The Djiboutian presidential election winded up today, Wednesday, April 6, 2011, with rallies of thousands of Djiboutians at stadiums.
For a country with a population of 650,000, attendance was exceptionally large. 152,000 are registered voters, of whom 92,000 are from the capital city Djibouti.
The candidates’ last campaigns were accompanied with colorful show of support in the form rallies, cultural music shows, poetry and speeches.
The rally of the incumbent, Mr. Ismail Guelleh, was far larger with his supporters filled the benches and the stadium and while the opposition candidate, Mr. Mohammed Wersama, who resigned his position as supreme court judge to campaign for the presidency, had enthusiastic supporters, their number was noticeably smaller.
Earlier in the process, the opposition parties had boycotted the election. Eventually, however, Mr. Mohammed Ali Wersama decided to run as an independent candidate. The opposition reconsidered its position and has decided to support the independent candidate.
Ismail Gulleh’s campaign officer told Gedab News that Mr. Wersama and President Ismail Guelleh were getting one hour a day each to campaign on the state TV and radio.
Several long-time observers of Djibouti’s campaigns report that although the campaign this year has been more impassioned, it has also been better organized and peaceful.
Mr Wersama’s supporters accuse the incumbent president’s campaign of benefiting from State resources while their campaign has to rely on its own resources; however, the incumbent president’s campaign managers deny this and indicate that their campaign is fully funded by the business community and the supporters of Mr. Ismail Guelleh.
Elections will begin on Friday, 8, 2011 and non-official results are expected by midnight same day.
The election is being overseen by many supervisors including 10 observers from the African Union; 6 observers from the Arab League; 4 observers from IGAD; and 4 observers from the Islamic League. Several international and regional news agencies are also covering the elections.