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selassie starve is people

Ethiopia's history has been a turbulent and brutal one. Never colonized by the European

powers, the country was ruled by emperors until 1974, and the ethnically diverse feudal

society was often characterized by regional, territorial and religious discord. Nevertheless,

despite the numerous local dialects and more than eighty ethnic groups represented

throughout the nation, one man governed Ethiopia for forty-four years (Mayfield 1995).

In 1930, Haile Selassie was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia and established a more modern

state by creating a structured, central bureaucracy, a judicial system with codified laws, and

a constitution (IRBDC Apr. 1990, 11). Despite these accomplishments, however, revolts,

rebellions, droughts, and famine marked Haile Selassie's reign. The Emperor's

unresponsiveness to the economic development of the country and the political needs of his

people, specifically his methods of dealing with (and concealing) the widespread famine that

plagued the nation in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, is what most scholars believe ultimately led to

his downfall. Although the Emperor ordered the importation of grain into Addis Ababa, other

portions of the country such as Wollo and Tigray were neglected and hundreds of thousands

of peasants were left to starve. By early 1974, strikes, protests, and demonstrations against

the imperial government were staged throughout the country by many different groups

including students and a wide-range of Marxist intellectuals, taxi drivers, Moslems, labor

unions, and military units. The government's unwillingness or inability to respond to these

demands eventually led to the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie and the accession to

power of the Provisional Military Administrative Committee (PMAC) also known as the

Dergue (Mayfield 1995).

When the Dergue, a committee of nearly 120 military officers, assumed leadership, it

"abolished Parliament, suspended the Constitution and arrested Emperor Haile Selassie and

former members of the imperial government for alleged crimes against the Ethiopian

people...All land, industries and institutions were nationalized" (DIRB Apr. 1990, 13). During

the initial transformation, the Dergue still honored the revolution's slogan "without blood;"

overall the transition was relatively peaceful and without casualties. However, power struggles

within the new ruling elite led to the rise of a new leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam, and the

phrase "without blood" was soon forgotten (Mayfield 1995

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