Voters have started to cast their ballot in the presidential election as they file up in the popular district of Balbala in Djibouti’s capital, on Friday.
The process promises to be a tight race between the incumbent Ismail Omar Guelleh who has been in power since 1999, and his key opponent 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 budding politician and an importer of cleaning products.
Polling stations opened in the early hours to receive some 215,000 citizens that have 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,” he added.
Africanews’ Sege Koffi in Djibouti, who was at a polling station in Balabala said: “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 7pm local time”.