World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Tafari Benti

Article Id: WHEBN0000722500
Reproduction Date:

Title: Tafari Benti  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Mengistu Haile Mariam, Aman Andom, Amha Selassie, List of Presidents of Ethiopia, List of coups d'état and coup attempts by country
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Tafari Benti

Tafari Benti
Chairman of the Derg
(de facto Head of State)
In office
28 November 1974 – 3 February 1977
Monarch Asfaw Wossen1
Preceded by Aman Mikael Andom
Succeeded by Mengistu Haile Mariam
Appointed by Haile Selassie I
Personal details
Born 1921
Near Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Empire
Died 3 February 1977
Addis Abeba, Ethiopia
Military service
Allegiance  Ethiopian Empire
Socialist Ethiopia
Service/branch Ethiopian Army
Years of service 1941–1974
Rank Brigadier General
Unit Second Division
Third Division
Fourth Divisions
1Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen Tafari had been declared "King-designate" by the Derg but made no move to acknowledge the title, instead recognizing his father, Haile Selassie I, as remaining the de jure Emperor

Brigadier General Tafari Benti (1921–1977) was the Head of State of Ethiopia (28 November 1974 – 3 February 1977), and chairman of the Derg, the ruling junta. His official title was Chairman of the Provisional Military Administrative Council.

Contents

  • Early life and career 1
  • Tenure 2
  • Death 3
  • Notes 4

Early life and career

Tafari Benti was born near Addis Ababa. He joined the Ethiopian army at the age of 20, graduated from the Holetta Military Academy, and served in the Second, Third and Fourth Divisions.[1] In 1967, he served as a military attaché in Washington, D. C., where he and several other Ethiopian colleagues suffered from racial discrimination.[2]

On the evening of 23 November 1974, the charismatic Lt. General Aman Mikael Andom, the president of Ethiopia, and who had been in a struggle for power with the other members of the Derg, was killed in a shootout at his home.[3] Mengistu Haile Mariam served as interim president until the Derg appointed Tafari Bente to the position. He had been serving as brigadier general in the Fourth Division, which was stationed in Asmara, at the time of this appointment.

Tenure

During his tenure Tafari presented himself as the public face of the ruling junta. According to the Ottaways, while at first he was "a neutral and powerless figure", in the end "he was too colorless, soft-spoken, and undemonstrative to be the figurehead of the revolution."[1] However, according to Rene LaFort's account, Tafari offered some hints that he supported those opposed to Mengistu. One such hint was in July 1975, when in a public speech he made overtures to the civilian left—groups which included the [4]

Over the following months, according to LaFort the Derg was split over irreconcilable objectives: "How could the authority of the Committee be strengthened while avoiding the dangers of authoritarianism, and how could the principles of collegiality be maintained while gaining maximum benefit from a concentration of power?" And behind this split was concern at Mengistu's growing power. To end this split, the Derg set up a committee chaired by Captain Almayahu Haile, were appointed to powerful positions. His enemies had thought they had clipped Mengistu's wings and had removed him as a threat. And [5] Tafari Bente went even further and, flanked by Captains Mogus and Almayahu, criticized the lack of a vanguard party in words which LaFort interprets as declaring "the bloody war between MEISON and the EPRP to be politically unjustifiable, and that it should in any case remain limited to the civilian Left without the army intervening in any way."[6]

Death

Despite this apparent setback, Mengistu proved to be far more resourceful than his opponents believed. He conspired with his longtime friend and ally Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Asfaw to round up Tafari Benti and other Derg members suspected of conspiring with EPRP. During a routine meeting on 3 February 1977, Tafari Benti and the other derg members suspected of conspiring with EPRP were rounded up and arrested by soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Daniel. According to the memoirs of Fikre Selassie Wogderess, they were then led into a dark garage located in the compound and locked up. Fikre Selassie was also present at the meeting and was mistakenly arrested together with Tafari and the other suspected Derg members. However, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel arrived in time to the garage and released Fikre Selassie before the summary execution of the others. Shortly there after soldiers armed with automatic weapons and silencers arrived and assassinated Tafari Benti and the suspected derg members. The suspected derg members that were killed together with Tafari were: Lieutenant Alemayehu Haile, Captain Moges Wolde Michael, Corporal Hailu Belay, Lieutenant Colonel Asrat Desta, Lieutenant Colonel Hiruy Haile Selassie and Captain Tefera Deneke. Later during the evening, a shootout opened in the same compound by another suspected EPRP conspirator Major Yohannes Tiku, where he killed Lieutenant Colonel Daniel and Senay Likke. Major Yohannes Tiku was also killed in the shootout. [7]

Shortly afterwards, Radio Ethiopia broadcast a charge by Mengistu that Tafari and his associates had been killed because they were secret supporters of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP). Mengistu claimed he had discovered a 47-page master plan in Tafari's possession, which detailed how the EPRP would replace the "scientific socialism" of the Derg.[8]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Marina and David Ottaway, Ethiopia: Empire in Revolution (New York: Africana, 1978), p. 134
  2. ^ Dawit Wolde Giorgis (1989) Red Tears: War, Famine and Revolution in Ethiopia, The Red Sea Press Inc., p. 22–23
  3. ^ Ottaway, Empire in Revolution, p. 61. However, Bahru Zewde, A History of Modern Ethiopia, second edition (London: James Currey, 1991), states this happened 24 November (p. 238)
  4. ^ Rene Lafort, Ethiopia: An Heretical Revolution? translated by A.M. Berrett (London: Zed Press, 1983), p. 158
  5. ^ LaFort, Heretical Revolution?, pp. 193-195
  6. ^ LaFort, Heretical Revolution?, p. 196
  7. ^ Fikre Selassie Wogederess, The Revolution and Us, p. 322-326
  8. ^ "And Then There Were Sixty", Time 14 February 1977 (accessed 14 May 2009)
Political offices
Preceded by
Aman Mikael Andom
Head of State of Ethiopia
1974-1977
Succeeded by
Mengistu Haile Mariam
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.