From: Biniam Tekle (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Mar 04 2011 - 11:54:18 EST
Police, army forces in Djibouti prevent protest
By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press
Associated Press March 4, 2011 08:19 AM Copyright Associated Press. All
rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
Friday, March 4, 2011
.0 .(03-04) 08:19 PST NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) --
Soldiers and police filled the streets of Djibouti on Friday to prevent a
planned demonstration against the president by opposition parties, officials
Djibouti — a tiny East African nation that hosts a U.S. military base — saw
thousands turn out at an anti-government demonstration two weeks ago.
Protesters said they planned to hold another rally Friday, but that the
government denied them permission and sent security forces into the street.
President Ismail Omar Guelleh has served two terms and faces an election in
April, but critics lament changes he made to the constitution last year that
scrubbed a two-term limit from the nation's bylaws.
Souleiman Farah Lodon, vice chairman of the opposition party Movement for
Democratic Renewal, said from Djibouti that security forces blocked the
route to the city's main stadium, where the rally had been planned. He said
the area was "completely covered" by security forces.
A potential presidential challenger, Abdourahman Boreh, who lives overseas
and is currently in London, said demonstrators are not ready to confront the
police and army with force, but that they may do so in the future.
"They have come out with a lot of force, the Djiboutian army, the
gendarmerie and the police," Boreh said. "They wouldn't let the people
circulate. This is really showing the character of this government."
A letter addressed to the opposition by Djibouti's minister of interior,
Yacin Elmi Bouh, said the demonstrators were required to change the date of
their rally because of protesters' violent response during a Feb. 18
demonstration in which authorities used batons and tear gas to break up the
"The violent reactions of the protesters surprised everyone," Bouh wrote in
his letter denying approval.
Boreh said the protesters only reacted to the aggression of security forces.
He said the opposition planned to have a peaceful protest. About 6,000
people turned out at the last demonstration, according to Democracy
International, a U.S.-funded group that is monitoring the April presidential
Djibouti is a city-state of 750,000 people that lies across the Gulf of Aden
from Yemen. It hosts several military bases, including the only U.S. base in
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 country can be stiflingly hot, and activity grinds to a halt in the
afternoons when men find shade and chew the stimulant khat. Per capita
income is just $2,800 a year, and the unemployment rate is near 60 percent.
The country lies at the nexus of Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
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