Ethiopia: The People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Posted: February 21, 2008 in History
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The People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

On September 10, 1987, after thirteen years of military rule, the nation officially became the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (PDRE) under a new constitution providing for a civilian government. The PMAC was abolished, and in June of that year Ethiopians had elected the National Shengo (National Assembly), a parliament. Despite these changes, members of the now-defunct Derg still ran the government but with different titles. For example, the National Shengo elected Mengistu to be the country’s first civilian president; he remained, however, the WPE’s general secretary. Other high-ranking Derg and WPE members received similar posts in the new government, including the Derg deputy chairman, Fikre-Selassie Wogderes, who became Ethiopia’s prime minister, and Fisseha Desta, WPE deputy general secretary, who became the country’s vice president.

Despite outward appearances, little changed in the way the country was actually run. Old Derg members still were in control, and the stated mission of the WPE allowed continued close supervision by the government over much of the urban population. Despite the granting of “autonomy” to Eritrea, Aseb, Tigray, Dire Dawa, and the Ogaden, the 1987 constitution was ambiguous on the question of selfdetermination for national groups such as the Eritreans, except within the framework of the national government. And although the constitution contained provisions to protect the rights of citizens, the power of peasant associations and kebeles was left intact.

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