Djibouti’s veteran ruler, Guelleh re-elected for fifth term

Djibouti’s President Ismael Omar Guelleh re-elected for a fifth term on April 9, 2021. [Getty Images]
Djibouti- President Ismail Omar Guelleh has been re-elected for a fifth term with more than 98 percent of the vote, according to provisional results announced early Saturday (April 10, 2021), after the election in the country was boycotted by the main opposition.

Guelleh has defeated his sole rival, businessman Zakaria Ismail Farah, who ended up with under 5,000 votes, according to the transient announcements.

“President Ismail Omar Guelleh obtained 167,535 votes, which is 98.58 percent,” Interior Minister Moumin Ahmed Cheick told public broadcaster RTD early Saturday, adding that confirmed results would be released soon by the Constitutional Council.

More than 215,000 voters were registered for the election in the small but strategically important country of over 600,000 people.

Independent election observers reported that the process went smoothly, with no incidents of misconduct or violence.

“Thank you for your confidence!” the president tweeted overnight, “Let’s continue together!”

The 56-year-old Farah, is not a known politician among the public, having first surfaced on the political scene in January when he declared his ambition to run for the head of state position.

Critics call the president a heavy-handed dictator, but others in Djibouti see him as a driving force in the country’s development and relative stability.

According to the constitution, which limits the presidency to those under the age of 75, this term should be the 73-year-old Guelleh’s last time to vie for the country’s top position.

Guelleh has been in power since 1999 after the death of his predecessor, Hassan Guled Aptidon, the Djibouti’s first president.