In early November 1991, civil war erupted in Djibouti between the government and a predominantly Afar rebel group, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD).
Ismail Omar Guelleh took the oath of office as the second President of the Republic of Djibouti on May 8, 1999, with the support of an alliance between the RPP and the government-recognized section of the Afar-led FRUD.
In February 2000, another branch of FRUD signed a peace accord with the government.
In the presidential election held April 8, 2005, Ismail Omar Guelleh was re-elected to a second 6-year term at the head of a five-party coalition that included the FRUD and other parties.
With the 2001 final peace accord between the government and the Afar-dominated FRUD, the armed forces have been downsized.
Rising frustrations within the Afar community reached a turning point in November 1991 when the FRUD, a military force of approximately 3,000 guerrilla fighters primarily from the Afar ethnic group, launched a sustained military offensive that eventually captured all the major areas in the north except for the towns of Tadjoura and Obock.
An extremely controversial aspect of the Gouled government's position was whether the military operations of the FRUD constituted an external invasion or an internally based guerrilla insurgency - the implications of which would determine the legitimacy of the opposition's demands and the legality of French intervention.
It is clear that the leadership of the FRUD is composed primarily of disaffected members of the Afar community from within Djibouti (although, as was noted above, leaders within the Issa community have also become critical of the Gouled regime).
Despite significant levels of elite and popular support for the FRUD within Djibouti, it is also clear that at least a portion (exact figures are unobtainable) of the roughly 3,000 guerrillas come from Afar-inhabited territories of both Ethiopia and the provisional government of Eritrea.
An obvious turn to the Afar Liberation Front (ALF) based on Ethiopia is problematic because one of the sporadically stated platforms of this group - the creation of an independent |greater Afar' country out of portions of present-day Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Eritrea - runs counter to the FRUD's repeatedly stated goal of maintaining the territorial integrity of Djibouti.(26) Sporadic tension between the goals of Afar leaderships in Ethiopia and Djibouti has been fueled by the fact that many of the FRUD leadership perceive the ALF as constituting a largely backward, traditionalist, and illiterate organization led by corrupt, self-serving politicians, such as Sultan Ali Mirah, the ALF leader who originally was placed in power by Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie.
Other regional actors are also unlikely proponents of a FRUD military victory.