Mengistu Haile Mariam

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Mengistu Haile Mariam

(mĕnggīs`to͞o hī`lē mär`ēəm), 1937–, military ruler of Ethiopia (1974–91). Mengistu, an army officer, participated prominently in Emperor Haile SelassieHaile Selassie
, [Amharic,=power of the Trinity], 1892–1975, emperor of Ethiopia (1930–74). He was born Tafari Makonnen, the son of a noted general and the grandnephew of Emperor Menelik II.
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's overthrow (1974). Emerging through violence as preeminent military ruler by 1977, he sought Soviet aid, established a socialist People's Republic and fought off Somali incursions and Eritrean rebels. He was elected president in 1987. Regional rebellions increased while Soviet aid receded amid economic deterioration. Mengistu abandoned socialism, but unable to mobilize military resistance, he was forced to flee to Zimbabwe in 1991. He was tried (1994–2006) in absentia for genocide by an Ethiopian court, convicted, and sentenced (2007) to life in prison, but in 2008 Ethiopia's supreme court overruled the lower court and imposed the death sentence.

Mengistu Haile Mariam

born 1937, Ethiopian soldier and statesman; head of state from 1977 until 1991 when rebels seized power and he fled into exile