Ismail Omar Guelleh was re-elected for a fifth term as president of Djibouti with more than 98 percent of the vote, according to provisional results announced by Interior Minister Moumin Ahmed Cheick Friday night.
“President Ismail Omar Guelleh obtained 167,535 votes, which is 98.58 percent,” he told public broadcaster RTD, adding that confirmed results would be released soon by the Constitutional Council.
Around 215,000 citizens were registered to vote in the ballot pitting Guelleh, 73, against a little-known businessman widely seen as posing scant threat to the strongman, who has been in power since 1999.
Counting started shortly after polling stations closed around 7:00 pm in the Horn of Africa nation, which overlooks one of the world’s busiest trade routes at the crossroads between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Independent election observers said the process went smoothly, with no reports of misconduct.
Earlier, after voting in the capital where most of Djibouti’s one million people reside, Guelleh praised the trouble-free conduct of the electoral exercise.
Dressed in immaculate white traditional robes, he said he was “very, very confident” of victory, after placing his vote in a transparent ballot box.
Guelleh was the handpicked successor to his relative Hassan Gouled Aptidon, the country’s first president after independence from France in 1977.
He faced just one challenger — political newcomer Zakaria Ismail Farah — after Djibouti’s main opposition parties boycotted the election.
Farah, a 56-year-old cleaning products importer, ended up with under 5,000 votes, according to the provisional results.
Farah 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.
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.
Farah, who had styled himself as the “flag bearer of poor Djiboutians”, had alleged unfair treatment during the election campaign, including that he was not provided security at his rallies.
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