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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