Eritrean Liberation Front

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Eritrean Liberation Front
Participant in the Ethiopian Civil War, Eritrean War of Independence and the Eritrean Civil Wars
Flag of Eritrea (1952-1961).svg
Flag of the ELF, also UN given Flag of Eritrea (1952-1962)
IdeologyEritrean nationalism
Marxism-Leninism (1971–1982)
Social conservatism (1982–present)
LeadersIdris Mohammed Adem (1961–1975)
Ahmed Mohammed Nasser (1975–1982)
Abdella Idris (1982–2011)
Hussein Kelifah (2011–present)
HeadquartersKhartoum, Sudan
Area of operationsEthiopia (1961–1991), Eritrea (1991–present)
AlliesEritrean People's Liberation Front (1970–1972, 1974–1980)
Cuba (until 1975)
Saudi Arabia
Opponent(s)Eritrean People's Liberation Front (1972–1974, 1980–present)
Cuba (1975–1989)
Workers' Party of Ethiopia
People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Tigrayan People's Liberation Front
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Battles and war(s)Ethiopian Civil War
Eritrean War of Independence
Eritrean Civil Wars
Emblem of Eritrea (or argent azur).svg
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The Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) was the main independence movement in Eritrea which sought Eritrea's independence from Ethiopia during the 1960s and 1970s.


In the late 1950s, unorganized political movement seeking independence was secretly active as small cells. And in July 1960, the ELF was openly established in Cairo by Idris Muhammad Adam and other Eritrean intellectuals and students. In 1961 Hamid Idris Awate formed the armed wing of the ELF and declared the armed struggle for independence. Led by Awate, the ELF came into violent conflict with the government on September 1, 1961, using guerrilla war tactics to continue the struggle. Though the movement posed great problems for the Ethiopian government and army, it was also facing internal political conflicts in the very late 1960s. In the 1970s, a group of its members split the movement and formed the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, a more left-wing rebel movement. By the 1980s, the People's Liberation Front had replaced the original Eritrean Liberation Front as the main rebel group. Following the expulsion of the ELF from Eritrean land, the organization split into three groups: the Eritrean liberation front-Revolutionary Council, led by Ahmed Nasser, the Eritrean liberation front-Central Leadership, which eventually united in 1987 with the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, and the remaining faction led by Abdalla Idriss retained the original name. When Eritrea did gain independence in the early 1990s, the People's Liberation Front changed into the People's Front for Democracy and Justice with the addition of former ELF members while the balance became a small rebel group in the nether reaches of the Sudan.

Current status[edit]

The contemporary ELF is a member of the umbrella opposition alliance in Eritrea, the Eritrean National Alliance.[1] They are apparently now receiving military support from Ethiopia and from the interim government of Somalia based at Baidoa.[2]

Groups that are splinters of the ELF[edit]

The Eritrean Liberation Front-Popular liberation forces was organized around Osman Saleh Sabbe, Romedan Mohammed Nur and Isaias Afewerki. Another split affected within the organization with the emergence of Eritrean People's Liberation Front in 1970. The 1982 Rasai Incident led to a split between the Abdellah Idris faction and Ahmed Mohammed Nasser's Eritrean Liberation Front-Revolutionnary Council. Ahmed's group was then affected by another split with the creation of Eritrean Liberation Front-Central Leadership around Ibrahim Toteel and Zemheret Yohannes.

Organizations affiliated with the Eritrean Liberation Front[edit]

  • General Union of Eritrean Students
  • General Union of Eritrean Workers
  • General Union of Eritrean Women
  • General Union of Eritrean Peasants
  • Eritrean Red Cross and Red Crescent Society


  1. ^ "An Interview With Dr. Yohannes Zeremariam". Archived from the original on 2006-06-29. Retrieved 2006-09-15.
  2. ^ "Ethiopia troops head for Baidoa". BBC News. 20 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-15.

External links[edit]