Laws of Associations
Some constraints on political activities in Djibouti have eased. In 1994, the government and a faction of the Afar-led Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) signed a peace accord, ending three years of civil war. In the accord, the government of Djibouti agreed to recognize the FRUD as a legitimate political party. In 1999, the president ordered the release of about forty political prisoners.
There are no specific laws or criminal sanctions that threaten academic freedom. In general, teachers may speak and conduct research without restriction, provided that they do not violate sedition laws.
The 1992 constitution limited the number of political parties to four, though this restriction was lifted in September 2002. New parties are required to register with the Ministry of the Interior. There are currently two major coalitions in Djiboutian politics. The Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP) is composed of the People's Rally for Progress (RPP), the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD), the National Democratic Party (PND), and the Party of Democratic Renewal (PRD). The opposition coalition, the Union for Democratic Alternation (UAD), consists of the Republican Alliance for Democracy (ARD), the Movement for Democratic Renovation and Development (MRDD), the Djiboutian Union for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), and the Djiboutian Party for Development (PDD). All seats in parliament are held by members of the UMP, especially those who are members of the RPP and the FRUD.
The Ministry of Interior requires permits for peaceful assembly and monitors opposition activities. Applications for permits are generally approved. Non-political associations must also register and be approved by the Ministry of Interior.
Associations and Unions
Freedoms of speech, assembly, religion, and association are protected under the constitution. Workers may join unions and strike. The General Union of Djibouti Workers (UGTD) and the Democratic Labor Union (UDT) formed a confederation in 1995 and gained increasing support. About 70 percent of all workers in Djibouti are members of this confederation. Unions are free to maintain relations and exchanges with labor organizations abroad.
Media and Government Regulations
The electronic media are monitored by the government. Independent newspapers and other publications are generally allowed to circulate freely, within certain legal limits. The law regulates the publication of newspapers. The constitution prohibits slander, which is interpreted broadly. A law also prohibits the dissemination of false information. The editor of one newspaper, Le Renouveau, was convicted on libel charges for accusing an army general of lacking neutrality. He was jailed for three months in 2003 and his newspaper was temporarily banned.