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201020112012
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4 Nov 2010 - 17 Sep 2011
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Month: November, 2010
Egypt: “Full-Blown, Unabashed Dictatorship”
November 30th, 2010 by Jason
Jack Shenker writes that early results from the Egyptian elections “suggest that the ruling National Democratic party (NDP) has captured 96% of the seats, while the 88 opposition members from the Muslim Brotherhood, could be erased to zero.” Shenker interviewed Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution for the article: “‘We knew it was going to be bad, but I don’t think anyone realised it was going to be this bad,’” Hamid said. “‘Egypt has joined the ranks of the world’s most autocratic countries. Now we’re talking full-blown, unabashed dictatorship.’”
Maggie Michael, reporting for the Associated Press, covers the reactions of Egyptian opposition groups to the election. The Wafd Party released a statement saying “‘The ruling party’s undemocratic practices … raped its legitimacy with its assault on the law and the constitution,’” while Mohammed Badie of the Muslim Brotherhood called the elections “‘invalid.’”
Posted in Egypt, Elections, Muslim Brotherhood, Political Parties | Comment »
Egypt: EU Parliament Urges Reform Ahead of Presidential Election
November 30th, 2010 by Evan
Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, called on Egyptian authorities to “relax the conditions for political participation,” and allow “dissenting voices” in the press to be heard.  “A democratic Egypt is in the interests first and foremost of its citizens. For the EU a democratic Egypt is as important as a stable Egypt,” Buzek said, adding “if one claims that the time is not ripe for democracy, people might start thinking that the right time shall never arrive.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Iran: Ahmadinejad Profiled, Tensions Between Conservative Factions
November 30th, 2010 by Jason
Frontline’s Tehran Bureau has published two articles profiling President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad​’s political history. The first article focuses on Ahmadinejad’s use of populism to set himself apart from the clergy, and his sometimes messianic self image. The second article explores the tensions between a more secular nationalism, often associated with Ali Shariati, and the “​Velaayat-e Faghih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist),” associated with Supreme Leader Khomeini and the Islamic revolution. The second article concludes by looking at various scenarios for the presidential election in 2013, including a “Putin-Medvedev Shuffle,” necessary because Ahmadinejad is constitutionally prohibited from running for a third consecutive term. Rahim Mashaei, a close aide to Ahmadinejad, is named as a possible successor.
Amir Taheri, writing in the Wall Street Journal, also chronicles the growing tensions in Iran between the several conservative camps, which has garnered recent attention due to a threat by some legislators to impeach Ahmadinejad. “Behind all this is the struggle for power between the mullahs and the rising generation of the military and their technocratic allies. […] Whatever the outcome, we are sure to witness a long and bitter fight within the ruling establishment. Because neither Ahmadinejad nor his rivals within the regime have anything positive to offer Iranians, both have to maintain the country’s state of permanent crisis.”
Posted in Iran, Islam and Democracy, Political Islam | Comment »
Egypt: White House Says Egyptian Election Fell Short
November 30th, 2010 by Evan
The White House released a statement Tuesday expressing “disappointment” with the process of Egypt’s recent parliamentary election. National Security Council Spokesman Mike Hammer said that “numerous reported irregularities at the polls, the lack of international monitors and the many problems encountered by domestic monitors, and the restrictions on the basic freedoms of association, speech and press in the run-up to the elections are worrying.” Hammer also reiterated that the U.S. is committed to work with both the Egyptian government and civil society organizations to help the country achieve its “political, social, and economic aspirations.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: U.S. “Dismayed” by Egyptian Election
November 30th, 2010 by Evan
On Monday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement criticizing Egypt’s parliamentary election. Widespread irregularities “call into question the fairness and transparency of the process,” State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said, citing “election-day interference and intimidation by security forces” and crackdowns on opposition parties and independent media prior to the vote. “Egyptians will only have full confidence in their elections when the government is able to address existing flaws, and ensure full and transparent access by independent civil society monitors and candidate representatives to all phases of the electoral process.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: NDP Looking Toward Presidential Election
November 29th, 2010 by Evan
The Economist writes that the Egyptian government’s administration of the parliamentary election was, as expected, clearly flawed. Moreover, the regime made little attempt to hide the rigging of the election. “The government was undeterred by images of such things as thugs intimidating voters with clubs and machetes, and election officials patiently filling in piles of blank ballots,” the author writes. The government’s willingness to blatantly rig the election is indicative of the importance the ruling party places on control of the parliament during the upcoming presidential transition: “Egypt’s rulers believe the country is at a crucial juncture. Mr Mubarak, now 82, must soon decide whether to run for a sixth six-year presidential term next September, or cede power to a new pharaoh. For the smoothest possible transition, he needs the tamest possible parliament.”
Posted in Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: Reactions to Egypt’s Elections
November 29th, 2010 by Jason
Steven A. Cook writes that “the overwhelming victory of the ruling National Democratic Party only reinforces the prevailing non-democratic status quo. At the same time, the conduct of the elections […] indicates the manifest weakness of the Egyptian state.” Cook goes on to say that thirty years of rule by Hosni Mubarak has been “marked” by an “almost total lack of a compelling vision or a set of ideological principles.” Tariq Alhomayed asksDid election day honor Egypt, or humiliate it?” After noting the failures of democracy elsewhere in the Arab world Alhomayed says, “[n]ations are not honored by democracy, but by production, stability, and the preservation of human dignity.” Jamal Elshayyal relates the events of election night in Mahalla, where protesters were beaten when they gathered outside a stadium where votes were being counted, and says that “[w]hat makes these elections unique, is their rejection, en masse, of the status quo, and their collective chants for reform and change - regardless of which opposition party or candidate they support.”
Posted in Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: Nazra Releases Report on Female Participation
November 29th, 2010 by Jason
The Nazra Association for Feminist Studies, a member of the Independent Coalition for Election Observation, has released a report titled “The Gender Perspective in the 2010 Parliamentary Elections.” The report’s findings include “Female candidates, particularly those of the NDP, are guilty of the same violations (violence, fraudulent ballot cards) as male candidates,” and “The majority of women supported male candidates. The majority of those who supported female candidates were Muslim Brotherhood members.”
Posted in Civil Society, Egypt, Elections, Women | Comment »
Egypt: HRW Criticizes Electoral Process
November 29th, 2010 by Evan
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that “numerous irregularities”  and “widespread allegations of voter fraud” plagued Egypt’s parliamentary election Sunday. Based on interviews conducted at polling places across the country, Joe Stork,  HRW’s Middle East Division Deputy Director, concluded that “the repeated exclusion of opposition representatives and independent monitors from polling stations, along with reports of violence and fraud suggest that citizens were not able to partake in free elections.”
Posted in Egypt, Elections, Human Rights | Comment »
Kuwait: Amnesty Urges Release of Kuwaiti Journalist
November 29th, 2010 by Evan
Amnesty International issued a statement calling on Kuwaiti authorities to release Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qader al-Jasem, the Kuwaiti lawyer and journalist who was sentenced to one year in prison last week for a writing a blog post criticizing Prime Minister Shaikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah. Amnesty’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Philip Luther said “Amnesty International believes that Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qader al-Jasem has been convicted and sentenced solely for non-violently exercising his right to freedom of expression and is therefore a prisoner of conscience. […] The authorities should release him immediately and unconditionally and, more broadly, cease their apparent attempts to stop him from airing his views on the government and Kuwait’s ruling family.” Al-Jasem was formally the editor-in-chief of Al-Watan Daily, a Kuwaiti newspaper, and editor-in-chief of Newsweek​’s and Foreign Policy’s Arabic editions.
Posted in Journalism, Kuwait | Comment »
Egypt: MB Leader Calls for U.S. Support
November 29th, 2010 by Evan
Newsweek’s Babak Dehghanpisheh recently interviewed Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Badie. Over the course of the conversation, Badie explained the logic behind the Brotherhood’s decision to participate in the elections, shared his thoughts on the government crackdown before the election, and rejected assertions that the organization’s goal is to establish an Islamic state in Egypt. On the U.S. role in Egypt Badie said, “American administrations keep supporting regimes that are undemocratic. This is what gains them the hatred of the people in the street—even though their interests lie with the people. The governments will come and go, but it’s the people who stay. The Statue of Liberty can’t be divided into different parts. You can’t defend the freedom of one people in one place and not of another people in another place.”
Posted in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Political Islam, Political Parties | Comment »
Egypt: “Counting in the Absence of Observers”
November 29th, 2010 by Jason
The Egyptian Association for Democratic Development (EASD) has released a statement following yesterday’s elections in Egypt: “Although the Egyptian Association for Supporting Democratic Development (EASD) has abided by the regulations set by HEC, its observers were denied access to and expelled from polling stations.What happened in the counting centers was more serious, as the majority of EASD observers were denied access to counting centers altogether.” Numerous examples of observers being denied access to polling stations, vote tampering, and intimidation are detailed in the statement.
Posted in Civil Society, Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: Preliminary Election Results Indicate Significant Gains for NDP
November 29th, 2010 by Evan
Al Masry Al Youm reports that the preliminary results of Egypt’s parliamentary election indicate a “sweeping victory” by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ezzat told the paper that Brotherhood candidates did not win any parliamentary seats during the first round of voting but 15 moved on to the run-off elections, which will take place Sunday. Wafd’s Margeritte Azer claimed victory in nine districts and said that 12 party candidates will stand in the second round of voting. Also, all nine of the NDP ministers running in the election won their districts handily.
Posted in Egypt, Elections, Political Parties | Comment »
Egypt: Government Praises the Elections
November 28th, 2010 by Evan
In contrast to reports from independent media and civil society organizations, the Egyptian government hailed the elections as “a success” and praised the “high level of transparency” in a statement Sunday. While acknowledging limited violence and fraud, the Minister of Information Anas El-Fekky said that the police and poll staff acted “quickly” and “decisively” to resolve the issues: “the HEC has received reports of serious breaches of the electoral law in a number of districts, and responded decisively by invalidating a number of ballot boxes in those districts. There were also a number of cases where civil society observers and media were unreasonably denied access to polling stations. However, the HEC was able to intervene to allow NGOs and media to observe and cover the balloting process. ”
Posted in Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: Fraud, Intimidation Widespread
November 28th, 2010 by Jason
The Independent Coalition for Election Observation has released its third report on the events of today’s elections in Egypt. The report contains accounts of incidents ranging from forgery to voter intimidation. Babylon and Beyond provides two videos, one showing electoral fraud and the other voter intimidation, to help illustrate the situation. According to the article, “heavy restrictions imposed on both print and broadcast media during Sunday’s elections, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians resorted to both following and pointing out violations via websites.”
Posted in Civil Society, Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: EASD Closing Statement, Elections an “Ominous Portent” for Presidential Contest
November 28th, 2010 by Jason
The Egyptian Association for Democratic Development (EASD) has released its fifth statement on the parliamentary elections in Egypt. The statement focuses on the early closing of polling stations, which by law are mandated to remain open until 7 pm local time. Abigail Hauslohner​, writing for Time, describes the scene: “Voters and independent monitors complained of police intimidation, 
ballot stuffing, and bribery. Independent monitors wielding government 
accreditation said police barred them from entering the polling stations. 
Trucks of riot police stood ready in opposition strongholds. And 
plainclothes police and representatives of local ruling party 
candidates restricted the voters who could come inside.” One voter said of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), “Whether we like 
it or not, NDP is totally in control.”
Posted in Civil Society, Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: EASD Statement, FP “Postmortem”
November 28th, 2010 by Jason
The Egyptian Association for Supporting Democratic Development (EASD) has released a statement on the violence that occurred during today’s elections in Egypt. “‘Violence’ was the theme of the first hours of the parliamentary elections for all candidates whether they represent the NDP, opposition parties, MB, or are independents. For candidates, as well as those responsible for running the elections, it was a competition to commit violations.” Also, Max Strasser has a “​postmortem​” on the elections at Foreign Policy. His conclusion: “Today’s events show that the regime is willing to use violence or outright fraud to maintain power. That’s a lesson both Hosni Mubarak and his opponents will keep in mind next year.”
Posted in Civil Society, Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: EASD Report, Government Denies Deaths
November 28th, 2010 by Jason
The Egyptian Association for Supporting Democratic Development (EASD) has released their fourth statement on the parliamentary elections. The statement describes many incidents of ballot stuffing, group voting, and vote buying witnessed by EASD monitors. The Egyptian government has also denied that eight people have been killed in election related violence, saying that “no one died in connection with the elections,” according to a report in The Daily News Egypt. The report also states that “Port Said witnessed 100 arrests […] An overwhelming majority of those detained were allegedly supporters of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated independent candidate Akram Al-Shaer.”
Posted in Civil Society, Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: More Election Day Reports From Egypt
November 28th, 2010 by Jason
The Egyptian Association for Supporting Democratic Development (EASD) has released it’s third election day statement (pdf) detailing incidents of violence and ballot stuffing. The Independent Coalition for Election Observation has also released a new report, its second of the day, tracking electoral violations and inconsistencies throughout many of Egypt’s voting districts.
Posted in Civil Society, Egypt, Elections | Comment »
Egypt: Wafd Faces Government Oppression, Gains Coptic Pope’s Vote
November 28th, 2010 by Evan
The Wafd Party has issued a statement criticizing “flagrant violations” against its candidates according to Al Masry Al Youm. Violence,  polling place closures, and blatant fraud—all carried out with the assistance of the state security services—played a significant role in Wafd’s electoral losses according to party leaders. Margeret Azer, head of Wafd’s election supervision committee, told Daily News Egypt “The elections are going really bad; candidates were forced out of most voting stations and fraud in favor of NDP is prevalent.” Meanwhile in a remarkable shift, Coptic Pope Shenouda III voted for a Wafd candidate following increased Muslim-Christian tensions in recent weeks. The Coptic church has traditionally supported the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).
Posted in Egypt, Elections, Political Parties | Comment »
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