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  • Documents on Democracy


On 28 March 1991, the armies of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPDRF) entered the capital city of Addis Ababa and deposed the 16-year-old totalitarian regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam, who had earlier fled the country. The EPDRF, whose leader Meles Zenawi has become acting head of state, was formed from a military merger of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement (EPDM). Although it had generally been regarded as a radical Marxist organization, the EPDRF has recently given signs of a more democratic outlook. This change in orientation became visible in the "Programme of the EPDRF for the Smooth and Peaceful Transition in Ethiopia," issued on 10 March 1990, more than a year before its triumph. Excerpts from this program appear below:

The question of the resolution of the problems of Ethiopia in a peaceful manner and the restoration of peace to the country has now become an issue of the very survival of our country. A just and lasting peace, however, can only be attained through full and consistent democracy. Peace and democracy are inseparable in the context of the problems of our country.

If peace and democracy are to be restored, the present government must be replaced by a provisional government in which all political trends in the country are represented. Such a provisional government must restore all the democratic rights of the people, allow all political forces or groups in the country to operate legally and openly, and conduct a free and fair election for a constituent assembly under international supervision . . . . [The EPDRF proposes]:

4) To make sure that the provisional government has a definite lifespan and definite tasks . . . .

5) To democratically resolve the problems of the country on the basis of the freely expressed will of the people: [End Page 118]

  1. A. To form a democratically constituted constituent assembly after a period of peaceful and democratic work by all the political groups and free and fair elections of delegates to the constituent assembly.

  2. B. To guarantee the tight of all political groups to democratically compete for the election of their members to the constituent assembly and to present their proposals for the constitution of future Ethiopia to the constituent assembly. The constituent assembly shall draft a constitution after considering the views presented to it and the constitution shall be adopted in a democratic manner.

  3. C. To hand over political power to the political group/groups that wins the election that shall be conducted immediately after the adoption of the constitution on the basis of the constitution adopted by the constituent assembly.

  4. D. To help the democratically elected government form unified army and state organs.

  5. E. To conduct all the elections under international supervision to make sure that they are conducted in a free and fair way.

6) To try to get acceptance for the programme for smooth and peaceful transition in Ethiopia among all political groups and people of the country, to hold constructive discussions on the issue with all political groups, to create a forum through which all forces that support the program can coordinate their struggle for its actualization.

El Salvador

On 27 April 1991 the government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) reached a historic agreement in Mexico City that offers the first hope that the lengthy civil war in El Salvador may eventually come to an end. Under the mediation of the United Nations, the two sides agreed to constitutional reforms affecting the military, the judicial system, and the electoral system, and agreed to create an independent Commission on Truth to investigate political crimes. The government and the FMLN are currently attempting to negotiate a ceasefire agreement that will build upon the progress made in Mexico City. Excerpts from the "Mexico Declaration" follow:

The parties have reached the agreements summarized below that include constitutional amendments on matters requiting secondary legislation or other political agreements:

  1. I. Armed Forces

    1. 1. Agreement on constitutional amendments with the following objectives: [End Page 119]

      1. A. Clearly defining the Armed Forces' subordination to civilian power.

      2. B. Creation of a National Civil Police to maintain peace, tranquillity, order...


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pp. 118-122
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