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 Saturday, 11 January, 2003, 15:46 GMT
President's backers win Djibouti poll
Voters in Friday's election in Djibouti
For the first time the voters' choice was unrestricted
Parties supporting President Omar Ismael Guelleh have won the first full multi-party election in Djibouti since independence.

Every country has its own democratic system - nothing prevented the opposition from winning all the seats

Abdulkader Douleh Wais
Interior Minister

The Union for Presidential Majority (UMP) took 62.7% of the votes in Friday's poll, against 37.3% to the opposition - according to provisional results issued by the interior ministry.

However under Djibouti's electoral system the UMP will control all 65 seats in the assembly.

Opposition leader Ahmed Dini said there had been fraud, but he vowed to use "legal means" to contest the results.

The UMP won a majority of votes in all of Djibouti's five constituencies - including the northern district of Obock, which was considered as an opposition stronghold.

The opposition Union for a Democratic Alternative (UAD) achieved its best score in the capital, Djibouti, where is won almost 45% of votes.

Winner takes all

Under the country's electoral system, the party that gets a majority in a constituency is awarded all of its parliamentary seats.

Opposition leader Ahmed Dini
Dini: The opposition was not defeated fair and square

This means that the opposition - which scored under 50% in each of the five constituencies - failed to win a single seat.

Asked to explain why more than 32,000 who voted for the UAD would not be represented, Interior Minister Abdulkader Douleh Wais said:

"Every country has its own democratic system. Nothing prevented the opposition from winning all the seats."

Correspondents say the opposition alliance has been weakened by the defection to the presidential grouping of a traditional opposition leader, Aden Robleh.

But the head of the UAD, Ahmed Dini, said his alliance had been defeated through fraud.

He said many voter cards had not been distributed and that an "excessive" number of special judicial voting permits had been issued, leading to many cases of multiple voting.

"We denounce and condemn the result of the fraud," he told AFP new agency.

Mr Dini said he would appeal to Djibouti's Constitutional Court to invalidate the results.

Breakthrough

The opposition failed to win any seats in the previous election in 1997.

Djibouti voter's card
Some complained they did not get a voter's card

Aside from some complaints of disenfranchisement, the election passed off peacefully.

A dozen foreign observers have been monitoring the election.

For the first time the number of parties allowed to contest an election in Djibouti was not limited.

A 1992 law restricting political parties to four expired last year.

Before 1992, Djibouti had been a one-party state since gaining independence from France in 1977.

Friday's election also marks the first time women will sit in the assembly, following a recent law forcing parties to put forward female candidates.

See also:

11 Dec 02 | Africa
23 Nov 02 | Country profiles
23 Nov 02 | Africa
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