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Cablegate: Godj Dissolves Opposition Party for "Inviting

VZCZCXRO9772
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHDJ #0604 1991317
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171317Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9397
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS DJIBOUTI 000604

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KPAO DJ ET
SUBJECT: GODJ DISSOLVES OPPOSITION PARTY FOR "INVITING
ERITREAN INVASION"

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Against the backdrop of ongoing tensions
around the Djibouti-Eritrea border, the GODJ has outlawed an
opposition political party for allegedly inviting Eritrea to
invade Djiboutian territory. A July 9 presidential decree
dissolves the opposition party MRD (Mouvement pour le
Renouveau Democratique, or Movement for Democratic Renewal),
and liquidates its assets. As state-run media lambasted the
MRD and its leader for "high treason" and prominently printed
the alleged letter, the MRD and its leader denied the charges
and argued that the letter was a fabrication. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On July 9, Minister of the Interior Yacin Elmi Bouh
announced that President Guelleh had issued a decree
dissolving the opposition MRD (Mouvement pour le Renouveau
Democratique) party. The MRD formed part of the three-party
opposition coalition UAD (Union pour l'Alternance
Democratique, or Alliance for Democratic Alternation) that
boycotted February 2008 legislative elections. The GODJ
accuses the MRD's leader--Daher Ahmed Farah, resident in
Brussels--of writing an open letter to President Isaias,
inviting Eritrea to attack Djibouti. Several
government-operated news sources claimed to have obtained a
copy of the alleged letter, dated July 6. The decree, which
was prominently printed in the state-run newspaper "La
Nation" on July 10, dissolves the MRD for "inviting the
Eritrean Head of State to invade the Republic of Djibouti,"
and thereby attempting to attack Djibouti's "national
independence, territorial integrity, and security of State."
The decree liquidates the assets of the MRD, and is effective
immediately.

3. (SBU) State-run media featured prominent, vehement
coverage of the dissolution. An article posted on the
website of state-run Radio Television Djibouti (RTD)
commented that "After sneaking abroad, skillfully rooting out
resources from international NGOs and associations, (and)
refusing to take part in the democratic settlement of the
elections, it was necessary that our opposition passed to a
superior stage. And it was in this cynical logic that the
present crime of high treason and plotting with a foreign
power became inevitable."

4. (U) The state-run newspaper "La Nation" published a
reproduction of the alleged letter in its July 14 edition.
The reproduced letter, which bears no signature, states that
there are "no human rights or liberty of expression" in
Djibouti, and asks President Isaias to "finish this royal
regime" so that the opposition can govern the country "in
transparency."

5. (U) In a response posted on the MRD website on July 15,
Farah criticized Guelleh's "arbitrary dissolution" of the
party and called the alleged letter "unconvincing." The MRD
claims that the published document was a significantly
doctored version of an entirely different press release,
pointing out the absence of a signature, and inconsistencies
in the style of what it identifies as the forged paragraphs.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Post has seen no concrete proof either way
that the alleged MRD-Isaias letter is either authentic, or a
fake. As the GODJ and the MRD trade accusations and
counter-accusations, definitive information on the letter is
not likely to emerge, and is even less likely to end the
argument. The dissolution of the MRD is probably
irreversible. However, given the MRD leader's residence in
Belgium, self-proclaimed MRD activity will likely survive the
party's legal disappearance on Djiboutian soil. END SUMMARY.
WONG

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