Democracy Rising

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kazakh Opposition Figure 'Committed Suicide'

Is the official reason given by the authorities in Astana. Quite why someone would shoot themselves in the chest twice to kill themselves is beyond me. It's not exactly a quick way to kill yourself. The KZblog in an earlier article has a closer look at this

Monday, November 28, 2005

Kyrgyzstan By-Election Results

I know I haven't spoken about them before, but for those of you wondering what happened in the hotly contested by-elections, here's the info.

Former Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev was the most severe loser of the day receiving just 3 percent of the vote in his constituency. Interestingly the seat was won with a 52 percent share by Janysh Kudaibergenov, a relative of businessman Jyrgalbek Surabaldiyev, an Akayev supporter of the ousted government murdered in June.

Ex-Foreign Minister Roza Otunbaeva received a more acceptable 28 percent according to the Central Election Commission. What next for Otunbaeva? She's becoming a bit of a black sheep in Kyrgyz politics unable to gain a foothold in government or parliament. All reinforces the commonly held view that she had been popular on the international stage, but not neccessarily with her own people.

The final piece of news comes from the southern Aksy district, where ex-Prosecutor General Azimbek Beknazarov, a key leader in the revolution, won more than 88 percent of the vote.

Some interesting characters elected there, showing that whilst democracy is still most likely influenced by corruption, parliament isn't being packed with Bakiyev supporters.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Suprising Move

As Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki bans all public demonstrations. Not a smart move to make, damages his democratic credentials after last week's clean referendum.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Russian Democracy Takes Another Hit

After the revelations earlier in the month over a potential clampdown on NGO's, democracy in Moscow suffered a further blow.

A well-known news anchor, Olga Romanova, for REN-TV (a station mildly critical of Putin) has been taken off the air. Security guards reportedly prevented her from entering the station's premises and her boss later informed Romanova of her removal. The director cited poor ratings, although im sure it has nothing to do with a change in owner following investment this year by Surgutneftgaz - a company close to the Kremlin...

Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said it was "a clarion call that tells us that we have lost the last station that kept even a little independence and objectivity." It's a sad day when the media had greater freedom during the last years of a dictatorship than it does now.

If you want to read more of this paranoia, check out this article. The head of the Security Services believes Russia is beset by foreign spies. It would be funny...if it were not true.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tymoshenko Strikes Friendly Chord

On the first anniversary of the Orange Revolution, ex P.M Yulia Tymoshenko has offfered peace to President Yushchenko.

"I am certain that just as we supported Viktor Yushchenko in the presidential election, we must now unite to elect a prime minister who will embody everything we fought for,"

"I want to dismiss all the rumours that it is Tymoshenko versus Yushchenko. This cannot be so because this is the president that you and I helped bring to power."

Yushchenko also continued the love-in by saying

"It is pity that mutual accusations were put forward, which caused both teams to lose their reputations...Today when we talk about the revolution anniversary, I'd like all sides to use it to form one voice on the square, for each political force despite the personal ambitions of its leader to understand a very simple thing: Only solidarity brings success."

Lets hope the two democratic forces can work together to push Kuchma's corrupt cronies off the political scene forever. Today's comments are the most encouraging i've seen so far.

Kenyan Leader Accepts Poll Defeat

A rare sight on the African continent, but Mwai Kibaki has accepted defeat in the Kenyan Constitutional Reform Referendum. However as my post yesterday outlined, the real winners may be the former ruling KANU party.

And where does the last 2 years of wasted reform leave Kenya? Still with a constitution providing for an over-powerful President, and no progress towards Parliamentary government. It's hard to take positives from todays result.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Poke In The Eye For Kibaki

After a relatively violent campaign, Kenya's draft constitution looks set to be rejected tonight. The document which fails to curb the powers of President Mwai Kibaki, has been opposed by opposition and some government MP's.

Many Kenyan's, suprised the opposition candidate had been allowed to take victory in 2002, have grown disillusioned with Kibaki. He had promised constitutional reform within a hundred days of taking office, redistributing his power back to parliament. However any change took much longer to materialise, and what has been offered is far from radically different.

Kenya is still infested with corruption, a hangover from the dictatorial regime of Daniel Arap Moi. However without a doubt, press freedom has sharply increased in recent years and an opposition victory in this referendum would boost the nation's Democractic credentials.

Unfortunately the group most likely to gain out of the whole reform debarcle are corrupt politicians from the former ruling party. The 2007 legislative vote could see a return for the KANU bloc. The extent to which they would pursue their own past crimes, if in power, is likely to be much less vigourous than that of the current government. Kibaki's power-trip may therefore have more harmful implications for Kenya than at first appears apparent...

Quick Links

Apologies once more for the lack of updates, rushed off my feet at the moment. Here's your daily fix of Democracy related news, from sites around the globe

Enjoy guys and gals,


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Scores Arrested In Egypt Election

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mbeki Shows His True Colours

After much closed-door Mugabe-worshipping, South African President Thabo Mbeki has gone public. South Africa, the most influential 'democracy' on the continent, has signed an agreement that will see it share intelligence (spying) information with Zimbabwe.

Will this be used to improve security, or assist Mugabe in his watch on expat MDC supporters residing in Zim's southern neighbour? The fact that Mbeki cuddles up to such a brute tells us more about the state of South Africa's untested 'Democracy' than a few stories about censored 'public television' ever could.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tunisian TV Cuts Swiss President's Speech At Summit

Egyptian Election Results

Here's how it looks:

NDP (ruling) 112

Muslim Brotherhood 34

Secular Opposition 5

Independents 13

Pretty suprising stuff really, the Brotherhood only had 15 seats in the entire Parliament last time around, so has effective doubled its share thus far. There are still 280 seats up for grabs in the coming weeks, so we could see a more influential opposition bloc in next assembly. Small progress, but progress nonetheless.

However, are the NDP shooting themselves in the foot? They now face the dilemna of whether to fix the elections to prevent the Brotherhood winning a similar share (or even more) in the second round or allowing a 'free' ballot.

Both have potentially dangerous consequences. Thee Nile Delta and Upper Egypt strongholds of the M.B are yet to vote, in a free election we could expect the Brotherhood to win a large share. If they don't, what happens? Protestors come out on to the street. The regime then faces that classic dictatorship dilemna. To do an Ethiopia, or a Georgia? Expect little American support for a Brotherhood takeover of power.

Alternatively if the Brotherhood won a substantial number, freely and fairly, their position can only be emboldened. They are likely to be perceived by many Egyptians as the only viable alternative to Mubarak (the Secular opposition has just 5 seats and is unlikely to break past around 20). Mubarak's coming term could therefore be one of upheaval and protest by stronger public discontent. The metaphorical jar's seal has been broken. How stable Egypt remains will be the most significant issue in coming weeks, months and years.

Deconstructing the MDC

Nazarbayev Suffering From Azeri Syndrome

That's the condition which makes you harshly clamp down on opponents as the election comes ever closer (even if you are out in front by a country mile). Whilst not busying itself attempting to sue renegade comedians, the Astana authorities have been ruffling the oppositions feathers. In a disgusting attack, off-duty police officers severely beat relatives of a leading member of For a Just Kazakhstan coalition. It all begs the question, was Nazarbayev taking the mick when he said he wanted to chair the OSCE in 2009? I mean he cant seriously expect to do so with such highly undemocratic behaviour.

The KZblog has a look at the worrying news

Monday, November 14, 2005

Central Asia: Holding On To Power

Noticed this excellent article by Daniel Kimmage at Payvand News. Breaks down, country by country, the methods employed to maintain power throughout Central Asia. Well worth a read

Sorry for the short updates recently. Pretty busy, should be back on track by next week

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Presidential Hopefuls To Debate On TV In Kazakhstan

Bur will Nazarbayev have the guts to appear on live TV with opposition candidates? RIA Novosti has the story

Kazakh Leader's Critic Found Dead

Shocking. Whilst an open mind must be kept in this situation, if it is politically motivated it demonstrates the hysterical (and uneccessary) paranoia of the regime. As i've said many times before, what is Nazarbayev so scared of? He would win a free and fair vote by a landslide anyway. Whats the need for intimidation and rigging?

Nazarbayev has also offered his condolences to the family of the shot former minister. Echoes of Syria?

Zimbabwe Opposition Expels Rebels

From the BBC. This split only deepens the rift in the MDC and makes the job of defeating Mugabe all that more difficult. The President must be rubbing his hands together.

I think the real significance of this split is one of methods. The rebels believe that Mugabe can be toppled by elections (either that or they're so desperate to line their own pockets, through parliamentary expenses, they are happy to participate in a sham). Tsvangirai meanwhile seems to accept that something else is needed to topple Bob. The unfortunate thing is that a charismatic leader, who is prepared to potentially break the rules, (ala-Mandela) is yet to emerge in this second category. Morgan Tsvangirai, as some have said in the past, may well be too weak mentally to become this person.

Zimbabwe waits for its hero.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Opposition-Government Negotiations: So Much For The Revolution?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

EU Worried By Upcoming Kazakh Vote

Mubarak Weakens Opposition

As al-Ghad leader Ayman Nour loses his parliamentary seat in Wednesday's first-round election.

"What happened today is not an election," Mr Nour told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

It's not all doom and gloom though. Run-offs will be needed for about 80 percent of the 164 seats, however the Muslim Brotherhood, sends 42 candidates to a second vote, in addition to securing 3 seats.

It's too early to say how the parliament will shape up, but is likely to be largely NDP (National Democratic Party). The 'reforms' Mubarak is talking about are likely to be far more significant than the elections to, what is currently, a rubber-stamp legislature.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ethiopian Opposition To Face Treason Charges

According to the BBC, detained Ethiopian opposition leaders and newspaper editors will face treason charges over their part in last week's demonstrations. The maximum punishment is the death penalty.

As another article from the site says, many western diplomats are hoping for the immediate release of detainees from the CUD, followed by the encouragement of the opposition to take up their seats in parliament to resolve the crisis.

This attempt to charge the opposition with treason, may mark a watershed point. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is turning his back on diplomacy and negotiation, instead adopting a much more hardline approach. The decline of Democracy could be deepening...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Azeri Elections: Between Revolution And Stability

The Messenger (Georgia) analyses before, and the possible outcomes after, November 6th's Azeri legislative vote. The general feeling from this article is that Aliyev is no Yushchenko, but no Shevardnadze either.

OSCE On The Azeri Election

Nathan has the latest at Registan with links to the OSCE's report, in addition to the main points they raise.

Zimbabwe Police Arrest 50

Monday, November 07, 2005

Just Bizarre

Not Democracy-related but couldn't believe this. According to the BBC the Burmese government is moving it's capital. From the article it appears that only bureaucrats will be moving however. Very convenient.

Some analysts point to a paranoia among senior military figures that they might come under attack, potentially from the United States, and that a location further from the coast is strategically safer.

Burma, or whatever the regime is calling it these days, need not worry. The majority of world leaders have grown largely apathetic in regard to the continued House Arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi. Sadly a democratic revolution looks further away for the people of this Asian nation, than ever before.

Zimbabwe News

Two items for you from the most politically depressing of African Republics - Zimbabwe. Apparently the US envoy could be expelled (according to the Mugabe-mouthpiece 'Herald' newspaper) for undiplomatic behaviour. This either means he will be expelled, or that the government is trying to intimidate Chris Dell. Quite frankly I say 'Why bother?' It isn't going to lower Harare's standing in the International community. There is no lower than global pariah number one. It's stuff like this that has left Zimbabwe in such a position. I'll keep you posted on whether anything happens in tomorrow's 'planned' protest by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). The nightmare continues.

Aliyev Embarasses The West

That's all I can say about the blatant and rampant cases of vote rigging during Sundays vote. For those of you who don't know whats been going on since the last time I posted on the Azeri election, NewEurasia's Azerbaijan Blog is the best place to go, or for a quick round-up this link from the BBC.

It's a case of embarassment for Bush and the EU who had hoped that Baku was moving towards Democracy and had in recent weeks stated that signs were encouraging. It's also shameful for the leaders of GUAM a grouping of supposedly-democratic states in the post-Soviet space. President Aliyev now looks like the weak link, and is sure to ruin any credibility this organisation may have had. Georgian President Saakashvili had also hailed the 'progress' Baku had undertaken towards Democracy.

I don't know what kind of horse-trading is going on between Washington and Baku in an attempt to save face, but I find this particularly odd. Despite ex-Soviet dictators obsession with 'colour revolutions', the Baku Mayoral office has authorized Azadliq (that's the opposition bloc) to hold a rally on November 9. An attempt to boost Aliyev's tattered reputation? What I really don't understand is why the opposition has waited until 3 days after the election to protest. Surely it would be better to be out on the street now whilst tensions are running high?

Expect no colour revolutions here, the opposition has little public support. This is why so many thought this poll would be free and fair - there was no need to rig it. The paranoia of the Azeri government, guaranteed that they would never allow a free vote.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bakiyev Advocates Moving Further Into Presidential Government

The Kyrgyz President is advocating the abolishment of the Prime Ministerial post in his 'constitutional reforms'. Central Asia needs power taken away from its Presidents, not more given to them.

Non-Azeri News

Whilst the international media and majority of blogs occupy themselves with Azerbaijan; I thought i'd bring you a slice of other Democracy related news:

Happy reading!

Violations Alleged In Azerbaijani Election

According to RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. All looks very familiar when thinking back to Ukraine and Georgia, yet as Ben points out Intermedia opinion poll results show Ilham Aliyev as the most trusted politician in the country. Not looking good for the opposition as only 3% would name their leader, Isa Gambar, as the politician 'closest to them'. Stay tuned the exit poll results should be out sometime after polling closes (1700 Baku time) and then we can really get a flavour of where things will turn. Don't forget to keep checking back to EurasiaNet's excellent Azerbaijan Elections 2005 pages.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Kazakh Media Update

Thanks to Here's the biggest scandal of the campaign so far (as I discussed earlier in the week) in greater detail:

On 4 November, 2005, the Inter-District Administrative Court in Almaty ordered the confiscation of all copies of the Juma-Times newspaper, after having found it guilty of insulting the honor and dignity of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Furthermore the court ordered the Jumash-Kokbori company, which owns the paper, to pay approx US$275.

The move followed the Prosecutor's order to seize the edition issued on 3rd November. According to his press release, 3 November's edition contained information, which was known to be false, and insulted the honor and dignity of Nazarbayev.

However according to the Juma-Times' press release, traffic police officers stopped two delivery vehicles at 11 a.m., on 3 November, carrying the first copies of the paper. Twenty three police officers , supported by plain clothes forces, surrounded the delivery. They detained the cars, but failed to complete any formal documents, show a writ by the prosecutor, a court order or any other documents required by the law. At the time, the police officers searched the cars and wrote a report, mentioning a reason for the detainment. The formal explanation was that copies of Juma-Times, in particular an article, entitled 'An FBI agent has been carefully listening to Nazarbayev, talking about Kazakhgate case' had insulted the incumbent.

It was the second incident within the last two months, where the Juma-Times had been seized before distribution of the paper, for offending the honor and dignity of President Nazarbayev. At the start of October, the paper was fined 39,000 tenge and had its circulation burned off, after a closed court session held in absentia of the paper's officials and owner.

Saturday In Azerbaijan

Friday, November 04, 2005

Azerbaijan Election Campaign Draws To A Close

These eyes are too heavy to analyse, so i'll just wack out some handy links for your eager minds to skim through:

Keep checking back here, and also at these highly recommended electronic publications. Azerbaijan NewEurasia Blog, Blogrel and Registan. Enjoy your Saturday!

Ethiopia's Violent Clashes Spread

More street fighting in Ethiopia today, this time spreading to areas outside the capital, Addis Ababa. Read the story from the BBC. It all begs the question, where is this violence leading? There are several routes which I will briefly outline.

The first is a state of emergency and an extremely harsh clamp-down with curfew's etc. I don't believe this can succeed as such action would usually, bring fear in to the hearts of those causing trouble and end the unrest -yet these people are prepared to die for their cause. It is impossible to frighten those who feel there is nothing to lose.

The second situation is the burning out of the protests. It is highly likely, as we have seen in Zimbabwe, that unless there is a leader prepared to join hands with his or her supporters and also die for the cause, little will change. A Mandela character is essential to force the governments hand. At the moment all reports imply that these supporters are rioting/protesting without the direct leadership of any opposition party officials. This situation cannot go on indefinitely, as Ethiopians will quickly lose faith with their 'weak' leaders and eventually resign to eternal dictatorship.

The third scenario is another Civil War. This may grow from the other two situations. Im not sure the routes from where this will grow, although there have been reports of resistance/terrorists fighters engaging in combat with security forces in recent weeks.

Obviously I feel the best way out of this situation would be for Meles Zenawi to resign, and allow a government of national unity to take over. For several reasons, covered in Ethiopundit's numerous articles, I think theres a better chance of Christmas falling on the 23rd this year, than that happening. If Civil War does break out, expect more of the same. Zenawi came to power in the cloak of democracy after a civil war, but soon revealed to be nothing more than a cuddly version of his predecessor. Let's hope the on-going crisis resolves soon, and with as few deaths as possible. One thing is for certain, Addis Ababa won't be returning to how it was this time last year as long as the EPRDF keeps its tight grip on power.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Kazakh Authorities Seize Another Opposition Newspaper

Disappointing to see the Kazakh authorities stoop to seizing newspapers, with Nazarbayev legitimately whipping his opponents in the current Presidential campaign. RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty takes up the story. An interesting point is raised that Bakhytgul Makimbay, the deputy editor in chief of the newspaper, stated that representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had been invited to witness the seizure. That's the same OSCE Astana wants to chair in 2009. And it was looking so good...

Kyrgyzstan's Revolution: What Went Wrong?

China's Democratic Deficit

The Church of England Newspaper (don't ask...) discusses the pressure heaped on British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as Hu Jinato visits the UK next week. The difficult issue of democracy is likely to raise it's head.

Kazakhstan: Astana Seeks OSCE Rotating Chairmanship In 2009

More of the same rhetoric from Nazarbayev at RadioFreeEurope about chairing the OSCE in 2009. He's got his work cut out if he wants to make progress on this front. Kazakhstan isn't even a member yet.

Will be interesting to note how Kazakh-OSCE relations go after the December ballot (which going by current trends is likely to be condemned as less than fair). The best case scenario for the central government is muted criticism mixed with praise of 'progress'. I have a feeling we may see Nazarbayev stick his nose up to the OSCE, if it's election report is anything less than the aforementioned. In which case, Russia and China will likely grow closer to Astana. Perhaps Nazarbayev is hoping that he can somehow 'convince' the OSCE that unless they support his election the U.S and EU will lose another Central Asian ally. If that's the case he doesn't understand the democratic nature of the OSCE, and its autonomous roots. The only way to the hearts of Brussels is through true democratic reforms.

On a side note, EurasiaNet has an article about Nazarbayev's shift in tactics during the current campaign.

Fancy Writing For Democracy Rising?

In the coming weeks im going to be incredibly busy, and thus the frequency of my posting is likely to be quite low. If you would like to assist me, by writing articles about any Democracy-related issues, dont hesitate to get in contact. Just leave a comment below, and i'll get in touch, via e-mail, for those interested. Whether its American, African, European or Asian democracy issues, i'll be happy to include.

Regards, Matt

More Violence In Ethiopia

Over at the BBC, news of 3 more deaths as opposition forces and police clash for a third day in Addis Ababa. The renewed violence comes a day after police shot dead at least 23 people and wounded dozens more.AP also has information about the story. You've gotta take your hat off to them. Considering the high death tolls, the determination of many Ethiopians to achieve political change is incredibly heroic. Interesting to note Information Minister Berhan Hailu saying the government was "sorry and sad" for the violence, but blaming it on the main opposition party. There is such a thing as riot control. Shooting live bullets into a crowd is uneccessary...unless you want to intimidate those rioters of course.

Staying with Ethiopia, the UN is warning of a potential conflict between Addis Ababa and its eastern neighbour, Eritrea. Ethiopia has sent almost half of its army to the region. The problems for Meles Zenawi keep on growing. Can't help but feel that almost all are as a result of his own megalomania.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Is Yushchenko Selling His Soul?

It certainly looks that way according to this article at the Kiev Ukraine News Blog. The gist of the story is, once more Yushchenko has made concessions to the Party of Regions (that's failed Presidential candidate and one-time Kuchma puppet Viktor Yanukovych's party) in exchange for his own agenda being furthered.

Unfortunately this time the Prez may have gone too far, nominating Oleksandr Medvedko, a long-time law enforcement official from Donetsk, for the post of Prosecutor-General. The deal was struck in order to pass WTO bills necessary to assure Kiev's accession to the group by the end of the year.

Returning to the nomination however, it begs several questions. Is someone with ties to the region of Yanukovych likely to investigate the shady dealings of the ex-PM or Leonid Kuchma himself? Whats more will the case of Georgiy Gongadze ever be solved? The joy of the Orange Revolution is fading fast

Georgia: Ousted Foreign Minister Launches Civic Movement

Azerbaijan Election Update

The second to last pre-election update is up over at NewEurasia's Azerbaijan Blog. The election is fast approaching, so keep it here for all the latest from Sunday onwards. In related news; Human Rights Watch has said it is impossible to hold a free and fair vote in the ex-Soviet state, due to violence and intimidation of the opposition. Things are hotting up. Will this be the scene of the next revolution?

More Kyrgyzstan Jail Violence

Echoes Of Ethiopia As Zanzibarian Ruling Party Sweeps Election

The latest results from the Zanzibarian election at the weekend are in, and its gloomy stuff for the opposition CUF (Civic United Front). Their leader, Seif Sharif Hamad, got 46% of the ballot against incumbent President Amani Karume's 53%, according to Zanzibar Electoral Commission chief Masauni Yussuf Massauni. The ruling CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) also obtained a parliamentary majority, securing 30 seats against 19 for the opposition.

Unsuprisingly thousands of CUF supporters, who had been fighting running battles with police for the past two days, gathered at opposition headquarters on Tuesday. As these numbers swelled police sealed off streets leading to the building in Stone Town. According to AP reporters, police used tear gas and water cannon in the area's narrow streets to disperse protestors. Officers also sealed off several roads leading to CUF strongholds to prevent supporters from joining the protesters, who were burning tires. At least 12 people were taken to hospitals for treatment. On the second island of Pemba, police, backed by troops, beat opposition supporters at their party's headquarters, according to sources.

It all seems awfully familiar, as the title suggests. The protests in Ethiopia meanwhile re-started today, with tragic consequences. The people of Africa are as hungry as European, Arab or Asian peoples for Democractic rule. I await the first African revolution of this kind.