DJIBOUTI, 14 May (IRIN)—The Djibouti government and the radical wing of the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Peace (FRUD) signed an agreement on Saturday, 12 May, which observers say aims to put an end to the uneasy aftermath of the Afar insurgency in northern and south-western Djibouti.
The agreement was signed by Djibouti Interior Minister Abdallah Abdillahi Miguil and FRUD leader Ahmed Dini.
In a speech delivered at the signing ceremony at the Djibouti
Conference Centre, known as the Palais du Peuple, Dini said the accord
to enshrine peace in our political environment. Ahmed Dini
led a three-year long Afar insurgency in northern Djibouti from 1991
to 1994, after which the moderate wing of the party signed an
agreement with the government.
Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh attended the ceremony, and
said the agreement would
close a sad chapter in Djibouti’s
history. The head of state pledged that
never again will
Djibouti experience another conflict of this nature and magnitude.
The two sides refused to give details of the peace agreement, but at a
press conference held shortly after the ceremony, Dini told
journalists that it was centred on
decentralisation. He said the
government had agreed to the setting up of more representative local
bodies, and had promised to introduce
an unrestricted multi-party
system by September. Djibouti’s current multiparty apparatus
is confined to only four registered parties, which included the ruling
Rassemblement Populaire pour le Progres, and the moderate wing of
Part of the deal involves the reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas and populations affected by the conflict, a local journalist told IRIN. International support—possibly from the European Union—would be sought for the demobilisation of FRUD fighters, the journalist said.
Dini did not rule out the possibility that some senior members of his
organisation might join the Djibouti government in a pending cabinet
reshuffle. Answering questions on the relationship of the radical wing
with the moderate wing of FRUD, Dini said that, since the signing of
we are a political organisation fending for
itself. Two leaders of the moderate wing of FRUD hold prominent
positions in government, with Ali Muhammad Daoud as minister of
agriculture, and Ougoureh Kifle Ahmed as minister of defence.
Local political sources told IRIN that the peace agreement ended 15 months of secret talks, which were a follow-up to an earlier peace deal signed by the Djibouti government and Ahmed Dini’s FRUD in Paris on 7 February 2000. Since the outbreak of the Afar insurgency, the government had pursued a reconciliation process with the two different FRUD groups, spanning about eight years of negotiations, the source said. The moderate FRUD group was the first to reach agreement with the central authority on 26 December 1994.
FRUD took up arms against the Djibouti government in 1991 to press the demands of the Afar—who constitute one of the country’s two indigenous ethnic groups. The radical wing of FRUD said the action was in protest against what it considered the hegemonic drive of the Somali-speaking tribes.