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05DJIBOUTI379 2005-04-17 11:38:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000379 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/14/2015

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

1. (C) Pol/Econ received a courtesy call on April 12th from
Ahmed Idriss, President of the Movement for Equality and
Liberty (MEL), a political party in the process of forming.
MEL has apparently tried to form a legal, recognized party in
2002 but was turned down. Idriss stated that he sent a letter
regarding the party's new request for official recognition on
January 3, 2005 to the Procurer of the Republic and received
an "okay" for creation of the party after elections. Idriss
said the party has also submitted an application for the
right to publish a journal. He did not say when official
recognition of the party was supposed to be granted. Idriss
said the party will hold preparatory congresses soon to
attract members from the country's population.

2. (C) He explained that he was calling on the Embassy to
establish contact with the Embassy, to give the U.S.
political knowledge of the party and to ask for U.S.
assistance in the political development of Djibouti. Idriss
said the party's goal was not to align with the government or
the opposition, but to be a third, independent voice in
Djiboutian politics. He stated the political platform of the
party is to install political freedom, economic security and
social equality. In response to Pol/Econ's question as to how
the party aimed to accomplish this task, Idriss said the road
to these goals was long and required small steps. First, the
people must talk amongst themselves and be aware of the
political process. Second, the government must consult with
the people before making laws. Idriss also commented the
political system inherited from colonialism has been a major
obstacle to the development of Djibouti. He said the system
should be changed, but it cannot change all at once.

3. (C) Pol/Econ asked what Idriss thought were the three most
vital changes needed for the political development of
Djibouti. Idriss said 1) There must be participation and an
opening of the political system without conditions; 2) There
must be an organization to help reintegrate people into the
economic system, thus preparing for modernization and
globalization; and 3) There must be freedom of the press
which reflects the positions of Djiboutians.

4. (C) Comment: Pol/Econ was particularly struck by Idriss's
absolute refusal to have any conversation with Embassy FSNs.
At first, the meeting included FSN Econ Assistant as note
taker and translator if needed, as is normal for many
first-time meetings when it is not known if French or Somali
is preferred by the visitor. Idriss balked at the idea of
having a Djiboutian not from his own party be translator. He
said if a translator is needed, he would call someone from
his party that knew English very well. After Econ Asst left,
Idriss was very open about everything to do with his party
and even his tribal origins. At the end of the meeting,
Pol/Econ thanked Idriss for the visit and commented in
passing that she could be reached at the Embassy or a message
could be left with her staff if she was not in. Again Idriss
refused all contact with Embassy FSNs saying, "There is no
reasons to create intermediaries between us, if we meet again
I will contact you directly or you may contact me. I would
also ask that all further meetings not be held at the

5. (C) Comment cont.: Suspicion of fellow Djiboutians of
other clans is the norm in Djibouti, but the level shown by
Idriss is surprising. Many opposition members have told us
they are continually followed, but still prefer to hold
meetings in the Embassy, where they know they can speak
freely. Others have told us they believed some FSN members
are spies for the Government of Djibouti. Still, Idriss's
reaction is puzzling given that political contacts from the
opposition or any other party have not had a problem in
general being contacted by Embassy FSNs to set appointments,
even when they meet with Embassy Americans alone.

6. (C) Comment cont./Bio data: Ahmed Idriss is an Issa from
the sub-clan Horone. According to Idriss, the Horone are
known as fishermen and fish sellers and inhabit the southern
coastline of Djibouti. This sub-clan is known by other Issas
to be more independent, difficult to deal with and to have
problems with all other Issa sub-clans. This characterization
might account for Idriss's refusal to speak with Embassy
FSNs. Pol/Econ does not yet have much information on Idriss's
background or party, but will continue to follow whether the
party he described is officially recognized and the extent of
its membership. End Comment.