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  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Evo Morales's efforts to consolidate sweeping reforms on the basis of a controversial new constitution have steered Bolivia into a cul-de-sac. On 8 December 2007, his supporters in the Constituent Assembly (CA) provisionally passed the text by running roughshod over procedures and virtually excluding opposition delegates. Weak attempts to bridge the deepening divide have failed, increasing potential for a violent confrontation both sides still seem to wish to avoid. Openly defying Morales in May 2008, however, Santa Cruz massively approved the department's autonomy statutes by referendum. Two other eastern lowland departments followed suit, with the fourth expected to do so on 22 June. Morales is pushing for final adoption of the constitution by referendum and a popular vote of confidence. The Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and several European countries, and the Group of Friends (Argentina, Brazil and Colombia) should provide good offices to help the government and opposition reach urgent agreement on a revised constitution that can keep the country together.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • 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