On December 5th, attended by 85 countries and 16 international organizations, the International Conference on Afghanistan was held in Bonn. The summit was held exactly ten years after the Taliban regime was defeated and also a decade after another diplomatic conference was also held in the former western German capital. At the time, the foundations for the transition were established and a road map created that led to the formation of a new government and representational institutions in Kabul, as well as the drafting of a constitution and a judicial system following thirty years of conflict, dictatorships and destabilization, from the 1979 Soviet invasion to the fall of the obscurantist regime instituted by the Koranic scholars. “Bonn II” instead yielded no great results.
Freedom and Democracy
Many Egyptians in the past few days have complained they did not know who to vote for. They were informed neither by the media nor by the same political parties that should have represented them. Some asked for advice from their own families, others from friends. Others arrived at the polling stations and asked party members who were there. Many Muslim Brotherhood members had desks where voters could get information on how to vote.
The Kurdish conflict has re-emerged as a key issue in Turkey. On October 19th the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, inflicted an extremely violent attack on the Turkish state, killing 24 soldiers (the highest number of victims in the past few years) in the southeast. The AKP government’s reaction to the event was extremely harsh. Turkish President Abdullah Gül promised to “reduce to the same tears” those who had carried out the attacks. And that is what happened. Ankara launched a massive attack not only in Southeast Turkey but also across the border into northern Iraq, where the Turkish governments says Kurdish separatists take refuge and organize their attacks.To understand the recent flare-up in the conflict and its links to Turkey’s constitutional re-writing process, Resetdoc spoke to Professor Ferhat Kentel, a sociologist at Sehir University in Istanbul.
The main issue is the military’s role in Egypt’s future political arrangement, which will not be resolved by the elections. Egypt remains, at least until a new constitution is approved, a presidential and not a parliamentary republic and the new legislative bodies will not be able to choose a government, the third one so far, which is about to be appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The new constitution remains burdened with a “constitutional declaration” with which the current military leadership would like to not only guarantee the state’s secular status, but also its own supremacy under the nation’s new constitutional laws.Some data for Egypt's general election
The fact that Egypt does not have a president ensures that the army will continue to govern after parliamentary elections, because the current system ensures that the government and prime minister do not respond to parliament, but directly to the president, an appointment currently held by the army. Beyond facile promises, between parliamentary elections and drafting the new constitution, the presidential elections should be held in a year, but in the meantime the army will continue to exercise its power.
Civil society has many roles to play in the few months and years to come in order to keep the democratic momentum in the country, and also keep conviction alive among the youth that democracy is a national need. Democracy does not need regimes; regimes need democracy because it is their only way to stay abreast of the legitimate aspirations of their people and be responsive to them. The highly dynamic and active Moroccan civil society can help in implementing the new constitution and protecting this achievement through: playing their role of watchdog, doing more grassroots activism against corruption and political malpractice, spearheading the political cultural change, fighting all forms of abuse of power and advocating for social justice in the country.Photo by Vesna Middelkoop (cc)
Nine months after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and as the Egyptian people continued to express their dissatisfaction with Egypt’s military rulers, celebrated blogger and activist, Hossam el-Hamalawy, spoke about the roots of his country’s spring revolution. During a fresh October evening in Rome, Hossam began by dispelling the notion that Egypt’s was a “social media revolution”. Facebook, twitter and al-Jazeera undoubtedly played a part, but the extent in which many in the west hailed these new technologies was to overshadow the decisive role played by ordinary men and women, activists and factory workers, whose courage and commitment were rarely captured on film.
I can understand the frustration of the Arab intellectual if he finds himself being engaged in small matters while he sees foreign intellectuals doing ‘academic tourism’ in the field, to go home and be producers of knowledge about revolutions these home intellectuals take part in but find no time nor funding to sit and compose the fieldwork as written knowledge to be passed on to the coming generations. This frustration is justifiable. At the same time, and hoping that the ‘academic tourists’ do their job as faithfully as they can, there is no harm if knowledge produced about ‘us’ is made ‘there’ as long as ‘we’ at home can access this knowledge, and are able to read it and share it with the masses that need it.
Thirteen thousand national observers and 600 international ones, among them 75 from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), were part of the control system set up in Tunisia to avoid the danger of ballot-rigging. Ballot-rigging was the greatest fear not only of the people, but also for the Superior Independent Electoral Commission, led by Kamel Jendoubi, who put his credibility on the line on this issue. All parties agreed that the October 23rd elections were free and fair, as did the Commission and the OSCE delegation, led by an Italian, Riccardo Migliori, vice-president since 2010 of the European Union’s agency based in Denmark.
by Antonella ViciniSouad Abderrahim is the secular face of Ennahda, the Islamic party causing debates all over the world. Here in Tunisia, especially in the capital, many Tunisians who defend their secular identity, as well as an Islam that looks to Europe and rejects all forms of extremism, perceive Ennahda as quite frightening. More and more often, all this becomes simplified and exemplified by the “veil or no veil” option.
The October 23rd election in Tunisia has all the characteristics of a historic event, further heightened by a sense of national pride and mixed with the awareness of a watching world. Tunisians speak freely with the hundreds of journalists gathered here to bear witness to the first free elections in 23 years in the country where the Arab Spring began.