The first ballot of the regional and municipal elections was held in Djibouti on March 11, involving 529 voting stations open to the country’s 215,687 voters.
Three electoral lists were present: the Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP) and the two independent lists Wadani Assajog and Development of Justice, for the election of regional and municipal delegates of the six administrative districts of Djibouti. Only in one of these districts, that of Ali Sabieh, the three forces were present, while in the other five the UMP list represented the only electoral option.
Thus, the affirmation of the candidates of the UMP list, close to President Ismail Omar Guelleh, was taken for granted, in what many consider an anticipation of the electoral results of the next legislative elections, which will be held by the end of the year.
The Djiboutian authorities have expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the elections, aimed at increasing the process of decentralization of local autonomy, although criticism has come for the de facto absence of true pluralism.
The undisputed dominance of the political group close to President Guelleh, which has dominated local power for almost twenty years without any real alternative, derives essentially from two factors. The first is to be found in the progressive centralization of the prerogatives of power in the hands of the presidential circle, which has prevented the development of any real alternative political platform. The second, instead, in the inability of the oppositions themselves to promote the growth of an adequate leadership and, no less important, of shared platforms less polarized by infighting. Having systematically boycotted all the elections, without presenting any shareable and viable proposal on the political level, the oppositions had progressively worn down their capacity, alienating from an albeit dissatisfied electorate. The united front of the Union of National Salvation, constituted in 2014, raised fed for at least two years the hope of an effective alternative political platform to the UMP, only to dissolve due to internal struggles within its leadership.