DJIBOUTI Djibouti's authorities have released 14 members of the opposition coalition, the Union of National Salvation (USN), who were jailed in connection with anti-government demonstrations last month, an opposition official said.
Riot police in Djibouti city fought street battles last month with protesters alleging fraud in a February parliamentary election that handed a sweeping victory to the ruling coalition.
Djibouti, a nation of just 920,000 people, hosts the only U.S. military base in Africa. The former French colony's port is also used by foreign navies protecting shipping lanes from Somali pirates.
The USN had said the parliamentary election was rigged, citing a range of election abuses, but a legal challenge was dismissed in court. President Ismail Omar Guelleh, in power since 1999, controls 49 of the 65 seats in parliament.
Among those released was opposition spokesman, Daher Ahmed Farah, who was jailed for two months on March 11 for calling for rebellion and disturbing public order, the opposition said. His sentence reduced to one month on appeal at the Supreme Court.
"This release is encouraging but is not enough and the struggle will continue until all opposition leaders to be released," USN Secretary-General Abdurahman Mohamed Guelleh told Reuters late on Thursday. The release was on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Abdourahim Arteh; Editing by Edmund Blair and Sonya Hepinstall)