Archive for July, 2009

Kyrgyz election not satisfactory

July 24, 2009

The presidential election in Kyrgyzstan has resulted in a victory and re-election of President Bakiyev. Opposition candidates as well as monitors from OSCE has declared the election not satisfactory according to international democratic standards. The result showing a support of 90% to Bakiyev does also indicate unfair conditions.  Hence there is no democratic improvement in Kyrgyzstan, rather a continuation of a very much Semi-Authoritarian system actually in force since the disputed parliamentarian elections 2007.

Once more we must regret the development in Kyrgyzstan, where so much hope of a democratic breakthrough arose after the 2005 popular uprising forcing then authoritarian president Akayev to resign. Bakiyev has obviously failed to establish a democratic political standards, and rather turned it into yet another example of authoritarianism so common in far Caucasus.  Ahead of the election  a number of candidates decided to boycott, claiming the election to be rigged.  Unlike nearest neighbouring states Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan there is a more pluralistic political society with existing and active political parties and opposition. Increasing domination by the government and followers of the president are however strong elements of some political repression.

This election does however not change the status or situation in Kyrgyzstan much, instead the semi-Authoritarian rule running since 2007 continues very much unchanged.

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African elections, and more:

July 20, 2009

African elections

The Republic of Congo has held presidential elections, resulting in a strong but much disputed win by incumbent president Sassou-Nguesso. The president came out with an official backing of 78,6 per cent of the votes. The vote was however held with a relatively low turnout and partial boycott by opposition. Although observers from the African Union did not report any systematic fraud, we have good reasons to doubt the democratic legality of this election. The political status of The Republic of Congo has not changed following this election, to the better nor to the worse. The political situation is very much unchanged in a Semi-Authoritarian presidential system.

In neighbouring Gabon, the ruling party has decided to nominate the son of late president Omar Bongo, Ali Ben Bongo to the presidency and elections held in late august. This does most certainly reduce the chances of a radical democratic breakthrough in Gabon at this point, as Bongo most certainly will be elected in an election predicted to be dominated by the ruling party. Further on we could still hope for a more open and liberal rule in Gabon, during a rule of a hopefully reform-minded president. Earlier experiences has shown both good and less good examples of political reforms following the death of a long-serving father figure. A better example is Togo, less fortunate Syria and Azerbaijan to mention a few. There will however be a political normalisation as a new president is installed, from the present provisional government in Gabon. What this will be remains to be seen and analysed.

Today presidential elections are held in Mauritania, in a move to restore a civil and possibly democratically legal rule. Current military leader Abdelaziz is standing for office as the likely front-runner, but is challenged by several candidates in a rather open and so far fair electoral campaign. Together with a functioning parliament Mauritania will, if the election is considered fair return to a democratic rule once the president is installed. The hopes of a democratic breakthrough were high following the constitutional revolution in 2006-2007, but the popularly elected leader was overthrown in a military coup and for the past year a military leadership has been in power. An earlier election date was postponed to include oppositional candidates and fairer conditions. Mauritania has been authoritarian and ruled by dictatorial regimes for most of its independence, the recent democratic landmarks are of great importance to keep for a healthy political development of Mauritania. Abdelaziz may be legitime as president, and further must allow an opposition to be active and allow the freedom of speech and critic against the government. The opposition on the other hand has an important role to function as a watchguard on the government and promote a vital political debate in Mauritania. Still, in a democratic system the opposition while being critical against the government, it must recognise the governments legitimacy and right to rule. Therefore it may be a risk to accuse the president to have fabricated and won the election in a disputed way. The restoration of a functioning democrtatic system depends on the government and the opposition’s relation towards each other. The government must allow political plurality and debate, aswell as the opposition must recognise the governments legitimacy. What the actual situation is or will be in Mauritania is at this point to early to determine. If Abdelaziz is found to have won by fraud, the rule loses much of it’s legitimacy and shall be criticised. But we do have a clear normalisation and a basically democratic system with political plurality restored in Mauritania after all.

 Honduras: The mediators between the provisional government and the ousted president Zelaya is struggling to find a political situation, making it possible to form a new provisional government including Zelaya. This should then rule the country until the holding of presidential elections early 2010.

To summarise this, possible/likely political changes ahead are: Interim, and later normalised status in Mauritania, Normalisation in Guinea-Bissau, normalisation in Gabon(august), possible change of interim rule in Honduras.

The semi-autonomous chinese province of Xinjiang has recently been under a grave internal situation, characterized by massive protests and strong force by the authorities.  Whether there has been a state of emergency(martial law) is unclear.

Second round in Guinea-Bissau

July 3, 2009

The presidential election held in Guinea-Bissau is set for a second round between main contenders Malam Bacai Sanha of the ruling party and former president Kumba Yala.

 The first round was held in a much orderly way and no or few reports of irregularities was reported by observers. This will most likely define Guinea-Bissau as a functioning democratic state. The second round is to be held 2 August

Once the president is installed shortly after the second round in august, the political situation will be normalised and the current interim status will be changed to a constitutional Semi-Presidential form.

Sudanese election postponed

July 3, 2009

The sudanese general elections due in 2010 has been further postponed, by another two months and are now planned for april 2010. The elections initially planned for 2009 is now delayed much because of disagreements on the results of the census, providing for registration of voters. South Sudan claims to represent a larger share of the countrys population and hence legitimising a larger share of seats.

 

Salva Kiir of the SPLM(Sudan People Liberation Army) has announced his candidacy to the elections and gained support from several tribes. The chances of Kiir(also Vice-President today) to succeed in gaining the highest ranking office are to be honest not that big, much because of the religious differences between mainly christian SPLM and the more muslim dominated north surrounding Khartoum.  The main contenders are likely to be the governing and yet dominant National Congress Party, SPLM traditionally opposing NCP and National Democratic Alliance. NDA has a long history in Sudan, several times in power but has been marginalised after al-Bashirs coup in 1989, the last elections held in 2000 were boycotted by NDA.

Besides the main political parties a much influential organisation will be the Muslim Brotherhood, so far influential to and supporting the present government. As an important part of the muslim community among the population the brotherhood´s position will most likely be important to the outcome of the election.

There is a possible risk of polarisation and conflicts should the political campaigning be to hard. Since the 2005 Peace agreement Sudan has been governed by a coalition government between NCP and SPLM paving the way for increased stability in South Sudan and a transition to stronger autonomy and possible independence of South Sudan.

Even though Omar al-Bashir should and must be criticised for his actions, he is still an important player in the stability of the area and for the peace and well-being of the region

If a conviction and arrest of al-Bashir is not successful or if he stays in power after the elections, it should be in the interest of SPLM and others to keep good ties with the government if South Sudan will increase its stability and possible independence.

 

By candidating to the presidency of Sudan Salva Kiir will most likely abandon his current position as president of South Sudan, this due to the elections to its presidency held simultaneously. Recently the SPLM has faced a challenge in the election following a breakaway fraction of the party, causing a political crisis. Still this must be seen as a welcoming development as SPLM has been strongly dominating in the south and real political opposition has been marginalised. The dominance of liberation movements, and their positions as saviours of the country is a strong risk of authoritarianism. In the region the most striking example is Eritrea where the liberation movement is now the foundation of a dictatorial regime.  If Salva Kiir abandons his current presidency it should be a welcomed move that the next candidate of the SPLM would be challenged by an opponent representing either a new political grouping or a break-away fraction of SPLM.

 

Even though strongly criticised by the international community and under a political domination of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan is not a dictatorship in its institutional form. This is a result much because of the 2005 peace agreement where NDC gave up much of its fully dominating political power. The transitional parliament appointed at this time has a form of political plurality and NDC can not rule without opposition, despite its actual majority in the house.  The political parties has not yet faced accountability from the population which will be the task of the 2010 elections.  Even though we should not have too high hopes of a democratic breakthrough in either Sudan or Southern Sudan following the upcoming elections, Still there is a chance of increased political plurality . The dominance of NDC and SPLM has not been accountable to the will of the population yet. 

Even though not considered a democratic state, Sudan is still probably the most successful example in the region. Neighbouring countries such as Chad, Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia and farther away Eritrea are by far more dictatorial.