Djibouti’s ruling party claims majority of parliamentary seats

President Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djibouti (Photo by AFP)

Djibouti’s ruling party has claimed a landslide victory in parliamentary elections, securing almost 90 percent of seats after the opposition largely boycotted the poll.

Mohamed Abdallah Mahyoub, a senior member of President Ismael Omar Guelleh’s Union for a Presidential Majority (UMP) and campaign spokesman, told media late Sunday that the ruling party in the tiny Horn of Africa nation had won 58 out of 65 parliamentary seats, an increase of three since the last vote in 2013.

The UMP claimed every seat outside of the capital and all but seven seats in Djibouti City with the remainder going to the Djibouti Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) Party.

There was no immediate figure for turnout from 194,000 registered voters.

Guelleh was first elected as Djibouti’s president in 1999. He was re-elected in 2005, 2011, and again in 2016 with no strong challenger. The incumbent won a fourth term of office with 87 percent of the vote.

The UMP’s resounding victory came after opposition parties refused to put forward any candidates, saying the elections would neither be fair nor transparent, accusing the election commission of bias.

The law stipulates that 25 percent of seats must go to women, an increase from just 10 percent in the outgoing parliament. According to Mahyoub, this threshold was nearly met as 15 women won parliamentary seats, 14 of them from the UMP.

Djibouti’s strategic importance

Lying on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, Djibouti serves as a gateway to the Suez Canal and a chokepoint for oil tankers heading from the Persian Gulf to Europe.

Djibouti’s geographical location has made it a favorable spot for foreign military bases.

A former French colony until 1977, France maintains a significant military presence. The country is also hosting military bases of the United States, Italy, Spain, Japan and China.


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