The December 2014/ January 2015 edition of The Africa Report contains two articles profiling President Guelleh’s regime in Djibouti.
The first discusses the resurgent political opposition in the country and questions the legitimacy of Guelleh’s diplomatic role as “Landlord-in-chief” for the world’s militaries. Despite reports of ill health, Guelleh has maintained control of domestic politics in Djibouti, banning the Mouvement pour la Développement et la Liberté because of Islamist policies and partnering with Ethiopia to “prevent the rise of the kind of Islamist insurgency that has entrenched itself in southern Somalia”. The article also reports that the finale of the tortuous legal battle between Mr Abdourahman Boreh and the Djiboutian government will play out next October. In an interview with The Africa Report, Boreh accuses Guelleh of presiding over an oppressive regime of obscene corruption which is driving out investors.
The second article covers President Guelleh’s “iron grip on Djibouti’s political space”, maintained by arresting and intimidating the country’s opposition forces. The article suggests that the year 2015 holds the potential for political reconciliation, in preparation for open and fair elections in 2016. Despite lucrative deals with the US, France and China, Djibouti still has a weakly diversified and informal economy; this article argues that democratic liberalisation could be the necessary vehicle for economic growth.
Global Voices reports that the young people of Djibouti have taken to the streets of Djibouti City this week to protest the 15 year rule of President Guelleh, whose party has been in power for 34 years. The group are following the lead of protests in Burkina Faso, which recently led to the deposition of President Blaise Compoare after 27 years in power.
AllAfrica reports that Aden Robleh Awaleh, a prominent member of Djibouti’s political opposition has died this week.
A Djibouti national writes in US Congress blog The Hill that living conditions for people in Djibouti are horrific. He notes that Djiboutians are “lacking water, electricity and adequate healthcare. Hospitals are overcrowded, under-staffed and lack proper medications. The government is not helping”. On the subject of Boreh, the article notes “It has always been the modus operandi of the Guelleh regime to discredit or persecute anyone who dares to challenge them.”
A writer for US Congress blog The Hill discusses recent political developments in Djibouti and asks whether President Guelleh (IOG) is a reliable ally for America. The article notes President Guelleh’s “tendency to play the United States against other great powers for greater financial gain” and advises “it would be a dangerous gamble for the Obama administration to assume IOG will continue to cooperate with Washington indefinitely”. Could President Guelleh’s actions be putting Djibouti’s important relationship with America at risk?
This article in the Huffington Post reports on China’s newly assertive foreign policy and its growing strategic interest in Djibouti. President Guelleh’s dealings with Chinese leader Xi Jinpong have not been popular with Djibouti’s longstanding ally, America.
All Africa has reported this week of a statement released by The Djiboutian Observatory for the Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights (ODDH) which condemns the Djibouti police force’s alleged secret cremation and burial of political prisoner Mohamed Elmi Rayaeh’s remains.
Mohamed Elmi Rayaeh, a teacher at a local school in Balbala, was arrested and later incarcerated on 2 August 2013 in Gabode Central Prison. This was the result of his involvement in the February protests following Djibouti’s contested parliamentary elections.
Rayaleh’s family was not present at the burial, and their request for an autopsy was not fulfilled before his remains were destroyed, ODDH said. The ODDH has requested that a commission is undertaken regarding Rayaleh’s death.
USN has published a concerning notice that Mohamoud Elmi Rayaleh, a French professor and a member of the USN, was arrested on 2 August. On the night of 28/29 August he was found dead in his cell. The circumstances of his death remain unexplained.
The story is being widely reported.
Djibouti’s opposition Union for National Salvation (USN) announced this week (19 August) that it reached an agreement with the government that address USN’s concerns over February’s contested parliamentary elections.
USN stated via twitter that the government agreed to release several USN political prisoners, calling for the government to do so in the near future.
USN also said the two parties will continue to meet to address allegations of government harassment and the USN’s place in the National Assembly.
Reporters Without Borders announced this week that Daher Ahmed Farah (DAF), an opposition activist and former journalist, was finally released on 14 August after being held in prison since 2 July on a charge of refusing to comply with a judicial order.
Farah has been imprisoned repeatedly since the start of the year. This time he spent six weeks in the capital’s Gabode prison.