Chapter Six The Federal Houses
Part Zero The Federal HousesArticle 53: The Federal Houses
There shall be two Federal Houses: The House of Peoples' Representatives and the House of the Federation.
Part One: The House of Peoples' RepresentativesArticle 54: Members of the House of Peoples' Representatives
1. Members of the House of Peoples' Representatives shall be elected by the People for a term of five years on the basis of universal suffrage and by direct, free and fair elections held by secret ballot.
2. Members of the House shall be elected from candidates in each electoral district by a plurality of the votes cast. Provisions shall be made by law for special representation for minority Nationalities and Peoples.
3. Members of the House, on the basis of population and special representation of minority Nationalities and Peoples, shall not exceed 550; of these, minority Nationalities and Peoples shall have at least 20 seats. Particulars shall be determined by law.
4. Members of the House are representatives of the Ethiopian People as a whole. They are governed by:
- The Constitution;
- The will of the people; and
- Their Conscience.
5. No member of the House may be prosecuted on account of any vote he casts or opinion he expresses in the House, nor shall any administrative action be taken against any member on such grounds.
6. No member of the House may be arrested or prosecuted without the permission of the House except in the case of flagrante delicto.
7. A member of the House may, in accordance with law, lose his mandate of representation upon loss of confidence by the electorate.Article 55: Powers and Functions of the House of Peoples' Representatives
1. The House of Peoples' Representatives shall have the power of legislation in all matters assigned by this Constitution to Federal jurisdiction.
2. Consistent with the provision of sub-article 1 of this article, the House of Peoples' Representatives shall enact specific laws on the following matters:
- Utilization of land and other natural resources, of rivers and lakes crossing the boundaries of the national territorial jurisdiction or linking two or more States;
- Inter-State commerce and foreign trade;
- Air, rail, water and sea transport, major roads linking two or more States, postal and telecommunication services;
- Enforcement of the political rights established by the Constitution and electoral laws and procedures;
- Nationality, immigration, passport, exit from and entry into the country, the rights of refugees and of asylum;
- Uniform standards of measurement and calendar;
- Patents and copyrights;
- The possession and bearing of arms.
3. It shall enact a labor code.
4. It shall enact a commercial code.
5. It shall enact a penal code. The States may, however, enact penal laws on matters that are not specifically covered by Federal penal legislation.
6. It shall enact civil laws which the House of the Federation deems necessary to establish and sustain one economic community.
7. It shall determine the organization of national defense, public security, and a national police force. If the conduct of these forces infringes upon human rights and the nation's security, it shall carry out investigations and take necessary measures.
8. In conformity with Article 93 of the Constitution it shall declare state of emergency; it shall consider and resolve on a decree of a state of emergency declared by the executive.
9. On the basis of a draft law submitted to it by the Council of Ministers it shall proclaim a state of war.
10. It shall approve general policies and strategies of economic, social and development, and fiscal and monetary policy of the country. It shall enact laws on matters relating to the local currency, the administration of the National Bank, and foreign exchange.
11. It shall levy taxes and duties on revenue sources reserved to the Federal Government; it shall ratify the Federal budget.
12. It shall ratify international agreements concluded by the executive.
13. It shall approve the appointment of Federal judges, members of the Council of Ministers, commissioners, the Auditor General, and of other officials whose appointment is required by law to be approved by it.
14. It shall establish a Human Rights Commission and determine by law its powers and functions.
15. It shall establish the institution of the Ombudsman, and select and appoint its members. It shall determine by law the powers and functions of the institution.
16. It shall, on its own initiative, request a joint session of the House of the Federation and of the House of Peoples' Representatives to take appropriate measures when State authorities are unable to arrest violations of human rights within their jurisdiction. It shall, on the basis of the joint decision of the House, give directives to the concerned State authorities.
17. It has the power to call and to question the Prime Minister and other Federal officials and to investigate the Executive's conduct and discharge of its responsibilities.
18. It shall, at the request of one-third of its members, discuss any matter pertaining to the powers of the executive. It has, in such cases, the power to take decisions or measures it deems necessary.
19. It shall elect the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House. It shall establish standing and ad hoc committees as it deems necessary to accomplish its work.Article 56: Political Power
A political party or a coalition of political parties that has the greatest number of seats in the House of Peoples' Representatives shall form the Executive and lead it.Article 57: Adoption of Laws
Laws deliberated upon and passed by the House shall be submitted to the Nation's President for signature. The President shall sign a law submitted to him within fifteen days. If the President does not sign the law within fifteen days it shall take effect without his signature.Article 58: Meetings of the House, Duration of its Term
1. The presence of more than half of the members of the House constitutes a quorum.
2. The annual session of the House shall begin on Monday of the final week of the Ethiopian month of Mesmerize and end on the 30th day of the Ethiopian month of Seine. The House may adjourn for one month of recess during its annual session.
3. The House of Peoples' Representatives shall be elected for a term of five years. Elections for a new House shall be concluded one month prior to the expiry of the House's term.
4. The Speaker of the House may call a meeting of the House when it is in recess. The Speaker of the House is also obliged to call a meeting of the House at the request of more than one-half of the members.
5. Meetings of the House shall be public. The House may, however, hold a closed meeting at the request of the Executive or members of the House if such a request is supported by a decision of more than one-half of the members of the House.Article 59: Decisions and Rules of Procedure of the House
1. Unless otherwise provided in the Constitution, all decisions of the House shall be by a majority vote of the members present and voting.
2. The House shall adopt rules and procedures regarding the organization of its work and of its legislative process.Article 60: Dissolution of the House
1. With the consent of the House, the Prime Minister may cause the dissolution of the House before the expiry of its term in order to hold new elections.
2. The President may invite political parties to form a coalition government within one week, if the Council of Ministers of a previous coalition is dissolved because of the loss of its majority in the House. The House shall be dissolved and new elections shall be held if the political parties cannot agree to the continuation of the previous coalition or to form a new majority coalition.
3. If the House is dissolved pursuant to sub-article 1 or 2 of this article, new elections shall be held within six months of its dissolution.
4. The new House shall convene within thirty days of the conclusion of the elections.
5. Following the dissolution of the House, the previous governing party of coalition of parties shall continue as a caretaker government. Beyond conducting the day to day affairs of government and organizing new elections, it may not enact new proclamations, regulations or decrees, nor may it repeal or amend any existing law.
Part Two The House of the FederationArticle 61: Members of the House of the Federation
1. The House of the Federation is composed of representatives of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples.
2. Each Nation, Nationality and People shall be represented in the House of the Federation by at least one member. Each Nation or Nationality shall be represented by one additional representative for each one million of its population.
3. Members of the House of the Federation shall be elected by the State Councils. The State Councils may themselves elect representatives to the House of the Federation, or they may hold elections to have the representatives elected by the people directly.Article 62: Powers and Functions of the House of the Federation
1. The House has the power to interpret the Constitution.
2. It shall organize the Council of Constitutional Inquiry.
3. It shall, in accordance with the Constitution, decide on issues relating to the rights of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples to self-determination, including the right to secession.
4. It shall promote the equality of the Peoples of Ethiopia enshrined in the Constitution and promote and consolidate their unity based on their mutual consent.
5. It shall exercise the powers concurrently entrusted to it and to the House of Peoples' Representatives.
6. It shall strive to find solutions to disputes or misunderstandings that may arise between States.
7. It shall determine the division of revenues derived from joint Federal and State tax sources and the subsidies that the Federal Government may provide to the States.
8. It shall determine civil matters which require the enactment of laws by the House of Peoples' Representatives.
9. It shall order Federal intervention if any State, in violation of this Constitution, endangers the constitutional order.
10. It shall establish permanent and ad hoc committees.
11. It shall elect the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the House, and it shall adopt rules of procedure and internal administration.Article 63: Immunity of Members of the House of Federation
1. No member of the House of the Federation may be prosecuted on account of any vote he casts or opinion he expresses in the House, nor shall any administrative action be taken against any member on such grounds.
2. No member of the House of the Federation may be arrested or prosecuted without the permission of the House except in the case of flagrante delicto.Article 64: Decisions and Rules of Procedure
1. The presence at a meeting of two-thirds of the members of the House of the Federation constitutes a quorum. All decisions of the House require the approval of a majority of members present and voting.
2. Members of the House may vote only when they are present in person in the House.Article 65: Budget
The House of the Federation shall submit its budget for approval to the House of Peoples' Representatives.Article 66: Powers of the Speaker of the House
1. The Speaker of the House of the Federation shall preside over the meetings of the House.
2. He shall, on behalf of the House, direct all its administrative affairs.
3. He shall enforce all disciplinary actions the House takes on its members.Article 67: Sessions and Term of Mandate
1. The House of the Federation shall hold at least two sessions annually.
2. The term of mandate of the House of the Federation shall be five years.Article 68: Prohibition of Simultaneous Membership in the Two Houses
No one may be a member of the House of Peoples' Representatives and of the House of the Federation simultaneously.