Former president of transitional Somali gov’t dies

Mar 23, 2012, 11:34 AM

Associated Press

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – Abdullahi Yusuf, who rose from a guerrilla warrior to president of Somalia only to watch his administration crumble under a ferocious Islamic insurgency, died Friday in Dubai. He was 78.

Yusuf served as president of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia from 2004-2008.

The Somali government announced a three-day mourning period for Yusuf’s death, said government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman. Osman said Yusuf died Friday morning in at a hospital in Dubai. The family announced the death was caused by complications from pneumonia.

Yusuf has suffered chronic health problems for years, including a liver transplant in 1996. In 2006, he survived a suicide car bombing that killed his brother and several bodyguards, one of several assassination attempts.

Yusuf’s administration struggled to assert control in Somalia since assuming power in 2004, when the first government in 13 years was formed with the help of the U.N. At his inauguration _ held in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi due to security concerns _ Yusuf pronounced himself “a man of peace” and urged his countrymen to begin to forgive each other.

After an Islamic alliance took control of the Somali capital in 2006, Yusuf invited Ethiopian troops into the country.

The Ethiopian advance quickly routed the Islamist forces, but the memories of previous Somali-Ethiopian wars and the presence of soldiers from a Christian nation in a mainly Muslim country made the Somali government unpopular. It also encouraged Ethiopia’s archenemy Eritrea to offer the Islamists assistance, making Somalia into a proxy war zone. The Islamists quickly launched an Iraq-style insurgency.

Already under internal attack, Yusuf’s government was also weakened by internal struggles. The father of four was operating far from his power base in the semiautonomous northern region of Puntland, and clan squabbles and public disagreements with his prime minister over spending foreign aid meant many Somalis began to see the government as divided and corrupt as well as ineffective.

Somalia has not had a fully functioning government since 1991, when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown. Barre, a former military colleague of Yusuf’s, had imprisoned Yusuf after he refused to take part in the coup that bought Barre to power in 1969. While in prison, he became friends with warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid, whose battle with U.S. soldiers in the early 1990s inspired the book and movie Black Hawk Down.

Three years after his release in 1975, Yusuf tried to overthrow Barre but failed and fled to Kenya, where he recruited members for his guerrilla movement. Yusuf, who had studied in Italy and the former Soviet union, was backed by the socialist government of Ethiopia, who were said to have paid him $1 million to overthrow Barre. But Yusuf later quarreled with the Ethiopians over their claims to Somali territory. Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam imprisoned him in 1985, and he was only released when the regime fell in 1991.

He spent much of the 1990’s in his native Puntland, where he sought semiautonomous status in an effort to save the region from the chaos engulfing the rest of the nation. Aides described his style as ruthless, and many of his opponents were jailed or killed. There were also sporadic clashes over territory with the neighboring region of Somaliland, and he was deposed for a year over his attempts to increase his term of office in 2001.

Yusuf regained control of Puntland in 2002 with Ethiopian help, forging a new alliance with the new government. He also fought with Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, a leading Islamist whom the U.S. accuses of having sponsoring terrorism and is a key figure in the present insurgency.

Eventually, Yusuf was elected president in 2004, having systematically undermined several other attempts at forming a government.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
3 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
4 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago
This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
4 months ago
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Former president of transitional Somali gov’t dies