Ethiopia Recent History

Ethiopia Recent History

Reign of Haile Selassie I.

After the death of Empress Zauditu (1916-30), Ras Teferi Makonnen ascended the throne in 1930 as Emperor Haile Selassie I. The Italian attack on Ethiopia in October 1935 interrupted the attempts at political and economic modernization. The war ended with the conquest of Addis Ababa (May 1936) by Italian troops (also known as the “Abyssinian War” in older literature). Haile Selassie went into exile in Britain. As part of its expansion policy, the fascist government in Rome combined Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland to form the colony “Italian East Africa” ​​(the King of Italy now also bore the title “Emperor of Ethiopia”). After British troops conquered the territory of Ethiopia in 1941 during World War II, Haile Selassie returned to Addis Ababa in May 1941. Only gradually was sovereignty over Ethiopia restored to him.

By resolution of the UN (1950), Eritrea was federated as an “autonomous unit” with Ethiopia, but in 1962 it was annexed by Ethiopia and administered as a province. In 1961 an uprising against Ethiopian rule broke out in Eritrea. a. was led by the Marxist-oriented Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF).

In developing the state and society, Haile Selassie adapted the economy and education to Western (i.e. especially Western European-American) ideas, but also avoided political reforms in the new constitution of 1955 that would have limited his power. The modernization of the state went hand in hand with centralization and the simultaneous dismantling of traditional local autonomies.

In terms of foreign policy, according to prozipcodes, the emperor introduced a policy of non-alignment in Ethiopia (founding member of the UN and the OAU). Addis Ababa has been the seat of the UN Economic Commission (ECA) since 1958 and the OAU since 1963 (the successor organization to the African Union since 2002). In 1963 the first border war with Somalia over the Ethiopian Somali province of Ogaden broke out.

The fall of the monarchy and the establishment of a socialist military rule

V a. There was great dissatisfaction among the lower echelons of the army leadership and among young intellectuals. In February 1974, the military forced Haile Selassie to reshuffle his government. In September 1974 the military took power, deposed the emperor, repealed the constitution of 1955 and formed a “Provisional Military Administrative Council” (Derg) as the highest decision-making and governing body. In November 1974 Mengistu Haile Mariam asserted himself in bloody rivalries as the strongest man in the state that proclaimed the republic in 1975. After another bloody overthrow within the highest government organs, he officially took over the leadership of the state and the government of “Socialist Ethiopia” in February 1977. Numerous personalities of the old and new regimes fell victim to the upheavals.

The agrarian reform initiated in 1975, which expropriated the nobility and the church without compensation and converted all land into public property, turned into a “green revolution” from 1979 onwards. With the nationalization of banks and large industrial companies, the military government under Mengistu continued the transformation of Ethiopia on the Marxist-Leninist model continued. Opposition-oriented parties – which arose among civil intellectuals – were suppressed with terrorist measures. Nevertheless, various forces (both conservative-feudal and democratic or ethnic-nationalist orientation) rose up against the system of government in several provinces. In 1977/78, under the sign of the officially declared “red terror”, the government fought what was known as the “white terror” resistance. In doing so, she tried to starve out the contested areas. With the help of Soviet arms deliveries and Cuban troops (around 15,000 men), the uprisings in Ogaden in 1978 and in Eritrea were finally defeated be severely weakened. The Somali uprising in Ogaden had expanded in its course (1977/78) at the same time to the second Ethiopian-Somali war over the Ogaden area, which was only finally ended in 1988 with a peace treaty.

With the support of material and financial aid, both private and public, from Western Europe and the USA, the Ethiopian government sought to combat a severe famine after 1980. As a result of the famine in the north of the country in 1983-85, an estimated 1 million people were resettled (mostly under coercive measures) from the provinces of Tigray, Wollo and Eritrea to more fertile areas in the south of the country. At the same time, around 8 million people were brought together in new settlements.

After much preparation, the Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) established itself in 1984 as the Marxist-Leninist cadre party. In addition to his state functions, Mengistu also took on their leadership as general secretary. When a new constitution came into force in 1987, military rule was transformed into a civilian system of government; Mengistu became president. An offer of autonomy by the government for the province of Eritrea was rejected in 1987 by the EPLF, which had been striving for independence for the province since 1962. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), fighting for the autonomy of the province of Tigray, captured the provincial capital of Meqele (Mekelle) in March 1989. In February 1991 a joint military offensive began on the liberation fronts of Eritrea and Tigray, supported by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which operates in central and southern Ethiopia.

Ethiopia Recent History