Democracy Rising

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Worrying Trends

Make what you will of this. Tajikistan's only synagogue is being bulldozed as we speak. President Emomali Rakhmonov is also talking about Aryan pride. The most disturbing paragraph from this RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty article is this one:

The Tajik historian and ethnographer Usto Jahonov supports both the state’s desire to raise awareness of Tajikistan’s Aryan heritage and the use of the swastika. Using an argument employed by Tajik officials in numerous speeches, Jahonov contends that it is an inherent part of Aryan culture and a key to building national identity. A stronger national identity is itself “needed now because we live among [non-Aryan,] Turkic nations” that are, he says, rewriting “their history by claiming that they emerged in this area [Central Asia]. We should therefore go back to Aryan history, demonstrate and prove to others where our place is. Each nation should know its place.”

Once more - make of it what you will. Im up for a debate with anyone on the issue.

Kyrgyzstan Accepts Resignation - Fails To Elect New Speaker

If anything demonstrates the deadlock and political turmoil Kyrgyzstan is facing at the moment, it's this.

Kazakh State of the Nation

Nursultan Nazarbayev gives his State of the Nation - the Kazakhstani equivalent of the State of the Union address - tomorrow evening. Should be interesting to see how he handles the current debarcle in regard to the slaying of Altynbek Sarsenbayev. I'll give you any soundbites or quotes from the Prez, here, tomorrow evening.

What is the State of the Kazakh nation though? Generally i'd say good, strong economy - in need of diversification mind you - the roots of Democracy, relative stability, a fairly neutral foreign policy, growing influence. Has the murder changed Kazakh's political environment? A lot of people are wondering, but I don't think much will happen. In spite of the murder, Nazarbayev is very popular. In addition several officials have been arrested, their motives seem plausible, there appears to be no link directly to the President. The opposition have held a protest, which despite some trouble, went better than I had expected. If anything Nazarbayev is coming out looking fairly good. Thus, no need for a harsh clamp down. The opposition still poses no threat, it doesn't have the momentum, the ideas to gain power. My prediction now - more of the same. Opposition papers sporadically closed, but no drastic change.

One other point, the article link I posted on thursday, before the alleged organiser was named, seemed to have hit things pretty much on the head. An influential figure settling an old score - well that's what the Kazakh police are saying as a motive. Stay tuned, it's cooling, but the fire isn't out yet...


How did they get this on the site, without those 'human rights violating' managers taking it down? Interesting nonetheless

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Kazakhstan Facing Political Turmoil

It's a classic whodunit? But with the greatest respect to Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly, the answer to that question may pale in to insignificance, as the outcry and aftershocks of his killing spiral into uncharted territory. For those of you unsure what all the fuss is about, check this page out.

Normally in such situations, as was the tragic case with Zamanbek Nurkadilov, the Kazakh government denies any involvement, opens an investigation, creates a solution to the problem and pretends nothing has happened. This time however, the government reacted differently. Perhaps the KNB (security services) acted beyond the government's control, or maybe President Nazarbayev realised that such a needless murder had taken things too far. Nevertheless, Astana would not be incriminating it's own security service agents in a murder if they were mere scape goats. The negative publicity this would create is not exactly something authoritarian regimes, such as that of Nazarbayev, hopes for. It is therefore incredibly likely that those arrested were infact a part of this appalling crime.

But then who gave the order? The opposition Svoboda Slova newspaper has accused the President's daughter and MP Dariga Nazarbayeva of involvement, whilst another publication goes further. An interview in Aina, with a retired security officer who, citing sources close to the investigation, alleged that the murder had been instigated by Rakhat Aliyev, a government minister and husband of Dariga.

As I earlier mentioned normally such a murder would be covered up by authorities. This time around the President appears to have tried to increase his credibility by 'catching the culprits'. Yet by implicating his own people he has caused several subsequent resignations and damaged his standing. Quite how things will play out now is anyone's guess. My predictions lie with, the aforementioned publications being closed, and a harsh clampdown on any independent politicians/newspapers.

Meanwhile check out AxisGlobe who are claiming the murder was an attempt by a local oligarch to strengthen his own position.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Well folks im off on holiday on Friday, and due to packing etc, this will be my last update for just over a week. A quick round up and some things to look ahead to:

  • A bit late, but thin on the ground newswise today im afraid. Something I will be observing closely will be the Benin Presidential elections. One of Africa's few Democracies, its credentials will be put to test once more on 5th March. Here is the list of candidates

Keep your eyes peeled for the Haitian legislative elections on the 15th. The course of that nation's future will be significantly altered after that date. In addition the Kyrgyz Parliamentary Speaker is allegedly about to step down. Will noteworthy to see who takes over. A Bakiyev loyalist, a Kulov man, or someone completely different? Finally expect a 'big' incident in Belarus. The Presidential poll is coming next month and has so far lacked any dramatic repression. Unless Lukashenko has gone clean, something is bound to happen.

Here's a few recommended sites for Democracy news:

Enjoy your weekend, Happy Valentines, see you in a while!


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Third-Term Presidents

I never fail to be amazed at how foolish dictators can be. The issue of term limits seems to mean nothing to many African and Central Asian leaders. The nation's constitutional limits are either ignored or altered to guarantee that (insert despot name here) stays in power for life/until a military coup. The clumsy efforts by Presidents who must have dozens of political advisers, to get a 'third term' beggar belief. Can they not think of a clever way of staying in power?

Despite being a Tyrant at least Meles Zenawi gave himself an air of Democractic accountability. Rather than the highest state position of President (who is actually a figurehead), he made himself Prime Minister. His position is therefore not guaranteed as, theoretically, the Prime Minister in a Parliamentary system can be forced out by a motion of no confidence. Additionally P.M's rarely have term limits, meaning he could stay in power for decades (provided he found a 'safe seat' where there was genuine support for his leadership). Look at Thatcher or Felipe Gonza¡lez who kept office for over a decade. They did so through Democractic means. There is a lot to be said for Parliamentary government. It looks good in the eyes of Western Democracies as opposed to strong-man Presidency's.

Sloppy constitutional amendments such as the one currently being engineered by Olusegun Obasanjo fool no respected power. They only appear to donors as Democratic back-tracking. I can't think of a single Head of State, anywhere in the world, who dismantled term limits and left office peacefully. If Obasanjo has his way the future for Nigeria will become bleak. That is something that should seriously be concerning Washington and Brussels given the uncomfortable ethnic/religious tensions that exist within one of Africa's largest Republics.

President Bush, P.M Blair, and others, need to make it clear to Nigeria that such moves cannot be supported. If the west is serious about Democracy it must stand aggressively opposed to term limit removal's. It is one clear plank of Democracy that government must be kept accountable. This is even more relevant in scenario's where a powerful Presidency exists. It's time for Africa, and the world, to move on from leaders that can't let go.


A link to the contradictions of Ethiopia's constitution and it's political leaders.

Here's some proper analysis of the Nigerian situation vis-a-vi constitutional amendments.

Zimbabwe Update

Here's a quick update on the situation in Zimbabwe.

Sound Off: Those 'Cartoons'

Until now I have refrained from comment on the infamous Muhammad cartoons published in a certain Danish newspaper. However this story has propelled me to speak out.

Once more the ultra-conservative's of Iran are using the images as a chance to attack Israel. I apologise if I am incorrect, but Israel isn't part of Denmark? The authors of these pictures are not Jewish are they? No. Once again this is tit for tat, spreading of anti-semitism that is becoming alarmingly frequent from Tehran.

Let me be clear. It was wrong to publish the cartoons in European newspapers. It stirred up trouble during a period where relations between faiths are incredibly strained. However, the newspapers did have a right to publish the images. That's free speech.

In response to 'Graphics editor Farid Mortazavi', who announced the contest, challenge to Western newspapers to publish the Iranian cartoons as they did the European ones, I say this. Has your publication shown readers the original items? No. You'd be executed if you did. Hypocricy of the highest kind.

The truest words I have perhaps heard so far have come from a man who works for one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. The Sudanese Foreign Minister raised the interesting point on the BBC website, that the reason why we see such outrage and calls for a Danish governmental apology over the cartoons, is simple:

"In the Third World they hardly separate between what is a journalist and what is the Danish government's point of view.

Once a Danish paper has published something then it is concluded that this is the opinion of everybody in Denmark. So that is the kind of feeling that should have been understood from the beginning."

It's time everyone calmed down and reflected. Wrong to publish cartoons - wrong to burn down embassies. Now back to the Democracy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Kyrgyz NGO Alarm At Supervision

The Beeb has the story.

I'll say it until I'm blue in the face (and beyond). It's time for Bakiyev to realise that Democracy has awoken in the Kyrgyz people's hearts. That's what they want. The tulip revolution may have been hijacked by those merely hoping for a change of guard, but those on the streets wanted Democracy. That's what they protested for. It's time to accept Akayev's games cannot be repeated and get down to the real work of governing.