Djiboutian opposition parties to contest parliamentary elections

By Harbi Abdillahi Omar in Djibouti

January 23, 2013

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Three main opposition parties in Djibouti -- the Republican Alliance for Development, the Djibouti Party for Development and the National Democratic Party -- are preparing to take part in next month's legislative elections under the banner of a new political bloc known as the Holy Union for Change (USC).

  • Djiboutians cast their votes on April 8, 2011 in presidential elections that returned Ismail Omar Guelleh to power. Opposition parties boycotted that election as they did in the 2008 parliamentary one. [Simon Maina/AFP]

    Djiboutians cast their votes on April 8, 2011 in presidential elections that returned Ismail Omar Guelleh to power. Opposition parties boycotted that election as they did in the 2008 parliamentary one. [Simon Maina/AFP]

"After intensive discussions, the opposition bloc, which has been joined by movements and independent figures, has formed a coalition to bring a 10-year political boycott to an end," a USC statement said last month.

The ruling coalition, Union for a Presidential Majority (UMP), which has been in power for a decade, included the People's Rally for Progress, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy, the Union of Reform Partisans and the Social Democratic Party. This year, UMP will also include the Authentic National Democratic Party, which comprises members of the National Democratic Party who split from the opposition, and a few other small parties.

Nonetheless, Abdoulkarim Mahamoud, a founding member of the Djibouti Party for Development, said this year the opposition would be more successful.

"The Djiboutian opposition is more determined than ever to take part in and win the legislative elections on February 22nd," he told Sabahi. "By forming an alliance, the opposition parties have a strong chance of winning these elections."

"To strengthen itself in the short term, the USC plans to expand to absorb all other opposition parties and figures," he said. "When this stage is complete, the coalition will announce its campaign structures, charter and leaders."

As a portent of the opposition's increasing momentum, renowned opposition leader Daher Ahmed Farah returned to Djibouti on January 13th after 10 years in exile in Belgium to join the USC coalition and lend his voice as its spokesman, said Mahamoud.

Before his self-imposed exile, Farah led the now defunct Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development party, which had consistently criticised the Djiboutian government and demanded President Ismail Omar Guelleh step down.

Mahamoud said Farah's arrival would enable the USC to take on the UMP coalition more effectively.

Hassan Abdillahi, a member of the Authentic National Democratic Party, said the UMP is not worried about the Djiboutian opposition.

"The opposition suffers from lack of leadership, this alliance is a façade," he told Sabahi. "Because of a 10-year absence from the political scene, they no longer have legitimacy or political credibility."

"[The UMP] is now stronger than ever," Abdillahi said. "With no credible political manifesto, there is little chance this opposition can beat the UMP."

New electoral system favours opposition

For 35 years, the Djiboutian parliament has been chosen by a majority list system in which the majority party fills all seats in the parliament -- a system the opposition has continually opposed. In November last year, however, the government approved the replacement of the majority list system with a mixed-list system in which up to 20% of the seats will be awarded proportionally.

"There will be joint lists within the USC and all parties will be free to propose candidates," said Abdoulkader Hamadou, a member of the Republican Alliance for Development. "The different opposition parties will then choose from among these candidates those who are best qualified to represent us and give us a presence in the country's 65 electoral districts."

The opposition parties have until January 24th to announce their candidates and until February 14th to finalise their lists to be approved by the government.

"Although we cannot rule out a last-minute manoeuvre by the government, I am confident that the opposition will win," Hamadou told Sabahi.

A number of parties still do not have formal approval to run in the elections, such as the Rally for Action on Democracy and Development (RADD) and the Movement for Development and Liberty (MODEL).

RADD, whose members come from civil society, caused an upset by beating the ruling coalition in municipal elections on February 10th last year. The party is currently led by the mayor of the capital, Abdourahman Mohamed Guelleh.

MODEL is regarded as a moderate Islamist party. Led by Sheikh Guirreh Meidal and with well-known sheikhs such as Abdourahman Bashir among its members, it too has yet to receive formal approval from the Ministry of the Interior.

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Reader's Comments

  • omar fadoul
    March 26, 2013 @ 11:58:00AM

    I thing the our country will be bettre with ump and good like the ather partie

  • xussen
    February 24, 2013 @ 01:11:26PM

    I think it is not a legal vote.

  • mahad
    February 13, 2013 @ 12:29:10PM

    My brothers, may God bless this one because people are tired and they need change. May God make it a blessed one, God willing.

  • mohamed amin
    February 11, 2013 @ 11:42:12AM

    First, I would like to thank God. Secondly, I would like to salute all the workers of this site. In my view, I see the government has a positive step which has off late seen the government remove sanction on opposition and I support. Thirdly, I would like to advise the people of Djibouti to consider anyone who will protect them both in this world and in hereafter. Today, our people here in Djibouti are poor in terms of tradition, religion and other secular education as compared to other places. Therefore I would like to advise you to elect people who have lived in different countries; the most notable being clerics like Sheikh Abdirahman with his party. They are people who can be trusted. Our prophet (Peace be upon him) has in his will told us to follow and support people who are trustworthy and who knows the book of God. Thank you.

  • deeqsan hassan
    February 9, 2013 @ 04:39:09AM

    Peace on you. Thanks for the detailed way you wrote the news to us as a writer. I pray to God to make the best man to be our leader. We say May God make the God fearing man our leader, oh God.

  • salah ali abdi
    February 8, 2013 @ 03:12:59PM

    In my view, our country can be developed by the community and the youth of Djibouti and not by either a party or government.

  • moussa
    February 7, 2013 @ 06:46:28PM

    RPP doesnt has face talk about their civil because of they are liar no one support them the people tired of their liar i hope that opposition will win

  • Hassan
    February 2, 2013 @ 02:48:32PM

    DJIBOUTI is not yet ready for change; And the country is a place where RPP does what it wants and these makes it a difficult place to live in if the public fails to force out Ismail Omar Guelleh.

  • waberi
    February 1, 2013 @ 11:11:42AM

    There are yet more information to write, so give us more updates about Djibouti.

  • mohamed
    January 29, 2013 @ 09:18:44AM

    This information is really wonderful because it carries a lot. We are also requesting from them to send the lists.

  • maxamed dayib
    January 28, 2013 @ 09:38:28AM

    It is very important for the opposition to participate and I support it. I am Mohamed Dayib and I wish you success.

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