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  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The presidential and legislative polls scheduled for 2016 are a potential watershed for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); th ey could be the first elections held with- out an incumbent protecting his position. The prospect of these elections is testing nerves on all sides of the Congolese political spectrum and has already caused deadly violence. There is an urgent need for President Joseph Kabila to commit to the two- term limit contained within the constitution and ready himself to leave power. Consensus is also needed on key electoral decisions, in particular regarding the calendar and the voter roll. This will require high-level donor and international engagement. Absent agreement and clarity on the election process, or should there be significant delays, international partners should review their support to the government. The fragmented governing majority is running out of options to avoid the 2016 deadline. The government's attempts to amen d both the constitution to allow Joseph Kabila to run for a third term and election laws face strong, including internal, opposition, as was evident in the January 2015 mini political crisis over proposed changes to the electoral law. This mini-crisis, which triggered deadly violence and repression against pro-democracy activists, gave a first hint of what could be in store for 2016. In this tense domestic context, engagement by international actors is met with an increasing insistence on national sovereignty that affects in particular the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). Local and provincial polls planned for 2015, despite a technically insufficient and non-consensual voter list, could undermine credible national elections in 2016. In addition to an overly ambitious and costly electoral calendar, the government is hastily pushing through an under-resourced and ill- prepared decentralisation process, including the division of eleven provinces into 26 as provided for in the 2006 constitution. It aims to finalise in six months what was not achieved during nine years. Trying to pursue decentralisation while implementing the electoral calendar could aggravate local tensions, trigger security troubles ahead of next year's polls and make the country highly unstable. For the government, buying time by capitalising on potential delays seems to be the highest attainable objective it can presently agree on. The disjointed opposition is incapable of forming a united front, but there is a broad agreement to oppose any political manoeuvring to extend President Kabila's rule beyond 2016. In addition to President Kabila's ambiguous signals about whether he will respect his two-term limit, problems experienced during the 2011 elections remain; they include a lack of confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) and a disputed voter list. The democratisation process launched a decade ago is reaching its moment of truth, as the excessive hopes raised by the 2006 elections have not materialised. These were the first, and so far only, reasonably free and fair democratic polls to take place since the country's independence. In their wake, reform of the nature of politics and government in DRC has been limited. However, at this stage, delaying the 2016 presidential and legislative elections would be equivalent to an unconstitutional extension of the regime. The January 2015 violence in Kinshasa was a clear demonstration of the Congolese population's aspirations for political change. If the electoral process is not allowed to move forward unhindered, international actors, with a large UN mission in place, risk supporting a regime with even less legitimacy than is currently the case. All efforts have to focus on creating conditions for credible polls in 2016. To that end, Congolese political actors and the CENI should revise the electoral calendar and delay local elections until decentralisation has been fine-tuned, and provincial polls should be organised to closely coincide or be combined with the national elections. A serious conflict prevention and dispute resolution strategy is required, in particular at the local level. Such efforts cannot be only with the electoral horizon in mind. Successful elections do not equal democracy and good governance; the transformation of the Congolese political system has a long way to go and requires a change in governance practices that will be the work of many years.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Kyrgyzstan's government has failed to calm ethnic tensions in the south, which continue to grow since the 2010 violence, largely because of the state's neglect and southern leaders' anti-Uzbek policies. Osh, the country's second city, where more than 420 people died in ethnic clashes in June of that year, remains dominated by its powerful mayor, an ardent Kyrgyz nationalist who has made it clear that he pays little attention to leaders in the capital. While a superficial quiet has settled on the city, neither the Kyrgyz nor Uzbek community feels it can hold. Uzbeks are subject to illegal detentions and abuse by security forces and have been forced out of public life. The government needs to act to reverse these worsening trends, while donors should insist on improvements in the treatment of the Uzbek minority.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Ethnic Conflict, Government, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Dans un contexte arabe marqué par des transitions bâclées ou sanglantes, la Tunisie fait encore figure d'exception. Depuis le 14 janvier 2011, ce n'est pas seulement la tête de l'ancien régime, symbolisé par l'ancien président Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, qui est tombée. C'est tout un système qui se trouve bouleversé, principalement dans le cadre d'un consensus relativement large. Mais les défis qui pourraient menacer ces progrès existent. Parmi ceux-ci, deux en particulier sont étroitement liés : restaurer la sécurité et mener une véritable lutte contre l'impunité. Pour le nouveau gouvernement d'union, dénommé Troïka et emmené par le mouvement islamiste An-Nahda, la clé demeure dans un dialogue large, permettant de réformer les forces de sécurité sans trop les provoquer, rendre justice aux victimes de la dictature sans céder à la chasse aux sorcières, et garantir une justice efficace tout en tenant compte des limites du système judiciaire en place.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Development, Government, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa
  • 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: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After decades of failed negotiations and attempts to defeat the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) militarily, a political solution to the Western Hemisphere's oldest conflict may be in sight. Following a year of secret contacts, formal peace talks with FARC are to open in Oslo in October 2012 and continue in Havana. They may be extended to the ELN. There seems a firmer willingness to reach an agreement, as the government realises military means alone cannot end the conflict and FARC appears to recognise that the armed struggle permits survival but little else. With no ceasefire in place, both sides must act with restraint on the battlefield to generate immediate humanitarian improvements. And they will need to balance the requirements of fast, discreet negotiations and those of representativeness and inclusion. The government and the guerrillas have the historic responsibility to strike a deal, but only strong social and political ownership of that deal can guarantee that it leads to the lasting peace that has been elusive for so long.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Government, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Armed Struggle, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Anti-vice raids and actions against non-Muslim minorities are becoming a path to more violent jihadism in Indonesia. The 2011 suicide bombings of a police mosque in Cirebon, West Java and an evangelical church in Solo, Central Java were carried out by men who moved from using sticks and stones in the name of upholding morality and curbing “deviance” to using bombs and guns. They show how ideological and tactical lines within the radical community have blurred, meaning that counter-terrorism programs that operate on the assumption that “terrorists” are a clearly definable group distinguishable from hardline activists and religious vigilantes are bound to fail. They also mean that the government must develop a strategy, consistent with democratic values, for countering clerics who use no violence themselves but preach that it is permissible to shed the blood of infidels (kafir) or oppressors (thaghut), meaning government officials and particularly the police.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Indonesia
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although the mayhem following the disputed December 2007 elections seemed an exception, violence has been a com­mon feature of Kenya's politics since the introduction of a multiparty system in 1991. Yet, the number of people killed and displaced following that disputed vote was unprecedented. To provide justice to the victims, combat pervasive political impunity and deter future violence, the International Criminal Court (ICC) brought two cases against six suspects who allegedly bore the greatest responsibility for the post-election violence. These cases have enormous political consequences for both the 2012 elections and the country's stability. During the course of the year, rulings and procedures will inevitably either lower or increase com­munal tensions. If the ICC process is to contribute to the deterrence of future political violence in Kenya, the court and its friends must explain its work and limitations better to the public. Furthermore, Kenya's government must complement that ICC process with a national process aimed at countering impunity and punishing ethnic hate speech and violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Quietly but steadily Central Asia's basic human and physical infrastructure – the roads, power plants, hospitals and schools and the last generation of Soviet-trained specialists who have kept this all running – is disappearing. The equipment is wearing out, the personnel retiring or dying. Post-independence regimes made little effort to maintain or replace either, and funds allocated for this purpose have largely been eaten up by corruption. This collapse has already sparked protests and contributed to the overthrow of a government.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government, Fragile/Failed State, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has squandered the goodwill and support it received and achieved little of significance in the two years it has been in office. It is inept, increasingly corrupt and hobbled by President Sharif's weak leadership. So far, every effort to make the administration modestly functional has come unstuck. The new leaner cabinet looks impressive on paper but, given divisive politics and the short timeframe, is unlikely to deliver significant progress on key transitional objectives, such as stabilising Somalia and delivering a permanent constitution before August 2011, when the TFG's official mandate ends. Although the Transitional Federal Parliament unilaterally has awarded itself a further three-year-extension, urgent attention needs to be given to the government's structural flaws that stymie peacebuilding in central and south Somalia. If the TFG does not make serious progress on correcting its deficiencies by August, the international community should concentrate its support on the more effective local entities, until a more appropriate and effective national government is negotiated.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Electoral rigging has hampered Pakistan's democratic development, eroded political stability and contributed to the breakdown of the rule of law. Facing domestic pressure for democracy, successive military governments rigged national, provincial and local polls to ensure regime survival. These elections yielded unrepresentative parliaments that have rubber-stamped extensive constitutional and political reforms to centralise power with the military and to empower its civilian allies. Undemocratic rule has also suppressed other civilian institutions, including the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which is responsible for holding elections to the national and four provincial assemblies, and local governments. With the next general election in 2013 – if the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government completes its full five-year term – the ruling party and its parliamentary opposition, as well as the international community, should focus on ensuring a transparent, orderly political transition through free, fair and transparent elections.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: It is time to close international supervision of Bosnia's Brčko District. Once seen as a model of post-war reconciliation and good government, it is drowning in corruption and mismanagement that flourished despite its supervisors' best efforts. The territory is vital to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)'s stability: it links the two halves of both Republika Srpska (RS) and the BiH Federation (FBiH), and belongs technically to both entities but is independently governed and multi-ethnic. Many of its former leaders are under suspicion in a corruption probe that may have only scratched the surface; several high profile development projects are collapsing in bankruptcy and litigation. RS has a strong influence on the district but is not threatening to undermine its status. Nevertheless, the international community should ensure that Serb leaders of that entity are left in no doubt that any move to take Brčko over would meet a strong reaction. Stability is now dependent on whether local politicians, law enforcement and the judiciary can take responsibility. International supervision is no longer helping, and a new strategy is needed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: En dépit d\'une nette amélioration, la situation de la Côte d\'Ivoire reste fragile. Le transfèrement à La Haye de l\'ancien président Laurent Gbagbo inculpé par la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), douze jours seulement avant les élections législatives du 11 décembre 2011, a alourdi l\'atmosphère politique. Au lendemain de ces élections marquées par une très forte abstention, le pays est toujours exposé à de sérieuses menaces. La faiblesse et le déséquilibre de l\'appareil de sécurité et l\'exercice d\'une justice à deux vitesses confortent les extrémistes dans leurs convictions et constituent les deux principaux défis que le pouvoir doit relever dans les prochains mois. Si le vote s\'est déroulé dans le calme, la campagne qui l\'a précédé a été marquée par des incidents qui ont rappelé que la violence politique est toujours d\'actualité. L\'installation d\'une nouvelle Assemblée marque une nouvelle étape dans la normalisation, mais le pays n\'est pas pour autant sorti de l\'ornière.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Corruption, Government, Law
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: More than two years after declaring independence, Kosovo struggles with uneven rule of law and a weak justice system that is failing its citizens. The police, public prosecutors and courts are erratic performers, prone to political interference and abuse of office. Organised crime and corruption are widespread and growing. Realising that prosperity, relations with the European Union (EU) and affirmation as an independent state depend on the rule of law, the government has taken important steps, replacing key officials and passing long-delayed reforms. But critical weaknesses remain, notably in the courts, and the government, supported by the international community, must act swiftly to curtail them.
  • Topic: Government, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Kosovo, Balkans
  • 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: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar will shortly hold its first elections in twenty years. Given the restrictive provisions of the 2010 Political Parties Registration Law that bar anyone serving a prison term from membership in a political party, many imprisoned dissidents will be excluded from the process, unless they are released in the near future. Aung San Suu Kyi – whose suspended sentence and house arrest possibly exclude her also – has condemned the legislation, and her National League for Democracy (NLD) has decided not to participate and has, therefore, lost its status as a legally-registered party. There has rightly been much international criticism of the new constitution and of the fact that the elections will not be inclusive, but the political and generational shift that they will bring about may represent the best opportunity in a generation to influence the future direction of the country.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As the Philippine election on 10 May 2010 draws nearer, voters in central Mindanao are focused on the political fallout from the “Maguindanao massacre”; clan politics; the new automated election system; and whether any agreement between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is possible before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaves office on 30 June.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Since independence and for fourteen years of war, Liberia's army, police and other security agencies have mostly been sources of insecurity and misery for a destitute people. The internationally driven attempt to radically reform the security sector since the war's end in 2003 is a major chance to put this right and prevent new destabilisation. Security sector reform (SSR) programs have been unprecedented in ambition but with mixed results. Army reform, entailing complete disbanding of existing forces, has made significant progress despite lack of proper oversight of private military companies (PMCs) and of consensus on strategic objectives. But police and other security reforms are much less satisfactory. The bold approach to army reform was possible due to strong national consensus and the presence of a large, liberally mandated UN presence. Government and donors must sustain their support to maintain hard-won momentum in army reform and, once clear benchmarks are set, give a floundering police force more resources. The drawdown of the UN force, begun in the second half of 2008, underlines the urgency.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Security, Development, Government, War
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Nations, Liberia
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Far from being a bulwark against the spread of extremism and violence from Afghanistan, Tajikistan is looking increasingly like its southern neighbour – a weak state that is suffering from a failure of leadership. Energy infrastructure is near total breakdown for the second winter running, and it is likely migrant labourer remittances, the driver of the country's economy in recent years, will fall dramatically as a result of the world economic crisis. President Emomali Rakhmon may be facing his greatest challenge since the civil war of 1992-97. At the very least the government will be confronted with serious economic problems, and the desperately poor population will be condemned to yet more deprivation. At worst the government runs the risk of social unrest. There are few indications that the Rakhmon administration is up to this challenge. To address the situation, the international community – both at the level of international organisations and governments – should ensure any assistance reaches those who truly need it, place issues of governance and corruption at the centre of all contacts with the Tajik government, and initiate an energetic dialogue with President Rakhmon on democratisation.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government, Islam, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia, Tajikistan
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The bizarre prosecution and conviction of opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi for violating her house arrest has returned attention to repression in Myanmar, as preparations were underway for the first national elections in twenty years, now scheduled for 2010. This further undermined what little credibility the exercise may have had, especially when based on a constitution that institutionalises the military's political role. The UN Secretary-General's July visit, which produced no tangible results, added to the gloom. But while the elections will not be free and fair – a number of prominent regime opponents have been arrested and sentenced to prison terms over the last year – the constitution and elections together will fundamentally change the political landscape in a way the government may not be able to control. Senior Generals Than Shwe and Maung Aye may soon step down or move to ceremonial roles, making way for a younger military generation. All stakeholders should be alert to opportunities that may arise to push the new government toward reform and reconciliation.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The election for governor in Indonesia's North Maluku province was one of the most bitterly contested since direct elections for local government heads were introduced in 2005. Held in November 2007, it remains in dispute more than a year later, although a winner has been named and inaugurated. At one point it seemed as if violence between the two sides could escalate into serious communal conflict, in an area where thousands had died in religious violence a decade earlier. By early 2009, however, it looked as though Indonesia's democratic institutions would be resilient enough to cope with an election gone wrong, and the dispute would be quietly resolved in the Constitutional Court. The Court's decision is expected in early February. The dispute that many thought could trigger further turmoil may prove instead to be a minor wrangle in Indonesia's largely successful effort to choose local government leaders by direct popular vote.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia