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05DJIBOUTI317 2005-04-05 05:36:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
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050536Z Apr 05
					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000317 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2015


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

1. (C) Summary: With four days until polls open for the 2005
presidential election, the election climate is beginning to
get interesting. Guelleh's campaign, as single candidate,
proceeds with few disturbances or protests from the
opposition or the population. The atmosphere in Djibouti is
still one of slight apprehension due to opposition calls for
protests on election day. In response to these calls for
action from the opposition journals, the Minister of Interior
has released a statement in the national press warning the
opposition against disturbing the electoral process and
asking the people to respect democracy. Amidst all this, La
Nation's March 30th edition included an announcement that
Farah Ali Waberi, Secretary General of the opposition party
Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), has resigned due to a
disagreement with his party's leader, Ismail Guedi Hared -
who is also the current opposition coalition leader,
regarding Hared's decision not to dialogue with the
government. End Summary.

2. (C) La Nation's March 30th edition, a BBC report of March
31 and Embassy sources report that Farah Ali Waberi resigned
his post as Secretary General of the opposition party Union
for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) due to disagreement with his
party's leader, Ismail Guedi Hared - also the opposition
coalition leader. According to La Nation, Waberi stated in an
interview with Radio Television Djibouti that Hared had
written to President Guelleh requesting that Guelleh meet
with the leaders of the three opposition parties that make up
the Union for Democratic Alternance (UAD). Waberi then stated
that two days after the request, President Guelleh agreed but
Hared did not respond, which Waberi said was "inexplicable."
Waberi continued that Hared was wrong in refusing the meeting
that he had personally requested. La Nation's writers called
the move by Waberi "a hard blow that widens a cut the
opposition has already started with a profound internal
crisis." BBC report of the event stated that Waberi "believes
the absence of the opposition at the upcoming elections is a
pity." No opposition journals have yet responded to the La

3. (C) In the same edition of La Nation, the Minister of
Interior released a public statement explaining electoral
regulations concerning campaign gatherings, authorized
stances for boycotts and warning against demonstrating on
election day. (Note: The Minister's statement in La Nation
covered virtually the same points as in Ambassador's
conversation in reftel. End Note.) The Minister's statement
outlined the following as the only authorized positions for a
boycott: 1) To participate or not in the elections, 2) In the
case where abstention has been recommended, this party can
invite its members and sympathizers to not vote, 3) The party
can invite its members and sympathizers to give their vote
for X candidate, or 4) The party can advise its members and
sympathizers to do as they wish without orders from the
party. The Minister then stated "All other demarches, in
particular invitations to demonstrate that could disturb the
campaign, the voting or in a general manner the public order
are measures liable to a condemnation by the courts in
accordance with the laws in practice." The statement
continued that if there are protests, the organizers and
silent partners of the protest will be taken to court. The
Minister then appealed to the people's sense of intelligence
and understanding, aiming the appeal at the opposition
leaders, to respect democracy and keep the campaign and
election day calm as it has been in the past. The statement
ended with "I invite you to maintain your boycott, as is your
choice. I respect this decision in accordance with democratic
rules, but nonetheless I invite you to avoid all actions that
might disturb the electoral campaign, the vote, or the public

4. (C) To date, there have been very few protests regarding
the election or the Guelleh campaign. On March 26th, a
protest followed Guelleh's campaign rally at the village of
Doraleh in which the residents expressed their discontent
with the lack of jobs at Doraleh port. According to
unconfirmed statements from Embassy sources Guelleh and
Abdourahman Boreh, one of the businessmen involved in the
Doraleh venture, visited the following day and told the
population that they would get what they want. On March 27th
a protest reportedly took place involving Pole University
students who claim their fellow students studying on
government scholarships overseas had not received their
stipends in several months. (Note: Although this protest was
not directly related to the election, many in Djibouti
believe that, during the campaign, protest demands are more
likely to be met. End Note.)

5. (C) Also on March 27th a protest took place by high school
students wanting the date of the "practice" Baccalaureate
exam moved to an earlier date. According to the opposition
journal Le Renouveau, the Minister of Education announced on
the radio that night that the practice exam would be moved.
There were reports that during this protest an opposition
party member, Houssein Robleh Dabar, was arrested. According
to the opposition journals Realite and Le Renouveau, the
arrest was prompted by his being affiliated with the
opposition and near the protest. The journals both state that
Dabar was held for 48 hours at the Central Commissariat of
the Police before being taken before the procurer and
subsequently being sent to Gabode Prison. There have been no
reports of the length of his sentence. In a call to the
Criminal Brigade to inquire into the charges and the veracity
of the journals claims, Embassy learned that Dabar was
charged with "Degradation of the well-being of others and
violence." He was arrested, ostensibly, for throwing stones
at cars and houses, including the residence of Aden Robleh
Awaleh, President of the Djiboutian National Party (PND), a
majority coalition party. Embassy has not yet found
independent confirmation of the allegation.