In dealing with the opposition, particularly students and the intellectuals, the Dergue resorted to the tactic of isolation and gradual liquidation as open confrontation would have created difficulties for it. To wipe out the strongest of these opposition groups (then the EPRP), the Dergue exploited the “contradictions” among the various groups claiming to be “Marxist” and won some of them to its side. Once it had finished with the EPRP, it turned against the rest and devoured them one by one. Although the so called “Provisional Office for Mass Organizations” and the Red Terror Kebeles in which MEISON was heavily represented-were instrumental in the liquidation of the EPRP, the next victim was MEISON, a major partner in the Dergue’s coalition. In the second, round, after the groups which posed a threat to the Dergue were decimated, the rest were dissolved through terror and opportunism, and the organization known as “Union of Ethiopian Marxist Leninist Organization” which had been formed by a collection of these groups was discarded and its place taken by a new grouping of so called “True Communist” individuals. Concurrently, the Dergue formed a “Commission to Organize a Workers Party” to consolidate its power, and established the “Ethiopian Workers Party”. These sequences of events show in a dramatic and concise way, the manner in which the Dergue emerged and the tactics it utilized to consolidate its power. They also add up to a complete picture which proves that the Dergue and its regime, its policies and actions were continuation of the “Ethiopian” empire building mission in which the Haile Selassie and his predecessors had failed. “Marxism”, ”Socialism”, “progress” and all sort of accompany reforms and cosmetic changes and details did not confuse any one. One could not understand the essence of a thing merely from its form and external appearance. It was therefore important to examine the essence of the regime and view the process of its emergence from the perspective of the fundamental political problems and their resolution.
If we look at the struggle of the peoples’ of Ethiopia and their basic demands, it becomes clear that the institution of a democratic system was a pre-condition for economic, social and cultural changes. And the question of nationalities was the foremost question of democracy. The solution of this question demanded the recognition of the right of nationalities to self-determination, acknowledgment of their right to administer themselves and the setting up of autonomous administrative systems. Finally, it entailed working for the formation of a democratic order” based on free union and equality, one that would serve their interest and foster their progress. This had also to guarantee and incorporate the fundamental human and democratic rights. The issue was simple and straight forward. But had the Dergue, which has been issuing proclamation after proclamation and scheme to consolidate its authority, seriously addressed it? No. In the first place, granting fundamental rights conflicts with its ambition of building a dictatorial empire and therefore a threat to the regime. Moreover, a democratic solution to the issue would mean the end of its existence. Hence, it attempted to crush the democratic movements and demands of the Ethiopian nationalities as well as other opposition movements by force. The fact that contrary to its desires, and as a consequence of its fascist acts, the resistance of the nationalities and of other opposition forces was growing is a manifestation of the bankrupt nature of the Dergue.