There is a rapidly developing crisis in Djibouti. Civil order is breaking down, the economy is in decline and the security of foreign bases on its soil is threatened. For the sake of the people, things must change.
Djibouti is a small but important country. It lies at the mouth of the Red Sea, forming the western part of the narrow channel that gives access to the Suez canal route. The protection of shipping lanes and the problem of piracy gave rise to French, US, Japanese, German and EU military bases in the country. Djibouti is endowed with natural harbours which led to the establishment of a port which serves the region – especially Ethiopia – and a major free zone port.
In the past this led to stability and investment. But no longer.
Djibouti’s population has been gravely neglected over the years. Despite substantial government income, 70% of the population live in dire poverty, mostly in informal dwellings without sanitation. Food and water shortages plague the small nation. Health and welfare indicators are among the worst in the world. Ethnic tensions are exploited by the government in a divide-and-rule approach.
A few short years ago reforms ground to a halt. Investors began pulling out – some driven out. Relations with neighbouring countries have gone sour. Crime is out of control and the streets are no longer safe. Djibouti has became a haven for money laundering. The foreign bases are in danger. The cause was the President’s decision more than two years ago to cling onto power by whatever means necessary, fair or foul. Things began to go wrong, and the decline accelerated after the President forced through changes in the constitution to remove the obstacle of the ‘two term limit’ in March 2010. He maintained power in 2011’s sham election, intimidating and arresting opposition groups who ultimately refused to put their names on a ballot that they knew would never be free or fair.
This website sets out the steps needed to address these problems. But who can implement them? Djibouti needs a new leader who can end this era of corruption and bring a brighter future to the people of Djibouti. In 2013, there are parliamentary elections. If those elections are free and fair, there may be an opportunity for real reform to begin.
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