Ambassador Mohamed S. Douale’s response to Reuters’ article and subsequent news articles on Djibouti’s termination of DP World contract

The Government of Djibouti wishes to correct certain errors in your report of March 6, 2018, concerning its recent termination of a port management contract with DP World, a Dubai company.

Djibouti exercised its contractual right to terminate the contract due to the failure of DP World to honor its contractual commitments. Djibouti’s actions were a lawful and reasonable exercise of its contractual and sovereign rights.

Your suggestion that this was “an illegal seizure of control” is unfounded and ignores DP World’s contractual breaches and other malfeasance which justified Djibouti’s action.

U.S. General Thomas Waldhauser, of the U.S. Africa Command, confirmed in testimony before the U.S. Congress that Djibouti has ‘an inherent right to nullify the contract’.

Djibouti is a committed friend and ally of the United States. It is the only country in Africa that is home to a permanent U.S. military base – Camp Lemonier, which houses over 4,000 U.S. personnel. This is a critical center for combating terrorism in the Horn of Africa, and we are deeply grateful for the U.S. presence.

The suggestion that Djibouti might ‘terminate U.S. lease illegally before its term is up’ is incomprehensible. Nothing could be farther from our intentions.

Equally false is the suggestion that Djibouti terminated the port contract with DP World in order to “give it to the Chinese.” Djibouti maintains excellent relations with China. As a regional center of commerce, it is essential that Djibouti maintains excellent relations with all nations. In fact, our port authorities have just signed an agreement with a Singapore-based Shipping Company, Pacific International Lines. It is set to bolster volume by 33%.

This contrasts with the tremendous economic losses we suffered as a result of DP World’s malfeasance. That had to be stopped. Djibouti’s efforts to negotiate an amicable solution with DP World were frustrated by the company’s obfuscations and bad faith, leaving us no alternative except termination.

It is worth recalling that the U.S. found itself in a not dissimilar situation with DP World in 2006, and decided against entrusting it with management of its ports.

Djibouti is committed to the rule of law. It makes a point of honor to fulfill its contracts and international obligations. It takes strong issue with unfounded allegations that sow meritless doubts about its sincerity and good faith.

As Djibouti pursues its goal of becoming a regional commercial hub, it understands and accepts that this has important implications for the U.S. It is fully engaged with the U.S. in exploring opportunities for economic development, particularly from U.S.-based companies and investors.

The relationship between the U.S. and Djibouti is deep and strong and that bond will never be broken. Djibouti protecting its economic sovereignty will only strengthen that bond.

March 8, 2018