Can the Newly formed” ENCDC “of the Eritrean Opposition practice the doctrine of Separation of powers?

By Fesseha Nair


The Eritrean Opposition in exile after a successive work of national unity by convening national dialogue conferences and lately convening the national congress for democratic change has adopted three main documents- thus national charter, organizational constitution and road map. The intended purpose of this all is to represent the concerns and the demands of the Eritrean people.


The ENCDC includes all the political -civil organizations, youth and women associations and the veterans. The council is council of resistance and it has 127 members appointed and elected at the congress of 2011.The seats were distributed regionally and locally. They are spread in the whole world were the Eritreans reside.


The central administration of the council is in the Ethiopian capital Addis- Ababa.


According the Constitution of the ENCDC, has two branches of governance- the legislative and the executive and no judiciary branch but an auditory which is some times called the forth branch of the government. In this article before I deal with the subject I would like to define the meaning of the doctrine of , “ Separation of powers” based on the ideas of John Locke and Montesquieu


What is separation of powers and why are they necessary?


The principle of separation of powers divides the institutions of governments into three branches:- legislative, executive and judicial.


The legislative makes laws and the executive puts the laws into operation, and the judiciary interpret the laws. The powers and functions of each separate are carried by separate personnel. No single agency is able to exercise complete authority each being interdependent on each other. Power thus divided should prevent absolutism such as in monarchies and dictatorship or corruption arsing from the opportunities that unchecked power offers. The learning can help the three branches to act as checks and balances on each other. Each branch’s independence helps the others from exceeding their powers, thus ensuring the rule of law and protecting individual rights.


Can the ENCDC –its legislative and executive work by this principle?


Most of the democratic countries in the world practice this doctrine in different ways. Since the ENCDC is struggling for democratic change and it is essential to introduce the principle of separation of powers in its two branches if it is going to be an alternative to the dictatorship inEritrea. The position of the ENCDC is not like that of stable nations but is an opposition in exile, then to what extent can they practice the constitution they have endorsed in the congress is an issue to be discussed.


The ENCDC Constitution declares the functions and authority of each branch so here:


Legislative: its functions and authority:


–         Elects the members of the executive

–         Examines the decisions of the executive and its administration by the policies and programmes adopted in the congress

–         Enact laws and regulations, issuing policy decisions

–         Controlling and overseeing the finance ( Expenditure- Incomes)

–         Oversees the functioning of the local councils

–         Divides its works in standing committees

–         Meets according the regulations adopted in its constitution


Executive: Its functions and authority:

–         Lead the different departments of the central administration

–         Executes the policy decisions made by the ENCDC

–         Responsible for the daily administration of the central administration

–         Supervises the various affairs of each department

–         Oversees and formulate the budget of the central administration

–         Divides its functions in working committees in the Exile countries


Looking at the branches of the ENCDC and each branches functions and authority, how much or to extent can the ENCDC practice the  doctrine of separation of power is very complicated and need academic or expert advice with knowledge of this doctrine and democratization in the case of ours in struggle against the dictatorship and democracy.


The two branches are the main institutions the opposition must put their efforts to build this institutions because they are essential in practicing democracy in the opposition. While we struggle against the dictatorship we must at the same time practice democracy in our internal works and organization. The doctrine of separation of powers objective is to prevent abuse of power with appropriate checks and balance. This mechanism of check and balance require that both the bodies agree on public policy, in this way work for the advantage of the people.


The writer of this article would like to ask the ENCDC- both its legislative and executive bodies if they work according the constitution and according the above mentioned functions and power of each branch endorsed in the Awasa Congress. As a member and follower of the ENCDC by my organization, there is a complication in mixing the powers that can create problems in the future.


For example,

How do you stop if the legislative takes the position of the executive, and who will declare the action is unconstitutional if it happens?


If the executive and legislative ignore each other then what is the need of the constitution and where is democracy?


I think the knowledge of this doctrine and its practicing is very important for the ENCDC to help it work in efficiency and effectively.


We don’t need practice this doctrine” argument by some ENCDC members can lead to or give an opportunity to those who want power in their hands or to dictatorship. The doctrine of separation of powers is one of the instruments of transparency and accountability. It empowers the rule of law and keeps the people in power away from violating the rule of law. The ENCDC must start and lay its foundations of its institutions of the two branches by pursuing the principles of the constitution adopted in the congress regardless their locality and position.



Most scholars/ Lock, Montesquie and Gene Sharp/ argue that those who struggle from dictatorship to democracy should not only work to end dictatorship but work also that no dictatorship can reoccur after the end of the dictatorship. Therefore, I recommend the ENCD that our struggle is both to end dictatorship and build democracy simultaneously,  due to this let us practice the doctrine of separation of power at this time and this is called by our scholars learning by doing.



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Posted by on Mar 12 2012 Filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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