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04DJIBOUTI1566 2004-12-09 03:03:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 001566 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2014

Classified By: Pol/Econ Erinn C. Reed for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: In a move aimed at currying the Djiboutian
vote resident in Somaliland, Mohamed Daoud Chehem, President
of the Djiboutian Party for Development (PDD), visited
Hargeisa, Somaliland 1 December. While in Hargeisa, Chehem
met with officials from Somaliland opposition party Kulmiye
to discuss Djiboutian presidential elections slated for April

2005. Chehem also gave an interview to reporters from the
Somaliland daily newspaper "Haatuf" following the meeting.
During the meeting, and announced in his interview, Chehem
stated the intention to recognize Somaliland should the
opposition win in April. News of Chehem's unilateral advance,
meeting with Somaliland opposition and interview with the
press created an uproar among the opposition coalition, Union
for Democratic Alternance (UAD). As a result, in a joint
meeting 5 December, UAD officials unanimously voted to
exclude PDD from the coalition. The opposition journal, La
Realite, called Chehem's actions a flagrant violation of
UAD's agreement to unanimity. Somaliland Foreign Minister
Ismail places little stock in the ability of PDD to be
victorious in a run for Djibouti's presidency. However, if it
did win, Somaliland would welcome recognition , in Ismail's
words, "with open arms." End Summary.

2. (U) A delegation from the Djiboutian opposition party
Djiboutian Party for Development (PDD) traveled to Hargeisa
at the invitation of Somaliland opposition party Kulmiye.
Mohamed Daoud Chehem, President of PDD, and Hassan Mohamed
Hassan, Vice president of PDD, met with the executive
committee of Kulmiye to discuss upcoming presidential
elections in Djibouti and a possible cooperation between the
two oppositions. The meeting was held behind closed doors,
but both sides spoke to the press afterward. In an interview
with Somaliland daily newspaper, Haatuf, Chehem stated if the
opposition won in April, Djibouti would recognize Somaliland
as an independent nation. Kulmiye officials said that they
support this declaration.

3. (U) The reaction to Chehem's statement among the
opposition parties at home in Djibouti was less than
enthusiastic. Chehem was landbasted for taking unilateral
actions and speaking in the name of UAD without consultation.
The leaders of the other three parties in UAD held a joint
meeting 5 December to discuss Chehem's actions. In a press
communiqu, the three leaders stated unanimously that PDD
would be excluded from the coalition. The leaders cited
repeated breaches of the UAD unanimity agreement, most
notably Chehem's "illegitimate" announcement for presidential
candidacy, as basis for the party's exclusion.

4. (U) In the 8 December edition of "La Realite", published
by the Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD), ARD said it
remains faithful to its former president Ahmed Dini Ahmed's
declaration in 1992 on recognition of Somaliland. However,
the current leaders of ARD said they would never assume that
the whole of UAD supported that statement without
consultation. The UAD would be weakened, the article
continued, by an individual interested in pursuing personal
gain and ready to betray the hopes of people.

5. (C) Somaliland FM, Edna Ismail, commenting to Ambassador
on the Kulmiye/PDD meeting, said it did not generate much
public resonance, but had also been raised with her by
President Guelleh. She said she believed that all know the
chances of victory for PDD are slim and much hope is not
placed on promises often made by campaigning politicians. "It
goes without saying, however, that if they win and they do
recognize Somaliland," she added, "we would welcome it with
open arms." (Comment: This comment, in jest, should not be
interpreted as an indication of support by Somaliland of the
PDD. End Comment.)

6. (C) Comment: Somaliland is closely tied to Djibouti
through its economy and border, but most importantly through
familial relationships. It is a common practice for
Djiboutians to retire to Somaliland because of their roots,
cost of living and climate. It is rumored that in past
elections the government authorities have managed vote
collecting operations in Somaliland. Some believe the
Government of Djibouti has given Somalilanders Djiboutian
National Identity Cards in return for a vote for the ruling
party. The actual number of Djiboutians living in Somaliland
is unknown, but estimated at around 2,500 persons - a large
number in terms of Djiboutian elections.

7. (C) Comment cont: PDD's goal is most likely aimed at
pulling votes away from RPP in Somaliland by offering
recognition, something Guelleh cannot promise without
stepping on the toes of several international partners. PDD's
actions, according to earlier conversations with Chehem (see
reftel), have been driven by the desire to divide the voting
population as much as possible to prevent Guelleh from
receiving a majority right off the bat. Chehem's talks with
Kulmiye on cooperation would help in this task, potentially
meaning Kulmiye would campaign for PDD among the Djiboutian
community in Somaliland.

8. (C) Comment cont: Chehem is not known as a charismatic or
popular individual in Djibouti. Information available to Post
does not indicate that Chehem would be a candidate likely or
able to attract the numbers necessary to defeat Guelleh. His
strategy in catering to the Somaliland votes and utilizing
cultural connections to divide the Djiboutian vote is
cunning, but it is too soon to say whether it will bear any
political fruit come April elections. End Comment.