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Djibouti: Guelleh wins presidential bid; opponent concedes

President elect Ismael Guelleh

Djibouti’s incumbent president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, was re-elected to the presidency by a nearly four to one margin in Friday’s polls.  The challenger, Mohammed Wersama, has conceded.

Across the country, Djiboutians went to polls starting at six am on Friday and voting stations were open until late at night, and the process was conducted peacefully.  Speaking to Djibouti media, election observers from international organizations gave positive statements regarding the fairness of the election.

Friday is a day off in Djibouti, and the voting stations did not get crowded until 2:00 pm, after the mid day Friday Prayers were concluded.

After midnight preliminary reports from polling station started to come in and were read in detail over the state television in French, Arabic, Somali and Afar languages and people watched the returns on TV in teashops and public places.

Early Saturday morning, with only a few precincts uncounted, Djibouti’s Minister of Interior Affairs announced the preliminary results that Guelleh had garnered 79% of the vote to Wersama’s 21%.

Mr. Mohammed Wesama, who, along with Guelleh cast his ballot late Friday morning, attributed his defeat to the late start of his campaign and inadequate preparation and organization.

Djibouti’s main opposition parties, the Union for Democratic Change (UAD) and the Union of Democratic Movements (UMD), had boycotted the election until they coalesced late around the candidacy of  Mohammed Wersama who is independent of party affiliation.

Campaigning started on March 25th and concluded on April 6.

Independent candidate, Mohammed Wersama

Djibouti is a small country with a population of 650,000, but has an outsize importance given its strategic location in the Horn of Africa

This will be the third term for President Guelleh and he is expected to take the oath of office in May.

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