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First President of Djibouti, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, dies at age 90

Story by LT Jerl Barnett, USN
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti-  Hassan Gouled Aptidon, the first President of the Republic of Djibouti, died Tuesday.  He was 90 years old.

“It was a bad day for all Djiboutians,” said Robleh Awaleh, translator for Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.  “He was the father of Djibouti.  He was a good example of Democracy for all African Presidents.  We are praying for him.”

Fozia Guedi, also serving as a translator at Camp Lemonier said, “He was a great person.  He tried to help his people and his country.” 

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Translator for CJTF-HOA Zahra Ibrahim agreed saying, “He was the best example for Djiboutians.”

Aptidon served as Prime Minister of Djibouti from May 18, 1977 until July 12, 1977 when he was elevated to the office of President of Djibouti and was elected to three more terms.  Aptidon was succeeded by his nephew Ismail Omar Guelleh, the current President, in 1999.  Under the leadership of the current President, Djibouti has worked with CJTF-HOA on numerous occasions to continue the legacy of President Aptidon by improving the quality of life for many Djiboutian citizens. 

“On behalf of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the people of Djibouti during this time of grief, “ said Rear Admiral Timothy Moon, Deputy Commander, CJTF-HOA.

CJTF-HOA, which has operated from Camp Lemonier, Djibouti since May 13, 2003 works to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect Coalition interests in east Africa and Yemen.  This is accomplished through humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, consequence management, civic action programs to include medical and veterinary care, school and medical clinic construction and water development projects.

There will be a national period of mourning from 22-24 Nov. During this time, the American flag and the Djiboutian Flag will be flown at half mast on Camp Lemonier in honor of President Aptidon.

Source: Combined Joint Task Force, Nov 22, 2006