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Ethiopia Table of Contents


The 1987 Constitution and the Armed Forces

The constitution, which took effect on February 22, 1987, made several explicit references to the history, missions, and organization of the armed forces. The preamble took note of Ethiopia's "great victory at Adwa over [Italy's] modern colonialist army" and recalled that "the army, being an integral part of the people . . . [laid] . . . the foundations of the new people's system by eliminating the monarchy and taking various revolutionary steps." Chapter 4 of the constitution was devoted to defense issues. It called for the government, through its defense force, to defend and safeguard the revolution, and it reminded the people that these duties were their responsibilities. Accordingly, the constitution stated that the government would implement national service, and in a later chapter it stipulated that "national military service is the right and obligation of every Ethiopian. Its implementation shall be decided on by law."

In terms of civilian control of the armed forces, the constitution stated that the highest body in the government, the National Shengo (National Assembly), was responsible for determining defense and security policy and for declaring states of war and peace. Subordinate to this body was the Council of State, charged with implementing decisions of the National Shengo. The president of the Council of State was also the president of Ethiopia and commander in chief of the armed forces. The Council of State was empowered to establish a national-level Defense Council (whose duties and responsibilities were not, however, spelled out). The president chaired the Defense Council and appointed its members. He also was entitled to "appoint senior state, civil, and military ranks."

Data as of 1991