The Husseen Government
Countrywide municipal elections, in which the SYL won 74
percent of the seats, occurred in November 1963. These were
followed in March 1964 by the country's first postindependence
national elections. Again the SYL triumphed, winning 69 out of
l23 parliamentary seats. The party's true margin of victory was
even greater, as the fifty-four seats won by the opposition were
divided among a number of small parties.
After the 1964 National Assembly election in March, a crisis
occurred that left Somalia without a government until the
beginning of September. President Usmaan, who was empowered to
propose the candidate for prime minister after an election or the
fall of a government, chose Abdirizaaq Haaji Husseen as his
nominee instead of the incumbent, Shermaarke, who had the
endorsement of the SYL party leadership. Shermaarke had been
prime minister for the four previous years, and Usmaan decided
that new leadership might be able to introduce fresh ideas for
solving national problems.
In drawing up a Council of Ministers for presentation to the
National Assembly, the nominee for prime minister chose
candidates on the basis of ability and without regard to place of
origin. But Husseen's choices strained intraparty relations and
broke the unwritten rules that there be clan and regional
balance. For instance, only two members of Shermaarke's cabinet
were to be retained, and the number of posts in northern hands
was to be increased from two to five.
The SYL's governing Central Committee and its parliamentary
groups became split. Husseen had been a party member since 1944
and had participated in the two previous Shermaarke cabinets. His
primary appeal was to younger and more educated party members.
Several political leaders who had been left out of the cabinet
joined the supporters of Shermaarke to form an opposition group
within the party. As a result, the Husseen faction sought support
among non-SYL members of the National Assembly.
Although the disagreements primarily involved personal or
group political ambitions, the debate leading to the initial vote
of confidence centered on the issue of Greater Somalia. Both
Usmaan and prime minister-designate Husseen wanted to give
priority to the country's internal economic and social problems.
Although Husseen had supported militant pan-Somalism, he was
portrayed as willing to accept the continued sovereignty of
Ethiopia and Kenya over Somali areas.
The proposed cabinet failed to be affirmed by a margin of two
votes. Seven National Assembly members, including Shermaarke,
abstained, while forty-eight members of the SYL voted for Husseen
and thirty-three opposed him. Despite the apparent split in the
SYL, it continued to attract recruits from other parties. In the
first three months after the election, seventeen members of the
parliamentary opposition resigned from their parties to join the
Usmaan ignored the results of the vote and again nominated
Husseen as prime minister. After intraparty negotiation, which
included the reinstatement of four party officials expelled for
voting against him, Husseen presented a second cabinet list to
the National Assembly that included all but one of his earlier
nominees. However, the proposed new cabinet contained three
additional ministerial positions filled by men chosen to mollify
opposition factions. The new cabinet was approved with the
support of all but a handful of SYL National Assembly members.
Husseen remained in office until the presidential elections of
The 1967 presidential elections, conducted by a secret poll
of National Assembly members, pitted former prime minister
Shermaarke against Usmaan. Again the central issue was moderation
versus militancy on the pan-Somali question. Usmaan, through
Husseen, had stressed priority for internal development.
Shermaarke, who had served as prime minister when pan-Somalism
was at its height, was elected president of the republic.