Somalia, Aug. 4
A former United States marine who served in Somalia and who is a son of Mohammed Farah Aidid, the powerful Somali faction leader who died last week, was selected today to succeed his father.
"I will continue the policies of the former president," Hussein Mohammed Aidid, 31, said after he was sworn in by a Muslim clergyman. About 200 people gathered in the faction's stronghold in southern Mogadishu in support of the new leader, who said he would eliminate enemies at home and abroad. Mr. Aidid will serve a two-year term as president of the United Somali Congress-Somali National Alliance, whose members are primarily from a sub-clan of the Hawiye clan, one of six in Somalia.
The elder Mr. Aidid, 61, died on Thursday after being wounded in fighting in Mogadishu. Rival militia leaders have since proposed that Somalia's warring factions hold a reconciliation conference. But Mr. Aidid's supporters rejected the offer.
The younger Mr. Aidid once lived in the Los Angeles area and served two weeks of active duty with the Marines in Somalia. He was returned home before United States forces began trying to chase down his father in 1993. During that hunt, 18 American soldiers and 300 Somalis were killed.
Mogadishu, Somalia - Hussein Aidid, who landed here in 1992 as a U.S. Marine, was appointed president of the broken country yesterday, succeeding his late father, Mohamed Farah Aidid, who humiliated the U.S. military when it tried to arrest him nearly three years ago.
Aidid, 31, was designated by the leadership council of his father's United Somali Congress-Somali National Alliance in southern Mogadishu.
"I promise to cooperate with sincerity, consultations and unity, to serve our people and country, to assert Somali nationality and to eliminate my father's enemies at home and abroad," Aidid told jubilant supporters.
His election to a two-year term took place in former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre's palace with about 20 "technicals" - gun-mounted pickup trucks - and 200 militiamen on guard.
It was bound to be opposed in north Mogadishu by the Aidid clan's archenemy, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, who contends the election by followers of the elder Aidid as president last year was illegal.
Hours earlier, the council issued a policy document that made it clear the general's death would not lead to reconciliation among warring factions.
The death of the elder Aidid, 61, who had been wounded in recent fighting over a south Mogadishu neighborhood, had raised hopes that peace could return to this Horn of Africa nation of 8 million people. More than 350,000 Somalis died from starvation or in fighting as Somalia spiraled into civil war after the 1991 overthrow of Barre.
After Aidid's burial Friday, rival militia leaders proposed the 16 Somali factions hold a reconciliation conference. Aidid supporters rejected that.
Hussein Aidid was seen by some members of his Habr Gidir Saad subclan as being too young and too closely linked to the United States.
He returned to Somalia from Los Angeles in August of last year to be married in his father's fiefdom in southern Mogadishu. He stayed on, working in his father's organization.
Aidid lived in the United States from the age of about 14 until he returned to Somalia in 1992 as a U.S. Marine corporal in "Operation Restore Hope," to help end famine and militia looting of food relief supplies. While in uniform, he was returned home before U.S. forces began chasing down his father.
Mohamed Farah Aidid's militiamen had killed 24 Pakistani soldiers of the UN force, prompting the United Nations to put a price on his head and launch a vain manhunt. During that hunt, in October, 1993, 18 U.S. Army Rangers were killed, and President Bill Clinton sped up withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.
Hussein Mohamed Aidid, son of Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid who died last week, was chosen by his father's lieutenants Sunday to lead his father's faction.
Hussein Aidid, 31, lived in the Los Angeles area since about the age of 14. He was once a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and served briefly on active duty with the Marines in Somalia during the U.S. intervention in 1993 but was transferred back to the states when American troops mounted a manhunt for his father.
Their mission, to stop the looting by Somali militiamen of relief supplies meant for the starving population, was left unaccomplished.
Hussein, his father's third eldest son, returned to Somalia from Los Angeles in August last year to be married in his father's fiefdom in southern Mogadishu.
He served as his chief of security in the southwestern town of Baidoa after the warlord seized it in September last year. Wearing jeans, a black T-shirt, hiking boots and with a pistol on his hip, he appeared more American than his ragtag Somali militiamen. He speaks English softly with an American accent. It is unclear whether he still holds his U.S. passport.
The death of the elder Aidid, who had been wounded in recent fighting over a south Mogadishu neighborhood, had raised the prospect that peace could return to this strife-torn east African nation.
More than 350,000 Somalis died from starvation or in fighting in the civil war that followed the overthrow in 1991 of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
After the senior Aidid's burial Friday, rival militia leaders proposed the 16 Somali factions hold a reconciliation conference. But Aidid supporters rejected any reconciliation, declaring they would continue Aidid's policy of "pacification" - meaning the elimination of rival factions.
The younger Aidid, who was nominated by his sub-clan, the Habr-Gedir Saad, and approved by his father's leadership council, said Sunday, "I will continue the policies of the former president."
He will serve a two-year term as president of the United Somali Congress-Somali National Alliance, whose members are primarily from the Habr-Gedir sub-clan of the Hawiye clan, one of six in Somalia. Whether he will assume the title of president of all Somalia that his father claimed was not clear.
The elder Aidid's claim to the presidency was has been recognized only by Sudan and Libya. It was opposed by Ali Mahdi Mohamed, the leader of the principal opposing armed faction in Somalia.
After the elder Aidid's death, Ali Mahdi called for a peace conference between all Somali factions to end the six-year civil war. But Aidid's ministers said they would not attend unless they were recognized as the government.
Some members of the Habr-Gedir Saad said that the younger Aidid bore the stigma of being linked to the United States, the "foreign devils" blamed by his father for the ills of Somalia.
Analysts said the election of Hussein Aidid was likely to be unpopular among the other clans and sub-clans in the faction because of his youth in a country where age is respected and because it represents a continuation of the dynasty of the Saad sub-clan of the Habr Gedir.
The faction could fragment, with various clans and sub-clans going their own way or joining other alliances and clashes continuing throughout the country, they said.
Ali Mahdi called Friday for the international community to seize the opportunity of General Aidid's death to call a peace conference on Somalia.
The announcement by south Mogadishu radio said Hussein Aidid would serve out the remainder of his father's three-year term, and would have the opportunity to extend that by two years if conditions were not stable then. General Aidid became "interim president of Somalia" in an election held by his followers in June last year, and subsequently appointed six vice presidents and 93 ministers. The "government" remains unrecognised by the outside world, as does that of Ali Mahdi, who also styles himself interim president.
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