28 May, 2008

Party on, Ethiopia

Today is a national holiday in Ethiopia. It is the day on which they celebrate no longer being ruled by the Derg. "Derg" is the Amharic for "committee"; the Derg was the abbreviated name of the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army. This body came into being during a series of army mutinies that brought an end to the imperial regime of Haile Selaise. Sadly, the Derg soon turned out to be a bunch of megalomaniac nutjobs, turning violently on their real and imagined enemies. After nearly twenty years of war, terror, and famine, they were finally overthrown in May 1991. The Derg's leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam, now lives in exile in Zimbabwe. He was on Monday sentenced to death in absentia by an Ethiopian court; I suspect he is hoping that Mugabe manages to remain in power.

While the current leaders of Ethiopia have displayed some authoritarian tendencies, they will be able to coast for a while yet on not being the Derg, and on being the people who overthrew them.

More Derg action:

Derg (Wikipedia)

The Establishment of the Derg(Library of Congress)

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