With one week to go until Djibouti’s parliamentary elections, Djibouti’s government is under intense pressure from political opposition and its own people after 37 years of one party rule.
Ahead of the elections on 22 February, the Mayor of Djibouti has publicly denounced the Government. Djibouti’s Energy Minister and Minister of Islamic Affairs have both resigned. Opposition rallies are attracting up to 150,000 people.
In a sign of increasing panic, the Government has released opposition leader Daher Ahmed Farah, (arrested earlier this month) following an upsurge of popular protest, resulting in the destruction of a warehouse in Djibouti city.
Leading figures in the opposition movement have expressed their desire for democratic elections to proceed and reflect the will of the people. They are adamant that the country needs a smooth and peaceful transition of power without external intervention, but urge international organisations to continue their pressure on the current government for democratic elections. Forty election observers from the African Union arrived in Djibouti today (15th) to monitor the electoral process. Election observers from the EU have also confirmed their intention to visit Djibouti to oversee the elections.
Aicha Dabale, spokesperson on behalf of the Friends of Djibouti, said
“We are witnessing a growing sense of frustration in Djibouti and its political system. We call on governments and NGOs to ensure that free and fair elections take place in Djibouti next week to ensure that the voice of the people of Djibouti is heard and reflected in electoral results.”
Abdourahman Boreh, an international businessman from Djibouti, said:
“Djibouti has many friends in the West and around the world. We appreciate their continued support in our struggle against an oppressive and undemocratic ruling elite. I fully support the efforts of the opposition who have united under the USN to call for peaceful change. Pressure must continue, but we are determined that the changes required in Djiboutian society are achieved from within the country. We want a peaceful and stable transition of power and a better future for Djibouti.”