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2005-07-11 08:49:00
Embassy Djibouti
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DJIBOUTI 000650 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/04/2015

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

1. (SBU) Summary: A national forum opened July 2 to debate
the draft legislation establishing a special status for the
capital, Djibouti City, within the context of Djibouti's
decentralization law passed in 2002. The ten-day forum,
hosted by Minister of Interior, Yacin Elmi Bouh, is open to
representatives of all recognized political parties, but
closed to the public at this time. Members of civil society
will reportedly have the opportunity to voice their opinions
in a later event. The heads of each political party received
a personally addressed invitation to the forum directly from
the Minister of Interior on June 16. At the opening session
of the forum only the four political parties of the Union for
Presidential Majority (UMP) coalition and the newest party,
Union of Reform Partisans (UPR), attended. Outcast opposition
party, Djiboutian Party for Democracy (PDD), boycotted -
demanding a full census and overhaul of Djibouti's electoral
lists. The three parties of the opposition coalition, Union
for Democratic Alternance (UAD), boycotted as well - saying
any negotiations on decentralization issues must first
address the reportedly incomplete implementation of the 2001
Peace Accord between the Government and the Armed Front for
the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). End Summary.

2. (SBU) Minister of Interior, Yacin Elmi Bouh, announced
June 20 to the Djiboutian public that a national forum would
be held on July 2nd to debate the draft legislation of the
special status of Djibouti City. This special status was one
of many criteria to be fulfilled in the 2002 Decentralization
Law, which outlined the need to distribute power among the
four existing districts and create a fifth additional
district. The legislation giving Djibouti City a special,
separate status from any of the districts will determine how
election for city and community councils will take place, how
the Council of Djibouti will govern, authorities and licenses
granted to the Council of Djibouti, how the head of the
Council of Djibouti is chosen, and what will make up the
City's budget.

3. (SBU) On June 16, each political party was sent a
personally addressed invitation from Minister Bouh to
participate in the forum. The invitation specified the forum
would take place on July 2, 2005 and each party could have a
maximum of 5 representatives in attendance. Accompanying the
invitation was a copy of the draft law of the special status
for Djibouti City. All parties would have the opportunity
during the forum to offer their amendments to the law and
debate all amendments among the parties. Minister Bouh's
invitation emphasized the Government's will to include the
parties in the creation of this important law, saying "we can
not leave the political parties on the outside of this
reform, in fact, on one hand they are unavoidable partners in
all society's projects, and on the other hand they make up
the only skilled instruments to work towards universal

4. (U) The three parties of the opposition coalition, UAD,
issued a press release on 25 June stating that it was
favorable to a dialogue on the implementation of the 2001
peace accords between the Government and the armed FRUD.
However, since the draft legislation for the special statute
for Djibouti City contained no reference to the peace
accords, the UAD did not see the interest in participating in
a forum it called a media stunt for a piece of legislation
unilaterally concocted and contrary to all decentralization.
On the other hand, the statement said the coalition would be
willing to contribute to a joint writing of the Capital's
statute. The press release also stated, regarding the
announcement of regional elections before the end of the
year, that no credible election could be organized without
the establishment of electoral transparency. The coalition
demanded that the government show political will to rapidly
implement the democratic climate in order to establish a
state of rights based on an independent and free justice; a
real electoral transparency containing the nine points
proposed by the UAD since May 2004; a true decentralization
based on the peace accords signed 12 May 2001 and starting
with organization of community elections; and the
organization of future legislative elections using a
proportional method of representation.

5. (C) The opposition party Djiboutian Democratic Party
(PDD), excommunicated from the UAD coalition as a result of
PDD's president going against the coalition boycott of
national elections by declaring himself a Presidential
candidate, sent a letter to the President and the Minister of
Interior informing that it would not participate in the forum
and demanding a complete revision of electoral lists before
any elections were organized. Embassy's sources in the
Ministry of Interior indicate that a revision in order to add
names has already started, but no mention of scrutinizing the
lists for deceased voters or voters from neighboring
countries - one of the main claims of electoral misconduct
made by all opposition parties - was made.

6. (U) The parties participating in the forum are the four
which comprise the Union for Presidential Majority (People's
Rally for Progress - RPP, Front for Restoration of Unity and
Democracy - FRUD, Djiboutian National Party - PND, and Social
Democrats Party - PSD) and the newest and unaligned party,
Union for Reform Partisans. According to the Djiboutian
Information Agency article on the forum, the first day of the
forum was dedicated to examining the laws currently in force.
The article also stated that many of the party leaders had
already submitted several proposed amendments to the draft
legislation. These amendments were for a different division
involving administrative autonomy and another division into
communities each with their own mayor - modeled after the
French system. Most of the amendments involved modifying the
judicial plan on two levels of decentralization - the region
and the community.

7. (C) Embassy obtained a copy of the draft legislation,
which was not made public, from one of the opposition
political parties. The legislation divides Djibouti City into
three urban districts or "communes": Ras-Dika, the northern
tip of the city and the commercial district; Boulaos,
currently the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quartiers; and Hayableh,
currently the 4th and 5th quartiers. The city's management
would be broken down to several Community Councils, the
Council of Djibouti, and the Executive of the Council of
Djibouti. Each urban district would form an electoral
circumscription. Voters registered in the current electoral
lists would determine the composition of each Community
Council. Each member of the Community Council would represent
1,000 registered voters, with Community Council members
elected to three year terms.

8. (C) Elections for community and city councils would give
50 percent of the seats to the list that wins an absolute
majority in the first round. The remaining seats would be
attributed proportionally among the other lists that obtain
more than 5 percent of the vote. Each party that submits a
list for community or city council will have to pay a deposit
of 350,000 DF (approx. 1,977 USD), which will be reimbursed
if the list receive 5 percent of the ballot.

9. (C) Community councils would have authority to manage
social, cultural and sports equipment of the district, Open
public tenders, Public works, Occupation of public domain,
and temporary authorization of land use. The President of
each Community council would have specific authority to
control the civil state, authorization of construction,
student enrollment, school properties, exams for primary and
college levels, community budget management, and the
presidency of the customary first-degree court.

10. (C) The Council of Djibouti would be made up of members
elected by Community Counsels with the following proportions:
5 representatives from Ras Dika, 20 from Boulaos, and 10 from
Hayableh. The city council would have authority to control
programs and projects for Djibouti City; budgets and accounts
for the Community Councils and Djibouti City, to protect the
environment, maintain public works and property, accept or
refuse donations, maintain common equipment belonging to the
Council, tax institutions as defined by law, and cooperation
with other communities. The Council of Djibouti would not
have any authority over national defense, international
diplomacy, money, justice, or national taxation. The Council
would however be able to request humanitarian, economic,
social and cultural assistance from foreign organizations.
The Mayor of Djibouti would be appointed by Presidential
Decree. The budget of the Council of Djibouti would be
composed of donations and transfers from the State, tax
resources, participation of other regions, and taxation of
other services rendered.

11. (C) Comment: Regardless of the opposition's boycott of
this forum, Post sees this move by the government as a good
faith gesture and a show of political will to include those
parties that are not a part of the National Assembly.
Moreover, the opportunity for the Government and the
opposition coalition to dialogue still exists. Post has also
heard that even among the majority coalition there is
significant disagreement with the way the draft legislation
handles regional versus community authority.