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  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After eight years in power, President Hugo Chávez won an overwhelming re-election in December 2006. Flush with oil revenues, bolstered by high approval ratings and at the start of a six-year term, he expresses confidence about advancing what he calls his Bolivarian Revolution, named after Simón Bolívar, the country's independence hero, and installing his still only vaguely defined “Socialism of the 21st Century”. There are concerns in Venezuela and much of the hemisphere, however, that to do so the ex-colonel and one-time coup leader may be willing to sacrifice democratic principles. He is not yet a dictator and for the most part has not tried to act in a dictatorial manner, but the trend toward autocracy is strong. If he continues to build personal power at the expense of other institutions and militarise much of the government and political life, there will be serious risks for internal conflict, especially if the oil boom that cushions the economy falters.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: South America, Tanzania
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Slowly, incrementally, the realisation that a new strategy is needed for Iraq finally is dawning on U.S. policy- makers. It was about time. By underscoring the U.S. intervention's disastrous political, security, and economic balance sheet, and by highlighting the need for both a new regional and Iraqi strategy, the Baker-Hamilton report represents an important and refreshing moment in the country's domestic debate. Many of its key – and controversial – recommendations should be wholly supported, including engaging Ira n and Syria, revitalising the Arab-Israeli peace process, reintegrating Baathists, instituting a far-reaching amnesty, delaying the Kirkuk referendum, negotiating the withdrawal of U.S. forces with Iraqis and engaging all parties in Iraq.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Less than a year before Nigeria holds its third national elections since the end of military rule in 1999, tensions are running high in the southern Niger Delta. A number of militant groups have begun allying themselves to local politicians with electoral aspirations. These groups and others continue to use legitimate grievances, such as poverty, environmental destruction and government corruption, to justify increasingly damaging attacks against government and oil industry targets. Removing the incentives for violence will require granting a degree of resource control to local communities. Engaging Delta groups in sustained, transparent dialogue also remains critical to finding a solution to the militant puzzle. Equally important, credible development efforts must be supported and stiff penalties for corruption imposed upon those who embezzle and squander funds.
  • Topic: Corruption, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The new National Assembly has the potential to play a vital role in stabilising Afghanistan, entrenching pluralism, institutionalising political competition and giving voice to the country's diverse population. By being accountable to the Afghan people it can demand accountability of the presidential government. However, the success of this fledgling institution remains delicately poised, particularly because of the absence of a formal role for political parties, essential for mediating internal tensions. The lack of such organised blocs has seen power-brokers of past eras try to dominate proceedings. New moderate forces need to move quickly now to establish formal groups within the houses to ensure their voices are heard.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: King Gyanendra's capitulation on 24 April 2006 in the face of a mass movement marked a victory for democracy in Nepal and, with a ceasefire between the new government and the Maoists now in place, the start of a serious peace process. Forced to acknowledge the “spirit of the people's movement”, Gyanendra accepted popular sovereignty, reinstated parliament and invited the mainstream seven-party alliance to implement its roadmap – including election of a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution in line with the parties' five-month-old agreement with the Maoists. The international community lost credibility by attempting to pressure the parties into an unworkable compromise with the king and must now work hard to support a difficult transition and peace process while avoiding similar mistakes.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As the Congo approaches its first free elections in 40 years, the stability of the country remains at risk, for three main reasons. First, one of the main former rebel groups, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), is unpopular and stands to lose most of its power at the polls: this has triggered a resurgence of violence in the east, which is likely to intensify before and after elections, as dissident RCD troops attack the newly integrated national army. Secondly, the vote has not been adequately prepared. With few safeguards in place against fraud, rigged polls could rapidly undermine stability after the elections and produce unrest in cities. Thirdly, the country's long-time political opposition, Etienne Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), will boycott the voting, unhappy with the other main parties' unwillingness to negotiate with it. This is likely to cause unrest in the two Kasai provinces and Kinshasa, where Tshisekedi enjoys substantial support.
  • Topic: Development, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le 3 août 2005, une junte menée par Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, Directeur Général de la Sûreté Nationale, et Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Commandant du Bataillon de la Sécurité Présidentielle, s'est emparé du pouvoir en République Islamique de Mauritanie. Ce coup d'État, qui répond à l'impopularité croissante et au manque de légitimité du régime déchu, représente une rupture avec le passé mais comporte également d'importants signes de continuité de méthode et de personnalités. Les nouveaux dirigeants devront démontrer que les changements l'emportent sur le statu quo et qu'ils respectent l'état de droit. La communauté internationale, qui a rapidement accepté le gouvernement après des objections de pure forme concernant la manière dont le changement avait eu lieu, devra les pousser à tenir leurs engagements, en particulier sur la question et le calendrier de la transition démocratique.
  • Topic: Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Mauritania
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: For too long, public figures within and outside Africa have been timid about discussing Guinea's deep-rooted problems. Its strong anti-imperialist stance in the 1960s and beyond earned it respect among pan-Africanists, but the hands-off attitude that grew out of that respect has long since degraded into indifference and cynicism. The probability is now high that President Conté's term will end in a military takeover, which some seem prepared to accept before the fact, as if it were a means of preserving Guinea's sovereignty. But parts of Guinea's civilian elite are finally beginning to treat the country's future as their own collective concern, one not to be resolved by a third party, whether the army or foreign diplomats. They should be given every encouragement, including by relevant international actors, to do so.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Guinea
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Reform of the justice system needs to be a top priority for Liberia's new government and donors alike. After fourteen years of civil war, the system is in shambles. Impunity prevails, and in this atmosphere, the government cannot adequately address economic governance, transformation of the military and reconstruction of war- scarred physical infrastructure – all primary areas for reform and reconstitution in 2006. Courts that do not prosecute those who siphon resources from government coffers impede progress in all other areas. Within the next six months, stronger and impartial mechanisms are required in both the statutory and customary law systems, and community-based justice programs should be created.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In less than ten years, the Maoist insurgency has transformed Nepal. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has spread armed conflict across the country and reshaped its political environment irrevocably. But their political aims are still questioned, and not enough is known about their structure and strategy. This background report seeks to fill in many of the gaps, based on close study of their writings and actions and a wide range of interviews, in order to provide policymakers in Nepal and the international community with information and insights needed to approach a peace process realistically.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal