Opposition parties are against the con-
stitutional changes on grounds they
could deal a death blow to the Arusha
peace accords that helped to end the
1993-2006 civil war, in which more than
300,000 people died.
On February 14th, AFP reported that
the police had threatened to arrest any-
one campaigning prematurely for a no
vote in the referendum. A video warning
was posted on the website of the
national radio and television broad-
caster on February 13th.
But opposition parties condemned
what they called “ﬂagrant double stan-
dards”, pointing to government min-
sters who had already called for the
changes to the constitution to be voted
At least 50 opposition activists, mostly
former rebels of the National Liberation
Forces (FNL) led by Agathon Rwasa,
have been arrested for calling for a “no”
vote in the referendum.
The Arusha accords stipulate that no
president can govern the country for
more than 10 years and the current
constitution sets a limit of two ﬁve-year
When Nkurunziza ran for a third term in
2015 and won, his victory sparked a
crisis and violence that has left at
least 1,200 dead and driven more
than 400,000 into exile.
(© AFP 14, 20/2
2018) Opposition arrests p. 21720C
Ruling Party Landslide
Most of the opposition refuses to take
part in the parliamentary polls.
President Ismael Omar Guelleh’s ruling
party claimed a resounding victory in
parliamentary elections held on Febru-
ary 23rd, taking nearly 90% of seats
after the opposition largely boycotted
Mohamed Abdallah Mahyoub, a senior
member of Guelleh’s Union for the
Presidential Majority (UMP) coalition
and campaign spokesman, said late on
February 25th that the party had won 58
out of 65 parliamentary seats, an
increase of three since the last vote in
There was no immediate ﬁgure for
turnout among the tiny Horn of
Africa nation’s 194,000 registered
Guelleh has ruled Djibouti since 1999
and was last re-elected in 2016 with
86.88% of the vote.
The UMP’s victory was helped by the
badly-divided opposition with two par-
ties – MRD and RADDE and a faction
of a third party, ARD – refusing to put
forward any candidates, saying the elec-
tions would neither be fair nor transpar-
ent while others accused the election
commission of bias.
Zakaria Abdillahi, president of the Dji-
bouti League of Human Rights and a
former opposition legislator, said the
country’s electoral commission “is not
independent – its chairman is the prime
minister’s legal advisor.”
The UMP claimed every seat outside of
the capital and all but seven seats in
Djibouti city with the remainder going
to the UDJ party.
The law stipulates that 25% of seats
must go to women, an increase from just
10% in the outgoing parliament.
According to Mahyoub, this threshold
was nearly met as 15 women won
parliamentary seats, 14 of them from
(© AFP 23-26/2 2018)
The African Union (AU) deployed an
election observer mission led by Anicet-
Georges Dologuele, former Prime Minis-
ter of the Central African Republic
A high-level delegation of the League of
Arab States (LAS) led by the vice-
president and former prime minister of
Mauritania, Mohamed Lamine Ould
Akik, arrived in Djibouti on February
18th for the ﬁnal preparations and
observation of the elections.
The six observers met ofﬁcials from
various ministries, the election commis-
sion and Constitutional Council as well
as representatives of all the political
parties and civil society organisations.
(PANA, Djibouti 19/2)
Polls in March
Voters will choose from a ﬁeld of 16
Sierra Leoneans will go to the polls on
March 7th to elect a new president and
Africanews.com (20/2) notes that the
elections will underline the growth of
electoral democracy in the West Africa
region. History will be made either way,
whether the ruling party or the opposi-
tion wins the presidency.
Outgoing Ernest Bai Koroma is hoping to
handover to his party’s candidate while
the main opposition party will hope to
stage a comeback after a decade out.
The ruling All Peoples’ Congress (APC)
have picked former Foreign minister
Samura Kamara as ﬂagbearer while the
main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples’
Party (SLPP) is ﬁelding a former mili-
tary ruler Julius Maado Bio, who lost the
last election to Bai Koroma.
Both parties have been hit by break-
aways as some top guns on both sides
have left to form parties with the hopes
of upsetting the odds.
According to the Sierra Leone National
Electoral Commission (NEC) sixteen
candidates have ﬁled to run for presi-
dent. They include two women and
The six leading candidates are as follows:
Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara – APC:
Born April 30th, 1951, Kamara was
central bank governor from 2007-2009.
He was Minister of Finance and Eco-
nomic Development (2009 – 2012) and
held the Foreign Affairs portfolio from
2012 to 2017.
His running mate is Bah Chernor Rama-
Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio – SLPP:
Julius Maada Bio, 53, led the National
Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC)
military junta government that lasted
from January 16th to March 29th, 1996.
As a military ruler, he toppled his boss in
the NPRC junta Captain Valentine
Strasser in January 1996 but later
handed over to democratically elected
Ahmed Tejan Kabbah of the SLPP.
His running mate is Jalloh Mohamed
Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray – Alli-
ance Democratic Party (ADP): Mohamed
Mansaray formed the ADP after break-
ing away from ruling APC in 2014.
He is a businessman who operates the
Patriotic group of companies – insur-
ance, shipping and logistics.
20 40 km
20 40 mi
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
21752 – Africa Research Bulletin Internal Developments