Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Monday, October 31, 2005

Azerbaijan Elections: The Lowdown

As soon as I noticed this one I had to point you in its direction. From EurasiaNet, a special feature on the Azerbaijan Elections 2005. Photos, Q & A, Party Profiles, Campaign Facts; its all right here. Enjoy

All So Familiar In Zanzibar

Not sure where the projection for the previous allocation of seats came from but heres the latest courtesy of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC):

Out of 50 seats, 23 constituencies have declared. 1 area's results were cancelled following 'violations'. The ruling Revolutionary Party (CCM) has 14 seats, the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) has taken the nine other seats.

CUF leader Seif Sharif Hamad: "We believe we are still leading but we are suspicious that the rest will be cooked in favor of the CCM candidates,"

Vuai A. Vuai, the CCM's secretary for ideology and publicity: "Seif Sharif Hamad is an international liar...He has been lying since 1995 and he is now lying to the world that there are plans to rig elections."

Read more at Yahoo News from AFP.

Kyrgyzstan Draws Breath After Political Stand-Off

Zanzibar Update

Well with initial results in the opposition CUF has taken a lead in the Zanzibar legislative election.

Electoral authorities announced early results that showed the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, or Revolutionary Party, taking 15 seats in the main island and Hamad's party winning all the 18 seats in the second island (Pemba), an opposition stronghold.

So are the opposition about to cruise to victory? Unlikely.

Similar tactics were used in the Zimbabwean parliamentary election. Here, the possibility of an opposition victory was raised right up until the last moment, when the ruling party surged ahead with a sweep of seats. Expect more of the same here. This selective announcing of declared seats, is an attempt to give a more 'democratic' feel to the vote. The government also appears to be attempting to create a mirage of real regional political support bases, by giving the CUF all of the Pemba seats. These tactics were last seen in the Ethiopian election where the opposition swept the board in urban areas. And we know how that turned out. Ethiopundit explains this tactic as 'salting the mines'

Another worrying sign is the increasing level of violence. What direction will this instability take? Im unsure. Africa doesn't have any track record of peaceful velvet revolutions, such as the one seen in Europe. One positive note to add is this assessment by Commonwealth observers:

"generally arrangements worked and conditions were such as to enable the people to express their will."

Full results can be expected later today. The Presidential count should be complete by Tuesday.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Kyrgyz News Catch Up - Protests And Beyond

NewEurasia's Kyrgyzstan blog sums up the events which follow on from those I posted about on Wednesday. Plenty to click on there.

China: 'Irrational' Fear Of Revolution Brings Tighter Controls, Says Activist

Thanks to AsiaMedia for this one, lifted from the South China Morning Post. Daniel Kwan looks at the view that Beijing is panicking over political upheaval following the Ukrainian and Kyrgyz Revolutions.

A Woman Sells Her Son Outside McDonalds In Modern Day China

Courtesy of Chinese Language Site - Peacehall

Election - Zanzibar Style

Touching on a topic I've not previously written about - the Zanzibar Election today. For those of you who don't know where it rests on the map, the small semi-autonomous island lies just off the coast of Tanzania. Its big brother was due to hold elections today also, yet the death of an opposition candidate postponed those until December 18th.

So whats the Democracy situation like here? Not good on past form. The ruling CCM has been in power for over 40 years (only conceding Democracy in 1995). The Tanzanian opposition (which holds the same role on this island) finds most of its support in Zanzibar. Yet all the media on the island is controlled by the ruling party, and despite cries of ballot-rigging, the CCM doesn't look set to allow power slip through its fingers anytime soon. The run up to this poll, like those previously, has also been marred by violence and repression of the opposition. Yet whatever can be said, its election day itself that will count.

Are the signs encouraging? No. According to Reuters:

Zanzibari troops beat opposition supporters and fired a live bullet and tear gas on Sunday during an election on the Tanzanian islands marred by clashes and fraud allegations almost as soon as polls opened.
Violence intensified in the afternoon, as troops and opposition backers fought more and more in the streets of historic Stone Town.

The opposition CUF, has also said that eight of its workers were 'abducted' in the early hours. Despite this the party leader Seif Sharif Hamad said:

"Until now, it seems that the election is going well in Pemba and here...The voting system has been so far quite transparent (although) there are some problems here and there."

The ballots are now being counted, expect results by the middle of the coming week. Zanzibar should also provide an interesting test-run for the Tanzanian elections, where a similar political situation exists. If there is a transfer of power on Zanzibar, an African ruler will, for a change prove they can do Democracy.

Friday, October 28, 2005

No Change In Sight

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Taiwan Loses A Friend

And global democracy takes a hit, as Senegal switches recognition to Beijing. The days when Taipei had the financial clout to entice nations into diplomatic recognition are over. China will be far richer in coming decades, and Taiwan's small band of poverty stricken African and Caribbean allies are gonna follow the money. Sad day when totalitarianism gets one over democracy.

The President And His Surroundings

The Messenger has an opinion article looking at the differing people involved in Georgian President Saakashvili's team. Interesting stuff.

It's Getting Awful Hot In Here

Is everyone in Bishkek bunking off work today? Three protests are currently going on. You may remember Numero Uno (that's the anti-Kulov rally) from Saturday. Rysbek Akmatbaev, brother of the MP murdered last week, has now set up a tent close to the Parliament square. Supporters with binoculars are reportedly standing close to the tent scanning the assembly's windows and roof for potential snipers whilst a pre-recorded tape plays "Kulov get out!" through a public address system every few minutes.

Yesterday some 600 Ar-Namys (Kulov’s party) supporters began demonstrating across the square demanding that the Kulov-Bakiyev Alliance continue.

Now, another 'meeting' has started - this time against President Bakiyev at the government compound. Some 200 rally participants are demanding that Bakiyev fulfil his election promises. No clashes have been reported so far between the participants of the meetings and police are apparently not interfering.

An elderly gentleman from Osh sums up peoples feelings; "Fifty of us arrived. We've heard from our people that there's a protest. We are sick and tired of the unstable situation in the country, we want someone to put an end to the chaos. Why after the revolution [in March] hasn't the situation improved?"

The Kyrgyz Parliament meanwhile, has decided to set up a seven-member commission to investigate the death of Tynychbek Akmatbaev.

Expect to see these protests and more in the brand new 'When Revolutions Go Bad' DVD out after the Azeri elections next month.

NewEurasia - Kazakhstan

Has a look at the main contenders vying for Astana's most important job.

Not much to report from the campaign so far, other than the news that 600 foreign observers will monitor the vote (according to the director of the Foreign Ministry consular service department) and the main opposition contender, Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, has announced his election program. I haven't a clue whats contained in it, as the government controlled news agency has no details. Now I wonder why that is?

Meanwhile SpaceWar (not got quite the same ring to it as, say the International Herald Tribune or Voice of America) has an opinion piece about America's new best friend.

Happy reading!

Somaliland Election Update

Im not going to lie to you. Despite my pre-election post regarding the issue, I forgot to post the outcome of Somalilands first legislative election. A team of 76 observers from Canada, Finland, Kenya, South Africa, the UK, the U.S and Zimbabwe (hmmm) monitored the vote. According to this group the elections were conducted in a peaceful condition and were generally free and fair, however, the vote had fallen short of several international standards.

Well 11 days late heres how it shaped up:

For Unity, Democracy, and Independence: 33 Seats

Peace, Unity, and Development Party: 28 Seats

For Justice and Development: 21 Seats
Total Seats: 82 Seats

For Unity, Democracy, and Independence, the ruling party, took a fairly narrow victory and will need the support of the two opposition groupings to pass legislation. Two women were able to make it into parliament, significant progress for a country with a poor history of female involvement in politics.

"I will use this opportunity together with my colleague to raise [awareness of the] plight of women and youths, which has been ignored for a long period of time by our leaders," - Ikraan Haji Daud Warsame

The best news of all was that even the two opposing parties agreed the ballot was representative of the peoples wishes.

"Unlike previous elections, this one was indisputable." - Yusuf Mohamed Guled of 'For Justice and Development'

So good news all round. The long march towards international recognition has taken another step.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


And its all go in the Kazakh Presidential election race. The two main contenders, out of five, are incumbent Nursultan Nazarbayev and former regime-ally-turned-opponent, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, leader of 'For a Just Kazakhstan'. Stay tuned i'll be (fingers crossed) providing weekly updates on the campaign.

Twenty-Seven MDC Members File Senate Papers!

The Zimbabwean Pundit takes up the story that, in defiance of their leader, twenty-seven MDC politicians have filed their applications to participate in the Senate elections.

Unfortunately these greedy people, who are prepared to play by Mugabe's crooked rules to further their own personal wealth and power, (when they know fully well the party wont win a majority) represent Zimbabwe's largest opposition party. Very sad news indeed. Sadly the crisis in Harare looks set to go on and on....

Kazakh Opposition Faces Tough Fight

From the BBC:

Kazakh opposition candidate and the main contender to Nursultan Nazarbayev, Zharmakhan Tuyakbai, discusses the nations many problems ahead of December's election.

Monday, October 24, 2005

In Turkmenistan: Is Niyazov Ready To Step Down?

Noticed this over at Kabar (Kyrgyz News Agency) quoting Interfax:

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said that presidential elections will be held in 2009.

"In 2009, we will hold the elections for another president," Niyazov said at the 16th meeting of the People's Assembly in Ashgabat.

"By that time, in four or five years, we will raise a worthy successor," the president said.

"There is nothing eternal. One cannot be eternal," Niyazov said.

Well these gestures certainly support his earlier announcements regarding Turkmenistan's move to multi-candidate elections in a few years time. So how much truth is contained in these sentiments of democratic Presidential elections?

Turkmenbashi certainly has absolutely no regard for the international community and its opinions. These moves are certainly not as a result of western pressure - Niyazov gets away with all sorts of bizzare policies (maybe due to his nations large energy resources?). Additionally, any true democrat would have Niyazov locked up within weeks of coming to power for his numerous human rights abuses.
What is more likely to evolve is a hybrid between Uzbekistan's current political climate and Turkmenistan's legislative elections. Parties (created by the authorities) may be allowed to exist under the banner of 'opposition' but in actual fact pose no threat to the status quo. Similarly a series of Niyazov-approved candidates may be allowed to run for President, but none will represent the opposition or anti-Turkmenbashi groups. By standing aside and allowing a political heir to take control, Niyazov may be able to buy himself some more time before the people rise up and overthrow his regime.

But wait...whats this?

The Khalk Maslehaty (Peoples Council) began today and was expected to announce these 'reforms'. Whilst it is preparing to approve legislation to create a 'democratic' level of accountability at village and regional level, delegates quickly pushed any talk of Presidential elections off the agenda. A rare piece of subversion by the Council, how terribly democratic.....

The whole proceedings, as can be expected in such a scenario, soon turned into a comedy as delegates fought (only verbally mind) over who loved the Prez more.

Myrat Karriyev, got the ball rolling “I want to speak about the [point on agenda on] presidential elections. I would like to remind that we solved this problem on 28 December 1999 when we elected the Great Leader [as our] President for Life...I propose to remove this item from the agenda.”

Ovezgeldy Atayev, chairman of the Turkmen Parliament chipped in saying, “I would request the president in his capacity as the chairman of Khalk Maslehaty to remove the item from the agenda completely. We should not return to this subject again.”

Dr. Onjuk Musayev, secretary general of the democratic party of Turkmenistan, joined in the fray, “Our Great Leader is truly great (hmm great vocab) and we don’t want any other person.”

If you want to read more of this farce just check out the article. The Niyazov love-fest continues for several more paragraphs. Those of a nervous disposition will be pleased to hear that in the end it was decided that Turkmenbashi was a) great and b) could remain President-for-life after all. And they all lived happily ever after....

Interview With Salome Zourabichvili

Over at Civil Georgia. There aren't any major suprises in the interview, although Zourabichvili has toned down her call for fresh parliamentary elections.

Azerbaijan Election Update

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Prison Riot Sparks Political Row in Kyrgyzstan

Over at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Leila Saralaeva and Aziza Turdueva sum up (better than I can even attempt to) the current political crisis in Kyrgyzstan

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Kyrgyzstan Faces Turmoil

As protestors call for the resignation of Prime Minister Felix Kulov.

PM Felix Kulov said the protesters were behaving illegally. There are "certain forces consciously trying to destroy our statehood," he told reporters.
"If the president and parliament find reasons for my resignation, I won't object," Mr Kulov said.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Georgian News

Civil Georgia has a newspaper round-up looking at the dismissal of Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili. The ex-FM has now announced her intention to run in the 2008 parliamentary elections. Zourabichvili was speaking on the first edition of a new Rustavi-2 talk show - Free Topic. The broadcast also contained sections with pro-government and opposition political leaders and NGO representatives. The show was the first to be broadcast following the cancellation of the majority of discussion programmes in 2004.

Kyrgyz Society Breaks Further Down

With the news that all guards and staff have been ordered to leave the country's jails for security reasons, the day after an MP was shot dead by inmates during a prison visit. Security forces are instead stationed outside to ensure that no prisoners escape.

Prime Minister Kulov said the situation had now "been normalised". In comments to parliament he stated "The government is able to, and will, control the situation in the prison colonies". Quite how is leaving armed prisoners in charge of the jail control? If anything what was needed was a quick re-entry by the army, and strict control in the prisons to prevent further unrest. The longer the inmates are allowed to run their own affairs the harder it will become to bring the situation under control.

If Bakiyev's government cant even control prisoners, how will they control the country?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

On Eve Of Elections, Baku Velvet Revolution Unlikely

Check this opinion piece out, courtesy of the English-language Georgian Newspaper, The Messenger.

2005 Press Freedom

Well after today's appalling events in Kyrgyzstan, a story where some positives can be found. Reporters San Frontiéres released its Annual Press Freedom Index today (has it really been a year since the last one?). Lets take a look at some of the notables, before seeing just how Press Freedom has improved/declined in the colour revolution states.

North Korea comes in last place for the millionth time, with other internationally isolated nations such as Turkmenistan not far behind. China manages to jump a couple of places, up to 159 out of 167 (hardly inspiring). The United States fell more than 20 places to 44th, 'mainly because of the imprisonment of New York Times reporter Judith Miller and legal moves undermining the privacy of journalistic sources'. Canada (21st) and France (30th) also slipped several places. The UK meanwhile rose somewhat to 24th, whilst India climbed to 106th (I would have thought this would be much higher, especially considering authoritarian nations such as Togo and United Arab Emirates are ranked above. Is the Kashmir conflict to blame for this position?)

Now to the Colour Revolution nations. The former Yugoslavia (now Serbia and Montenegro) rises 12 places from last year to 65th. Georgia sadly slips 5 places to 99th just behind Turkey. The arrest of Shalva Ramishvili, an investigative journalist charged with extortion, no doubt had an effect on this. Ukraine, which has had a full year of 'Democracy' under Yushchenko, dramtically climbs 26 positions to 112th, after many years on par with the likes of Belarus and Uzbekistan. Kyrgyzstan slips 4 places to 111th, with many reports coming from that country of self-censorship. See this RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty article about a change in management at a public/private television company. Despite the Cedar revolution, and an entrenching of Democracy Lebanon falls out of the top 100, from last years 87th to this years 108th. The spate of attacks on anti-Syrian figures, such as TV journalist May Chidiac just a few weeks ago and George Hawi in June, is likely to have dented their position.

Some nations with the Democracy spotlight upon them, such as Kazakhstan, have actually risen. The Central Asian giant climbed to 119th from 131st, Moldova stepped in to 74th from 78th. Others have, as would be expected, tumbled down the rankings - Armenia 102nd from 83rd in 2004. Azerbaijan, the setting for next months parliamentary elections, also dropped 5 to 141st. Belaurs, fell 8 places - although when you're rubbing shoulders with Zimbabwe and Vietnam it hardly matters.

So the general trend suggests that those countries moving towards Democracy do encourage Freedom of Speech to flourish. Ukraine has made up some real ground after a series of depressing years, whilst Serbia and Montenegro joined the most transparent of Democracies as they move towards the EU. The nations without strong opposition, and powerful Presidencies tend to be the worst off - hardly an encouraging year for Georgia or Kyrgyzstan.

However, as I earlier touched upon, Democracy and Freedom of Speech do not necessarily go hand in hand. Lebanon is making real inroads with perfecting its liberal system, yet the menacing hand of car bombings is creating fear amongst journo's. Whereas before an article attacking Syria posed no threat to the status quo, there is now a need for meddling influences to intimidate those who make such demands. India, is indeed the world's largest democracy, yet due to several sepratist conflicts its media is regarded as partially free. It's vital to remember influences outside of government control play a part in Press Freedom. The news is good though. The gap between the few really opressive states (Iran, North Korea) and countries even just 15 places above, is far wider than in previous years. And the gap between these nations and the most free, is a whole lot smaller.

Kyrgyz MP Killed in Hostage Drama

Kyrgyz Hostage Update

Thousands Join Ex-Foreign Minister For Georgian Protest

Sacked Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili led Georgia's largest protest since the Rose Revolution today.

“People, who need democracy, who want a civilized European system, are here. Today, I will start a new life, together with you - for you and your children, calmly as it should be in a civilized country... This means that a very strong force will come,” Salome Zourabichvili said [at the rally].
“I wanted to meet you today to demonstrate to the world that in Georgia devils are not coming, they are leaving,” she added.

A new Foreign Minister, Gela Bezhuashvili, the Secretary of the National Security Council was announced today, with the New-Rights claiming the dismissal was "an attempt to “change the country’s western foreign policy into a Russian-oriented one”. Infact the Ukrainian, Russian and U.S ambassadors have all criticized her in recent weeks with failing to provide them with orders.

This change of personnel can be attributed to poor management skills rather than a switch to Moscow in foreign policy relations. Quite why the New-Rights feel Saakashvili is about to turn his back on his closest allies is beyond me. Expect to see a softer approach to Russian relations however, as in recent weeks tensions over Abkhazia have grown between the two sides. Tbilisi wont wish to cause too much trouble with its powerful neighbour and major economic partner.

On a side note the leader of the opposition Republican Party Davit Usupashvili has said he would be happy to see Zourabichvili join his party.

Kyrgyz MP Taken Hostage At Jail

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Bad Day For Georgia's Ruling Party

Oooh dear, Wednesday has been quite an eventful day in Georgian politics. Defections, Looney Left-Wing accusations and an old fashioned fist-fight. Lets start with the most headline grabbing information; Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zourabichvili has been given the boot by Parliament. It's hardly surprising - legislators have been on her back for months now, however her exit was certainly memorable:

Thirty minutes earlier before this announcement of the Prime Minister, when the Foreign Minister’s resignation was not yet decided, Salome Zourabichvili made a televised statement through the Rustavi 2 TV and urged the President to dissolve the Parliament and to call early elections.

French-born Salome Zourabichvili, who has never been engaged in the country’s internal political affairs, bitterly criticized the Parliament and the ruling party. She described “groundless attacks and accusations” against her as a well-planned campaign of representatives of a “neo-communism system” whose victory would mean an end to the country’s democratic development.

“If you believe in what I have said, if you think that the Georgian democracy is endangered, please let’s assemble at Tbilisi Hippodrome tomorrow [on October 20] at 1 pm just for five minutes. Of course this is not a call for a new revolution,” she stated addressing the population.

Sounds more like something one of the fringe opposition party leaders would say. Should be interesting to see just how many people do indeed 'join her' tomorrow. Anyone sense a defection to the opposition? (Although she does not have a seat in Parliament).

If Zourabichvili does defect she wont be the only one. One of the ruling party's legislators, Gia Tortladze, defected today, saying he wished to join the new opposition faction in parliament. This new group, which is aiming for registration in the coming days, claims to represent the 'true values' of the Rose Revolution. Its membership is still relatively small, but with a few more defections it could become a real force in parliament and chip away at the de facto one-party state currently in existance. The conspiracy theorists are out as always (this is Georgia), with many claiming the new bloc is nothing more than a Soros-backed puppet.

This opposition isn't coming just in parliament or on the streets. Oh no. Its being fought fist-by-fist, as Republican member of Ajara's autonomous Assembly, Murman Dumbadze, was admitted to Hospital. Apparently a Ruling Party member 'crowned' him after Dumbadze accused the governor of Guria, Zviad Ungiadze, of being a 'criminal'. If only British politics was this action packed........

Asian Window Dressing

Busy times in China today. The mainland Communist's have released a white paper on 'Democracy'. Unfortunately its only conclusions are; that the status quo is excellent and is to be maintained for a long while yet.

Hong Kong has announced what it is describing as limited reforms, allegedly furthering it towards the goal of universal sufferage.

The main suggestions announced by Mr Hui include expanding the membership of the election committee from 800 people to 1,600 people, and expanding the legislature, the Legislative Council, by 10 seats - five of which would be directly elected by the public.

This is NOT going to increase Hong Kong democracy. The election committee is stacked with Beijing loyalists, so no matter whether it contains 800 or 8 people, the PRC's candidate is guaranteed victory. Secondly, the five seats elected by the public will be directly counter balanced by the five appointed members. This effectively makes those extra seats worthless. If Beijing had wanted to further democracy it would have done so by increasing how many existing Assembly members are directly elected.

So why is Beijing stalling with such window dressing measures? Well, in the past the number of directly elected seats has increased with each election. Last years ballot however created a 50:50 split, giving Beijing a likely majority (provided just one of its supporters was directly elected). The next stage would reduce Beijings appointed members to a minority, and runs the risks (as is the case with Democracy) of an unfavourable result. If all the directly-elected seats were held by pro-democracy members, legislation could become hard to pass and control. Hong Kong would in effect slip out of Mainland control.

Unfortunately Hu Jintao is sliding further away from the goal of Democracy (not just in HK but in China itself) than any of his predeccessors. He mistakenly believes that the Hong Kong people will be fobbed off with such pathetic mirages of Democracy.

What will be interesting to see is the turnout for this protest against the ammendments on December 4th. If a small turnout occurs, Hu Jintao will have won, for now. If however, a large turnout, on the scale of the millions seen during the 1 July 2003 protests, is achieved Hu will be in a difficult position. He either ignores the calls for Democracy and faces problems with civil obedience in later years; tries to quash the protests in some way (I cant see another Tiananmen occuring in Hong Kong. International sanctions would follow, and if a massacre did occur Martial Law would have to be indefinitely imposed) or bows to the pressure of HK protestors. If the third scenario took place, it would severely undermine his position both in the SAR and within China. It would move HK beyond central control and make it increasingly hard to deny Democracy at home.

I don't believe by his actions of the past 3 years Hu will choose the smart option. If only the Communists could see that gradual political change accompanied with economic development will likely maintain their regime, they would avoid likely annihilation and violence in the coming decades. Those who dont learn from the lessons of History aye?

Ethiopian Opposition Under Attack

Monday, October 17, 2005

No Wonder Kazakhstan Looks So Good!

I was considering writing a fairly humourous article about the recent praise heaped on Kazakh President Nazarbayev, and Kyrgyzstan's democratic decline. Instead, recent events in Bishkek are turning me, increasingly, into a sympathiser with the current status quo in Astana. At least Askar Akayev never did anything like this:

A controversial proposal to impose a ban on demonstrations in Kyrgyzstan has drawn a furious reaction from politicians and activists alike. For many, the civil liberties issue goes to the heart of what the new Kyrgyz administration is supposed to be about.

On October 10, Kambaraly Kongantiev, the chairman of the parliamentary committee which deals with legislation and human rights, asked his colleagues to consider introducing a one-year moratorium on “protests, marches or events that pursue as their goal the overthrow of state power and the dissolution of parliament”.

I guess you never know when you have it good. Political Freedom is curtailed in Kazakhstan, without a doubt. Yet as the President himself is saying, with economic progress, people begin to realise their civil liberties and respect/appreciate them too. The short is; globalisation and the free market foster Democracy.

What happened in Kyrgyzstan differs from political evolution where people largely seek property rights and liberty. Most people in Bishkek wanted to replace a Prez who hadn't improved their standard of living. Democracy was a side issue at best. That is why Nazarbayev can continue to fiddle with the constitution. Kazakh's lives are improving greatly, and so they will appreciate/tolerate an extension of Nursultan's term in office. If Akayev had been able to create economic prosperity, he too could have remained in power much longer.

Bakiyev has a clean sheet, where with shrewd moves he can improve the economy (and in effect create a mini-Kazakhstan). However a failure to create this, alongside any Akayev-esque tinkering with the constitution, will ensure he too is hounded out of office. Democracy will not evolve in a situation of extreme poverty such as Kyrgyzstan (I cant think of any poverty stricken democracies). Here people want quick solutions to their problems, not wishy-washy Liberal ideology.

If Nazarbayev sticks to his rhetoric and does indeed let grass-roots Democracy rise, there is no reason why Kazakhstan cannot become a World Power (and im sure it will be within the next decade). That is the dilemna the Kazakh Prez will eventually face. The road he chooses will determine his nations future success, however, right now Kazakhstan looks the best basket to place U.S eggs in...

It's All Downhill From Here.....

Well according to RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty Saakashvili has announced that he will stand for a second term in 2009 (to complete the work he has begun apparently). Whats more worrying is his typically agressive-over the top rhetoric.

Mikheil Saakashvili announced on 15 October at a ceremony to honor highway construction engineers that he plans to seek a second presidential term in order to bring to completion the work he has begun, Caucasus Press reported. His term expires in January 2009. Saakashvili said he will build a new motorway linking western Georgia with the Abkhaz capital and enter Abkhazia by that road. He also tasked highway engineers with completing the Tbilisi-Kaspi highway in 2006 and the Tbilisi-Gori highway in 2007, and with repairing the road over the Rikoti Pass in 2008.

Quite how he thinks saying he will "enter Abkhazia" at the start of his second term, will do anything other than seriously aggravate the de facto authorities is beyond me. Rather than continuing this dangerous and obsessive nationalist policy of threatening the breakaway regions, perhaps Misha would care to adress the serious power and economic problems faced within territory under his control.

Or maybe this constant rhetoric creates a nice and convincing distraction for why the Georgian people's lives are unlikely to improve anytime soon?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Azerbaijan Election Update

Syria: The Start Of The End

I will be careful with my words when writing this post. It deals with this breaking news: Syria's Interior Minister has committed suicide. My comments do not reflect glee at the news but attempt to demonstrate how, for the want of a better phrase, the noose is tightening around al-Assad.

Ghazi Kanaan took his own life at around noon today. Just hours before he spoke to the Sawt Libnan (Voice of Lebanon) radio station, at the end of which he said "I believe this is the last announcement I can make."

Kanaan was a pillar of the regime, and for many years, the person who Lebanese military and political leaders reported directly to on every major issue. Finally after years of dictatorship, he was brought to account by UN investigators (who are still compiling their report). The results of which are as yet unknown, but as Syria Comment plus noted on September 10 and September 12 the Ba'athist regime is running out of time. All it's cards have been played.

They no longer have Lebanon, the regime's authority has been significantly weakened by this. The gentle unscrewing and then tightening of the 'Damascus Spring' unleashed popular anger into public debate, but gave no outlet to vent frustration. Syria's economy is going nowhere due to the nation's pariah status and inadequate financial management. It doesn't even have WMD's to blackmail the west. Protests in Syria are, albeit unreported and small-scale, now more common than even 5 years ago.

Today's suicide by a top regime insider, shows fear exists within Syria's political elite. Why else would Kanaan have felt it necessary to end his life? He knows the game is up. Sooner rather than later, a public uprising or a coup is on the cards. As soon as the world (and eventually the Syrian people) learn the truth about the regime's involvement in the slaughter of Rafik Hariri, the people will no longer be scared.

Democracy is rising around the Middle-East and the UN's criticism's could not come at a worse time for the Ba'ath. The snowball events which are weakening the regime day by day lead me to ask one question.

Was the needless assasination of Rafik Hariri the stupidest political move Syria could have made?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Sorry that should read, Cambodia. Although the similarities between Ethiopia, and this Kingdoms two Communists in Democratic drag, are alarmingly similar. Stripping of opponents parliamentary immunity, hiding under the cover of parliamentary government and a seeming need to stay in power indefinitely. Did I mention poll violence?

The sad thing is, Hun Sen has been in power for 20 years now, and it looks as if the world is content to allow him to reign forever. Is he Meles Zenawi's inspiration? Media Network takes up the story of Cambodian media repression

Carnival In Town

The Carnival of Revolutions is up at 'onewold multimedia'. A really packed roundup, the majority of this weeks focus quite rightly going to the post-Soviet space. With Ukraine's ongoing political crisis, and Azerbaijan's upcoming elections its only appropriate.

Ethiopia: A Classic Dictatorship

Realising that the majority of Ethiopia accepts the 2005 elections were rigged, Meles Zenawi has done what all dictators would. Persecute the opposition. Hardly democratic to remove the opposition's immunity from prosecution. Expect more stand-offs, or some sort of mass repression in the coming month.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Libya Moves Towards Democracy?

The BBC is running this story today, regarding the re-trial of 85 Muslim Brothers members arrested in the late 1990s and tried by Libya's recently abolished 'People's Court'. The significance of this? Well in recent months, thanks to Seif al-Islam Gaddafi (thats the Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's son) Libya has really started to open up. Miny Gaddafi has asked for exiled Libyans to return, and help form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and even lauded elected government.

So what is to be made of this? Well its questionable how much influence Seif has. He may be able to make such comments without fear of reprisals due to his family ties. Alternatively, as many speculate, he could be Libya's answer to Gamal Mubarak. Merely attempting to clean up Libya's image to encourage investment and to soften the blow of his eventual succession. Interesting nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Delayed Carnival

Hey guys sorry for the lack of updates in recent days, pretty tired after a stressful week, and finding things a bit thin on the ground newswise. Nothing I can get my teeth into, but expect better posting over the weekend!

Appologies also go to Stefania who has published an excellent Carnival of Revolutions, which I foolishly missed! Go check it out for all the moves in Democracy around the world!

Additionally the NewEurasia Uzbek blog is up! Just waiting for the Kyrgyz and Armenian versions now!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The End Game?

This could be it. As long as Mugabe had the army on his side, he could impose his will. Now he can't even feed them. Anyone sense a mutiny on the cards? Surely once the army turns on him an old-fashioned coup cant be far away?

Monday, October 03, 2005

NewEurasia: Kazakhstan

Kicking off with two posts, neweurasia's Kazakhstan blog has just launched. Add this one to your favourites as those all important Presidential elections approach.

Speaking of which, the Azeri brother blog has its weekly update on their upcoming parliamentary vote.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Tale Of Two Elections

Well, thats what it might as well be reading these two opposing points of view:

Saakashvili lauds the elections...

...whilst The Opposition coalition lambasts it

Gotta say as much as I dislike Saakashvili's frequently agressive style of government, all exit polls and analysts would have told you; the opposition wont get anything more than one seat. It appears that even this was too optimistic. Unfortunately until the non-governmental parties stop making sensationalist remarks and attempting to create hysteria it will be hard for them to improve on results like today.

Clean Sweep For Saakashvili

The latest results are in and it appears that the ruling National-Movement is heading for victory in all 5 contested by-election seats in Georgia. Here's a quick run down, courtesy of Civil Georgia:

Tbilisi’s Isani Constituency:
Bidzina Bregadze of the National Movement - 8 753 votes;
Giorgi Mosidze of the New Rights opposition party – 5 841 votes;
Other three candidates received 1 207 votes all together.

Tkibuli Constituency:
Pavle Kublashvili of the National Movement - 9 306 votes;
Nino Kvariani of the New Rights party – 1 854 votes.

Batumi Constituency:
Jemal Inaishvili of the National Movement - 8 249 votes;
Jumber Tavartkiladze of the opposition Conservative Party – 1 753 votes;
Four other candidates could garner only 753 votes.

Kobuleti Constituency:
Koba Khabazi of the National Movement - 13 920 votes;
Jimsher Jincharadze of the Conservative Party – 6 160 votes;
Non-partisan Avtandil Mikeladze - 336 votes.

Shuakhevi Constituency:
Elguja Makaradze of the National Movement - 5 484 votes;
Eduard Nizharadze of the New Rights party - 2 116 votes;
Non-partisan Vladimer Mumladze – 222 votes.

And the best news of all, election observers hailed the vote as free and fair. As previously predicted, certain forces claimed the election was rigged. Unsuprisingly these accusation come from the ill-supported Laborist party. Seems like Georgia still has some way to go before achieving political maturity.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Georgian Election Day

The Georgian by-elections appear to be going relatively well, with turnout reported as high as 56% in Tkibuli constituency and low as 21% in Batumi. Unfortunately there have been a few sporadic cases of individuals who had gone through the preliminary registration being unable to cast their ballots.

Interestingly the Central Election Commission warned NGO's to refrain from posting exit polls. Despite the lessons learned from the U.S, exit polls do give a rough estimate of voters feelings and help contribute to a transparent process. The ferrying of people in buses by the ruling party does not however contribute to the democratic system. Keep watching this space for further updates, particularly as those all important results come in!

On another note the Georgian NewEurasia blog launched yesterday, joining the Turkmen and Azerbaijan editions.

Enjoy your weekend!