Human Rights Crisis as Central Power Crumbles

Killings, Detentions, Forcible Conscription and Obstruction of Relief

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Ethiopia is in the midst of a massive political upheaval. Government forces have been defeated in recent rebel offensives, endangering the survival of the government of President Mengistu Haile Mariam. President Mengistu and the National Shengo (Assembly) have made a desperate and dramatic bid for a "transitional system" embracing all "pro-unity" forces, and involving a "peace forum" and an amnesty for all Ethiopians living abroad. The principal rebel forces -- the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF*) and Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) -- are almost certain to reject the government's new peace conditions, because the peace offer explicitly rules out the possibility of Eritrean independence, which is a central plank of their programs. Indeed, Mengistu himself appeared to rule out the participation of the EPRDF and EPLF in a transitional government when he dubbed them "anti-unity groups" and described their actions in these words "at no time in our country's history has our country produced treachery of this magnitude.

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