Aden A. Osman, 99; first president of independent Somalia

From Times Wire Reports

Aden Abdulle Osman, 99, Somalia’s first president after independence from Italy, died Friday in neighboring Kenya after months of illness, his son Said Aden Abdulle told the Associated Press.

Born in 1908 near the Ethiopian border in the town of Belet Weyne, Osman was elected president in 1960 after years of leading the Somali Youth League, a nationalist party that struggled for Somalia’s independence. He lost a reelection campaign in 1967 and peacefully handed over power to his successor, Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, who was assassinated two years later.

The slaying led to a coup headed by Mohamed Siad Barre, who then became a military dictator. In 1990, as the country was edging toward anarchy, Osman was among about 100 politicians who signed a manifesto expressing concern over the destruction, killings and flight of refugees as a result of the civil war.

He was arrested along with more than 50 others by Barre’s faltering regime. After his release, Osman lived mostly on his farm in Janale in southern Somalia.