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  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Far from being a bulwark against the spread of extremism and violence from Afghanistan, Tajikistan is looking increasingly like its southern neighbour – a weak state that is suffering from a failure of leadership. Energy infrastructure is near total breakdown for the second winter running, and it is likely migrant labourer remittances, the driver of the country's economy in recent years, will fall dramatically as a result of the world economic crisis. President Emomali Rakhmon may be facing his greatest challenge since the civil war of 1992-97. At the very least the government will be confronted with serious economic problems, and the desperately poor population will be condemned to yet more deprivation. At worst the government runs the risk of social unrest. There are few indications that the Rakhmon administration is up to this challenge. To address the situation, the international community – both at the level of international organisations and governments – should ensure any assistance reaches those who truly need it, place issues of governance and corruption at the centre of all contacts with the Tajik government, and initiate an energetic dialogue with President Rakhmon on democratisation.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government, Islam, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, Tajikistan
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Despite successful elections and a lasting military ceasefire, Nepal's peace process is facing its most severe tests yet. Major issues remain unresolved: there is no agreement on the future of the two armies, very little of the land seized during the conflict has been returned, and little progress has been made writing a new constitution. Challenges to the basic architecture of the 2006 peace deal are growing from all sides. Key political players, particularly the governing Maoists and the opposition Nepali Congress (NC), need to rebuild consensus on the way forward or face a public backlash. International supporters of Nepal must target assistance and political pressure to encourage the parties to face the threats to peace.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's forthcoming elections, with presidential and provincial council polls on 20 August 2009, and National Assembly and district elections scheduled for 2010, present a formidable challenge if they are to produce widely accepted and credible results. The weakness of state institutions, the deteriorating security situation and the fractured political scene are all highlighted by – and will likely have a dramatic effect on – the electoral process. The years since the last poll saw the Afghan government and international community fail to embed a robust electoral framework and drive democratisation at all levels. This has made holding truly meaningful elections much more difficult. Rather than once again running the polls merely as distinct events, the enormous resources and attention focused on the elections should be channelled into strengthening political and electoral institutions, as a key part of the state-building efforts required to produce a stable country.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The bizarre prosecution and conviction of opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for violating her house arrest has returned attention to repression in Myanmar, as preparations were underway for the first national elections in twenty years, now scheduled for 2010. This further undermined what little credibility the exercise may have had, especially when based on a constitution that institutionalises the military's political role. The UN Secretary-General's July visit, which produced no tangible results, added to the gloom. But while the elections will not be free and fair – a number of prominent regime opponents have been arrested and sentenced to prison terms over the last year – the constitution and elections together will fundamentally change the political landscape in a way the government may not be able to control. Senior Generals Than Shwe and Maung Aye may soon step down or move to ceremonial roles, making way for a younger military generation. All stakeholders should be alert to opportunities that may arise to push the new government toward reform and reconciliation.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal's peace process faces a crucial test this month. Elections for a Constituent Assembly (CA) are likely to go ahead on 10 April 2008 as scheduled but political unrest and violence could mar – or even derail – preparations, and the aftermath could bring turbulence. Elections in a delicate post-conflict situation are never straightforward and Nepal has many possible flashpoints, not least that the two armies that fought the war remain intact, politically uncompromising and combat-ready. Once results are in, all political players must be prepared for a difficult period in which they will need to compromise to make the CA an effective body, extend the number of parties with a role in government and urgently tackle crucial issues left aside during the campaign, including security sector reform. The international community has an important election observation function and should listen to Nepal's political and civil society groups in assessing the credibility of the process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: India, Asia, Nepal, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Bangladesh is under military rule again for the third time in as many decades. Although the caretaker government (CTG) insists its plans to stamp out corruption and hold general elections by December 2008 are on track, its achievements have been patchy, and relations with the major political parties are acrimonious. Efforts to sideline the two prime ministers of the post-1990 democratic period have faltered (though bot h are in jail), and the government has become bogged down in its attempts to clean up corruption and reshape democratic politics. Even if elections are held on schedule, there is no guarantee reforms will be sustainable. If they are delayed, the risk of confrontation between the parties and the army-backed government will grow. There is an urgent need for all sides to negotiate a peaceful and sustainable return to democracy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Le changement politique et économique réclamé par la population guinéenne au prix de près de 200 morts en janvier-février 2007 est largement compromis. Le limogeage du Premier ministre Lansana Kouyaté le 20 mai 2008 et son remplacement par Tidiane Souaré, un proche du président Lansana Conté, risque de compromettre l'ensemble du processus de réforme. Les déclarations apaisantes du nouveau chef de gou- vernement en faveur de l'inclusion et de la poursuite du « changement » ne doivent pas faire illusion. Le gouvernement Souaré-Conté a toutes les chances de remettre en cause les promesses d'élections législati- ves crédibles en décembre 2008, de compromettre le redressement économique du pays et d'enterrer la commission d'enquête indépendante qui doit identifier et poursuivre les auteurs de la répression sanglante de janvier 2007. Plus que jamais, les acteurs de la société civile, les responsables des partis politiques, les auto- rités religieuses et tous ceux qui souhaitent le chan- gement doivent opposer un front uni à la restauration du pouvoir sans partage de Lansana Conté.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Government, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: La Guinée-Bissau a besoin d'un Etat. Ses structures politiques et administratives ne lui permettent ni de contrôler son territoire, ni d'assurer les services publics minimums, ni de contrebalancer la domination politique de l'armée. Cette faiblesse structurelle est à l'origine de crises politiques récurrentes, de coups à répétition et de la prolifération de réseaux criminels. Cependant, la Guinée-Bissau semble être engagée aujourd'hui dans un nouvel élan grâce au pacte de stabilité politique signé par les trois partis politiques les plus importants en mars 2007. Le risque est réel de voir le pays devenir un narco-Etat et un no man's land politique et administratif, ouvert à tous les trafics et aux réseaux terroristes du Maghreb. La communauté internationale devrait d'urgence soutenir les efforts du gouvernement actuel pour consolider la démocratie, réformer le secteur de la sécurité et construire des structures étatiques viables.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Taliban has created a sophisticated communications apparatus that projects an increasingly confident movement. Using the full range of media, it is successfully tapping into strains of Afghan nationalism and exploiting policy failures by the Kabul government and its international backers. The result is weakening public support for nation-building, even though few actively support the Taliban. The Karzai government and its allies must make greater efforts, through word and deed, to address sources of alienation exploited in Taliban propaganda, particularly by ending arbitrary detentions and curtailing civilian casualties from aerial bombing.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Communications
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, Taliban
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since the announcement of the contested presidential election results on 30 December 2007 giving a second term to Mwai Kibaki, Kenya has been in its worst political crisis since independence. Over 1,000 people have died and 300,000 have been displaced in violence with a serious ethnic character. As former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan conducts negotiations for a political settlement, calm has partly returned, but the situation remains highly volatile. To address the causes of the crisis, it will not be enough for the Annan team to broker a deal on the mechanics of a transitional arrangement between political opponents and schedule negotiations on a reform agenda. A sustainable settlement must address in detail a program of power sharing, constitutional and legal reform and economic policies that convinces the drivers of violence to disarm. For negotiations to succeed, the international community must enhance its pressure, including aid conditionality and threats and application of targeted sanctions against spoilers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa, United Nations
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In politics and policies, Serbia increasingly resembles the Milosevic-era without Milosevic. Its reaction to the catastrophic mid-March 2004 near collapse of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the strong showing by ultra-nationalists in the 28 December 2003 parliamentary elections and the subsequent two-months of squabbling before democratic parties could form a minority government that depends for survival on the support of Milosevic's old party all are signs that more trouble lies ahead. In 2004 Serbia can anticipate continued political instability, increasingly strained relations with the West and further economic decline. The spasm of ethnic cleansing of Serbs by Albanians in Kosovo has raised the prospect of Kosovo partition, strengthened the nationalist right wing and increased anti-Western sentiment. Instability and economic weakness could hasten moves by Montenegro towards independence, while Kosovo tensions could spill over into the Presevo valley, Sandzak and even Vojvodina.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Islamism, terrorism, reform: the triangle formed by these three concepts and the complex and changeable realities to which they refer is at the centre of political debate in and about North Africa today. The role of Egyptian elements in the leadership of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation is well-known, if not necessarily well understood. The involvement of Maghrebis in terrorist networks in Europe -- whether linked to al-Qaeda or not -- has recently been underlined by the suspected involvement of Moroccans in the 11 March 2004 attack in Madrid. Egypt itself has endured years of terrorist violence; few if any countries have suffered as much from terrorism as Algeria has over the last twelve years; and the bombings in Casablanca on 16 May 2003 suggest that Morocco is not immune.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Algeria, North Africa, Egypt, Morocco
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 17 March 2004, the unstable foundations of four and a half years of gradual progress in Kosovo buckled and gave way. Within hours the province was immersed in anti-Serb and anti-UN rioting and had regressed to levels of violence not seen since 1999. By 18 March the violence mutated into the ethnic cleansing of entire minority villages and neighbourhoods. The mobs of Albanian youths, extremists and criminals exposed the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR) as very weak. Kosovo's provisional institutions of self-government (PISG), media and civil society afforded the rioters licence for mayhem. The international community urgently needs new policies -- on final status and socio-economic development alike -- or Kosovo instability may infect the entire region.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kosovo, United Nations, Albania
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: For all the sound and fury of international condemnation and domestic opposition, octogenarian President Robert Mugabe maintains the upper hand in Zimbabwe. He has bludgeoned opposition parties and neutralised mass action strategies, minimised African criticism, maintained South Africa's friendship, and withstood sporadic pressure from the wider international community. It has been a masterful performance. It is also one that has done massive damage to Zimbabwe's economy, which is shrinking at world record speed. It is time to acknowledge the collective failure to date, re- evaluate strategies for resolving the crisis, and concentrate on the opportunity presented by the March 2005 parliamentary elections.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Representatives of the Afghan government, the UN and the major donor countries and institutions will assemble in Berlin on 31 March and 1 April for the first high-level diplomatic meeting on Afghanistan in more than two years. The principal objective is to secure substantial long-term aid commitments -- the Afghan government seeks U.S.$27.6 billion over seven years. In addition to meeting this global figure, it will be important for donors to make multi-year pledges that provide a basis for predictability and to increase cash on hand for immediate projects over the coming year. All this is needed if Afghanistan's governance and security institutions are to be reconstructed, development goals met, and poverty alleviated.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Pakistan's military government launched a campaign for political devolution in 2000 that it said was aimed at transferring administrative and financial power to local governments. The scheme was to strengthen local control and accountability and, according to President Pervez Musharraf, "empower the impoverished". In practice, however, it has undercut established political parties and drained power away from the provinces while doing little to minimise corruption or establish clear accountability at a local level. The reforms, far from enhancing democracy, have strengthened military rule and may actually raise the risks of internal conflict.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Pan-Albanianism is seen by many observers as a serious threat to Balkan stability. A century of shifting borders has left ethnic Albanians scattered across Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the National Liberation Army (NLA) in Macedonia, and other groups have all waged campaigns of violence in support of enhanced rights for ethnic Albanians. Where is the ceiling to their ambitions?
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Greece, Kosovo, Serbia, Balkans, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The terrorist acts in the United States on 11 September 2001 have prompted an ongoing discussion of how international engagement, in all its aspects, can undermine Islamist radicalism and promote religious tolerance. New attention to Central Asia after 9/11, including a Western military presence, has also focused minds on whether the region is at serious threat from Islamist radicalism and what can be done about it. This report examines the attitudes of Central Asian Muslims to the West, based on public opinion surveys and interviews in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and offers a range of policy options for closer engagement with Islam and approaches that might reduce support for radical alternatives to present regimes.
  • Topic: Democratization, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Indonesia faces at least two and probably three national elections in 2004, including a presidential vote, but they are unlikely to bring fundamental change. Citizens are increasingly disillusioned with the half-decade of democracy and “money politics” they have experienced since the collapse of Soeharto's authoritarian New Order.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: When delegates to Afghanistan's Constitutional Loya Jirga assemble in Kabul on 13 December 2003, they will begin debating and ultimately deciding upon a draft document that is intended to establish a strong presidency while accommodating the other dominant figures at the country's centre. It is a constitution, however, that for the most part would fail to provide meaningful democratic governance, including power-sharing, a system of checks and balances, or mechanisms for increasing the representation of ethnic, regional and other minority groups. The manner in which the draft has been prepared and publicised, as well as its content, raise serious questions about whether it can become the first constitution in Afghanistan's history to command genuinely deep popular support and, therefore, contribute to national stability.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Kabul
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Albanian-majority Presevo Valley in southern Serbia is one of the few conflict resolution success stories in the former Yugoslavia. Yet tensions linger, and a series of violent incidents in August and September 2003 demonstrated that the peace can still unravel. Serbia's stalled reform process is preventing the political and economic changes that are needed to move forward on many critical issues in the area, and there is a general sense among local Albanians that peace has not delivered what it promised: an end to tensions with Serb security forces and prosperity.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Development, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Yugoslavia, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Navigating the treacherous shoals of the Iraq conflict with a steady hand, Jordan appears to have emerged unscathed from the turbulent months just past. The Hashemite Kingdom adjusted its rhetoric to fit the public mood while backing U.S. policy in Iraq and in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, managed to overcome its principal weaknesses and now faces the post-war world with renewed confidence and authority.
  • Topic: Democratization, Demographics, Development, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 08-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Prospects for an enduring peace in Afghanistan are still fragile despite progress since the ouster of the Taliban in December 2001. A key obstacle is the perception of many ethnic Pashtuns that they lack meaningful representation in the central government, particularly in its security institutions. Other factors contributing to growing alienation from the Bonn political process include continued violence against Pashtuns in parts of the north and west, heavy-handed search operations and collaboration with abusive commanders by the U.S.-led Coalition, and impediments to trade in the southern and eastern provinces. Unless measures are taken to address these grievances and ensure that a more representative government emerges from the forthcoming election, there will be a greater likelihood of the political process ending in failure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Recent developments have made the choice faced by the international community considerably clearer: develop pragmatic responses to Somaliland's demand for self-determination or continue to insist upon the increasingly abstract notion of the unity and territorial integrity of the Somali Republic - a course of action almost certain to open a new chapter in the Somali civil war.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Somalia
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Eight weeks after victoriously entering Baghdad, American forces are in a race against the clock. If they are unable to restore both personal security and public services and establish a better rapport with Iraqis before the blistering heat of summer sets in, there is a genuine risk that serious trouble will break out. That would make it difficult for genuine political reforms to take hold, and the political liberation from the Saddam Hussein dictatorship would then become for a majority of the country's citizens a true foreign occupation. With all eyes in the Middle East focused on Iraq, the coming weeks and months will be critical for shaping regional perceptions of the U.S. as well.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Afghanistan is stumbling on its way to a new constitution. The document that must express the values and aspirations of a people may lack widespread legitimacy because it has been drafted in a secretive and unaccountable manner. International efforts to promote public education and consultation have been inadequate. The Transitional Administration (TA) and the UN are now heading down a well-trodden path in Afghan history whereby a constitution is proclaimed but no one, let alone those in control of state power, has any incentive to respect it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Annual Meeting of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) commencing on 3 May 2003 is an opportunity to assess frankly and honestly the records of the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. If the chance is grasped to push for reform in a more coordinated and concerted way, the controversial decision to hold this meeting in Tashkent will prove well justified. If it is not, and any impression is left that the location of the meeting is a mark of approval for Uzbekistan's current policies, there is a major risk of further deterioration in both the economic and security climate in Central Asia.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan
  • Publication Date: 01-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's legal system has collapsed. Never strong to begin with, it has been nearly destroyed by 23 years of conflict and misrule. There are few trained lawyers, little physical infrastructure and no complete record of the country's laws. Under successive regimes, laws have been administered for mostly political ends with few protections of the rights of individuals to a fair trial. Although the country has signed up to most international agreements on human rights, abuses have been widespread, and military commanders have enjoyed impunity.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Recent state elections in Jammu and Kashmir, and the loss of power by the National Conference party that has dominated politics there since independence, have created a spark of hope that political tensions in the Kashmir Valley could de-escalate. It was a badly flawed election in 1987 that helped fuel a long running militant insurrection and general uprising, and tens of thousands have died in subsequent violence. Violence has been further amplified by historical strategic tensions between India and Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir, and Kashmiri hopes for a political voice have often unfortunately become caught up in this broader international rivalry.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regional Cooperation, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, India, Kashmir, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: ICG's first report on Kyrgyzstan, published in August 2001, highlighted the potential for crisis facing the country. International attention was then rarely focused on Central Asia but since September 2001 the region has suddenly registered on policy-makers' agendas. Nearly 2,000 U.S. and Coalition troops are now located at Manas Airport near Bishkek, as part of the forces active in Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan is playing a key strategic role in the region. Stability in this country is now of fundamental concern to the international community but, since early 2002, it has declined sharply.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan