Ethiopia History in the 1970’s

By | December 17, 2021

It was in this situation that in February 1974, due to contingent events such as the sensational increase in the cost of living as a result of the economic-financial crisis that hit the whole world in 1973 and the increase in the price of oil, to which acute local unrest, riots broke out which culminated in the rebellion of the troops in Eritrea, which, under the weight of the tasks entrusted to them in the province, demanded economic and organizational improvements. Riots soon appeared as the occasional motive for implementing an organic plan to overthrow the incumbent government. In February the cabinet of ministers was exonerated by the sovereign, who appointed a new executive government, which, however, did not satisfy either the military or the university students, due, at least apparently, of the person of Prime Minister Endalkàččaw Makonnén, considered a participant in the interests of the ruling class that he wanted to oust from power. On Holy Saturday, April 13, the sovereign, in the traditional reception at the court, announced the appointment as successor to the throne of the 22-year-old son of the legitimate heir, Asfà Wasän, struck by paralysis a couple of years earlier: an out-of-time act, in a rapidly evolving political climate, a certain expression of the sovereign and his circle’s lack of evaluation of the events in progress. At the same time, in fact, the military committee at the head of the opposition movement imposed the renewal of the current Constitution, promised by the sovereign himself in the previous days, according to radical principles, which would then have been those proclaimed in the following September, at the time of the establishment of the new regime. Again in April, at the request of the military, the first arrests of members of the past regime began, accused of illicit profits, corruption, bad governance. The military then definitively took possession of the concrete power of the state and with prudent action placed all the prominent figures of the previous regime in custody, gradually arresting them, while making a public declaration of loyalty to the sovereign Ḫāyla Sellāsē. But between the end of August and the beginning of September 1974, a public campaign of accusations against the person of the latter and the nationalization of commercial enterprises of interest to the royal family and, later, to the royal palace itself was a prelude to the deposition of the sovereign, which took place formally on September 12 (the day following the Ethiopian New Year), and his immediate arrest, while his son, legitimate heir, paralyzed (as mentioned) and resident outside Ethiopia for cures. The deposition was followed by a first general enunciation of the program of the new government, which as a principle had the creation of a socialist state, whose “philosophy” was to be summed up in the motto “Ethiopia first of all” (ityo ṗ y p̀ teqd v̄ m, in Amharic), taken as the emblem of all the renewing action. For Ethiopia 2011, please check

The Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police and Territorial Militia assumed the title of Provisional Military Council, or, more fully, Provisional Military Administrative Council, on 15 September, which however was soon replaced, in the current use of press information, from “Provisional Military Government”. It had a president and two first vice-presidents at its head, and collectively took over the functions of head of state, awaiting the new designated king, Asfa Wasv̄n. But on March 17, 1975 the monarchy was declared lapsed and the institution incompatible with Ethiopia socialist. Furthermore, on 12 September 1974, the state constitution, in force since 1955, was repealed because it was contrary to the principles of the new state and the parliament dissolved, as subservient to the previous regime and therefore in discord with the new times. On November 22, the first president of the military government, General Ammàn Mikaèl ‛Andòm, was killed and 29 civilians and 30 soldiers, all belonging to the past regime, were summarily executed, accused of plotting against the new regime.

The military government then passed to the application of its program, officially announced on December 22, 1974, 100 days after the deposition of the sovereign. Nationalizations of banks, insurance companies, industries and commercial enterprises followed. A campaign of education and indoctrination of the population was then started (December 1974), with much formal solemnity, which envisages the use of 60,000 students and teachers, ordained and initiated for this purpose in the fourteen Ethiopian provinces. Finally, in March 1975, all agricultural land was nationalized and an agrarian reform program is now being implemented, based on the creation of large-scale collective farms and the granting of plots of a few hectares to individuals for direct cultivation. While the new military government was committed to the implementation of its own reform plans, the struggle with the Eritrean liberation movements (two, as mentioned) became more heated and resulted, in February 1975, in a violent open clash of war, which hit the city of Asmarà itself, the capital of Eritrea, with very serious damage to people and things. The situation then calmed down in anticipation, on both sides, of an attempted negotiated solution. with very serious damage to people and things. The situation then calmed down in anticipation, on both sides, of an attempted negotiated solution. with very serious damage to people and things. The situation then calmed down in anticipation, on both sides, of an attempted negotiated solution.

The Ethiopian Church gave its official support, through the Patriarch, to the new military government immediately after its constitution, in September 1974. In March 1975 in Addis Ababa a seminar was held for the representatives of the clergy of the city, in which one of the two vice-presidents of the military government invited the Church to adapt to the new political directives, renouncing religious conflicts and bearing in mind that Ethiopian socialism, now inaugurated, and religion are compatible with each other, having such socialism as support the Bible and the Koran and having enlightened religious conceptions and social and economic progress go hand in hand. The Ethiopian Easter Day, which falls on May 4, 1975 according to our calendar, the leading article of the local daily newspaper, The Ethiopian Herald, in English and of governmental address, had as its title “In Search of the Truth” and placed Christ among the founders of the great religions, alongside Confucius, Buddha, Zoroaster and Mohammed. At the end of this doctrinal article followed another entitled “Nutrition and hygiene”, which condemned the use of raw meat (eaten in enormous quantities precisely on the feast of Easter) as contrary to health. For the first time, in the official history of Ethiopia Christian, the rationalist Enlightenment made its entrance.

As for the history of international relations, Ethiopia has continued in recent years to maintain and develop relations with all foreign states, especially with those of Western Europe and the United States, from which it has received continuous substantial financial aid for the economic and social development of the country, as well as to aid of a military nature. The new military government which came to power in September 1974 confirmed this policy of friendship with foreign states, emphasizing in particular the friendly feelings towards Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt. Relations with the independent states of Africa have become closer diplomatically, especially after Ethiopia it was chosen as the seat of the Organization for African Unity. In this field, then, relations with the neighboring states of Somalia, Kenya and Sudan were particularly delicate in the fifteen years under review, which gave rise to very lively bilateral diplomatic contacts. Relations with Sudan became strained due to the Eritrean liberation movement, which had its bases in the finite territory of that state: various agreements, between 1964 and 1967, were aimed at putting an end to that activity., with the commitment of the Ethiopian state to prevent, in turn, on its own soil, the organization of hostile actions by members of the insurrection movement in southern Sudan. The question relating to the delimitation of the borders between the two states in the region of the River Setit was also inserted in the question connected with the problems raised by the aforementioned movement. status quo. With Somalia, which became an independent state, the uncertainty of the borders, essentially concerning the north-west area, and specifically Ogadèn, kept relations in constant tension, which in 1964 (February-March) led to serious armed clashes especially in the Ogadèn, which were followed by a truce and the transition to diplomatic negotiations, with the international mediation of the Organization for African Unity and that of the United Nations; the issue was not resolved, however, and, after a period characterized by an attitude of mutual understanding, in 1977 the situation became tense again, reaching, after the creation of the Republic of Djibouti (June 27), a open conflict with the Western Somalia Liberation Front, operating in the Ogadèn, and supported by Somalia. The troops of the Front have achieved notable successes going (Jan. 1978) as far as the vicinity of Haràr. But the Ethiopian counter-offensive, supported by Cuban soldiers and massive Soviet military aid requested by the president of Därg col. Mangestù, pushed back the troops of the Front within the borders of Somalia (March 1978).

Ethiopia History in the 1970's