History History

Despite large-scale political and military support from the USSR and Soviet satellites, it failed to crush these movements which played a major role, together with the EPLF, in weakening the Derg. The Derg's political failures were compounded by droughts and famine, notably in the mid 1980s, affecting millions of people and by steadily expanding opposition to its brutal campaign of resettlement and villagization. As the Soviet Union began to collapse in the later 1980s, its support for the Derg came to an end. Mengistu survived an attempted coup in 1989, but after a series of defeats at the hands of the TPLF and the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), an organization it had set up in 1989, he fled in May 1991 to Zimbabwe where he still resides. In 2006, after a long trial, Mengistu was found guilty of genocide in absentia, and he and a number of other leading members of the Derg were given death sentences. None have been carried out. The surviving members of the Derg were released in 2011, having been held in jail for 20 years.

A week after Mengistu's flight, the EPRDF took over Addis Ababa and brought an end to 17 years of communist authoritarianism and military dictatorship. It set up a Transitional Government composed of an 87 member Council of Representatives which drew up a National Charter to act as a transitional constitution. In June 1992, the OLF, dissatisfied with its role in government, withdrew its four ministers and tried to return to armed struggle. It was unsuccessful, but it has kept up some low-level anti-government activity, most recently from bases in Eritrea. In March 1993, members of another non-EPRDF party, the Southern Ethiopia Peoples' Democratic Coalition also left the government. Despite this, the process for establishment of a federal constitutional government continued successfully. Based on ethnic structuralism, the aim was to decentralize authority and provide the major ethic groups and peoples of Ethiopia with the opportunity to develop politically, economically and culturally. A new constitution was drawn up in 1993 after extensive consultations and approval from an elected constituent assembly in December 1994 and by an elected Parliament in May 1995. The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, consisting of nine states and two chartered cities, was proclaimed in August 1995. Meles Zenawi, chairman of the majority party in Parliament, the EPRDF, was elected Prime Minister, and Negasso Gidada became non-executive President. There were national and federal elections in 2000, 2005 and 2010. In October 2001, Girma Wolde-Giorgis was elected president and again in 2007.

Within a year of the establishment of the EPRDF government, more than a hundred political parties and organizations had emerged. There was a similar explosion of private media publications though numbers of both have decreased subsequently. The election for members of the 547-member constituent assembly was held in June 1994. This assembly adopted the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in December 1994, setting up a federal parliamentary democracy with an executive prime minister chosen by the party in power after legislative elections. Legislative power rests in the government and the two houses of parliament, the House of Peoples' Representatives (547 members) and the Council of Federation (110 members) whose members are designated by the elected Regional State Councils. [Picture links?? Parliament in session] There is an independent judiciary whose appointments are made by the House of Representatives on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Judicial Administrative Council. There is an Ethiopian Human Rights Council and an active Ombudsman's Office.  The constitution assigns extensive power to regional states to establish their own government and democracy according to the federal government's constitution. The regional states (killil) elect regional councils which have legislative and executive power operating through an executive committee and regional sectoral bureaus. Under Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution the regional states also have the right to secede from Ethiopia. This structure of elected executive councils is replicated at the woreda level and at the lowest level of administration, the kebele. 

(Source: www.mfa.gov.et)

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