Published On: Mon, Oct 31st, 2016

Let Us Walk You Through The Ethiopian History Before And Now With The current Politics Part 2-4 !



Derg (PMAC) 
Derg Party BadgePhoto of a Derg party badge

The last ten years of Selassie’s rule was filled with opposition. Issues such as rising oil prices, and decreasing coffee prices were hurting Ethiopia economically. During his last years, trouble with Eritrea, famine, drought, and discontent led to the monarchy being terminated in 1974.

Communist period (1974–1991)

High Ranking Derg Members: Mengistu Haile Mariam, Teferi Benti and Atnafu Abate

After a period of civil unrest that began in February 1974, a provisional administrative council of soldiers, known as the Derg (“committee”), seized power from the aging Emperor Haile Selassie I on September 12, 1974, and installed a government that was socialist in name and military in style. The Derg summarily executed 59 members of the former government, including two former Prime Ministers and Crown Councilors, Court officials, ministers, and generals. Emperor Haile Selassie died on August 22, 1975.

Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam assumed power as head of state and Derg chairman, after having his two predecessors killed, as well as tens of thousands of other suspected opponents. The new Marxist government undertook socialist reforms, including nationalisation of landlords’ property and the church’s property. Before the coup, Ethiopian peasants’ way of life was thoroughly influenced by the church teachings; 280 days a year are religious feasts or days of rest. Mengistu’s years in office were marked by a totalitarian-style government and the country’s massive militarization, financed by the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, and assisted by Cuba. In December 1976, an Ethiopian delegation in Moscow signed a military assistance agreement with the Soviet Union. The following April 1977, Ethiopia abrogated its military assistance agreement with the United States and expelled the American military missions.

The new regime in Ethiopia met with armed resistance from the large landowners, the royalists and the nobility.The center of resistance was largely centered in the province of Eritrea.The Derg decided in November 1974 to pursue war in Eritrea rather than seek a negotiated settlement. By mid-1976, the resistance had gained control of most of the town and the countryside of Eritrea.

In July 1977, sensing the disarray in Ethiopia, Somalia attacked across the Ogaden in pursuit of its irredenties  claims to the ethnic Somali areas of Ethiopia. They were assisted in this invasion by the armed Western Somali Liberation Front. Ethiopian forces were driven back far inside their own frontiers but, with the assistance of a massive Soviet airlift of arms and 17,000 Cuban combat forces, they stemmed the attack. The last major Somali regular units left the Ogaden March 15, 1978. Twenty years later, the Somali region of Ethiopia remains under-developed and insecure.

From 1977 through early 1978, thousands of suspected enemies of the Derg were tortured and/or killed in a purge called the Qey Shibir (“Red Terror”). Communism was officially adopted during the late 1970s and early 1980s; in 1984, the ‘Workers’Party of Ethiopia (WPE) was established, and on February 1, 1987, a new Soviet-style civilian constitution was submitted to a popular referendum. It was officially endorsed by 81% of voters, and in accordance with this new constitution, the country was renamed the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on September 10, 1987, and Mengistu became president.

The regime’s collapse was hastened by droughts and a famine, which affected around 8 million people and left 1 million dead, as well as by insurrections, particularly in the northern regions of Tigray and Eritrea. The regime also conducted a campaign of resettlement and villagization in Ethiopia in the 1980s. In 1989, the Tigrayen Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) merged with other ethnically based opposition movements to form the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

In the late 1980s the an internal opposition to the Derg grew in Ethiopia with assistance from outside powers.   By 1991 the opposition was strong enough to force Mengistu Haile Mariam to step down from power.   He went into exile in Zimbabwe where he remains until today (2011).  In 2006 the International Court of Justice found him guilty of political genocide but the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe protected him from serving an imposed life sentence.

A tank in Addis Ababa after rebels seized the capital during the Ethiopian Civil War !

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Let Us Walk You Through The Ethiopian History Before And Now With The current Politics Part 2-4 !