Djibouti: expels BBC journalists ahead of presidential elections

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Djibouti’s government has expelled journalists from the BBC after more than 16 hours of detention in the capital, the Corporation announced on Monday.

The team who arrived in Djibouti to cover the presidential elections which is due to take place on April 8 were put on a plane at the Djibouti city’s airport after interviewing the foreign minister and an opposition candidate who is running for the presidential seat, BBC said.

Djiboutian government hasn’t yet commented on the expulsion of the journalists who were  reportedly granted media accreditations to report from the tiny horn of Africa nation.

16 candidates including the long-serving incumbent president Ismail Guelleh are expected to run for the country’s top seat in the upcoming elections.

Mr. Guelleh who was elected as the president in 1999, after succeeding Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had ruled Djibouti since independence in 1977 had maintained a firm grip over the power in Djibouti.

However rights groups often accuse his government of silencing opposition politicians and journalists. Some of the opposition leaders were also chased to exile.

He was re-elected in 2005 and again in 2011; however, his re-elections were largely boycotted by the opposition parties 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.

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