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  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal's progress toward lasting peace is seriously but not yet irreparably faltering. A further postponement of constituent assembly (CA) elections reflected the weak implementation of the November 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and lack of will to follow the agreed process. Leaders have now vowed to forge a new consensus and agreed to hold the elections by mid-April 2008 but have yet to address the problems that led to past postponements. Suspicions among the parties – especially between Nepali Congress (NC), which dominates the government, and the Maoists, who remain outside – are echoed in ebbing public confidence: whatever promises they hear, most voters believe the politicians prefer to stay in power rather than face the electorate. All parties urgently need to inject new momentum into the peace process and take steps to win back trust and earn legitimacy. The international community can support them in this but must also maintain
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Nepal
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The government's repressive and disproportionate response to peaceful protests in November 2007 shocked Western capitals, which had viewed Georgia as a beacon of democracy in a region of illiberal regimes. Since the Rose Revolution, however, President Mikheil Saakashvili's administration has become increasingly intolerant of dissent as it has sought to reform inefficient post-Soviet institutions, stimulate a deeply dysfunctional economy, regain the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and deal with its meddling Russian neighbour. In an attempt to restore his democratic credentials, Saakashvili has called an early presidential election for 5 January 2008, which he is expected to win, but a free and fair election will not be enough to repair the damage. The West should press the government to abandon its increasingly authoritarian behaviour, engage in a genuine dialogue with political opponents and make the ongoing reform process transparent and accountable.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Corruption, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Russia, Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Musharraf faces the most serious challenge to almost eight years of military rule. Opposition has gathered momentum following his failed attempt to remove the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Moderate political parties, all segments of civil society and the public at large are vociferously demanding restoration of democracy and rule of law and the military's withdrawal from politics. The choice is not whether a transition will come but whether it will be peaceful and orderly, through free and fair elections, or violent. Musharraf and the high command are tempted to retain their power at all costs. Several of their options - particularly emergency - could portend disaster. Rigged or stalled elections would destabilise Pakistan, with serious international security consequences. Especially the U.S., needs to recognise its own interests are no longer served by military rule (if they ever really were) and use its considerable leverage to persuade the generals to return to the barracks and accept a democratic transition through free and fair parliamentary, followed by presidential, elections this year.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Pervez Musharraf, facing his most serious challenge in nearly eight years of authoritarian rule, is likely to try to retain power despite growing opposition. Rumours abound in Pakistan that he will declare a state of emergency, which would suspend fundamental rights and in effect mean martial law. Given an increasingly assertive opposition following his 9 March 2007 decision to remove the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, it will be impossible for the president and his military backers to maintain the status quo. Western friends of Pakistan, most influentially the U.S., can tip the balance by delivering a clear message that emergency rule is unacceptable and Pakistan should return to democratic government by holding free, fair and democratic elections by the end of the year.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Sierra Leone holds presidential and legislative elections in August 2007. President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, who won a landslide victory in 2002 at the end of the civil war, split the ruling Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) by anointing a successor, Vice President Solomon Berewa. When Charles Margai formed the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), the break-up rejuvenated politics but also heightened tension in SLPP strongholds. The All People's Congress (APC), which gained in 2004 local elections, may be able to exploit this division. Return to a constituency-based voting system for parliament has reinforced the leverage of traditional chiefs in national politics and produced potentially vicious competition. Sierra Leone is still a fragile state in which peace will not be consolidated until two things happen. The elections must be violence-free and fair for results to be respected. Then the new authorities must deal with sources of discontent such as corruption, chiefs' abuse of power and youth unemployment, lest they threaten stability.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nigeria's democracy is in crisis. The April 2007 elections were supposed to move the country to a higher rung on the democratisation ladder, create a more conducive environment to resolve its many internal conflicts and strengthen its credentials as a leading peacemaker, but instead generated serious new problems that may be pushing it further towards the status of a failed state. The declared winner, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, assumed the presidency on 29 May with less legitimacy than any previously elected president and so with less capacity to moderate and resolve its violent domestic conflicts. He must act urgently to heal wounds, redress electoral injustice and punish the most grievous voting frauds, including those by officials of the agencies directly involved in administering the elections. To salvage his government's legitimacy, he needs to pursue policies of inclusiveness and restraint in relation to the opposition, accept the decisions of the tribunals (including the Supreme Court if need be) reviewing the petitions of defeated candidates, and embark on a vigorous electoral reform program.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nigeria's democracy faces a crucial test. Presidential, parliamentary and state gubernatorial and assembly elections scheduled for 14 and 21 April 2007 are not a routine quadrennial ritual. Success would offer the country the first opportunity to achieve a genuine constitutional succession from one civilian administration to another since independence in 1960, thus consolidating democracy. Failure could provoke violent rejection of the results by wide sections of the populace, denial of legitimacy and authority to the new government, intensification of the insurgency in the Niger Delta and its possible extension to other areas, with potential for wider West African destabilisation. The preparatory phases have indicated failings in terms of basic fairness for the opposition, transparency and respect for the rule of law. Unless stakeholders make urgent efforts to rescue the credibility of the process, Nigeria's already serious internal instability could be fatally aggravated.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The September 2006 coup in Thailand, despite its damage to democratic development, opened the way for improved management of the conflict in the Muslim South. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont's interim government has overhauled some of its predecessor's worst policies and signalled willingness to address longstanding grievances. But verbal commitments in Bangkok have been difficult to translate into changes on the ground, and relations between security forces and local communities continue to be strained while violence mounts. Thais outside the South have exerted pressure for a return to heavy-handed crackdowns on suspected militants. The government must respond to the escalating attacks, but with care – widespread arbitrary arrests and civilian casualties would only increase support for insurgents.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Asia, Thailand, Bangkok
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since the new, democratically elected government came to power in September 2005, the first since 1993, there has been marked deterioration in Burundi's political climate. Led by the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), the government has arrested critics, moved to muzzle the press, committed human rights abuses and tightened its control over the economy. Unless it reverses this authoritarian course, it risks triggering violent unrest and losing the gains of the peace process. The international community needs to monitor the government's performance, encouraging it to adopt a more inclusive approach and remain engaged even after UN troops depart in December 2006.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burundi
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Georgia is a multinational state, building democratic institutions and forging a civic identity. However, it has made little progress towards integrating Armenian and Azeri minorities, who constitute over 12 per cent of the population. Tensions are evident in the regions of Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo-Kartli, where the two predominantly live and which have seen demonstrations, alleged police brutality and killings during the past two years. While there is no risk of these situations becoming Ossetian or Abkhaz-like threats to the state's territorial integrity, Tbilisi needs to pay more attention to minority rights, including use of second languages, if it is to avoid further conflict.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Armenia, Georgia
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Hours before the first-round results of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's presidential elections were to be announced in Kinshasa on 20 August 2006, violence erupted between troops loyal to Vice President Jean- Pierre Bemba and those loyal to the incumbent, Joseph Kabila, providing dramatic proof of the fragility of the electoral process. Because both Kabila and Bemba will be tempted to use violence should they lose the second round, and the former in particular is very strong militarily, the Congolese government and the international community must move quickly to make secure the run-off as well as the provincial assembly elections on 29 October. Militias also threaten stability elsewhere in the country, notably in North Kivu and Ituri, but the capital is likely to be the most sensitive location again. A three-pronged strategy is required: improving security in Kinshasa, promoting a more responsible approach to the media and resolving some basic problems in the electoral process.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 28 May 2006, President Alvaro Uribe won a second four-year term in a landslide. The first re-election of a sitting Colombian president in more than a century, combined with 12 March congressional elections which produced a pro-Uribe majority and saw the demise of the traditional Liberal-Conservative party system, heralds a profound change in the political landscape. While the outcomes could hardly have been better for Uribe, he now needs to get tough on impunity and diversify an anti-insurgency policy that has been almost exclusively military if he is to move Colombia towards the end of its 40-year armed conflict. The international community, and specifically the European Union (EU), can help by urging a new balance between the president's favoured security policies and the social and economic measures that are needed to get at root causes.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Colombia, Central America
  • 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: Pro-democracy demonstrations and a general strike across Nepal in recent weeks mark a decisive shift in the country's political equations and probably signal the approaching end of King Gyanendra's direct rule. A successful popular movement could advance the search for peace but will depend on strong political party leadership in dealing with the Maoists; a messy transition would bring its own risks. Although domestic events will determine the speed and direction of political change, international players should us e their influence to establish practical plans to help stabilise the situation and build a more lasting foundation for peace. This briefing argues for the early formation of a Contact Group (consisting of India, the U.S. and UK, working with the UN) and a complementary Peace Support Group (other key donors and international financial institutions) to form a common front on strategy and tactics to maximise international influence in assisting Nepal's escape from its worsening conflict.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, India, Asia, Nepal, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 31 March 2005 parliamentary elections that confirmed the full control of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF government were neither free nor fair and disappointed those who hoped they might mark a turn away from the crisis that has dominated Zimbabwe's political life for the past five years. The post-election situation looks deceptively familiar. In fact, Mugabe's era is coming to an end, both the ruling party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) face existential challenges, and the international community needs to urgently rethink strategies and find new ways to maintain pressure for a peaceful democratic transition.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Les élections générales au Burundi viennent de conduire à une transformation totale du paysage politique. La victoire remarquable de l ' ancienne rébellion du CNDD-FDD à tous les différents scrutins et l ' élection de son candidat à la présidentielle, Pierre Nkurunziza, le 19 août lui permettent dorénavant de contrôler les principales institutions du pouvoir. En outre ce changement politique important s ' inscrit dans un contexte où les corps de défense et de sécurité sont en profonde mutation et les anciens combattants du CNDD-FDD sont totalement intégrés dans ces nouvelles forces au sein desquelles ils occupent 40 pour cent des effectifs. Cela constitue une garantie substantielle contre d ' éventuelles tentatives de coup de force pour interrompre la poursuite de ce processus et donc la mise en oeuvre des réformes prévues par l ' accord d ' Arusha pour la paix et la réconciliation. Néanmoins les élections ne représentent qu ' un pas, certes important, vers une paix durable.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burundi
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar's National Convention, dormant since the mid 1990s, is due to reconvene on 17 May 2004. If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and National League for Democracy (NLD) Deputy Chairman Tin Oo are released before then (as it is now widely assumed they will be) and if the NL D is able to effectively participate in its work (which is much less certain), the Convention process provides an opportunity to move beyond the desolate political stalemate which has prevailed in one form or another since the suppression of the pro-democracy movement in 1988.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The removal of the Ba'ath regime in 2003 opened a Pandora's box of long-suppressed aspirations, none as potentially explosive as the Kurds' demand, expressed publicly and with growing impatience, for wide-ranging autonomy in a region of their own, including the oil- rich governorate of Kirkuk. If mismanaged, the Kurdish question could fatally undermine the political transition and lead to renewed violence. Kurdish leaders need to speak more candidly with their followers about the compromises they privately acknowledge are required, and the international community needs to work more proactively to help seal the historic deal.
  • Topic: Democratization, Ethnic Conflict, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Arabia, Kirkuk
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Important changes in the outlook of Egyptian Islamic activism in recent years have opened up possibilities for progressive political development, but these have gone unexploited because of the conservatism of the Egyptian government's policies. The absence of serious violence since late 1997 strongly suggests that the strategy of armed struggle (jihad) against the state has not only failed but has effectively been abandoned. At the same time, the ideology of non-violent Islamic activism has evolved and now emphatically embraces democratic principles and elements of a modernist outlook. However, unless the Egyptian government changes its approach, opens up the political field and undertakes serious political reform, the frustration which many Egyptians feel could lead to a recrudescence of violent activism at some stage. The government risks realising too late that it has squandered a vital opportunity and wasted the fruits of its own earlier successes on the security front.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Egypt