Guelleh sworn in for second presidential term

Ismail Omar Guelleh was on Saturday sworn in for a second and final six-year term as president of the tiny Horn of Africa nation, the official news agency, Agence Djiboutienne d'Information (ADI), reported.

Guelleh won 100 percent of the votes cast in a one-man race on 8 April. According to ADI, 78.9 percent of approximately 197,000 registered voters cast their ballots - at 200 voting booths - across the country. Opposition parties boycotted, describing the poll as "ridiculous, rigged and rubbish".

Present at the swearing in ceremony were several regional leaders. Guelleh, in an address during the ceremony, said: "It is important to continue to accelerate economic development by making it possible to improve the living conditions of Djibouti’s people and to satisfy their basic needs, in guaranteeing their health and housing, while answering their immediate needs such as employment, particularly employment of the young people."

Djibouti’s second president, Guelleh was first elected to ofice in 1999, taking over from his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had ruled the country since its independence from France in 1977.

A country of 700,000 that suffers serious water and food shortages, Djibouti served as an operations base during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, and France continues to have a significant military presence in the country.

More recently, the US has stationed hundreds of troops in Djibouti as part of its effort to counter terrorism in the region. It, however, criticised the country's human-rights record, saying that security forces have committed "serious human-rights abuses", while the government had limited citizens’ rights to change their government.

A 2005 US State Department report said some opposition leaders in Djibouti practiced self-censorship, and refrained from organising popular demonstrations to avoid provoking a government crackdown.