History of Somalia: Armed Opposition

History of Somalia: Armed Opposition Last updated on Sunday 25th April 2010

Armed domestic opposition to Siad Barre began in the north in 1988 with the Isaaq-based Somali National Movement (SNM) and was brutally suppressed. Other clan-backed groups, most notably the United Somali Congress (USC) and the Ogadeni Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), joined forces against the government.

In 1990, as Barre started to lose control, about 100 prominent political and business figures signed the Mogadishu Manifesto, calling for Siad Barre to resign. Barre reacted by arresting half of the signatories, releasing them a month later and promising a referendum. Fighting continued in preparation for the promised multiparty elections. The main factions were the SNM in the north, the United Somali Congress (USC) in central Somalia and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM) in the south.

When Mohammed Siad Barre fled on 27 January 1991 after ruling the country for 22 years, Somalia descended into anarchy.

The fighting that then ensued between the different rebel groups, including those of transitional president Ali Mahdi Mohammed and his rival Mohammed Farah Aideed, soon brought the country to its knees. The SNM declared northern Somalia's independence as the Somaliland Republic in May, but it was never recognized.

By August 1992, up to one-third of all Somalis were facing starvation caused by drought and the fighting, which prevented farmers from planting crops. One million Somalis had fled to Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen and Djibouti.

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