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Hassan Gouled Aptidon

Hassan Gouled Aptidon
1st President of Djibouti
In office
27 June 1977 – 8 May 1999
Prime Minister Barkat Gourad Hamadou
Preceded by office established
Succeeded by Ismaïl Omar Guelleh
Personal details
Born (1916-10-15)15 October 1916
Lughaya, British Somaliland
Died 21 November 2006(2006-11-21) (aged 90)
Djibouti, Djibouti
Political party People's Rally for Progress
Spouse(s) Aicha Bogoreh (died in 2001)
Religion Sunni Islam

Hassan Gouled Aptidon (Somali: Xasan Guuleed Abtidoon. Arabic: حسن جولد أبتيدون) (October 15, 1916 - November 21, 2006) was the first President of Djibouti from 1977 to 1999.


He was born in a small village called Garissa in the Lughaya district of northern Somalia. He was into the politically powerful Mamassan subclan of the Issa clan. He played an important role in Djibouti's struggle for independence from France. According to I.M. Lewis, "with the powerful support of the French electorate" Hassan Gouled campaigned against Mahamoud Harbi Farah of the Union Republicaine party, who sought to join the territory with neighboring Somalia. By the time of the 23 November 1958 elections, Mahamoud Harbi's party had disintegrated and with the majority of the Afar vote, his faction won election. Mahamoud Harbi subsequently fled Djibouti, and later died in a plane crash.[1]

Hassan Gouled served as Vice-President of the Government Council from 1958 to April 1959. Hassan Gouled also served in the French National Assembly 1959-1962 and the French Senate 1952-1958. He was Minister of Education in Ali Aref Bourhan's government from 1963 to 1967.[2] Later he served as Prime Minister between May 1977 and July 1977.

In 1981, Hassan Gouled turned the country into a one party state by declaring that his party, the People's Rally for Progress (Rassemblement populaire pour le progrès, RPP), was the sole legal one. As the RPP candidate, he was elected without opposition for a six-year term as President on 12 June 1981, receiving 84.58% of the vote.[3] After the breakout of a civil war in 1991, he allowed for a constitutional referendum on multiparty politics in September 1992, with four parties being permitted; in the parliamentary elections held in December 1992, however, only two parties competed, and the RPP won all 65 seats in the National Assembly. Gouled was reelected for a fourth term in May 1993 with 60.7% of the vote.[4]

In the 1990s, the Djibouti economy deteriorated dramatically, with net external assets falling by 40 per cent. The World Bank issued "a correspondingly gloomy and highly critical" assessment, mentioning such social problems as the excessive consumption of the addictive and debilitating drug qat by Djibouti's citizens. During this period, Hassan Gouled's nephew Ismaïl Omar Guelleh not only maneuvered to be his successor, but increasingly came to handle affairs for the elderly Hassan Gouled.[5]

On 4 February 1999, Gouled Aptidon announced that he would retire at the time of the next election, and an extraordinary congress of the RPP chose Guelleh as its presidential candidate.[6] Guelleh won the presidential election held in April 1999[7] and succeeded his uncle on 8 May 1999.[8] Gouled Aptidon died at his home on 21 November 2006, aged 90.[2]

Gouled's first wife, former First Lady Aicha Bogoreh, a proponent of women's rights and various charities, died in 2001.[9] He married his second wife after Bogoreh's death.[9]


  1. ^ I. M. Lewis, A modern history of Somalia, fourth edition (Oxford: James Currey, 2002), p. 180
  2. ^ a b "Décès du Président Hassan Gouled à l’âge de 90 ans" (in French). Agence djiboutienne d'information. 2006-11-21. 
  3. ^ "Sep 1981 - Re-election of President Hassan Gouled Aptidon - Cabinet Reorganization - Intensified Co-operation with North-East African Countries - Conclusion of Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation with Ethiopia", Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume 27, September, 1981 Djibouti, Page 31058.
  4. ^ Elections in Djibouti, African Elections Database.
  5. ^ Lewis, A History, pp. 290f
  6. ^ "Djibouti: President Gouled Aptidon to retire in April after 22 years in power", AFP (, 4 February 1999.
  7. ^ "Proclamation du Président de la République de Djibouti par le Conseil Constitutionnel.", Journal Officiel de la République de Djibouti (French).
  8. ^ "SUDAN: President holds weekend talks with Ethiopia", IRIN, May 11, 1999.
  9. ^ a b Bernstein, Adam (2006-11-30). "Hassan Gouled Aptidon, First President Of Djibouti".  
  • page on the French National Assembly website
  • page on the French Senate website
Preceded by
President of Djibouti
Succeeded by
Ismaïl Omar Guelleh
Preceded by
Prime Minister of Djibouti
Succeeded by
Ahmed Dini Ahmed
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