National Shengo

Coordinates: 9°00′N 38°42′E / 9°N 38.7°E / 9; 38.7

The National Shengo (Amharic: ብሔራዊ ሸንጎ, romanizedbihērawī shengo, lit.'National Congress' or 'National Assembly') was the legislature of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (PDRE) from 1987 to 1991.

National Shengo

ብሔራዊ ሸንጎ
Established22 February 1987 (1987-02-22)
Disbanded28 May 1991 (1991-05-28)
Preceded byImperial Parliament
Succeeded byCouncil of Representatives
Federal Parliamentary Assembly
National Shengo 1987.svg
Political groups
  Independents: 40 seats
Length of term
5 years
First-past-the-post voting
First general election
14 June 1987 (and only election)
Meeting place
Shengo Hall, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
1987 Constitution of Ethiopia


The Shengo was established on 22 February 1987, three weeks after a national referendum approved a new constitution making Ethiopia a one-party socialist state under the leadership of the Communist Workers' Party of Ethiopia (WPE).[1] The Shengo's 835 members were elected to five-year terms in the 30 June 1987 general elections, in which the WPE won 795 seats and pro-WPE independents won the remaining 40 seats.[2] The Shengo became the highest organ of state power in the newly formed PDRE when it convened for the first time on 9 September 1987.[3]

Executive power was vested in the president, elected by the Shengo for a five-year term, and a cabinet also appointed by the Shengo. The president was the ex officio chairman of the Council of State, the country's supreme executive body. The Council of State was formally defined as a permanent standing body of the National Shengo. It acted for the legislature between sessions (in practice, for most of the year), during which it was empowered to issue "special decrees" in lieu of law. If such decrees did not get the consent of the Shengo at its next session, they were considered revoked.[4] Actual power, however, rested in the WPE—and particularly with Mengistu Haile Mariam, who served as both president of the republic and general secretary of the WPE.

On paper, the National Shengo was vested with great lawmaking and oversight powers. It had the right to act on "any national issue," and all national officials were nominally subordinate to it. Members of the Shengo had the right to ask questions of mass organizations and state organs to which they were required to respond.[4] In practice, as with other Communist legislatures, the principles of democratic centralism reduced the Shengo to merely a rubber stamp for decisions already made by Mengistu and the WPE.

For example, while Mengistu was required to submit his nominations for cabinet ministers, Supreme Court justices and members of the executive staff for approval by the Shengo, this approval was almost always a formality.[5] Additionally, the Shengo's nominal power of veto over the Council of State's "special decrees" was rarely exercised, meaning these decrees de facto had the force of law.


In May 1991, with the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) closing in on Addis Ababa, Mengistu fled into exile.[6][7] His government only survived him for a week before the EPRDF took the capital. The EPRDF immediately disbanded the Workers' Party and the Shengo.[8] In July the Transitional Government of Ethiopia was formed.[9]


  1. ^ Brooke, James; Times, Special To the New York (23 February 1987). "EHTHIOPIANS (sic) OFFICIALLY JOINING RANKS OF COMMUNIST NATIONS". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  2. ^ Elections in Africa : a data handbook. Dieter Nohlen, Michael Krennerich, Bernhard Thibaut. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999. pp. 382–383. ISBN 0-19-829645-2. OCLC 41431601.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ "Ethiopian Assembly Convenes". AP NEWS. Retrieved 9 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b "Text of the 1987 Constitution" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ The President Library of Congress Country Studies
  6. ^ "Ethiopia: Uncle Sam Steps In", Time 27 May 1991. (accessed 14 May 2009)
  7. ^ The Demise of the Military Government Library of Congress Country Studies
  8. ^ Krauss, Clifford (28 May 1991). "ETHIOPIAN REBELS STORM THE CAPITAL AND SEIZE CONTROL". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  9. ^ Abbink, J. (1995). "Breaking and making the state: The dynamics of ethnic democracy in Ethiopia". Journal of Contemporary African Studies. 13 (2): 149–163. doi:10.1080/02589009508729570. ISSN 0258-9001.