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Exiled Son of Haile Selassie Announces Ascension to Throne

May 6, 1989 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ The exiled 73-year-old son of Emperor Haile Selassie on Friday announced his ascension to the imperial throne of Ethiopia, where a Marxist government rules.

Wearing a blue Western-style suit and seated on a chair in his London apartment, Ahma Selassie I and members of his government-in-exile indicated they believe the regime now governing their homeland will soon fall.

″There are many indications to show that the Ethiopian people are desperate for a new system of government, a new democratic organization,″ said Seife Michael Zewde, son-in-law of Ahma Selassie and privy councilor to the throne.

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He said 3 million Ethiopians are in exile, the army has suffered many defections, and the government is spending nearly 80 percent of its budget on the military.

The underdeveloped east African nation struggles with civil war and periodic famine.

Haile Selassie was deposed in 1974 by a military coup that brought Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam to power. The emperor died in captivity in Ethiopia in 1975.

Members of the government-in-exile said Ahma Selassie would normally have assumed the throne a year later. However, they said he did not do so because of the chaos caused by the military takeover.

Ahma Selassie secretly accepted the throne on April 6, 1988, at the request of two councils of state kings and elected officials, said Zewde, who acted as interpreter.

The public announcement was delayed over worries about the safety of the government-in-exile, he said. It was to be made two weeks ago, but no reporters came because of a London subway strike.

Most foreign countries do not recognize the government-in-exile.