Djibouti: President Guelleh Reconcile With His Longtime Enemy and Possible Successor

It's either a remedy for his 1999 mistake or a move to neutralize the opposition.
It’s either a remedy for his 1999 blunder or a move to neutralize the opposition.

By TesfaNews,

PRESIDENT Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (IOG) has got a beautiful surprise for his opponents in the country. He quietly reconcile with his long time nightmare and rivalry Ismael Guedi Hared. Not only that. To cement their new found friendship, Guelleh allowed his daughter to marry Guedi’s nephew.

But who is Ismael Guedi and why Ismael Guelleh fears him to death?

During the Presidency of Djibouti’s first president Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who was also Guelleh’s uncle, Guedi and Guelleh were both senior officials. They were directeur de cabinet and chef de cabinet respectively. 

This was followed by a relentless fight for succession in the early 1990s and the two men remained staunch enemies for two decades. Finally, Guelleh took the upper hand and succeed Gouled in 1999 to become Djibouti’s second president. He then imprisoned and deprived Guedi of civic rights for five years, after which Guedi went into opposition

The July 19th reconciliation with one of its leaders, however, plunged the Djibouti opposition into a tizzy.

Ismael Guedi was the president of the UDJ party and one of the leaders of the coalition of opposition movements Union pour le salut national (USN).

According to some sources, Guedi went to the Head of State’s private residence in the evening of 19 July. Their meeting was organised via the intermediary of Djama Elmi Okieh, Guedi’s nephew and now, of course, the husband of Guelleh’s daughter Haybado. Djama Elmi Okieh, who is also the Education minister is an Issa/Saad Moussa.

By shaking hands that evening, Guelleh and Guedi brought an end to their 19 years of conflict. But this handshake perplexed many people in government and in the USN leadership as to the real nature of the two men’s motives.

President Guelleh is beginning to show his age and his health is not what it used to be. He has several times reiterated that he will not run in the 2016 election and his state of health suggests that this will be the case.

Guedi is now back on the scene and could well be the joker on the race to succeed Guelleh if the latter doesn’t run in the upcoming presidential election.

The best placed potential candidate for his succession, presidential secretary general, Ismail Tani, from the same Issa/Mamassan ethnic group as Guelleh, is at the moment not in the good books of the highly influential first lady Kadra Mahamoud Haid.

In the event of choosing a non-Mamassan, the most likely candidates would be Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, former health minister Abdallah Miguil and even the Afar Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileta.

With the betryal of Ismael Guedi to its opposition camp and the developing tension within the President’ party (RPP) at which an opportunity the opposition coalition wouldn’t fail to seize, a turbulent political time is awaiting for Djibouti and the ailing president Guelleh.