Somalia. A chronicle of major events in the four weeks leading up to the 1969 Military Take over
October 21, 2020 - Written by admin

September 5: Egal leaves for the African Summit in Addis Ababa

September 11: The Minister of the Interior convenes the Diplomatic Corps begging for necessary aid for the drought-affected populations in some regions of the country.

September 14: Egal returns from Addis Abeba.

September 18: The price of gasoline has been increased from 1.20 to 1.40 per liter

September 19: Abdirashid, together with Sheikh Mukhtar, President of the National Assembly, leaves for Rabat to attend the Conference of Muslim Heads of States taking place in Morocco.

September 20: The Taxi drivers are on strike due to the increase in petrol prices; workers and students feel most the inconvenience.

September 23: Police armoured vehicles are positioned at all strategic junctions in Mogadiscio.  Gatherings in public places are dispersed. The strike of taxi drivers continues and it is feared that it might turn violent.

September 24: The strike of the taxi drivers continues without violence. The discomfort of the public is great

September 25: A sense of insecurity pervades Mogadiscio with heavy police presence patrolling the streets to maintain order. It was probably meant to prevent the striking taxi drivers from staging protest concurrently with the arrival of the Head of the State, scheduled for following day.

September 26: At the Islamic Conference in Morocco the unexpected happened: India, with 80,000,000 Muslim populations, out of total inhabitants of 450, 000, 000, was admitted to the Conference as full member despite Pakistan making a formal protest to the Summit about the matter. The move, as predicted, prompted Pakistan to withdraw from the Conference.

September 27: The taxi drivers ended the strike in the afternoon. It was reported in the “Il Corriere della Somalia” that they had been allowed to increase the fare, from ShSo 0.50 to ShSo 0.60 per person per trip.

The 10th Somalia International Fair opens in Mogadiscio.

September 28: Abdirascid Ali Sharmarke returns with an Alitalia flight. Every time the President leaves or arrives, it is a real torment as the police block the traffic and shut down the streets for the presidential motorcade hours before his arrival.

October1: Egal leaves for New York; in addition to his entourage, normally numerous, he takes with him, to be left in Rome, the Ministers of Communications, the Minister and the Undersecretary of Agriculture, The Minister of Education also leaves the same day for the Soviet Union.

October7: Abdirashid and Sheikh Mukhtar leave for Migiurtinia Region (now Punt land) to visit the drought stricken populations.

October 8: This morning heavy rain continued pouring from 6:30 to 11 a.m. Mogadiscio is a city that does pity, especially after every fall of water, due to the lack of sewerage. Streets become covered by sand, pebbles and debris that rainwater drags from the sand hills.

October 11: A new Italian language monthly magazine “Nuovi Orizzonti” has been unveiled with more articles and letters from the readers that will not please the government. Except Ismail Giumale, who became a Cabinet Minister, the new magazine is lunched by the same group of editorialists who collaborated with the previous Magazine “La Tribuna”, one of the most read papers in the country. Eng. Abdulkadir Aden Abdulla, Dr. Mohamed Aden Sheikh and Benvenuto Francesco Issak were the most known among the editorial board members. It was quite well written and carried many interesting topics but, surprisingly, it had avowedly leftist stance. The newspaper covered sympathetically the military coups in the Sudan (May 25, 1969) and Libya (September 1, 1969) respectively. In fact, the editorial run an ominous article entitled “Dove’e’ l’Esercito”? (Where is the Army)?

October 12: The 10th Somalia International Fair opened on 27 September, closes its doors.

October 15: Policeman slays Somali President. Assassin seized after shots killed Shermarke instantly at Las Anod, in northern Somalia. A sense of power vacuum was felt in the first hours following the death of the President, particularly when rumours started circulating that it had proven impossible to locate the Prime Minister who was on vacation in the USA. “The Somali Embassy in Washington took the trouble to seek the FBI’s assistance in order to locate the whereabouts of our Prime Minister” (Mohamed Aden Sheikh, 2010).

The slain president’s body on board of a plane was carried back to Mogadiscio airport and then transferred to Villa Somalia. In 1968, Sharmarke narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. A grenade exploded near the car that was transporting him from the airport but failed to kill him. Fifty years on, President Sharmark’s killing remains a mystery.

October 20: Hundress of thousands of people lined the streets of Mogadiscio to watch Abdirashid’s body being driven in motor hearse from Villa Somalia to the cemetary.The solemn procession then continued on to the new burial site where Somalis and some foreign leaders gathered for the state funeral. Abdirashid was buried with full military honors at the new National Cemetery. A five days national mourning was declared. Among the foreign dignitaries who attended the burial were President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Vice President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya.

Late in the afternoon, the central committee (CC) of the ruling SYL party, which commanded an absolute majority in the then National Assembly (parliament) with 122 out 123 MPs, held a meeting in the evening, The meeting proposed the election of a new president by legislators without delay.

October 21: Twenty-four hours after the state funeral of the slain Somali President, a self-styled revolutionary council seized power without bloodshed. The coup signaled the end of Somalia’s democratic era, and saw the beginning of Siad Barre’s long reign.

Barely six months since the general elections were held, the entire Somali political landscape was suddenly thrown into turmoil by the military, and Egal and his SYL cronies had little time to enjoy the stolen electoral victory. Prime Minister Egal, his 12 ministers, Somalia’s first President Aden Abdulla, and other influential politicians, including Haji Moussa Bogor, Ambassador Omar Moallim, Abdirazak Haji Hussein and the Chief Justice, Abdurahman Sheikh Ali, were picked up by a special army unit and whisked off to a house in a farm near Afgoi town, 30 km southwest of Mogadisho.

Why the Chief Justice was arrested

Picked up and detained with the politicians was also the President of the Supreme Court, Abdurahman Sheikh Ali whose impartiality many openly questioned. His credibility and impartiality as a Judge came under fire when, contrary to previous decisions, the Court ruled that it was not empowered to judge electoral petitions brought forward by unsuccessful candidates in 1969 multi-party political elections. Among the petitions rejected, the one submitted by the Popular Movement for Democratic Action Party (PMDA) against the non-acceptance of its list of candidates in the electoral district of Bur Hacaba had captured wider public interest. In fact, the public has reacted with utter disbelief to the Court’s decision sanctioning the openly fraudulent action of the District Commissioner.

The Military Junta suspended the above-referred Judge from the service in November 1969 placing him under arrest “pending unspecified criminal case against him” (Decreto del Presidente del Consiglio Rivoluzionario Supremo n° 2 del 9 Dicembre 1969).

Crimes against the Somali State as an Internal Person. (Delitti contro la Persanalita’ Interna dello Stato Somalo)

The acts committed by the coup leaders constituted a crime against the constitutional order punishable under article 217 of the Somali Penal Code (SPC) with life imprisonment. The article provides:”Whoever commits an act for the purpose of changing the Constitution or the form of the government by means not authorized by the Constitution shall be punished with life imprisonment”.

With this serious accusations hanging over their head, the military ruled the country for over 20 years, in the course of which, except perhaps, in the first few years, their celebrated merits were few and very modest in the face of dramatic failures in foreign and domestic policy exacerbated by a military adventure in 1977/78 against Ethiopia which proved to be a fatal miscalculation. From a serious historical trial, the leaders of the golpe of 1969 would not be able today to escape from the grave accusation of having subverted democratically established institutions.

 M. Trunji


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