Somali Democratic Republic


Somali Democratic Republic
Somali Democratic Republic

1969–1991
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem
Soomaaliyeey Toosoow
Somalia, Wake Up
Capital Mogadishu
Language(s) Somali, Arabic
Government Socialist republic,
Single-party communist state
President Muhammad Siad Barre
Historical era Cold War
 - Established 1969
 - Disestablished 1991
Currency Somali shilling[1]

The Somali Democratic Republic was the name that the communist regime of former President of Somalia Major General Mohamed Siad Barre gave to Somalia after seizing power during a bloodless coup d'état in 1969.[2][3][4] The putsch came a few days after the assassination of Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the nation's second President, by one of his own bodyguards.[4]

History

Alongside Barre, the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) that assumed power after President Sharmarke's assassination was led by Major General Salaad Gabeyre Kediye and Chief of Police Jama Korshel. The SRC subsequently dissolved the parliament and the Supreme Court, and suspended the constitution.[5]

The revolutionary army established large-scale public works programs and successfully implemented an urban and rural literacy campaign, which helped dramatically increase the literacy rate. In addition to a nationalization program of industry and land, the new regime's foreign policy placed an emphasis on Somalia's traditional and religious links with the Arab world, eventually joining the Arab League (AL) in 1974.[6] That same year, Barre also served as chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union (AU).[7]

In July 1976, Barre's SRC disbanded itself and established in its place the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP), a one-party government based on scientific socialism and Islamic tenets. The SRSP was an attempt to reconcile the official state ideology with the official state religion by adapting Marxist precepts to local circumstances. Emphasis was placed on the Muslim principles of social progress, equality and justice, which the government argued formed the core of scientific socialism and its own accent on self-sufficiency, public participation and popular control, as well as direct ownership of the means of production. While the SRSP encouraged private investment on a limited scale, the administration's overall direction was essentially socialist.[5]

In July 1977, the Ogaden War broke out after Barre's government sought to incorporate the predominantly Somali-inhabited Ogaden region into a Pan-Somali Greater Somalia. In the first week of the conflict, Somali armed forces took southern and central Ogaden and for most of the war, the Somali army scored continuous victories on the Ethiopian army and followed them as far as Sidamo. By September 1977, Somalia controlled 90% of the Ogaden and captured strategic cities such as Jijiga and put heavy pressure on Dire Dawa, threatening the train route from the latter city to Djibouti. After the siege of Harar, a massive unprecedented Soviet intervention consisting of 20,000 Cuban forces and several thousand Soviet experts came to the aid of Ethiopia's communist Derg regime. By 1978, the Somali troops were ultimately pushed out of the Ogaden. This shift in support by the Soviet Union motivated the Barre government to seek allies elsewhere. It eventually settled on the Soviet Union's Cold War arch-rival, the United States, which had been courting the Somali government for some time. All in all, Somalia's initial friendship with the Soviet Union and later partnership with the United States enabled it to build the largest army in Africa.[8]

A new constitution was promulgated in 1979 under which elections for a People's Assembly were held. However, Barre's Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party politburo continued to rule.[3] In October 1980, the SRSP was disbanded, and the Supreme Revolutionary Council was re-established in its place.[5] By that time, the moral authority of Barre's government had collapsed. Many Somalis had become disillusioned with life under military dictatorship. The regime was weakened further in the 1980s as the Cold War drew to a close and Somalia's strategic importance was diminished. The government became increasingly totalitarian, and resistance movements, encouraged by Ethiopia, sprang up across the country, eventually leading to the Somali Civil War. Among the militia groups were the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), United Somali Congress (USC), Somali National Movement (SNM) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), together with the non-violent political oppositions of the Somali Democratic Movement (SDM), the Somali Democratic Alliance (SDA) and the Somali Manifesto Group (SMG).

References

  1. ^ la Fosse Wiles, Peter John de (1982). The New Communist Third World: An Essay in Political Economy. Taylor & Francis. p. 1590. ISBN 0709927096. 
  2. ^ J. D. Fage, Roland Anthony Oliver, The Cambridge history of Africa, Volume 8, (Cambridge University Press: 1985), p.478.
  3. ^ a b The Encyclopedia Americana: complete in thirty volumes. Skin to Sumac, Volume 25, (Grolier: 1995), p.214.
  4. ^ a b Moshe Y. Sachs, Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, Volume 2, (Worldmark Press: 1988), p.290.
  5. ^ a b c Peter John de la Fosse Wiles, The New Communist Third World: an essay in political economy, (Taylor & Francis: 1982), p.279.
  6. ^ Benjamin Frankel, The Cold War, 1945-1991: Leaders and other important figures in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and the Third World, (Gale Research: 1992), p.306.
  7. ^ Oihe Yang, Africa South of the Sahara 2001, 30th Ed., (Taylor and Francis: 2000), p.1025.
  8. ^ Oliver Ramsbotham, Tom Woodhouse, Encyclopedia of international peacekeeping operations, (ABC-CLIO: 1999), p.222.

Further reading


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