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Djibouti President Sworn In for Fourth Term in Office


Djibouti's President Ismael Guelleh inspects a guard of honour during his inauguration on May 8, 2016 in Djibouti after his fourth re-election.

Djibouti's President Ismael Guelleh inspects a guard of honour during his inauguration on May 8, 2016 in Djibouti after his fourth re-election.

Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh was sworn in for a fourth term in office Sunday in a ceremony attended by several regional heads of states and dignitaries.

Guelleh took the oath of office at his presidential residence in the capital, Djibouti City.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn were among those in attendance.

Bashir's presence

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Djibouti, a tiny state in the Horn of Africa, is a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of ICC — the founding treaty of the first permanent international court capable of trying perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

However, Djibouti’s government failed to arrest Bashir during his visit to the country in May 2011 to attend Guelleh's previous inauguration ceremony. At the time, the ICC called on the U.N. Security Council to take action over Djibouti’s refusal to arrest Bashir.

Guelleh defeated three other candidates in elections held on April 8.

Opposition groups had complained of curbs on freedom of assembly before the vote, while rights groups have denounced political repression and crackdowns on basic freedoms.

Opposition reacts

Opposition politician Omar Elmi Khaire of the Union for National Salvation was Guelleh’s nearest rival in the election.

Speaking with VOA Somali, he says for his party, Guelleh's inauguration Sunday meant nothing.

“It means a self-elected man Guelleh has again crowned himself in public. His inauguration means nothing for the Djibouti people, but a one-man political commercial show.” Khaire said.

Another opposition leader, Jama Abdirahman Jama, told VOA that Sudan's Bashir should not have been invited to the ceremony.

“He should not have invited a man wanted for war crimes against humanity to be ceremony in the first place,” Jama says. “It dishonors the people of Djibouti and would jeopardize the internal aid Djibouti depends on."

Guelleh won his last election in 2011 with 80 percent of the vote. In order for Guelleh to win that election parliament had to change the country’s constitution because presidents were limited to two terms.

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