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BY AWEL AHMED ADVISOR ATO ABERRA DEGEFA (Ass. Professor) (A Thesis Submitted to the School of Graduate Studies of Addis Ababa University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Masters of Law (LL.M) in Constitutional and Public Law) November, 2011 I www.chilot.me


Awel Ahmed, hereby declare that this research paper is original and has never been presented in any other institution. To the best of my knowledge and belief, I also declare that any information used has been duly acknowledged.



This dissertation has been submitted for examination with my approval as University advisor:

Advisor: Ato Aberra Degefa (LLB, LLM)


II www.chilot.me







By: AWEL AHMED Approved by Board of Examiners Advisor _____________________________ ________________________

Signature Examiners 1.___________________________________ __________________________

Signature 2.___________________________________ ___________________________

Signature III www.chilot.me Contents ACRONYMS AND ABREVATIONS

ACKNOWLADGEMENT ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………IV






Literature Review


Statement of the Problem


Research Questions


Objectives of the study


Significance of the study


Research Methodology


Scope and limitation of the study


Conceptual framework


Ethical consideration


Organization of the study



Conceptual and Theoretical Framework

2.1. Forms of Governments: An Overview

2.2. Legislative- Executive Relation in Parliamentary form of government

2.3. The Role of the Parliament

2.3.1. Legislative function

2.3.2. Overseeing and Informing Function

2.3.3. Other Functions

2.4. Accountability and Parliamentary Oversight

2.5. Parliamentary Oversight vis-à-vis Constitutionalism


Parliamentary Oversight

3.1. Parliamentary oversight: Definition

3.2. The Need for Parliamentary Oversight



3.3. Tools of Parliamentary Oversight

3.3.1. Questions

3.3.2. Debates

3.3.3. Motions

3.3.4. The Committees as a tool of Parliamentary oversight

3.4. Legislative oversight over Delegated Power

3.5. Party System and Parliamentary Oversight

3.6. The Role of Oppositions in Parliamentary Oversight


Parliamentary Oversight towards Ensuring Constitutionalism and Accountability under the FDRE Constitution

4.1. The Ethiopian parliament: An Overview

4.2. Parliamentary Oversight towards ensuring Constitutionalism and Accountability under the FDRE Constitution

4.3. The General Power of the HPR

4.4. The HPR and its Oversight Role

4.5. The Committees Structure in the House of Peoples Representatives

4.6. Parliamentary Oversight and the Executive Functions

4.7. The Possible tools of Parliamentary Oversight Available to the HPR

4.7.1. Motion of no Confidence

4.8. Challenges of Effective Legislative over sight in Ethiopia

4.9. External Institutions of Oversight: The Human Right Commission and Institute of Ombudsman



5.1. Conclusion

5.2. Recommendations


–  –  –

ANC African National Congress Art. Article DCFFE Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Election EHRC Ethiopian Human Rights Commission EPRDF Ethiopian People‟s Revolutionary Democratic Front FDRE Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

–  –  –

First and above all, I would like to thank the Almighty God for his help in my entire life. It is his help that gives me strength to accomplish this thesis.

I had the privilege to be advised by Ato Aberra Degefa(Ass.Professor). I have received invaluable guidance from him. I am extremely grateful for his tireless efforts in supervising this research paper despite his busy schedule. His invaluable scholarly advice, insightful comments and willingness to share the vast knowledge he has in the area coupled with comprehensive and constructive advise, painstaking editing and constant support were all invaluable to the completion of this research. All errors and omissions remain mine alone.

I am grateful to the help of my mother Zertihun Taddese and my lovely wife Metasebya Yiheys, for their financial and moral support. I am also greatly indebted to my friends, Getachew and Yemaneh for their invaluable help and assistance. Lastly, my appreciation goes to those who contributed directly or indirectly to the accomplishment of this thesis especially Addisu Arega who helped me in printing this thesis. Thank you, God Bless You All!!!




Parliamentary oversight is neglected area of research in many jurisdictions and there is very limited discussion on the area. The situation in Ethiopia is not exception in this regard and it is totally neglected. Democratic government is characterized by transparency and accountability.

The primary responsibility in this regard falls on the shoulder of the parliament. The parliament has the power and the mandate to oversight the executives to ensure their policy and action commensurate with the need of society. By the advent of modern parliaments, the legislative prerogative was the basic right to scrutinize government actions. The legislature, often conceived as the forum of the nation, acts as custodian of the electorate’s trust. As such, it is tasked with ensuring executive accountability through a rigorous parliamentary process that invariably assesses the performance of Cabinet Ministers and their departments. However, nowadays; the lawmakers do not seem to attach the same importance to this activity seeing it as a secondary function. In this thesis the focus is assessing whether parliamentary oversight in Ethiopia (at the federal level) is effective in ensuring constitutionalism and accountability. To this end, the issue of the possible tools of parliamentary oversight that available to the House of Peoples Representative and the factors affecting parliamentary oversight in Ethiopia also to be dealt. The FDRE constitution empowers the House of Peoples Representative to call and question any government officials including the PM and may take any measures it deems necessary. Likewise, proclamation No.470/2005 and Regulation No.3/2006 also empowers the HPR to oversee the executive’s overall actions and activities. Thus, this research aims at examining whether the existing Ethiopian parliament is effective in discharging its constitutional mandate of overseeing the executive and to what extent oversight ensures constitutionalism and accountability. The study examines the tools that the House uses in conducting oversight and most importantly factors affecting parliamentary oversight. The study will be conducted by analyzing pertinent laws and with theoretical and practical analysis. Accordingly, the writer argues that the existing Ethiopian parliament is ineffective in conducting effective parliamentary oversight. Thus, objective of oversight which the regulation provides, ensuring constitutionalism, rule of law and accountability among other things remain in question. At the federal level, (in Ethiopia in general) there are different factors hindering the parliament’s oversight function.

Among this factor most importantly the party system (one party domination), lack of understanding of the significance of oversight by the MP, inadequate resources like financial constraint, experts and lack of commitment and the status of legislative- executive relation are among the challenges of parliamentary oversight.

–  –  –

One of the principles of democratic governments is the principle of separation of powers. Under this principle, each organ of government has independent and separate function. On the other hand, what makes the concept of democracy very attractive and important is that it enables the people to participate in decision making process through their representative on important and sensitive issues of their own. The electorates therefore make sure that the rights and freedoms of the people are respected and public properties and finances are properly accounted for by those who are on administrative tasks. The executive is one of the organs of government which carries out these administrative tasks, either through implementing legislation or policy, and acquires considerable power (the ability to influence or determine a person‟s conduct). The manner of exercising this power in constitutional democracy is checked by being held accountable to an organ of government distinct from it. This notion is inherent in the concept of separation of power, which simultaneously provides for checks and balance on the exercise of the executive power, making the executive accountable to an elected legislature.1The parliament or legislature is one of the organs of government empowered with checking the activities and action of executive organ of government. Parliamentary oversight over the executive is therefore one of the means by which the parliament make supervision over the executives action.

The mandate of oversight resides with the parliament through which it establishes rules of procedure or designates subsections to perform this oversight functions.2 According to some scholars, as far as legislature is concerned, the national legislature is empowered to hold organs of state at national level accountable and exercises general oversight over national executive authority and other organs of state. There are different factors affecting the quality of the D. Oliver; Law, Politics and Accountability cited in report on parliamentary oversight And Accountability prepared by Hugh Corner, Sarah Tagwanth, Fred Soltau, Faculty of Law,University of Cape Town July 1999.

In most countries, parliamentary oversight is conducted through established committees. Parliamentary committees are delegated instruments of the House of parliament and have varies tools through which they exercise oversight including site visits, departmental briefing…etc. For instance, the Experience of South Africa.

www.chilot.me oversight function of parliament. Such factors could be institutional and political factors. For instances, it is true that the committees established for the purpose of oversight should have independence, legitimate power and reliable source of information for the purpose of providing effective recommendations before the House. On the other hand, effective and proper oversight of the executive thus requires the members of parliament and executive to fully understand the constitutional justifications and the rationale behind accountable government and the purpose it serves. The active participation of the opposition political party in oversight also plays important role in ensuring proper oversight and quality supervision.

Legislative control over the executive in presidential system and parliamentary system of government is different from one another. The oversight in parliamentary system of government depends on the legislative-executive relationship. Since the 1995 FDRE Constitution, Ethiopia has adopted the parliamentary federal structure. While looking at the power relationship between the legislative and executive organ of both the Federal and State levels, the legislative organs are constitutionally declared to be the highest political authority.3 Being one of the most important tasks of the parliament, parliamentary oversight is the chief device elected bodies use to supervise and control the executive, and hold it accountable to the people. To conclude, depending on the general conceptual framework given above, this study will examine whether the oversight task of the parliament is effective in ensuring constitutionalism and establish effective government accountability.

1.2.Literature Review

Parliamentary oversight primarily represents the power of the representative body to affect and have control over the executive and its agencies. In a democracy, this is a means of ensuring the accountability of the executive and other institutions as applicable.4 In this particular case, accountability would mean that the administration and its agencies also have the obligation to account for what they have and have not done. An American political scientist defines

parliamentary over sight (in the American context of course) as:

The Federal Constitution of Ethiopia Article, 50(3).

Michael L. Mezey, „The Function of Legislatures in the Third in World‟ Legislative Studies Quarterly, vol.8,No 14(1983),p.512

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Parliamentary oversight of the executive has been a contentions matter in the earliest days of the United Kingdom (UK) House of Commons in the late 14th century. The importance of parliamentary oversight as a tool in monitoring government activities was underscored when

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