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04DJIBOUTI1391 2004-11-01 10:38:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Djibouti
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					UNCLAS DJIBOUTI 001391 


E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: The opposition journals during the week of
October 24-28 focused on the alleged complaint against La
Realite for slander filed by the Minister of Defense; the
designation of the successor to Ahmed Dini Ahmed as president of
the Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD); and the
distribution of school kits funded by United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) in Djibouti. End Summary.

2. (U) La Realite, published by the opposition party Republican
Alliance for Democracy (ARD) reported October 27 that the
Minister of Defense has lodged a complaint against the paper as
a whole. The editor in Chief and his deputy were called to a
hearing before the police for arguments. The story begins with
an article published in the Realite one-week prior, October 20,
concerning the Armed Forces inauguration of an air liaison
linking Djibouti to the northern city of Obock. This liaison is
meant to provide easier access to Obock, which is not easily
reachable for common people.

3. (U) The decision to establish a regular connection to Obock
via military aircraft at the rate of USD 22.50 for a round trip
was criticized by the opposition. The trip normally involves
traveling overland a distance of 235 km by rough roads. The air
liaison is direct and reduces the trip to 70 km. ARD denounced
the action stating, "Army intrusion into the private economy is
the last thing that a citizen should expect from the military
institution." The Minister of Defense, acting for the Army has
introduced a legal procedure against the paper. Realite's report
cites defamation as the charge but does not go into detail on
the Minister's complaint. (Note: Embassy has not been able to
reach contacts at the Ministry of Justice to verify or get
further details of the Minister's charges against La Realite.
End Note.) A trial date is not yet fixed.

4. (U) La Realite reported 27 October that the opposition
coalition, Union for Democratic Alliance (UAD) has finally
designated a new president after the preceding Ahmed Dini in
August. The current vice-president of UAD, Ismail Guedi Hared
has been chosen to lead the coalition to the presidential
elections of April 2005.

5. (U) Le Renouveau, the newspaper issued by the Movement for
Democratic Renewal (MRD) published two articles concerning the
donation of school kits by the U.S government and the speech of
the U.S Ambassador during the ceremony. The paper first reported
that on October 21, the U.S Ambassador, "has given 46,500 kits
for students and 750 other kits for teachers and classes". This
donation was made under a USD 1.6 million program funded by
USAID, but managed through UNICEF, said the article. The goal of
this aid, as reported, is to assist the national education
efforts and guarantee a better access to education by
rehabilitating school infrastructures in rural and urban zones.
The paper said: "we came to know that an efficient distribution
plan was set to ensure that materials go to their destination
between 30 October and 3 November. The logistical support is
jointly assured by the U.S military bureau for civil actions in
Camp Lemonier and the Djibouti Armed Forces." Concerning the
distribution, the paper continued, "we're noticing here an
effort for transparency by the American authorities that do not
ignore the bad governance in place so they can ensure that
materials arrive to their destinations."

6. (U) The second article contained the speech by Ambassador
Ragsdale printed in its entirety, which highlighted the honor of
giving the supplies in the name of the U.S government to the
Djiboutian Ministry of Education. Le Renouveau did not comment
on the speech but highlighted Ambassador Ragsdale's remark that
her government considers that every child has the right to
receive a basic education and that the responsibility of
ensuring that each child attends school is, in her opinion, the
task of parents." The article also reported that the Ambassador
affirmed that the U.S government has not only committed itself
to raise the number of children that have access to education,
but also to improve the quality of education.