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05DJIBOUTI716 2005-07-27 09:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000716 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/21/2015


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

1. (C) Summary: In one of several conversations (septels to
follow) with the participants of the recent forum held to
discuss decentralization and the special status for Djibouti
City, Embassy spoke with the president of the newest
political party in Djibouti, Union for Reform Partisans
(UPR), Ibrahim Chehem Daoud. While the forum was attended by
only the parties in the government coalition, and one
non-aligned, independent party - UPR, there was a significant
and varied debate on several of the articles in the proposed
law. Daoud was appreciative of being offered the chance to
weigh-in on this law and felt this effort by the government
to include the population through political parties was a
step in the right direction. End Summary.

2. (C) The July 2-14 Decentralization Forum held in Djibouti
was a success, according to one of Djibouti's newest
political parties. The forum was organized by the Minister of
Interior, who personally invited all political parties to
discuss the proposed draft of the Special Statute for
Djibouti City. The President of the non-aligned political
party Union for Reform Partisans (UPR), Ibrahim Chehem Daoud
told Embassy the forum made great progress on the proposed
law, and that nearly 50 percent of the draft was changed in
some manner.

3. (C) Chehem said there were five main points contested and
amended. The first point was the manner in which the Mayor of
Djibouti City would be chosen. According to the original
draft, the Mayor would be appointed by the President of the
Republic. Government aligned parties and non-government
aligned parties alike opposed this. Chehem stated the parties
agreed it should be amended to have the Mayor of Djibouti
City chosen by election.

4. (C) The second contested point was the process of
selection of the Mayor of Djibouti. According to Chehem, the
final settlement was that selection of the Mayor would be by
indirect voting. In the new draft, the citizens of Djibouti
City will elect members to the Community Councils. Community
Councils will in turn elect the City Council, who will be the
elected officials to elect the Mayor of Djibouti City.

5. (C) The third point was naming of Community Councils.
Participants opposed the naming of Community Councils and
argued that councils should reflect the cultural diversity of
the areas they represent. Their preference was to use names
that are Somali or Afar, depending on the ethnicity of the

6. (C) The fourth point contested was candidate eligibility.
For community elections, the government's draft proposed that
candidates should only come from registered political
parties. Parties participating in the forum held the position
that independent candidates should have the right to run in
elections. According to Chehem, this was included in the many
amendments made by the forum.

7. (C) The final point contested was on control of central
administration. Control was originally designed to only be "a
priori." Participants in the forum amended this to be "a
posteriori" as well.

8. (C) Other amendments included reducing the deposit for
community electoral candidates from 350,000 DF ($1,977) to
250,000 DF ($1412) to make it easier for poorer political
parties to put forward candidates for office. Chehem
commented that the Government's attitude towards the
participants' requests was good. He added that it was obvious
that the current draft was coming directly from the
President. Chehem said whenever the participants of the forum
suggested a change, the Minister first consulted the
President before agreeing. He also said forum discussions
indicated that the type of proportionality used for the
winner in regional elections (majority winner gets half the
seats; other half gets assigned by proportional
representation according to votes) be a test for the
legislative elections in 2008.

9. (C) Chehem also said the political parties in Djibouti are
in need of training. He said if democracy in Djibouti is to
be anything aside from a concept for the rich, all parties
must be supported equally by the government. He added that
technical assistance is needed, saying he would like to have
seminars and tools for his party to learn to operate

10. (C) Comment: Chehem's UPR is the newest kid on the
political block. Created in May this year, Chehem has chosen
not to align his party with either the opposition or with the
government, even though its stance leans towards the
government. UPR's main constituencies are Obock, Tadjourah
and Djibouti City. From Chehem's commentary on the forum, it
appears the government is sincere in its desire to include
all political views in the creation of these important laws.
While the opposition has not yet made concrete statements on
the law, the parties that did participate in the forum seem
to have come away satisfied by the experience. Post will
continue to report on the results of the forum as it meets
with more of the participants. End Comment.