Ethiopia is a federal republic under the 1994 constitution. The executive branch includes a president, Council of State, and Council of Ministers. Executive power resides with the prime minister.
The president is head of state and is elected by the House of People's Representatives for a six-year term. The prime minister serves as the head of government and is selected by the party in power following legislative elections.
The Federal state has a bicameral parliament (i.e. it has two Houses) and national legislative elections were last held in 2005. The 108 members of the House of Federation are chosen by their respective state assemblies to serve five-year terms. The 547 members of the House of People's Representatives are elected by popular vote from the regions, zones, woredas and kebeles also to serve five-year terms. The judicial branch comprises federal and regional courts. Suffrage is universal at age 18.
The EPRDF-led government has promoted a policy of ethnic federalism, devolving significant powers to regional, ethnically based authorities. Prior to 1994, Ethiopia was divided into 13 provinces, many derived from historical regions. The new constitution, introduced in 1994 created a federal government structure and Ethiopia now has a tiered government system consisting of a federal government overseeing ethnically-based regional states, zones, districts (woredas), and neighbourhoods (kebeles).
Ethiopia is now divided into nine ethnically-based, semi-autonomous administrative states (kililoch, sing. kilil): Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromiya, Somali, Benishangul Gumuz, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR), Gambela and Harari, plus two charteredl city Administrations (astedader akababiwoch, sing. astedader akababi): Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa (subdivisions 1 and 5 in the map, respectively). All have the power to raise their own revenues.
The constitution assigns extensive power to regional states that can establish their own government and democracy according to the federal government's constitution. Each region has its apex regional council where members are directly elected to represent the districts and the council has legislative and executive power to direct internal affairs of the regions. Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution further gives every regional state the right to secede from Ethiopia. There is debate, however, as to how much of the power guaranteed in the constitution is actually given to the states.
The councils implement their mandate through an executive committee and regional sectoral bureaux. Such elaborate structure of council, executive, and sectoral public institutions is replicated to the next level (woreda).
The National Regional States and City Administrations are further divided into 611 woredas. A Woreda is the basic decentralised administrative unit and has an administrative council composed of elected members. The 611 woredas are further divided into roughly 15,000 Kebeles, organised under peasant associations in rural areas (10,000 Kebeles) and urban dwellers associations (5,000 Kebeles) in towns.
The highest governing body of the national regional states is the Regional Council with elected members and headed by a president nominated by the party holding the majority of seats. The president is assisted by heads of various regional bureaux. Each region has its own parliament and is responsible for legislative and administrative functions except for foreign affairs and defence.
With the devolution of power to regional governments, public service delivery, including health care, has to a large extent fallen under the jurisdiction of the regions. The approach has been to promote decentralisation and participation of the population in local development activities. For the administration of public health care, there is a Regional Health Bureau (RHB) at the Regional level. Due to the Government's commitment to further decentralise decision-making power, woredas are currently the basic units of planning and political administration.