|AREA: 8,376 sq. miles||POPULATION: 55,000|
SEE: Gouled, Hassan.
D.I.E.S.T. was formed by Hassan Gouled* , Somali Senator in the French Parliament, to contest the territorial elections of 1957 which were won by the Union Republicaine* led by Mahmoud Harbi. In the referendum of September 1958, which gave each country in French Black Africa the choice between complete independence, through a vote of non, and limited autonomy within the French Community, through a vote of oui, Harbi campaigned for a vote of non and Gouled for a oui vote. Encouraged by the French, Gouled was successful and, alone of all French territories, Somaliland chose to retain its status as an overseas territory rather than accept even the limited autonomy that membership of the Community would entail. D.I.E.S.T. became the governing party, and Gouled the Premier. Pressure for independence is, however, increasing, and Gouled has in the past few months suggested that he will try to negotiate for a status similar to that of the countries in the French Community.
Mahmoud Harbi, Prime Minister of French Somaliland, Vice-President of the Territorial Assembly, and Somali Deputy in the French Assembly, opposed Hassan Gouled* in the de Gaulle referendum of September 1958 and campaigned for a vote of non, or complete independence from France. Following closely on the formation of the Parti de la Défense des Intérêts Economiques et Sociaux du Territoire* (D.I.E.S.T.), led by Hassan Gouled, Harbi founded the Union Republicaine in order to campaign for independence and unification of the various Somali territories; but as a result of his defeat in the referendum, a motion of no confidence in his government was carried by the Territorial Assembly, and the Governor dissolved the House. Demonstrations against the dissolution ended in rioting and several casualties, the Union Republicaine was banned and its Executive imprisoned. Harbi fled to Cairo, and was killed in an air crash in November 1960.
In December five Executive Members were released from gaol by the French Authorities, but the party itself remains outlawed. It is, however, active underground, and maintains relations with the Greater Somali League* in the Somali Republic.