News aggregator

VIDEO: Feminism and Censorship in Arab Comic Books

Democracy Chronicles - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 21:47
Zainab Fasiki – link

Moroccan comic book artist Zainab Fasiki recently gave a talk on the interplay of feminism with the Arab region’s government censorship of speech. Fasiki has gained a following as a self described “gender democracy activist”, and gave this talk as part of a gathering of artists and graphic designers at the Arab Comics Symposium, part of the Mu’taz & Rada Sawwaf Arab Comics Initiative at the American University of Beirut. According to Fasiki’s bio at the Queens Collective, community art space in Marrakech, Morocco:

Zainab Fasiki is a comics artist, mechanical engineer and a feminist. she draws illustrations and books about gender democracy and leads art residencies /WOMEN POWER/ to encourage more girls in art fields in Morocco and teaches art and feminism in workshops. She uses also her engineering skills as a DIY maker in fablabs and fetsivals to make interactive electronic installations. Zainab aims to show the world that women can make wonders as men and all genders can live in peace in this world.

According to her bio at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, a organization with close ties to the German Green party:

Zainab Fasiki was born in Fez, Morocco, in July 1994. She recently graduated as an Industrial Mechanics Engineer and is a self-taught cartoonist and digital installation artist. After she moved to Casablanca in September 2014, Zainab created alliances between different cultural organizations in order to develop her passion for art and technology.

When she joined the magazine collective Skefkef, she was able to create comic book panels with a group of artists while working on a number of artistic residencies in Casablanca; she also ran workshops designed to introduce pupils and high-school students to DIY culture and electronic installation with the organization Morocco Makers. Currently, Zainab works as a freelance digital artist and is preparing a new comic book Omor, tackling gender equality in the Arab World, which is to be published internationally.

The video is about 20 minutes. Take a look:

New York parolees win voting rights after long battle

Democracy Chronicles - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 21:17

Wednesday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all state parolees, more than 35,000 people, will regain the right to vote. Cuomo tweeted, “Today I’m issuing an executive order giving parolees the right to vote. It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have re-entered society.”

Today I’m issuing an executive order giving parolees the right to vote.

It is unconscionable to deny voting rights to New Yorkers who have re-entered society.

— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 18, 2018

VOCAL-NY, a “statewide grassroots membership organization that builds power among low-income people affected by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, mass incarceration, and homelessness”, is one of the many organizations who fought for the rights of felon voters. David Schermerhorn, a community leader at VOCAL-NY, issued the following statement in response to the news:

It’s about time. Politicians have always ignored people like me on parole because we couldn’t do anything for them, now we have a voice. When you get locked up you lose your rights to do everything. Once you get out, it’s basically the same – it’s so hard to get a job while you are on parole – but now one of those barriers is gone. It makes me feel connected to society again. But we have to do more. There are so many elderly people who are eligible for parole who can’t get out. Look at Herman Bell. But now they will have a voice on the outside through us.

The executive order is part of a nationwide campaign to reform criminal justice. Felons denied voting rights combined with racial bias in criminal justice has resulted in dramatic impact on elections. According to a landmark report by the advocacy group, the Sentencing Project, in the four states with the strictest felon voting restrictions, 21 percent of all African-Americans are disenfranchised by felon voting laws in Florida, 26 percent in Kentucky, 21 percent in Tennessee, 22 percent in Virginia. Other findings from that Sentencing Project report include:

  • As of 2016, an estimated 6.1 million people are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction, a figure that has escalated dramatically in recent decades as the population under criminal justice supervision has increased. There were an estimated 1.17 million people disenfranchised in 1976, 3.34 million in 1996, and 5.85 million in 2010.
  • Approximately 2.5 percent of the total U.S. voting age population – 1 of every 40 adults – is disenfranchised due to a current or previous felony conviction. Individuals who have completed their sentences in the twelve states that disenfranchise people post-sentence make up over 50 percent of the entire disenfranchised population, totaling almost 3.1 million people.
  • Individuals who have completed their sentences in the twelve states that disenfranchise people post-sentence make up over 50 percent of the entire disenfranchised population, totaling almost 3.1 million people.

Global Tech Firms Vow Not to Aid Government Cyberattacks

Democracy Chronicles - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:46

From Voice of America:

Microsoft, Facebook and more than 30 other global technology companies on Tuesday announced a joint pledge not to assist any government in offensive cyberattacks.

The Cybersecurity Tech Accord, which vows to protect all customers from attacks regardless of geopolitical or criminal motive, follows a year that witnessed an unprecedented level of destructive cyberattacks, including the global WannaCry worm and the devastating NotPetya attack.

“The devastating attacks from the past year demonstrate that cybersecurity is not just about what any single company can do but also about what we can all do together,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement. “This tech sector accord will help us take a principled path toward more effective steps to work together and defend customers around the world.”

Smith, who helped lead efforts to organize the accord, was expected to discuss the alliance in a speech on Tuesday at the RSA cybersecurity conference in San Francisco.

The accord also promised to establish new formal and informal partnerships within the industry and with security researchers to share threats and coordinate vulnerability disclosures.

The pledge builds on an idea for a so-called Digital Geneva Convention Smith rolled out at least year’s RSA conference, a proposal to create an international body to protect civilians from state-sponsored hacking.

Countries, Smith said then, should develop global rules for cyberattacks similar to those established for armed conflict at the 1949 Geneva Convention that followed World War Two.

In addition to Microsoft and Facebook, 32 other companies signed the pledge, including Cisco, Juniper Networks, Oracle, Nokia, SAP, Dell and cybersecurity firms Symantec, FireEye and Trend Micro.

The list of companies does not include any from Russia, China, Iran or North Korea, widely viewed as the most active in launching destructive cyberattacks against their foes.

Major U.S. technology companies Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Twitter also did not sign the pledge.

Myanmar’s President Grants Amnesty to 8,500 Prisoners

Democracy Chronicles - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:42

From Voice of America:

Myanmar President Win Myint announced Tuesday an order to grant amnesty to about 8,500 prisoners. The move coincides with Myanmar’s traditional New Year.

A spokesman said the amnesty includes 51 foreigners as well as 36 people listed as political prisoners by the Thailand-based watchdog group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The president’s order does not cover two Reuters journalists who are facing trial for possessing secret official documents. The reporters were covering the brutal military campaign in Rakhine state that has driven hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh since last August.

Win Myint was a political prisoner himself under the previous regime after he boycotted the National Convention in December 1995 along with other members of the National League for Democracy.

EU Report Slams Rise in Turkey’s Repression of Basic Rights

Democracy Chronicles - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:36

From Voice of America:

Turkey is regressing in several areas, says a European Commission annual report in the group’s harshest criticism yet of Ankara’s efforts to join the European Union. The report also ruled out any further progress in Turkey’s accession in the current situation.

“I am afraid the country continues to make huge strides away from the EU,” said European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn at a news conference. “The commission repeatedly called on Turkey to reverse this trend as a matter of priority and make very clear recommendation on this in today’s report.”

The commission issues an annual progress report on all EU applicants from fields covering human rights to the economy. This year’s findings are widely considered among the most critical in Ankara’s decades-long membership bid, with particular criticism in the areas of justice, public administrative reform, fundamental rights and freedom of expression.

Turkey has been under emergency rule since a 2016 failed coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in a resulting crackdown, along with hundreds of thousands of others being fired from their jobs. On Thursday, parliament is expected to extend emergency rule for three months, with the government arguing the country still faces a threat by conspirators.

The commission strongly criticized the crackdown, calling for “an end to the state of emergency, without any delay.”

The report ruled out any further progress in Ankara’s membership bid, saying, “Under the current circumstances, it’s unthinkable to open up new [accession] chapters.”

To achieve membership, any applicant country has to complete 38 chapters. Ankara has completed only one chapter, with several European countries already blocking further progress.

“These [EU report] words are probably the harshest we’ve ever seen in the past decades,” said political scientist Cengiz Aktar. “Turkey is now, for the EU, a third country, not a membership candidate. It’s not a country that negotiates; the progress report talks mainly more about regrets rather than progress.”

While Ankara’s membership bid remains frozen, the report acknowledged Turkey’s economic prowess, describing it as “much advanced” and a “functioning market economy.”

Turkey has a customs union with the European Union and its 80 million people are an important market for European companies.

Turkey’s hosting of refugees, mainly from the Syrian civil war, was also praised, with the commission describing “outstanding efforts” to provide for the four million refugees in the country. Since Ankara signed an agreement with the European Union, Turkey is acting as a gatekeeper to stem the flow of refugees into Europe.

Despite the critical report, relations are predicted to continue. “Turkey is a key, strategic neighbor and we will continue our cooperation,” said EU enlargement commissioner Hahn. “The relationship with the EU will continue as now through ad hoc deals,” said Aktar.

“Economically, Turkey is important to the European Union, the energy connection, the lucrative contracts, tenders,” said political analyst Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners. But he said Turkey now poses a dilemma for Europe.

He said in the EU, there are “pragmatists” who don’t care about human rights. “They want accession [membership process] to end and start a new partnership purely based on economic deals.

“And obviously,” he continued, “there are the liberals who want Turkey to improve and not to have any relationship whatsoever until Turkey improves. But at this point, the EU is not in a united position to make an offer to Turkey and they are going to let things reside and will adopt the path of least resistance, which means not to give anything to Turkey but at the same time not upsetting it.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially maintains that Turkey is committed to EU membership and is pressing Brussels for further progress in the country’s accession aspirations. Experts, however, point out that Ankara has given little indication it is prepared to address Brussels’ criticisms over human rights, leaving little expectation of progress and a growing belief Ankara’s bid is all but dead.

But a rupture in Turkey-EU relations is unlikely even as Turkey faces increasing isolation from its traditional Western allies and ongoing turmoil in Syria.

“Turkish foreign policy is in a bit of trouble right now; it’s almost exclusively concentrated on Syria and the future of Syria,” said international relations expert Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University.

He said Ankara probably “will want to reduce the tensions with Europe because “Syria takes up all the energy; it involves relations with Russia, relations with Iran, relations with the United States.”

Russia Blocking Millions of IP Addresses in Mass Crackdown

Democracy Chronicles - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:26

From Voice of America:

The chief of the Russian communications watchdog acknowledged Wednesday that millions of unrelated IP addresses have been frozen in a so-far futile attempt to block a popular messaging app.

Telegram, the messaging app that was ordered to be blocked last week, was still available to users in Russia despite authorities’ frantic attempts to hit it by blocking other services.

The row erupted after Telegram, which was developed by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, refused to hand its encryption keys to the intelligence agencies. The Russian government insists it needs them to pre-empt extremist attacks but Telegram dismissed the request as a breach of privacy.

Alexander Zharov, chief of the Federal Communications Agency, said in an interview with the Izvestia daily published Wednesday that Russia is blocking 18 networks that are used by Amazon and Google and which host sites that they believe Telegram is using to circumvent the ban.

Countless Russian businesses – from online language schools to car dealerships – reported that their web services were down because of the communication watchdog’s moves to bloc networks.

Internet experts estimate that Russian authorities have blocked about 16 million IP addresses since Monday, affecting millions of Russian users and businesses.

In the interview, Zharov admitted that the authorities have been helplessly trying to block Telegram and had to shut down entire networks, some of which have over half a million IP addresses that are used by unrelated, “law-abiding companies,” he said.

Russia’s leading daily Vedomosti in Wednesday’s editorial likened the communications watchdog’s battle against Telegram, affecting millions of users of other web-services, to warfare.

“The large-scale indiscriminate blocking of foreign IP addresses in Russia in order to close the access to the messaging app Telegram is unprecedented and bears resemblance to carpet bombings,” the editorial said.

Zharov also indicated that Facebook could be the next target for the government if it refuses to comply with Russian law.

Authorities previously insisted that Facebook store its Russian users’ data in Russia but has not gone through with its threats to block Facebook if it refuses to comply.

Zharov said authorities will check before the end of the year if the company is complying with its demands and warned that if it does not, “then, obviously, the issue of blocking will arise.”

Elsewhere in Moscow, a court on Wednesday sentenced a member of the punk collective Pussy Riot, who spent nearly two years in prison for a protest in Russia’s main cathedral, to 100 hours of community work for a protest against the Telegram blocking. Maria Alekhina and a dozen activists were throwing paper planes outside the communications watchdog’s office on Monday.

Rematch Likely in Indonesia’s Next Presidential Election

Democracy Chronicles - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:22

By Voice of America‘s Krithika Varagur:

Retired Indonesian military general Prabowo Subianto could be on a collision course with President Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, for a rematch of their 2014 presidential election battle.

Prabowo sent a ripple through capital-watchers when he convened a party meeting at his West Java estate last week and told party members, “If the Gerindra Party orders me to advance in the upcoming presidential election, I am ready to carry out the task.”

This wasn’t quite a formal announcement of Prabowo‘s candidacy, as some media interpreted the statement — it was slightly more qualified than that. Gerindra doesn’t have enough votes to field a candidate on its own and needs to cement a coalition. “Prabowo is genuinely ambivalent about running for president again,” as Liam Gammon, a political scientist at Australian National University, phrased it.

If Prabowo doesn’t run, there is a slim chance that he joins current President Jokowi’s own ticket as Vice-President — which, according to the Gerindra Party, was on the table in 2014 too.

One thing that seems clear is that a familiar cast of players will be in rotation in 2019, and most likely there will be a direct rematch.

Weak opposition

The resurgence of Prabowo this year “show[s] the weakness of the opposition,” said Yohannes Sulaiman, a defense analyst at General Achmad Yani University. “In mature democracies, like the United States, there are governors, senators, and so forth waiting in the wings.” As an example, he cited the 2016 Republican primary, where there were initially ten people vying for the candidacy. “In Indonesia there are no new candidates at that level right now. And Jokowi is quite popular as well,” he said.

President Jokowi’s favorability rating is strong per recent reports and, as incumbent, he remains the top choice for president in polls from this year. Jokowi’s electability rating is 45-55 percent while Prabowo’s is, at most, 35 percent, according to the Saiful Mujani Research Corporation, a leading pollster.

Prabowo has already been on two losing tickets: in 2009, he was the running mate of Megawati Sukarnoputri, who lost to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in a three-way race, and in 2014 he lost to Jokowi.

Jokowi is the first Indonesian president without military ties. A furniture-maker by trade, he rose within a decade from mayor of the Central Javanese city of Solo to governor of Jakarta to the presidency. Prabowo was a Lieutenant General in the Indonesian Army and is married to the daughter of the late President Suharto, who led a military dictatorship for 32 years.

Next steps

Prabowo’s brother has cited “health and [financial] logistics” as potential concerns in his brother’s candidacy decision, but many see this as a hedge until they cement coalition support.

“Perhaps the main factor pushing [Prabowo] toward running, in addition to his own ego and feeling that this is indeed his last chance, is the desire to keep Gerindra as strong as possible,” said Bill Liddle, a political scientist at Ohio State University. “Remember Gerindra is a personalistic party, like Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Partai Demokrat, which lost more than half of its support when he was no longer a candidate. That is likely to happen now to Gerindra if Prabowo is not at the head of its ticket.”

Gerindra now holds about 13 percent of the seats in Parliament and its coalition would need at least 7 percent more in order to field a national candidate. The Islamist Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS, has said that it will support Gerindra no matter who is on its ticket, but Prabowo will likely seek at least one other party so the optics of his coalition are not overtly sectarian. PKS is the most successful Islamist party in Indonesia and has called in the past for implementing sharia nationwide.

As for the putative Jokowi-Prabowo ticket, the chances are slim. A member of Jokowi’s PDI-P party told reporters, “At present, there is something that is not compatible, so common ground is still being sought.”

“If Jokowi and Prabowo somehow joined on a ticket, it would be bad for Indonesian democracy because there would be no opposition,” said Sulaiman.

In the meantime, it is normal that Jokowi remains the frontrunner, said Liddle, “Because an electorally successful president tends to suck all of the air out of the room.”

“The time to watch for new candidates emerging is 2020-2021,” he added. “[Current Jakarta Governor] Anies Baswedan will probably make his move at that time.”

Cuba’s Miguel Diaz-Canel to be Selected as New President

Democracy Chronicles - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:19

From Voice of America:

Cuba’s legislature began the process Wednesday of electing the country’s first president outside the Castro family for the first time in nearly 60 years.

In an unusual two-day procedure, the Cuban National Assembly will elect a new president on Wednesday and announce the replacement for Raul Castro on Thursday. The legislature has generally elected the president and made the announcement the same day. The votes are almost always done in secrecy, in keeping with the will of the country’s top leadership.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the transition is “of great concern” to the Trump administration because it is not democratic.

“We would like citizens to be able to have a say in their political outcomes and this certainly does not seem like regular folks will have a say. They basically don’t have a real and meaningful choice because it’s not a democratic process.”

Nauert said the administration would like to see “a more free and democratic Cuba” but is “not overly optimistic.”

The new president will succeed 86-year-old Raul Castro, who is resigning after two five-year terms. His brother Fidel served as prime minister and president after the armed Cuban Revolution in 1959 until he became ill in 2006.

The new president is widely expected to be 57-year-old First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who appears to be socially liberal and is considered an acceptable successor to the retiring elderly leaders who fought in the revolution.

Congress will select leaders of the legislature before voting for the president and other members of the Council of State, Cuba’s top government body.

The process will usher in a new group of younger leaders who face pressure to bring greater prosperity to the country and revitalize its economy, which is smaller than it was in 1985 when it was supported by the former Soviet Union.

While the assembly promotes younger leaders, Castro and other older revolutionaries are expected to retain their power due to their hold on the Communist Party.

Zimbabwe Independence Day: An occasion for contemplation and insight

Democracy Chronicles - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 10:00
The Battle of the Shangani on 25 October 1893 – link

As Zimbabwe celebrates its Independence Day this Wednesday, the annual holiday will come with an added layer of meaning. This marks 38 years since the achievement of hard-fought nationhood. British Crown rule in Zimbabwe dated all the way back to 1896, but by the 1960s it was ended, thanks to the sacrifices of many freedom fighters, who laid down their lives on the line.

The Rhodes Colossus: Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes – link

Zimbabweans will never forget that on 11 November 1965 the Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) Prime Minister Ian Smith had made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain declaring that: “I don’t believe in black majority rule ever in Rhodesia in a thousand years.” United Nations backed sanctions were then imposed on Ian Smith government making it difficult for him to source military equipment and hardware. This made his regime more vulnerable although they would occasionally use the then apartheid South Africa as a proxy to acquire modern military equipment.

It was clear then that, despite the many grand statements made to the contrary over the years, the system would not endure forever. Genuine freedom fighters, led by veterans of the struggle like the late Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), the late Joshua Nkomo, the late Josiah Tongogara, Robert Mugabe and the late Nikita Mangena among others, had become convinced that the Ian Smith-led Rhodesia government would never willingly give the country even partial self-rule, and began a struggle known as the Second Chimurenga (War) with seven Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) freedom fighters taking up arms against the colonizers on 28 April 1966. Sadly, all seven were killed by the police.

The end of British colonial rule in 1980 marked the creation of Zimbabwe. Independence Day, on 18 April, is celebrated widely with flags hoisted in schools and colleges, and at government buildings and major landmarks. The nation celebrates its 38th year with numerous events in Zimbabwe and all around the world. On 18 April, flags fly high and the concerts and parades takes place throughout the country, the main festivities takes place at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa officiating.

One of the leaders of the Patriotic Front in Rhodesia, Joshua Nkomo – link

While the 38 years forms the perfect opportunity for a great party, being that it is the first without former president Robert Mugabe who was forced to resign after a coup and impeachment proceedings. It’s also an occasion for contemplation and insight. Zimbabwe’s 38th year of independence offers a chance for people to look back to understand the way the nation emerged, but also to gaze ahead to the future to see what Zimbabwe can still become.

It is important to remember that on the eve of independence in 1980, Robert Mugabe, about to become the first Prime Minister in a democratic Zimbabwe delivered his speech at Rufaro Stadium in Harare that was witnessed by other world leaders and political leaders including Prince Charles who was personally on hand to lower the British (Union Jack) flag whilst the new Zimbabwean flag was hoisted.

On the eve of Independence Day in 1980, Mugabe in his speech noted that: “The final countdown before the launching of the new State of Zimbabwe has now begun.” This holds true today.

“Only a few hours from now, Zimbabwe will have become a free, independent and sovereign state, free to choose its own flight path and chart its own course to its chosen destiny. Its people have made a democratic choice of those who as their legitimate Government, they wish to govern them and take policy decisions as to their future,” he said. In today’s case, the country is free to charter a new course without him on the helm as we have become accustomed to in the past 37 years.

Robert Mugabe – link

“The march to our national independence has been hazardous one. On this march, countless lives have been lost and many sacrifices made. Death and suffering has been the prize we have been called upon to pay for the final priceless reward of freedom and national independence. May l thank all of you who have had to suffer and sacrifice for the reward we are now getting”, he continued.

Mugabe aptly continued and said: “Tomorrow is thus our birthday, the birth of a great Zimbabwe, and the birth of its nation. Tomorrow we shall cease to be men and women of the future. It’s tomorrow then, not yesterday, which bears our destiny. As we become a new people (without the rule of Robert Mugabe) we are called to be constructive, progressive and forever forward looking for we cannot afford to be men of yesterday, backward looking, retrogressive and destructive. Our new nation requires of every one of us to be a new man, with a new mind, a new heart and a new vision and our hearts a new love that spurns hate and a new spirit that must unite and not divide.”

Yes, Zimbabwe’s removal of Mugabe last year was a tryst with destiny, as the struggle for renewed freedom has already been a long and tiresome one, witnessing the sacrifices of many freedom and democracy fighters, who laid down their lives on the line.

But we must not forget that there is a long road ahead with poverty and with employment hovering over 80 percent, both endemic. Cash shortages, a galloping domestic debt of US$6 billion, paralyzed health care, education, and road networks all need require urgent attention. The lives of many Zimbabweans mainly depend on agriculture, so there is need to return to the highly efficient and labor-intensive use of land to restore production of maize, wheat, tobacco and gold and other minerals. This will increase job opportunities in rural areas, and also increase export receipts.

As Mugabe said, “tomorrow is thus our birthday, the birth of a great Zimbabwe, and the birth of its nation.”

VIDEO: Was Leadership Key to South Africa’s Velvet Revolution?

Democracy Chronicles - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 21:55
Frederik de Klerk with Nelson Mandela – link

A researcher sees deeper trends behind the end of apartheid and the transition to democracy in South Africa than can be explained by attributing everything to the decisions of leaders like Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk. Tel Aviv University’s Mottie Tamarkin spoke during a conference at Syracuse University titled “PARCC Conversations in Conflict Studies Series.Transforming Intractable Conflicts: Their Restructuring and Reframing Conference”.

Professor Mordechai (Mottie) Tamarkin holds a PhD from the School of Asian and African Studies at the University of London (1974). He is now Professor Emeritus at the Department of Modern Middle Eastern and African History and a Senior Research Fellow Emeritus at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. Mottie, as he likes to be called, is the author of several books including Cecil Rhodes and the Cape Afrikaners: The Imperial Colossus and the Colonial Parish Pump (1996), The Making of Zimbabwe: Recolonization in Regional and International Politics (1990), as well as numerous articles on Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and ethnicity and nationalism in Africa.

Here is the abstract from his talk:

The conventional wisdom in accounting for the smooth transition from apartheid to New South Africa allocates Mandela and De Klerk critical roles. This interpretation has acquired much credibility in light of the subsequent winning of the Nobel Prize by both. It certainly renders a complex historical process easy to comprehend. The paper presented at this conference casts serious doubt about the credibility and veracity of such interpretation. It will rather explore a richer and complex field which contains the conflict’s essence, structure and dynamic and long and complex historical processes.

Exploiting the historical perspective, we have now I will try to answer a critical question which needs to be asked about conflict resolution: Was the conflict resolution a success? I am not at all sure. This raises and important question in assessing such resolution: To what extent we can expect conflict resolution to satisfactorily address expected post-conflict conflicts? My answer would be yes. And with regard to South Africa I am not at all sure that this is the case.

The video is about 20 minutes. Take a look:

Why Trump’s Syrian Airstrikes Didn’t Violate the War Powers Act

Democracy Chronicles - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 19:48
People gathered on Lake Street in south Minneapolis to protest recent bombing attacks in Syria ordered by Republican President Donald Trump – link

On Friday, April 13th, the US, accompanied by the UK and France, punitively conducted strikes against Syria in response to the recent use of chemical weapons that killed at least 42 Syrian civilians. Of course, many people, ordinary citizens and lawmakers alike, immediately rushed to Twitter and Facebook to allege that President Trump violated the Constitution and War Powers Resolution by not seeking Congressional Approval in doing so.

First and foremost, I want to succinctly state that I disavow the strikes. I don’t feel as if any US interests, such as military bases or allies, were in any imminent danger as a result of the chemical-attacks. That being said, Trump did not violate any law in conducting the strikes.

The War Powers Resolution, passed in 1973 much to the chagrin, and veto (that was emphatically overrode) of Richard Nixon, explicitly states that the President must not commit any US troops to any imminently-dangerous situation without first consulting with Congress. This is to discourage any de-facto declaration of war by the President; NOT to prevent any president from acting in limited-fashion to any certain situation, such as, oh I don’t know, a preemptive strike to disable any further use of mass-casualty weaponry.

The Resolution also gives the President “leeway” to act on any “emergency” situation without Congressional consultation. This is how literally every one of Trump’s predecessors since 1973 have subverted the Resolution.

Many compare Trump’s immediate predecessor’s action with Trumps in efforts to claim that Obama was more obedient to the Constitution when intervening in Syria to fight ISIS in 2015, since he sought Congressional Approval in doing so; that claim is also unhinged.

While I commend Obama for seeking Congressional consultation before committing troops to fight ISIS in Syria, the simple fact of the matter is that he A.) didn’t need to, as the Authorization of Use of Military Force gave him permission to do so without congressional consensus, and also because B.) if it weren’t for the AUMF, Obama would have needed Congressional Approval for the simple fact that he was declaring war.

Trump was not declaring or instigating war by collaborating with Macron and May on the strikes. He was simply exercising the ambiguous rights given to him by the War Powers Resolution.

If Trump dispatches additional troops to Syria without seeking Congressional consultation and its subsequent approval, then he, in all likelihood, will be disobeying the intent of the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, unless the US or any of its allies become subjected to any immediate physical danger. Until then, Trump is not in violation of the law.

Working Families Party Endorses Cynthia Nixon for NY Governor

Democracy Chronicles - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:29
link

America’s newest celebrity politician Cynthia Nixon has gotten a big boost from the Working Families Party that nearly ensures she will be on the statewide ballot. Actress Cynthia Nixon is best known for her role in the hit HBO show “Sex and the City”. Here is the latest post on the news by Eric Garris from Ballot Access News:

On April 14, the New York Working Families Party overwhelmingly endorsed Cynthia Nixon for Governor instead of incumbent Andrew Cuomo.  Cuomo is running for re-election this year.  See this story.  The WFP is now highly likely to nominate Nixon in May.  That would almost certainly mean that she would be on the November ballot as the WFP nominee.

According to the article at Politico:

Nixon has promised to legalize and tax marijuana, end cash bail, push for single-payer health care and increase funding to public schools — raising taxes if necessary. Cuomo has said he has a record of progressive achievement and is an effective leader in the fight against President Donald Trump.

The WFP endorsement all but guarantees a formal nomination — which will come at a convention in May — and assures the “Sex and the City” star a spot on the November ballot, even if she fails to dislodge Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary.

The Working Families Party is an unusual power player in New York elections affiliated usually with the Democrats. It is a full political party founded in New York in 1998 and nearly a quarter million New Yorkers voted on the Working Families Party ballot line in 2012.

There are “sister” parties to the New York WFP in Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Oregon, but there is as yet no national WFP. The party “blends a culture of political organizing with unionism, 1960s idealism, and tactical pragmatism”.  Look here for the Working Families Party party platform. From their website:

The Working Families Organization (“WFO”) is a 501(c)(4) organization focusing primarily on nonpartisan advocacy on important issues facing working families.  The Working Families Party (“WFP”) is a grassroots political party operating in several states that endorses and works to elect progressive candidates for office.  WFO and WFP are separate organizations.

The Working Families Party is focused on tackling the political, economic, and educational inequality that deprive working and middle class families of opportunity. Our vision is to build a New York that is fair for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected.

A political insider’s thriller novels predicted U.S. election interference

Democracy Chronicles - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:16

Description of video from the PBS Newshour:

A foreign country attempts to influence the outcome of an American election — before the 2016 election, it was the plot of a new novel by Ohio’s Democratic Party chairman. Now David Pepper returns with a second book,”The Wingman,” which picks up where “The People’s House” left off. He joins Judy Woodruff to discuss how a politician came to write political thrillers.

The video is about 6 minutes. Take a look:

Full Transcript:

John Yang:

Back in 2012, years before Russian meddling in U.S. elections dominated headlines, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper began writing a novel about a foreign country’s attempts to influence the outcome of an American election.

That book, “The People’s House,” was released in August 2016. Now, he’s out with a second book, “The Wingman,” which picks up where “The People’s House” left off.

Judy spoke with him recently, and asked how a politician came to write political thrillers.

David Pepper:

It was after an election cycle where I hadn’t won, and I ha — I just had this urging to try and tell a good political story. And I just started writing, and I just kept writing.

So it wasn’t something I had planned on doing, and I had not done creative writing before, but it was a nice outlet for me. And I also have always thought there’s not a lot of movies out there or books that really capture the day-to-day reality of politics.

A lot of the most famous ones, to someone who knows a lot, are really unrealistic. So my goal was to tell a political story that was really based on how things really work.

Judy Woodruff:

So, your first book, “The People’s House,” comes out in 2016.

David Pepper:

Right.

Judy Woodruff:

And it’s all about the Russians trying to and succeeding in turning a congressional election, a midterm election.

David Pepper:

Right. Right.

Judy Woodruff:

You didn’t have an inkling that something like that was going to happen?

David Pepper:

No, you know, I didn’t.

I put it to bed in the summer. And then I got it out there. And later on, people started writing me, after they have read it, like, my gosh, your story keeps coming true.

But I didn’t write it to predict anything. My goal was to really capture some of the deepest problems in our system, things like gerrymandering, things like weak political systems. And I happened to have worked in Russia years ago. And so I had this Russian oligarch who plays the role.

But my goal was actually to expose through a thriller a lot of the deepest problems in our political system that do make us vulnerable to this type of interference. And so I think by trying to be very realistic in the plot, I end up capturing obviously what ultimately ended up happening, to some degree.

Judy Woodruff:

You sure did. And it has turned a lot of heads.

And then the second book, which we’re showing here, “The Wingman,” is basically a follow-on to that, where the Russians try even greater mischief and get away with a lot of it.

David Pepper:

Yes.

The second book really gets into the role of dark money. And it tries to show the kind of mischief you can cause, that dark money allows you to do for the most part legally. And so it’s another plot that I think, frankly, will feel parallel to some of the things that are happening today, because it again tries to capture some of the weaknesses in our system and what they allow for in our campaigns and elections.

Judy Woodruff:

So, the things that you portray in these books, you think a lot of that could really happen?

David Pepper:

Yes, so the — when my first book was finished, the first readers, before it ultimately started to look like reality, would say to me, your book really scared me because it felt so real. Do you really think this could happen?

And so there is some dramatic license in these books, but my point in the end was to actually capture the political system as it currently exists, capture the laws that exist and show that, yes — again, there is a little more drama in the books than probably real life, but to show that what we have allowed to get into our political systems, dark money, gerrymandering…

Judy Woodruff:

And by dark money, remind…

(CROSSTALK)

David Pepper:

Dark money is the ability to spend money that is not disclosed, often through nonprofits that are perfectly legal, that we have created — by the way, at the hyperpartisan environment that basically has some people not wanting to crack down on things because it may help them, that all of these add up to a huge weakness that, as I show in the first book, and as we’re seeing, other countries can see that maybe we don’t see as clearly as they do.

And, all of a sudden, those weaknesses ad to really opening up pretty dark possibilities in our election cycles.

Judy Woodruff:

So you see a lot of these dark possibilities, and yet you continue to work in politics.

David Pepper:

Yes.

Judy Woodruff:

That’s your day job.

David Pepper:

Yes, I’m very passionate about politics.

And if you watch me closely in politics, in addition to writing these books about these issues, I’m very passionate about ending gerrymandering. And one thing we’re very proud of in Ohio, in the last couple of years, we have put measures forward and worked with, frankly, both sides and a lot of citizen groups to try and end gerrymandering in Ohio.

So, yes, I stay involved, but I would call myself a reformer. But if someone wants to kind of get some hints about the things I’m most passionate about, it’s some of the central aspects of these books.

Judy Woodruff:

Well, wearing — with your day job hat on, as the director of the Ohio Democratic Party, let me just ask you a couple of questions about that.

David Pepper:

Right.

Judy Woodruff:

How much do you think Ohio voters care, are interested in the Russia investigation, which is getting so much attention here in Washington?

David Pepper:

So, interestingly, given that I wrote these books, I think they care, but I don’t think that’s the winning message of candidates this year.

I think to respond to everything Trump does every day, it would be only anti-Trump. To talk about Russia and Comey all day, I actually think that is a trap. And if Democratic candidates get caught up on that every day, I actually think they will not do as well in elections, as if they had stayed disciplined and focused on the kind of issues people worry about every day around their kitchen table.

Judy Woodruff:

David Pepper, the chair of the Democratic Party in the state of Ohio and the author of two political thrillers, thank you very much.

David Pepper:

Thank you so much. Great to be here.

Election Method Reforms Leave California Ballots Way Too Long

Democracy Chronicles - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:07

A new post by Richard Winger at Ballot Access News titled “California Ballots, Combined with Large Number of Candidates for Governor and U.S. Senator, Create Many Invalid Votes” had this review of the situation:

California has been using the top-two system starting in 2011. But 2018 is the first year in which both Governor and U.S. Senate are on the ballot. Both offices always attract many candidates into the primary. And because candidates from all parties, as well as independent candidates, all run on the same ballot, the 2018 primary ballot is especially long.

This article from the Los Angeles Times explains that many counties are forced to put either Governor, or U.S. Senate, on the primary ballot so that some candidates for either office are listed in two separate columns. This, in turn, causes many voters to make a choice in each column. So, even though these voters understand that they can only vote for one person for any particular race, they still vote for two candidates for the same office because they choose one candidate from each column.

Of course, if each of California’s six qualified parties had its own primary ballot, there would be no such problem.

Some background from the Los Angeles Times:

When the list of candidates spills into a second or third column on the ballot, in some cases on the other side of the page, voters can mistakenly choose one name from each list and cast an “overvote.” The most infamous example was the Florida “butterfly ballot” in the 2000 presidential race.

In 2016, there were 33 California counties that listed the Senate candidates in more than one column. Those counties had more than four times as many Senate “overvote” cases as local communities with all the names in a single column. Statewide, that translated into 235,821 mistakenly marked ballots.

Russian Court Bans Secure Messaging App Telegram

Democracy Chronicles - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:52

Freedom House, an “independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change and monitors the status of freedom around the world”, issued the following statement in response to today’s decision of the Tagansky District Court in Moscow to block the popular instant messaging app Telegram:

“Blocking Telegram is another attack on the Russian people’s freedom of expression and right to privacy,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “The court’s decision, imposed before Telegram exhausted all judicial appeal processes, will close one of the few remaining outlets for Russian civil society, independent journalists, and the general public to communicate outside the scrutiny of Russian security services.”

The April 13 decision came after courts sided with the Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, which filed a lawsuit against Telegram after it refused to surrender access to users’ encrypted messages.  The case was based on Telegram’s alleged violation of “Yarovaya’s Law,” a 2016 anti-terrorism law that introduced multiple limitations on internet freedom, including a provision which mandated companies provide backdoor access to encrypted applications.

Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2018, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2017, and receives a democracy score of 6.61 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2018.

Following Syria coverage, Russian reporter found dead in mystery fall

Democracy Chronicles - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:09
link

From an article at the BBC:

A Russian investigative journalist who wrote about the deaths of mercenaries in Syria has died in hospital after falling from his fifth-floor flat. Maxim Borodin was found badly injured by neighbours in Yekaterinburg and taken to hospital, where he later died.

Local officials said no suicide note was found but the incident was unlikely to be of a criminal nature. However, a friend revealed Borodin had said his flat had been surrounded by security men a day earlier.

Read more at the BBC.

GoFundMe: Help us win a Peaceful Voting Revolution in Maine!

Democracy Chronicles - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 10:00

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

– President John F. Kennedy

Dear Friends, Mainers, and Americans,

Help us win a Peaceful Voting Revolution in Maine! Help Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and Our Posterity! Make the politicians listen to We the People. DONATE HERE!

We can end the stranglehold on power of the two dominant parties, and let More Voices, and More Choices be available to voters.

42% of Americans do not support either of the major parties, yet almost all elected officials are from the two parties.  What is up with that?!?

We deserve a method of marking and counting ballots that hears all of our voices, and gives us better choices.

The People of Maine voted for Ranked Choice Voting in 2016.  We won, with 52% of the vote.

The politicians tried to stop it.  They passed legislation that effectively killed the will of the voters.

The people went out in the cold and dark of winter to collect over 80,000 signatures for a People’s Veto, to tell the politicians, “NO, we voted for this, you represent us!  Git ‘er dun!”

The Politicians, working against the majority of the People of Maine, have now refused to fund a Ranked Choice Voting election.

Time is running out, and the first ever statewide Ranked Choice Voting election in the United States of America is scheduled for June 12 of this year (2018)!

The Secretary of State says it will cost $833,644 to fund the election effort to successfully put Ranked Choice Voting into effect for the first time. A recent article about the Secretary of State’s statement in Politico about RCV in Maine is where the $833,644 number comes from.

The politicians, afraid the may have to actually convince the majority, and not their narrow party bases, that they are worthy of representing us, want to sabotage the efforts of the People of Maine, to stop Ranked Choice Voting on a statewide scale.

Ranked Choice Voting is a better system, that improves our democratic systems.  It helps mitigate the spoiler effect.

It was invented in 1871 in New England.  It has been used for over 100 years in places around the world, including Australia , where Conservatives first introduced RCV to be used nationwide in the beginning of the last century.

The nonpartisan League of Women Voters has advocated for Ranked Choice Voting to improve our election process and better represent We the People, ALL the people.

RCV is not a partisan issue, but has been made to be one because of our divisive politics, and because the unique unpopularity of Governor LePage helped propel it onto the ballot.

In Utah and Alaska , Republicans supported efforts to bring Ranked Choice Voting into the Political process.

Ranked Choice Voting allows voters to conduct an Instant Runoff Election using a single ballot if no candidate gets 50%+1 of the vote.

Ranked Choice Voting lets the voters express our preference in a crowded multiple candidate election.

Ranked Choice Voting doesn’t favor any party or candidate.

Ranked Choice Voting mitigates the Spoiler Effect.

Ranked Choice Voters can never be accused of “throwing their vote away” or “wasting their vote on a third party candidate”.  We get to rank the candidates in their order of our preference, or not at all.

Ranked Choice Voting lets us vote our mind, heart, and conscience, with a much reduced likelihood of creating a spoiler that can throw the race to the candidate we most oppose.

If you are one of the 42% of people who didn’t vote, Ranked Choice Voting could give you a reason to come back to the polls, and participate in our Democratic Republic.

Learn about the basics of Ranked Choice Voting:

In Portland, in 2011, Ranked Choice Voting helped choose a candidate who enjoyed wide support of the voters out of a field of 15 candidates. In Portland, where the voters are familiar with RCV, over 70% of voters approved the measure, compared to 52% statewide. In a state that values tradition, it was remarkable for this “new” system to gain such support.

Here are the results of the 2011, RCV election in Portland:

I have been advocating for this issue for many years, here I am doing voter education on the streets of Portland, Maine in 2011 before the first Ranked Choice Voting election for the Mayor (the results of that election are the picture for this GoFundMe effort.

I did not know I was going to be interviewed, this was my impromptu and spontaneous response when asked why I supported for Ranked Choice Voting. (Sorry for the fist, I am not really that violent looking, the video thumbnail captured me in that moment):

I am a 50 year old married retired military officer (24 years in the Maine Army National Guard, with two tours of duty in Iraq ), a disabled veteran (I have artificial parts in my heart, and still volunteered to go back for a second tour of duty in Iraq–I believe America is all of our personal responsibility), and I am a former U.S. History teacher.

I also was a public servant working for the federal government for the last five-and-a-half years, just retired.  I have been a traditional swing voter in my life, and have voted for both Republican, Democrats, and Independents.

I was one of the signature collectors out on the streets this winter in Maine to support the People’s Veto.  This is the first political issue I have ever actively advocated for our donated money to.

I am dismayed at how our politics continues to divide us rather than uniting us.

We are a better people and nation that tearing ourselves apart.  Let’s give Ranked Choice Voting a chance.  Help support the effort in Maine.

I am an unpaid volunteer.  I promise that every dollar raised (less the GoFundMe fee) will go to pay to ensure a successful Ranked Choice Voting election is conducted in the State of Maine, through watchdog efforts to ensure the process is not sabotaged, supporting the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting which has been coordinating the statewide effort, and going to the Secretary of State to be used specifically for the purpose of conducting a successful, well organized, and observed first in the nation statewide Ranked Choice Voting election.  Any remaning funds will be used to support efforts to improve our democratic systems in other cities and states.

Please don’t miss this chance to fundamentally level the playing field and improve our system of voting.  We may never get another chance to upgrade and improve our democratic institutions on this scale.

If Ranked Choice fails in Maine, it will be very difficult to do anywhere else.

Help reduce the politics of fear and hate, and rather than candidates dividing us, separating us and wedging us apart as a people.

If Ranked Choice Voting succeeds, we can update and improve the great experiment of American democracy, and it could harken a new era of political leaders who work together to appeal to the greatest number of us, and speak to our common interests and that which unites us.

Please join me in this effort…

DONATE HERE

Very Respectfully,

Mitch
M D Mitchell
Ranked Choice Voting Advocate and Volunteer
Major, Retired, Maine Army National Guard
Foreign Service Officer, Retired, U.S. Department of State
U.S. History Teacher, Retired
Citizen of Maine
Proud American

Somaliland poet jailed for Somalia reunification poetry

Democracy Chronicles - Sun, 04/15/2018 - 14:09
Nacima Qorane – link

From an article at the BBC:

A court in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has sentenced a young poet to three years in jail. Nacima Qorane was found guilty of bringing the state into contempt by advocating for Somaliland to reunite with Somalia. Pressure groups in Somaliland said Ms Qorane’s basic human rights have been violated.

Somaliland self-declared independence in 1991, but is not recognised internationally. Ms Qorane was arrested in January after returning from the Somali capital Mogadishu, where prosecutors said she had recited poetry calling for Somali unity.

Read more at the BBC.

60 years of conflict and failed peacebuilding in Central African Republic

Democracy Chronicles - Sun, 04/15/2018 - 10:00
French soldiers in the Central African Republic as part of Operation Sangaris that was authorized in late 2013 – link

The unending conflict in the Central African Republic has enjoyed a set of explanations. Several sources point to France’s involvement in the CAR as one of the principal reasons why the CAR is dysfunctional today. Dysfunctionalism appears to be a good explanation of the conflict in that country. Structural issues have also been tagged as causal mechanisms for the conflict in the CAR.

Beyond these structural factors, the CAR’s conflict has also been explained from the perspective of complex regional and international dynamics. Chad has been found to meddle in the politics of Chad in the last 20 years or so. The CAR’s conflict does not also escape the greed and grievance arguments and non-compliance with democracy appears to be a plausible perspective to understand the successful coups in that country since 1991.

However, beyond these widely accepted perspectives on the root causes of the conflict in the CAR, the failure of peacebuilding in the CAR is also to blame for the unending conflict in that country. Between 1959 and 1993 France was the sole “peace-broker” in the CAR. However, peace was on its terms.

Central African Republic history

After nominal independence from France, David Dacko (President of the First Central African Republic, CAR, from independence on 13 August 1960 until 31 December 1965 and of the Second Republic 21 September 1979 to 1 September 1981), Jean-Bédel Bokassa (ruler of the CAR from 01 January 1966 till 20 September 1979) and André Kolingba were successful coup perpetrators during the Cold War period in the CAR. But the (re)democratization of the 1990s occurred when André Kolingba was in power.

Self-crowned Emperor of Central Africa, Jean-Bédel Bokassa – link

Faced with this situation Kolingba was obliged to accept multi-party politics which he had abolished in 1986, as did David Dacko in 1962. The 1991 constitution reinstated multi-party elections as the only authorised means of peaceful transfer of power in the CAR. Elections were held in 1993 and Ange Félix Patassé was voted-in as President of the Republic in democratic elections in which Kolingba, a former coup plotter in a democratic dispensation took part.

On 15 March 2003 former Army Chief, General François Bozizé Yangouvonda ousted Patassé from power through a coup d’Etat. He was elected in multi-party elections in 2005 and 2011. Thereafter, he too would be removed from power through force on 24 March 2013 by Michel Am-Nondokro Djotodia at the head of a rebel coalition dubbed “Seleka”.

Djotodia’s rebellion led to ethno-religious violence between his incidentally Muslim Seleka and the ‘Christian’ Anti-Balaka group, thus forcing him out of his self-declared Presidency in favour of Transitional President Catherine Samba Panza. Panza handed power to the democratically elected Faustin Archange Touadera in March 2016.

Dacko I became President of Government business at independence by seizing power in a coup in which he used a squadron of pygmies armed with poisoned arrows to surround Parliament. The French turned a blind eye to this coup.

The French equally endorsed Bokassa’s coup that overthrew Dacko I and then later on overthrew Bokassa to install Dacko II once Bokassa became a nuisance. And French security operatives assisted Kolingba in his 1981 coup d’état. France ignited its “Paristroika” in the early 1990s and appeared to accommodate Patassé’s win in the 1993 democratic elections even though Patassé was not a very good friend of the French.

The conditions for chaos in the CAR had been further laid down by Kolingba during his time as a military dictator. Patassé failed to handle the conflict appropriately and management of security in the CAR became total anomie in the Patassé years.

France and its allies in the CEMAC seized the opportunity to create the Inter-African Mission Monitoring the Bangui Agreements (MISAB), then came the United Nations Mission for the Central African Republic (MINURCA) and finally France returned to the CAR through its regional puppet States of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) notably Chad in the form of the Multinational Force in the Central African Republic (FOMUC).

All these peace-keeping forces failed to prevent the resurgence of conflict and the FOMUC even functioned as a ploy to root out Patassé when Bozizé took power. Bozizé’s chaotic rule was the accompanied by additional peace initiative frameworks that kept on failing to address the root causes of the problem. In effect, the Bozizé years witnessed a number of peace-keeping missions:

  • Central African Republic Peacebuilding Mission (MICOPAX) that replaced FOMUC on 12 July 2008
  • United Nations Mission in Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) with its bridging mission being known as the European Union Force (EUFOR) Chad/CAR
  • Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) replacing MINURCAT at the end of 2010 and also created to continue to work for the benefit of the CAR.

BINUCA absorbed the United Nations Observation Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) and other UN missions in CAR. BONUCA had been created to stay in the CAR after the MINURCA completed its mission in April 1998.

Following the March 2013 coup d’état by the Seleka, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) set up MISCA. The MISCA mission was complimented by a return of 2000 French troops to the CAR under Operation Sangaris and by an EU force that sent its first troops to CAR in April 2014 with total troop strength reaching 800.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), a UN peacekeeping mission, then replaced MISCA in April 2014. Its mandate was to protect civilians under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. It had over 10,000 troops on the ground with a mandate that included:

  • Support for the transition process;
  • Facilitating humanitarian assistance;
  • Promotion and protection of human rights;
  • Support for justice and the rule of law;
  • Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR);
  • Repatriation processes.
What is the goal in the Central African Republic?

Despite all these peace initiatives peace in the CAR remains fragile and conflict has continued. The CAR has also had its share of transitional arrangements, and various liberal peace-initiatives (LPIs) such as elections and national dialogues. Attempts have also been made, especially since the Seleka vs anti-balaka tit-for-tat, to build frameworks in which CAR citizens can discuss the issues facing their country, yet conflict persists.

Faustin Touadera succeeded interim head, Catherine Samba-Panza to become President following the 2016 election – link

In spite of the election of Touadera, a big chunk of the CAR territory, especially in its northern regions, is still in conflict. The country is currently repartitioned de facto between armed groups. The unending conflict in the CAR has destroyed its economy and has kept its the citizens in poverty and misery despite very vast natural resources and a great human capital potential.

What the literature tells us is that the various conflict resolution initiatives in the CAR failed because they did not target the root causes of the problem. Indeed, they did not. The focus has been on peacekeeping and peace-making and the usual LPI such as elections, state and institution building. These frameworks have been replicated with the same results. One can then deduce that the conflict persists because of the repeated use of these frameworks.

This begs the question of why has there been a repeated use of these frameworks knowing fully well that they will produce the same result in terms of failure to address the root causes of the conflict. One begins to think that the agenda behind conflict resolution is the real reason why the conflict has persisted. There seems to be no real intention to end this conflict. Even the African Union is playing at this game, to the extent of rolling back peace-keeping to peace-enforcement. So who is benefitting from chaos in the CAR?

It is an open secret that France is still the colonial master of its former colonies. It has never wished for its former colonies to be independent as it totally relies on their resources to remain relevant in the concert of world powers. Its preferred method to control the resources of francophone States is not hidden. France remains committed its colonial past.

Good governance, democracy and accountability of the Governments of its former colonies are anathema to France. Why? It is because a loss of its colonial sphere would mean that huge chunks of money from colonial resources and reserves would go to the people of these countries and not to the French treasury.

link

Stability in these countries would mean economic growth and the empowerment of a middle-class that would assert its independence. Therefore, France that continues to play a major role in the peace-building initiatives in its unstable ‘former colonies’ such as the CAR stands as the symbol of an agenda that appears to be endlessly replicating inadequate peace building frameworks.

There is therefore an urgent need to rethink peacebuilding in the CAR. The solution must start with stopping French involvement in the CAR. Regional neighbours equally have an alibi as seen in the FOMUC. The African Union has to take up its responsibilities and redesign the peacebuilding approach in the CAR, bringing in frameworks that will normalise relations between its citizens.

It would not be too bold to say that the Central African Republic needs a transitional arrangement in which it can be administered from the AU. But will the AU rely on the EU or China for money to do this? Also, will it have to be the current AU that is so internally challenged? Is Africa stuck between a rock and a hard place? The future looks bleak under the current leadership that is outright criminal in several cases and has blatantly failed. A new peace-building agenda is needed, but a new set of thinkers and leaders is equally needed to drive this agenda, one composed of objective, honest and patriotic Africans.

The Best of My Chinese Democracy Memes

Adrian Tawfik at Democracy Chronicles - Sat, 04/14/2018 - 10:30

As Democracy Chronicles Founder and Editor-in-Chief I have made almost 1,000 political memes of one kind or another. Collections of different sorts can be found on Flickr including Adrian’s Favorite Memes, the Democracy Flag Series and Democracy Quote Memes. Today I am proud to announce a new collection I have put together to highlight some of my favorite artistic creations that highlight the struggle for democracy in China. This Chinese Democracy Memes collection is aimed to fill a void in Chinese democracy promotion.

The Democracy Chronicles main locally-hosted collection of my political memes can be found at “Political Memes Featuring Original Pro-Democracy Art“. But for a full (and unedited) collection you need to visit Democracy Chronicles Flickr. These totally original and unique political cartoons were made with Photoshop and all images were created to accompany an article on our website.

These are free for you to use and spread around and can be considered to be under the most permissive Creative Commons license – copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. Also you can remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

I hope you enjoy and I would love to read some reactions so add your comments below! Take a look…


Pro-Democracy Hong Kong Political Cartoons

Chinese Political Dissidents Cartoons

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