The Twentieth Century: Djibouti

Due to popular request, nobody being able to keep a straight face when they were called to speak, and being the world’s best source of bad jokes and pick-up lines.

For the first half of the 20th century, Djibouti was merely part of the French Empire, as French Somaliland, until in 1958, due to the imminent prospect of the independence of Somalia, a referendum was held on whether Djibouti wished to remain part of France or join Somalia. The vote went in favour of continued membership of the French Empire, although the results of the vote are highly suspect. The territory then experienced escalating disorder and protests in favour of Independence; in response, Charles de Gaulle ordered a second vote in 1967. This vote returned a result of staying with France, and was also deeply suspicious. French military presence was increased, and was met by even more intense protest. Finally, a third vote in 1977 returned a 97% vote for independence, and Djibouti duly separated from France. Hassan Aptidon became the new state’s first president. In 1981, Aptidon declared his party, the RPP, to be the sole legal political party, and a decade later, a civil war broke out between the RPP and the FRUD. This came to an end in 1994 with the signing of an accord granting the FRUD legality, and a few cabinet positions. Aptidon finally resigned as president in 1999 after five terms at age 83, and left the presidency to his nephew, Ismail Guellah, leaving the nation in a state of transition at the end of the century.

French Somaliland.

French Somaliland.

Hassan Aptidon.

Hassan Aptidon.


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