Djibouti 2002

Yearbook 2002

Djibouti. According to Countryaah website, national day of Djibouti is every June 27. Former Police Chief General Yacin Yabeh Galab was sentenced in June to 15 years in prison for participating in a coup attempt at the end of 2000. An additional eleven police officers were sentenced at the same time.

Djibouti Border Countries Map

President Ismail Umar Guelleh said in a speech on September 4 that Djibouti was moving towards a full multi-party system when the ban on more than four permitted parties had been abolished.

In January, it was announced that German ships would patrol the Red Sea off the coast of Djibouti. The United States announced in early November that a military command center would be set up in Djibouti with the task of monitoring suspected militant groups such as al-Qaeda.

History

The tension that since the colonial era opposed the two main ethnic groups of the country, the Issa and the Afar, remained alive even after independence. In fact, the constitution of an authoritarian regime, led by H. Gouled Aptidon, ISSA leader, effectively sanctioned the economic and political dominance of this ethnic group, even if some Afar exponents found a place in the governing bodies of the regime. This situation fueled the discontent of the Afar, more affected by unemployment and poverty, while the flow of refugees from neighboring states (Ethiopia and Somalia) further aggravated the difficult economic and social conditions of the country, heavily backward and dependent on international aid, especially French. Since the late 1980s, while the Front pour la restauration de l’unité et de la démocratie (FRUD), an expression above all of the Afar ethnic group, contributed to determining, even for Djibouti, a situation of profound crisis. Moreover, even after the signing of a peace agreement (December 1994) between the government and the insurgents, the country continued to be affected by strong political and social tensions.

In 1992, in the face of serious instability in the country and in response to pressure exerted by France, Djibouti’s main economic and political partner, President Gouled Aptidon introduced limited measures to democratize the political system: a new multi-party constitution was approved in September, but it was contested by the opposition forces, opposed to the excessive power that the new text attributed to the president.

Most of the opposition then boycotted the elections of the following December, which saw the participation, in addition to the Rassemblement populaire pour le progrès (RPP), the former single party to which all 65 seats of the new National Assembly went, of a single force of opposition, the Parti du renouveau démocratique (PRD), which denounced the conduct of the consultations as irregular. Also imposed in the presidential elections of March 1993, Gouled Aptidon promoted a new war effort to crush the FRUD guerrillas, which since 1992 controlled the northern section of the small state.

Gouled Aptidon’s uncompromising stance put him at odds with France, which was in favor of opening negotiations between the government and insurgents. The economic pressures exerted by Paris finally pushed the government to sign the agreement of December 1994 with the FRUD; in addition to the start of a process of administrative decentralization and a more equitable distribution of power among the different ethnic groups, the agreement established the integration of a part of the FRUD military forces into the national army and entry into the executive (which occurred in June 1995) by members of the same FRUD, which was transformed in March 1996in political party. Later, the government attempted to address the country’s difficult economic situation by launching drastic austerity measures, contested by the unions with a series of protests, often degenerated into clashes with the police. The presence of over 25,000 refugees, most of them Somalis, and the difficulties associated with the repatriation of the approximately 10,000 residents of Djibouti, who had taken refuge in Ethiopia in previous years to escape the civil war, also contributed to maintaining the precarious economic conditions of the country. The legislative elections of December 1997 recorded a landslide victory for the government forces (RPP and FRUD), which won all seats (65) of the single-chamber parliament. The only two legally recognized opposition forces, the PRD and the Parti national démocratique (PND), despite taking part in the consultations, did not get any seats. In the presidential elections of April 1999, Ismael Omar Guelleh, the RPP candidate supported by the outgoing president Gouled Aptidon, in office since 1997, won with 74.4 % of the votes.