1) Information on the Gadaboursi tribe. 2) Their relationship with the Issas and the Afars. 3) Support to any groups. 4) Information on their jobs, educational or other opportunities compared with other groups [DJI8433]

1) The Republic of Djibouti is formed of two main ethnic groups: the Afar and the Somali. The latter consists of several clans including the Gadabursi. Historically, France, the colonial power, has empowered the Issas clan at the expense of the Gadabursi. According to The Indian Ocean Newsletter, the Gadabursis are a minority (13 Oct. 1990) and non-native ethnic community which constitutes 15 percent of the capital's population (22 April 1989). The Gadabursis are both sedentary and nomad (Warsama and Botbol, 1986, 14). They are composed of sub-groups: the Mahad-Assé, the Makahil, and the Abar-Afan (Warsama and Botbol, 1986, 15).

2) According to the Issas, the Gadabursis are foreigners in the country (Oberlé and Hugot, 1985, 125). This information is corroborated by a specialist on Djibouti in Montreal, contacted on 28 April 1991. The Indian Ocean Newsletter indicates that the Gadabursis have, for a long time, had strained relations with the Issas (13 Oct. 1990). This source added that Issa and Gadabursi people compete for land in some areas of northern Somalia (Ibid.). In its April 1989 issue, this publication reports that several hundred Issas and Gadabursis in districts 3, 4 and 5 have been fighting each other in the streets (22 April 1989). These clashes followed a series of similar confrontations between Gadabursis and Issaqs (Ibid.). This source further reports that the underlying cause of this violence was the conflict in north Somalia (Ibid.). In May 1990, inter-ethnic riots in the Balbala quarter, where there is an Issa majority, were fought against the Gadabursi (The Indian Ocean Newsletter, 13 Oct. 1990).

The dominant clan in Djibouti, the Issas, used the Gulf War to tighten their grip upon the two other clans, the Gadabursis and the Afar (Kermel, 21 Feb. 1991). In September 1990, following an anti-French attack in a Café, the government arrested four members of the Gadabursi community without laying any formal charges (Ibid.). Although the result of a French enquiry exonerated them, the Djibouti government nonetheless fired several police and military personnel from the Gadabursi clan (Ibid.). Jeune Afrique also reported the arrest by government forces of several Gadabursi prominent personalities that had following the hand grenade attack against the Café de Paris (November 1990). The Indian Ocean Newsletter further mentions that the Djiboutian authorities seem to hold a large part of the Gadaboursi community responsible for the attempt at the Café de Paris (13 Oct. 1990). According to The Indian Ocean Newsletter,

"The gendarme's investigation provided an opportunity for them to carry out a wide operation of intimidation aimed at affluent members of the community in Djibouti (businessmen, police officers and civil servants amongst others). In total 64 people are said to have been questioned and detained, some of them for many hours, and others for days" (Ibid.).

This report indicates that these arrests enable the authorities to, among other things, place the blame for all the failures of national security, on a Gadabursi conspiracy (Ibid.). The Indian Ocean Newsletter continues by mentioning that the Djiboutian President gathered the traditional Issa chiefs to warn them of the "Gadabursi threat" (Ibid.).

3) and 4) According to a specialist on Djibouti in Montreal, contacted on 28 April 1991, since the Issa controls the government, the Gadabursi community is a victim of discrimination in areas like jobs repartition since 1979. Hence, they generally face obstacles in terms of social mobility. This source further reports that the relations between the Gadabursis and the Afars are good since they both suffer from the ill-treatment of the Issas clan. The Djibouti government is afraid of an alliance between the Gadabursis and the Afars because together they will constitute the majority in the country. This is also one of the reasons why the government refuses to establish a multiparty electoral system.

For further information please refer to the attached documents.


"Djibouti: Clashing Clans", The Indian Ocean Newsletter, No. 379, 22 April 1989.

"Djibouti: Gadabursis-A Target", The Indian Ocean Newsletter, No. 449, 13 Oct. 1990.

Youssouf, Ali, "Questions sur un attentat", Jeune Afrique économique, No. 137, November 1990.

Hugot, Pierre and Oberlé, Philippe, Histoire de Djibouti, éd. Présence Africaine, 1985.

Warsama, Omar, and Botbol, Maurice, "Djibouti : les institutions politiques et militaires", La Lettre de l'Océan Indien, 1986.

Kermel, Vincent, "Djibouti: Clauses Secrètes", Politis, 21 February 1991.


"Djibouti: Gadabursis-A Target", The Indian Ocean Newsletter, No. 449, 13 Oct. 1990.