Djibouti voters called for the election in a context

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Presidential elections in Djibouti on Friday 9 April. The head of state, Ismaël Omar Guelleh, is running for a fifth term. The opposition that challenges the electoral process boycotted.

Before the president, in power since 1999, there is therefore only one candidate: Zakaria Ismail Farah, an almost unknown entrepreneur who runs as an independent. Djiboutier is called to the election in a tense context.

The presidential election is being held in a security context that has deteriorated in recent months. Conflicts between the army and the rebels from Frud then multiply a series of attacks in Tadjourah where a gendarme was killed in mid-January.

In recent days, the political-military group and the Djibouti soldiers have met again. At the end of March in Aslé, last Monday in Biladiti Goda and finally on Tuesday in Daoudawya, where the military camp was attacked.

At the same time, the country has seen demonstrations every week and has been for several months. A movement for opposes a fifth term Ismaël Omar Guelleh, launched by the Radde party and persecuted by other opposition movements.

Opponents of the head of state who are partly allies. At the end of March, three political parties, the Frud rebels, four NGOs and a dozen activists signed the charter for a democratic transition. This document aims to organize new power and democratic reforms for when the IOG regime falls.

Because these opponents are convinced, the more the head of state stays in power, the greater the risk of instability. Everyone reiterates that they do not want Djibouti to sink into chaos, but the opposition believes that there is a risk of “somalization” of the country.

The outgoing president is facing an almost unknown entrepreneur

As in 1999 and 2011, only two candidates are participating. And difficult to find such diametrically opposed profiles. On the one hand, Ismaël Omar Guelleh, in power for 22 years. Although he has repeatedly stated that he is willing to surrender, the 73-year-old president has decided to return.

This fifth term may be the last since the 2010 constitutional reform set a limit of 75 years. Despite the low effort, the head of state has traveled country during the campaign, promote the construction of housing, ports, logistics infrastructure, etc.

In front of him Zakaria Ismail Farah, 56 years old. This engineer through training is actually a nephew of the president. Head of a company that specializes in disinfection and presents itself as an independent. Unknown on the political scene, the businessman organized some small gatherings to highlight his “clear and republican vision,” he said. Zakaria Ismail Farah wants to be the standard carrier for the left after, by the Djiboutians from below.

But during the campaign, he especially complained that he did not have a law enforcement service. On March 28, he came with fists and his mouth covered with tape to condemn “the unequal treatment for which he is a victim”. He has not reappeared in public since.

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