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Cablegate: Djiiboutian National Day: Flying the Flag and Thanking

VZCZCXRO6210
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHDJ #0565/01 1821023
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301023Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9356
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000565

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON KPAO SOCI FR ER DJ
SUBJECT: DJIIBOUTIAN NATIONAL DAY: FLYING THE FLAG AND THANKING
FRANCE

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. With tensions still running high on the
Djibouti-Eritrea border, the GODJ marked Djiboutian National Day on
June 27 with modest celebrations, thanks to allies, and a renewed
appeal for national solidarity. Although a large portion of
Djibouti's armed forces are deployed near the border area, a planned
military parade in the capital went on as planned, with good
attendance and participation. In his annual national day address,
President Guelleh called for redoubled efforts to fight poverty and
ensure that all Djiboutians benefit from economic growth. Guelleh
also promised that Djibouti would continue to protect her
territorial integrity, and thanked Djibouti's allies--and in
particular France--for support during the ongoing border dispute.
END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------
MILITARY PARADE: A GOOD SHOWING
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) National Day festivities kicked off at 6am June 27 with a
parade at Camp Cheik Osman in Djibouti City. Military leaders in
attendance included Minister of Defense Ougoureh Kifleh Ahmed, Chief
of the President's Military Cabinet Hassan Said Kaireh, CHOD MG
Fathi Ahmed Houssein, Deputy Chief of Staff BG Hassan Ali Kamil, and
East African Standby Brigade Commander and Djibouti Military
Director of International Relations BG Osman Nour Soubagleh.
Noticeably absent were Chief of Staff MG Zakaria Cheik Ibrahim and
Navy Commander COL Abdourahman Aden Cher, who were presumably
monitoring operations at the Djibouti-Eritrea border.

3. (SBU) Approximately 700 military and 300 Gendarmes, police, and
firefighters marched in the parade. The parading troops displayed
U.S. equipment (including approximately 15 Humvees, some with U.S.
50 Caliber M2 machine guns, and several FMTV class trucks), and
French equipment (including several Vehicule de l'Avant Blinde (VAB)
or similar wheeled armored personnel carriers, and several Vehicule
Blinde Leger (VBL) or similar light armored vehicles, unidentified
truck-mounted rocket launchers, and assorted trucks.)

---------------------
DJIBOUTI WILL PROTECT
TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY
----------------------

4. (U) At a 10am reception at his official residence, President
Guelleh gave a short address, which was carried live by state-run
media. Guelleh began by thanking the armed forces of Djibouti for
their dedication in the face of "Eritrean military aggression".
Citing Djibouti's "essential and fundamental values" of "peace,
liberty, fraternity, and unity," Guelleh said that Djibouti would
not be drawn into the "logic of war" by Eritrea. Guelleh affirmed
Djibouti's willingness to seek a diplomatic solution by all
available means, but also said that Djiboutians would "never
tolerate" a threat to the "integrity of our national territory."

---------------------------------
FIGHTING THE "TWO SPEED" SOCIETY
---------------------------------

5. (U) The meat of President Guelleh's speech focused on the fight
against poverty in Djibouti. Guelleh outlined the achievements of
his administration, pointing to "palpable and tangible" improvements
in health and education. At the same time, he called for renewed
efforts to include "our compatriots who feel marginalized and
excluded from our rediscovered economic growth," saying that it was
the "responsibility of the government not to accept the installation
of a 'two-speed' society" in Djibouti. He outlined the continued
work of the GODJ's National Social Development Initiative to address
these disparities.

6. (U) Evoking rising oil and food prices, Guelleh denounced
speculation and called for more help from developed countries to the
developing world. He also summarized the GODJ's efforts to increase
energy and food security, including wind and geothermal energy
projects, a planned connection with the Ethiopian electricity grid,
and agreements with Sudan and Ethiopia to grow crops on their
territory for Djiboutian consumption.

-------------------------
EXPLICIT THANKS TO FRANCE
-------------------------

7. (U) In previous years, Guelleh has delivered his speech in
Arabic. This year, Guelleh spoke in French, and explicitly thanked
France twice--once singling out France for support during the
ongoing Djibouti-Eritrea border situation, and once personally
thanking President Sarkozy for his "courage and will to help create

DJIBOUTI 00000565 002.2 OF 002


a Palestinian state."

8. (SBU) COMMENT: Several of President Guelleh's points about the
need for all Djiboutians to benefit from economic growth and
investment could have been taken directly from Post's Mission
Strategic Plan. While the background of the border conflict gave
Guelleh special reason to call for national unity and thank
Djibouti's allies, his overall message highlighted longtime GODJ
goals: poverty reduction and economic growth. END COMMENT.

LIST

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