African leaders mark 40th anniversary of Ethiopia's TPLF

By Seleshi Tessema

ADDIS ABABA (AA) – A host of African leaders – and tens of thousands of Ethiopians – flocked to the northern city of Mekele on Wednesday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

The colorful event in Mekele Stadium featured parades by various artistic troupes. Several hundred people, mostly women, held up framed photographs of young men and women killed in the 17-year struggle – in which the TPLF played a prominent role – against the Marxist Derg regime.

Along with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the event was attended by Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, Djiboutian Prime Minister Kamil Abdelkadir Mohamed, Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Prime Minister Bernard Makuza.

African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was also among the dignitaries who attended the celebration.

Based in Ethiopia's Tigray region, the TPLF – a central component of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – fought against the military-communist Derg regime that ruled the country with an iron fist from 1974 to 1991.

Wednesday's celebration marks the day in 1975 when 11 men, armed only with seven rifles, took to the forest to begin the fight against the Derg army – a move that triggered a popular struggle that eventually led to the Derg's overthrow.

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