Djibouti president, 73, returns home after hospitalisation rumours

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh has returned home to the Horn of Africa country, his office said Sunday, after rumours that the 73-year-old had been hospitalised in Paris.  (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh has returned home to the Horn of Africa country, his office said Sunday, after rumours that the 73-year-old had been hospitalised in Paris. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh has returned home to the Horn of Africa country, his office said Sunday, after rumours that the 73-year-old had been hospitalised in Paris.

Re-elected for a fifth term in April, Guelleh has ruled Djibouti since 1999 and has used his country's unique geographical position to lure investors and foreign military powers, all while keeping an iron grip on power.

Hours after rumours began to circulate on social media last Monday that Guelleh had flown to Paris and checked into a hospital, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf issued a series of tweets saying the reports were incorrect.

"All the information circulating on the networks is poison spread to disturb our fellow citizens," Youssouf wrote.

The prime minister and the government spokesman both said Guelleh was taking a break because of "overwork".

Sunday's statement said Geulleh had returned from a "private visit to France", Djibouti's former colonial power.

The president's Twitter account posted images of Guelleh leaving his plane.

Guelleh seized on Djibouti's unique geographic location on the Red Sea to develop the tiny, arid nation of one million people into a reliable international military and maritime hub.

READ | Friends, foes and fractures: Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa

It hosts military bases for global powers including France, the United States, Japan and China.

The third-smallest country by area on the African mainland, and sandwiched between volatile neighbours, Djibouti embarked on an infrastructure blitz, courting major investment in its quest to become the "Dubai of Africa".

Despite a plethora of projects, however, many Djiboutians still live in grinding poverty.

Guelleh's government has also been accused by rights groups of cracking down on dissent, limiting free speech and suppressing opposition parties.

With an age cap prohibiting him from running a sixth time, Guelleh is expected to anoint a successor from within his own trusted circle, in much the same fashion as his own appointment.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
A Section 89 panel headed by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo found President Cyril Ramaphosa has an impeachable case to answer on the Phala Phala scandal.
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Ramaphosa should do the honourable thing and immediately resign.
23% - 1517 votes
Ramaphosa should follow due process and submit himself to an impeachment hearing.
30% - 1960 votes
Ramaphosa should fight the findings in court and keep his job at all costs
47% - 3139 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.24
+1.7%
Rand - Pound
21.15
+0.9%
Rand - Euro
18.16
+0.8%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.71
+0.5%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+1.6%
Gold
1,794.60
-0.2%
Silver
23.01
-0.6%
Palladium
1,909.89
+0.5%
Platinum
1,024.00
+0.4%
Brent Crude
85.57
-1.5%
Top 40
69,190
+1.4%
All Share
75,358
+1.4%
Resource 10
75,205
+1.6%
Industrial 25
92,363
+0.8%
Financial 15
15,814
+2.7%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE