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Chronology for Afars in Djibouti

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Afars in Djibouti, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3882c.html [accessed 2 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Date(s) Item
Jan 1 - Dec 13, 1859 French interest in the coast (now Djibouti) began.
1896 The boundaries of French Somaliland were established.
1897 - 1917 France maintained close relations with Ethiopia and the railroad from Djibouti to Addis Ababa was constructed.
1957 - 1967 The French gradually gave autonomy to the colony.
1961 - 1970 Irredentist attempts to unite Somalis in northern Kenya, eastern Ethiopia (Ogaden), and Djibouti failed.
1967 The then dominant Afars voted to continue French connections.
Jun 1977 The country (formerly the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas) became independent. Hassan Gouled Aptidon, an Issa, became the President.
Jun 1981 Gouled, the sole candidate, was re-elected President.
Oct 1981 The Popular Rally for Progress (RPP-rassemblement populaire pour le progress, led by President Gouled) became the sole legal party. The government was predominantly from the majority Issa community of southern Djibouti.
1986 The mouvement national djiboutien pour l'instauration de la democratie (MNDID), led by former Commerce Minister Aden Awaleh Robleh, an Issa, was formed.
Apr 1987 Gouled, the sole presidential candidate, was re-elected.
May 2, 1989 Fearing a new influx of Somali refugees, Djibouti closed the border with Somalia after the Somali National Movement (SNM) captured the Saylac border region.
Oct 21, 1989 Clashes between different groups of ethnic Somalis in Djibouti left 20 people wounded. The fighting was a further manifestation of the traditional enmity between Gadabursis (who backed the regime of President Siyad Barre in Somalia) and Issaqs (who supported the SNM in its efforts to oust Barre). In late 1989, about 30,000 Somali refugees (mainly Issaqs) lived in Djibouti.
Feb 1990 The two leading underground (exiled) opposition groups, the Afar-supported front democratique pour la liberation de Djibouti (FDLD, led by Mohammed Adoyta Yussuf) and the (presumably Afar-supported) MNDID agreed in Brussels to form a common front, the union des mouvements democratiques (UMD).
Jan 1991 68 members of the Afar community from northern Djibouti were arrested for holding an illegal meeting. An alleged coup attempt in Tadjoura on January 8-9 led to the arrest of an Afar politician Ali Aref Bourhan (Chief Minister of the territory under French rule) and other Afar members. The government claimed that if the attempt had succeeded, a civil war between the Afar and Issa ethnic groups would have occurred. On January 13 several people protesting the arrests were wounded by the army during demonstrations.
Feb 12, 1991 Defense agreements were made with France, giving French forces responsibility for the surveillance of air, maritime, and civilian traffic. The agreements extended the 1977 defense treaty upon independence.
Apr 1991 Mohammed Moussa Ali Tourtour, opposition leader of the UMD, and a former economic advisor to President Gouled, was held without trial between April and September.
May 1991 Following the end of the Mengistu regime, the Ethiopian troops fled with their weapons into Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan.
Jul 9 - 15, 1991 There were clashes between Issa and Oromo groups in Djibouti and Ethiopia.
Oct 1991 There were clashes between government forces and Afar rebels in the Kikhil region of western Djibouti.
Nov 1991 The Djibouti government asked for French military support, as the Front for Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) led by Adoyta Yussuf launched full-scale guerilla activities in the northern towns of Tadjoura and Obock. Guerrilla forces intensified their attacks on November 11-12. Following FRUD's attack on Obock on November 15-16, the French army evacuated French nationals from Obock and Tadjoura. Government leaders insisted that FRUD guerillas were Ethiopian Afar militia seeking to build a greater Afaria. The opposition UMD said that the rebels had come from inside the country. Amnesty International reported arbitrary detentions and use of torture by the Djibouti government against the political opposition in 1990 and 1991.
Dec 18, 1991 Government authorities said that 30-40 persons were killed and 84 injured in an incident in Arhiba, an Afar-dominated district of the capital. An Afar member of the Chamber of Deputies claimed that 30 people had been killed after police fired indiscriminately into a group of about 100 people. Fighting between the government army and the armed opposition FRUD continued around government-held Tadjoura and Obock.
Dec 23, 1991 Mohammed Ababo Koba, a member of the RPP, was fired after protesting the killings in Arhiba. Seventeen Afar deputies, protesting the killings and mistreatment of nomads by the army near Tadjoura, resigned from the Chamber of Deputies and demanded talks between the government and the FRUD.
Dec 31, 1991 Another 14 Afar deputies resigned from the RPP. Although the capital was not directly affected by the fighting in the north, tensions increased as the handling of the crisis provoked dissension within the RPP.
Jan 1992 The fighting between the FRUD and the government army continued around Tadjoura and Gadade district, and near Kikhil in the south of the country. UMD and FRUD denied that the rebellion was merely based on ethnic differences.
1992 Armed attacks and tension between the Afar and Issa groups persisted.
Feb 10, 1992 Gouled promised that the Arabs, the Issaqs and the Gadabursis would be included in the construction of multi-party democracy.
Feb 29, 1992 A two-week peace mission by Paul Dijoud, Director of African Affairs at the French Foreign Ministry, produced a ceasefire which included the deployment of a French peacekeeping force and the release of the FRUD representative Abbate Ebo Adou (who had been imprisoned since December 1991). Yet, President Gouled continued to assert that FRUD was a foreign organization violating Djibouti territory.
Jun 1992 FRUD guerrillas repeatedly clashed with government forces.
Jun 27, 1992 President Gouled announced that a constitutional referendum would be held on September 4, to be followed by legalization of political parties.
Aug 2, 1992 The United Opposition Front (FUO, an umbrella group including members of the parliamentary opposition and FRUD) published in Paris an appeal to non-governmental organizations to send aid to some 200,000 civilians in the north and south-west of Djibouti. According the FUO, about 100 people were dying every day due to drought and a government blockade of rebel-active areas. Also, Ethiopia was allegedly blocking access to the region.
Aug 26, 1992 Helaf Orbis Ali resigned as Minister of Labor to join the FUO. Two other ministers had already resigned since January to join the opposition.
Oct 17, 1992 The multi-party general election, which was rescheduled for November 20 (from September 4), was postponed until December 18 by a presidential decree. Only two of the five parties which applied for registration had been accepted -- the ruling RPP and the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD). The rebel FRUD and other parties (grouped in the FUO) were not registered.
Nov 1 - Dec 31, 1992 Fighting between FRUD and the government army in Tadjoura continued.
Nov 27, 1992 French troops withdrew from Tadjoura.
Dec 18, 1992 In the first multi-party election since independence, the RPP won all 65 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
Jan 1993 Fighting in Tadjoura left dozens of people dead and hundreds injured.
Feb 4, 1993 President Gouled carried out a Cabinet reshuffle, maintaining the delicate ethnic balance of the government, with 8 ministries being assigned to Issas, 7 to Afars (including Prime Minister), and portfolio each going to the Arabs, Gadabursi, and Issaq.
Feb 14, 1993 The government army attacked a FRUD position in the south-west.
Feb 16, 1993 The army regained control of the whole South after driving guerrilla forces from areas they had held for a year.
May 1993 Gouled won his fourth term of office in presidential elections which were marked by opposition allegations of irregularities.
Jul 5, 1993 The government launched a major offensive against FRUD. The main FRUD base at Assa-Gueyla had fallen, and government forces recaptured the areas which had been occupied by the Afar guerrillas, including the towns of Balho, Dorra, and Randa. FRUD rebel forces withdrew to the mountains in the far north.
Jul 29, 1993 Some 15,000 civilians living in rebel zones fled into Ethiopia.
1994 The State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1994 reported that there were new reports, especially in the first quarter of the year, that government security forces abused detainees, especially Afars in the northern region and in Djiboutiville, and those suspected of links to FRUD. There were also credible reports of government forces being involved in the rape of at least 12 women and girls in Mabla and Oueima regions in March. On at least two occasions the government razed squatter settlements built on public lands by Afars, and others from Somalia and Ethiopia, displaced by the civil conflict. Since 1991, about 9000 mostly Afar civilians have fled to Ethiopia and Eritrea to avoid the civil conflict. The government party, People's Rally for Progress (Popular Movement for Progress), holds all parliamentary seats and significant government posts. The next legislative elections are scheduled for 1997. The two officially recognized political opposition parties are the PRD (Party for Democratic Renewal) and the PND (National Democratic Party).
Jan 8, 1994 According to the Association for the Defense of Human Rights and Liberties, the Djibouti army arrested some 50 Afar tribesmen and reportedly executed seven of them in retaliation for several FRUD attacks on December 31, 1993. The round-up of Afars took place in the region of Day, 55 km north of Tadjourah.
Jan 14, 1994 Traditional Afar leaders have asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene after alleged attacks on civilians by government troops. They said they received no reply to a similar request sent in September 1993 following attacks by government troops in which civilians were allegedly massacred, raped, arrested, and tortured. The tribal authorities have also urged France to take action against human rights violations in the country since they have several thousand troops stationed there.
Jan 30, 1994 Four members of FUOD (Djibouti United Opposition Front), an outlawed opposition group, were arrested and charged with advocating armed rebellion.
Feb 22, 1994 Ougoureh Kifle Ahmed, the former chief of staff of FRUD, appointed a new executive council. The restructuring of FRUD's leadership included the removal of President Ahmed Dini and his second vice president Abbatte Ebo Adou. Ali Mohamed Daoud later became president, and Ahmed remained secretary general. After the reshuffling, FRUD accepted the strategy of negotiating with the government.
Mar 3 - 10, 1994 FRUD reported that it fought off a government offensive around several villages in the Mount Mabla region north of Tadjourah. FRUD reported 16 casualties and government losses were thought to be much higher. There were 20 civilians reported killed.
Mar 6, 1994 The Djibouti Association for the Defense of Human Rights and Liberties said that many civilians in Mabla and Weima were recently killed by government shelling and combat helicopters.
Mar 14, 1994 President Aptidon said he is ready to open talks with FRUD leaders.
Jun 5, 1994 Hundreds of rioters clashed with police when the police moved to demolish shanties in the Afar neighborhood of Arhiba in Djibouti. Police arrested more than 100 people and used tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Jul 10, 1994 FUOD denounced peace talks between the government and the FRUD faction headed by Ougoureh Kifle Ahmed and Ali Mohamed Daoud. FUOD said it backed only the legal FRUD faction headed by Ahmed Dini.
Sep 30, 1994 FRUD (Ahmed Dini faction) announced its recommitment to armed struggle to overthrow the government of President Aptidon. It also denounced the FRUD faction headed by Ali Mohamed Daoud and Ougoureh Kifle Ahmed for engaging in peace negotiations with the government.
Dec 26, 1994 The Djibouti government signed a peace agreement with FRUD-Daoud which has agreed to give up its armed struggle and transform itself into a legitimate political party. The government of Hassan Gouled Aptidon is expected to name a number of FRUD members to key posts during 1995.
Jan 21, 1995 Former FRUD combatants should soon begin their integration into the Djibouti regular army. Many FRUD militants are unhappy over the conditions under which their leaders accepted the government's peace agreement.
May 1995 The government is split between supporters of Prime Minister Barkat Gourad Hamadou and the president's Chef de Cabinet Ismail Omar Gelleh, and those of Justice Minister Moumin Bahdon Farah. Dissension within the government between rival Issa dignitaries has lately overshadowed the long-standing rivalry between Issa and Afars within Djibouti.
Jun 9, 1995 President Aptidon has appointed two former FRUD rebels to the government. Ali Mohamed Daoud became Minister of Health and Social Affairs and Ougoureh Kifle Ahmed was given the ministry of agriculture and water resources.
Jul 1, 1995 There were reports that FRUD-Dini continued to wage sporadic attacks on government soldiers and bases in the north. The government denied that any attacks had occurred.
Nov 1995 The Djibouti army began integrating former FRUD-Daoud members into its ranks.
Nov 21, 1995 Afar rebel units and a French military patrol, which included two Djibouti army officers, exchanged fire near Dorra in the North. There were no reports of injury.
Jan 1996 FRUD-Dini reportedly destroyed two government army trucks near Kouta Bouya in the south in mid-December and fired on a French army helicopter near the Mabla mountains in the north in mid-January. Only a small group remains loyal to Ahmed Dini and continues to carry out sporadic raids on the government.
Mar 6, 1996 FRUD, Daoud faction, registered as an official political party. The Djibouti constitution allows for only four political parties. The other legal parties in Djibouti are the ruling Popular Movement for Progress, the Party of Democratic Renewal, and the National Democratic Party. Some 700 FRUD rebels have been incorporated into the army and police and some 200 other officials have been given government positions.
Mar 23, 1996 Ibrahim Chehem Daoud, former FRUD deputy secretary general for communications, has launched a new political-military organization called FRUD-Renaissance. He had opposed the peace process and now seems to wish to disassociate himself from Ahmed Dini who continues as chairman of the FRUD faction opposed to the peace process.
Jul 6, 1996 Armed conflict broke out between Afar nomads of the Debne clan and Issa smugglers in southern Djibouti near As Eyla. A number of casualties were reported. The situation is often tense in this region, home to FRUD, Daoud faction, secretary general Ougoureh Kifle Ahmed, because it is a transit point for smugglers moving between Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Sep 5, 1996 Hassan Aptidon, Djibouti's 80 year-old president, announced that he intends to remain as president until 1999.
Sep 28, 1996 Ethiopia and Djibouti reached a national security agreement covering the recognition of Ethiopia's frontiers and a clamp down on Somalis moving from the Ogaden in eastern Ethiopia to Djibouti.
Nov 16, 1996 About 15 former FRUD leaders and combatants returned to Djibouti. Their returns were negotiated by the chef de cabinet Ismail Omar Gelleh and some are expected to obtain government positions.
Feb 1997 The State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1996 reported that 10,000-18,000 displaced Djiboutian Afars are living in Ethiopia. The government of Hassan Aptidon has said they are free to return, but the Afars perceive their northern region to be unsafe and some have lost their homes and land to Djiboutian soldiers and their families.
Apr 1997 FRUD made its appearance as the fourth legal political party at party congress in mid-April. A national committee of 153 members and an executive committee of 21 members were elected. About one-third of the executive committee members are Afar former guerrillas. The local population reportedly holds FRUD in little esteem after its peace agreement with the government in December 1994. Its management committee has been widened to include non-Afars and it functions as an ally of the government party, the Popular Movement for Progress.
May 24, 1997 The PRD opposition party is in dissention over who to replace as chairman following the death of Mohamed Djama Elab. The Secretary General, Mohamed Djama Elab, an Afar, is against the decision to promote an Issa/Fourlaba, Karreh Alleheh Hared, as the party candidate in the next presidential election.
May 28, 1997 The government plans to resettle about 1800 Afars who fled war zones in the southwest and north during the 1991-94 civil conflict.
Sep 1997 FRUD-Dini resumed military activities against the government with an attack on military barracks. Eleven government soldiers were killed. Previously, FRUD had engaged the military only when attacked by government forces. Four FRUD members, including Mohamed Kamdamy and his wife, were arrested in Ethiopia and deported to Djibouti. They and 10 others were being held on charges of inciting violence. The arrests and deportations appeared linked to the clash between Djiboutian troops and FRUD-Dini members earlier in the month.
Nov 1997 FRUD-Dini complained of operations of the Ethiopian army on Djiboutian territory. The Ethiopian army has been active in recent months in undertaking seek-and-clean operations against Afar rebel groups. Djibouti and Ethiopia also held their seventh joint committee meeting of administrators of the frontier. The committee discussed increasing collaboration between the two countries to fight smuggling and deal with Afar rebel groups. FRUD-Dini also held a congress to reelect Ahmed Dini as chair and a 13 person political bureau. FRUD renewed its commitment to armed struggle while at the same time keeping itself open to negotiations with the government.
Dec 18, 1997 The European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing "alarm at the situation of human rights in Djibouti."
Dec 19, 1997 Elections took place in Djibouti. President Aptidon retained his position and formed a new government on the 28th. There was low voter turn-out for the elections and no independent observers during balloting. The alliance between the ruling RPP and FRUD won all 65 seats in the election (28 deputies are Afars). The opposition Party for Democratic Renewal won no seats and questioned the transparency of the voting.
Mar 19 - 20, 1998 FRUD-Dini attacked the frontier post at Ali Adde, 100km south of Djibouti Town. Simultaneous raids by two other groups were carried out against the posts at Assamo on the Djibouti-Ethiopian border and Guistir on the Djibouti-Somaliland border. FRUD reported they had killed 7 government soldiers and wounded 15 others.
Jun 6, 1998 Thirty-eight FRUD members and two opposition newspaper officials went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions of their detention, especially the authorities' refusal to provide medical care for sick and injured detainees.
Apr 9, 1999 Voters went to the polls on Friday to elect the country's first new president since independence. Local radio reports said the morning turnout was extremely slow. There were no reports of any incidents by mid afternoon. Djibouti, on the horn of Africa, has suffered primarily with factional fighting between the Afar and Issa groups. Both candidates belong to the Issa, which originate from Somalia. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
Apr 9, 1999 Local analysts said the front-running presidential candidate was Ismail Omar Guelleh, 55, backed by the governing coalition of the People's Assembly for Progress and the Front for Reestablishment of Unity and Democracy. His rival, Moussa Ahmed Idriss, is supported by the country's opposition parties, including the New Democratic Party.(Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
Apr 24, 1999 Less than a week after the presidential election won on 9th April by Ismael Omar Guelleh, the armed faction of the Front for Restoration of Unity in Djibouti [FRUD] was accused of planting a mine that killed seven policemen in the north of the country. For some months now, FRUD, headed by Ahmed Dini, has been renewing its attacks. The new Djibouti president stated on national radio that he does not intend to negotiate with a movement that represents nothing. The Afars community have not been very supportive of FRUD's renewed militancy. (British Broadcasting Corporation)

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