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Constitutional Amendment Could Undermine Djibouti’s Peace and Security, Opposition Figure Says

  • Peter Clottey

Djibouti's national army

Djibouti's national army

An independent presidential candidate says Djibouti could be plunged into chaos if President Ismail Omar Guelleh changes the constitution that extends his mandate which is due to expire ahead of the April 2011 general election.

An independent presidential candidate says Djibouti could be plunged into chaos if President Ismail Omar Guelleh changes the constitution that extends his mandate which is due to expire ahead of the April 2011 general election.

Abdirahman Boreh said opposition parties are in negotiations to form a coalition to challenge the ruling People’s Rally for Progress (RPP) in the vote.

“Our constitution states clearly that there should be a referendum. Secondly, if it is democracy you know you can change the constitution (on) minor things but you cannot change the fact that we have two terms election for the (presidential) terms. If the people cannot take back the power from the government and chose their own president, then there is no democracy,” he said.

President Guelleh was quoted as saying the people of Djibouti are demanding a change to the constitution which will extend presidential term limits.

"This is a demand from our population and this will be next year. Let us wait for the outcome of the national commission that is working on the subject,” President Guelleh was quoted as saying.

But Boreh claims the people of Djibouti are despondent under President Guelleh’s leadership.

“You have studies made by the UN; you have got studies by the World Food Program, the Red Cross, USAID, showing exactly the level of poverty the level of unemployment, the anxiety in Djibouti (and) the instability that is developing because people are unhappy,” Boreh said.

Under Djibouti’s 1992 constitution, 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.

The constitution, which was approved by the electorate in September 1992, maintained many laws and decrees from before independence.

Political observers say the ruling RPP party tightly controls Djibouti’s political activities despite the recent constitution that legalized opposition political parties.

Boreh said the opposition parties will soon form a coalition to challenge the ruling RPP in next year’s vote.

“It’s (discussion) is very advanced. There are already three political parties, which came together (and) there are two more coming. There would be five out of the existing eight parties which are now in Djibouti,” Boreh said.

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