|05DJIBOUTI212||2005-03-02 04:31:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Djibouti|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. 020431Z Mar 05
1. (C) Summary: Ambassador met with Acting Foreign Minister,
Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, at her request February 23 to discuss
several issues, among them good governance, elections, and
Djibouti's quest to become eligible for the Millennium
Challenge Account. Youssouf said regarding good governance,
Djibouti was concerned on the political side. He said the
Government was doing the best it could to develop a political
process with a good opposition and with transparent
elections. Youssouf discussed at length the opposition and
its refusal to participate in upcoming presidential elections
in April. He emphasized that the Government had told the
opposition from the beginning that its participation and
opinions were welcomed. Youssouf also addressed the issues of
developing the infrastructure of the political system,
government willingness to change, and Djibouti's hope for new
ideas from the opposition. End Summary.
2. (C) Regarding good governance, Youssouf said the
Government was concerned when it came to the political
system. He said Djibouti is trying its best to develop a
political process that has a good opposition and transparent
elections. The opposition had not declared a candidate.
Nonetheless, the Government had information that indicated
the opposition coalition, Union for Democratic Alternance
(UAD), was preparing the necessary paperwork for its
President Ismail Guedi Hared to be declared a candidate.
Youssouf continued that at the moment there was only one
official opposition candidate, Mohamed Daoud Chehem, who had
been kicked out of UAD for his declaration of candidacy. He
said he had also been informed of at least one independent
candidate. However, up to that point the other candidates had
not sent their representatives to the National Independent
Electoral Commission (CENI).
3. (C) Youssouf noted that the Minister of Interior had
appeared on television two nights before requesting the
opposition to come verify electoral lists. He said the
Minister of Interior wants them to be a part of the CENI.
Youssouf emphasized the Government had told the opposition,
it was welcome from the beginning to the end of the process.
It seemed the opposition was not showing all its cards. He
added the Government had requested observers from the United
Nations, U.S., European Union, Francophone countries, African
Union, and Arab league. He asked "what more can we do than
that?" Youssouf stated the lists for candidacy would remain
open until one month prior to the election, March 8th.
4. (C) Ambassador commented that Djibouti also had work to do
on the infrastructure of its political system. She added in
light of its pursuit for Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)
eligibility, Djibouti would have to integrate its citizens
into the process of decision making. Ambassador also noted
the interest expressed by MFA Director of Bilateral Affairs,
Mohamed Ali Hassan, in opening a dialogue with the Embassy on
remedying problems cited in the U.S. Human Rights Report on
Djibouti. Youssouf responded the Government is ready and
willing to accept suggestions on how to improve Government's
practices. He added that the Embassy would find the
Government's response to change to be "yes," while the
opposition would be those constantly saying "no" to
proposals. He described the opposition as very weak and in
need of a leader. Youssouf said "You have to keep in mind
that all of the opposition leaders have been part of the
government at one point in the past." Youssouf then stated
the country had gone from bad to worse under these
individuals until President Guelleh came to power and
everything began to change, slowly, but change nonetheless.
Youssouf said that while the Government could be accused of
not changing fast enough, it could not be accused of
5. (C) Ambassador pointed out the importance of giving
citizens, whether opposition or government-allied, a platform
from which they could speak their minds and the right to do
so without fear of imprisonment. Youssouf responded that in
the realm of elections, once the campaign starts both sides
will have equal time allotted on television and radio. He
added that citizens can meet at any time, anywhere to discuss
their opinions and "we are waiting for their new ideas."
6. (C) Comment: Post believes that there appears to be
political desire and political will within the highest ranks
of the Government to change the manner in which the
administration governs. There does not seem to be a desire or
will among the opposition to accept any perspective of the
Government other than as persecutor. The opposition is
reduced to merely complaining that it is not in power, rather
than presenting actual alternatives to Government practices.
Embassy has established a Country Team focus group to look
more closely at democratization, human rights and Djibouti
and to dialogue with the MFA on these and other political
integration issues. End Comment.