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Explainer: Djibouti's upcoming presidential election

A breakdown of Djibouti's presidential election this month.   -  
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Africanews special correspondent Serge Koffi, walks us through an informative summary of the upcoming presidential election in Djibouti:

- Who is running? -

Two candidates, an incumbent president and an independent contender. Plus, an opposition that boycotted the elections...

Djibouti will vote on April 9, the first round of the presidential election.

In the absence of the traditional opposition -- which decided to boycott the elections, questioning the ballot, claiming that it would not be free and transparent, it is two men who will theoretically faceoff against one another in the presidential race.

The outgoing president Ismaeel Omar Guelleh -- locally known as IOG, and Zakaria Ismael Farah.

"This is the man we need" @IsmailOguelleh This Friday, April 2, seven days before the Djiboutian presidential election, the incumbent candidate @IsmailOguelleh was in a meeting in #Alisabieh. The citizens of Alisabieh responded to the president's call. #Djibouti #Elections2021

The former i.e. IOG, has led Djibouti for two decades.

He was, in turn, an intelligence officer, securocrat, director of the cabinet of former president Hassan Gouled -- before becoming president of the republic in 1999.

Re-elected in 2016, IOG intends to run for a fifth term.

He campaigned under the theme of continuity and affirmed throughout the meetings that he intends to continue to bring his leadership to Djibouti - as well as continue the projects he has started.

Zakaria Ismael Farah, on the other hand, is a man totally unknown to the public.
He first appeared on the political scene in January when he announced his candidacy on social media.

A 57-year-old businessman without a political party, his campaign was short-lived.

Unprecedented in this campaign -- when he was expected at a meeting in Djibouti, he appeared with his hands tied in protest. And since then he has not appeared in public.

- Post-election climate -

Conflict in Tigray, the war in Yemen, the crisis in neighbouring Somalia -- Djibouti appears as an island of stability in the region.

Economically, the country is doing rather well despite the coronavirus pandemic that affected its economy. Growth forecasts for 2021 range from 1 to 3%.

Its strategic position at the entrance to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden makes Djibouti a country favoured by its international partners such as France (a neocolonial entity) and China, which has intensified its investments.

Despite its positive economic indicators, Djibouti is still a country with a low development index. The population as a whole still benefits little from the income derived from hosting foreign garrisons and port activities.

- What are the stakes? -

With an absent opposition, the April 9 election in Djibouti remains without real stakes.

Will Djiboutians come out en masse to vote?

For some observers, this election could be a plebiscite for the work of Ismail Omar Guelleh - especially since his term in office could be his last if he is re-elected.

The Djiboutian constitution amended in 2010 sets the age limit at 75 years. The outgoing president is 73.

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