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  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Madagascar is on the cusp of exiting a five-year political crisis compounded by economic disorder and international isolation. Presidential elections in late 2013 were endorsed as credible following the victory of Hery Rajaonarimampianina. The return to democracy paves the way for renewed international support. However, division entrenched by former President Marc Ravalomanana's exile has polarised the country. The coup regime of Andry Rajoelina was characterised by socio-economic malaise, rampant corruption, institutional decay and the breakdown in the rule of law. The political system, which is the primary obstacle to sustained recovery, needs much more than a cosmetic makeover; fundamental reform is necessary. The African Union, Southern African Development Community and International Support Group for Madagascar must support Rajaonarimampianina's efforts to balance political interests in a marked departure from the traditional winner-take-all approach; reform and strengthening of key democratic institutions; and reform and professionalisation of the security sector.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa, Tamil Nadu
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar has embarked on an ambitious program of sweeping reforms to end its isolation and integrate its economy with the global system. Closely entwined with its dramatic political transition, the end of longstanding Western sanctions is supporting this reconfiguration. If the reforms are done well, many across the country stand to benefit, but those who profited most from the old regime's restrictions and privileges will lose access to windfall profits and guaranteed monopolies. The crony businessmen, military and party elite will still do well but will need to play by new rules, meet domestic and foreign competition and even pay taxes. Perhaps recognising the opportunities a more vibrant economy in a fast-growing region will bring for all, there is no major pushback to these changes, rather attempts to adapt to the new economy. The challenges and risks are numerous for a government with little experience juggling the many changes required, but it cannot resist the pent-up political pressure for change it has already unleashed.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Globalization, Government, International Trade and Finance, Politics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal's peace process was to end with a new constitution. Yet, after four years of delays and disputes, the country's main political parties were unable to agree on federalism, a core demand of large constituencies. On 27 May 2012, the term of the Constituent Assembly, which also served as parliament, ended without the new constitution being completed. The parties must now decide what to do next: hold an election for a new assembly or revive the last one. This will be hard. Obduracy on federalism, bickering over a unity government, a changing political landscape and communal polarisation make for complex negotiations, amid a dangerous legislative vacuum. The parties must assess what went wrong and significantly revise the composition and design of negotiations, or risk positions hardening across the political spectrum. Talks and decision-making need to be transparent and inclusive, and leaders more accountable. The public needs much better information. None of this will necessarily mend the deep social rifts, but it would reduce space for extremists and provocateurs.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The peace process and stalled constitution writing exercise, in particular the debate about federalism, have expanded Nepal's political matrix. Identity politics is a mainstream phenomenon and new ethnic-based and regional political forces are coalescing. Actors who want a federal structure that acknowledges Nepal's many identities have allied, overcoming other political differences. The Maoist party has split. Once centrist forces have moved to the right. All parties are grappling with factional and ideological divisions. Old monarchical forces are more visible. How these political shifts will settle depends on the parties' decisions on resuming constitution writing and future electoral calculations. The Constituent Assembly has been dissolved after failing to deliver the new constitution on the 27 May deadline. The constitution was to establish federalism and address the demands of marginalised groups. Social polarisation over these issues compounds constitutional uncertainty and the legislative vacuum. The tensions around federalism and fluid political equations threaten to provoke volatile confrontations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Six mois après la nouvelle victoire électorale du Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie et Forces de défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD), le Burundi s'enfonce dans une impasse politique qui pourrait se transformer en une crise majeure susceptible de remettre en cause dix ans de progrès. En effet, au lieu de consolider la démocratie, les élections communale, parlementaire et présidentielle de 2010 ont abouti à la marginalisation de l'opposition, au p assage dans la clandestinité des Forces nationales de libération (FNL) et à l'émergence d'une nouvelle rébellion. Combinée à un système de gouvernance faible, cette évolution pourrait conduire à un recul démocratique. Seul s le rétablissement du dialogue politique entre le gouvernement et l'opposition, la sortie de la clandestinité pour les FNL et le renforcement des institutions démocratiques sont de nature à inverser cette dangereuse évolution.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Politics, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Nepal is entering a new phase in its fitful peace process, in which its so-called "logical conclusion" is in sight: the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants and the introduction of a new constitution. The Maoists, the largest party, are back in government in a coalition led by the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), UML party. Negotiations, although fraught, are on with the second-largest party, the Nepali Congress (NC), to join. Agreement is being reached on constitutional issues and discussions continue on integration. None of the actors are ramping up for serious confrontation and few want to be seen as responsible for the collapse of the constitution-writing process underway in the Constituent Assembly (CA). But success depends on parties in opposition keeping tactical threats to dissolve the CA to a minimum, the government keeping them engaged, and the parties in government stabilising their own precariously divided houses. It will also require the Maoists to take major steps to dismantle their army.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Nepal
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Already delayed six times, Côte d'Ivoire's presidential election is still some way off. Over two months after President Gbagbo dissolved the Independent Electoral Commission (Commission Électorale Indépendante, CEI) and the government, preparations are at a virtual standstill. The process of electoral identification already carries serious risks of violence. Armed groups and militias, the resurgence of xenophobic language and a challenging socio-economic situation make for an explosive environment, threatening the stability of this key West African country. Unless its politicians urgently meet the challenge of escalating tensions, accelerate electoral preparations and desist from hate speech, and unless regional, UN and other international partners establish the operational, political and security mechanisms necessary to prevent violence, the peace process could very well collapse, with dramatic consequences for the country and its neighbours. Côte d'Ivoire's civil war erupted in September 2002, when a section of the army attempted a coup d'Etat. The coup failed, but the insurgent soldiers took control of the northern part of the country. With the arrival of young intellectuals and under the leadership of former student leader Guillaume Soro, they articulated grievances that northerners were treated as second class citizens. An on-and-off war continued until the signing of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement in March 2007, which considerably calmed the situation. Since the middle of 2009, however, tensions have risen again over the electoral process and the question of Ivorian identity and nationality.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Politics, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Nations
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Cameroon's apparent stability in a turbulent region cannot be taken for granted. The co-option of elites through the distribution of state largesse, and the emigration of many educated young people provide a certain safety valve for tensions, but the failure of reform and continued poor governance mean people no longer believe in the rule of law or peaceful political change. Multiple risks of conflict exist in the build-up to presidential elections in 2011 and beyond. This background report, Crisis Group's first on Cameroon, analyses the historical roots of the current impasse.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Cameroon
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The June 2009 swearing in as prime minister of Saad Hariri, leader of the Sunni Future Current movement, marks a turning point, the end of a period of exceptional domestic political turbulence and regional tensions that began with the 2005 murder of his father, Rafic; led to institutional paralysis; and culminated with the violent May 2008 showdown between government and opposition. It also presents the new leader with a host of novel challenges. The man who took the helm of a once deeply divided Sunni community must discard much of what enabled his rise, if he is to succeed now that he is in power. With Hizbollah, the principal Shiite movement, he must move away from the sectarianism that has become Lebanon's political stock-and-trade. The Future Current should initiate the process of becoming a more genuine, institutionalised party, breaking from the clientelism that will otherwise inhibit the prime minister's transition from community leader to statesman. And Hariri must continue to navigate the difficult normalisation with Syria, over coming deep mistrust among his constituency toward Damascus.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After 28 years of the Biya presidency, Cameroon faces potential instability in the run up to the presidential elections scheduled for late 2011. Constitutional and legal uncertainty; rivalries between the regime's leading figures; the government's attempts to control the electoral process; the rupture of the political contract between leaders and the population; widespread poverty and frustration; extensive corruption; and the frustration of a large part of the army all point to the possibility of a major crisis. To escape this Biya and his government must restore the independence of the body responsible for elections; institutionalise an impartial fight against corruption and ensure the military's political neutrality. They must also urgently establish the institutions envisaged by the 1996 constitution, so that a power vacuum and the potential for violence can be avoided in the event of a transition, including an unexpected one such as the death of the 77-year-old president in office. Cameroon's most influential partners, particularly France and the U.S., should actively support such measures to avoid unrest.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Politics, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Ilham Aliyev's presidency has been marked by stabilisation of the political life of the country and economic growth driven by oil exports. This stability, however, has come with the consolidation of authoritarian rule, greater suppression of freedoms and an increased reliance by elites on corruption and patronage networks to dominate virtually all aspects of public life. With a marginalised and demoralised opposition, little independent media and rent-seeking elites who have vested interests in the preservation of his power, Ilham Aliyev has a level of control over society that his father never possessed. The international community has little leverage with which to pressure the regime, but it should do more to persuade the leadership to see that even its own self-interests lie in gradual but genuine liberalisation.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Human Rights, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Azerbaijan
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), the larger of Bosnia and Herzegovina's two entities, is in crisis. Disputes among and between Bosniak and Croat leaders and a dysfunctional administrative system have paralysed decision-making, put the entity on the verge of bankruptcy and triggered social unrest. Much focus has been on the conflict that pits the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) against the Federation, but the parallel crisis within the Federation also deserves attention. The need for overhaul of the FBiH has been ignored because of belief that state-wide constitutional reform would solve most of its problems, but any state-level reform seems far off. Bosnia's challenges all have echoes at Federation level, though in simpler form. Reform in the Federation, starting with establishment of a parliamentary commission, is achievable and could give impetus to state-level reform, while improving the livelihoods of the people in Bosnia's larger entity. If it does not happen, Bosnia, which was wracked by three and a half years of war in the 1990s, may well slide toward new political and economic ungovernability.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Politics, War
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: En mars 2009, acculé par des manifestations, ainsi que par une mutinerie de l'armée, l'ancien président Marc Ravalomanana remet le pouvoir à un directoire militaire, qui le transmet immédiatement au maire de la capitale de l'époque, Andry Rajoelina, meneur des mouvements de contestation. 1 A la tête de l'Etat depuis lors, la Haute au- torité de la transition (HAT) monopolise le pouvoir, alors qu'une opposition structurée en « mouvances » représen- tant les anciens présidents du pays réclame une gestion inclusive et consensuelle de la transition defait, ouverte par la chute de Ravalomanana et l'installation au pouvoir de la HAT. 2 Ce mode de gestion av ait fait l'objet d'accords en 2009 à Maputo et à Addis-Abeba entre les quatre chefs de mouvances, mais ceuxci ont été annulés de manière unilatérale par le président de la HAT.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Politics, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Benjamin Netanyahu is in a bind. Israel is facing arguably unprecedented pressure to halt all settlement activity, led by a new and surprisingly determined U.S. administration. But the prime minister also heads a distinctly right-wing coalition and faces intense domestic pressure from settlers and their allies. However important, what will emerge from current discussions between Washington and Jerusalem will only be step one in a long process designed to achieve a settlement freeze, settlement evacuation and a genuine peace agreement with the Palestinians. Understanding how Israel might deal with these challenges requires understanding a key yet often ignored constituency - its growing and increasingly powerful religious right.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by its chairman and prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has radically reformed Ethiopia's political system. The regime transformed the hitherto centralised state into the Federal Democratic Republic and also redefined citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds. The intent was to create a more prosperous, just and representative state for all its people. Yet, despite continued economic growth and promised democratisation, there is growing discontent with the EPRDF's ethnically defined state and rigid grip on power and fears of continued inter- ethnic conflict. The international community should take Ethiopia's governance problems much more seriously and adopt a more principled position towards the government. Without genuine multi-party democracy, the tensions and pressures in Ethiopia's polities will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilise the country and region.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Political Economy, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Why should anyone care about Fatah's fate? The 50-yearold movement, once the beating heart of Palestinian nationalism, is past its prime, its capacity to mobilise withered. Racked by internal divisions, it lost the latest and only truly competitive election in Palestinian Authority (PA) history. It promised to fight for liberation, achieve independence by negotiation and effectively manage daily lives through the PA yet achieved none of this. Those yearning for resistance can turn to Hamas or Islamic Jihad; the address for diplomacy is the PLO; governance depends on Prime Minister Fayyad in the West Bank, the Islamists in Gaza. President Abbas' threat not to run in upcoming presidential elections is the latest sign of a movement and project adrift. Yet Fatah's difficulties do not make it expendable; they make it an organisation in urgent need of redress. A strong national movement is needed whether negotiations succeed and an agreement must be promoted, or they fail and an alternative project must be devised. Fatah's August General Conference – its first in twenty years – was a first step. Now comes the hard part: to define the movement's agenda, how it plans to carry it out, and with whom.
  • Topic: Politics, Post Colonialism, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: La Côte d'Ivoire reste sur la voie de la paix un an après la désignation du chef de l'ex-rébellion des Forces nouvelles (FN) Guillaume Soro au poste de Premier ministre par son adversaire d'alors, le président Laurent Gbagbo, mais on ne peut nullement exclure un retour à la violence. Tous les efforts doivent viser à créer les conditions politiques et sécuritaires pour des élections présidentielles et législatives qui, pour la première fois depuis le début du long proc essus de paix ivoirien, paraissent envisageables en moins d'un an. La convoitise du fauteuil présidentiel, pour lequel certains acteurs semblent prêts à tout, combinée à la présence de groupes armés et à l'impunité qui a pros péré au cours des dernières années, constituent un environnement potentiellement explosif. Le président du Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, facilitateur et arbitre du processus de paix, ainsi que le Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU, doivent assumer leurs responsabilités pour préserver ce pays clé d'Afrique de l'ouest d'une grave rechute.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Cooperation, Politics
  • Political Geography: France
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Almost six years of intense security operations against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) by the administration of President Álvaro Uribe are beginning to produce tangible results. Government forces killed several important rebel field commanders in 2007 and two members of the central command in March 2008, including second-in-command Raúl Reyes, and have severely disrupted insurgent communications, prompting a loss of internal cohesion and decreasing illegal revenues. However, this progress has come at the cost of severely deteriorating relations with Ecuador and Venezuela and increased risk of political isolation after the controversial bombing raid on Reyes's camp inside Ecuador. Military gains can pay off only if combined with a political strategy that consistently pursues a swap of imprisoned insurgents for hostages in FARC captivity, reestablishes much needed working relations with neighbours along borders and strongly advances integrated rural development to consolidate security and broaden Colombia's international support.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America, Central America, Venezuela
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 29 March 2008 elections have dramatically changed Zimbabwe's political landscape. For the first time since independence in 1980, Robert Mugabe ran second in the presidential voting, and the opposition – the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – won control of parliament. The MDC went to the polls deeply divided, but Morgan Tsvangirai and his party regained their authority by winning despite an uneven playing field. Instead of allowing democracy to run its course, Mugabe has fought back by withholding the presidential results for five weeks and launching a countrywide crackdown. Zimbabwe is in constitutional limbo: it has no elected president or legally constituted cabinet, parliament has not been convened, and ZANU-PF and the MDC are challenging half the parliamentary results in court. African leaders, with support from the wider international community, must step in to stop the violence and resolve the deepening political crisis, ideally by facilitating an agreement establishing an MDC-led transitional government that avoids the need for the run-off now scheduled for 27 June.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The North Caucasus (Russian) Republic of Dagestan has avoided large-scale violence despite its proximity to Chechnya but is now suffering from escalating street warfare. Several hundred local and federal security forces, administrators, politicians, ministers and journalists have been killed since 2003. The militant Islamist organisation Shariat Jamaat is responsible for much of the violence. Some of its leaders fought in Chechnya, but its extremist propaganda is also attracting unemployed Dagestani youth. This home-grown extremism, espousing jihadi theology and employing terrorist methods, is a new phenomenon. Police efforts to end the street war have been ineffective and in some instances counter-productive. While supporting loyal local elites, Moscow can help halt the increase in violence if it implements an efficient anti-corruption policy and reintegrates youth into the economic and political system.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Civil Society, Corruption, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Moscow
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Society of Muslim Brothers' success in the November-December 2005 elections for the People's Assembly sent shockwaves through Egypt's political system. In response, the regime cracked down on the movement, harassed other potential rivals and reversed its fledging reform process. This is dangerously short-sighted. There is reason to be concerned about the Muslim Brothers' political program, and they owe the people genuine clarifications about several of its aspects. But the ruling National Democratic Party's (NDP) refusal to loosen its grip risks exacerbating tensions at a time of both political uncertainty surrounding the presidential succession and serious socio-economic unrest. Though this likely will be a prolonged, gradual process, the regime should take preliminary steps to normalise the Muslim Brothers' participation in political life.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: South Korea's electoral politics has made a turn to the right that is likely to lead to closer security ties with the U.S. and some other important adjustments in foreign policy and has already strained relations with the North. The shift toward the Grand National Party (GNP), evident in President Lee Myung-bak's victory in late 2007, was completed when it won a majority in the 18th National Assembly in the 9 April 2008 elections. Those elections were dominated by domestic concerns, especially the economy; foreign policy and inter-Korean relations were near the bottom of voters' interests. The GNP's legislative agenda will include deregulation and privatisation, intended to revitalise business. Although generally supportive of Lee on foreign policy, the new assembly may cause him problems, particularly over unpopular economic liberalisation and deregulation proposals. Opposition to these, which have already produced a major political crisis, may have an impact on wider security concerns.
  • Topic: Government, International Cooperation, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Three years after the 15 August 2005 signing of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM), Aceh is politically vibrant but on edge. The sources of unease are several. As preparations get underway for the April 2009 parliamentary elections with 44 parties – six local, 38 national – in contention, the military is worried about Partai Aceh, the GAM party, winning control of local legislatures and challenging Jakarta's authority. Partai Aceh is worried about overt or covert interference from Jakarta, and smaller parties are worried about intimidation by Partai Aceh. Election officials are concerned a dispute between Jakarta and Aceh over candidate requirements could delay the polls, and other struggles with the central government are brewing. Everyone is worried about the health of Governor Irwandi Yusuf, a GAM leader with unparalleled ability to manage competing demands in post-conflict Aceh, who suffered a sudden illness – officially undisclosed but widely reported as a slight stroke – in August.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: A handful of members and persons close to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Indonesia's most prominent extremist organisation, have developed a profitable publishing consortium in and around the pesantren (religious school) founded by Abu Bakar Ba'asyir and Abdullah Sungkar in Solo, Central Java. The consortium has become an important vehicle for the dissemination of jihadi thought, getting cheap and attractively printed books into mosques, bookstores and discussion groups. The publishing venture demonstrates JI's resilience and the extent to which radical ideology has developed roots in Indonesia. The Indonesian government should monitor these enterprises more closely, but they may be playing a useful role by channelling JI energies into waging jihad through the printed page rather than acts of violence.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Indonesia
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Pakistan's return to civilian government after eight years of military rule and the sidelining of the military's religious allies in the February 2008 elections offer an opportunity to restore the rule of law and to review and repeal discriminatory religious laws that restrict fundamental rights, fuel extremism and destabilise the country. Judicial reforms would remove the legal cover under which extremists target their rivals and exploit a culture of violence and impunity. Ensuring judicial independence would also strengthen the transition to democracy at a time when it is being undermined by worsening violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 19 December 2007, South Koreans elected Lee Myung-bak as their president. Barring sensational developments in a scandal investigation that still dogs him, Lee, the candidate of the conservative Grand National Party (GNP or “Hannaradang”) will be inaugurated on 25 February 2008 to replace Roh Moo-hyun, who is limited by the constitution to a single five-year term. A former top executive of the Hyundai conglomerate, he has pledged to be an “economic president who will revive the economy with his practical business experience”. Although he has ideological differences with his liberal predecessor, he is unlikely to make dramatic changes in foreign or security policy.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea
  • 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: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Hamas's takeover of Gaza and President Abbas's dismissal of the national unity government and appointment of one led by Salam Fayyad amount to a watershed in the Palestinian national movement's history. Some paint a positive picture, seeing the new government as one with which Israel can make peace. They hope that, with progress in the West Bank, stagnation in Gaza and growing pressure from ordinary Palestinians, a discredited Hamas will be forced out or forced to surrender. They are mistaken. The Ramallah-based government is adopting overdue decisions to reorganise security forces and control armed militants; Israel has reciprocated in some ways; and Hamas is struggling with its victory. But as long as the Palestinian schism endures, progress is on shaky ground. Security and a credible peace process depend on minimal intra-Palestinian consensus. Isolating Hamas strengthens its more radical wing and more radical Palestinian forces. The appointment of Tony Blair as new Quartet Special Envoy, the scheduled international meeting and reported Israeli-Palestinian talks on political issues are reasons for limited optimism. But a new Fatah-Hamas power-sharing arrangement is a prerequisite for a sustainable peace. If and when it happens the rest of the world must do what it should have before: accept it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gaza
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Ecuador has been Latin America's most unstable democracy for a decade. Starting with the ousting of President Abdalá Bucaram by Congress and street protests in 1997, weak, temporary governments have been the rule. In 2000, Jamil Mahuad was toppled by a civilian-military coup, and in 2005, protests brought down Lucio Gutiérrez, who had helped oust Mahuad. The government of Rafael Correa of the Alianza País(AP) movement, who took office in January and enjoys record-high approval ratings, is applying "shock therapy" to overwhelm the discredited opposition and pave the way for a constituent assembly (CA) intended to produce "profound, radical and fast change". This triggered one of the sharpest clashes between branches of government since the return to democracy in 1979, including the Electoral Court's firing of 57 opposition members of Congress in March, accompanied by street violence. To restore stability to the troubled country, Correa will need to pay more attention to upholding the rule of law, ensuring a level CA playing field and building consensus for fundamental reforms.
  • Topic: Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: South America
  • 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: 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: When local elections were held in Aceh on 11 December 2006, conventional wisdom (shared by Crisis Group) was that candidates from the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) would not do well. They might pick up two or three of the nineteen district races, but the biggest prize – the provincial governorship – was almost certainly out of reach. The old Jakarta-linked parties would benefit from deep pockets, established structures and a split in the former insurgency's leadership. Polls just before formal campaigning began showed GAM's governor/deputy governor slate – Irwandi Yusuf and Muhammad Nazar – virtually out of contention. But GAM won overwhelmingly, in what an analyst called “a perfect storm between the fallout from the peace accord and the failure of political parties to understand the changing times”. The challenge now is to govern effectively and cleanly in the face of high expectations, possible old elite obstructionism and some GAM members' sense of entitlement that it is their turn for power and wealth.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After years of political deadlock and continued economic and humanitarian decline, a realistic chance has at last begun to appear in the past few months to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, by retirement of President Robert Mugabe, a power-sharing transitional government, a new constitution and elections. Both factions of the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition and powerful elements of the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party support the concept in outline. Although many of his party's leaders are pressing him to retire in twelve months, when his term expires, Mugabe seeks to extend his tenure to 2010 by a constitutional amendment to harmonise presidential and legislative elections in that year. Increased pressure and intervention including from the regional organisation, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the West, in the run-up to the mid-year parliamentary session, could lead to a new political order, but concessions to ZANU-PF should only be made in exchange for true restoration of democracy.
  • Topic: Development, Humanitarian Aid, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: With the formation of an interim legislature incorporating mainstream parties and Maoists, Nepal's peace process hinges on writing a constitution that permanently ends the conflict, addresses the widespread grievances that fuelled it and guards against the eruption of new violence. Most political actors have accepted the Maoist demand for a constituent assembly (CA) tasked with framing a new dispensation, although royalists are worried over the future of the monarchy, which has in effect been suspended. The major challenge is to maintain leadership-level consensus while building a broad-based and inclusive process that limits room for spoilers and ensures long-term popular legitimacy. Recent unrest in the Tarai plains illustrates the dangers of ignoring popular discontent. Key political actors need to prepare more seriously for the CA. Led by the newly established United Nations mission in Nepal (UNMIN), the international community should pressure all sides to abide by their stated commitments and global norms and provide technical assistance to the electoral process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal, United Nations
  • 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: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Alvaro Uribe was overwhelmingly reelected in May 2006, two months after parties supporting him won large majorities in the Congress. The armed forces are stronger than they have ever been, and U.S. aid appears relatively secure. As he begins his second four-year term, Uribe seems to be in a stronger position to tackle Colombia's long-standing problems: drug trafficking, the internal conflict, continued lack of security and poverty in rural areas, corruption, and social inequality. But appearances may be deceiving. His governing coalition is fractious, his popularity vulnerable to what a still powerful insurgency chooses to do. He has yet to define a comprehensive second-term strategy for peace and development that addresses these issues and puts a priority on bringing rural Colombia into the political, economic and social mainstream.
  • Topic: Economics, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Colombia, South America
  • 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: 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: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Throughout years of uprising and Israeli military actions, siege of West Bank cities and President Arafat's de facto house arrest, it was hard to imagine the situation getting worse for Palestinians. It has. On all fronts – Palestinian/Palestinian, Palestinian/Israeli and Palestinian/ international – prevailing dynamics are leading to a dangerous breakdown. Subjected to the cumulative effects of a military occupation in its 40th year and now what is effectively an international sanctions regime, the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) government cannot pay salaries or deliver basic services. Diplomacy is frozen, with scant prospect of thaw – and none at all of breakthrough. And Hamas's electoral victory and the reactions it provoked among Fatah loyalists have intensified chaos and brought the nation near civil war. There is an urgent need for all relevant players to pragmatically reassess their positions, with the immediate objectives of: avoiding inter-Palestinian violence and the PA's collapse; encouraging Hamas to adopt more pragmatic policies rather than merely punishing it for not doing so; achieving a mutual and sustained Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire to prevent a resumption of full-scale hostilities; and preventing activity that jeopardises the possibility of a two-state solution.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • 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: 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: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The African Union's (AU) intervention in Sudan's Darfur region tests the effectiveness of its own peace and security structures and those of the European Union (EU). The AU has taken the lead both in the political negotiations between the government and the rebels and in deploying a peace-monitoring mission, the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS). It has had to rely on outside support for AMIS, with nearly two thirds of its funding coming from the EU's African Peace Facility. The results are mixed. If Darfur is to have stability anytime soon, and the two organisations are to fulfil their ambitions to be major players in crisis prevention and crisis resolution, AMIS must get more troops and a more proactive, civilian-protection mandate, and the EU needs to find ways to go beyond the present limitations of the African Peace Facility in providing assistance.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Sudan
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although the dangers are evident, the international community continues to support General Pervez Musharraf because of his perceived cooperation in the war on terror, ignoring unconstitutional constraints on the civilian opposition. However, the military's refusal to cede real power to civilians and its marginalisation of moderate parties has boosted religious extremists. Instability is worsening, and sectarian conflict threatens to spin out of control. Lacking robust international support for a democratic transition, mainstream parties struggle to survive, subjected to coercion and violence. They can be the most effective safeguard against the religious lobby's manifestly anti-Western agenda, but only if allowed to function freely in a democratic environment. They need outside help but must also get more serious about reforming themselves.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After drifting toward crisis for much of 2004, the outlook for stability across the Taiwan Strait has improved. Constraints on Taiwan pursuing pro-independence initiatives that risk conflict with China will likely remain strong through to the end of President Chen Shui-bian's term of office in 2008. These include a reinvigorated political opposition and Chinese initiatives that have won some poplar support in Taiwan and weakened the drive for independence. Most importantly, the U.S. appears determined to deter not only a Chinese attack but also provocative Taiwan independence moves.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Álvaro Uribe's quest for re-election in 2006 by amending the constitution so a sitting president can run is a risky endeavour that could weaken democratic institutions. In the face of unabated armed conflict with two insurgent groups, pending demobilisation of thousands of paramilitary fighters, and a flourishing narcotics industry, Colombia must sustain its military and police defences beyond the forthcoming election. However, it must also consolidate the rule of law by ending impunity and make strong headway in rural development and in protecting especially vulnerable groups in order to engage the insurgents on political grounds.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America
  • Author: Bjørn Møller
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The report analysis the UN's role in the provision of four different forms of security – national, societal, human and environmental security – both in general terms and with regard to Africa. It also contacins brief surveys of the UN's collaboration with regional and subregional organisations and of envisaged UN reforms.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Oil-rich Azerbaijan, which borders Iran, Turkey and Russia and is still scarred from its defeat by Armenia ten years ago, gives cause for both hope and concern. The October 2003 election of Ilham Aliyev to the presidency that his late-father, Heydar, had held almost from independence, highlighted the stark choices which now face the country. Its government is a carefully designed autocratic system, which the father and former Soviet-era politburo member began to construct in the late 1960 s, with heavy reliance on family and clan members, oil revenues and patronage.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Eastern Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • 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: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: For much of its history, Israel has focused on the neighbouring Arab states and Palestinians living in the occupied territories. Too often overlooked has been the status of those Israeli citizens who are Arab. They have attracted national attention only at times of heightened crisis, and even then in a highly reactive fashion. Unless systemic inequities facing Arab Israelis are addressed and an inclusive process is launched to define the state's long-term attitude towards this segment of its citizenry, prospects for internal strife and instability will remain high.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Israel, Arabia