Supreme Revolutionary Council (Somalia)
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
On October 15, 1969, while paying a visit to the northern town of Las Anod, Somalia's then President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke was shot dead by one of his own bodyguards. His assassination was quickly followed by a military coup d'état on October 21, 1969 (the day after his funeral), in which the Somali Army seized power without encountering armed opposition — essentially a bloodless takeover. The putsch was spearheaded by Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, who at the time commanded the army.
Alongside Barre, the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) that assumed power after President Sharmarke's assassination was led by Lieutenant Colonel Salaad Gabeyre Kediye and Chief of Police Jama Korshel. Kediye officially held the title of "Father of the Revolution," and Barre shortly afterwards became the head of the SRC. The SRC subsequently renamed the country the Somali Democratic Republic, arrested members of the former civilian government, banned political parties, dissolved the parliament and the Supreme Court, and suspended the constitution.
Functions and political programme
Following the 1969 coup d'état, the Supreme Revolutionary Council took over all the duties of the President, the National Assembly and the Council of Ministers through the proclamation of the Law Number 1. Essentially a military junta, the SRC became the de facto executive organ of the new state and consisted of 25 almost exclusively military officials. The old constitution nominally remained under perpetual suspension until the SRC later repealed it in 1970.
The revolutionary army established large-scale public works programs, including construction of the Mogadishu Stadium. It also sought to improve the social position of women, using Islamic precepts as a reference point. 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.
The Supreme Revolutionary Council also attempted to resolve the outstanding issue of which of the various writing systems then in use in Somalia should be officialized as the main national orthography. In October 1972, the government unilaterally elected to use the modified Latin script of the linguist Shire Jama Ahmed for writing Somali instead of the Arabic or Osmanya scripts. It subsequently launched a large urban and rural literacy campaign designed to ensure the orthography's adoption, which helped dramatically increase the literacy rate.
The SRC further enacted a number of reforms designed to weaken the influence of traditional lineage structures and processes, which Barre regarded as a potential threat to his rule. Offences deemed clan-related were punished with fines and prison sentences, and traditional headmen employed by the previous civilian administration were substituted with hand-picked government peacekeepers (nabod doan). Orientation centers were likewise established, which took over hosting duties for marriage services. Over 140,000 nomadic pastoralists were also resettled in littoral towns and agricultural areas with the additional aim of increasing productivity.
Dissolution and reinstatement
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.
After the unsuccessful Ogaden campaign of the late 1970s, 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. In October 1980, the SRSP was disbanded, and the Supreme Revolutionary Council was re-established in its place.
The following is a list of members of the Supreme Revolutionary Council in February 1970:
|Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Siad Barre|
|Maj.-Gen. Jama Ali Korshel|
|Lt.-Col. Salaad Gabeyre Kediye|
|Lt.-Col. Muhammad Ali Samatar|
|Brig.-Gen. Hussein Kulmiye Afrah|
|Lt.-Col. Ahmed Mohamoud Ade|
|Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Ainanshe|
|Lt.-Col. Abdullah Mohamed Fadil|
|Lt.-Col. Ali Matan Hashi|
|Capt. Ahmed Hassan Musa|
|Maj. Muhammad Sh. Osman|
|Maj. Ismail Ali Abucar|
|Maj. Muhammad Ali Shirreh|
|Maj. Ahmed Suleiman Abdulle|
|Maj. Mohamoud Ghelle Yusuf|
|Maj. Farah Wais Dulleh|
|Capt. Musa Rabille Goede|
|Capt. Ahmed Muhammad Farah|
|Capt. Muhammad Omer Ges|
|Capt. Osman Mohamed Jelle|
|Capt. Abdi Warsama Isaak|
|Capt. Abdirazak Mahamud Abubakar|
|Capt. Abdulkadir Haji Muhamad|
- Moshe Y. Sachs, Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, Volume 2, (Worldmark Press: 1988), p.290.
- 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.
- J. D. Fage, Roland Anthony Oliver, The Cambridge history of Africa, Volume 8, (Cambridge University Press: 1985), p.478.
- The Encyclopedia Americana: complete in thirty volumes. Skin to Sumac, Volume 25, (Grolier: 1995), p.214.
- Metz, Helen C. (ed.) (1992), "Coup d'Etat", Somalia: A Country Study, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, retrieved October 21, 2009.
- Peter John de la Fosse Wiles, The New Communist Third World: an essay in political economy, (Taylor & Francis: 1982), p.279.
- Supreme Revolutionary Council
- Daily report: People's Republic of China, Issues 53-61, (National Technical Information Service: 1986)
- 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.
- Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi, Culture and Customs of Somalia, (Greenwood Press: 2001), p.73
- The Europa World Year Book 1970