May 28 every year is observed to mark the end of the oppressive Derg Regime in 1991. The day marks the demise of the repressive military rule in 1991 and the dawn of a new era of peace, development and democracy for the Ethiopian people. Under this new government, all Ethiopians are recognized equally under the constitution, irrespective of any gender, religious, ethnic or cultural differences or affinities.
This year is the 27th Anniversary of the demise of the dictatorial Derg military regime, which was in place from 1974 until 1991. It was overthrown by a coalition of liberation forces which demanded a democratic system that recognized the rights and freedoms of all of Ethiopia’s many nationalities. Ethiopia is now a country which embraces diversity.
May 28, in fact, marks the beginning of the process to create the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s national interests were redefined to focus on the country’s internal vulnerabilities and its very real problems in politics and economy.
Using the concept of ‘unity in diversity’, the constitution of 1995 launched a genuine democratic process, offering peace and stability, growth and development and laying the foundation for Ethiopia’s Renaissance. Since then, the major focus of government has been concentrated on resolving problems that hampered from achieving democracy. The victory of May 28th and the subsequent activities at both federal and regional level to move the country out of backwardness and conflict and into peace and stability have led the country down the path of democracy and development. The war being waged against poverty is yielding substantial and successful results.
This new political dispensation is a source of social harmony which has brought successive economic prosperity, especially in the last fifteen years when there has been an average successive double digit economic growth.
This is the reason why the anniversary of May 28th is celebrated as the National Day of Ethiopia and this is why Ethiopians will be celebrating “Gibabot 20 / haya” (May 28) the day after tomorrow nation-wide and in Ethiopian Diaspora communities world-wide. It will provide an opportunity to pledge cooperation and support for the shared objective of seeing a modern, prosperous and viable Ethiopia achieve its Vision 2025 and the Ethiopian renaissance.
Ethiopia’s country profile
Ethiopia at a Glance:
Official Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Political system: Federal State with multi-party system
Capital City: Addis Ababa, which is also the seat of the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Location: Ethiopia’s location gives it strategic dominance as a jumping off point in the Horn of Africa, close to the Middle East and Europe markets.
Area: 1.104 million square kilometers
Arable land: 513,000 square kilometers (45%)
Irrigated land: 34,200 square kilometers (3%)
Population: Appx. 100 million (2017)
Population density: Appx. 90.5 per square kilometer (2017)
Language: Amharic is the working language of the federal government, while Oromiffa and Tigrigna are widely spoken. English is taught in schools and is the main business language.
Climate: Temperate in the highlands, ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F) and hot in the lowlands, often reaching 45°C (113°F). Rainfall ranges from 200 mm to 2000 mm.
Rainy Seasons: Abundant rain in June through August; mild rains in February and March.
Topography: Ethiopia has an elevated central plateau varying in height from 2,000 to 3,000 meters above sea level. In the North and center of the country there are some 25 mountains whose peaks reach over 4,000 meters. The most famous Ethiopia river is Blue Nile or Abbay, which flows a distance of 1,450 kilometers from its source to join the White Nile at Khartoum.
Currency: The currency of Ethiopia is based on the decimal system. The units of currency are the Birr and cents. The Birr is divided into 100 cents.
New Prime Minister
Abiy Ahmed Ali is the 5th Prime Minister of Ethiopia, since the overthrow of the Derg regime. He is Chairman of both the ruling EPRDF (Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front) and the OPDO (Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization), which is one of the four coalition parties of the EPRDF. Abiy is also an elected member of the Ethiopian parliament, and a member of the OPDO and EPRDF executive committees.
On 2 April 2018, Abiy was confirmed and sworn in by Ethiopian parliament as Prime Minister of Ethiopia. During his acceptance speech, he promised political reform, to promote the unity of Ethiopia and the unity among the people of Ethiopia, reached out to the Eritrean government to resolve the ongoing Eritrean–Ethiopian border conflict after the Eritrean–Ethiopian War and also reach out to the political opposition inside and outside of Ethiopia. His acceptance speech sparked optimism and received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from Ethiopian Public including the opposition groups inside and outside Ethiopia. Following his speech, his popularity and support across the country reached historically high and some political observers argued that Abiy is overwhelmingly more popular than the ruling party coalition, the EPRDF.
The multilingual Abiy was born in 1976 in the Jimma region of western Ethiopia, the son of a Muslim father and a Christian mother. When violent unrest broke out between the two religious communities he actively engaged in a peace forum for reconciliation.
While still a teenager, he joined the Ethiopian army in 1993, where he first worked in the intelligence service and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the Rwandan genocide of 1994, he was deployed as a member of the United Nations peace mission and later served in the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Starting from 2015, Abiy became one of the central figures in the violent fight against illegal land-grabbing activities in Oromia Region and especially around the capital Addis Ababa. Although the 'Addis Ababa Master Plan' at the heart of the land-grabbing plans was stopped in 2016, the disputes continued for some time resulting in injuries and deaths. It was this fight against land-grabbing, that finally boosted Abiys political career, brought him into the spotlight and allowed him to climb the political ladder.
In October 2015, Abiy became the Ethiopian Minister of Science and Technology (MoST), a post which he left after only 12 months. From October 2016 on, Abiy served as Deputy President of Oromia Region as part of the team of Oromia Region's president Lemma Megersa while staying a member of the Ethiopian Federal House of Peoples' Representatives. Abiy also became the Head of the Oromia Urban Development and Planning Office. In this role, Abiy was expected to be the major driving force behind Oromia Economic Revolution, Oromia Land and Investment reform, youth employment as well as resistance to widespread land grabbing in Oromia region. As one of his duties in office, he took care of the displaced one million Oromo people from Somali region during the 2017 unrest.
As head of OPDO Secretariat from October 2017 on, Abiy crossed over religious and ethnic divides to facilitate the formation of a new alliance between Oromo and the Amhara groups, both making up two thirds of the 100 million Ethiopian population.
In early 2018, a lot of political observers considered Abiy and Lemma as the most popular politicians within the majority of the Oromo community and other Ethiopian communities. This came after several years of unrest in Ethiopia. But despite this favorable rating for Abiy and Lemma, young people from Oromia Region called for immediate action without delays to bring fundamental change and freedom to Oromia Region and Ethiopia – otherwise more unrest were to be expected. According to Abiy himself, people are asking for a different rhetoric, with an open and respectful discussion in the political space to allow political progress and to win people for democracy instead of pushing them.
Until early 2018, Abiy continued to serve as head of the OPDO secretariat and of the Oromia Housing and Urban Development Office and as Deputy President of Oromia Region. Then he left all these posts after his election as Leader of OPDO and EPRDF.