Ethiopia History Between 1978 and 1992
In the ten years from 1978 to 1988 the political power of the Ethiopian state was concentrated in the hands of the former major and then lieutenant colonel (from November 1976) Mangestù Haylamāryām and was consolidated in its form of oligarchy (until 1987) and, in its real practice, of dictatorship, officially inspired by the theoretical principles of Marxist-Leninist communism. Mangestù Haylamāryām had been a member of the coordinating committee from the beginning, of which he was elected president (vice-president the major, then lieutenant colonel since 1975, Atnāfù Abātè) in June 1974.
According to topschoolsintheusa, the Committee, which had taken possession of the government and the state as of February 1974, was transformed, in September, into the provisional military administrative council; Committee, and then Council, called (from about June 1974) with the name of Därg (“union”, “cohesion”, “association”), commonly written Derg in related publications. Mangestù remained the only winning protagonist within the group of soldiers who gradually came to be members of the Committee and the Council, through internal struggles. They led to the violent elimination of ruling elements such as General Ammān Mikā’ēl Andòm (Eritrean, killed in November 1974), gen. Tafarì Bantì (killed in February 1977), Lieutenant Colonel Aṭnāfù Abātè (killed in November 1977); the latter had become the only vice-president when (February 1977) Mangestù became president of the Därg also assuming the post of head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. These internal struggles were accompanied by the external one with organized political groups, also inspired by the doctrinal principles of a revolution in the socialist and Marxist sense, which required the establishment of a government composed and led by civilians. Among these groups a prominent role was assumed by the Revolutionary Party of the Ethiopian People (PRPE) and the Pan-Ethiopian Socialist Movement. The first, established in August 1975, was reduced to impotence by the first months of 1978, after a bloody struggle (which was given the name of ” Red Terror ” in local and international political circles); the second (MEISON in the initials in Amharic), led by the strong political personality of Haylè Fidā (of ethnic origin galla, educated in France), at first ally of the Military Council in the government (1976-77), was then violently repressed (1977-78) when the Council realized that the Movement would aim, as an ultimate goal, to put the military out of the government. The PRPE and MEISON had their roots in the Marxist opposition movements of the University of Addis Ababa, which arose from 1960 onwards. On the trade union level, the Confederation of Ethiopian Workers’ Unions, suppressed in 1975, was replaced (January 1977) by the Pan-Ethiopian Labor Union, placed under the strict control of the Council.
From mid-1976, Mangestù had approached the Soviet Union, which he recognized in Ethiopia a state of vital importance to its quest for influence in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region. Having overcome the serious situation due to the campaign against the Somali forces aiming at the conquest of Ogad’en (1977-78), the Ethiopian army continued to be engaged by the armed secession movements in Eritrea (see in this Appendix), in Tigrai and in other regions of Ethiopia. In 1979 Mangestù, also following Soviet requests, started the constitution of a single political party of workers, which was supposed to take over from the military in the government of the state; in December the Ethiopian Progressive Workers’ Commission was thus created, of which the central body, an executive committee of seven members (all officers belonging to the Military Council), Mangestù was appointed president. The Commission, which in substance, if not form, took the place of the Military Council, after four years prepared the program and structures for the creation of the Ethiopian Workers’ Party (which held its own constituent congress in September 1984). Formed the party (of which Mangestù was elected general secretary), the Military Council set up, in February 1986, a commission for the drafting of a draft constitution, which, subjected to national discussion in 1986, was approved in February 1987 by referendum. In the following June the members of the National Assembly were elected, which in September 1987 formally proclaimed the Democratic People’s Republic of Europe. appointing Mangestù as president, while the Military Council was abolished. In the new state structure, the political leadership was officially recognized by the Workers’ Party, whose general secretary was at the same time president of the state. In conjunction with the proclamation of the republic, the Assembly, on the basis of the provisions of the constitution, provided for the administrative subdivision of the country into 5 autonomous regions and 24 constituencies.
The social organization of Ethiopia it was revolutionized since 1975: administrative districts of neighborhoods were created in the urban centers, endowed with executive autonomy, while in the countryside peasant associations were established, which were responsible for managing the local administration and promoting the rural economy. In this context, it is also worth mentioning the project, started by the government in the 1980s, for the often coercive transfer of population groups from the northern plateau (Tigrin-speaking areas) and central-eastern (Amharic-speaking areas) to regions of the western lowland. inhabited by people of other languages and cultures.
The declared aim of the plan was to offer better land for agriculture, trying to cope with precarious feeding conditions due to drought and famine (most intense from 1983 to 1986) and the impoverishment of productive soil. But it was also objected, and the fact was particularly highlighted by Ethiopian political dissidents, that these mass transfers were aimed at removing, from the northern and central areas, the population, on whose support the secessionist forces were counting. Another source of discontent arose among the rural populations (nomads or not) due to the government plan to gather them in villages with a ” western ” conception and structure, rational, subject to the control of the political organization of the state, in stark contrast to the
From the point of view of the internal order, the armed struggle of the secessionist or dissident movements continued: in the North those Eritrean and Tigrinya, in the North-West that (or those) of the Amara people, in the South-East those Somali and Galla (or Oromo). The state of armed turbulence on the borders with Somalia instead eased following the agreement, signed in April 1988, between the Ethiopian government and that of Somalia.
Relations with the Ethiopian Church have been maintained in a form of cautious tolerance. In 1982, the contents of an undated “ top secret ” circular from the Military Council, which later became known in the West between 1984 and 1985, were leaked, with which the annihilation of the Christian religion was foreseen and, in a second time (for political reasons), of the Muslim one. On the other hand, being now the agnostic state, the Christian religion was placed on the same level as the other confessions, losing all pre-eminence in official public life. The Catholic Church, present in Ethiopia with a small number of faithful, elevated its archbishop of Addis Ababa to the cardinal purple in 1985, arousing a bitter reaction from the national Ethiopian Church.
The rapprochement with the Soviet Union, which began in 1976, turned into a close collaboration (marked by an agreement signed in Moscow in 1978), which was accompanied by cooperation relations with other communist countries of Eastern Europe (German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, etc.) and with Cuba, which sent forces in support of the government of Addis Ababa from 1977 to 1989. The rupture of relations with the United States matured after the first phase of the 1974 revolution and continued from 1976 onwards, with some sporadic rapprochement. The situation is similar in relations with the states of Western Europe and with Israel.
Following the change in the international political situation, thanks to the profound political upheavals in the USSR and its satellite states, the Ethiopian government sought a rapprochement with the state of Israel, arriving at the official resumption of the interrupted diplomatic relations in November 1989, with the intent on obtaining military aid. The state of Israel took advantage of this event to place, among other things, as a condition, the issuing of the permission, by the Ethiopian government, to the Falashas, still remaining in the country, to emigrate to Israel, continuously and to complete the exodus partially implemented in previous years (see below). Attempts for an agreement between the Ethiopian government and the two Liberation Fronts, the popular Eritrean and the popular analogue of the Tigray, carried out in 1989 with foreign mediation (USA;
In May 1989 a coup against the current regime, organized by senior officers of the armed forces stationed in Eritrea, was stifled with cruel repression.
Italy, which has continuously maintained its diplomatic relations, has implemented social assistance programs. Following the famine of 1983-84, a reclamation and agricultural enhancement project of a vast lowland region south-west of Lake Tana (in the Goggiàm, and precisely in the new district of Matakkal), prepared and financed by the Italian government, aroused lively criticism in public opinion and among armed dissidence movements.
Finally, mention should be made of the exodus to Israel of a large number (about 16,000) of Falasha, an ancient Cushitic population of Jewish beliefs. The exodus took place clandestinely through a concerted operation between the United States of America and Israel, with the connivance of the government of Sudan, carried out between November 1984 and January 1985. Subsequently all the Falashas managed to leave Ethiopia.
In May 1991 the Revolutionary Democratic Front of the Ethiopian People (FDRPE), resulting from the merger of various groups of different ethnic groups, conquered Addìs Ababa forcing Mangestù to flee. In the same month the forces of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Eritrea conquered Asmara and Assab, assuming control of Eritrea which became de facto independent. In July 1991, the FDRPE established a provisional government chaired by Meles Zenawi. In December of the same year, a reform was launched which provided for the division of the country into 14 autonomous regions, to reorganize the administrative structure on a democratic basis and allow for peaceful coexistence between the different ethnic groups. The elections for the establishment of the regional councils were held on June 21, 1992.