Last Updated: Friday, 27 November 2015, 12:04 GMT

Chronology of Events: January 1990 - January

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immmigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 January 1993
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Chronology of Events: January 1990 - January, 1 January 1993, available at: [accessed 29 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.



AOLF     Abo Oromo Liberation Front

EDLM    Eritrean Democratic Liberation Movement

EDM       Eritrean Democratic Movement

EDUP     Ethiopian Democratic Unity Party

ELF         Eritrean Liberation Front

ELF-NC  Eritrean Liberation Front - National Council

ELF-RC  Eritrean Liberation Front - Revolutionary Council

ELF-UO  Eritrean Liberation Front - United Organization

EPLF       Eritrean People's Liberation Front

EPRDF   Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front

IFLO       Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromo

IGLF       Issa and Gurgura Liberation Front

OLF        Oromo Liberation Front

ONLF     Ogaden National Liberation Front

OPDO     Oromo People's Democratic Organization

OPULF   Oromo People's United Liberation Front

SPDA     Southern People's Democratic Alliance

TPLF      Tigray People's Liberation Front

WPE       Workers Party of Ethiopia

WSLF     Western Somali Liberation Front



1 January

The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) frees ten thousand Ethiopian prisoners-of-war (ODR - Bulletin d'information Jan. 1991).


At Sanaa, Yemen, the government and the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) minority movement enter into negotiations (Documentation-Réfugiés 31 Aug.-9 Sept. 1990, 5).

15 February

The President of Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile-Mariam, orders his troops to retake the port of Massawa, which had been in the hands of the EPLF "rebels" for three days (Ibid.).

5-7 March

President Mengistu announces that the Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) will henceforth be known as the Ethiopian Democratic Unity Party (EDUP). This decision reflects Mengistu's desire to attract to his party the various opposition groups including the Tigrayan and Eritrean rebels, in the hope that this move will save Ethiopia from disintegration. He also promises to implement a series of economic reforms (Marchés tropicaux 9 Mar. 1990, 687; ODR - Bulletin d'information Jan. 1991; Documentation-Réfugiés 5-14 Mar. 1990, 5).

8-10 March

Thousands of students demonstrate in front of the embassies of the United States, the USSR and Great Britain, demanding that these countries intervene to end the civil war, particularily in Eritrea and Tigray. They also demonstrate in front of the embassies of Libya and Sudan to protest those countries' support for the Ethiopian rebel movements (Marchés tropicaux 16 Mar. 1990, 779).

22 May

The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) claims to have killed 1,400 soldiers during fighting in the province of Shoa. The government had stated on 17 April, however, that the rebels' infiltration attempts in that province had been thwarted (Marchés tropicaux 15 June 1990, 1698).

23 May

Twelve of the fourteen generals who were involved in the May 1989 attempted coup d'état are executed (La Presse 23 May 1990).

25 May

The EPLF announces the liberation of 8,000 Ethiopian prisoners-of-war captured during fighting in the Massawa area in February 1990 (Marchés tropicaux 15 June 1990, 1698).

21 June

In a speech delivered before the Shengo (the Ethiopian parliament), President Mengistu acknowledges that the country is on the "brink of disintegration" (ODR - Bulletin d'information Jan. 1991).

25 June

To ensure "national security and the country's territorial integrity," the Shengo proclaims general mobilization (Documentation-Réfugiés 22 June-1 July 1990, 5).

3 July

The EPLF claims to have killed 1,300 soldiers and injured 2,000 others in fighting in southeastern Asmara (Ibid. 2-11 July 1990, 6).

End July

Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) rebels are about 80 kilometres from Addis Ababa (Ibid. 31 Aug.-9 Sept. 1990, 5).

9 September

Some 500 prisoners sentenced to terms from one to twenty years in prison are given amnesty on the sixteenth anniversary of the Ethiopian revolution (Xinhua 8 Sept. 1990).

Another source reports the freeing of 120 prisoners (Reuters 26 Sept. 1990).

19 September

The Eritrean Democratic Movement (EDM) and the EPLF decide to form a single party (ODR - Bulletin d'information Jan. 1991).

2 October

The EPLF announces that it has repelled a massive offensive by the Ethiopian army (Afrique contemporaine First Quarter 1991, 78).

6 November

Ethiopia and Israel sign an agreement to allow emigration of the Falachas (Ethiopian Jews) (ODR - Bulletin d'information Jan. 1991).

18 December

The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) claims to have killed 95 Ethiopian government soldiers. The government of Ethiopia and the leaders of the EPLF agree to the re-opening of the port of Massawa to allow the movement of humanitarian aid (Afrique contemporaine Second Quarter 1991, 87).

End December

The TPLF, EPLF and OLF claim to have killed several hundred government soldiers in fighting. The OLF lays siege to the town of Wollega (Ibid.).


23 January

The OLF claims to have killed 600 Ethiopian government soldiers during fighting (Ibid.).

6 February

The EPRDF claims to have killed some 138 Ethiopian government soldiers in fighting (Ibid.).

19 February

The Ethiopian army claims to have killed 225 members of the TPLF in fighting (Ibid.).

21-22 February

The government and the EPLF start negotiations in Washington (Keesing's 1991 Feb. 1991, 37996).

2 March

The TPLF rebels and their allies in the EPRDF claim to control the entire region of Gojjam. The EPLF, meanwhile, announces the capture of the town of Tio on the Red Sea (Keesing's 1991 Mar. 1991, 38089).

24 March

Rebels claim to have blown up a fortified position and killed more than 1,000 soldiers (Afrique contemporaine Third Quarter 1991, 90).

19-20 April

President Mengistu announces during a three-hour speech that he is prepared to step down if such a gesture would help maintain national unity (Keesing's 1991 Apr. 1991, 38137).

23 April

The Shengo votes in favour of a resolution to establish a peace forum in which the opposition parties would participate. This forum is to lead to the formation of a transitional government.

The government also calls for general mobilization, and invites Ethiopians aged 18 and over to join the army and militia to contain the "rebel" advance (Ibid.).

26 April

Tesfaye Dinka, until now the Minister of External Affairs, is appointed prime minister (Afrique contemporaine Third Quarter 1991, 91).

9 May

Prime Minister Dinka forms a 20-member government that is well-received by the foreign press and diplomats (Keesing's 1991 May 1991, 38174).

11 May

The Shengo orders the mobilization of all citizens aged 18 and over (Afrique contemporaine Third Quarter 1991, 91).

21 May

After fourteen years of absolute power, President Mengistu resigns as Head of State and leaves for Zimbabwe (Africa Research Bulletin 1-31 May 1991, 10130).

23 May

The government of Prime Minister Dinka frees 187 political prisoners (The Independent 24 May 1991, 14).

27 May

Israel organizes a massive airlift to evacuate some 15,000 Falachas from Addis Ababa, as part of "Operation Solomon." The United States is given a guarantee that the EPRDF will not enter the capital before the end of the evacuation (Afrique contemporaine Third Quarter 1991, 91; IPS 22 July 1991)

28 May

The EPRDF both officially and "in principle, provisionally," takes power in Ethiopia (Marchés tropicaux 31 May 1991, 1359).

29 May

The EPRDF breaks up demonstrations against the new regime in Addis Ababa. These clashes result in nine deaths and several wounded. The EPLF forms a provisional government in Eritrea and promises to hold a referendum on independence (Afrique contemporaine Third Quarter 1991, 91).

3-4 June

Hundreds of people are killed in an explosion at a munitions dump, which causes a huge fire in the Ethiopian capital (Marchés tropicaux 7 June 1991, 1454).

5 June

EPRDF troops enter the town of Dire Dawa. Some demonstrators protesting the occupation of their town are killed in clashes (Afrique contemporaine Third Quarter 1991, 91).

10 June

According to Sudanese authorities, more than 140,000 Ethiopians have sought refuge in Sudan since the departure of Mengistu (Ibid.).

22 June

The new government of Ethiopia expels members of the former governing party and of the former security forces of the kebelles, or urban-dwellers' associations (Ibid.).

1-5 July

Representatives of 24 political parties and ethnic groups meet in Addis Ababa at a national conference on the country's future. The participants recognize that Eritrea cannot be forced to remain part of Ethiopia (Africa Confidential 12 July 1991, 1).

3 July

Ethiopia signs a agreement with Eritrea to allow it access to the port of Assab, in Eritrean territory (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 6 July 1991).

5 July

The EPLF proclaims Eritrean independence and announces the organization of a referendum on self-determination for 1993 (Le Devoir 6 July 1991). Moreover, the new administration expels thousands of civilians - mostly Ahmaras and Tigrayans - who had been living in Eritrea for many years (The Independent 6 July 1991).

10 July

Some twenty people are killed during ethnic clashes between Oromos and Issas (an ethnic Somali clan) in Dire Dawa, in eastern Ethiopia (BBC Summary 12 July 1991).


Fighting occurs between Afars and the EPRDF forces in Yalo, in the province of Tigray. The Afar leaders are arrested (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 20 July 1991).

23 July

Meles Zenawi, head of the EPRDF and interim president of Ethiopia since the takeover of Addis Ababa by his supporters, is elected unanimously as Head of State by the Council of Representatives, the new parliament (Le Devoir 24 July 1991).

29 July

Tamirat Layne is elected prime minister of Ethiopia by the Council of Representatives (BBC Summary 31 July 1991).

Early August

Army officers repatriated from Sudan accuse the EPLF of having massacred thousands of former Ethiopian government officials during the takeover of Asmara in May 1991. The EPLF categorically denies these accusations, claiming that it always applied the Geneva Convention with regard to its prisoners-of-war (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 3 Aug. 1991).

8 August

The UNHCR implements its programme to repatriate the 3,500 to 4,000 civilians and military personnel who have been refugees in Djibouti since May 1991 (Libération 9 Aug. 1991).

10 August

Prime Minister Layne forms a government of 17 ministers (Le Monde 13 Aug. 1991).

27 August

The EPRDF and the OLF agree to bring an end to fighting in the eastern part of the country (BBC Summary 29 Aug. 1991).

Early September

The provisional government of Eritrea decides to create 10 independent regions (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 7 Sept. 1991).


Violent fighting erupts between Afars and EPRDF troops in Gewani, in the Awash Valley (Ibid. 21 Sept. 1991).

21-22 September

Ethiopian defence minister Siye Abraha states that some 550,000 government soldiers were killed during the seventeen years that Mengistu held power, half of them in the last five months (The Toronto Star 24 Sept. 1991).


The new government of Ethiopia announces that it has freed more than 65,000 soldiers of the former Mengistu regime from detention.

More than 100 people are killed in one week in the eastern part of the country in fighting between the EPRDF and the Issa and Gurgura Liberation Front (IGLF), along the Dire Dawa-Addis Ababa railroad (AFP 14 Oct. 1991; 13 Oct. 1991).

9 November

Clashes between members of the Amhara and Oromo tribes leave 61 dead and more than 300 injured in Dire Dawa, the second largest city in Ethiopia. Authorities impose a curfew (Reuters 14 Nov. 1991; BBC Summary 15 Nov. 1991).

10 November

Some 100,000 people demonstrate in Addis Ababa, demanding the trial of former dictator Mengistu, in exile in Zimbabwe (Reuters 10 Nov. 1991).

End November

Four Oromo groups, the Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Islamic Front for Liberation of Oromo (IFLO), the Oromo People's United Liberation Front (OPULF) and the Abo Oromo Liberation Front (AOLF) decide to coordinate their efforts and prepare for their unification (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 30 Nov. 1991).

7 December

The Council of Representatives announces the division of the country into 14 new autonomous regional administrations. According to national radio, within the framework of establishing a federal system along ethnic lines, these administrations will create "regional laws, ensure internal security and choose the official language for the region" (Marchés tropicaux 13 Dec. 1991, 3306).

13 December

The Ethiopian Human Rights Council says that some 1,376 persons detained by the new government must be tried or freed (Reuters 13 Dec. 1991).


16 January

The UNHCR decides to halt the evacuation of 15,000 Sudanese refugees in western Ethiopia after an armed attack results in the death of four German Society for Technical Co-operation (GZT) staff members. The GZT was transporting the refugees on behalf of the UNHCR (AFP 16 Jan. 1992).

17 January

The Council of Representatives creates a special office to investigate crimes committed under the Mengistu regime (Afrique contemporaine First Quarter 1992, 79).

1 February

The Council of Representatives establishes an electoral commission responsible for the election, by universal suffrage, of regional and national members (BBC Summary 3 Feb. 1992).

13 February

Ethiopian television announces the exhumation of the remains of Emperor Haile Selassie, who was deposed by Mengistu in 1974 (AFP 14 Feb. 1992).

14 February

Amha Selassie, pretender to the Ethiopian throne, announces in Washington that he wishes to return to Ethiopia to establish a "constitutional monarchy." He also declares his opposition to Eritrean independence (Ibid.)

25 March

According to the IGLF, clashes between IGLF militants and government forces since 11 March in the Hararghe region have left 250 Ethiopian soldiers dead. The IGLF claims to have lost only nine militants in the fighting (Libération 25 Mar. 1992).

31 March

According to national radio, 24 people have been killed and another 25 wounded in an "illegal demonstration" organized by the OLF in Weter, in the eastern part of the country. The OLF estimates that this demonstration left 90 dead and 300 wounded (AFP 31 Mar. 1992).

3 April

Following the murder of one of its employees in southeastern Ethiopia, the UNHCR decides to withdraw its personnel from that area (Libération 5 Apr. 1992).

6 April

The provisional government of Eritrea decrees that persons of Eritrean descent or those adopted by an Eritrean, those born on national territory and those who lived there between 1934 to 1974 without committing "crimes against the people" are entitled to Eritrean nationality (BBC Summary 10 Apr. 1992).

15 April

The EPRDF and the OLF sign a cease-fire agreement under the auspices of the United States and the provisional government of Eritrea. This agreement specifies that the two camps' forces must remain on their respective bases (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 18 Apr. 1992).

10 May

According to national radio, OLF-led political violence increases in the Bale, Southern Shoa and Sidamo regions (AFP 11 May 1992).

21 June

According to Ethiopian radio, regional elections take place without incident. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the All-Amhara People's Organization (APO), and the Islamic Front for Liberation of Oromo (IFLO), however, accuse the EPRDF of having "intimidated, harassed and imprisoned" their candidates and supporters (AFP 21 June 1992). These groups decide to boycott the elections (AFP 18 June 1992).

In addition, the regional elections are delayed in the Afar and Somali regions and in the city of Harar, which, like Addis Ababa, is an electoral region unto itself (AFP 21 June 1992).

23 June

To protest the attacks by EPRDF members on Oromo soldiers of the former regime, the OLF decides to withdraw its four ministers from the government (Le Monde 25 June 1992).

25 June

A committee made up of representatives of the Embassies of the United States, Sweden, Britain and Canada, as well as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the European Community, establish an international commission to seek a peaceful solution to the problems in Ethiopia, with the approval of the EPRDF and the OLF (Horn of Africa Bulletin July-Aug. 1992a, 26).

29 June

According to national radio, two OLF attacks have been pushed back by government forces in the Bale region. OLF radio states that OLF supporters "have killed some fifty government soldiers and injured thirty more in western Oromia" (the homeland of the Oromo) (Marchés tropicaux 10 July 1992, 1851).

5 July

Patriarch Paulos Guebre Yohannes is elected to replace Markanios as the head of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 18 July 1992).

9 July

The Council of Representatives decides to close the OLF offices in Addis Ababa and in other regions (Horn of Africa Bulletin July-Aug. 1992b, 24; Marchés tropicaux 17 July 1992, 1855).

11 July

Several thousand people attend the funeral of Patriarch Teopihios, former head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Coptic Church. Teopihios was assassinated thirteen years before, and was not entitled to a funeral at the time (Marchés tropicaux 17 July 1992, 1913).

16 July

Ten parties forming the Southern People's Democratic Alliance (SPDA) demand that the results of the 21 June regional elections be deemed invalid, owing to irregularities which they claim took place (Documentation-Réfugiés 10-19 July 1992, 4).

6 August

The government announces the lifting of travel restrictions on members of the WPE, once the only party in the country (Horn of Africa Bulletin Sept.-Oct. 1992, 11).


The Eritrean transitional government frees 90 "political prisoners" detained for having "committed crimes against the Eritrean people under the Mengistu regime." Among these persons are WPE officials (Marchés tropicaux 9 Oct. 1992, 2594).


According to the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), EPRDF soldiers have set fire to the towns of Baarey and Gode and sacked a district of Kebri Dehar in the southeastern part of the country (Documentation-Réfugiés 28 Oct.-6 Nov. 1992, 4).

19 October

A decree on the activities, freedom and duties of the press in Ethiopia is adopted by the provisional government (BBC Summary 23 Oct. 1992).

28 October

In Rome, the ELF-RC (Revolutionary Council), the ELF-UO (United Organization), the ELF-NC (National Council) and the Eritrean Democratic Liberation Movement (EDLM), brought together in the Eritrean National Pact Alliance (ENPA), denounce the monopolization of power by the EPLF, which they deem to be dictatorial (Documentation-Réfugiés 28 Sept.-7 Oct. 1992).

4 November

The opposition reports fighting between the EPRDF and local population in the provinces of Gondar and Gojjam (BBC Summary 7 Nov. 1992).

The representative of the provisional government of Eritrea in Addis Ababa announces that no political party will be considered legal before the referendum planned for next year. He adds that Eritreans living abroad do not have the right to vote (The Indian Ocean Newsletter 7 Nov. 1992).

18 November

An opposition radio station reports fighting in the provinces of Bale, Wollega, Kaffa, and Gojjam, as well as in Begemder, and states that conditions in these regions are unsafe (Ibid. 28 Nov. 1992).

21 November

Dissent within the EPRDF government alliance is reported by the opposition. Members of the OPDO are reportedly arrested in the province of Wollega, Dire Dawa, Ambo and Asella (Ibid. 21 Nov. 1992).

5 December

The government of Ethiopia announces that no armed Somali group will be allowed into Ethiopia and that it will assist only Somali civilian refugees (AFP 5 Dec. 1992).

18 December

An initial group of 500 Ethiopian refugees in Kenya return to their country following a peace agreement signed by the various Oromo subclans within the framework of UNHCR-organized mediation.

Approximately 50,000 of the some 80,000 refugees living in Kenya have registered with the UNHCR for eventual repatriation to Ethiopia (BBC Summary 21 Dec. 1992).


4 January

At least seven people are killed and a few hundred others are wounded by police at a demonstration protesting the visit by the Secretary General of the United Nations to Addis Ababa (Xinhua 4 Jan. 1993).


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