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People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1987 - 1991)

Historical flag

Last modified: 2018-02-16 by bruce berry
Keywords: ethiopia |
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image by Ivan Sache, 18 July 2000
National flag

[National flag and ensign] 1:2  image by Manuel Gabino, 14 Dec 2002
State flag

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Following the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie I on 12 September 1974, a one-party state which was called the Provisional Military Government of Socialist Ethiopia (the Derg) was established to replace the Empire of Ethiopia.  In 1987 the Chairman of the Derg, Mengistu Haile Mariam, formally abolished the Derg and replaced it with the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

In May 1991 the Mengistu regime came to an end following the fall of communism in Europe and withdrawal of Soviet support.  A Transitional Government of Ethiopia was set up and a new constitution allowing for multi-party elections was established in 1994.
Bruce Berry, 11 Dec 2010

People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1987 - 1991)

The new government which replaced that of Emperor Haile Selassie continued to use the plain Ethiopian tricolour of green, yellow and red as the national flag.
Nick Artimovich, 12 June 1996 

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 24 July 2017

However, the State flag was modified after Haile Selassie's overthrow by removing the crown from the lion's head and by changing the Cross finial to a Spear point. This version was temporary until a new emblem was adopted and replaced the lion emblem in the centre of the State flag.  The specific ratio of each needs to be confirmed.
Nick Artimovich, 12 June 1996

The main issue to confirm is which emblem was used on the state flag at which time?

Whitney Smith (in both [smi80] and [smi81g]) shows only the plain triband, marked as the civil  flag/civil ensign. Smith is remarkably silent about the state flag in use around 1980. However, the book shows an emblem/arms that is not shown on FOTW (a blue circle with sun, cogwheel, plough, surrounded by a green wreath, with a small lion at the bottom). This symbol, designed in 1975 by Taddesse Mesfin, might have appeared on the state flag. But we would need more information and proper sources to confirm this.
Manuela Schmöger, 07 Sept 2017

    images by Manuel Gabino, 14 Dec 2002

This is the emblem used on the flag in Ethiopia between 1987 and 1991.  In 1987 Ethiopia became a Democratic People's Republic and Mengistu was confirmed in the presidency.  The country was divided into 24 administrative regions and 5 autonomous regions:  Eritrea, Assab, Ogaden, Tigre, and Dire-Daua. (Source: "Guía Mundial", edited by Abril Cinco (Colombia) (1992).    This was the flag flown at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and which had the new national emblem placed in the centre of the Ethiopian tricolour.   

The shield is circular in shape and is blue bearing (according to William Crampton) the "obelisk of Axum" (a former Kingdom in the region of Tigre), a cogwheel, a red ribbon depicting a golden lion's head, an spear and a scepter, a yellow star on red and a the country's new name at the top in Amharic characters.
Manuel Gabino, 14 Dec 2002

image sent by Robert Czernkowski, 10 June 1998

This flag appeared on the most common postage stamps even for years after the overthrow of the socialist government in 1991. The central device is the emblem of the "People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia" as the country was called at the time. The five pointed star and rays over a cogwheel is surrounded by a wreath of green leaves.
Simon Gardner,  07 April 2001

War Ensign (Blue Ensign)

  image by David Cox, 15 Aug 2004

Like the State flag, the ensign was modified after Haile Selassie's overthrow on 12 September 1974 by removing the crown from the lion's head and by changing the Cross finial to a Spear point.
Jaume Ollé, 06 Feb 1999