People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

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People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝባዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ ሪፐብሊክ (Amharic)
ye-Ītyōṗṗyā Həzbāwī Dīmōkrāsīyāwī Rīpeblīk
Anthem:  Ītyoṗya, Ītyoṗya, Ītyoṗya, qidä mī [1]
ኢትዮጵያ, ኢትዮጵያ, ኢትዮጵያ ቂዳ ሚ
"Ethiopia, Ethiopia, Ethiopia be first"
Pdr ethiopia.png
The People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in 1991.
Capital Addis Ababa
Common languages Amharic
Government Unitary Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist state under an authoritarian dictatorship [2]
General Secretary  
Mengistu Haile Mariam
Mengistu Haile Mariam
Tesfaye Gebre Kidan
Prime Minister  
Fikre Selassie Wogderess
Hailu Yimenu
Tesfaye Dinka
Legislature National Shengo
Historical era Cold War
22 February 1987
28 May 1991
1987 [3] 1,221,900 km2 (471,800 sq mi)
1990 [4] 1,221,900 km2 (471,800 sq mi)
 1987 [3]
 1990 [4]
Currency Ethiopian birr (ETB)
Calling code 251
ISO 3166 code ET
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Ethiopia (1975-1987).svg Derg
Transitional Government of Ethiopia Flag of Ethiopia (1991-1996).svg
Today part ofFlag of Eritrea.svg  Eritrea
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia

The People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (PDRE) was a socialist state that existed in Ethiopia from 1987 to 1991.

A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovereign state constitutionally dedicated to the establishment of socialism. The term "communist state" is often used interchangeably in the West specifically when referring to single-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist, or Titoist in case of Yugoslavia political parties, despite these countries being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism. These countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having implemented a communist society. Additionally, a number of countries which are not single-party states based on Marxism–Leninism make reference to socialism in their constitutions; in most cases these are constitutional references alluding to the building of a socialist society that have little to no bearing on the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems.

Ethiopia Country in East Africa

Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country in the northeastern part of Africa, known as the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, the de facto state of Somaliland and Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west and Sudan to the northwest. With over 102 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populous nation on the African continent with a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa, which lies a few miles west of the East African Rift that splits the country into the Nubian and Somali tectonic plates.


The PDRE was established in February 1987 as a Marxist-Leninist one-party state upon the adoption of the 1987 Constitution, three weeks after approval in the national referendum. The Derg, the military junta that had ruled Ethiopia as a provisional government since 1974, planned for transition into a civil government and proclaimed a socialist state in 1984 after five years of preparation. The Workers' Party of Ethiopia (WPE) became the vanguard party led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, serving as both President of Ethiopia and General Secretary of the WPE. The Derg was dissolved but continued to rule de facto until September when it was replaced by the WPE, dominated by Derg members, three months after the June general election. [5] The PDRE's government was highly centralized with a power structure similar to other communist states. The National Shengo, the legislature and the highest organ of state power, did little more than rubber-stamp decisions already made by the WPE and its Politburo. Mengistu held near-autocratic power as leader of the WPE and head of state. The Council of State which acted for the National Shengo between sessions.

A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of state in which one political party has the right to form the government, usually based on the existing constitution. All other parties are either outlawed or allowed to take only a limited and controlled participation in elections. Sometimes the term de facto one-party state is used to describe a dominant-party system that, unlike the one-party state, allows democratic multiparty elections, but the existing practices or balance of political power effectively prevent the opposition from winning the elections.

The 1987 Constitution of Ethiopia was the third constitution of Ethiopia, and went into effect on 22 February 1987 after a referendum on 1 February of that year. Its adoption inaugurated the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (PDRE).

Derg military junta that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987

The Derg, officially the Provisional Military Government of Socialist Ethiopia, was a Communist Marxist-Leninist military junta that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987.

The PDRE inherited issues that ravaged Ethiopia during the Derg era including the 1983–1985 famine, reliance on foreign aid, and the decline of the world communist movement. The Soviet Union ended support of the PDRE in 1990, and internal conflict brought on by the Ethiopian Civil War and Eritrean War of Independence saw the WPE's authority increasingly challenged by ethnic militias and anti-government groups. In May 1991, Mengistu fled Ethiopia and the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front entered Addis Ababa, dissolving the PDRE and replaced by the Transitional Government of Ethiopia.

1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia

A widespread famine affected Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985. The worst famine to hit the country in a century, it left 1.2 million dead. 400,000 refugees left the country, and 2.5 million people were internally displaced. Almost 200,000 children were orphaned.

Revolutions of 1989 Series of 1989-protests overthrowing communist governments in Eastern Europe

The Revolutions of 1989 formed part of a revolutionary wave in the late 1980s and early 1990s that resulted in the end of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. The period is sometimes called the Fall of Nations or the Autumn of Nations, a play on the term Spring of Nations that is sometimes used to describe the Revolutions of 1848.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a Marxist-Leninist sovereign state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.


Following the demise of imperial rule, the feudal socioeconomic structure was dismantled through a series of reforms which also affected educational development. By early 1975, the government had closed Haile Selassie I University and all senior secondary schools, then deployed the approximately 60,000 students and teachers to rural areas to promote the government's "Development Through Cooperation Campaign". The campaign's purposes were to promote land reform and improve agricultural production, health, and local administration and to teach peasants about the new political and social order. [6]

Addis Ababa University state university in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa University (AAU) is a large, highly residential national university in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The university is the oldest school of higher education in Ethiopia. AAU has thirteen campuses. Twelve of these are situated in Addis Ababa, and one is located in Bishoftu, about 45 kilometres (28 mi) away. AAU has several associated research institutions including the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. The Ministry of Education admits qualified students to AAU based on their score on the Ethiopian University Entrance Examination (EUEE).

The problem of land reform in Ethiopia has hampered that country's economic development throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries. Attempts to modernize land ownership by giving title either to the peasants who till the soil, or to large-scale farming programs, have been tried under imperial rulers like Emperor Haile Selassie, and under Marxist regimes like the Derg, with mixed results. The present Constitution of Ethiopia, which was put into force January 1995, vests land ownership exclusively "in the State and in the peoples of Ethiopia." The relevant section continues, "Land is a common property of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of exchange." Despite these different approaches to land reform, Ethiopia still faces issues of sustainable food self-sufficiency.

Agriculture in Ethiopia

Agriculture in Ethiopia is the foundation of the country's economy, accounting for half of gross domestic product (GDP), 83.9% of exports, and 80% of total employment.

Primary school enrollment increased from about 957,300 in 1974/75 to nearly 2,450,000 in 1985/86. There were still variations among regions in the number of students enrolled and a disparity in the enrollment of boys and girls. Nevertheless, while the enrollment of boys more than doubled, that of girls more than tripled. However, with most of the rebel controlled northern Ethiopia regions as well as parts of Somali and Oromo regions out of the government's control, most of its claims were not perceived to be comprehensive. [6]

The number of senior secondary schools almost doubled as well, with fourfold increases in Arsi, Bale, Gojjam, Gondar, and Wollo. The pre-revolutionary distribution of schools had shown a concentration in the urban areas of a few administrative regions. In 1974/75 about 55 percent of senior secondary schools were in Eritrea and Shewa, including Addis Ababa. In 1985/86 the figure was down to 40 percent. Although there were significantly fewer girls enrolled at the secondary level, the proportion of females in the school system at all levels and in all regions increased from about 32 percent in 1974/75 to 39 percent in 1985/86. [6]

Arsi Province

Arsi was a province of Ethiopia with its capital at Asella. The province was reduced to a Zone of the Oromia Region with the adoption of the new constitution in 1995.

Bale Province, Ethiopia

Bale is the name of two former polities located in the southeastern part of modern Ethiopia.

Gojjam province

Gojjam is in the northwestern part of Ethiopia with its capital city at Debre Marqos. Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile and is the largest lake in Ethiopia.

Among the PDRE's successes was the national literacy campaign. The literacy rate, under 10 percent during the imperial regime, increased to about 63 percent by 1984.[ citation needed ] In 1990/91 an adult literacy rate of just over 60 percent was still being reported in government as well as in some international reports. As with the 1984 data, it several wise to exercise caution with regard to the latest figure. Officials originally conducted the literacy training in five languages: Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, Wolaytta, and Somali. The number of languages was later expanded to fifteen, which represented about 93 percent of the population. [6]

A number of countries were generous in helping the PDRE meet its health care needs. Cuba, the Soviet Union, and a number of East European countries provided medical assistance. In early 1980, nearly 300 Cuban medical technicians, including more than 100 physicians, supported local efforts to resolve public health problems. Western aid for long-term development of Ethiopia's health sector was modest, averaging about US$10 million annually, the lowest per capita assistance in sub-Saharan Africa. The main Western donors included Italy and Sweden. The UN system led by UNDP and including such agencies as FAO, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNFPA and WHO, continued to extend assistance as they had to the Emperor's regime. In the early 1980s, at least one UNDP representative, a former minister in a Caribbean country, had the credibility to get access to Mengistu, and may have moderated his excesses in some instances. The World Bank also continued to provide assistance during his rule doubtless recognising the surprisingly conservative and prudent fiscal discipline the regime tried to follow. [6]

Failures and collapse

Ethiopia had never recovered from the previous great famine of the early 1970s, which was the result of a drought that affected most of the countries of the African Sahel. The famine was also caused by an imbalance of population which was concentrated in the highland areas, which were free of malaria and trypanosomiasis. Both the Emperor's and Mengistu's regimes had tried to resettle people in the lowlands, but the Mengistu regime came in for heavy international criticism on the grounds that the resettlements were forced. [7]

There has been an approximately decade long cycle of recurrent droughts in this part of east Africa since earlier in the 20th century and by the late 1970s signs of intensifying drought began to appear. By the early 1980s, large numbers of people in central Eritrea, Tigray, Welo, and parts of Begemder and Shewa were beginning to feel the effects of renewed famine. [6]

A drought that began in 1969 continued as dry weather brought disaster to the Sahel and swept eastward through the Horn of Africa. By 1973 the attendant famine had threatened the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian nomads, who had to leave their home grounds and struggle into Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, and Sudan, seeking relief from starvation. By the end of 1973, famine had claimed the lives of about 300,000 peasants of Tigray and Welo, and thousands more had sought relief in Ethiopian towns and villages. [6]

The PDRE's limited ability to lead development and to respond to crises was dramatically demonstrated by the government's reliance on foreign famine relief between 1984 and 1989. By 1983 armed conflict between the government and opposition movements in the north had combined with drought to contribute to mass starvation in Eritrea, Tigray, and Welo. Meanwhile, drought alone was having a devastating impact on an additional nine regions. This natural disaster far exceeded the drought of 1973-74, which had contributed to the downfall of Emperor Haile Selassie. By early 1985, some 7.7 million people were suffering from drought and food shortages. Of that number, 2.5 million were at immediate risk of starving. [6]

As it had in the past, in the mid-1980s the international community responded generously to Ethiopia's tragedy once the dimensions of the crisis became understood, although the FAO had been warning of food security problems for several years before the famine hit. Bilateral, multilateral, and private donations of food and other relief supplies poured into the country by late 1984. In 1987 another drought threatened 5 million people in Eritrea and Tigray. This time, however, the international community was better prepared to get food to the affected areas in time to prevent starvation and massive population movements. According to library of Congress studies, "many supporters of the Ethiopian regime opposed its policy of withholding food shipments to rebel areas. The combined effects of famine and internal war had by then put the nation's economy into a state of collapse." [6] Also according to Human Rights Watch's reports and research, [8] the counter-insurgency strategy of the PDRE

caused the famine to strike one year earlier than would otherwise have been the case, and forced people to migrate to relief shelters and refugee camps. The economic war against the peasants caused the famine to spread to other areas of the country. If the famine had struck only in 1984/5, and only affected the "core" areas of Tigray and North Wollo (3.1 million affected people), and caused only one quarter of the number to migrate to camps, the death toll would have been 175,000 (on the optimistic assumptions) and 273,000 (on the pessimistic assumptions). Thus between 225,000 and 317,000 deaths -- rather more than half of those caused by the famine -- can be blamed on the government's human rights violations.

By the end of the 1980s, the Soviet Union had ramped down its support for Ethiopia. Combined with the growing trend toward greater democracy in Africa, this led the WPE to abandon its monopoly of power in 1990 and embrace a mixed economy. This move came too late to save the regime. In May 1991, with the EPRDF closing in on Addis Ababa from all sides, Mengistu fled into exile in Zimbabwe. The PDRE only survived him by a week before the rebels took the capital on May 28.


Prime Ministers

See also

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