In the popular district of Balbala in Djibouti’s capital, voters are up early to cast their ballot in the presidential election on Friday.
It is a two-horse race between the incumbent Ismail Omar Guelleh, in power since 1999, and his challenger Zakaria Ismail Farah, an independent candidate without a party.
Guelleh, 73, has ruled for 22 years and has taken advantage of the country’s geographical position by investing in logistics infrastructure and ports.
His only rival, Farah, is a 56-year-old importer of cleaning products and a newcomer to politics. Polling stations opened in the early hours to welcome voters. Some 215,000 citizens are registered to vote.
“Voting is going the right way even though there aren’t many people so far it is 8:35 am and we only have 16 voters,” said Iba Dohma Ibrahim, president of the Balbala polling station. “This is normal because on Fridays people don’t get up early in Djibouti. “
According to reports, “Balbala is one of the most populous neighborhoods in Djibouti. Here the polling stations opened almost an hour ago and voters are arriving in dribs.
“Nearly 3,000 voters are expected at this polling centre. They are deciding between Ismail Omar Guelleh, the incumbent president and Zakariah Ismael Farah the independent candidate. “Voting is calm at the moment, and of course police are present everywhere. Polling stations will close at 7 p.m. local time.”