In the shadow of the extraordinary events under way in the Middle East, Djibouti's presidential vote was always going to struggle for attention. Indeed, the plight of this tiny country, sandwiched between Somalia and Yemen, remains almost completely ignored. But as the primary seaport to 85 million landlocked Ethiopians, the center of anti-piracy efforts in the Horn of Africa, and a reliable Western ally in the war on terror, Djibouti is a strategically vital country in an unstable more

As the deadline to register candidates for Djibouti's 8 April presidential election has passed, no opposition candidates have registered. The boycott comes as further anti-government protests are planned. Sources confirmed that there will be only two names on the ballot paper: the incumbent President Ismaël Omar Guelleh and Mohammed Warsama, the former President of the Constitutional Court and an ally of President Guelleh.

Under an overcast sky, nearly 200 members of the Djiboutian Army’s elite 1st Rapid Action Regiment honed their infantry skills, mentored by members of the US Army National Guard’s 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 137th Infantry Regiment. The training included instruction on squad movements, convoy operations, contact drills, camp security and marksmanship.

Djibouti has told the United States that an independent election observer mission is 'illegal' and suspended its partnership with the US-funded mission. Djibouti’s foreign ministry sent a diplomatic note to the US Embassy dated 2 March requesting the end of the partnership, alleging it had participated in and supported a violent 18 February opposition rally in which at least one person was killed, accusations the group denies.

The planned resumption of mass protests in Djibouti this weekend was hindered by massive police presence in the capital and arrests of about 300 opposition and civil society leaders. Friday 18 February saw an estimated 30,000 Djiboutians protesting in central Djibouti City.