Selassie Son Patiently Awaits the Throne

Associated Press

His throne was a simple chair, his robes a blue suit and his palace a London apartment.

Fourteen years after his father’s death, Haile Selassie’s exiled 73-year-old son announced at a news conference recently his ascension to the Imperial Throne of Ethiopia, where a Marxist-led government now rules.

Seated beside his white-robed empress and surrounded by family-in-exile, Ahma Selassie I of Ethiopia, the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, indicated his belief that the government will not last long and that he will return to reign as a constitutional monarch and bring democracy to the nation.

Ahma Selassie’s government-in-exile, however, has not been recognized by foreign states, only by about 100 Ethiopian state kings.

Extremely Poor Nation

The East African nation of 43 million is one of the world’s poorest countries. It is torn by civil war and periodically swept by famine.


Haile Selassie became emperor in 1930. He pleaded unsuccessfully to the now-defunct League of Nations against the 1935-36 conquest of his country by Italy. He was in England until his rule was restored in 1941.

He ruled Ethiopia for a total of 44 years as head of one of the world’s last feudal states. But on Sept. 12, 1974, he was deposed by a military clique that established a Marxist government led by Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam and backed by the Soviet Union.

Haile Selassie, who had made Ethiopia the United States’ strongest ally in Africa, was last seen alive climbing into the back seat of a car outside his main palace in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Died in Detention at 83

He died 11 months later in detention under obscure circumstances at age 83.

At the time his father was deposed, the younger Selassie had been living in London for two years undergoing treatment for diabetes.

Seife Michael Zewde, son-in-law of Ahma Selassie and Privy Councilor to the throne, said 3 million Ethiopians are in exile, the army has suffered defections “en masse” and Mengistu’s government is spending nearly 80% of its budget on the military.

Asked when Ahma Selassie might return, Empress Medferiash Work replied, “Since the Ethiopian people are fed up to the teeth with being oppressed and murdered at random, then the will of God should be the decider--soon.”

Asked to Take Throne

Zewde said Ahma Selassie was asked to take the throne by about 100 Ethiopian state kings and 62 locally elected officials.

The emperor has refused to hold any coronation outside Ethiopian soil, so he has postponed it until he gains power, said Zewde, who acted as translator.

The “United Ethiopian Patriots Solidarity Armed Forces,” or military arm of the locally elected council, is fighting the government, Zewde said. “In all the countryside they are dying by the hundreds,” he said.

Other rebel groups fighting the Marxist government for independence in Eritrea and Tigre provinces have been in existence since before Selassie’s ouster.