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UK investigates Djibouti’s terrorism claim

Storyline:National News

The High Court in the United Kingdom (UK) has questioned a terrorism charge made by the government of Djibouti against Djiboutian businessman Abdourahman Boreh that had led to the freezing of his assets worldwide.
Mr. Boreh, a former confidant of President Ismail Omar Guelleh, was charged in his absence with terrorism offences following a grenade explosion in a supermarket in Djibouti, which was carried out on March 5, 2009 by an organisation that had been engaged in subversive activities against the government.
The case against Mr. Boreh hinged on two telephone conversations he had had with two brothers who talked about an “act” being “completed” in Djibouti.
As a result Mr. Boreh was found guilty and the government of Djibouti had sought to extradite him from Dubai.
But Mr. Boreh, who had by then fallen out with President Guelleh, said that the charge was politically motivated.
Nevertheless, the government of Djibouti went ahead on September 11, 2013 and applied to the Commercial Court, a sub-division of the Queen’s Bench of the High Court of Justice for Mr. Boreh’s assets to be frozen.
The injunction was granted by Mr. Justice Flaux after legal arguments by lawyers retained by Gibson, Dunn and Crotcher, representing the government of Djibouti, and lawyers instructed by Byrne and Partners, representing Mr. Boreh.
However things took a different turn recently when the matter came up again before Mr Justice Flaux who discovered that he had been misled about the date of the conversations between Mr. Boreh and the brothers, which the government claimed had taken place on March 5, 2009.
It turned out that the conversations took place on March 4, before the grenade attack, and therefore could not possibly relate to the terrorist incident. Indeed, the coded discussions were referring to the distribution of anti-government leaflets in Djibouti.
Mr. Justice Flaux acknowledged that the Djibouti government’s lawyers did not deliberately mislead the court but questioned, in the light of the new information, Mr. Boreh’s conviction in Djibouti.
He added that Mr. Boreh had a case against the injunction to freeze his assets.
Speaking to the GNA, a security expert in London said that the case had clearly exposed the government of Djibouti’s cynical use of the fight against terrorism to squeeze its opponents.
He said that this would not go down well with the US government, which would view it as a ploy by President Guelleh to use terrorism as a political football rather than actually tackling the rising terror threat.
The US has huge military facilities in Djibouti to prosecute the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia, where it has been carrying out drone attacks against the group in support of an African Union force that is propping up the Somali government.
The security expert said that President Guelleh’s so-called anti-terrorism stance was reminiscent of the Cold War days when African leaders used anti-Communism rhetoric to get unqualified support from the US.
“Things are different these days, though,” he told the GNA. “Unlike the days when the late President Mobutu and other African dictators would count on US support even as they suppressed their people, this sort of cynicism won’t work today.
“Of course there is a growing Islamic threat in the Horn of Africa but President Guelleh should not use this as an opportunity to subvert the democratic process.”
In October an analyst in Nairobi told the GNA: “The stability of the leadership in Djibouti is now an increasing concern to the US, which needs Djibouti to be a reliable partner providing secure bases to fight terrorism in Somalia and beyond.”
But this could be easier said than done because Djibouti is locked in a political stalemate following a disputed election in February 2013, which the opposition claimed to have won.
Attempts to find a negotiated settlement to the impasse have not gone well, as talks between the ruling Union for Presidential Majority (UMP) party and the opposition Union for National Salvation (USN) have failed to come up with a mutually agreed solution.
Source : GNA news