Territoire Français des Afars et des Issas:
In July 1967 a directive from Paris formally changed the name of the region to the Territoire Français des Afars et des Issas (French Territory of the Afars and Issas). The directive also reorganized the governmental structure of the territory, making the senior French representative, formerly the governor general, a high commissioner. In addition, the executive council was redesignated as the council of government, with nine members.
Djibouti Gains Independence:
In 1975, the French Government began to accommodate increasingly insistent demands for independence. In June 1976, the territory's citizenship law, which favored the Afar minority, was revised to reflect more closely the weight of the Issa Somali. The electorate voted for independence in a May 1977 referendum. The Republic of Djibouti was established on June 27, 1977, and Hassan Gouled Aptidon became the country's first president. In 1981, he was again elected president of Djibouti. He was re-elected, unopposed, to a second 6-year term in April 1987 and to a third 6-year term in May 1993 multiparty elections.
Development of Multiparty Democracy:
In early 1992, the constitution permitted the legalization of four political parties for a period of 10 years, after which a complete multiparty system would be installed. By the time of the December 1992 national assembly elections, only three had qualified. They were the Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres (RPP, People's Rally for Progress), which was the only legal party from 1981 until 1992 under the leadership of Aptidon; the Parti du Renouveau Democratique (The Party for Democratic Renewal--PRD); and the Parti National Democratique (National Democratic Party--PND).
Landslide for the Rassemblement Populaire Pour le Progres:
Only the RPP and the PRD contested the national assembly elections – the PND withdrew, claiming that there were too many unanswered questions on the conduct of the elections and too many opportunities for government fraud. The RPP won all 65 seats in the national assembly, with a turnout of less than 50% of the electorate.
Civil War in Djibouti:
In early November 1991, civil war erupted in Djibouti between the government and a predominantly Afar rebel group, the Front pour la Restauration de l'Unité et de la Démocratie (FRUD, Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy). The FRUD signed a peace accord with the government in December 1994, ending the conflict. Two FRUD members were made cabinet members, and in the presidential elections of 1999 the FRUD campaigned in support of the RPP.
New RPP President, Ismail Omar Guelleh:
In 1999, Ismail Omar Guelleh (known as IOG) – President Hassan Gouled Aptidon's chief of staff, head of security, and key adviser for over 20 years (as well as his nephew) – was elected to the presidency as the RPP candidate at the age of 52, Aptidon didn't contest the election. He received 74% of the vote, with the other 26% going to opposition candidate Moussa Ahmed Idriss, of the Opposition Djiboutienne Unifée (ODU, Unified Djiboutian Opposition). For the first time since independence, no group boycotted the election.
IOG Begins his First Term:
Moussa Ahmed Idriss and the ODU later challenged the results based on election "irregularities" and the assertion that "foreigners" had voted in various districts of the capital; however, international and locally based observers considered the election to be generally fair, and cited only minor technical difficulties. Ismail Omar Guelleh took the oath of office as the second President of the Republic of Djibouti on 8 May 1999, with the support of an alliance between the RPP and the government-recognized section of the Afar-led FRUD.
End to Civil War:
In February 2000, another branch of FRUD signed a peace accord with the government. On May 12, 2001, President Ismail Omar Guelleh presided over the signing of what was termed the final peace accord officially ending the decade-long civil war between the government and the armed faction of the FRUD. The peace accord successfully completed the peace process begun on February 7, 2000 in Paris. Ahmed Dini Ahmed represented the FRUD.
IOG Elected for Second Term – Was Only Candidate!:
In the presidential election held April 8, 2005 Ismail Omar Guelleh was re-elected to a second 6-year term at the head of a multi-party coalition that included the FRUD and other major parties. A loose coalition of opposition parties again boycotted the election. Issas are, however, predominate in the government, civil service, and the ruling party. That, together with a shortage of non-government employment, has bred resentment and continued political competition between the Somali Issas and the Afars.
Looking to the Future:
In March 2006, Djibouti held its first regional elections and began implementing a decentralization plan. The broad pro-government coalition, including FRUD candidates, again ran unopposed when the government refused to meet opposition preconditions for participation. A nationwide voter registration campaign is now underway in advance of the scheduled 2008 parliamentary elections.
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(Text from Public Domain material, US Department of State Background Notes.)