Djibouti’s veteran ruler Ismail Omar Guelleh, 73,was overwhelmingly re-elected for a fifth term as president, according to final results announced Saturday, after the vote in the tiny but strategically important country was boycotted by the main opposition.
Friday’s vote pitted only one challenger against the incumbent – relative newcomer Zakaria Ismail Farah. The Interior Ministry data showed that he came second with 2.48% of the 177,391 votes cast. Some 5,447 ballots were declared invalid.
Farah said the results were “far from reality”.
Farah, a 56-year-old cleaning products importer, ended up with under 5,000 votes, according to the provisional results.
He cast doubt on the transparency of the voting process, saying his delegates were not present at polling stations.
“My vote is of no use, nor are the votes of 80 percent of the Djiboutian people,” the opposition candidate told AFP in a text message
“This outcome is undoubtedly the result of ballot-box stuffing, (which) occurred in the absence of my delegates,” he told Reuters, adding they were barred from accessing polling stations to monitor the process.
While Guelleh, 73, who has been in power since 1999, took to his official twitter account to thank his supporters
“Thank you for your trust, thank you Djibouti. Let’s continue together,” Guelleh said on Twitter shortly after results were announced.
Ahmed Tidiane Souare, the head of an African Union (AU) observer mission, said all candidates were free to send their officials to any polling station.
It was also reported that an estimated 215,000 voters cast ballots in the country with a population of more than 1 million residents.
Before the election, other candidates from main opposition parties reportedly boycotted the polls after expressing concern about the fairness of the vote.
Guelleh will now lead Djibouti for a fifth term staying in power for more than two decades, becoming one of the longest-serving heads of state on the African continen