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Voting begins slowly in Djibouti's presidential election

Voting begins slowly in Djibouti's presidential election


Voting commenced at 6am local time ((0300 GMT) on Friday in Djibouti to elect a new president.

Favourite in the election is incumbent president Ismaël Omar Guelleh who is being challenged by five other candidates seeking to end his search for a fourth term.

A few people thronged the polling stations on Friday due to the early commencement of voting and also because it is a holiday in Djibouti, an AFP journalist reported.

The streets of Djibouti city, which has been crushed by the heat of the moment, were almost deserted, except for security forces.

“It’s a little early, people will come around 10:00,” said an election official of the prefecture office in the center of the capital, where only a dozen ballots had been cast.

In the office, there were two voting booths and a ballot box. On a table are the ballot papers of the six candidates and that of Mr Guelleh, who will be voting in this office, is the first.

“The question does not even arise. The other candidates do not have a plan. Guelleh has a very clear plan: continue the development progress and the ports. We must continue with him,” said Djibril, an employee of a security company who had just voted.

This opinion is not shared by Houssein, an unemployed man like about 60% of Djiboutians. “We need something different. IOG is a bright man, right. But you have to try something else,” he said before casting his ballot.

Some 187,000 voters, slightly less than a quarter of the population (875,000 inhabitants) are expected to vote at one of the country’s 455 polling stations.

The results are expected on Friday night.

In the previous presidential election in 2011, the turnout was 63%, according to figures from the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Mr Guelleh, 68, is running for a fourth five-year term, after amending the constitution in 2010 to remove any limitation.

He faces five other candidates including three independent candidates. The opposition, which managed to unite for the 2013 legislative elections, under the banner of the Union for National Salvation (USN), is disbanded this time around.