|Zooming into the Past|
M O G A D I S H U C I V I L W A R S
Zooming into the 1990s interviews and statements, given by the spokespersons and leaders of Somali factions, enables us to prove that clan-animosity account of the Somali civil war has not been given the scholarly attention that its magnitude warrants, even after sixteen years of clan-warfare. This clan-animosity feeling can in fact be derived from faction joint communiqué and statements; and therefore, posting selections of these public relation statements should be a matter of concern to all Somalis – particularly, to those who are in the field of Somali Studies.
After all, clan factionalism disguised in English acronyms (formed from three or four initial letters which include the sacrosanct letter “S”) are now facts of life for Somalis. The words and deeds of the turbulent faction followers have ordained to presuppose that faction spokespersons assumed a monumental role in fuelling clan-hatred. As a result of that, the Forum rushes in to investigate and share with you excerpts of faction communiqués, hoping to find solutions to the current tragic political situation in Somalia. From our perspective, these selections are indeed those that Western scholars/(Somalists) most neglected, or could offer hints to the causes of the civil war.
J A N U A R Y 29, 1 9 9 1
Somalia Gets New Interim President
January 29, 1991
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - A new interim president was inaugurated in Somalia in a brief, simple ceremony Tuesday as rebels pressed the search for the nation's former dictator and the remnants of his army.
Ali Mahdi Mohamed, 52, a hotel owner who was instrumental in organizing opposition to ousted President Mohamed Siad Barre, took the oath of office in an unadorned waiting room of Mogadishu's police headquarters.
With his right hand on the Koran, the Muslim holy book, he swore "in the name of God Almighty to work without fear or favor in the interests of the Somali people."
"Allahu Akbar!" or God is great, shouted the roomful of supporters at the close of the hastily organized ceremony conducted amid the sound of gunfire in this capital city, shattered by fierce month-long fighting between rebels and loyalist troops.
Outside, the streets of Mogadishu resounded with the clatter of automatic weapons fire as rebels of the United Somali Congress celebrated their victory over Siad Barre and some of his best troops by shooting wildly into the air.
A few hours later, Radio Mogadishu announced that Mahdi had appointed the prime minister of the ousted regime, Umar Arteh Ghalib, as his own interim premier with the task of forming a new government of this Horn of Africa nation.
Arteh Ghalib was named prime minister by Siad Barre earlier this month in the latest of a long string of Cabinet shakeups the past year. He is a member of the Issac clan of northern Somalia, from which another rebel group, the Somali National Movement, draws its strength.
The United Somali Congress had earlier dismissed him as a front man for Siad Barre, although he had once been imprisoned in the ousted president's jails.
Mahdi vowed that Arteh Ghalib would select his ministers from members of all opposition groups, armed and unarmed, in a government representative of all of Somalia's myriad clans.
Mahdi promised fair, democratic elections "as soon as possible," but declined to establish a timetable for voting.
"Since the Somali people have suffered so long under Siad Barre," he said, "the United Somali Congress will promise the people democracy, liberty, prosperity."
Mahdi, dressed in cream-colored slacks, a short-sleeved white shirt open at the neck and sandals, took the oath three days after Siad Barre fled the capital in a convoy of military vehicles….
He is a Hawiye, a member of the large central Somalia clan from which the USC was formed in 1987. It, along with the Isaac-based Somali National Movement, is one of three major clan groups that have been fighting Siad Barre's government…
Mahdi was a school teacher, a local UNICEF director and a parliamentarian before Siad Barre seized power in a bloodless coup in 1969. Siad Barre immediately had him imprisoned until the mid-1970s "for being a member of the former government."
Next Week: Reactions from other factions