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  • The recent Djibouti elections have been a worse mess than usual Why ?

Because with 49.39% of the vote the opposition UNS got only 49 out of 65 MPs . It meant that the government had not felt strong enough either to rig in the good old way nor honest enough to admit that after it had come to such a split result it could not , in itself and by itself , credibly represent the nation . With their usual weakness for authoritarian regimes, the forty AU observers deemed the election to have been “free and fair”. Many leaders of the opposition , including its spokesman Daher Ahmed Farah  were immediately arrested . Not to provoke too much international anger they were quickly freed ……………..and re-arrested ! They are still struggling to get out of this mess , with new charges brought against them having nothing to do with the election .

In its usual controlled British way , Africa Confidential wrote (in vol.54 n° 5 . March 1st 2013) : “Ismail Omar is likely to use force to crush the protests but Djibouti’s strategic position combined with hosting the United States Camp Lemonnier and a French military base make strong international criticism unlikely”. The understatement of the year , I would say . But when the Islamist movement , which was very active during the election , comes out in the forefront , it might be too late to lament .