February Elections contested by Opposition
Djibouti’s opposition have been protesting against the government over what they claim were fraudulent elections. The government has responded with forceful repression. On February 22, Djibouti held landmark elections. For the first time since 2003, the country’s parliamentary elections were actively contested, and for the first time since independence opposition candidates won seats in the National Assembly. Despite this, however, the official announcement that President Omar Ismail Guelleh’s Union for a Presidential Majority (UMP) had won 43 of the 65 parliamentary seats triggered accusations of foul play. The opposition, led by a coalition of parties known as the Union for National Safety (USN), insisted that Guelleh’s apparent popularity at the polls was in stark contrast to his popularity on the streets – with ordinary Djiboutians increasingly suffering from poor standards of living, a faltering economy, and widespread human rights abuses – and organised protests against what they saw as fraudulent elections. The government responded with repression. Since the disputed election results were announced, hundreds of Djiboutians have been detained – including prominent leaders of the opposition – and at least six protestors have been killed.