Sharif Sheikh Ahmed

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Sharif Sheikh Ahmed
شريف شيخ احمد
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed 097468.jpg
7th President of Somalia
In office
31 January 2009 – 20 August 2012
Prime MinisterNur Hassan Hussein
Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke
Abdiwahid Elmi Gonjeh (Acting)
Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo
Abdiweli Mohamed Ali
Preceded byAbdullahi Yusuf Ahmed
Succeeded byHassan Sheikh Mohamud
Personal details
Born (1964-07-25) 25 July 1964 (age 55)
Mahaday, Somali Republic
Political partyHimilo Qaran
Alma materUniversity of Kordofan

Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (Somali: Shariif Sheekh Axmed, Arabic: شريف شيخ أحمد‎; born 25 July 1964) known as "The Father of Modern Somalia" because of his achievements when he served as president of the Transitional Federal Government between 2009 and 2012.[1][2] He was the 7th President of Somalia and successfully brought the Federal Government of Somalia through transitional status following the collapse of the previous governing administration in 1991. Under Sheikh Sharif's leadership, the Transitional Federal Government succeeded in driving out Al-Shabaab from the capital city and its surroundings, establishing security, peace and reconciliation through the difficult transitional period. The administration of Sharif, who was Somalia's 7th President, is also credited with developing the country's Constitution and setting up key institutions such as the police, military and judiciary.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born on 25 July 1964 in Mahaday a town in the southern the Middle Shabelle region where he acquired the knowledge of the Islamic teachings, Arabic and the memorisation of the Qur'an as a child. Sheikh Sharif is from the Abgaal clan ( Cabdale Agoonyar) sub-clan of the Hawiye clan one of Somalia's four main clans, which dominates in the capital. He began his education at the Sheikh Sufi Institute, which was associated with Al-Azhar University in Egypt. He studied at Libyan and Sudanese universities in the mid-1990s, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Law and Islamic Shariah.[4] Thus, his religious upbringing and education allowed him to succeed his father as the spiritual leader of the Idriseeyah sect of Sunni Islam in Somalia.

Sheikh Sharif completed his fellowship in Boston University in January 2012.

Political career[edit]

Sheikh Sharif departed for Somalia in 2000 at a time when Somalia was under the control of warlords and friends could not visit each other in Mogadishu due to clan separation and mistrust. The legacy of the civil war was apparent everywhere in Somalia and Sheikh Sharif had ambitions of saving his country and his people, a dream which no one could imagine could come true at the time. He established Al Shuruuq Agency, a cultural and heritage institution and the Federation of Adolescents in Mogadishu which facilitated social interaction for young Somalis who had never before crossed the boundaries formed by the warlords. As a result, the residents of Mogadishu began to cross the lines where friends, schoolmates, and elders can come together and express themselves in a positive way. Sheikh Sharif became a regional attorney of his home province, middle Shabelle, where he was elected chairman of a provincial court in Jowhar between 2001 and 2002.

Islamic Courts Union[edit]

Armed groups in the Somali capital who exploited the disintegration of the central government had been responsible for countless kidnappings and killings. The court was established through a campaign which Sheikh Ahmed led to secure the release of an abducted child. The court was successful in securing the release of the child and other abductees as well as looted vehicles. The court went on to suppress the violence of gangs and warlords which was prevalent throughout the capital. Subsequently, all five Islamic courts united and Sheikh Sharif was chosen to become the chair of the newly formed Islamic Courts Union.[5]

He was always seen as the moderate face of the Islamic Courts Union, who came from a long line of religious leaders and was elected as chairman. Somalia was already beginning to see swift political and economic changes under his first six months of leadership. Warlords and their influence were eliminated from the city with the help of the people's support which made it possible for the first time in sixteen years to re-open Mogadishu International Airport and the port.

At the time the Transitional Federal Government which was established in Mbagathi, Nairobi in 2004, was a fragile body which was divided and weak. The Ethiopian army invaded Somalia claiming that it was trying to help the Transitional Federal Government and overthrew the Islamic Court Union. Sheikh Sharif was detained by Kenyan police at the border between Kenya and Somalia in January 2007. He then met with the US Ambassador to Kenya for talks concerning cooperation with the Transitional Federal Government. After this Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed left for Yemen to meet with other Islamic Courts Union members.[6][7]

Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somali[edit]

As an exiled opposition leader Sheikh Sharif the former leader of the Islamic Courts Union, was in search of a headquarters for establishing a new political party, the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia. In September 2007 nearly 500 delegates gathered in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, including Islamists, parliamentarians, civil society and the diaspora and adopted a constitution.

Djibouti Agreement[edit]

Sheikh Sharif's party the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia signed a peace treaty with the Transitional Federal Government on 9 June 2008 in Djibouti.[8]

2009 presidential election[edit]

After winning the vote in the early hours of 31 January 2009, Sheikh Ahmed was sworn in later in the day at the Kempinski hotel in Djibouti.[9] President Ahmed vowed to form a broad-based government and invited all armed groups in the war-ravaged Horn of Africa nation to join the UN-sponsored reconciliation effort. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN's special envoy for Somalia, praised the "transparent" presidential vote. "We are finally seeing progress from the hard work by all sides to create an inclusive parliament," Ould-Abdallah said in a statement.[10]

President Sheikh Sharif's government drove Al-Shabaab from the capital city and its surroundings, with the help of the African Union, AMISOM.

President Sheikh Sharif engaged in the development of the Somali constitution and the selection of the traditional elders who then chose members of the new parliament. He established military, police and security forces to fight against Al-Shabaab and restore peace, security and the rule of law to Somalia.

Arab League Summit[edit]

In March 2009, President Sheikh Sharif attended the Arab summit in Bagdad to get support for his fight against Al-Shabaab, and establishment of security, peace and reconciliation.[11]

Press conference with Hillary Clinton[edit]

On 6 August 2009, President Sheikh Sharif and US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton held a joint press conference in Nairobi, Kenya discussing the challenges facing Somalia, and the possibility of achieving peace, stability and reconciliation for the Somalis.[12]

Center for Strategic and International Studies[edit]

On 30 September 2009, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (C.S.I.S.) in Washington hosted a statesman's forum with President Sheikh Sharif on Somalia promoting peace through international engagement.[13]

Speech at United Nations headquarters in New York[edit]

On 10 October 2009, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed presented a speech at the General Debate of the 64th Session of the General Assembly the United Nations headquarters in New York on promoting peace, security, reconciliation and deliver humanitarian assistance.[14]

2010 Istanbul Conference on Somalia[edit]

In May 2010, at the Istanbul Conference on Somalia, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the only chance to bring stability to Somalia was to support the government of Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. He specifically voiced his support for President Sheikh Sharif himself, saying that he needed to be in power and to strengthen his leadership.[15]

Speech at the United Nations[edit]

On 25 September 2010, President Sheikh Sharif's speech at the United Nations was about promoting regional stability, security and reconstruction in Somalia.[16]

Appointment of Farmajo as Prime Minister[edit]

President Sharif appointed former First Secretary of the Somali embassy in Washington, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed "Farmajo", as the new Prime Minister of Somalia in October 2010 after the resignation of Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.[17] United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement commending the Somali leadership for having reached a consensus on procedural arrangements that facilitated a transparent and consultative confirmation of the new Premier.[18]

Al Shabaab withdrawal from Mogadishu[edit]

On 6 August 2011, President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed announced that his military had defeated Islamist rebels battling to overthrow his Western-backed government after the al Shabaab group began withdrawing fighters from the capital Mogadishu.[19]

Kampala Accord[edit]

The Kampala Accord was an agreement made in Kampala, Uganda in line with the Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic to bring and end to the transitional phase of the Transitional Federal Government on 20 August 2011. It was signed on 9 June 2011 by HE Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, President of the Transitional Federal Government, Hon Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda and Dr Augustine Mahiga, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations.[20]

AMISOM visit[edit]

In September 2011, President Sheikh Sharif visited Burundian peacekeepers serving in his country in a show of support for African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). "I came to pay a visit to the AMISOM peacekeepers and the Somali soldiers," the president told reporters before heading back to Villa Somalia after meetings ended. "The intention was to find out how the soldiers are doing and how ready they are to help the Somali people and the government. As you can see they are really prepared and have high spirits to end the problems affecting the Somali people. The two forces have a good working relationship, and we hope their partnership will result in a victory for our country and removal of the enemy."[21]

Operation Linda Nchi[edit]

Operation Linda Nchi ("Protect the country"; Swahili: Linda Nchi) is the codename for a co-ordinated military operation between the Kenyan military and the Somali military that began on 16 October 2011, when troops from Kenya crossed the border into the conflict zones of southern Somalia.

Kampala Talks[edit]

In November 2011, President Sheikh Sharif met with Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni to discuss security in Somalia and in the eastern Africa region. President Sheikh Sharif was accompanied by a number of ministers and legislators.[22]

Garowe Conference[edit]

In February 2012, Sharif Ahmed and other Somali government officials met in the northeastern town of Garowe to discuss post-transition political arrangements. After extensive deliberations attended by regional actors and international observers, the conference ended in a signed agreement between the President, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, Galmudug President Mohamed Ahmed Alin and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a representative Khalif Abdulkadir Noor stipulating that: a) a new 225 member bicameral parliament would be formed, with a lower house and an upper house seating 54 senators; b) 30% of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) is earmarked for women; c) the President is to be appointed via a constitutional election; and d) the Prime Minister is selected by the President and he/she then names his/her Cabinet.[23][24]

London Conference on Somalia[edit]

President Sheikh Sharif spoke at the London Conference on Somalia on 23 February 2012. President Sheikh Sharif said: "To all of you who have exerted every effort so that you could put an end to the suffering of the Somali people, we would like to say that we appreciate this wonderful effort." US Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and representatives from over 40 governments attended the London Conference on Somalia, to discuss the rebuilding of Somalia and the tackling of piracy, terrorism and famine. [25]

2012 Istanbul Conference on Somalia[edit]

On 1 June 2012, President Sheikh Sharif and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attended the Istanbul Conference on Somalia to promote global reconstruction effors and to back up on going stabilisation efforts.[26]

New Constitution[edit]

On 23 June 2012, the Somali federal and regional leaders met again and approved a draft constitution after several days of deliberation. The National Constituent Assembly overwhelmingly passed the new constitution on 1 August, with 96% voting for it, 2% against it, and 2% abstaining.[27]

Dubai Charter[edit]

The second UAE counter piracy conference was held at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai on 27–28 June. It was attended by more than 400 delegates including Foreign Ministers, the United Nations' International Maritime Organisation, industry leaders, welfare organisations and academic experts. The Conference Keynote Address was given by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed from the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. The event concluded with a strong call for a "comprehensive approach" against pirates that includes national governments, international organisations and the global maritime industry. On 28 June 2012, President Sharif Ahmed signed a cooperation deal with Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo, President of the separatist Somaliland region in northwestern Somalia. Referred to as the Dubai Charter, the agreement calls for greater coordination between Somalia's various political units and is part of broader international reconciliation efforts among all Somali parties. The presidents of the autonomous Puntland and Galmudug regions as well as the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs also attended the signing.[28]

2012 Presidential Elections[edit]

Sheikh Sharif's participation in the presidential contest and his acceptance of the results of his defeat was a demonstration of democracy coming to Somalia. He was widely praised for the peaceful handover of power. It was the first such transfer witnessed in Somalia in four decades.

2017 Presidential Elections[edit]

In the 2017 presidential election, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who Sheikh Sharif had earlier instated as Prime Minister succeeded Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President of Somalia.

Himilo Qaran[edit]

Sheikh Sharif founded Himilo Qaran in December 2018 ahead of the 2020 elections. In 2019 Himilo Qaran joined the Forum for National Parties an alliance of Somali political parties.

Forum for National Parties[edit]

In September 2019 Sheikh Sharif founded the Forum for National Parties an alliance of six political parties including his own party Himilo Qaran and the UPD which is the party of his successor Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The new FNP alliance aims to unite the leadership of the country to work together for to resolve Somalia's political and security issues.

2020 Presidential Elections[edit]

In January 2019 Sheikh Sharif announced his intention to stand for the 2020 presidential election on the ticket of his new political party Himilo Qaran [29]

Awards and honours[edit]

Hiiraan Person of the Year 2006[edit]

Hiiraan Online, a Somali internet magazine, recognised Sheikh Sharif as the person of the year 2006 for his profound contribution to national reconciliation.[30]

Fellowship, Boston University[edit]

Sheikh Sharif is beneficiary of the former-Presidents-In-Residence fellowship initiated by Boston University in Massachusetts, USA. The scholarship is administered by the African Presidential Archives and Research Center (APARC). It hosts programs including debates on public policy to extend knowledge of the complexities and resources in Africa.[31]


  1. ^ "Political Parties are the best way forward for Somalia". Garowe Online. 24 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Ex-Somalia President Sheikh Sharif sets eye on Presidency". Standard. 23 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Ex-Somali President sets eye on Presidency". 23 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Profile: Somalia's President Ahmed". BBC News. 3 February 2009.
  5. ^ "Somalia's Moderate Islamist Leader". BBC. 12 June 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
  6. ^ "Somali Islamist travels to Yemen". BBC. 8 February 2007. Retrieved 8 February 2007.
  7. ^ "Interview in Der Spiegel". Spiegel Online. 27 November 2007.
  8. ^ "Djibouti Agreement". United Nations Political Office for Somalia. 11 September 2009.
  9. ^ "Somalia swears in new president", Sapa-AFP (IOL), 31 January 2009.
  10. ^ "New Somali president sworn in", Al Jazeera, 1 February 2009
  11. ^ "Arab League Summit". Qatar Conferences. 30 March 2009.
  12. ^ "Remarks With Somali Transitional Federal Government President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed". U.S. Department of State. 6 August 2009.
  13. ^ "Statesmen's Forum". Center for Strategic and International Studies. 30 September 2009.
  14. ^ "SRSG's 18th letter to the diaspora". RelierWeb. 30 September 2009.
  15. ^ "UN's Ban calls Somali government chance for stability", Reuters, 23 May 2010
  16. ^ "Speech of Somali President H.E. Sharif Sheikh Ahmed at the General Assembly of the United Nations" (PDF). United Nations. 25 September 2010.
  17. ^ Somali president appoints new PM. Al Jazeera. Retrieved on 22 August 2012.
  18. ^ UN chief encourages new Somalia PM to form government. People Daily (2010). Retrieved on 22 August 2012. Archived 8 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Somali government declares Islamist rebellion defeated". 6 August 2011.
  20. ^ "Kampala Accord". United Nations. 9 June 2011.
  21. ^ "In Praise and Thanks – Somali President hails AMISOM forces". AMISOM. September 2011.
  22. ^ "Kampala Talks". 1 November 2011.
  23. ^ Somalia: Garowe conference comes to a close Archived 12 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine. (19 February 2012). Retrieved on 22 August 2012.
  24. ^ Second Garowe Conference Concludes Archived 27 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Somalia Report (18 February 2012). Retrieved on 2 August 2012.
  25. ^ "London conference on Somali". British Government. 23 February 2012.
  26. ^ "The Second Istanbul Conference on Somalia". Ministry of Foreign Affair of the Republic of Turkey. 1 June 2012. Archived from the original on 10 March 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  27. ^ "Somalia adopts a constitution, amidst insecurity". Garowe Online. 1 August 2012. Archived from the original on 7 August 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  28. ^ "Mogadishu, Somaliland sign cooperation deal: report". AFP. 28 June 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  29. ^ "Ex-Somali President sets eye on Presidency". 23 January 2019.
  30. ^ "Hiiraan Person of the Year 2006". Hiiraan Online.
  31. ^ "Former Somali president wins prestigious Boston fellowship". Africa Review. 22 April 2013.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Adan Mohamed Nuur Madobe
President of Somalia
Succeeded by
Musa Hassan Abdulle