The Djibouti Government is the governing authority over the six regions of the country. The legislative branch in Djibouti is unicameral and is composed of 65 members from six different electoral constituencies. Article 58 of the Constitution endows the Assembly with the right of amendment and the right to make laws. Djibouti has its own military force, consisting of a small modern army supported by the French Foreign Legion. As the Head of the Government, the President of Djibouti serves as the Commander-in-Chief both of the Djibouti military forces and the National Police.
Presidential elections in Djibouti are based on a two-round system where the candidate must receive an absolute majority of votes in order to win the election. The President enjoys broad authority under Articles 30 and 40 of the Constitution whereby he can appoint or dismiss the cabinet from the Assembly, including the Prime Minister and other Ministers. Although there is no veto process in the country’s political system, the President has the authority to amend a law and refer to the Constitutional Council to reconsider the decision. In addition, he is responsible for negotiating and approving international treaties.
The current president Ismael Omar Guelleh is the second president in the country’s history since it gained independence from France. He came to power in 1999. He was re-elected in 2005 as the sole candidate in the presidential elections. Furthermore, his terms in office were extended under a special measure by the National Assembly in 2010, as presidents were previously legally limited to two terms. In addition to extending the presidential term limits, the constitutional amendment specifies that candidates for the presidency must be aged between 40 and 75. As such, Guelleh began his third and last term as president after his election victory in 2011.
The country takes a strong position against terrorism and piracy in the Red Sea by hosting the US and French military facilities on its soil. During the last decade, their presence has helped maintain regional security as well as stability in Djibouti.
Djibouti is governed by a unicameral legislative branch. In total, there are 65 representatives from six districts, directly elected by the people of Djibouti every five years. Each district is identified as a multi-member electoral constituency, which receives varying numbers of seats based on population. These seats are distributed amongst the six districts: Ali Sabieh, Arta, Dikhil, Obock, Tadjourah, and Djibouti.
The Assembly was established during the French Colonial period, but the first independent parliamentary elections were held in 1982. Under the leadership of Hassan Gouled Aptidon, Djibouti was governed as a single-party state until it was reformed into a multi-party system in 1992. Currently, the National Assembly is elected under a mixed system, which was constituted in 2012. Accordingly, 80% of the seats are elected by a plural voting system, while 20% of the seats are elected by proportional representation.
There are three political coalitions within the Assembly. The majority coalition, The Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP), which is led by President Guelleh’s party, The People’s Rally for Progress (RPP), dominates the political system and receives the largest share of the total seats.
As per Article 51 of the Constitution, the National Assembly meets for two ordinary sessions in a year. The first session begins in March and the second session is held in October, with each lasting four months. Additionally, Article 56 defines the extent of legislative power, including its power to make laws concerning the organization of public powers and the division of power between the state and local authorities.
The population of Djibouti is formed of two dominant ethnicities, Issa (a clan of Somali origin) and the Afar people who make up more than 95% of the total population. Although the Issa community makes up the majority of the population of Djibouti, the Assembly is fairly evenly balanced between these groups. The current President is from the Issa clan, while the Prime Minister is an Afar. The number of women in Djiboutian politics has been growing since the introduction of a gender quota system, whereby at least 10% of positions are to be held by women. In the 2013 parliamentary elections, women held 12.7% of the total seats, but this share is still the lowest in the region (Eritrea 22%; Ethiopia 27.8%; Kenya 19.1%; Somalia 13.8%; South Sudan 26.5%).
The number of women in Djiboutian politics has been growing since the introduction of a gender quota system, whereby at least 10% of positions are to be held by women.
Djibouti’s political stability and its strategic location in the Horn of Africa mean the country has the opportunity to become a unique partner at the international level. The country has successfully cooperated with foreign entities and has been praised for undertaking a major role in stabilizing the region. In fact, Djibouti is extremely dependent on both regional and international cooperation as a small state sandwiched between various conflicts. Since its independence, it has experienced several disagreements with neighbors over its borders. Djibouti has been the only country to benefit from these conflicts by becoming the regional hub for trade and logistics as its port has become the principal sea route for many countries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is the main body responsible for directing Djibouti’s foreign relations. Recently, the Ministry has outlined four pillars for its regional policy in order to increase Djibouti’s ties with its neighbors, including economic prosperity, democracy, the rule of law and religious tolerance. As such, Ethiopia’s role in transit trade is seen as the key to sustainable economic prosperity. Djibouti’s port exports Ethiopian goods to the rest of the world and the partnership between these countries is extremely beneficial for both. Additionally, Djibouti hopes to become the major trade center of East Africa by improving its relations with the newly-independent oil producer South Sudan.
Djibouti is willing to improve its ties with its neighbors in order to ensure peace and security within the region. There are 37 countries in total that have established diplomatic representations in Djibouti. International organizations including the African Union, the Arab League, IGAD, and the United Nations have active offices in the country. In addition to strengthening its foreign relations, Djibouti is seeking to become a logistical center for international security forces. The country takes a strong position against terrorism and piracy in the Red Sea by hosting the US and French military facilities on its soil. During the last decade, their presence has helped maintain regional security as well as stability in Djibouti.
Embassies: Belgium, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, Yemen
Consulate Generals: Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, India, South Korea, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates
Consulates: Austria, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, Philippines, Uganda
Diplomatic Representations in Djibouti
Embassies: China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Japan, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey, United States, Yemen
Consulate Generals: Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland
Consulates: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, India, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Sweden, United Kingdom