Djibouti continues crackdown on opposition
Source : Journal Sabahi, 05/06/13
Djiboutian police stormed a house where members of the opposition Union for National Salvation (USN) were meeting in the Warabaley neighbourhood of Balbala on Sunday (June 2nd), arresting 13 people including USN President Ahmed Youssouf.
USN member and former Balbala District Commissioner Ali Mohamed Dato said two people were injured in the operation, which came just days after Djiboutian Interior Minister Hassan Omar Mohamed threatened on May 29th to dissolve the USN if it does not end activities unfavourable to the government.
The arrested USN members were released Monday pending their court date, which has not yet been announced.
Since the disputed results of parliamentary elections were announced February 23rd, the opposition has been encouraging its supporters to demonstrate every Friday, even though the Ministry of Interior has forbidden them from doing so.
The Djiboutian government has arrested members of the opposition in response to the protests, charging them with inciting violence. The USN now argues that there are more than 600 political prisoners in Djibouti, although the government maintains that there are none.
The USN has continued to call for the abolition of the Union for a Presidential Majority (UMP)-controlled government, creating in March a parallel parliament, the Legitimate National Assembly (ANL), presided over by Ismail Guedi Hared, leader of the USN’s candidate list for Djibouti City during the elections.
« Fear has switched camps, » said USN Secretary General Abdourahaman Mohamed Guelleh. « This is all part of the government’s intimidation campaign and we will not surrender. »
« Today the ANL, made up of the USN, winner of the February 22nd elections, consults with the people of Djibouti on a national level, » he told Sabahi. « The government wants to keep us from talking to the people who elected us and support us. »
UMP parliamentarian Houssein Ali said the USN needs to accept defeat. « The elections are over and the UMP has won them — the opposition has nothing else to propose to the people of Djibouti except to demonstrate in the streets. »
« Every time a political party wants to demonstrate, they need to run it by the Ministry of Interior, » he told Sabahi. « And places of worship — in this instance, mosques — can under no circumstances act as a forum for political activities or demonstrations without severe punishment under criminal law. »
Moktar Abdi, a law professor at the University of Djibouti, said both parties need to sit down at the same table to talk and agree to compromise for the overall good of the nation.
« The way things are going, the country is running into a brick wall, » he told Sabahi.