Concerns Over Djibouti's Electoral Integrity Grow
Djibouti’s main opposition have long been suspicious of national elections. In 2016 they boycotted the presidential elections and last week the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development announced it would not participate in legislative elections scheduled for Friday 23rd.
The leader of MRD has stated that ‘In Djibouti, there is a problem of legitimacy, of democratic legitimacy, of parliamentary legitimacy, because elections are never free and fair.’ The deal brokered in 2014 to establish an independent electoral commission is yet to come to the fore and without an autonomous body overseeing voting the MRD are rightly concerned over the integrity of any elections. Many within the country feel their push for democratic reform has come up short, and in 2018 the government continue to suppress dissent and stifle the press.
Djibouti is one of many Africa country’s claiming democratic status despite having largely arbitrary presidential terms. Although officially the Presidential term is 6 years the current president, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, has held office for nearly two decades, making him one of Africa’s longest serving leaders. He succeeded his uncle, who led for 22 years following independence from French colonial rule.
This morning it was been announced that Guelleh’s ruling party has claimed a ‘resounding victory’ in Friday’s boycotted elections – taking 90% of the seats.