See also:
» 26.02.2013 - Mass protests shake Djibouti
» 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
» 17.02.2011 - Mobilisation for Djibouti protests worldwide

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Djibouti opposition leader Ahmed Youssouf Houmed
© ARD-Djibouti/afrol News

Djibouti vote rigging may cause new mass protests

Djibouti's ruling UMP party also held rallies all over the country

© UMP/afrol News
afrol News, 25 February
- The political opposition in Djibouti is furious and mobilising for mass protests against alleged rigging of Friday's elections. It hopes to succeed repeating the mass mobilisation of February 2011, when the Arab spring came to Djibouti.

The Minister of the Interior of Djibouti, Hassan Darar Houffaneh, on Saturday announced the preliminary election results. According to his statement, the ruling Union for a Presidential Majority (UMP) had gained 49.39 percent of the popular vote in the capital, Djibouti City, while the oppositional National Salvation Union only achieved 47.61 percent. In the capital, the counting had ended.

The Minister further informed that there existed some preliminary results from the provinces, where the party supporting President Ismail Omar Guelleh had gained even greater victories. All in all, the official results would give the party of Mr Guelleh a clear majority in parliament, probably around 50 out of the 65 seats.

The opposition, which had united in the National Salvation Union (USN) ahead of the elections, yesterday reacted with anger to the official results and accused President Guelleh of yet another stolen election. "On Friday, an overwhelming majority of Djiboutians voted USN, both in the capital and in the provinces. And yet, the regime has decided to deny the USN its victory," opposition leader Ahmed Youssouf Houmed said in a press statement sent to afrol News.

Mr Houmed lists several examples of alleged rigging. In district after district,

Poster announcing peaceful protests in downtown Djibouti-City

© afrol News
representatives from his party union were denied access to polling stations to monitor the voting and the counting process. Mr Houmed claims that false votes must have been added in stations where opposition delegates were denied access.

The USN leader further claims that the opposition victory in Djibouti-City had been even clearer. Despite the stuffing of votes, polling station leaders had reported on a clear victory of the USN after the votes had been counted. "The USN won 80 percent of the mandates in the capital," Mr Houmed claims to know. "Despite of that, the regime does not hesitate to declare that its list won in Djibouti-City."

The opposition therefore declared it "rejects" the official election results as announced by the Minister of the Interior "in the strongest manner."

Further, Mr encouraged citizens of Djibouti to participate in "a peaceful national mobilisation to get an end to status quo as it has existed during 36 years," referring to the years the current regime has held power. The opposition leader urges people to stream to an information meeting the USN is to hold in Djibouti-City this afternoon. "The battle continues," Mr Houmed announced.

The opposition hopes to reconnect to the mass protests in January and February

Some 30.000 protesters were in the streets of Djibouti in February 2011

© ARD-Djibouti/afrol News
2011, during the Djiboutian Arab spring. At its most, the poorly organised demonstrations gathered around 30,000 in the centre of Djibouti-City. The main demand was for President Guelleh to step down. The protests were peaceful, until the police got rough.

Armed police troops attacked with sharp ammunition at sunset as the protesters tried to establish an overnight camp compared to the one on Tahrir Square in Cairo - the big role model for the Djibouti protests. The protests went on for weeks, but with time, police troops managed to extinguish the momentum of the movement by effectively closing access to the city centre.

By the beginning of March, the protest movement had died out and the Arab spring had ended in Djibouti. President Guelleh shortly thereafter, in April 2011, made sure to get re-elected in a poll totally boycotted by the opposition.

Since that, there has been some kind of reconciliation process between government and the opposition, resulting in the USN being the first opposition platform participating in a Djibouti election for years. But as a consequence of the election, the trust and reconciliation has seen an abrupt end, and it is quite possible that the frustration again will end in a wave of mass protests and unrest.

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