the flag into two right triangles; the upper triangle is green, the lower one is blue; a gold wreath encircling a gold olive branch is centered on the hoist side of the red triangle