Photo: Gwenael Piaser/flickr.
Anyone looking at North Africa and the Middle East today would be forgiven for thinking that the Arab Spring has rapidly turned into a bitter winter. The revolutionary road embarked upon by a number of countries looks ever more precarious. Syria is still being torn apart by civil war, in Libya the government is struggling to impose its authority and Egypt appears to be experiencing a reversal of the democratic gains it had made as the ‘deep state’ consolidates its position. Yet, within this overwhelmingly gloomy picture, recent developments in Tunisia are cause for optimism.
Tunisia provided the spark for the Arab uprisings three years ago with the self-immolation of Mohamad Bouazizi in Tunisia’s neglected interior. As the transition got underway, hopes were high for this small North African country. Tunisia’s domestic situation seemed to augur well for the transition process. The country’s largely Arab and Muslim population was well-educated and traditionally orientated towards moderation. Indeed, promising first steps were made toward democratic transition, with free and fair elections, and the establishment of a transitional government tasked with drafting a new constitution. Economically, the country’s lack of natural resources seemed to be compensated by its vibrant tourist industry. » More
Flag of Kosovo. Source: Cradel/Wikimedia Commons.
The local elections that took place in Kosovo towards the end of 2013 were celebrated by the international community as a historic event and a turning point in the conflict over the status of the former Yugoslav province. They were also hailed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a milestone for the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo and a clear sign that the Serb-dominated north of the disputed territory was finally prepared to become part of the Kosovar political system. Alongside the encouragement of ethnic Serbs to participate in the elections, Belgrade also committed to abolish its parallel political institutions. In return, Serb majority municipalities were granted the right to create a community with autonomy in areas such as economic development, health, education, urban and rural planning. Such initiatives helped to allay fears that the Serb minority would be dominated by an overwhelming Albanian majority.
Less than perfect conditions
However, the elections were far from being smooth, especially in the northern part of Kosovo. Voter turnout in Serb dominated municipalities was low and hovered between 15% and 20% of the electorate. The first round of elections had to be repeated in three polling stations after they were stormed by masked men. In the second round, ballots were transported to Kosovo Polje for no obvious reason instead of being counted at the polling station. In all rounds, employees of Serbian state-run enterprises were practically “ordered” to the polls. Whereas these circumstances would have warranted a critical assessment elsewhere, there seemed to be no appetite to engage in a prolonged discussion about the legitimacy of the elections – as long as they produced a result that everybody could live with. » More
Opposition protests in Tbilisi. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Georgia braces for more political and economic uncertainty as it prepares for the upcoming October 27th Presidential election. This just a year after the October 2012 parliamentary elections which left the powerful Rose Revolution government of Mikheil (Misha) Saakashvili and his United National Movement (UNM, now in opposition) defeated.
The political developments during the past few years in Georgia have been a lot more turbulent and unpredictable than during the “golden years” from 2004 up until November of 2007 when police and security forces dispersed opposition protests in the capital Tbilisi using excessive force—to include reports of the police physically clashing with the media. On a broader scale this was the first important incident since the UNM came to power in 2004, displaying just how far the government had gone in order to maintain its power. » More
PCoE students at AICTE Regional Office in Mumbai. Source: Intelligentguy89/Wikimedia Commons
SINGAPORE – In August, Raghuram Rajan was appointed Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. On one level, this was a routine announcement that many had anticipated – after all, Rajan is arguably the best-known Indian economist of his generation. On another level, however, his appointment can be seen as part of a broader generational shift. Rajan, just 50, will be the first RBI governor born after India became a republic in 1950.
Similar changes are taking place in all walks of Indian life, including politics, the arts, sports, and social development. And India will be better for it. Although the country is one of the youngest in the world, with an average age of just 26 years, until recently aging stalwarts incongruously dominated most fields, from politics to the arts and even business and sports.
But now younger entrants are rising everywhere, bringing with them energy and new ideas. In politics, as the country prepares for next year’s general election, the leading contenders to replace 81-year-old Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi, 62, and Rahul Gandhi, who is just 43. Either man would be the first prime minister who was not born in the British Raj.
Jacob G. Zuma, President of South Africa at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013. Image by World Economic Forum / Flickr.
The media coverage decreased in August outside the hospital in Pretoria, where Nelson Mandela was treated until he was sent home last week for the final stage of his life. Two South African television crews sat at folding tables next to their cars, looking at their computers and chatting. The outside area was full of posters, postcards and prints, all with greetings to Mandela expressing hopes for his recovery.
South Africa is waiting.
Mandela’s career and personality is unique. And his role as a national and international icon has continued to grow since he finished his calling and left public life.
However, South Africa is unique in many respects. The country stands out from the rest of Africa. » More