Ismail Guelleh wins fourth term as Djibouti president


Ismail Omar Guelleh has won a fourth five-year term as president of Djibouti, an important country in the Horn of Africa. Guelleh, who ran on the UMP party ticket, secured 87 percent of the votes cast in Friday’s elections, according to provisional results announced by the country’s interior minister.

Guelleh, 68, also won the 2011 election with 80 percent of the vote after the country’s parliament altered the constitution to allow him to extend his rule.  Speaking on Saturday, Hassan Omar, the interior minister, said Omar Elmi Khaireh, the opposition coalition (USN) candidate, came second, with seven percent, or 9,400 of the 133,356 votes cast.

About 3,844 ballots were declared invalid. The remainder of the vote was split among three other candidates: Mohamed Daoud Chehem, also a USN coalition candidate, and independents Mohamed Ali Moussa, Hassan Idriss and Abdurahman Djama, Omar said. Opposition groups had complained of curbs on freedom of assembly in advance of the vote, while rights groups have denounced political repression and crackdowns on basic freedoms.

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Guelleh’s UMP, which has a tight grip on power, holds the majority of the seats in Djibouti’s parliament. The election win means Guelleh will continue to head the strategically important Horn of Africa country that hosts thousands of foreign troops in military bases. In power since 1999, he has overseen Djibouti’s economic rise as it seeks to position itself as an international port. Earlier, Guelleh was reported to be easily above the 50 percent threshold required to avoid a second-round of voting.



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