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Eritrea Index
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Constitutional Background

The final version has been adopted by an independent Constitutional Commission with 42 members on 23 May 1997. As yet (Dec 2012), the Constitution of Eritrea has not been implemented. Eritrea is run by the Interim Government of President Isaias Afewerki, head of the only allowed party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). The president, who also functions as highest Commander of the Armed forces, has been in office since independence in 1993. According to 1995 estimates, with a population of 2,750,000 in the country, there are living 750,000 Eritreans in exile.

History and News

  • August 2009: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claims that Eritrea is  supplying weapons to the Somali militant group al-Shabab. Subsequently the UN, with the backing of the African Union, imposes sanctions and an arms embargo on Eritrea.
  • End of 2001: The national elections are postponed repeatedly. As yet (Dec 2012), no national elections have been held since independence.
  • September 2001: The Government closes down all of Eritrea's privately owned print media.
  • Sep 2000: The National Assembly announces parliamentary elections for the end of 2001 following the provisions of the constitution.
  • 18 June 2000: Agreement with Ethiopia on the cessation of hostilities, after Ethiopia has occupied Southwest-Eritrea including several small cities; the UN troops which were supposed to arrive immediately afterwards on Eritrean soil has not arrived yet (information status: Oct 2000).
  • January 2000: Diplomatic conflict with Sudan is ended.
  • Automn 1999: Arbitration Tribunal about Hanish archipelago assigns main islands to Jemen and smaller ones to Eritrea (cf. 1995 note below).
  • Feb 1999: Eritrea loses the Badme territory, claimed by both 
  • 1998: A border conflict with Ethiopia develops into a full scale war, considered by the UNHCR in 1999 as this year´s bloodiest conflict.
  • Nov 1997: Introduction of an own currency, the Nakfa, in exchange with the Ethiopian Birr.
  • 23 May 1997: New Constitution is adopted, but has not been implimented since (information status: Oct 2000).
  • May 1996: Treaty on peaceful settlement of Yemen conflict by international arbitration. 
  • Dec 1995: Armed conflict with Yemen during three days, both sides claiming the Hanish archipelago in the Bab-el-Mandeb (Eritreans occupying Hanish-al-Kabir, Yemenis occupying Hanish-al-Seqir), mediated by France. 
  • Dec 1994: Breaking off diplomatic relations to Sudan, allegedly responsible for attacks by armed islamist groups in Southwestern Eritrea. 
  • 24 May 1993: Independance, first recognitions by Egypt, USA, Italy and Sudan (27 April 1993 already). 
  • 19 May 1993: By proclamation, a four year transition period is established to draft a democratic constitution; the Provisional Government (PGE, by EPLF-led guerilla) takes a mandate for this period. 
  • 23-25 April 1993: Confirmation of independence by 99.8% in an OAU-UNO-monitored referendum. 
  • 21 March 1993: Issayas Afeworki is elected as President by the National Assembly. 
  • 24 May 1991: De facto independence after the capitulation of
  • 1978: The Eritrean liberation fronts lose against a Soviet-sponsored attack of the Ethiopian central government and establish their administration in the North around the city of Nakfa.
  • 1977: Eritrea is virtually independant for a short period of time; more than 90% of its territory is occupied by Eritrean liberation fronts, only the capital Asmara and the harbor Massawa are controled by the central government.
  • 1962: Annexion by Ethiopia.
  • 1 Sep 1961: Start of the militant independence struggle. National holiday.
  • 1952: Eritrea becomes an autonomous entity within a federation with Ethiopia (Eritrea with a democratically elected government and an own constitution, Ethiopia under feudalist rule, both being theoretically equal before the federal government).
  • 1947: Establishment of a four-power-mandate, Italy giving up its sovereignty.
  • 1941: Occupation by Great Britain. 
  • 1936: Emperor Haile Selassie I. of Abyssinia exiled to Great Britain. Eritrea unified with Ethiopia and Italian Somalia and
  • 1935: Italy attacks Abyssinia via Eritrea.
  • 1897: Asmara becomes the capital. 
  • 1896: Eritrea attacks Abyssinia but is defeated at Adua.
  • 1890: Foundation of "Eritrea" as an Italian colony. 
  • 1885: Italy takes over the so-called 'Ottoman "Habesh"' from Egyptian rule; Massawa Port becomes the capital. 
  • 1881: Italians create the "Colonia di Asseb".
  • 1846: The Egyptians under Mehmet Ali take over the Eritrean coast (the Ottoman province "Habesh"), and later very much enlargen it by annexing adjacent de-facto independant regions such as Bogos and Danakil.

For methodology see: Comparing Constitutions and International Constitutional Law.
© 1994 - December 3rd, 2012 / Thanks to W. Smidt.
For corrections please contact A. Tschentscher.