Djibouti gets new Prime Minister in ‘cosmetic’ cabinet reshuffle
DJIBOUTI - Djibouti's new prime minister took office on Monday after President Ismail Omar Guelleh reshuffled his cabinet in the wake of rioting in the strategic Horn of Africa nation over elections marred by widespread fraud.
Guelleh named former defence minister Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed to replace longtime ally Dileita Mohamed Dileita who had served as prime minister since 2001.
Guelleh's Union for Presidential Majority (UMP) won a parliamentary election on February 22 with 49 percent of the vote, according to official results that triggered clashes between opposition protesters and police.
The elections saw various opposition parties unite under the Union for National Salvation (USN) banner with a common programme focusing on human rights, developing independent media and fighting against "tribalism, corruption and nepotism".
The USN described the reshuffle as an attempt by the president to surround himself "with a team of zealous loyalists hated by the people".
Mohamed, who was born in 1951, previously served as the head of a state-owned water agency and agriculture minister before being appointed to the defence ministry in 2011.
Some Djiboutians charged that the reshuffle did not represent real change.
"Where is this so-called change in this new government? It is just the same people holding different offices," teacher Ahmed Ali said. "We want real change."
Of 21 ministers, only five in minor ministries did not make it back into the cabinet.
Tiny Djibouti hosts the biggest French and US military bases in Africa and guards the southern entry to the Red Sea and route to the Suez Canal. It derives most of its revenue from its port and from land rented out for the Western bases.
Guelleh, 65, only the second president since independence from France in 1977, was re-elected for a third five-year mandate in April 2011 after the constitution was revised to allow him another term.