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Somali Democratic Republic
Jamhuuriyadda Dimoqraadiga Soomaaliyeed (Somali)
الجمهورية الديمقراطية الصومالية (Arabic)
Anthem: Soomaaliya Ha Noolaato (Somali)
"Somalia will live on"
Location of Somalia
Common languagesSomali
GovernmentUnitary Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist republic under a totalitarian military dictatorship
• 1969–1991
Mohammed Siad Barrea
Vice President 
• 1969–1973
Mohamed Ainanshe Guled[1][2]
Historical eraCold War
21 October 1969
13 July 1977
10 March 1978
26 January 1991
1972[3]637,657 km2 (246,201 sq mi)
1977[4]957,657 km2 (369,753 sq mi)
1991[5]637,657 km2 (246,201 sq mi)
• 1972[3]
• 1977[4]
CurrencySomali shilling[6] (SOS)
Calling code252
ISO 3166 codeSO
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Somali Republic
Interim Government of Somalia
Republic of Somaliland
Today part ofSomalia
  1. Chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Council from 1969–1976 & after 1980.
  2. Somaliland is not internationally recognized. Its territory is considered part of Somalia. Somaliland authorities, however, hold de facto power in the region.

The Somali Democratic Republic (Somali: Jamhuuriyadda Dimuqraadiya Soomaaliyeed; Arabic: الجمهورية الديمقراطية الصومالية, al-Jumhūrīyah ad-Dīmuqrāṭīyah aṣ-Ṣūmālīyah; Italian: Repubblica Democratica Somala; was the name of the socialist totalitarian military government given to Somalia under President Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, after seizing power in a coup d'état on 21 October 1969.[7][8][9] The coup came a few days after a bodyguard assassinated Abdirashid Shermarke, the nation's second President.[9] Barre's administration ruled Somalia for the next 21 years until Somalia collapsed into civil war in 1991.


Supreme Revolutionary Council

Main article: Supreme Revolutionary Council (Somalia)

Mohamed Ainanshe Guled in East Germany in 1971

Mohamed Ainanshe Guled alongside Barre, the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) that assumed power after President Sharmarke's assassination was led by Lieutenant general Salaad Gabeyre Kediye and Chief of Police Jama Ali Korshel. Kediye officially held the title of "Father of the Revolution", and Barre shortly afterwards became the head of the SRC.[10] The SRC subsequently arrested members of the former civilian government, banned political parties,[11] dissolved the parliament and the Supreme Court, and suspended the constitution.[12]

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.[13] That same year, Barre also served as chairperson of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union (AU).[14]

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. 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 proclaimed as socialist.[12]

Ogaden campaign

Main article: Ogaden War

In July 1977, the Ogaden War against Ethiopia broke out after Barre's government sought to incorporate the predominantly Somali-inhabited Ogaden region into a Pan-Somali Greater Somalia. The war was part of a broader SNA effort to unite all Somali territories (Soomaaliweyn). In the first week of the conflict, the Somali National Army scored spectacular victories over the Ethiopian forces, surprising many American military observers who took on a position of neutrality during the war. Southern and central Ogaden were captured in the early stages of conflict 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 advisers came to the aid of Ethiopia's communist Derg regime. By 1978, a ceasefire was negotiated putting an end to the war. 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.[15]

New Constitution

A new Constitution was ratified on August 25, 1979 through a popular referendum, under which elections for a People's Assembly were held. The Constitution of 1979 provided for a presidential system under which the president served as both head of state and head of government. As head of government, the president selected the members of the Council of Ministers, which he chaired. The Constitution of 1979 initially called for the president to be elected to a six-year, renewable term of office by a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature.[16]


Main article: Somali Civil War

After the unsuccessful Ogaden campaign, Barre's administration began arresting government and military officials under suspicion of participation in the abortive 1978 coup attempt.[17][18] Most of the people who had allegedly helped plot the putsch were summarily executed.[19] However, several officials managed to escape abroad and started to form the first of various dissident groups dedicated to ousting Barre's regime by force.[20]

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.[8] In October 1980, the SRSP was disbanded, and the Supreme Revolutionary Council was re-established in its place.[12] By that time, Barre's government had become increasingly unpopular. 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,[21][22] culminating in the Isaaq genocide (1987–1988), largely destroying several major cities and targeting members of the Isaaq clan. Estimates of civilian deaths range from 50,000 to 100,000[23][24][25] up to over 200,000.[26] Such tactics from the government prompted resistance movements, supported by Ethiopia, which sprang up across the country and eventually led 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).[citation needed]

Barre was removed from power on January 26, 1991, and Somalia subsequently collapsed into chaos.[citation needed]


Prime ministers


  1. ^ Mogadishu memoir
  2. ^ Survey of China Mainland Press
  3. ^ Census, United States Bureau of the (December 23, 1980). "World Population 1979: Recent Demographic Estimates for the Countries and Regions of the World". The Bureau – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "ТОТАЛЬНАЯ СОЦИАЛИСТИЧЕСКАЯ ВОЙНА. Недокументальные записки " « Военно-патриотический сайт «Отвага" Военно-патриотический сайт "Отвага"". Archived from the original on 2019-05-09. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
  5. ^ "The 1991 CIA World Factbook" – via Internet Archive.
  6. ^ la Fosse Wiles, Peter John de (1982). The New Communist Third World: An Essay in Political Economy. Taylor & Francis. p. 1590. ISBN 0-7099-2709-6.
  7. ^ J. D. Fage, Roland Anthony Oliver, The Cambridge history of Africa, Volume 8, (Cambridge University Press: 1985), p.478.
  8. ^ a b The Encyclopedia Americana: complete in thirty volumes. Skin to Sumac, Volume 25, (Grolier: 1995), p.214.
  9. ^ a b Moshe Y. Sachs, Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, Volume 2, (Worldmark Press: 1988), p.290.
  10. ^ Adam, Hussein Mohamed; Richard Ford (1997). Mending rips in the sky: options for Somali communities in the 21st century. Red Sea Press. p. 226. ISBN 1-56902-073-6.
  11. ^ Metz, Helen C., ed. (1992), "Coup d'Etat", Somalia: A Country Study, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, retrieved October 21, 2009.
  12. ^ a b c Peter John de la Fosse Wiles, The New Communist Third World: an essay in political economy, (Taylor & Francis: 1982), p.279.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Oihe Yang, Africa South of the Sahara 2001, 30th Ed. (Taylor and Francis: 2000), p.1025.
  15. ^ Oliver Ramsbotham, Tom Woodhouse, Encyclopedia of international peacekeeping operations, (ABC-CLIO: 1999), p.222.
  16. ^ "Somalia". Retrieved 2012-09-18.
  17. ^ ARR: Arab report and record, (Economic Features, ltd.: 1978), p.602.
  18. ^ Ahmed III, Abdul. "Brothers in Arms Part I" (PDF). WardheerNews. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 3, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  19. ^ New People Media Centre, New people, Issues 94–105, (New People Media Centre: Comboni Missionaries, 2005).
  20. ^ Nina J. Fitzgerald, Somalia: issues, history, and bibliography, (Nova Publishers: 2002), p.25.
  21. ^ Prunier, Gérard (1996-01-01). "Somalia: Civil War, Intervention and Withdrawal(1990 - 1995)". Refugee Survey Quarterly. 15 (1): 35–85. doi:10.1093/rsq/15.1.35. ISSN 1020-4067.
  22. ^ "SOMALIA'S DESCENT TO MOBOCRACY". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  23. ^ Peifer, Douglas C. (2009-05-01). Stopping Mass Killings in Africa: Genocide, Airpower, and Intervention. DIANE Publishing. ISBN 9781437912814.
  24. ^ Straus, Scott (2015-03-24). Making and Unmaking Nations: The Origins and Dynamics of Genocide in Contemporary Africa. Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801455674.
  25. ^ Jones, Adam (2017-01-22). Genocide, war crimes and the West: history and complicity. Zed Books. ISBN 9781842771914.
  26. ^ Reinl, James (6 February 2014). "Somaliland massacre".

Further reading