East AfricaBlog Analysis

Small democratic skid in Djibouti. No big deal says Brussels… (maj)

(BRUSSELS2) It took some time for the European Union to react to the elections of February 22 in Djibouti. In Brussels, the small republic of East Africa is treated with respect... even more than in Paris. The High Representative (of the EU for Foreign Affairs) welcomes the peaceful conduct of the legislative elections of February 22, 2013 in Djibouti and the civic commitment of the population and all the political parties for the future of the country » indicates the press release published today. The usual diplomatic terms used at European level to show a certain anger - "vigilant", "concerned", "very concerned" - are even absent from official communication. And yet, there would be something...

Election challenges

Faced with accusations of fraud, and while the results are still only provisional, Catherine Ashton " calls on the responsible authorities to proceed with the rapid and transparent publication of the election results. Disputes should be dealt with through the appeal procedures provided for by law. The UMP (Djiboutian) - the union for the presidential majority - won by a narrow margin in Djibouti (where the first results were published). This allows him to win the majority (80%) of the seats in Parliament, as reported by our colleagues from Radio France International. The voting system has been amended to instill a dose of proportionality. The opposition which, for the first time, presented itself united in these elections, however, cries out for the manipulation of the ballot boxes.

Repressed demonstrations: call to refrain from all violence

The demonstrations quickly got out of hand, suppressed by the national police intervened"firing live ammunition"; balance sheet: "At least 10 dead and several seriously injured"according to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH, read here). This balance sheet has however not confirmed. In the aftermath, several opposition leaders including the leader of the Union for National Salvation, Hamed Youssouf, Hamed, were arrested. Almost all opposition members were arrested by the police and some placed under house arrest, said the human rights organization. The Mayor of Djibouti, Abdourahman Mohamed Guelle, and two of his deputies also made the detour to the city police station (read and listen on RFI). Europe's reaction, again, is quite measured. " The High Representative calls on all political forces in Djibouti to respect the rule of law, including the right to peaceful demonstration, and to refrain from resorting to violence »

Realpolitik can suffer from a breach of principles...

It might seem obvious, but in the turbulent environment of the Horn of Africa between troubled Somalia and closed Eritrea, Djibouti appears as a haven of peace. The logistics base of the Eunavfor Atalanta operation is located there, as is the EUCAP Nestor maritime capacity building mission. And this aspect is clearly highlighted in the declaration of the European Union " As a long-term partner, the EU wishes to continue its partnership with the government of Djibouti, with all political parties, civil society and the people of Djibouti in order to pursue the social, economic and democratic development of the country. »

Comment: Warning!

The situation on the spot, if it does not make the front page of the media, deserves more sustained attention. The country shows many symptoms of the "Arab Spring". A young population that does not reap the fruits of growth. Around Djibouti, there is a belt of slums which apparently do not enjoy much interest. And the president's diet Guelleh is severely criticized on the spot, especially his entourage who monopolize certain markets. A regime that strangely resembles the "Ben Ali" regime in Tunisia, where a family monopolizes state property, as some observers on the spot told me. Mistrust...

NB: the site of the national daily, close to power, La Nation was inaccessible today (internal crash, cyberattack or cut?) showing a message of "problem connecting to the Djibouti Telecom server" due to "too many of connections".

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).