Anti-government protests hit Djibouti

DJIBOUTI (Reuters) – Anti-government protestors clashed with security forces in Djibouti on Saturday as the political uprising sweeping through the Middle East reached the tiny Horn of Africa state.

Interior Minister Yacin Elmi Bouh said at least one policeman had been killed in earlier clashes on Friday when hundreds of demonstrators demanding the president step down hurled rocks at riot police who fired back with teargas.

“The opposition wants to take power by force,” Elmi Bouh told Reuters, adding that Saturday’s rioting was taking place in a city suburb called Balbala.

Other sources said one protester had also been killed.

The opposition put the number of demonstrators on Friday in their thousands, in a rare outpouring of anger as opposition to President Ismail Omar Guelleh grows.

Guelleh, an ally of the United States which has established its only military base in Africa in Djibouti, oversaw a change to the constitution last year that allows him to seek a third term in elections this April.

“The people don’t want this dictatorial regime. Our freedom is in our hands. We won’t stop until our dreams come true,” said opposition supporter Hawa Abille by telephone from Balbala.

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