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Guelleh, Ismaïl Omar

Guelleh, Ismaïl Omar hĭs´mäĭl ō´mär gĕl´lä [key], 1947–, Djiboutian political leader, b. Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. He moved to Djibouti (then a French territory) in the late 1960s and joined the security forces. Following independence in 1977, he entered the government of his uncle, President Hassan Gouled Aptidon, and became head of the secret police. A member of the People's Progress Assembly (RPP), he was elected president of Djibouti in 1999 and, as the only candidate. After the constitution was amended to allow him to run for additional terms, he won again in 2011 and 2016, in elections criticized as neither free nor fair. Although Guelleh has overseen improvements to Djibouti's economy and its development as an international port, his tenure has also been marked by political repression and other human rights abuses.

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