Djibouti Suspends USAID-funded Election Observation (with update)

UPDATE Mar 16: Following the reports here, the election observation team was ordered out of the country, reports the Financial Times.

With Djibouti’s presidential election scheduled for April 8, and opposition parties announcing plans to boycott and continue protests, the government has come out against an election observation mission that has been working since last fall.  The Financial Times story is here:

Djibouti has told the United States that an independent election observer mission is “illegal” and suspended its partnership with the US-funded mission.

The news came amid reports that the north-east African coastal state had arrested two opposition leaders on Friday.

Democracy International (DI), which has a $2.2m, eight-man team in the tiny strategic state, provides the only international technical assistance and observation group in the country, which has been ruled by the same dynasty since independence.

The increasing visibility of the Djibouti’s anti-democratic leanings is awkward for the US, which relies on the country for its only military base on the continent and last year doubled aid to the country, funding DI’s Djibouti operation. Many of its 3,000 troops are dedicated to fighting piracy and terrorism in neighbouring Somalia.

.  .  .  .

Sources say efforts to resolve the dispute with DI continue. “We have not closed up our operations, (but) we are not undertaking any active programming,” DI co-founder Glenn Cowan told the Financial Times, adding that the group still plans to observe the elections.

Today’s Bloomberg report is here The Washington Post reported on the mission in February, noting that no foreign journalists were working in the country. The story includes relatively positive comments by the mission head on the government’s approach to allowing protests and the political climate.

Ken

American lawyer. Took leave from corporate career to “assist” democracy in East Africa. After stolen '07 election in Kenya and violent aftermath I have tried to bring out truth of events for those who care in hope we can learn and do better.

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