Djibouti President Re-Elected in Provisional Vote Count

The president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, has been declared the winner of Friday's presidential election in the tiny but strategic Horn of Africa nation.

Provisional results received Saturday by VOA Somali show President Guelleh winning 167,536 votes (97.44 percent). His rival, businessman and independent candidate, Zakaria Ismail Farah received a mere 4,408 votes (2.48 percent). Official results will be confirmed by a constitutional council in the coming days.

After the results were announced, the president thanked the people of Djibouti for electing him to lead the country.

"I extend my warmest thanks to those thousands of Djiboutians and Djiboutians who have exercised their civic duty in serenity and have chosen to renew their trust in me by voting majority for the continuation of my action," he wrote on his Facebook page.

Guelleh starts his fifth term as the leader of the country he has been ruling since 1999. The World Bank estimates the population of Djibouti to be about 990,000.

Djibouti is a strategic partner of the United States, hosting the only permanent military base in Africa. It also plays a greater role in peacekeeping operations in Somalia, where thousands of its soldiers are serving alongside African Union troops from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi.

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