The legislative branch in Djibouti is the unicameral National Assembly of 65 members, elected by popular vote for a five-year term of office. Deputies can be re-elected, and all Djiboutian citizens 23 years of age and enjoying their full political and civil rights are eligible.
The National Assembly is endowed with legislative powers enumerated by the constitution. Areas outside of those listed are considered regulatory issues, and fall under the competence of the executive. If the Constiutional Council determines that portions of a law address regulatory issues, then the president of the republic may alter those parts of the law by decree.
The National Assembly may also question government ministers; any six deputies may call for an interpellation. The assembly also holds the power to declare war, ratify treaties and pronounce a state of emergency. Members of the Assembly have parliamentary immunity. Their immunity cannot be lifted, except in case of flagrant crime or upon a vote by a majority of the members of the National Assembly
Sessions, Dissolution, State of Exception
The National Assembly convenes twice a year for full sessions, once between March 15 and April 15, and once during the month of November. Session last for two months, and may be extended for 15 days by the Parliamentary Board to discuss legislation of parliamentary origin. The second session is the budgetary session during which the annual Finance Law is concluded. The President of the Republic, the President of the Parliament, or an absolute majority of the members of the National Assembly can call an extraordinary session, which cannot last for more than 15 days.
The president of the parliament (the speaker) is elected by the members. An absolute majority is required in the first round, a relative majority in the second. In case of a tie, the oldest member is declared elected.
The president of the parliament convenes sessions, organizes the debates, sets speaking time, and appoints ad hoc committees. He chairs a parliamentary Board composed of five members including two vice-chairmen, a secretary-questor, and a secretary-general. The current president of the Chamber is Idriss Arnaoud Ali. The secretary general is Bourhan Daoud Ahmed.
The president of the parliament takes the floor in legislative debates, participates in voting, and proposes bills or amendments, together with other members of the parliament. He intervenes in the parliamentary oversight procedure and nominates two of the six members of the Constitutional Council, which reviews the constitutionality of laws. The president is also responsible for establishing the budget with the secretary, and for appointing the parliament’s staff. He also plays a role in overseeing foreign relations and defense matters.
Committee Structures and Membership
With the Board’s agreement the president of the parliament examines the admissibility of bills and amendments, decides on the setting up of standing committees or committees of inquiries, establishes the order in which amendments are taken up, and organizes the services of the parliament. Together with the secretary of the Board, the president calls for a vote, decides how it is to be carried out, verifies the voting procedure, and cancels a vote in the event of irregularities.
Legislative Drafting Processes
The National Assembly has legislative power to make laws regarding the organization of public power, separation of powers between local government and the State, the exercise of civil liberties guaranteed by the constitution, electoral processes, benefits for civil servants, education, labor unions, tax collection and all financial matters. Laws can be proposed by either the president of the republic or members of the National Assembly, and are passed by absolute majority of those present. There is no veto process, though the president of the republic may refer a law to the Constitutional Council for a binding judgment on its constitutionality. Laws are entered into the Journal Officiel once adopted.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Parliamentary Relations coordinates relations between the govenrment and the National Assembly.
The parliament of Djibouti is a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU).