Thai soldiers are seen during clashes
between demonstrators and security forces
Two weeks ago thousands turned out for an anti-government demonstration but they were denied permission for another rally on Friday and security forces roamed the streets to prevent any demonstrations.
The president Ismail Guelleh has already served two terms and is up for election again in April after he changed the constitution to allow more than two terms for the president.
The chair of the oppositiion party Souleiman Lodon said that security forces blocked the route to the city’s main stadium where the rally was planned. A potential presidential challenger based in London said demonstrators are not yet ready to confront the police and army with force but may do so in the future. He said:”They have come out with a lot of force, the Djiboutian army, the gendarmerie and the police,” “They wouldn’t let the people circulate. This is really showing the character of this government.”
The government sent a letter to the opposition by the interior minister said that the demonstrators had to change the date of the rally because of violence by protesters during the Feb. 18 demonstrations. But it was the authorities who used batons and tear gas to break up the demonstrations. Nevertheless the interior minister said:”The violent reactions of the protesters surprised everyone,” For this reason he said the protests would not be allowed.
The opposition said it planned a peaceful protest and that the violence at the laast protest was in response to the violence of the security forces. About 6,000 people attended the last protests.
Djibouti has about 750,000 people and lies across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. It has military bases of the U.S. where the African command is based and also the French. Even Japan plans a base there.
No foreign journalists work in Djibouti. Unemployment is near 60 per cent.
Guelleh’s family has been in power in Djibouti for more than three decades. Guelleh, who looks poised to win re-election, ran unopposed in 2005.
No foreign journalists work in Djibouti, and few international organizations have a presence there. The president is likely to win the election again unless further unrest prevents his running.