US embassy cable - 04DJIBOUTI1566

PDD CURRIES SOMALILAND VOTE, PROMISES RECOGNITION, ALIENATES OPPOSITION AT HOME

Identifier: 04DJIBOUTI1566
Wikileaks: View 04DJIBOUTI1566 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Djibouti
Created: 2004-12-09 03:03:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV PNAT SO DJ
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 001566 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR AF AND AF/E; LONDON, PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2014 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PNAT, SO, DJ 
SUBJECT: PDD CURRIES SOMALILAND VOTE, PROMISES RECOGNITION, 
ALIENATES OPPOSITION AT HOME 
 
 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Erinn C. Reed for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: In a move aimed at currying the Djiboutian 
vote resident in Somaliland, Mohamed Daoud Chehem, President 
of the Djiboutian Party for Development (PDD), visited 
Hargeisa, Somaliland 1 December. While in Hargeisa, Chehem 
met with officials from Somaliland opposition party Kulmiye 
to discuss Djiboutian presidential elections slated for April 
2005. Chehem also gave an interview to reporters from the 
Somaliland daily newspaper "Haatuf" following the meeting. 
During the meeting, and announced in his interview, Chehem 
stated the intention to recognize Somaliland should the 
opposition win in April. News of Chehem's unilateral advance, 
meeting with Somaliland opposition and interview with the 
press created an uproar among the opposition coalition, Union 
for Democratic Alternance (UAD). As a result, in a joint 
meeting 5 December, UAD officials unanimously voted to 
exclude PDD from the coalition. The opposition journal, La 
Realite, called Chehem's actions a flagrant violation of 
UAD's agreement to unanimity. Somaliland Foreign Minister 
Ismail places little stock in the ability of PDD to be 
victorious in a run for Djibouti's presidency. However, if it 
did win, Somaliland would welcome recognition , in Ismail's 
words, "with open arms." End Summary. 
 
2. (U) A delegation from the Djiboutian opposition party 
Djiboutian Party for Development (PDD) traveled to Hargeisa 
at the invitation of Somaliland opposition party Kulmiye. 
Mohamed Daoud Chehem, President of PDD, and Hassan Mohamed 
Hassan, Vice president of PDD, met with the executive 
committee of Kulmiye to discuss upcoming presidential 
elections in Djibouti and a possible cooperation between the 
two oppositions. The meeting was held behind closed doors, 
but both sides spoke to the press afterward. In an interview 
with Somaliland daily newspaper, Haatuf, Chehem stated if the 
opposition won in April, Djibouti would recognize Somaliland 
as an independent nation. Kulmiye officials said that they 
support this declaration. 
 
3. (U) The reaction to Chehem's statement among the 
opposition parties at home in Djibouti was less than 
enthusiastic. Chehem was landbasted for taking unilateral 
actions and speaking in the name of UAD without consultation. 
The leaders of the other three parties in UAD held a joint 
meeting 5 December to discuss Chehem's actions. In a press 
communiqu, the three leaders stated unanimously that PDD 
would be excluded from the coalition. The leaders cited 
repeated breaches of the UAD unanimity agreement, most 
notably Chehem's "illegitimate" announcement for presidential 
candidacy, as basis for the party's exclusion. 
4. (U) In the 8 December edition of "La Realite", published 
by the Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD), ARD said it 
remains faithful to its former president Ahmed Dini Ahmed's 
declaration in 1992 on recognition of Somaliland. However, 
the current leaders of ARD said they would never assume that 
the whole of UAD supported that statement without 
consultation. The UAD would be weakened, the article 
continued, by an individual interested in pursuing personal 
gain and ready to betray the hopes of people. 
 
5. (C) Somaliland FM, Edna Ismail, commenting to Ambassador 
on the Kulmiye/PDD meeting, said it did not generate much 
public resonance, but had also been raised with her by 
President Guelleh. She said she believed that all know the 
chances of victory for PDD are slim and much hope is not 
placed on promises often made by campaigning politicians. "It 
goes without saying, however, that if they win and they do 
recognize Somaliland," she added, "we would welcome it with 
open arms." (Comment: This comment, in jest, should not be 
interpreted as an indication of support by Somaliland of the 
PDD. End Comment.) 
 
6. (C) Comment: Somaliland is closely tied to Djibouti 
through its economy and border, but most importantly through 
familial relationships. It is a common practice for 
Djiboutians to retire to Somaliland because of their roots, 
cost of living and climate. It is rumored that in past 
elections the government authorities have managed vote 
collecting operations in Somaliland. Some believe the 
Government of Djibouti has given Somalilanders Djiboutian 
National Identity Cards in return for a vote for the ruling 
party. The actual number of Djiboutians living in Somaliland 
is unknown, but estimated at around 2,500 persons - a large 
number in terms of Djiboutian elections. 
7. (C) Comment cont: PDD's goal is most likely aimed at 
pulling votes away from RPP in Somaliland by offering 
recognition, something Guelleh cannot promise without 
stepping on the toes of several international partners. PDD's 
actions, according to earlier conversations with Chehem (see 
reftel), have been driven by the desire to divide the voting 
population as much as possible to prevent Guelleh from 
receiving a majority right off the bat. Chehem's talks with 
Kulmiye on cooperation would help in this task, potentially 
meaning Kulmiye would campaign for PDD among the Djiboutian 
community in Somaliland. 
 
8. (C) Comment cont: Chehem is not known as a charismatic or 
popular individual in Djibouti. Information available to Post 
does not indicate that Chehem would be a candidate likely or 
able to attract the numbers necessary to defeat Guelleh. His 
strategy in catering to the Somaliland votes and utilizing 
cultural connections to divide the Djiboutian vote is 
cunning, but it is too soon to say whether it will bear any 
political fruit come April elections. End Comment. 
RAGSDALE 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04