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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05DJIBOUTI282 2005-03-18 09:31:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

FOREIGN MINISTER REAFFIRMS DESIRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Tags:   PREL PGOV PHUM EAID SCUL DJ 
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180931Z Mar 05
					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000282 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF AND AF/E
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS
STATE ALSO PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/18/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM EAID SCUL DJ
SUBJECT: FOREIGN MINISTER REAFFIRMS DESIRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
AND GOVERNANCE PROGRESS

REF: DJIBOUTI 212

Classified By: Ambassador Marguerita D. Ragsdale.
Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).



1. (C) Summary: Djibouti's Acting Foreign Minister expressed
concern to Ambassador March 16 about the content of the
current Human Rights Report for Djibouti, his fear the report
might put Djibouti in a negative light and his belief it
failed to mention the country's accomplishments in this
realm. On the upcoming presidential election, Youssuf
expressed his government's "disappointment" in the failure of
the opposition to put forward a candidate to oppose President
Guelleh, leaving in place a one-man race and creating an
undesirable situation for Djibouti's democratization efforts.
Now that Djibouti had made progress in education and health,
Youssuf said his government wishes to move toward total
judicial reform, as part of the path toward better
governance. Embassy Djibouti will work very closely with the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the next year as the
Ministry leads coordination of the government's progressive
efforts on both human rights and governance. End summary.



2. (C) On the margins of a conference March 16, billed by
Djibouti's Government as an effort to explain NEPAD to its
citizenry, Ambassador had a 25 minute personal aside with
Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mahmoud Ali Youssuf. The
Acting FM was concerned about the content of the current
Human Rights Report for Djibouti, expressing the view that
the report emphasized heavily incidents (proved or otherwise)
that put Djibouti in a negative light yet failed to
underscore events or activities that put Djibouti in a
positive light. He stressed that his country was making
progress in human rights and urged that we emphasize that
progress in our communications with Washington.



3. (C) Ambassador responded that the Embassy does highlight
Djibouti's positive efforts in human rights, both in the
report itself and in our general communications with
Washington. Djibouti's national conference on female genital
mutilation, including President Guelleh's unequivocal
denunciation of its practice and Djibouti's signing of the
Maputo Protocol, was a case in point. She noted that the
mechanism now established between the Embassy and the Foreign
Ministry for direct consultation on human rights/good
governance concerns, as requested by the Ministry, is now in
place and should further assist in this regard.



4. (C) On the upcoming presidential election, Ambassador
asked if there were still only a single candidate. Youssuf
confirmed and said it was not a desirable situation for
Djibouti's democratization efforts. He said he believes the
opposition should put forward a candidate. After all, the
opposition (combined) received 45 percent of the vote in the
last election and could very well win with a strong candidate.



5. (C) Ambassador noted that one of the complaints posed by
the opposition was a lack of true participation in the
political process. I also noted that Djibouti may wish in
the future to look closely at its system of representation in
the National Assembly. The current "winner takes all" system
in place does not give the opposition much of a voice.
(Note: Under the current system, the winning party takes ALL
seats in the National Assembly, regardless of proportion of
votes received. End note). Youssuf responded that his
government "is looking at this issue" and admitted it may
need to be improved. Yet he also repeated his view (reftel)
that the opposition needs to have a clear program of action
to present to the people, something it has thus far failed to
do. (Note: Youssuf's point is not without some substance.
The opposition has tended in Djibouti, as a matter of
practice, to attack all government actions rather than
proposing alternative courses of action. End note).



6. (C) The conversation then moved towards issues of good
governance. Youssuf said he believed a good judicial system
was key and that Djibouti's judicial system was in need of "a
top to bottom overhaul." "Now that we have been able to make
progress in education and in health," he told Ambassador, "we
want to move toward this direction." Ambassador stated that
if funding is available in the future for assistance to
Djibouti, together we might wish to focus on proposing
specific projects that could help Djibouti move forward in
this area.



7. (C) Comment: Both Youssuf and Djibouti's ambassador to
the U.S., Robleh Olhaye, have raised with Ambassador their
perception that an "inherent" bias against countries such as
Djibouti exists in some U.S. quarters with oversight of human
rights. We've tried to dispel this notion and will work very
closely with Djibouti over the next year on this and
governance issues. For starters, we have agreed to work with
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through our Pol/Econ
officer, to track and follow up on reports, allegations, and
verifiable instances of human rights violations and point out
governmental anomalies that may have permitted such
violations. In some instances, violations are less
deliberate policy than the result of internal governmental
shortfalls in the critical areas of judicial infrastructure,
inter-ministerial coordination, and human resource training.
In these three areas, Djibouti has critical needs. End
comment.
RAGSDALE