Supporters for Djibouti’s incumbent president Ismail Guelleh have held major rallies ahead of the country’s presidential election which is due to be held in April this year.
Thousands of Djiboutians, mostly wearing green shirts emblazoned with Mr. Guelleh’s face on the front gathered at a large square in Arte, a city which situates about 30 km south of Djibouti city on Monday, crediting him with significant economic and security improvements in Djibouti.
“Guelleh is the one, and the only candidate who deserves our unreserved confidence.” read one banner waved by one of his supporters.
The pro-Guelleh rallies were held alongside several rallies by supporters for six rival candidates vying for the tiny horn of Africa nation’s highest position in the hope of swaying voters to their camps.
Djibouti’s ruling party selected the long-serving president as its candidate running for the upcoming presidential elections in January, following his announcement that he would run for the presidential elections, ‘considering’ calls from his supporters who he said urged him to lead the country for the fourth time.
Mr. Guelleh maintained a firm grip over power in Djibouti, as rights groups often accuse his government of silencing opposition politicians and journalists. Some of the opposition leaders were also chased to exile.
Elected as the President in 1999, Mr. Guelleh succeeded Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had ruled Djibouti since independence in 1977.
He was re-elected in 2005 and again in 2011; however, his re-elections were largely boycotted by the opposition amid complaints over widespread irregularities.
Elections have taken place in Djibouti in every six years since the country’s civil war ended in the 1990s.