- Djibouti's incumbent president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, won 100 percent of the vote in Friday's presidential election - in which he was the sole candidate – according to the official news agency, 'Agence Djiboutienne d'Information' (ADI). President Guelleh will now serve a second and final six-year term as leader of the Horn of Africa nation.
'ADI' reported that 78.9 percent of approximately 197,000 registered voters cast their ballots - at 200 voting booths - across the country. Some 5.7 percent of the votes cast were reported void.
International news agencies said that police had used tear gas on Friday morning to disperse a crowd of between 300 and 500 pro-opposition demonstrators outside the headquarters of the umbrella opposition movement, the Union of Democratic Alliance.
The agencies further reported that opposition parties - which had boycotted the election - had rejected the outcome, describing it as "ridiculous, rigged and rubbish". The Djibouti Human Rights League reportedly said that in reality, many people had not voted.
Members of the opposition were also quoted as saying that official figures depicting a high voter turnout were fraudulent, as turnout was twice that of the 2003 legislative elections when the opposition did not boycott the poll.
President Guelleh's Union for Presidential Majority party won all 65 parliamentary seats in 2003's legislative election, amid opposition accusations of widespread rigging.
International observers from the Arab League and the Francophone Organisation said that Friday's election was conducted under peaceful conditions, and took note of improved operations at polling stations.
President Guelleh, Djibouti's second head of state, was first elected head of the strategic Gulf of Aden nation in 1999, taking over from his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had ruled the country since it gained independence from France in 1977. "I regret having no opponent," President Guelleh told the French newspaper 'Le Figaro' in an interview published on Friday.
Djibouti, a country of 700,000, served as an operations base for the US during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, and France continues to have a significant military presence in the country. More recently, the US has stationed hundreds of troops in Djibouti as part of its effort to counter terrorism in the region. Also Germany has troops stationed in the country.
The US State Department has, however, critisised Djibouti's human-rights record, saying that security forces have committed "serious human-rights abuses," and accusing the government of limiting citizens' rights to change their government.
A 2005 US State Department report said that some opposition leaders and the press in Djibouti effectively practiced self-censorship, and refrained from organising popular demonstrations to avoid provoking a government crackdown.
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