Djibouti President Guelleh re-elected with 98% provisional results

President Ismael Guelleh of Djibouti has been re-elected on Friday, extending his two-decade reign. 

According to provisional results, he won 98.58 percent of the vote, putting him in line for a fifth term. 

Guelleh is serving his final term, as a 2010 constitutional amendment raised the age limit to 75 and abolished term limits. 

Since Djibouti’s independence from France in 1977, Guelleh is the country’s second president. 

The 73-year-old was up against Zakaria Farah, a businessman who received fewer than 5,000 votes. 

Farah was outspoken in his criticism of his delegates’ absence from polling stations, implying that they had been barred from voting. 

On Friday, Ahmed Tidiane Souare, the head of the African Union (AU) observation mission, told reporters that his team had “not encountered any delegates” of the opposition in the polling stations visited, stressing that this was not a “obligation.” “Until then,” the former Guinean prime minister said, “everything is going well and calmly.”

The Constitutional Council will announce the final results shortly. 

Djibouti, which is bordered on the north by Somalia and on the south by Yemen, has remained stable in a turbulent region, attracting international military powers such as former colonial ruler France, the United States, and China to build bases there. 

However, as it has courted international interest, the nation has seen a deterioration of press freedom and a crackdown on dissent. 

Since assuming power, Guelleh and his extended family have ruled Djibouti with an iron fist. In 2020, a rare wave of opposition demonstrations was violently suppressed.

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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