US calls for calm, release of opposition leaders in Djibouti
24 December 2015, Nirapad News: The United States on Wednesday called on the government of Djibouti to free opposition leaders detained during protests that turned deadly in the strategic Horn of Africa nation earlier this week.
“The United States condemns recent acts of violence in the capital of Djibouti and calls for the immediate release of opposition leaders who have been detained. We express our condolences to all those affected by the tragic deaths and injuries caused by these attacks,” the US State Department said.
“We urge the government of Djibouti to respect its citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association, and to exercise restraint,” the US statement continued.
“We call on the government of Djibouti and all political stakeholders to engage in dialogue to prevent further violence. We also encourage the government and opposition parties to resume negotiations to ensure peaceful and transparent presidential elections in 2016.”
Opposition officials with the Union for National Salvation said 19 people were killed in clashes late Monday, and that the wounded included its president Ahmed Youssouf, who was taken to the hospital.
Violence flared before dawn on Monday when police broke up a traditional religious ceremony in Buldhoqo district, close to the capital, Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf told AFP, insisting that the opposition had inflated the number of dead.
The Djibouti government on Tuesday said the toll from daylong clashes was seven civilians killed and scores wounded.
Djibouti, a strategic port on the Gulf of Aden with a key position on one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, hosts several foreign military bases, including from the United States, France and Japan.
Many of the naval vessels tasked with combating Somali piracy in the region also use the country’s port to dock.
It is also a contributor of troops to the African Union force in neighbouring Somalia, battling Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants.