The Eritrean people gained control of the country on May 24, 1991, after thirty years of armed struggle for the right to self-determination. The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) formed the Provisional Government of Eritrea (PGE) to run the country's affairs until an internationally monitored referendum scheduled for April 1993.

The Referendum

98.5% of registered voters turned out for the referendum. The result was a resounding vote for independence: 99.8% said 'yes" for independence. Samir Sanbar, head of the United Nations observer mission said the referendum was "free and fair at every stage." Other observer groups confirmed this.

The Transition

On May 19, 1993, the PGE issued Proclamation No. 37/1993 regarding a reorganization of the government. During a four year transition period, and if possible sooner, the following goals should be achieved:

drafting a constitution and then carrying out the process of ratification;
preparing a law on political parties;
preparing a press law; and
carrying out elections for a constitutional government.

The new government is known as the Government of Eritrea and includes legislative, executive and judicial bodies.

The judicial body operates independently of both the legislative and executive bodies with a court system extending from the village through district, provincial and national levels.

The legislative body, the National Assembly, includes the 75 members of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice's (PFDJ - the name adopted by the EPLF at its February 1994 congress to address the new needs of the transitional period) Central Council and 75 additional representatives elected by the population. The National Assembly has the highest legal power in the government until a democratic constitutional government is established. The legislative body outlines the internal and external policies of the government, regulates their implementation, approves the budget and elects a president for the country.

The president nominates individual to head the various ministries, authorities, commissions and offices, and the legislative body ratifies the nominations. The Cabinet is the country's executive branch. It is made up of the sixteen ministers and chaired by the president. It implements the policies, resolutions and laws of the government and is accountable to the National Assembly.

Government Offcials

President - Isaias Afwerki
Mahmud Ahmed Mahmud (Sherifo) - Local Government
Mesfin Hagos - Defense
Ali Said "Abdella - Internal Affairs Petros Solomon - Foreign Affairs Haile 
Woldense - Finance & Development Beraki Gebreselasie- Information and 
Culture Oqbe Abraha - Trade and Industry
Tesfai Ghemlazien - Agriculture Saleh Meki - Marine Resources Tesfai 
Gebreselassie - Energy, Mining & Water Resources
Osman Saleh - Education Sebhat Ephrem - Health
Gorgis Teklemikael - Transportation Fozia Hashim (Ms.) - Justice
Abraha Asfaha - Construction
Worku Tesfamikael (Ms.) - Tourism

Governors of Provinces:
 Saleh Ahmed Iyai - Akele Guzai
 Sebhat Ephrem - Asmara (provisional)
 Alamin Sheikh Saleh - Barka
  Humed Mohammed Karikari - Denkalia
 Germano Nati - Gash-Setit
 Berhane Gebregzabher - Hamasien
 Mohammed Said Nawud - Sahel
 Ibrahim Idris Totil - Semhar
 Asmerom Gerezgiher- Senhit
 Adhanom Gebremariam - Seraye

Director Generals of Authorities and Offices, and Commissioners:
 ... - Social Affairs Authority
  Luul Gebreab (Ms.) - Communication & Postal Authority
 Woldemichael Gebremariam - Housing Commission
  Gebretensae Kelati - Commission for Eritrean Refugee Affairs
 Hiwet Zemichael (Ms.) - Central Personnel Office
 Berhane Habtemariam - Auditor General
The Future:

The government is committed to the development of a democratic constitution and political pluralism. The right to vote should be extended to every adult regardless of ethnic background, religion or sex. Political parties themselves must recognize these basic ground rules of equality for all citizens. For such a system to work, people must be guaranteed basic rights such as free speech, free press, free movement and free association. A judicial system that upholds due process of law is necessary to ensure that these freedoms exist in practice as well as on paper.

During the first years of liberation, Eritreans have been participating in a continuing process of electing governing councils for their village or city, district and province. For some it is a totally new experience. In areas which were long under EPLF control, people have been electing local and district level councils for many years. The EPLFs leadership itself was voted into office at congresses of elected representatives of EPLF fighters, the members of the EPLF mass organizations from both EPLF and Derg controlled areas and from abroad, and the general population in the EPLF controlled areas. On the other hand, residents of the areas liberated from the Derg in 1991 had little experience with democratic elections and open participation in political processes. These elections give people the opportunity to learn about the technicalities of elections as well as the far more important process of defining issues and judging candidates. From this experience, Eritreans will be able to move forward to the ratification of a constitution and the election of a democratic government.

In Eritrea, the referendum, elections at all levels, and a constitution are not the routine issues that they are for much of the world. They are a new experience. Eritreans are just beginning to establish the framework for their future as a state in the international community. While the process may be time consuming, care and thoughtful discussion now will ensure that the Eritrean people establish a government which will serve the best interests of many generations to come.

For more information, contact:
Research and Information Section
Embassy of Eritrea
910 17th Street NW, Suite 400
Washington DC 20006
Tel:	(202) 429 1991	
Fax:	(202) 429 9004