Opposition leaders in the Territory of the Afars and Issas, the last French colony in Africa, claimed on Monday (9 May) that their supporters had been beater up during voting the day before.
Opposition leaders in the Territory of the Afars and Issas, the last French colony in Africa, claimed on Monday (9 May) that their supporters had been beater up during voting the day before. The voting was for a Constituent Assembly for the small protectorate and was accompanied by a referendum which produced a overwhelming majority in favour of independence from France. As a result the territory will become the Republic of Djibouti on June the 27th, making it Africa's 49th state.
Final results released on Monday (9 May) showed that of the 81,770 votes cast in the Assembly election, 92.48 per cent were in favour of the list of candidates. There were 6,149 void ballots, less than eight per cent of those cast. In the referendum, 81,847 voted for independence and 199 voted against. The opposition parties would refuse to recognise the new assembly, spokesmen for the two dissenting opposition parties -- the Popular Liberation Movement (MPL) and the National Union for Independence (UNI) declared on Monday (9 May). Mohamed Kamil Ali of the MPL said: "There have not been elections, therefore there are no elected representatives and the struggle must continue". He did not indicate the nature of the struggle.
SYNOPSIS: Crowds began queuing outside the polling booths in the only major town, the port of Djibouti, as early as six a.m. on Sunday (8 May) two hours before the referendum voting began.
Troops were around, but the 7,000-strong French garrison was confined to barracks on full alrt. The Territory, which lies on the Horn of Africa between Ethiopia and north-east Somalia, has been under French rule for 115 years. The French navy uses Djibouti as its home port for exercises in the Indian Ocean. All six political groups from the two dominant tribes of Afar and Issa urged their supporters to vote for independence, and the result was never in doubt.
Opposition disagreements arose, though, in the simultaneous elections for a national assembly. Two opposition parties, predominantly of the Afar tribe, called on their followers to cast blank or mutilated ballots rather than vote for the single list of candidates led by the African People's League for Independence, or L.P.A.I., which is predominantly Issa.
One of the principal Afar leaders, M. Ali Aref, the former president of the Council of Government, voted 'yes' for independence, like nearly everyone else. He recently issued a surprise statement giving his support to Hassan Gouled, leader of the L.P.A.I., and called on all the people to rally behind him. M. Aref was accompanied for Sunday's referendum vote by his French wife.
M. Gouled is now widely expected to head the first independent administration, and is recognised as the only figure capable of leading the Territory after independence.