Council of Ministers

Ethiopia Table of Contents

The Council of Ministers, defined in the constitution as "the Government," was the government's highest executive and administrative organ. The body consisted of the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the ministers, and other members as determined by law. Members were accountable to the National Shengo, but between sessions they were accountable to the president and the Council of State. Members of this council were chosen from regularly elected members of the National Shengo and served five-year terms, unless they resigned or were removed by the president. For example, in early November 1989 Prime Minister FikreSelassie Wogderes resigned his office, allegedly for health reasons. However, some reports maintained that he was forced out by Mengistu because of his apparent loss of enthusiasm for the regime's policies. At the same time, Mengistu reshuffled his cabinet. Significantly, these events occurred weeks after the annual session of the National Shengo had concluded.

The Council of Ministers was responsible for the implementation of laws and regulations and for the normal administrative functions of national government. It prepared social and economic development plans, the annual budget, and proposals concerning foreign relations. In their respective areas of responsibility, members of the Council of Ministers were the direct representatives of the president and the government; and because they typically held parallel offices within the WPE, as a group they tended to be the most significant political actors in the government.

In 1991 there were twenty-one ministries. Portfolios consisted of the Ministry in Charge of the General Plan and the ministries of agriculture; coffee and tea development; communications and transport; construction; culture and sports affairs; domestic trade; education and fine arts; finance; foreign affairs; foreign trade; health; industry; information; internal affairs; labor and social affairs; law and justice; mines, energy, and water resources; national defense; state farms; and urban development and housing. In addition to these ministries, there were several other important state authorities, such as the Office of the National Council for Central Planning, the Institute for the Study of Ethiopian Nationalities, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, and the National Bank of Ethiopia.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress