1967 French Somaliland independence referendum

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An independence referendum was held in French Somaliland on 19 March 1967. It was ordered by then President of France, General Charles de Gaulle, in response to rioting and demonstrations upon an official visit he made to the territory the year before.[1][2]


Initial results supported a continued but looser relationship with France, with 60.6% of the electorate voting for the status quo on a 95% turnout.[3] Voting was also divided along ethnic lines, with the resident Somalis by and large voting for independence, with the goal of eventual reunion with Somalia, and the Afars generally opting to remain associated with France.[1]

However, as with the previous referendum of 1958, the plebiscite was again marred by reports of vote rigging on the part of the French authorities,[4] with some 10,000 Somalis deported under the pretext that they did not have valid identity cards.[5] According to official figures, although the territory was at the time inhabited by 58,240 Somali and 48,270 Afar, only 14,689 Somali were allowed to register to vote versus 22,004 Afar.[6] Somali representatives also charged that the French had simultaneously imported thousands of Afar nomads from neighboring Ethiopia to further tip the odds in their favor, but the French authorities denied this, suggesting that Afars already greatly outnumbered Somalis on the voting lists.[5]

Announcement of the plebiscite results was met with civil unrest, including several deaths. France also increased its military force along the frontier.[5][7]


Choice Votes %
Remain a territory in the French Republic 22,555 60.60
Independence 14,666 39.40
Invalid/blank votes 111
Total 37,332 100
Registered voters/turnout 39,312 94.96
Source: African Elections Database


  1. ^ a b A Political Chronology of Africa, (Taylor & Francis), p.132.
  2. ^ Newsweek, Volume 81, (Newsweek: 1973), p.254.
  3. ^ Elections in Djibouti African Elections Database
  4. ^ American Universities Field Staff, Northeast Africa series, Volume 15, Issue 1, (American Universities Field Staff.: 1968), p.3.
  5. ^ a b c Jean Strouse, Newsweek, Volume 69, Issues 10-17, (Newsweek: 1967), p.48.
  6. ^ Africa Research, Ltd, Africa contemporary record: annual survey and documents, Volume 1, (Africana Pub. Co.: 1969), p.264.
  7. ^ Alvin J. Cottrell, Robert Michael Burrell, Georgetown University. Center for Strategic and International Studies, The Indian Ocean: its political, economic, and military importance, (Praeger: 1972), p.166.