Ethiopian Political Timeline
A Chronology of Key Events
2nd century AD – Semitic people from the Arabian peninsula establish the kingdom of Axum.
4th century – Coptic Christianity introduced from Egypt .
1530-31 – Muslim leader Ahmad Gran conquers much of Ethiopia .
1818-68 – Lij Kasa conquers Amhara, Gojjam, Tigray and Shoa.
1855 – Kasa becomes Emperor Tewodros II.
1868 – Tewodros defeated by a British expeditionary force and commits suicide to avoid capture.
1872 – Tigrayan chieftain becomes Yohannes IV.
1889 – Yohannes IV killed while fighting Mahdist forces and is succeeded by the king of Shoa,who becomes Emperor Menelik II.
1889 – Menelik signs a bilateral friendship treaty with Italy at Wuchale which Italy interprets as giving it a protectorate over Ethiopia .
1889 – Addis Ababa becomes Ethiopia ‘s capital.
1895 – Italy invades Ethiopia .
1896 – Italian forces defeated by the Ethiopians at Adwa ; treaty of Wuchale annulled; Italy recognises Ethiopia ‘s independence but retains control over Eritrea .
1913 – Menelik dies and is succeeded by his grandson, Lij Iyasu.
1916 – Lij Iyasu deposed and is succeeded by Menelik’s daughter, Zawditu, who rules through a regent, Ras Tafari Makonnen.
1930 – Zawditu dies and is succeeded by Ras Tafari Makonnen, who becomes Emperor Haile Selassie I.
1935 – Italy invades Ethiopia .
1936 – Italians capture Addis Ababa , Haile Selassie flees, king of Italy made emperor of Ethiopia ; Ethiopia combined with Eritrea and Italian Somaliland to become Italian East Africa .
Haile Selassie’s reign
1941 – British and Commonwealth troops, greatly aided by the Ethiopian resistance – the arbegnoch – defeat the Italians, and restore Haile Selassie to his throne.
1952 – United Nations federates Eritrea with Ethiopia.
1962 – Haile Selassie annexes Eritrea , which becomes an Ethiopian province.
1963 – First conference of the Organisation of African Unity held in Addis Ababa.
1973-74 – An estimated 200,000 people die in Wallo province as a result of famine.
1974 – Haile Selassie overthrown in military coup. General Teferi Benti becomes head of state.
1975 – Haile Selassie dies in mysterious circumstances while in custody.
1977 – Benti killed and replaced by Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam.
1977-79 – Thousands of government opponents die in “Red Terror” orchestrated by Mengistu; collectivisation of agriculture begins; Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front launches war for regional autonomy.
1977 – Somalia invades Ethiopia ‘s Ogaden region.
1978 – Somali forces defeated with massive help from the Soviet Union and Cuba .
1985 – Worst famine in a decade strikes; Western food aid sent; thousands forcibly resettled from Eritrea and Tigre .
1987 – Mengistu elected president under a new constitution.
1988 – Ethiopia and Somalia sign a peace treaty.
Ethiopia after Mengistu
1991 – Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front captures Addis Ababa , forcing Mengistu to flee the country; Eritrea establishes its own provisional government pending a referendum on independence.
1992 – Haile Selassie’s remains discovered under a palace toilet.
1993 – Eritrea becomes independent.
1994 – New constitution divides Ethiopia into ethnically-based regions.
1995 – Negasso Gidada becomes titular president; Meles Zenawi assumes post of prime minister.
1998 – Ethiopian-Eritrean border dispute erupts into armed clashes.
War with Eritrea
1999 – Ethiopian- Eritrean border clashes turn into a full-scale war.
2000 June – Ethiopia and Eritrea sign a ceasefire agreement which provides for a UN observer force to monitor the truce and supervise the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Eritrean territory.
2000 November – Haile Selassie buried in Addis Ababa ‘s Trinity Cathedral.
2000 December – Ethiopia and Eritrea sign a peace agreement in Algeria , ending two years of conflict. The agreement establishes commissions to delineate the disputed border and provides for the exchange of prisoners and the return of displaced people.
2001 24 February – Ethiopia says it has completed its troop withdrawal from Eritrea in accordance with UN-sponsored agreement.
2002 April – Ethiopia , Eritrea accept a new common border, drawn up by an independent commission, though both sides then lay claim to the town of Badme .
2002 November – 15 million Ethiopians where facing starvation.
2003 April – Independent boundary commission rules that the disputed town of Badme lies in Eritrea . Ethiopia says the ruling is unacceptable.
2004 January-February – Nearly 200 killed in ethnic clashes in isolated western region of Gambella. Tens of thousands flee area.
2004 March – Start of resettlement programme to move more than two million people away from parched, over-worked highlands.
2004 November – Ethiopia says it accepts “in priniciple” a boundary commission’s ruling on its border with Eritrea . But a protracted stalemate over the disputed town of Badme continues.
2005 March – US-based Human Rights Watch accuses army of “widespread murder, rape and torture” against Gambella region’s ethnic Anuak people. Military angrily rejects charge.
2005 April – First section of Axum obelisk, looted by Italy in 1937, is returned to Ethiopia from Rome.
2005 May – Third multi-party elections: Protests over alleged fraud precipitate violent protests in which around 40 people are shot dead.
2005 August-September – Electoral fraud complaints lead to re-runs in more than 30 seats. Election authorities say final results give the ruling party enough seats in parliament to form a government.
2005 November – 46 protesters die during renewed clashes between security forces and opposition supporters over May’s elections. Thousands of people, including opposition politicians and newspaper editors, are detained.
2005 November – Amid reports of troop build-ups along the disputed Ethiopia-Eritrea border, the UN Security Council threatens both countries with sanctions unless they return to the 2000 peace plan.
2005 December – International commission, based in The Hague, rules that Eritrea broke international law when it attacked Ethiopia in 1998.
More than 80 people, including journalists and many opposition leaders, are charged with treason and genocide over November’s deadly clashes.
2006 May – Six political parties and armed groups form an opposition alliance, the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy, at a meeting in the Netherlands.
Several bomb blasts hit Addis Ababa. No organisation claims responsibility.
2006 August – Several hundred people are feared to have died and thousands are left homeless as floods hits the north, south and east.
2006 September – Ethiopia denies that its troops have crossed into Somalia to support the transitional government in Baidoa.
2006 October – UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urges Eritrea to pull back the troops it has moved into the buffer zone on the Ethiopian border. The UN says the incursion is a major ceasefire violation.
War of words between Ethiopia and Islamists controlling much of Somalia. Prime Minister Meles says Ethiopia was “technically” at war with the Islamists because they had declared holy war on his country.
2006 November – UN report says several countries – including Ethiopia – have been violating a 1992 arms embargo on Somalia by supplying arms to the interim government there. Ethiopia’s arch enemy Eritrea is accused of supplying the rival Islamist administration.
Ethiopia and Eritrea reject a proposal put forward by an independent boundary commission as a way around a four-year impasse over the demarcation of their shared border.
2006 December – Ethiopia confirms it is battling Islamic militia in Somalia. In fierce fighting, Ethiopian aircraft, tanks and artillery support forces of the Somali transitional government. The Islamists are routed.
2006 December – Exiled former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam is convicted, in absentia, of genocide at the end of a 12-year trial. In January 2007 he is sentenced to life in prison.
Ethiopia confirms it is battling Islamic militia in Somalia. In fierce fighting, Ethiopian aircraft, tanks and artillery support forces of the Somali transitional government. The Islamists are routed.
2007 February – Around 50,000 Somalis have crossed into Ethiopia in the past six months to flee instability at home, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports.
2007 March – A group of British embassy workers and their Ethiopian guides are kidnapped in the northern Afar region bordering on Eritrea. They are eventually released in Eritrea.
2007 April – Gunmen attack a Chinese-owned oil facility in the south-east Somali region, killing 74 people working there.
2007 June – Opposition leaders are given life sentences over mass protests that followed elections in 2005, but are later pardoned.
2007 September – Ethiopia celebrates the start of a new millennium according to the calendar of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
War could resume between Ethiopia and Eritrea over their border conflict, warns United Nations special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Kjell Bondevik.
2007 November – Ethiopia rejects border line demarcated by international boundary commission. Eritrea accepts it.
2008 June – Peace agreement signed between Somali government and rebels provides for withdrawal of Ethiopian troops within 120 days.
2008 July – UN Security Council votes unanimously to end UN peacekeeping mission monitoring disputed border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
2008 September – Celebrations held to mark completion of reassembly of 1700-year-old Axum Obelisk, looted in 1937 during the Italian conquest and returned by Italy in three parts after 2005.
2008 December – Police re-arrest key opposition leader Birtukan Medeksa, who was jailed for her role in the opposition protests after the 2005 polls, and freed under a government pardon in 2007.
2009 January – Ethiopia formally withdraws forces from Somalia.
2009 June – Ethiopia admits to “reconnaissance missions” in Somalia, but denies re-deploying troops there.
2009 August – Ethiopia, Eritrea ordered to pay each other compensation for their 1998-2000 border war.
2009 September – Chinese firms secure deal to build several hydro-power dams and wind farms.
2009 November – Twenty-six found guilty of coup plot.
2009 December – Rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Front claim capture of several towns in the east in a month of heavy fighting.
2010 May – Ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) wins huge majority in parliamentary elections, handing PM Meles Zenawi a fourth term. EU observes say the vote “fell short”. Opposition leaders demand a rerun.
2010 October – Ongoing clashes reported between government forces and Ogaden rebels.
Tensions with Eritrea
2011 March – Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of sending agents across the border to plant bombs and warns it will take all necessary measures to halt Eritrean “aggression”.
2011 April – Ethiopia for the first time declares openly that it will support Eritrean rebel groups fighting to overthrow President Isaias Afewerki.
2011 June – Parliament designates three domestic political and armed organisations as terrorist groups.
2011 July – Drought. Millions of Ethiopians and refugees from Somalia need emergency aid.
2011 October – The American military begins flying drone aircraft from a base in Ethiopia, as part of its fight against Islamist militants in Somalia.
2011 November – Ethiopian troops are spotted in Somalia. A government spokesman denies their presence.
2011 December – Two Swedish journalists arrested while covering conflict in Ogaden region are found guilty of supporting terrorism. They are sentenced to 11 years in jail.
2012 January – Ethiopia accused of forcing thousands off their land for foreign investors.
2012 March – Ethiopian troops attack positions in south-eastern Eritrea, alleging that subversive groups were being trained there.
2012 June – Rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front claims it attacked an army convoy and garrison, killing 168 Ethiopian troops.
Ethiopian troops withdraw from towns in central Somalia which they had seized from rebel al Shabaab control.
2012 August – Prime Minister Meles Zenawi dies after several months of rumours about his declining health. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn takes over the following month.