DJIBOUTI (Somaliguardian) – Djibouti’s leader Ismael Omar Guelleh is expected to win fifth term after voters headed to the polls on Friday in the tiny but strategically important Horn of Africa nation.
The predictable vote will extend his 21-year-long rule of the country – with a population of less one million people – which lies on one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, the Gulf of Aden and hosts US, Chinese and French military bases.
Presence of foreign powers is believed to have handed Guelleh more powers to suppress dissidents and maintain crackdown on freedom of expression after achieving to open the desert country to the world.
Guelleh, 71, who is currently one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, was chosen to succeed his uncle, Hassan Gouled Abtidon, who had led the country to independence from France in 1977.
Regional analysts predict that Guelle will win the election as he faces a political newcomer Zakaria Ismail Farah who poses no significant challenge to the incumbent president’s bid to win reelection.
In a text message sent to Reuters news agency, Farah said his delegates had been barred from accessing polling stations to monitor the process.
Main opposition parties had boycotted the election over fear of vote rigging.
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