Abdirashid Ali Shermarke (Somali: Cabdirashiid Cali Sharmaarke, Arabic: عبد الرشيد علي شارماركي) (June 8, 1919 – October 15, 1969) was Prime Minister of Somalia from July 12, 1960, to June 14, 1964, and President of Somalia from June 10, 1967, until his assassination on October 15, 1969. He was the father of Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.
Shermarke was born in 1919 in the town of Harardhere in the north-central Mudug region of Somalia. His family hailed from the Majeerteen clan.
Raised in Mogadishu, Shermarke attended Qur'anic schools and completed his elementary education in 1936. He then embarked on a career as a trader and later as a civil servant in the Italian colonial administration.
In 1943, the year of its inauguration, Shermarke joined the incipient Somali Youth League political party. He entered the British administration's civil service the following year.
While still a civil servant, Shermarke completed his secondary education in 1953. He earned a scholarship to study at the Sapienza University of Rome, where he obtained a BA in Political Science. In 1960, his son, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who would later become Prime Minister of the Somali Transitional Federal Government, was born.
After returning from his studies abroad in Italy in 1959, Shermarke was elected to the Legislative Assembly.
When Somalia gained its independence on July 1, 1960, he was appointed by then-incumbent President Aden Abdullah Osman Daar as Prime Minister. Shermarke's duties as Prime Minister saw him travel abroad extensively in pursuit of a non-aligned and neutral foreign policy. He remained Prime Minister until March 1964, when the first general elections were held and which saw him re-elected as a member of Parliament.
In the 1967 presidential elections, Shermarke beat out Daar to become the second President of Somalia. He was sworn into office on June 10, 1967.
In 1968, Shermarke narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. A grenade exploded near the car that was transporting him back from the airport, but failed to kill him.
On October 15, 1969, while paying an official visit to the northern town of Las Anod, Shermarke was shot dead by one of his own bodyguards. On duty outside the guest-house where the president was staying, the officer fired an automatic rifle at close range, instantly killing Shermarke. Observers suggested that the assassination was inspired by personal rather than political motives.
Shermarke's assassination was quickly followed by a military coup d'état on October 21, 1969 (the day after his funeral), in which the Somali Army seized power without encountering armed opposition — essentially a bloodless takeover. The putsch was spearheaded by Major General Muhammad Siad Barre, who at the time commanded the army.