When is Downfall of the Derg?
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|This holiday next takes place in 9 Days.|
|Marks the defeat of the Derg regime in 1991|
The Downfall of the Derg is a public holiday in Ethiopia on 28 May.
Also known as Derg Downfall Day, it is Ethiopia's National Day and marks the end of the Derg regime in 1991.
History of Downfall of the Derg
Ethiopia had been ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie since 1930. The oil crisis of 1973 had led to strikes and famine in Ethiopia and opinion had turned against the Emperor.
On 12 September 1974, Haile Selassie was deposed in a coup d'état by the Derg (which means committee in Amharic), a Soviet-backed military dictatorship led by Mengistu Haile Mariam. The country was renamed as the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the monarchy was abolished in March 1975.
Derg is the short name for 'The Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army'. The committee had been formed to deal with corruption in the military and its actions were endorsed by the emperor, unaware that it would shortly imprison the emperor himself.
The Derg regime was marked by the Ethiopian Civil War that continued during the regime, with at least 1.4 million deaths. The regime was also in control in the mid-1980s when a catastrophic famine ravaged the country and brought it to the notice of the international community.
In the late 1980s, the opposition rebel forces became more organised under the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the change in leadership in the Soviet Union meant that the Derg would not get any financial or military support from any country in the Soviet bloc.
In May 1991, following significant territorial gains in the country, EPRDF forces advanced on Addis Ababa. With no intervention from the Soviet Union, Mengistu fled the country to Zimbabwe on 21 May 1991, ending the Derg regime.
To mark this day, speeches are made to honour those who died in the civil war fighting for the overthrow of the Derg.