|Biographical detail : ||Somali politician
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed led Somalia’s beleaguered transitional government as president from 2004 to 2008, and was forced to resign as the country sank deeper into chaos. The Transitional Federal Government was founded in 2004 with the assistance of the United Nations. But he had little success in bringing the country’s warring factions together.
A career soldier Yusuf Ahmed was jailed for six years for refusing to take part in the 1969 coup that put Muhammad Siad Barre in power. Three years after his release in 1975, Yusuf Ahmed tried to overthrow Said Barre but failed and fled to Kenya, where he recruited fighters for his guerrilla movement. He was backed by Ethiopia’s socialist government but later had a falling out with it over Ethiopian claims to Somali territory. The then Ethiopian dictator imprisoned him in 1985, and Yusuf Ahmed was not released until the regime fell in 1991.
Much of the 1990s Yusuf Ahmed spent time in his native Puntland, where he sought semi-autonomous status to save the region from the chaos engulfing the rest of the nation. There were also sporadic clashes over territory with the neighbouring region of Somaliland, and he was deposed for a year over his attempts to increase his term of office in 2001.
Ahmed regained control of Puntland in 2002 with Ethiopian help, forging a new alliance with the new government there.
In 2006, Ahmed survived a suicide car bombing that killed his brother and several bodyguards. It was one of several assassination attempts.
When a new alliance took control of Mogadishu, in 2006, Yusuf Ahmed invited Ethiopian troops into the country, with American backing. The Ethiopians routed the Islamist forces, but the presence of soldiers from a Christian nation in a mainly Muslim country made the government unpopular. It also encouraged Ethiopia’s enemy Eritrea to offer the Islamists assistance, making Somalia a proxy war zone. The Islamists quickly began an Iraq-style insurgency.
Under pressure from foreign governments and internal foes, and facing the threat of a complete withdrawal by the Ethiopian forces that had propped up his administration, Yusuf Ahmed decided to resign in 2008.
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was granted asylum in Yemen after he stepped down, had gone to Abu Dhabi for treatment and died of complications of pneumonia. He was born in Barta and grew up in nearby Galkacyo.