Crisis and Contradiction in Ethiopia Since 1974: Setting the Stage for Chinese Investment
Two periods have significantly shaped contemporary Ethiopia: the reign of the Dergue regime (1974–1991) and the reigning EPRDF government since then. Most scholars on Ethiopian politics including Young and Keller concur that the period immediately after the year 1991 was the turning point in Ethiopia’s social, political and economic development. Whilst this book is essentially located in the period immediately relevant to expanded Chinese investment in Ethiopia, that is from 1991 onwards, it is only possible to understand the political economy of this period by understanding the predecessor regime. This chapter engages in an analytical discussion of Mengistu’s socialist Dergue regime (in power between 1974 and 1991) to demonstrate how the state has always been embedded in social struggles in Ethiopia. To achieve this, the chapter carefully selects a number of internal issues like ethnicity, land and economic policy that clearly denote the relational aspect of power in Ethiopia. When the liberal reform under the EPRDF regime is examined in the next chapter, the important difference between the two periods is the external dimension that lacks in the Dergue period. This difference must be understood to appreciate the distinct nature of state-society relations in either period.