Marxist–Leninist League of Tigray
The Marxist–Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT) was a semi-clandestine Hoxhaist Communist party that held a leading role in the Tigrayan Peoples' Liberation Front (TPLF) in the 1980s. The majority of the TPLF leadership held dual membership in the MLLT, including Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia from 1995 until his death in 2012.
According to a 1986 article in the League’s publication, The People’s Voice, the MLLT was first established in 1983 as "pre-party organization" called the Organization of the Vanguard Elements. This grouping would become the MLLT in 1985 to serve as a "vanguard party for the TPLF". According to Aregawi Berhe, the MLLT held its founding congress 25 July 1985 in the gorge of the Wari River.
Posing as orthodox defenders of Marxism-Leninism and allying itself with the communist current associated with the hard-line Enver Hoxha regime in Albania, the MLLT saw its goals as spreading Marxism-Leninism throughout the world and "engaging in a bitter struggle against all brands of revisionism," which they defined using the parlance of the Albanian ruling Communist Party of Labor, as including “Khrushchevism, Titoism, Trotskyism, Euro-Communism and Maoism.”
The emergence of the MLLT created some rifts with the Eritrean People's Liberation Front with which the TPLF was allied against the ruling Soviet-backed Ethiopian Derg. The MLLT took a much harder line on the role of the Soviet Union in the world, which they along with Albania viewed as social-imperialist and an enemy of the oppressed of the world. The EPLF held a more flexible line viewing the Soviet support for the Derg as a tactical mistake on their part and avoided any public denunciations of the Soviet Union.
With the coming to power of the TPLF in 1991 and the collapse of communist regime in Albania, the TPLF dropped all references to Marxism-Leninism. The leadership of the TPLF claims that the MLLT dissolved when the TPLF-backed Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front took power after the collapse of the Derg in 1991.
While many current TPLF leaders downplay or minimize the influence of MLLT on the TPLF, it is clear that it played a major leadership role in the TPLF for most of its existence. Some scholars (such as Kahsay Berhe) believe the MLLT played a role in the removal of TPLF founders Giday Zera Tsion and Aregawi Berhe in late July 1985.
- Aregawi Berhe, A Political history of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (1975-1991) (Los Angeles: Tsehai, 2009), p. 170
- Young, John. Peasant Revolution in Ethiopia: The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, 1975-1991 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)