London, 7 February 2013
- A concerted campaign to raise awareness of the issues in Djibouti has been launched in Europe by Friends of Djibouti Association, a non-profit organisation, founded at the end of 2012 to encourage a peaceful change of the current political course in Djibouti.
The first campaign is focussing on the parliamentary elections that are taking place on 22 February 2013. This is a critical time for Djibouti and its people who want to have a real democratic and transparent electoral process for the first time in many decades.
Djibouti, a small but strategically important country in the Horn of Africa, achieved good progress and economic growth during the past decade. But in the recent years there have been growing signs of frustration and protest among Djibouti people as they face worsening living conditions, human rights abuses and, after 30 years of one-party rule, little hope of democratic change.
Recent arrest of the leader of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (MRD), Daher Ahmed Farah (DAF) is an example of repressions the political opposition suffers in Djibouti.
In the past months, Friends of Djibouti have been active approaching US and EU officials, international NGOs and the international media, drawing their attention to the human right abuses and corruption in Djibouti.
Letters outlining the current issues facing the country have been sent to the US Secretary of State, the US Ambassador to Djibouti, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and EU Commissioner for Development.
Friends of Djibouti have had an encouraging response from the office of Baroness Ashton, who during her recent meeting with the Djibouti Prime Minister expressed intention to send an EU Electoral Expert Mission to Djibouti for the elections in February 2013.
Letters encouraging international election observers to monitor the Djibouti parliamentary election have been sent to the Carter Foundation and the African Union. Over the coming weeks, Friends of Djibouti will be approaching UK MPs, MEPs and other European politicians.
Aicha Dubae, spokesperson for Friends of Djibouti Association, said: “The West recognises how important Djibouti is to maintaining stability and security in the Horn of Africa and in helping to combat piracy.
We hope that the Western leaders will put pressure on the Djibouti Government encouraging democratic process, the rule of law and the respect for human rights, and, in doing so, help Djibouti fulfil its real potential”.
Friends of Djibouti