Dearth of Omar Bongo

June 7, 2009

The longtime serving president and dictator of Gabon, Omar Bongo has died. Taking office in 1967 replacing former president Leon Mba, Bongo has made Gabon a strongly authoritarian state.  The African wave of democratisation in the early 90s did only affect Gabon in a minor way by allowing a multiparty system. In practise the rule of the regime has never really been challenged. The death of Bongo opens up a chance for a more liberal political rule, even though it is expected that his son will succeed in the same position. Hopefully yet leading to democratic reforms. The speaker of the parliament Guy Nzouba-Ndama is at this early point appointed acting president. Representing same strongly dominating party, Parti democratique Gabonnaise the new status of Gabon is defined by a decentralisation of power from president to party or parliament at a provisional state. The dominance of PDG still makes Gabon authoritarian.

 As Fidel Castro left the politics in 2006 Bongo took over as the longest serving executive political leader of the world, by now this position will be held by even more authoritarian Libyan leader Khaddaffi who came to power in September 1969.

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On West Africa.

June 6, 2009

Today the presidential elections were expected to be held in Mauritania. Thankfully this poll has been postponed to mid-july. Initially the opposition boycotted the vote due to the candidacy of current provisional military leader Mohammed Ould Abdelaziz. This would have been a major setback for the hopes of a democratic transition in Mauritania, as the lack of an opposition candidate would have undermined the legitimacy of the poll.

Now an agreement has been reached where the incumbent leader has agreed to withdraw his candidacy and the opposition is back in the election.  By this we once more can hope of a democratic restoration in Mauritania, even though this election does only affect the presidency. As far as I know the old and democratically elected parliament is still in function or at least acts extra-parliamentary.

This agreement may make a change of status in Mauritania to a provisional and interim status possible.

 

Two more countries in West Africa is now in a much similar situation, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, with provisional or military rule awaiting elections. The forthcoming election in Guinea-Bissau is disturbed by serious conflicts between the military and political leaders.

The presidential election, called after the assassination of President Vieira in March is expected to be held on June 28.  Baciro Dabo, a minister and candidate for this election was now assassinated amid an alleged coup conspiracy.  This leaves the domestic situation grave and the whereabout of the election uncertain, as it may be postponed. The role of the military in the country makes Guinea-Bissau a much unstable democracy. To maintain the democratic system over a long period one should tackle the obvious conflicts in the country and in the long term reduce the role of the military to make the government more civil.

 

Since longtime President Lansana Conte died in December Guinea has also been governed by a military junta. The previously long delayed parliamentarian elections are now expected to be held in October. As Conte is no longer a power figure in Guinea the chances of a democratic and transparent elections are higher, there are also a number of parties competing in the election. Later, in December there will also be held a Presidential election which hopefully will conclude the transition of Guinea to a restored constitutional and democratic rule.  It must be said that Guinea under the rule of Lansana Conte was for a long time strongly authoritarian and that democratic traditions are not rooted in the country. Still it has proven in many cases of democratisations before that a will and ambition to establish a democratic system can make it fortunate. Nearby Mauritania is an example of a  struggeling democratic example where a setback has occurred. Thanks to the will and ambitions in that country there is yet new efforts to establish democracy despite conflicts and the significant role of the military. Two factors that are necessary to work on for a long-lasting and stable democracy.

Greenland poll

June 3, 2009

The opposition in Greenland has most likely won the elections yesterday and will form a government to implement the Home Rule determined in last years referendum.  Left wing Inuit Ataqatigiit fails to win an outright majority but with 14 out of 31 seats. Minor parties besides longtime governing social democratic Siumut are on the other hand conservative or liberal, whether one of these can support a socialist government remains to be seen. A more likely outcome can be a continued coalition with Siumut, however this time with IA as leading party.

As Greenland moves to strong autonomy the ties with Denmark will get significantly looser. Internal affairs will be in the hands of the local government. Foreign affairs and defence policies remains in danish control. The strongest obstacle to full independence is of the economic matter, where Greenland has been subsided from Denmark to boost an economy dominated by fisheries.

Genuine democracy in The Maldives

June 2, 2009

This may Maldives has transferred to be a new genuine democracy of the world. This due to succesful parliamentary elections with a fair distribution of seats between the government and opposition. Using a westministerian “first-past-the-post” method of voting a clear two party system has emerged.

Long lasting dictatorship Maldives began its transformation to democracy last fall when incumbent president Gayoom was defeasted in the presidential elections.  The country has since then been a provisional democratic state, and will by this election have the transition concluded.

Election in South Ossetia

June 1, 2009

Election held in South Ossetia, however illegitimate and not in accordance to democratic standards, does anyway likely change the political status of South Ossetia slightly to the better. South Ossetian politics has previously been virtually in the absolute control of president Kokotyi. The activity or summoning of the parliament has been in doubt.

As this newly elected assembly will convene, however from an authoritar

 

 

 

The election is without a doubt disputed and unfair towards oppositional parties, one should acknowledge the reasonable fact that a territory made up of 70.000 inhabitants that today is very homogenely ossetians. From a nationalistic point of view and as an act of secession towards Georgia, president Kokotyi does probably have a significant support among the population.

 

This does still not legitimise the repression and apparent fraud of this election.

 

As South Ossetia is a de facto independent state since Russia as a protector state recognises it, one shall consider it as such in practise. The Sum is that when the new parliament is convening South Ossetia will transfer from Sub-Absolutism to *Sub-Hierarchial* and in democratic point an increase by 29 from 8 to 37

Niger in political crisis

May 28, 2009

Niger is at this point without a doubt in a changed political status as President Tandja has dissolved the parliament following both opposition and the judiciary have refused the president to seek a third term or try a change in the constitution in a referendum.  Niger, a country with a long history of military rule made the democratic transition ten years ago with the election and installation of Tandja.  Claiming to have the people’s support he now says he has the right to stay on. The refusal made Tandja dissolve the parliament and is therefore now in strong control of Niger. However with a democratic legitimacy we should perhaps not consider this a transition to a dictatorship, instead an alarming event to observe and to call for restored political order.  Ultimately Tandja should not have the right to act outside his jurisdiction and should respect the constitution and resign when the term is over, as he too earlier has promised. In the end the continuation of democracy and constitutional rule shall be the most inportanrt thing for Niger ahead.

Madagascar deal sealed.

May 28, 2009

A deal to solve the political crisis in Madagascar is apparently near, as the current leadership of Rajoelina and former president Ravalomanana is preparing for a coalition government ahead of fresh elections. According to the projected deal Ravalomanana as well as previous political leaders in Madagascar shall have the right to contest.

 

Concluding this deal Madagascar will develop into an Interim status with a new form of provisional government.  The current government took power in a military backed revolt earlier this year. Even though not fully “revolutionary” in form, the act has been condemned as a coup. In some aspects the status has rather been Interim or possibly a “Semi-Revolutionary” one, with some form of retained political activity.

A setback to the agreement has arised last days as the party loyal to former president Ratsiraka has withdrawn from the deal, leaving the future of this agreement a bit uncertain.

Malawi election not fully satisfactory

May 21, 2009

Results from the presidential and parliamentarian elections in Malawi is coming. Unfortunently, the outcome does not prove to qualify the country as a genuine democracy, this mainly due to unfair conditions in campaign and media coverage. Malawi is by this unchanged as a limited democracy, which according to its presidential form of government is marked here as **Presidential**-.  Still there are no reports or previous signs of systematic repression of the opposition, which saves the country from any form of authoritarian status. Opposition leader and former President Bakili Muluzi has reportedly accepted defeat to incumbent Bingu va Mutharika. Even though not fully satisfactory, the political life in Malawi will hopefully continue in an orderly and rather fair and constitutional way.

 

Besides this, longtime Gabonese leader Omar Bongo is reportedly ill and under medical treatment.  Following nearly 50 years of authoritarian rule under Bongo and prior to that Leon Mba, one could at least wish for a democratisation the dasy Omar Bongo is away. Still there seems to be another case of family succession as the son of the President is seen as the designated leader. WEhat changes to find in Gabon is very much still to see.

Notices 09-05-18

May 18, 2009

A possible new status is in progress in Gaza following negotiations between Hamas and Fatah held in Egypt. Ahead of the upcoming elections in Palestina early 2010, rthe two parties have allegedly agreed on a joint security force comprising of both parties, to control the territory from July to the elections. Further negotiations also involves the setup of a coalition government and electoral procedures. Should these negotiations be fortunate, one shall consider Gaza, today a strongly Hamas-dominated territory to develop into a provisional/interim status.

A referendum has taken place in the Comoros with the outcome of extending the presidents term and centralising the government more to the president. Strongly(and possibly disputed) backed the proposal was approved by the electorate. Federal stateComoros will by this probably change from a rotating presidency to a more traditional presidential form.

The long-lasting civil war in Sri Lanka seems to have ceased as government forces have crushed the Tamil LTTE movement. Even though dramatic this does not immediately change the political situation in Sri Lanka as the fightings has been concentrated to the north-east area in control of the Tamils. A generally and stable democratic country Sri Lanka has functioned since independence 1947. Still the foreign critiscism of the military campaign of the government recently is much justified, and one should watch closely the coming development.

Islamist forces are approaching Mogadishu in Somalia putting the sitting provisional government at risk. The recent agreement forming the current government has not proved to calm the situation with the remaining rebel forces.

Presidential and parliamentarian elections are tomorrow held in Malawi, with a hope of genuinely democratic and peaceful outcome. Since the end of Hastings Banda some 15 years ago Malawi has been generally democratic, and can be seen as a limited democracy during the last term following slight criticism of the 2004 elections. Still there is an active and well functioning opposition, bringing hope to a transition to a genuinely democratic status.

May 16, 2009

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