Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front
|Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front
የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝቦች አብዮታዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ ግንባር
|Youth wing||EPRDF Youth League|
|Women's wing||EPRDF Women's League|
|Membership (2006)||Four million |
|Colors||Red and Yellow|
|Seats in the House of Peoples' Representatives|
Cited from party website
The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (Amharic: የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝቦች አብዮታዊ ዲሞክራሲያዊ ግንባር?; abbreviated EPRDF) is the ruling political coalition in Ethiopia. It is an alliance of four other groups: the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the South Ethiopian Peoples' Democratic Front (SEPDF) and the Tigrayan Peoples' Liberation Front (TPLF). Together it had 472 of the 527 seats in the House of People's Representatives following the election held in May 2000. The results of the legislative elections, of 15 May 2005, were not accepted by all parties. The disagreements led to a prolonged crisis and public unrest, which resulted in the death of 193 Ethiopians, including civilians and police officers. The ruling front claimed to have won 499 of the 527 seats. The opposition, which claimed widespread fraud and intimidation, declared that the two major opposition coalitions together would form a majority coalition. Though one of the major opposition parties (Coalition for Unity and Democracy) carried Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa by a landslide, the opposition did not have the strength of the EPRDF in rural Ethiopia.
The EPRDF's two main opponents in the 2005 elections were the Coalition for Unity and Democracy and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, both of which are also coalitions of multiple opposition parties. The opposition made spectacular gains in the election, which caught all observers, and the parties, off guard. Early results from the polls showed the opposition on course to sweep to power with a substantial majority. However, the National Election Board, appointed by the Prime Minister, stopped the vote tabulation process for several days. There was a break in the chain of control of ballot boxes. When the counting resumed and the ruling coalition declared it had won, the opposition cried foul and contested the results.
The EPRDF is an alliance of four parties: the OPDO, which is based in the Oromia Region; the ANDM based in the Amhara Region; the SEPDF based in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region; and the TPLF based in the Tigray Region. A total of about 4 million people are together members of the allied parties. The EPRDF is led by a central committee as well as a Politbureau, whose members are selected every three years by a congress of the party. The four member parties have the same organizational structure. Government and party structures are closely intertwined. This interweaving reaches down to the local level, as described in the Human Rights Watch report of 10 March 2010:
- Today, kebele officials wield a massive amount of power over their constituents in a myriad ways, in a system where the line between state and ruling party is firmly entrenched. Kebele officials determine eligibility for food assistance, recommend referrals to secondary health care and schools, and provide access to state-distributed resources like seeds, fertilizers, and other essential agricultural inputs. Minor claims and disputes at the kebele level are adjudicated by social courts based in these Kebeles. Local prisons; and, in some places, local-level militia are used to execute the laws and political decisions of the ruling party.
The other five regions of Ethiopia are governed by parties which were either created or heavily influenced by the EPRDF. One of the earliest was the Afar People's Democratic Organization in the Afar Region, which subsequently merged with other Afar political groups to create the Afar National Democratic Party.
In the Somali Region, the Somali People's Democratic Party was founded in 1998 after relations with the Ogaden National Liberation Front soured. In the Harari Region is the Hareri National League, while in Gambela is the Gambela People's Democratic Movement. In Benishangul-Gumuz Region the Benishangul-Gumuz People's Democratic Unity Front predominates.
The EPRDF professes an ideology of Revolutionary Democracy and federalism, while stressing the right of self-determination for the individual ethnic groups of Ethiopia. The description of the democracy as revolutionary implies the type has been modified to meet the country's context. The alliance has been establishing a free market economic system in a controlled manner, as the country lacked any kind of financial and economical scheme. As Ethiopia is a country with of a multitude of languages and cultures, the EPRDF has introduced political decentralization. The regional states have their own parliaments and governments so they may develop to meet the specific needs of the local ethnic groups, as well as the whole country. The EPRDF has created a multi-party democracy in Ethiopia for the first time in its history. The EPRDF's slogan is "our difference signifies the strength of our unity."
Before it became the government in 1991, the EPRDF was a rebel group battling the military junta known as the Derg. It was in power from 1974 to 1987, when Mengistu Haile Mariam established the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, which lasted until the EPRDF overthrew it. During this period, the Derg was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of opponents without trial.
The EPRDF formed with the union of the TPLF and the Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Movement (EPDM) in early 1989; they were later joined by the OPDO (Oromo of the TPLF and EPLF, and Oromo members of EPDM) and the Ethiopian Democratic Officers’ Revolutionary Movement (a small body of Derg officers captured by TPLF, most notably at Shire in February 1989, which was later disbanded after the establishment of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia.
In the early 1990s, following the collapse of the Mengistu government, the EPRDF gained support from the United States. Michael Johns, an Africa expert with the Heritage Foundation, wrote in 1991 that "there are some modestly encouraging signs that the front intends to abandon Mengistu's autocratic practices." Observers have had concerns since then about the EPRDF's treatment of the opposition, particularly the validity of the 2005 and 2010 elections.
- "About EPRDF", Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front website (accessed 29 May 2009)
- Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: Parteien in Äthiopien: Zwischen ethnischer Orientierung und Programmausrichtung
- "One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure", Human Rights Watch report, released 10 March 2010
- Paulos Chanie: "Clientelism and Ethiopia's post-1991 decentralisation", Journal of Modern African Studies 45/3 (2007)
- Yasin Mohammed Yasin, "Political history of the Afar in Ethiopia and Eritrea", African Affairs, in: Africa Spectrum 42 (2008), p. 39-65
- Tobias Hagmann, Mohamud H. Khalif: "State and Politics in Ethiopia's Somali region since 1991", Bildhaan: the International Journal of Somali Studies, 6 (2006), pp. 25-49. (This is a translation of Hagman and Khalif, "La Région Somali d’Éthiopie: Entre Intégration, Indépendance et Irrédentisme," Politique Africaine 99, October (2005), pp. 43–62)
- Lovise Aalen, "Ethnic Federalism and Self Determination for Nationalities in A Semi Authoritarian State: the Case of Ethiopia", International Journal on Minority and Group Rights 13 (2006), pp. 243-261
- de Waal, Alex (1997). Famine Crimes: Politics & the Disaster Relief Industry in Africa. Oxford: James Currey. ISBN 0-85255-810-4.
- Sarah Vaughan, "Ethnicity and Power in Ethiopia" (University of Edinburgh: Ph.D. Thesis, 2003), p. 168
- "Does Democracy Have a Chance?" by Michael Johns, The World and I magazine, August 1991 (entered in The Congressional Record, May 6, 1992).