See also:
» 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
» 17.02.2011 - Mobilisation for Djibouti protests worldwide











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Student protest march in Djibouti-City today
© Anonymous/afrol News
Djibouti
Politics | Human rights

Mass protests shake Djibouti

Djiboutian opposition leader Ahmed Youssouf Houmed is placed under arrest

© ARD-Djibouti/afrol News
afrol News, 26 February
- Police forces in Djibouti have arrested up to 300 protesters as mass demonstrations against last week's allegedly rigged polls shook the capital yesterday and today. Most opposition leaders were also arrested in police raids.

Opposition leader Ahmed Youssouf Houmed, head of the National Salvation Union (USN), this weekend had called on Djiboutians to participate in "a peaceful national mobilisation to get an end to status quo" in central Djibouti-City on Monday. The protesters were to urge long-time President Ismail Omar Guelleh to step down after what the USN claimed to be a "stolen election".

According to human rights sources in Djibouti, thousands of protesters indeed have gathered in the capital yesterday and again today, showing their support to the opposition. But they were met with police violence and tear gas, with security troops arresting every protester they could get hold on.

The USN claims that some 300 protesters and opposition politicians were arrested on Monday. Police chased the remaining opposition activists out of the city centre using batons and tear gas.

The Djiboutian Human Rights League (LDDH) reports that the event was followed by "an unprecedented wave of arrests of opposition leaders." Almost the entire opposition "has been arrested or placed in monitored residences," LDDH complains. This included USN leader Houmed and another opposition party leader, which had been taken to the police headquarters in Djibouti-City.

The human rights group also doubts the legitimacy of Friday's poll, which had driven the opposition to organise Monday's protests, noting they were "marked by numerous irregularities."

"These arrests discredit the legality of the parliamentary elections and the authorities' willingness to permit real political pluralism," human rights activist Paul Nsapu

Student protest march in Djibouti-City today

© Anonymous/afrol News
says. "It is urgently necessary to stop the arrests, the acts of repression and the intimidation, and assure that the right to protest is guaranteed in Djibouti," Mr Nsapu added.

While the Guelleh regime hopes police intimidation will put a swift end to demonstrations - as they had done during Djibouti's Arab spring in early 2011 - Djiboutians even today took to the streets. As opposition leaders were mostly placed under arrest, it were the students that voiced protest in central Djibouti-City today.

An estimated thousand students and pupils peacefully marched from the University of Djibouti to the city centre in a solidarity demonstration. The protesters were mostly left in peace. Police troops may have had in mind that attacks on student demonstrations in January 2011 sparked the massive wave of protests that shook the small country in February the same year.

With most relevant opposition leaders now in house arrest, the USN and other parties opposing the Guelleh regime currently focus their protest marches abroad. Exiled Djiboutian groups however urge for new protests to be held in the country as soon as possible to challenge the arrests and the election results.

The party supporting President Guelleh last weekend claimed victory in all districts of Djibouti, despite a massive campaign by an opposition that had united to challenge Mr Guelleh. According to Mr Houmed, polling station leaders in Djibouti-City had reported a massive USN win in the capital to him, but when the official results were announced, the President's party was said to have won, even in the capital.


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