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Ethiopia Politics

Political System of Ethiopia

1977 Mengistu Haile Mariam takes over power

Initially, the Dergue had no real political program, but under pressure from the left it proclaimed in December 1974 an "Ethiopian socialism ", nationalized the industry and took over all land. The military junta was gradually heavily pressured both from the right and left and initiated terrorist campaigns to protect its own power. This made it increasingly isolated from the general population. Following a series of internal crises, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam took power in December 1977. He succeeded in consolidating the Dergue and ending the internal strife in the military. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how ET can stand for Ethiopia.

The military government nationalized the banks, insurers, major industries owned by foreign capital, and closed US military bases in the country. The key to the "democratic national revolution" was the stateization of the earth and the underground. This meant the end of the landlord class. Already in 1976, "scientific socialism" had become the official ideology of the state. Every opposition was crushed with "red terror" in 1977-78. Several thousand people were summarily executed during that period.

When the "internal" crisis was overcome, the government turned its attention to the rebels in Eritrea and Ogaden. Both had been growing since 1977. The Eritreans felt that their independence struggle should not be curbed simply because there was a declared socialist rule in Adis Ababa. At the same time, the Somalis in Ogaden desert were taking advantage of the Ethiopian crisis to make their own demands for independence. Somalia supported this development, but faced with the Somali will to annex Ogaden, the Soviet interrupted its military agreements with Somalia's President Siad Barre. Subsequent Soviet and Cuban support to Ethiopia became crucial to the defeat of the Somali troops in the armor of Ogaden. The Cuban troops were not deployed directly against the Eritreans, but the latter were forced to retreat following an Ethiopian major offensive in 1979. Meanwhile, a peasant guerrilla had been deployed in Tigray Province.

The military situation was somewhat under control and Mengistu now turned his attention to domestic policy. In 1979, the government formed the Organizing Commission for the Ethiopian Workers Party (COPWE). In the same year, the cultivated areas were expanded by 15%, which allowed a 6% increase in GDP.

In 1984, the country began to feel the consequences of a drought that had ravaged since 1982 and cost thousands of lives as a result of hunger and malnutrition. Twelve provinces were affected by the drought, which ultimately killed million people and threatened another 5 million. The same year, the founding congress of the Ethiopian Workers' Party (PWE), which adopted a program to transform the country into a socialist state, was held. On September 12, Shengo - Parliament - proclaimed the country as the Democratic People's Republic and reaffirmed Mengistu as its head of state. The separatists were now not only active in the provinces of Eritrea and Tigray, but also in Wollo, Gondar and Oromo in the southern part of the country.

Ethiopia's new constitution involved a division of the country into 5 autonomous regions and 25 administrative provinces. Eritrea was given the right to develop its own policy in all areas - except defense, national security, foreign policy and relations with the central power. The Eritrean rebel forces considered the proposal to be "colonial".

 

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