In the presidential elections this month, incumbent President Ismael Omar Guelleh won a fourth presidential term with 84% of the votes. Guelleh – only the country's second president since its independence from France in 1977 – succeeded his uncle in 1999. The African union and the US claimed the elections to be credible and fair but opposition parties accuse President Guelleh of electoral fraud.

Impact on country risk

The re-election of President Guelleh comes as no surprise. Guelleh has a strong hold on power attributable to divisions within the opposition and government repression. Moreover, he uses the country´s strategic geographical location to boost economic growth (6.5% expected in 2016). Indeed, the landlocked Ethiopia, reporting economic growth of 10% for the past 2 years, is using Djibouti´s port for its trade which fuels economic growth in Djibouti and attracts (Chinese) infrastructure investments. In addition, Djibouti also hosts the US's only African military base, French and Japanese bases and soon China´s first external military post as it is located at an important shipping choke point between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. Those bases also support the economy and make Dijbouti a military hub for international powers. The contested elections are likely to provoke violent unrest and, in return, increase government repression. Also in 2013 parliamentary elections were questioned, leading to protests and political deadlock until an agreement was reached in 2014, with promised but still pending political reforms.

Analyst: Jolyn Debuysscher, j.debuysscher@credendogroup.com