- About the Abortive Coup Attempt in Addis Abeba from 5 Tahsas to 8 Tahsas 1953 (14-17 December 1960): A synopsis of Dubb-Ida by Balambaras Mahteme-Sillasé Welde-Mesqel
- Northeast African Studies
- Michigan State University Press
- Volume 3, Number 2, 1996 (New Series)
- pp. 97-125
- View Citation
- Additional Information
About the Abortive Coup Attempt in Addis Abeba from 5 Tahsas to 8 Tahsas 1953 (14-17 December 1960) A synopsis1 of Dubb-Ida2 by Balambaras3 MahtemeSillas é Welde-Mesqel4 Reidulf K. Molvaer Folkehelsa, National Institute of Public Health, Oslo Wednesday 5 Tahsas 1953, 14 December 1960 Mahteme-Sillasé's telephone rang three times at about 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday 5 Tahsas 1953 (14 December 1960), before he decided to answer. It was Captain Haylu Tekle-Mariyam,5 who phoned from the Crown Prince's palace. He wanted to know if Mahteme-Sillasé had "heard anything." He would, however, not tell what there was to know on the phone but asked Mahteme-Sillasé to come to "the compound" [the Crown Prince's palace] as soon as possible. Mahteme-Sillasé told his wife, Weyzero Amsale-Werq, what had happened and dressed in a hurry, put a pistol in his pocket and went by car to the palace with his son Seyfu,6 who also grabbed a pistol and drove him there. They saw no one in the streets. They arrived by the road going to the Egyptian embassy, behind the headquarters of the imperial bodyguard. They had to slow down for two lorries with soldiers, but soon they were in the compound of the Crown Prince's palace. At the entrance of the palace, they met Dejjazmach Kebbede Tesemma,7 who had also been called but was not allowed to enter before Mahteme-Sillasé arrived. They were immediately asked to enter the room of [Crown] Princess Medferi'yash-Werq Abbebe, and there they met Princess Medferi'yash-Werq, Li'ul Dejjazmach Asrate Kasa,8 Fitawrari Werqineh Welde-Amanuél,9 Bejirond Abbathun, Captain Haylu, and Lijj©Northeast African Studies (ISSN 0740-9133) Vol. 3, No. 2 (New Series) 1996, pp. 97-12597 98 ReidulfK. Molvaer Wihïb Welde-Mariyam. Mahteme-Sillasé asked what had happened, and Princess Medferi'yash-Werq said that around 10 p.m. the previous evening, after the Crown Prince's supper with the Empress, General Mengistu [Niway, head of the imperial bodyguard]10 had come to talk with the Empress because Dejjazmach Tayye [Gullilaté]11 had died, he said. Ras Andargé [i.e. Andargacchew Mesay]12 and Abba [Gebre-]Hanna J'r'mma13 were with them, but Ras Abbebe [Aregay]14 and Ato Mekonnin HabteWeId15 had not been reached as they were not at home, it was said. It was rumoured that the imperial palace and the Empress's compound and all key points [in the town] were surrounded by tanks and held by soldiers, and it seemed as if the whole army (tor serawh) had mutinied ("conspired"). Dejjazmach Kebbede Tesemma told them that Weyzero Ise-Gennet Shiferraw had told him by phone that [her husband] Afe-Nigus Isheté [Geda]16 had left home and not returned; therefore, Kebbede had phoned the Imperial Palace, Ras Andargacchew at home and in his office, and the headquarters of the Security Branch, but got no reply. Still, he thought that there was nothing to worry about and that they all must have gathered at one place to discuss a matter or to do some work. Then Li'ul Dejjazmach Asrate Kasa said that he thought that the army was behind what was happening, and he suggested that they should at once take the Crown Prince's children and the Princess, who were all there, and hide them, in an embassy or out of town, for example, in Selalé; but none of this was done, and they stayed where they were. They asked Captain Haylu to find out if there was enough food and how many soldiers and weapons there were. He said that this was the safest place to be, that the Princess and the children could stay in the basement, that there was food enough, that there were about 200 soldiers [in the palace compound?], and that there were enough weapons (including machine guns) for the territorial army members (neccio lebashoch). As Dejjazmach Kebbede Tesemma was head of the territorial army (bihérawï tor), it was decided that before dawn and before the roads were closed, he should go to Debre-Birhan [c. 130 kilometres from Addis Abeba...