Monday, February 6, 2012

Ismaïl Omar Guelleh

Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (Somali: Ismaaciil Cumar Geelle. Arabic: اسماعيل عُمر جليه) (born 27 November 1947) is the President of Djibouti. He succeeded his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, in 1999. He is often referred to in the region by his initials 'IOG'.

On February 4, 1999, President Gouled Aptidon announced that he would retire at the time of the next election, and an extraordinary congress of his party, the ruling People's Rally for Progress (RPP), chose Guelleh as its presidential candidate. As the joint candidate of the RPP and moderate wing of the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD), Guelleh won the presidential election held on April 9, 1999 with 74.02% of the vote, defeating his only challenger, the independent candidate Moussa Ahmed Idriss. He took office on May 8. Moussa Ahmed Idriss was arrested the following September for "threatening the morale of the armed forces" and detained at an undisclosed location.
In December 2000, Guelleh sacked the chief of staff of the National Police Force, Yacin Yabeh; policemen loyal to Yacin unsuccessfully rebelled following his dismissal.
Guelleh was nominated by the RPP as its presidential candidate for a second time on October 7, 2004, at an Extraordinary Congress of the party. He was backed by several other parties and was the only candidate in the presidential election held on April 8, 2005. Without a challenger, he won 100% of the ballots cast and was sworn in for a second six-year term, which he said would be his last, on May 7.
However in 2010, Guelleh persuaded the National Assembly of Djibouti to amend the nation's Constitution, allowing him to stand for a third term. This cleared the way for him to place his name on the ballot in Djibouti's 2011 election. Opposition parties boycotted the election, leaving only one, little-known candidate against him on the ballot. Guelleh won almost 80% of the vote. Human Rights Watch has questioned whether the election could be called fair when opposition leaders were jailed twice prior to polling. He has again said that he would not run for another term.
Large protests began in 2010 calling for Guelleh to step down, following his changes to the constitution and the larger movement for democracy in the region.

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