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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

President Obama meets Djibouti president; demonstrators protest

President Obama met with Djibouti's president Ismail Omar Guelleh on Monday at the White House where the two (per the White House press office) "discussed their shared vision for addressing human capital and economic development challenges in Djibouti." 

The president praised Guelleh for his commitment to lowering unemployment, reducing poverty, and improving reliable access to energy, potable water, and health care.

Photos/CD Brown

The United States pledged to increase technical and financial assistance to the Djiboutian people and to invest in Djibouti’s development priorities.  President Obama pledged to expand U.S.-sponsored workforce education and training to help strengthen Djibouti’s workforce and set a foundation for expanded employment and private sector investment.

While Guelleh was receiving praise on the inside of the White House, demonstrators  on the outside protested the visit to shed light on the Djibouti's human rights violations.   Displeased that President Obama chose to meet with what the protesters called "an evil dictator" the protesters shouted chants of "Shame on Obama!" for meeting with who they call "an evil dictator" that allows human rights violations and torture of its citizens.

The demonstrators were also protesting the country's lack of freedom of the press that has long been dominated by the government that is Guelleh.

"Djibouti has only one newspaper and one television station", said "Muhammad", one protester before running off to shout at the passing motorcade with Guelleh inside. 

Reporters are discouraged from reporting anything in opposition of the Djibouti government; many have been tortured, or killed.

Djibouti is a small country located in the Horn of Africa, bordered by Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.  The country hosts Camp Lemonier, the sole U.S. Military base in Africa near the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport

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