See also:
» 26.02.2013 - Mass protests shake Djibouti
» 25.02.2013 - Djibouti vote rigging may cause new mass protests
» 11.03.2011 - Djibouti opposition boycotts election
» 04.03.2011 - Djibouti protests stopped by police
» 27.02.2011 - Mass arrests stopped further Djibouti protests
» 20.02.2011 - Djibouti opposition leaders freed
» 19.02.2011 - Djibouti protesters keep up the pressure
» 18.02.2011 - Djibouti protests more massive than expected

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Politics | Human rights

Djibouti meets protests with repression

Manifestations in Djibouti started on 1 January, organised by the UAD opposition

© FRUD/afrol News
afrol News, 15 February
- As further protests in Djibouti are announced for Friday, government is cracking down on civil society and the opposition. There are fears foreign police forces may be used against protesters.

Since 29 January, Egypt and Yemen-inspired protests have been noted in Djibouti, calling for Djiboutian President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh to respect the country's constitution and not seek a third term in office in the upcoming April elections.

The main opposition Union for a Democratic Change (UAD), which has boycotted Djibouti's last elections, last week expressed solidarity with the protests, mobilising its members to participate in the next announced manifestation after the Friday prayers. UAD leader Ismaël Guedi Hared is calling for an Egypt-like protest.

The first clashes between protesters and riot police were registered one week ago, as Djibouti University students joined the protests one week ago. Stone-throwing students were met with teargas and armed riot police.

During the last week, police presence has been heavy in the capital, Djibouti City, with any attempts to start a protest being immediately dispersed.

President Guelleh so far has not addressed the protest movement and also state media have ignored it. No concessions have been made and no reforms have been announced.

But the go

Mohamed Kadamy, exiled leader of Djibouti's FRUD opposition

© FRUD/afrol News
vernment is nervously watching the developments. On Friday, Jean-Paul Noël-Abdi, President of the Djibouti Human Rights League (LDDH), was arrested on unknown grounds. Also Farah Abadid Hildid, a member of the minor MRD opposition party, who has been leading calls for President Guelleh's resignation, has been arrested.

The FRUD movement, which represented the Afar minority in the 1991-94 civil war, warns that the Guelleh regime may be planning to use "mercenary" police troops to meet the protests. A group of around 500 Somali policemen, receiving training in Djibouti by Ugandan officials, since the protest started has been "patrolling in Djibouti City and continue to do so, to identify sites of protest," according to FRUD leader Mohamed Kadamy.

Mr Kadamy "warns" President Guelleh against the possible use of these Somali police troops "against peaceful demonstrators," adding that the President does not have confidence in the loyalty of the national police.

During the last few days, however, more and more Djiboutian groups have expressed their support for the protests. FRUD leader Kadamy said party s

Djiboutian President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh

© WHO/afrol News
upporters should shoulder with members of the UAD opposition in Friday's protest, demanding "freedom, democracy and dignity," and protesting against "the third term of President Guelleh and against his mafia-like family."

Other minor opposition parties have called on their supporters to join the protests, as have Djiboutian human rights groups. From abroad, businessman and would-be presidential candidate Abdourahman Boreh called on President Guelleh "to step down to make way for a peaceful transition of power."

As Djibouti gears up for massive anti-government protests on Friday, both President Guelleh and the international community meet the popular demands with silence. While Djibouti is a small and relatively unknown country, it is far from insignificant.

Strategically placed at the entrance to the Red Sea in the Gulf of Aden, Djibouti houses the region's largest port, also being Ethiopia's main trade trans-shipment point. Djibouti further houses the main military bases of both the US and France, key to anti-terror and anti-piracy operations in the region. Unrest here would be very inconvenient.

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