About: Immediately after separately attaining independence, the former British Somaliland Protectorate and the Italian-administered UN Trust Territory of Somalia merged to form the Somali Republic in July... read more Immediately after separately attaining independence, the former British Somaliland Protectorate and the Italian-administered UN Trust Territory of Somalia merged to form the Somali Republic in July 1960. After an initial period of political stability, inter clan tensions threatened the coalition government. Following the assassination of Somalia’s second democratically elected President, General Mohamed Siad Barre seized power in a military coup in October 1969. During the 1970s Barre established a regime of 'scientific socialism'. In 1972 the Government decided to adopt the Latin script for the Somali language and in 1974 launched a major literacy campaign. Later that year, the country was hit by a severe drought and famine. In 1977, Barre embarked on a disastrous war to liberate the Ogaden from Ethiopian rule and unite it with Somalia. Somalia was defeated and its forces driven out of the Ogaden in 1978.By the early 1980s, clan-based opposition groups had begun to form in the north-western and north-eastern regions, with backing from Ethiopia. In north-western Somalia (formerly British Somaliland), the Somali National Movement (SNM) launched an offensive against government positions in 1988. Barre countered with great violence, resulting in thousands of civilian deaths and the almost total destruction of Hargeisa (the region's capital). Over 400,000 people took refuge in neighbouring Ethiopia. By October 1990, other opposition groups had come out against Siad Barre, including the United Somali Congress (USC) whose military wing was led by General Aideed. In January 1991, the USC gained control of Mogadishu. Barre fled to his south-western homeland (and in 1992 took refuge in Nigeria). The ensuing power vacuum triggered an intense battle between the self-appointed interim president, Ali Mahdi and General Aideed. This later escalated into full-blown civil war among factions of the USC and the Hawiye clan. This contest remains unresolved and control of Mogadishu is divided among a variety of Hawiye warlords.