History of the ELF

December 2, 2012
The Eritrean Liberation Front was the main independence movement in Eritrea which sought Eritrea's independence from Ethiopia during the 1960s and 1970s. In the very late 1950s unorganized political movement seeking independence was secretly active as small cells. And in July 1960, the ELF was openly established in Cairo by Idris Muhammad Adam and other Eritrean intellectuals and students. In 1961 Hamid Idris Awate formed the armed wing of the ELF and declared the armed struggle for independence. Led by Awate, the ELF came into violent conflict with the government on September 1, 1961, using guerrilla war tactics to continue the struggle. Though the movement posed great problems for the Ethiopian government and army, it was also facing internal political conflicts in the very late 1960s. In the 1970s, a group of its members split the movement and formed the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, a more left-wing rebel movement. By the 1980s, the People's Liberation Front had replaced the original Eritrean Liberation Front as the main rebel group. When Eritrea did gain independence in the early 1990s, the People's Liberation Front changed into the People's Front for Democracy and Justice with the addition of former ELF members while the balance became a small rebel group in the nether reaches of the Sudan. The ELF had a meeting in 1995 in Gondar, Ethiopia which has shown the differences of view between the founders of ELF (Ahmed Mohammed Nasser, Hiruy Tadla Bayru) and the new leaders (Siyoum Ogbamichael, Hussein Kelifah and Weldeyesus Ammar).

The contemporary ELF is a member of the umbrella opposition alliance in Eritrea, the Eritrean National Alliance. They are apparently now receiving military support from Ethiopia and from the interim government of Somalia based at Baidoa.
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