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Djibouti: A Political History

Samson Abebe Bezabeh
Djibouti: A Political History
ISBN: 978-1-68585-952-7
ISBN: 978-1-68585-299-3
2023/221 pages/LC: 2023003534
"Thoughtful political history of a much-neglected country." —Nicolas van de Walle, Foreign Affairs

"A rare feat of analysis and insight on Djibouti…. Samson gives an astute account of this 'freak-of-history' state and the often dubious maneuvering of its leaders since independence in 1977. His book is an absolute must for all those interested in Northeast Africa and its place in the world." —Jon Abbink, Leiden University.

"An eloquent and comprehensive analysis of past and present developments in Djibouti." —Leif Manger, University of Bergen.

"Interweaving national and international issues, Bezabeh's book contrasts social and political realities with the discourse proclaiming that independence brought freedom, equality, and well-being for Djibouti's population." —Simon Imbert-Vier, Institut des Mondes Africains


Wedged between Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, at the intersection of the world’s busiest shipping routes, Djibouti has long been a global geostrategic hub. Samson Bezabeh traces the tortuous political history of this tiny country since its independence from France in 1977.

Bezabeh challenges much conventional wisdom as he dissects Djibouti's trials and tribulations. Focusing on the internal, external, and historical factors that drive its domestic politics, his work exposes the troubling dynamics that have allowed the state to survive despite, or perhaps because of, the fragmentation of its society.


Samson Abebe Bezabeh is assistant professor of African studies at the University of Hong Kong.


  • Djibouti's Political Dynamics.
  • The Historical Context.
  • Freedom Road: The Presidency of Hassan Gouled Aptidon.
  • A Breath of Fresh Air? President Ismail Omar Guelleh's First Term.
  • Strengthening Power: President Guelleh's Second Term.
  • A Third Term: Quelling the Opposition.
  • Dashed Hope for Change.
  • What Next for Djibouti?