Addis Ababa: Ethiopia on Sunday holds its first general election since the death of long-time strongman Meles Zenawi.
Here are key dates in the country`s history since the army overthrew emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, bringing an end to centuries of monarchy:
- 1974/1991 - THE EMPIRE IS REPLACED BY A REVOLUTIONARY REGIME - In September 1974, the army ousts Haile Selassie, who has reigned since 1930, and a military council places the country under strict rule. In 1977, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam becomes head of a Marxist-military regime and a period dubbed the "Red Terror" ensues, lasting into 1978 and during which purges of regime figures and the opposition leave tens of thousands dead. Mengistu is sentenced to death in absentia for genocide in 2008 after fleeing to Zimbabwe.
In 1984-85, widespread famine kills around a million people.
- 1991 - MELES ZENAWI TAKES OVER - In May 1991, the Ethiopian People`s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by Meles Zenawi, takes over and Mengistu flees. In Eritrea, rebels capture Asmara, capping 30 years of fighting with Ethiopian forces. Eritrea becomes an independent state in May 1993, depriving Addis Ababa of direct access to the Red Sea.
- 1998/2000 - WAR WITH ERITREA - The two countries fight over their border, as well as economic and political issues, leaving 80,000 people dead. A peace accord is signed in 2000 in Algiers but the border issue is not resolved and tensions remain high.
- 2005 - POLITICAL VIOLENCE ERUPTS - Meles wins re-election in disputed polls. The opposition accuses his supporters of electoral fraud and more than 200 are killed in related violence.
- 2011 - SOMALIA INTERVENTION - The Ethiopian army drives into neighbouring Somalia for a second time in November 2011 to topple Islamists. Since 2014, Ethiopian soldiers in Somalia are integrated in the African Union force AMISOM, fighting the al Qaeda-affiliated Shebab militant group.
- 2012/2015 - HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN TAKES OVER - Meles dies in August 2012 after a 21-year rule. Decried as autocratic by opponents and a visionary by supporters, Meles has aligned Ethiopia with the United States in the battle against Islamic militants in the region. Hailemariam Desalegn, 47, is sworn in as prime minister.
In 2013 and 2014, an anti-terrorist law voted in 2009 is used to arrest many opposition figures, journalists and bloggers and sentence them to stiff prison terms. The law is denounced by defenders of human rights as a tool to muzzle freedom of expression.