Democracy Rising

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

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Who Controls The Media In Georgia?

Kyrgyzstan Braces For Further Protests As Government Fuels Discontent

The economy is in a dire state, the criminal underworld are beginning to influence national politics. The last thing the Kyrgyz government needs to do is further irritate their citizens. However that is just what Bakiyev and Kulov seem to be doing, time and time again. Today a Kyrgyz editor has been fired by decree after publishing several critical articles about the Prime Minister.

As I have said in the past the old Akayev ways cannot be repeated, people have awoken from their apathy. Repressing government failings in the press is not the remedy. The authorities need to get down to solving the root causes of Kyrgyzstan's problems if they want to see an end to such heavy criticism.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Short Democracy Update

Just a quick one today guys, exam season is upon me, and much needed revision is required!

  • Hamas has secured a majority in the Palestinian legislative elections. The truest words of the day came from the Arab League (an organisation I seldom agree with) "The US can't promote democracy but then reject the results of this democracy". The people have spoken, they must live with the consequences of their choice good or bad. Here's hoping it isn't the start of another large scale war between Palestine and Israel.


Matt Jay

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bakiyev Does 'A Putin'

Yesterday's somewhat comical accusations by Russia, of British spying in Moscow, raised a number of points and fears. The majority of these related to accusations that espionage was taking place in order to assist NGO's receiving Western donations. It's clear to anyone of even a limited intelligence, that this is of course nonsense, and in fact relates to Putin's slide towards Dictatorship.

Kyrgyzstan meanwhile, shifting slowly into Moscow's arms, appears to be taking inspiration from this with the news today that Bishkek will 'investigate' thousands of NGO's. State television has also been providing the complementary accusations of 'western interference'. In recent months pressure on the independent media has also grown, begging the question 'Is Kyrgyzstan's only asset, Democracy, being destroyed?'

For the sake of the Kyrgyz people, lets hope Bakiyev doesn't think he can copy Putin's Russian tactics. Such an attempt would show grave misunderstanding of the desires/desperation of citizens. Protests are growing and if Bakiyev messes up, people may turn against Democracy and in to the arms of extremists.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Short Update

Hey guys. Hope you had a good weekend and are enjoying what is no doubt a fine Monday of work! Just a quick post from me today - cold and miserable in London and my heating is broken. Not good. Still here's what really matters in the world on Monday 23rd January 2006:

Happy reading!


Sunday, January 22, 2006

RSF Says Siege Of State Broadcaster In Ivory Coast Has Ended

Media Network Weblog has the story. Good to see things are calming down there at the moment. The BBC has more about why the protests have ended

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Assad Jokes About Syrian Reform

No need to get excited. The Ba'ath aren't about to give up their grip on power anytime soon.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he has decided to carry out political reform.
But he gave no details, other than to say he rejected any outside interference in the matter.
His address, to lawyers in Damascus, follows the early release of five leading political prisoners.

Well after almost 6 years at the helm today's announcement matches the annual rhetoric of reform which has produced nothing. This time he's serious apparently. Here's why there will be no reform:

  • Nobody is pressuring the Ba'ath to reform. Washington's rhetoric is meaningless - Bush cannot exercise much influence against an arch-rival Dictator.

  • The Ba'ath have plundered the nation - there is much corruption within Syrian government. The elite won't want to give up their fortunes.

  • Democracy brings the risk of things getting out of control. Look at Kyrgyzstan - a Dictatorship with some civil rights collapsed like a deck of cards. The people were no longer afraid.

  • Democracy brings accountability. That means there would be a good chance of repercussions for the Hariri assassination/Muslim Brotherhood suppression such as protests and prosecutions


One final point to pick up from the BBC article is this passage:

And he strongly hinted that he would refuse the commission's (UN Hariri murder investigation) request to give evidence in person...Instead, President Assad supported a call for a commission to investigate what he described as the assassination of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in a French hospital just over a year ago.

Ignoring the Lebanese problem won't make it go away. And searching for ghost assassins of long-gone Arab dictators won't gain Assad any respect or support on the streets of Damascus. All such far-out fantasizing proves is that the regime has lost touch with reality and is quite literally clinging to power. That's just one more reason why Syria won't reform.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Kyrgyzstan: New Political Bloc Combines Narrow Agenda, Broad Membership

RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty looks at the political realignment going on in Kyrgyzstan, as several groups attempt to push for Parliamentary Democracy.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Call for Democratic Revolution in Nepal

DemoBlog (a site with similar interests to my own) pointed me in the direction of this one. Check it out for more on this story and other Democracy news that might be slipping under your metaphorical radars. The original blog post is here.

Tajikistan Denies Politics Behind BBC Radio Suspension

Interesting to note that, after introducing a ridiculous media law, Tajikistan has taken the BBC off the air in Dushanbe.

The law in question stipulates that all FM foreign broadcasters must register within 20 days of transmissions with the Justice Ministry. The BBC says such a process would normally take around 6 months and therefore the government deadline is unrealistic.

Dushanbe is denying the charges of a politically motivated switch-off, yet it looks overwhelmingly like this is the case. The BBC is the only broadcaster currently operating on FM in Tajikistan, so the law is simply singling them out.

Still with only a few months until a presidential election, expect a continuing media clamp-down.

1000 Visitors

Democracy Rising has reached a landmark! 1000 hits on our site since the counter went up in October/November. Thanks to everyone who reads this site - it's good to know im not just talking to myself!

Matt Jay

China Strengthening The Rule Of Law?

Hong Kong, despite its numerous political faults, stands as the one place in the world with no Democracy, but the Rule of Law. China's Communist leaders may well be attempting to see if such a state of affairs can be repeated on the mainland.

Nevertheless investors need guarantees of their rights, should they run in to trouble. New measures announced today go some way as to achieving 'the Rule of Law' in Beijing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hate Radio Returns As Ivory Coast Teeters On The Brink Of War

The continent plagued by armed-militias, ethnic conflict, corruption and tin-pot dictators is heading into familiar territory tonight.

In scenes that echo Rwanda, what was once a relative African success story, has turned into a nightmare. On the streets of Ivory Coast tonight, the UN is under seige - hounded out of two towns and now facing the threat of serious violence at its HQ in Andijan.

The unsanctioned actions of Presidential supporters stir up memories of late 2004, when several thousand foreign nationals were forced to flee. Once more the media is being used as a tool of extreme propaganda - hate radio is back.

How do todays events link in to the Democracy movement? Well they show just what can happen when leaders rig an election. Todays events are a continuation of a years-long ugly power-struggle. Current President Laurent Gbagbo, his predecessor Robert Guei, and the men before that have all been concerned with three things. Empowering themselves. Enriching themselves. Entrenching themselves as Dictators. Make no mistake, the future of Ivory Coast is bleak. The few good men that can touch power are never able to flex their political muscle to a significant extent.

Where this violence will end? Another Rwanda is my gut instinct.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Victor Yushchenko Interview

An interesting Q and A with the Ukrainian President at ForUm. He shares his thoughts on the current political crisis, and hints at a plan to get back his old powers.

Kazakhstan: Opposition Leader Freed

Good news from Astana as the so-called 'last Kazakh political prisoner', Ghalymzhan Zhaqiyanov is released. RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty covers the story - an appeasing gesture from Nazarbayev to the West?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Mongolian Government Finally Dissolved

From the BBC. Nathan at Registan has the best analysis i've seen on the story. Check out the comments as well to get some good perspective.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Post-Election Kazakhstan: Toward A Democratic Breakthrough?

Central Asia - Caucasus Analyst has an in depth look at the prospects for Decentralisation of power within Kazakhstan. Worth a look. I still believe Astana is the best bet for Democracy in this region, but compared to the likes of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, that doesn't say much.

Mongolia Update: Opposition Seizes Ruling Party HQ

From RIA Novosti. This is becoming a very dangerous situation. Mongolia is no Kyrgyzstan. Unlike in the colour revolutions, the ruling party is actually incredibly popular. All today's events achieve is a polarisation of Mongolian politics.

Mongolian Government Collapses

The Mongolian government is likely to fall later, after a major party pulled out of the coalition government. The MPRP (Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party) withdrew its support on Wednesday, blaming it for slow economic growth and inflation. However its former ally, the Democratic Party alleged it had done so because the party's alleged corruption was about to be discussed in parliament. Hundreds of protestors are currently gathered in Ulan Bator to protest against the move.

The Ulan Bator Post has the best analysis of this story, giving a blow by blow account of all the political back-stabbing currently ongoing.

Fortunately Mongolia is relatively stable and has avoided the chaos seen in other fledgling Democracies such as Kyrgyzstan.

If the corruption allegations are true however, then the resignations are without doubt worrying. The MPRP holds the most cards in Mongolian politics, with the positions of President and Speaker of Parliament in their hands. Forming a coalition would however be difficult, parliament is currently about a 50:50 split between the two parties. It is therefore a distinct possibility that MP's, or the President (in agreement with the Parliamentary Speaker), will dissolve the legislature.

Mongolian politics has been fascinating since the fall of communism in the late 1980's. Elections have been incredibly unpredictable, but always free and fair. Let's hope that the MPRP aren't about to damage the reputation they've built over the last decade for Mongolia, as a Democratic society. It's the only significant asset this country has.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Kazakhstani Media: From Survival To Sustainability

Transitions Online has an interview with Tatyana Golubtsova, a journalism professor, analysing internet freedom, and the opposition press' struggle for freedom.

Tajikistan’s Beleaguered Media

Mbeki And The Incompetent Vice-President

It's widely documented that Jacob Zuma, the peoples favourite was expelled from the South African Vice-Presidency last year in relation to allegations of corruption/rape. However his replacement to Johannesburg's second most powerful position has certainly ruffled some feathers.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, was plucked from relative obscurity to take over the post in June of last year.
Since then she has advocated Zim-style seizures of land, and only this week been accused of less than democratic activity. The Democratic Alliance opposition were quick to denounce her use of an Air Force plane for a private holiday to the United Arab Emirates estimated to have cost taxpayers about 400,000 rand ($66,000).

So why has Mbeki allowed someone demonstrating classic 'African-Despot' characteristics to take over the Vice-Presidency? Does it serve a deeper purpose?

Dictators in many countries, including Iraq and Turkmenistan have often surrounded themselves with ministers displaying incompetent management skills to strengthen their own positions. The classic 'well if (insert Despot's name here) wasn't in charge look who'd be left. It's safer to have him than (insert moronic Prime Minister's name here)'.

Despite the rhetoric, Mbeki is potentially setting himself up to change the constitution to stand again as President. Whilst the ANC isn't a sheep party, like the PAP in Singapore or Otan in Kazakhstan, Thabo has a majority so large he could easily alter the term-limit rules. He appears to be hanging on. Mbeki is certainly hoping to wield significant power post-2009. Many of his supporters are arguing the case that he should be allowed to remain ANC leader even when his term as Head of Government ceases. Such a position, with a weak President in the mould of Mlambo-Ngcuka would allow Thabo to seriously influence the future direction of South Africa.

As I have said before, often the real test of how democratic a nation is, relates to the company it keeps. Certainly food for thought.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ukrainian Government Sacked

Despite a deal which saved Ukraine from financial ruin, the national parliament has passed a no-confidence motion in the government of Yuri Yekhanurov.

I'm not sure exactly what ex-PM Tymoshenko is hoping to achieve by launching such a motion. The majority of Ukrainians appeared fairly happy about the cabinets response to the gas crisis. Yulia is making herself look increasingly bitter and power-hungry. Such government sackings, which have dogged Ukrainian politics for the past 15 years, do nothing for economic growth or improving the prosperity of ordinary citizens. It should be interesting to see if Tymoshenko's popularity ratings fall after this foolish performance.

Reuters News has more

Monday, January 09, 2006

MDC Finally Falls Apart

This looks like the end game for what we know as the MDC. The long embattled Zimbabwean opposition party has effectively split in two, with a new man claiming to be its leader. Gibson Sibanda claims to be supported by 25 MP's. BBC News has the story here.

Aside from the fact that such disunity is bad for any Zimbabwean hoping to be lifted from severe poverty, the split has a more disheartening aspect.

Whilst Morgan Tsvangirai was always a somewhat weak leader, incapable or unwilling to go out on to the streets with his people to bring down Mugabe, he had finally realised Zim elections were a sham. Sibanda however is part of a group that decided to participate in the recent Senate election. The long story behind how Tsvangirai went against the majority of the party (who wished to stand in the ballot) is neither here nor there. The reality on the ground is that Mugabe and Zanu-PF will only be toppled by a revolution or coup. By pretending/hoping/believing the MDC can win an election in unprecedented censorship and repression is ignorant at best.

Sibanda wont save Zimbabwe, his pie in the sky dreams are only going to lead to further desperation for its people. An armed struggle is increasingly looking to be the only way out...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

African Union Slams Zimbabwe

But will this resolution be passed by African Heads of State at their annual summit later this month?

On many previous occasions the west has condemned African leaders for their lack of criticism of Mugabe's regime. Now however the perfect opportunity to show disgust at the Harare government has arisen. Whether the move by the AU human rights committee is a mere attempt to deflect EU and US criticism remains to be seen.

Something makes me think that this time will be just like all others. Africa's depsots usually unite to protect themselves, and as soon as the can of worms that is true Democracy is opened in Zimbabwe, the position of Meles Zenawi, Paul Kagame and others becomes all the more uncomfortable. Pie in the Sky im afraid for now...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Two Leaders Of Independent Cambodian Radio Station Arrested