Politics of Djibouti

Politics of Djibouti

Politics of Djibouti takes place in a framework of a semi-presidential republic. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The party system is dominated by the conservative People's Rally for Progress. The parliamentary party system is dominated by the People's Rally for Progress and the current President is Ismail Omar Guelleh. The country's current constitution was approved in September 1992. Djibouti is a one party dominant state with the People's Rally for Progress in power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.

In 1981, Hassan Gouled Aptidon was elected as President of Djibouti. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second 6-year term in April 1987 and to a third 6-year term in May 1993 multiparty elections. The electorate approved the current constitution in September 1992. Many laws and decrees from before independence remain in effect.

In early 1992, the government decided to permit multiple party politics and agreed to the registration of four political parties. By the time of the national assembly elections in December 1992, only three had qualified. They are the "Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres" (People's Rally for Progress) (RPP) which was the only legal party from 1981 until 1992, the "Parti du Renouveau Democratique" (The Party for Democratic Renewal) (PRD), and the "Parti National Democratique" (National Democratic Party) (PND). Only the RPP and the PRD contested the national assembly elections, and the PND withdrew, claiming that there were too many unanswered questions on the conduct of the elections and too many opportunities for hiy, with a turnout of less than 50% of the electorate.

In 1999, President Hassan Gouled Aptidon's chief of staff, head of security, and key advisor for over 20 years, Ismail Omar Guelleh was elected to the Presidency as the RPP candidate. He received 74% of the vote, the other 26% going to opposition candidate Moussa Ahmed Idriss, of the Unified Djiboutian Opposition (ODU). For the first time since independence, no group boycotted the election. Moussa Ahmed Idriss and the ODU later challenged the results based on election "irregularities" and the assertion that "foreigners" had voted in various districts of the capital; however, international and locally based observers considered the election to be generally fair, and cited only minor technical difficulties. Ismail Omar Guelleh took the oath of office as the second President of the Republic of Djibouti on May 8, 1999, with the support of an alliance between the RPP and the government-recognized section of the Afar-led FRUD.

Currently, political power is shared by a Somali president and an Afar prime minister, with cabinet posts roughly divided. However, it is the Issas who presently dominate the government, civil service, and the ruling party, a situation that has bred resentment and political competition between the Somali Issas and the Afars.

In early November 1991, civil war erupted in Djibouti between the government and a predominantly Afar rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD). The FRUD signed a peace accord with the government in December 1994, ending the conflict. Two FRUD members were made cabinet members, and in the presidential elections of 1999 the FRUD campaigned in support of the RPP. In February 2000, another branch of FRUD signed a peace accord with the government.

On 12 May 2001, President Ismail Omar Guelleh presided over the signing of what is termed the final peace accord officially ending the decade-long civil war between the government and the armed faction of the FRUD. The peace accord successfully completed the peace process begun on 7 February 2000 in Paris. Ahmed Dini Ahmed represented the FRUD.

Djibouti has its own armed forces, including a small army, which has grown significantly since the start of the civil war. In recent years the armed force has downsized and with the peace accord with the FRUD in 2001, the armed forces are expected to continue its downsizing. The country's security also is supplemented by a special security arrangement with the Government of France. France maintains one of its largest military bases outside France in Djibouti. There are some 2,600 French troops, which includes a unit of the French Foreign Legion, the 13th Foreign Legion Demi-Brigade, stationed in Djibouti.

The right to own property is respected in Djibouti. The government has reorganized the labor unions. While there have been open elections of union leaders, the Government of Djibouti is working with the ILO to hold new elections.

Although women in Djibouti enjoy a higher public status than in many other Islamic countries, women's rights and family planning face difficult challenges, many stemming from poverty. Few women hold senior positions. Education of girls still lags behind boys and, because of the high unemployment rate, employment opportunities are better for male applicants.

Ismail Omar Guelleh
8 May 1999
Prime Minister
Dileita Mohamed Dileita
4 March 2001

The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term. The prime minister is appointed by the president and the Council of Ministers is responsible to the president.

Legislative branch

The National Assembly ("Assemblée Nationale") has 65 members, 33 Issa and 32 Afar, elected for a five year term in multi-seat (4 to 37 seats) constituencies.

Political parties and elections

Judicial branch

Supreme Court or Cour Supreme

Administrative divisions

Djibouti is divided in 5 districts (cercles, singular - cercle); 'Ali Sabih, Dikhil, Djibouti, Obock, Tadjoura.

International organization participation

Intelsat (nonsignatory user),

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