Eritrea - Government

After defeating the Ethiopian military government in May 1991, Eritrea functioned as a distinct political unit. Between the end of the war in May 1991 and the celebration of Independence Day in May 1993, the EPLF formed a provisional government to run the country. The provisional government was comprised of a 28-member executive council. This provisional government organized elections at the village, district, and provincial level throughout the country to broaden popular participation. In fact, a National Assembly that included as its members the EPLF Central Committee members; the chairman, secretary and one female member of each of the ten provincial councils; ten additional women (nominated by the National Union of Eritrean Women); and twenty others (prominent individuals who were not EPLF members, including former ELF leaders) was established to form the basis of the new government. The National Assembly then elected Isaias Afewerki president of the provisional government until May 1993.

Following the referendum, in May 1993, an interim administration was created to govern for four years. In this government, a National Assembly was formed, consisting of the Central Committee of the EPLF and 60 other individuals. Ten out of the 60 seats were reserved for women. The assembly elected Isaias Afewerki president. He also served as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and chaired the executive branch—the State Council—whose members he nominated. The National Assembly ratified all of his nominations. This government was to serve until a constitutional commission prepared a constitution, and the government organized elections.

In 1996, the 50-member constitutional commission submitted a draft document for public debate. It provided for multiparty democracy based upon Western standards featuring a full array of civil liberties. Ratified by referendum in 1997, the constitution called for national elections in May 1998, which were delayed by the war with Ethiopia, subsequently rescheduled for December 2001, and postponed indefinitely.

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