Country Listing

Somalia Table of Contents



Government Structure: Country nominally under interim provisional government established by Executive Committee of United Somali Congress (USC) and headed by provisional president Ali Mahdi Mahammad after fall of Mahammad Siad Barre. As of September 1991, country effectively under control of as many as twelve rival clans and subclans. Central government authority at Mogadishu challenged by Somali National Movement (SNM), which in June 1991 declared independent Republic of Somaliland in former territory of British Somaliland. Constitution of 1979 nominally in force pending new constitution proposed by provisional government. Constitutionally mandated national legislature known as People's Assembly inactive since January 1991.

Administrative Divisions: Prior to fall of Siad Barre regime in January 1991, sixteen administrative regions, each containing three to six districts, with exception of capital region which was subdivided into fifteen districts, for total of eighty-four districts. Local government authority vested in regional and district councils whose members were elected, but whose candidature approved by district-level government. High level of military participation in regional and district councils. Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development exercised authority over structure of local government. From 1991 onward, no effective government organization existed.

Politics: During 1980s authoritarian regime of President Mahammad Siad Barre abandoned policy of scientific socialism on Marxist-Leninist lines and implemented marketoriented structural reforms of economy, while consolidating personal political authority. Broad-based national opposition met escalating government repression and provoked armed revolt in 1988 led by USC and SNM. Civil war caused eventual defeat of government forces and exile of Siad Barre in January 1991. USC faction led by General Mahammad Faarah Aidid contested authority of USC Executive Committee to form interim government and established rival government in southern Mogadishu, compelling Mahammad's government to retreat to northern Mogadishu. As of January 1993, country effectively fragmented under control of as many as twelve contending clan-families and clans.

Judicial System: Four-tier court system--Supreme Court, courts of appeal, regional courts, and district courts--based on Western models. Separate National Security Courts operating outside ordinary legal system and under direct control of executive given broad jurisdiction over offenses defined by government as affecting state security, until abolished in October 1990. Unified penal and civil law codes introduced in late 1960s and early 1970s, but some features of Islamic law considered in civil matters.

Foreign Relations: Foreign relations characterized by tension with neighboring states and economic dependence on aid from Arab and Western nations. Relations with neighboring states gradually improved as irredentist claims dating from Ogaden War period (1977-78) formally abandoned during 1980s; relations with Ethiopia remained strained despite 1988 peace agreement resulting from mutual harboring of foreign guerilla forces and uncontrolled mass migration. Relations with Western nations and United States broadened after 1977 rift with Soviet Union; United States military and economic aid provided throughout 1980s but suspended in 1989 because of human rights violations by Siad Barre government. Recipient of financial support from conservative Arab oil states.