• Short Summary

    A copy of the newly completed draft constitution of Ethiopia was presented to the country's Prime Minister, Michael Imru on Tuesday (6 August).

  • Description

    GV Mr. Makuria speaking PAN TO delegates listening

    SV Delegates of Constitutional Conference (2 shots)

    SCU & GV Delegates listening to Mr. Makuria (2 shots)

    GV Mr. Makuria presents draft of Constitution to Ethiopian Prime Minister Imru (3 shots)

    SV Delegates listen to Prime Minister Imru speaking (2 shots)

    Initials BB/2113 RW/AH/BB/2122

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: A copy of the newly completed draft constitution of Ethiopia was presented to the country's Prime Minister, Michael Imru on Tuesday (6 August).

    The draft was drawn up by a 30-man commission after six months work and is being studied by Government leaders before being submitted to parliament.

    If the draft is passed by parliament in its present form, Ethiopia's 82-year-old leader, Emperor Haile Selassie would become a constitutional monarch and the country's centre of power would move from palace to parliament.

    The armed forces at present have effective control of Ethiopia.

    After Prime Minister Imru was given a copy of the draft constitution, it was introduced to the country on radio and television. But it was only outlined in vague terms, with the statement it should be regarded as the framework for five main points:
    1. The relationship of the constitution with other branches of government.

    2. The responsibility of the Prime Minister to Parliament and not to the palace.

    3. Guarantees for increased civil rights for the people.

    4. Re-organisation of the court to speed up the due processes of law.

    5. To safeguard the national resources and wealth of the nation.

    No specific mention was made of the future role of Emperor Haile Selassie, but under the constitution he would lose all the autocratic power he has held for nearly 45 years over the government and armed forces.

    A new Prime Minister would be elected by parliament for a four-year term and he would be solely responsible to the legislative body and not to the Emperor.

    The draft declares that the sovereign must be a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church but lays down that the line of succession should no longer be based on direct male inheritance. It allows that the nearest direct relative, whether male or female, should inherit the throne.

    The lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, would retain its 250 membership, but the Senate would be reduced from 125 members to 90. Of these, 75 would be elected by local administrations or municipalities and the remaining 15 by the Prime Minister.

    Ethiopia got its first constitution when Emperor Haile Selassie ascended the throne on April 2, 1930.

    It was revised in 1955 when universal suffrage was granted men and women over 21 and the Chamber of Deputies was given greater fiscal control. A limited degree of ministerial responsibility was also given to parliament.

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