Aman Mikael Andom (June 21 1924 - November 23 1974) was the first post-imperial acting
Head of State of Ethiopia. He was half Tigrayan from his mother's side, and his father's side was
originally from the village of Tsazega in the former Hamassien province of Eritrea. He was
appointed to this position following the coup d'état that ousted Emperor Haile Selassie on 12
September 1974, and served until his death in a shootout with his former supporters. His
official title was Chairman of the Provisional Military Administrative Council (better known as
the Derg), and he held the position of Head of State in an acting capacity as the military regime
had officially proclaimed Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen as "King-designate" (an act that would
later be rescinded by the Derg, and which was never accepted by the Prince as legitimate).
As commander of the Third Division, General Aman had been beating back the encroachments
of the Somali army on the eastern border with such zeal and success that he was known as the
"Desert Lion". However, in 1964 the Emperor dismissed General Aman Andom when he began
to attack into Somaliain violation of an order from the Emperor, and Aman afterwards served in
the Ethiopian Senate in a "political exile". There is some evidence that indicates he had
contacts with the officers of the junta as early as February and March 1974, but by July he was
appointed chief of staff to the military junta. Three days after the junta removed the Emperor
from his palace to imprisonment at the headquarters of the Fourth Division, this group
appointed him their chairman and president of Ethiopia. At the same time, this group of
soldiers assumed the name "Provisional Military Administrative Council", better known as the
Derg.

From the first day of his presidency, the Ottaways note, "the general found himself at odds with
a majority of the Derg's members over most major issues, including whether he was 'chairman'
of the ruling military body or simply its 'spokesman.'" Aman fought the majority of the Derg
over three central issues: the size of the Derg, which he felt was too large and unwieldy; the
policy to be taken towards the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF); and over the punishment of the
numerous aristocrats and former government officials in the Derg's custody. His refusal to
sanction the execution of former high officials, including two former prime ministers and
several royal family members and relatives, put his relations with the majority of the Derg on
an especially bitter footing.

As an Eritrean, General Aman found himself fiercely at odds with the majority of the Derg. He
wanted to negotiate a peaceful settlement; his opponents hoped to crush the ELF by military
force. Aman went as far as making two personal visits to Eritrea—the first 25 August to 6
September, the second in November—giving speeches stating that the end of the Imperial
regime was also the end of old practices towards Eritrea, that a government dedicated to
national unity and progress would restore peace and prosperity to Eritrea, and lastly that he
would begin investigations concerning crimes that the army had perpetrated on Eritreans and
punish the guilty.

However, at the same time the Derg had begun the task of eliminating opponents within the
military. The three significant units were the Imperial Bodyguard, the Air Force, and the Corp of
Engineers; of the three, the most recalcitrant were the Engineers. So on 7 October soldiers loyal
to the Derg stormed the Engineers' camp, killing five, wounding several and detaining the rest.
As Bahru Zewde observes, "With that, the illusion that the revolution would remain bloodless
was exploded."

General Aman responded with a personal campaign to seek support outside the Derg, among
the rest of the army and the country where he was popular. On 15 November he sent a message
to all military units that was highly critical of the Derg. During a general assembly of the Derg
two days later, Mengistu Haile Mariam demanded that 5,000 men be dispatched to Eritrea and
six imprisoned Imperial officials be executed; Aman Andom refused, resigned his official posts
and retired to his house where he secretly sent appeals to his supporters, especially those in
the Third Division. But Mengistu managed to intercept these appeals.

General Aman died in a battle with troops sent to his home to arrest him. The actual cause of
his death remains unclear, whether he was killed or committed suicide. That same night, the
political prisoners that the Derg had marked for execution were taken from Menelik prison,
where they had been held, to the Akaki Central Prison where they were executed and buried in
a mass grave. "It appears that the general had outlived his usefulness," Bahru Zewde
concludes, "and was in fact becoming an obstacle to the Derg's exercise of power."
Source: Tsega Tekle Haimanot ~ FB Post 10-25-2017
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