|05DJIBOUTI213||2005-03-02 04:34:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Djibouti|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (U) The February 27th evening news in Djibouti launched an
open appeal to Djiboutians to be candidates in the upcoming
Presidential elections, currently scheduled for April 8th.
The news announced, "It is now official, if there are male or
female Djiboutian candidates who would like to partake in the
Presidential elections, it is high time they did it. They
only have to register as candidates before March 8th,
midnight." This development follows press releases issued by
the opposition party, Djiboutian Party for Development (PDD),
"clarifying" their leader's supposed candidacy.
2. (C) Rumors surround Mohamed Daoud Chehem, who in the Fall
of 2004 announced that he would run as his party's candidate
in Djibouti's 2005 Presidential elections. A press release
issued February 21, 2005 by the party's Secretary General
denied any involvement by PDD members or leaders in the
previous day's swearing in of the National Independent
Electoral Commission (CENI) and clarified that PDD had not
yet held a congress to decide its position regarding the
elections. According to word on the street, Chehem is no
longer in Djibouti, and it is unclear whether he intends to
return. One rumor indicated that Chehem went to Europe with
his family and did not plan to come back to Djibouti. Other
rumors indicated he was in Europe on activities related to
his candidacy. PDD is apparently split between factions that
support Chehem's candidacy and those that want him to rejoin
the opposition coalition and boycott the election.
3. (U) Contrary to the PDD press release of February 21, the
government-run newspaper, La Nation, ran a small article
February 28 with the title of "PDD confirms its participation
in the presidential elections of 2005." The article continued
that Chehem clarified his position in a February 14th press
release stating the PDD would participate in the upcoming
elections "to show its good will towards international
opinion." It also stated that Chehem would be campaigning
among the Djiboutian diaspora in Europe, the United States,
and Canada in order to curry electoral and financial support.
Chehem's statement to the press said his travels through
Europe would focus on explaining to the diaspora the reasons
for his candidacy in the coming elections.
4. (C) Comment: With the public announcement, it appears the
Government is desperately seeking a candidate to run for
President against the incumbent, Ismail Omar Guelleh. It is
post's opinion that this is to make the elections more
palatable to the international community as open, free and
fair. Post is unsure whether Chehem will actually run
considering the rift his candidacy has caused within his own
party. The fact that La Nation printed a positive article
regarding Chehem's supposed candidacy could indicate that
there is some truth to rumors that the Government is backing
Chehem in order to ensure a multi-candidate race. End Comment.