Preliminary results are in from Djibouti's parliamentary elections, showing President Ismael Omar Geulleh's ruling party in the lead, and that has drawn sharp comments from an opposition coalition in the small Horn of Africa nation.
The interior ministry said Saturday that preliminary results show the ruling Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP) captured more than 49 percent of the vote in the capital, Djibouti City. The government says the opposition received just under 48 percent of the vote.
Three-quarters of Djibouti's citizens live in the capital.
A spokesman for the Union of National Salvation (USN) opposition coalition alleged widespread fraud.
In a VOA Somali Service interview, Dahir Ahmed Farah said government soldiers voted multiple times at some polling stations and that results announced by the government are not valid.
"We have documents showing that the results proclaimed yesterday [Friday] by the minister of interior are not the real results," said Farah. "We have documents on which are written the real results and signed by our delegates and signed by the presidents of the polling stations."
An independent reporter who toured some of the stations told VOA Somali Service a heavy military presence at some polling places apparently intimidated some voters.
Guelleh has ruled Djibouti since he succeeded his uncle in 1999. No opposition lawmakers have been elected since the former French colony became independent in 1977.
The opposition coalition's Farah said it is "up to the people of Djibouti" to decide the next step.
Despite street protests, Geulleh's autocratic government amended the country's constitution in 2010 to allow him to run for a third term as president. He easily won re-election in 2011 following an opposition boycott.
Shortly before Friday's vote, the president accused opposition parties of being "spoilers" and said they threatened Djibouti's security.
The tiny but strategically located nation of about 900,000 people is considered a frontline state in the West's anti-terrorism efforts. It is bordered by Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, and is just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.