1948 Independence again
During the ensuing 5 years of occupation, Italy set up various industries, coffee plantations and introduced a racial discrimination system that in many ways resembled apartheid in South Africa. When Mussolini’s dictatorship collapsed, Britain took control of Ethiopia, which in 1948 regained its independence. Haile Selassie returned to the throne, but found the country in a deep unprecedented crisis. The production structure was in disarray, the nationalist movements that had fought the invasion force would not accept a return to feudal conditions, and poverty in the interior of the country had drastically worsened.
The emperor renounced colonialism, supported the Alliance-Free Countries Movement – when it was set up in the mid-50s – and OAU (Organization for African Unity, the African Unity Organization), whose headquarters were relocated to Ethiopia’s capital, Adis Ababa. At the same time, however, he maintained close relations with Israel. Under Emperor Selassie, a state bureaucracy was created, a teaching system inspired by the United States and Africa’s largest sub-Saharan army.
In 1950, the UN General Assembly agreed that Eritrea should have autonomy in federation with Ethiopia, but the resolution was not followed. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Ethiopia.
The agricultural structure was largely preserved: the feudal landowners and the Orthodox Church controlled 80% of the country’s fertile lands. Export production of cotton and sugar began to grow in the 50s, while the country’s most important product, the coffee, was predominantly produced by small farmers. However, economic developments were not followed by political reforms. The emperor continued to rule with unlimited power. Therefore, an opposition developed, which was primarily based on student circles. The development of a bourgeoisie associated with foreign capital led to a contradiction with the feudal part, which weakened the emperor’s power base.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Provides latest population data about Ethiopia. Lists by Year from 1950 to 2020. Also includes major cities by population.
1974 Derguen conducts coup
In the early 1970s, there was a rapid deterioration in the living conditions of the farmers in the countryside and the workers in the cities. In 1973-74, a perennial drought reached its climax. Tens of thousands starved to death, and the authorities’ attempts to hide the disaster created political resistance. Large price rises hit workers and soldiers hard, and demonstrations and strikes no longer stopped. Students, workers and parts of the armed forces demanded political and social reforms, and in February 1974, parts of the army made mutiny. In April, these groups formed the Military Coordination Committee, which was later renamed the Dergue’n – Committee on Amhari. The Vice Chairman was Mengistu Haile Mariam. The Haile Selassie government tried to meet some of the economic and political demands – including by constitutional amendments – but too late. On September 13, 1974, the emperor was ousted, and the military with General Aman Andom at the head took over power with assurance that it would simply lead the country to a civilian government.
The rebellion which led to the emperor’s fall was spontaneous and had a broad popular foundation. However, the military junta immediately stopped the approach to democratic development by banning strikes, demonstrations, etc. The constitution was suspended and parliament closed.