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.