12/8/2021
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The 1959 General Elections, the last held under the Trusteeship Regime
By M. Trunji
Monday October 18, 2021

 

In our recent series of articles on Somali past elections, it was explained how the flawed electoral law of 1958 (Legge N. 26, del 12 Dicembre, 1958) had paved the way for the ruling Party (SYL) to claim a landslide victory with 83 of the 90 seats in the Legislative Assembly. As a result of the restrictions imposed on the opposition parties, the political game was left open for the Lega leading the country towards one-party system. But while the Party was excited with the electoral victory, the SYL President, Aden Abdulla, was not in tune with the party’s mood. He preferred, instead, to see strong opposition taking part in the elections without hindrance. Commenting on the election results, he put the following entry in his Diary: ”I am glad of the victory of my Party, but, at the same time, I would have equally been glad had there been strong opposition and had the “Lista Unica” not been a product of fraud” (Diary Marzo 11, 1959)

However, and despite the election victory, not all looked rosy for the ruling Party as it had soon fallen prey of internal dissensions. In fact, after the general elections of March 1959, a serious, unexpected crisis emerged within the ranks of the Party over a proposal propounded by the President of the Party to convene an extraordinary Party Congress with the participation of delegates from the regional branches of the party, the party’s Parliamentary group, and the Central Committee members, The President’s intention was to involve the branch secretaries in the selection process of the future Prime Minister and the President of the Legislative Assembly. For Aden Abdulla “it was not fair to resort to them when their forces were needed and exclude them from taking part in important political decisions”. The idea of urgently convening a Party Congress was not, however, shared by all the Central Committee members. In fact, when the proposal was put on vote, it was rejected by 10 votes, 7 in favour and 2 abstentions. The “Nay” vote came from Central Committee members allied of the Prime Minister: Hagi Giumale Barre Toho, Hagi Hassan Barre Toho, Osman Ahmed Roble, Osman Sheikh Mao, Abdinour Mohamed Hussen, Mohamed Ahmed “Ottavio”, Ali Mohamed Ali Afrah, Hagi Abdisamed Mohamed and Sheikh Issa Mohamed. The”Yea” vote from: Aden Abdulla. Ali Hersi Farah, Abdirazak Hagi Hussen, Mohamed Ossoble Walayo, Hussen Abdi Abdulla “Farmacia”, Mohamoud Ahmed Mohemed Addan “Kitaba Hor”and Ahmadei Mohamed Nour. The two abstained were: Shekh Mohamoud Mohamed Farah “Malingur” and Mohamed Hagi Sobrie.

Similarly, within the members of the Government, there were divergent views over the convening of the Congress. Mohamoud Abdinour “Juju”, Sheikh Ali Giumale and Sheikh Omar Sheikh Hassan “Lughei” (Undersecretary), together with the Prime Minister, objected the convening of the Congress. On the other hand, Hagi Mussa Bogor, Salad Abdi, and Mohamoud Ahmed Mohamed Addan “Kitaba Hor” (Undersecretary), were in favour. Hagi Farah’s position was not clear as he was at the time on mission abroad. Opponents of the proposal shared the concern that the Congress might exacerbate the already sharp division within the ranks of the Party following the expulsion of the ex-President a year ago. The disagreement over the convening of the Party Congress led to a gridlock.

Aden Abdulla resigned from the leadership of the Party

In reaction to the rejection of his proposal, Aden Abdulla resigned from the leadership of the Party, later withdrawing it after the reasons that prompted the crisis had been resolved, and the Central Committee adopted measures including the convening of a Party Congress limited to only one single delegate from each outpost districts. This was not the first time Aden Abdulla disagreed with the ranks of the Party. In 1958 he resigned from his position as Vice President of the Party, after publicly denouncing the bickering, radicalization and dangerous polarization of the Central Committee between Darod and Hawiye, the latter ethnic group, forming the majority of the Committee, merely rubber-stamped the decisions of the government.

With the participation of 30 delegates from outpost districts, the much awaited party Congress was convened on May 26, its immediate task being, among other things, the election of the future President of the Legislative Assemble and the future Prime Minister, two positions which had become vacant following the parliamentary elections in March.

At the end of a marathon session lasting from 09:30am to the following morning at 00:35, the results of the votes for the Premiership were: Abdullahi Issa 68; Aden Abdulla 52 Abdirashid1, spoiled votes 4. At the same session the Congress selected the candidate for the presidency of the Legislative Assembly. The results of the voting were: Aden Abdulla 65; Abdullahi Issa 38. Gabio’ 13, Abdirazak 2, Abdirashid 1, Nour Hashi 1, Sheikh Ali Giumale 1, Hagi Moussa Bogor 1, spoiled votes 3. (TNA 371/ 138/310, May 23, 1959) The first important debate during the Congress session was concerned with the formation of the new Government. The Congress, however, rejected a second proposal propounded by Aden Abdulla over the formation of a coalition government i.e. to include in the government members of other parties.

When the new Parliament, resulting from the general elections of March 1959 held its first meeting, Aden Abdulla was, for the second time, elected President of this body, obtaining 76 votes out of 87. Abdulkadir Mohamed Aden “Zoppo” (Bur Hacaba) and Hagi Bashir Ismail (Bosaso) were elected Vice Presidents.

 Post election Government

Acting on the decision of the extraordinary Congress of the Party, the Administrator, Ambassador Mario Di Stefano, appointed Abdullahi Issa as Prime Minister, asking him to form a new government. Tribal rivalries and personal jalousies had held up the formation of the government. Finally, after more than months since the elections, the Prime Minister managed to put together, in July 1959, a broad base 15-strong Cabinet members, 9 Ministers and 6 Undersecretaries that was, in fact, a coalition of clan representatives bearing the title of Ministers or Undersecretaries. The broad base formula gave equal share to the three major contending clan families represented in the Legislative Assembly. Five positions went to the Darod, five to the Hawiye and five to the Rahanween. In the meanwhile, an unexpected new policy was inaugurated with the inclusion in the government of individuals the Lega hitherto considered as “Anti-nationals“and, possibly, placed on “Lista Nera” (Blacklist). There past anti-Lega activities were not important any longer, what mattered was the clan family they represented. As a result of this expedience, a number of individuals, with long-time anti-Lega history, joined the government Party. The Government, however, soon faced concerted internal opposition led by a faction within the ruling Party. The internal squabbling which plunged the territory into the most dangerous crises ever, just one year before complete independence, will be the subject of analysis in future separate writing. 

M. Trunji
E-mail: [email protected]



 





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