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. (October 2018)
The President of Ethiopia is the head of state of Ethiopia. The position is largely a ceremonial one, with executive power vested in the Prime Minister. The current president is Sahle-Work Zewde, who took office on 25 October 2018. Presidents are elected by the House of Peoples' Representatives for six years, with a two term limit.
The presidency was created in its original form by the 1987 Constitution, which established the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia under Mengistu Haile Mariam. He was elected to a five-year term by the National Shengo (legislature), with no term limits. He was vested with sweeping executive powers. For instance, when the Shengo was out of session, he had the right to appoint a number of state officers. Although such appointments required legislative confirmation, in practice the principles of democratic centralism made such confirmation merely a formality. He was also chairman of the Council of State, which acted for the Shengo when it was out of session. While he, like all other state officers, was nominally responsible to the Shengo, in practice he was effectively a dictator. The only president under this system was Mengistu Haile-Mariam.
Following the overthrow of the communist regime at the end of the Ethiopian Civil War, the presidential office took its current form in stages, culminating in the adoption of the current constitution in 1995.
The House of Peoples' Representatives nominates the candidate for president. The office falls vacant upon completion of a term or resignation. Presidential tenure is not keyed to that of the House of Peoples' Representatives in order to assure continuity in government and the nonpartisan character of the office. There is no vice president in the Ethiopia governmental system.
The president is elected in a joint session of the House of Peoples' Representatives and the House of the Federation by a two-thirds majority.
Upon being elected, the President, before commencing his or her responsibilities, shall swear before a joint session of the Houses the oath: "I....., when on this date commence my responsibility as President of the Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, pledge to carry out faithfully the high responsibility entrusted to me."
Powers and Duties
The 1995 Ethiopian Constitution lays out the duties and powers of the President of the Republic, to include:
- In foreign affairs:
- Accrediting and receiving diplomatic functionaries;
- Ratifying international treaties, upon authorization of the House of Peoples' Representatives;
- In parliamentary affairs:
- Opening the joint session of the House of Peoples' Representatives and the House of the Federation at the commencement of their annual sessions.
- In legislative matters:
- Promulgating the laws approved by the House of Peoples' Representatives;
- In executive matters and as to official protocol:
- Naming ambassadors and other envoys;
- Awarding medals, prizes, and gifts;
- Granting high military titles;
- In judicial matters:
Unlike most parliamentary republics, the President of Ethiopia is not even the nominal chief executive. Rather, the Constitution explicitly vests executive power in the Council of Ministers, and names the Prime Minister as chief executive. Many of the president's powers are duties that they must perform, while most of the others must be countersigned by the Prime Minister to be valid. However, pardons and commutations have been recognized as autonomous powers of the President.
"Proclamation No. 255/2001: Administration of the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia"
states that when the president, before the termination of his/her term of office, discontinues his/her service due to illness, death, resignation or due to his/her conviction, the House of Peoples' Representatives and the House of Federation, by an extraordinary joint session convened by the Speaker of either of the Houses or by the Speakers of both houses jointly, designate an acting president.