FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Tuesday:  October 27, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

HUM HUMOR

"CLIMATE CHANGE: EVERYWHERE"

CARTOON: Peter Broelman, Australia/BROELMAN.com.au) "HILLARY ROUND THE WORLD"

(CARTOON: Taylor Jones/Politicalcartoons.com)

"HOW THE MIGHTY FALL"

(CARTOON: Michael Ramirez/Weekly Standard)

COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES
WORLD CLOCKS
   
San Marino     Mongolia
   
Vancouver     Ghana
"THE GIRL EFFECT" - VIDEO

Advertisement

 

HUM SEARCH
@HUMNEWS ON TWITTER

`SUPPORT-A-REPORTER'

 Follow Me on Pinterest  Folo us on Pinterest.

Read some exciting news about our founder and FFI, here: http://bit.ly/12GJyXs

Are you a Global Citizen?Join us on GlobalCitizen.org to help end extreme poverty.

TRANSLATE HUMNEWS

THE HUM - OUR DAILY EMAIL OF WORLD HEADLINES
MY HUMPLANET

Do you have your eye on the world? Help us expand the global perspective and tell the stories that shape it.  SHARE what's happening locally, globally wherever you are, however you can. Upload your news, videos, pictures & articles HERE & we'll post them on  MY HUM PLANET CONNECT.  Learn something NEWS every day! THX

Advertisement

HUM BOOKS: Focus on FRIENDSHIP
  • Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    by Todd May
  • Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    by Bradley Trevor Greive
  • Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    by Tom Roach
HUM SOCIAL GOOD

Learn more and join us here!

HUMNEWS SOCIAL MEDIA

  Look for HUMNEWS in the News Section of PULSE @www.pulse.me. For iPad, iPhone & Android-recently launched on deck for Samsung’s Galaxy tab.

Advertisement

HUM TWITTER FEEDS
10000 Women 9/11 9-11 92Y ABC News Abdel Futuh Abdoulaye Wade abductions Abidjan Abuja abyei Acapulco ACS Action Against Hunger ADB Adivasi Adjara adolescents Afghanistan Africa Africa Fashion Week Africa Human Development Report African Wax AFRICOM agriculture agrochemical Ahmad Ashkar Ai Weiwei aid Aid Effectiveness aid work aid workers AIDS Air Canada Air France airlines Aisha Gaddafi Alain Juppe Alan Fisher Alassane Ouattara Albania Albanians Alexandria Algeria Alina Vrejoiu Alliance of Small Island States al-Qaeda Amama Mbaba Amazon American Samoa Americas Amina Filali Amnesty International Amr Moussa ANC Andaman Islands Andes Andorra Angelina Jolie angola Anguilla Anna Hazare Ansar Dine Antarctica Antigua & Barbuda Antonio Guterres Antonio Patriota apartheid Apple Arab Spring Aral Sea Arctic Argentina Armenia Art Aruba ascetism ASEAN ASEM Asia Asia Pacific Asia Society Asian Development Bank Asylum Asylum-seekers Augusto Pinochet Aung San Suu Kyi Aurora Borealis Australia Autism Azawad Azerbaijan baby trafficking Baghdad Bahamas Bahrain Balkans Balthasar Garzon Baluchistan Ban Ki-moon Bangalore Bangkok BANGLADESH Barack Obama Barbados Bashar Assad Bashir Bashir al-Assad bats Beijing belarus Belgium BELIZE Belo Monte Benghazi Benin Berlusconi Bermuda Bettina Borgfeld Beyonce Bhutan Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation BILL GATES Bill McKibben bio fuel Bishkek Bitter Seeds black jails Boko Haram Bolivia Bono books Bosco Ntaganda Bosnia Bosnia-Herzegovina Botswana Bouthaina Kamel BRAC Brazil Brazilian government Brian Williams BRICS Britain British Indian Ocean Territory British Indian Territory British Virgin Islands broadband Bron Villet Bruce Springsteen Brunei Brunei Darussalam Bruno Pellaud Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burma Burundi Business Cairo Cambodia Cameroon Campesino Campesinos sin Terra Canada cancer Cape Town Cape Verde Carbon CARE Caribbean CARICOM Carlos Enrigue Garcia Gonzalez Carlos Travassos Cartagena Casablanca Catherine Ashton Catholic Relief Services Cayman Islands CBS Central Africa Central African Republic Central America Central Asia CGI Chad Charles Feeney Chernobyl Child Labor child labour child marriage child soldiers Children chile China China's Communist Party Chinese farmers Chocolate cholera Cholpan Nogoibaeva Christiane Amanpour Christianity Christmas Island CIDA CItigroup Citizen Ciudad Jarez climate climate change Clinton CLMV Countries cluster munitions CNN Cocos Island coffee Colombia Columbia University Commission for Africa Committee on World Food Security Committee To Protect Journalists commodities Commonwealth community-based organizations Comoros conflict Congo Congolese conservation consumer Contas River Contraception Cook Islands COP17 corruption Costa Rica Cote D'Ivoire cotton Council on Foreign Relations coup Cover The Night CPJ credit Crime Crimes Against Humanity crisis Croatia Cuba culture cyclone Cyprus Dadaab Dakar Damon Runyon Dan Lashof Dan Toole Darfur David Bernet David Von Kittelberger DDenmark Dear Kara Delhi democracy Democratic Republic of Congo demonstrations Dengue Fever Denmark dennis fentie Department of State depression Deraa Desmond Tutu developing countries development Diabetes Dilma Rousseff Disaster Risk disasters discrimination disease Diwali Djibouti Doctors without Borders Dominica Dominican Republic Dominique Strauss-Kahn DPKO DPRK Dr. Judy Dr. Judy Kuriansky Dr. Mark Welch Dr. William Gray DRC DRINKS drought Drug war Drugs Dubai Duncan McCargo Earth Hour Earthquake East Africa East Timor Easter Island Eastern Europe ECHO economy ECOSOC ECOWAS Ecuador Education Egypt Eid Eirene El Alto EL SALVADOR El Trabajo de Crecer Election elections electricity Elizabeth Okoro Ellen Johnson SIrleaf Emerging emerging markets energy Energy4All enough project environment Environmental Defense Fund equality Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia ethnic cleansing EU Eurasia EurasiaNet Europe European Union expats explosion Facebook Falkland Islands famine FAO FARC farmers Farming Faroe Islands FASHION Father Wismick Jean Charles Federated States of Micronesia Feeding America Felipe Calderon Femicide Fernando Lugo Festival FGM FIFA Fiji Fiji Islands Films finance Finland flood floods food food crisis food security Forbes Ford Foundation foreign aid foreign assistance foreign correspondents club of China Foreign Policy Forest Whitaker Foxconn France FRENCH GUIANA French Polynesia fuel Future G20 G8 Gabon Gabriel Elizondo Gaddafi Gambia Gandhi Ganges River Gangs Gao Gauteng Gaza Gbagbo GCC GDP Geena Davis Gender Genetically Modified Food Geneva Genocide George Clooney Georgia Germany Ghana Giants of Broadcasting Gibraltar Girl Effect Girls Giving Pledge Gladstone Harbour Glenn Ashton Global Compact Global Digital Solidarity Fund global food prices Global Fund Global Health Global Malaria Program Globalhealth Globalization GMO's GMO's India Golden Globes Goma Good Samaritan Center Goodluck Jonathan Google grassroots organizations Greece Greed Greenland Greg Mortenson Grenada GRIST GRULAC Guadeloupe Guam Guantanamo Guarani Guatemala Gucci Guinea Gulf of Aden GUYANA Habitat For Humanity Haiti Half the Sky Halloween Hamadoun-Toure Hamid Karzai Happiness Haze health Heglig Helen Wang Hershey hhuman rights Hillary Clinton Hindu HIV HIV/AIDS HIVAIDS Hoffman Hollywood Hollywood Foreign Press Association homosexuality Honduras hookah Horn of Africa Hotel Housing HSBC Hu Jintao Hubble Telescope Hugo Chavez Hult Global Case Challenge HUM Human Impact Institute human rights Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch Film Festival human trafficking Human Unlimited Media Humanitarian humanitarian work HUMmingbirdz Hunger hurricane Hurricane Rina IAEA IAVI Ibrahim Azim ICC Iceland ICG ICRC IHL ILO IMF immigrants Immigration improved cook stoves Imran Garda India Indian Ocean Indians Indigenous Indonesia inequality information infrastructure Innocence of Muslims Innovation INSI International Aid international community International Criminal Court International Crisis Group international development International Human Rights Day International Labour Organization International Maritime Board International Red Cross Internet Internews Interpol investing investment Invisible Children IO IOC IOM IPad IPhone Iran Iraq IRC Ireland irrigation Islam Islamabad Islamic Broadcasting Union Islamic Republic of Iran Islamists Islamophobia Islands Israel Italy ITC ITU Ivory Coast IWD Jamaica Japan Jarvis Island Jason Russell Je Yang Camp Jerusalem Jerusalem Post Jezebel Jim Rogers Jody Williams Johannesburg John McCain John Prendergast JOIDES Resolution Jordan Jose Carlos Meirelles Jose Graziano Da Silva Joseph Kabila Joseph Kony journalism journalists Joyce Banda Jr Judy Kuriansky Julia Gillard Kachin State Kah Walla Kaingang Kano Karachi Karen Attiah Karl Marx Kashmir Kazakhstan kenya Kenya Airways kgb Khaled Said Kidal Kigali Kim Jong-il King Mswati Kiribati Koror Kosovo Kurdistan Workers' Party Kurds Kuwait Kyoto Treaty Kyrgyzstan La Nina Labuje camp Lagos landmines Laos Las Vegas latin america Latvia Laurent Gbagbo Laurie Garrett LDCs Lebanon Leslie Lane Lesotho Lesser Antilles Leyla Qasim LGBT Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Literacy Liu Changlong Liuxiazhuang London London Stock Exchange Louise Arbour LRA LTTE lukasenka LUNCH Luxembourg lybia M23 Macau Macedonia Madagascar Maggie Padlewska Maha Kumbh Mela Mahatma Gandhi Mahmoud Abbas Mahmoud Ahmadinejad malaria Malawi Malaysia maldives Mali malnutrition Malvinas Islands Manuel Zelaya Margaret Chan Marie Claire Marina Cue marine Mark Fitzpatrick Marrakesh Marshall Islands Martin Indyk Martin Luther King Martinique Marwan Bishara Mary Robinson MASERU Mashable Mastercard Foundation maternal health mauritania Mauritius Max Frisch Mayotte MDG Summit MDGs MDG's media Melanesia Melanesian Spearhead Group Memorial Day Memphis Mental Health Mercy Corps Mexican Red Cross mexico Mia Farrow Micha Peled Michael Bociurkiw Michelle Funk Micronesia micronutrient initiative micronutrients Middle East migrants migration Mike Hanna millennium development goals Mine Ban Treaty mining Misogyny Misrata Miss Universe Mississippi river Miyagi MLK Mogadishu Mohamed Cheikh Biadilah Mohammad Nasheed Mohammad Waheed Hassan Moldova Money Mongolia Mongolian Stock Exchange Monsanto Montenegro MONTSERRAT Morocco Mothers Mozambique Mr. Gay World MSF Mswati Mt. Merapi Muammar Gaddafi Mubarak Muhammed Munduruku Murder Musharraf Muslim Brotherhood Mustapha Erramid Myanmar MYUGANDA NAB Nahru Nairobi Namibia NASA Natalie Billon national congress party National Congress Party (NCP) National Democratic Force National Science Foundation NATO Natural Resources Defense Fund Nauru NBC News Nelson Mandella NEMA Nepal Netherlands Antilles Nevada New Caledonia New Jersey New York New Zealand NGO nicaragua Nicholas Kristof Nick Popow Niergai Nigel Fisher Niger Nigeria Nigerian elections Nike Nike Foundation Niue Nobel Nobel Women's Initiative Nokia Non-Aligned Movement North Africa North Kivu North Korea Northern Mexico Norway not on our watch Nuclear nuclear power plant Nutrition NYC OAS Obama OccupyNigeria Ocean Ocean Health Index oceans OCED OCHA OECD OHCHR Ohrid Framework Agreement OIC Oil Olena Sullivan OLPC Olympics Oman Omar al-Bashir Omar Suleiman One Laptop Per Child One Village Planet-Women's Development Initiative Oprah Organization of American States Organization of Islamic Countries Osama bin Laden OSCE Ouattara OXFAM Oxi P-5 Pacific Pacific Institute of Public Policy Pacific Island Forum Pacific Small Island Developing States Pakistan Palau Palestine Palestinian Liberation Organization Palestinians Palocci Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Parana Park Won Soon Paul Giannone Paul Kagame Paul Martin PDP Peace Peacekeepers Peacekeeping PEACEMEAL PEPFAR Perspective Peru philanthropy Philippines Pilay Piracy Pirates Pitcairn PKK PNG Pokuaa Busumru-Banson polio politics pollution Pope Benedict population Pork Port-au-Prince Porto Alegre Portugal poverty President Asif Zardari President Bingu wa Mutharika President Joseph Kabila President Karzai President Lee Myung-bak President Thein Sein Press Freedom Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski Prime Minister Shekh Hasina Wajed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Prince Zeid protests Proview Puerto Rico Putin Qatar Quetta rainforest Ramadan rape Rarotonga Ray Chambers RC Palmer Red Cross Reduction referendum refugees religion remittances Reporters Without Borders Reproductive Rights Republic of Congo Republic of South Sudan Reunion Island Richard Branson Richard Parsons Richard Pithouse Richmond Rick Steves Rio Branco Rio de Janeiro Rio Grande do Sul RIO+20 Robert Mugabe Robinah Alambuya Romania Ronit Avi Room to Read Rousseff Rowan Jacobsen Roxy Marosa Royal Air Maroc Russell Daisey Russia Rwanda S-5 SACMEQ sacsis Sahel Sahel NOW Saint Helena Island Salafists Saliem Fakir Salva Kiir Salvador Dali Samoa San Marino sanctions Sanitation Saudi Arabia Save the Children Savvy Traveller Scenarios From the Sahel ScenariosUSA security Security Council Senegal Senetable Seoul Serbia Sergio Vieira de Mello Seth Berkley sex trafficking Sexism sexual abuse Seychelles Sharia Sharks Shashi Tharoor Shirley Wessels shisha Shreeya Sinha Shrein Dewani Sierra Leone Sindh Singapore Skype Slovakia Slovenia smoking Social Good Summit social development social media Solar Solar Panels SolarAid Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South America South China Sea South Kordofan South Korea South Pacific South Sudan Southeast Asia Southern Kordofan Southern Sudan South-South cooperation South-Sudan Southwest Farm Press Soweto Soya Spain SPLA sports Sri Lanka St . Vincent & The Grenadines St Lucia St. Kitts and Nevis St. Maarten St. Vincent and the Grenadines Stand Up For Peace Project starvation statelessness steel StopRape Students Sub-Saharan Africa sudan sudan people's liberation movement Summitt of the Americas Superstorm Sandy Surfing SURINAME Sustainable development Svalbard Svalbard & Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Tahiti Taiwan Tajikistan Taliban Tanzania technology Ted Turner Tehran Terena terror Thailand Thaksin The Arab Spring The Bahamas The Caribbean The Carter Center The Elders The Enough Project The Gambia The Hunger Games The Marshall Islands the Middle East The Netherlands The Ocean Project the Philippines The Republic of South Sudan The Surfrider Foundation The Whistleblower theatre Thein Sein Themrise Khan Three Cups of Tea Tibet Tiger Tigers Tikki Pang Tim Hetherington Timbuktu Timor-Leste Tobacco Togo Toilets Tokelau Tom Schelling Tonga Tony Lake Toronto tourism trade Trademarks trafficking travel Trinidad & Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Tripoli tsunami Tuareg Tuberculosis Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks & Caicos Tuvalu Twitter Typhoon Bopha Typhoon Pablo UAE Uganda UK Ukraine UN UN Clean Development Mechanism UN Food and Agriculture Organization UN Foundation UN Peacekeepers UN Security Council un techo para mi pais UN Women UNAIDS UNCTAD UNDP UNEP UNESCO UNFCC UNFPA UNHabitat UNHCR unicef Union Solidarity and Development Party UNISDR United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United Nations United States United to End Genocide University of South Florida UNOCI UNRWA urbanization Uruguay US US Peace Corps US Supreme Court US Troops USA Uzbekistan Vancouver Vandana Shiva Vanuatu Vanuatu. Fiji Venezuela Vestergaard Vice President Joyce Banda Victoria Hazou Vidal Vega Vietnam Vii VIIPhotography Viktor Yanukovych Vladimir Putin Vladivostok Vlisco Vodafone volcano Walmart War Water West Africa West Bank Western Sahara WFP WHO wimax Wine Woman Women Women's Economic Opportunity World World AIDS Day World Bank World Cup World Economic Forum World Food Day World Food Prize World Food Programme World Health Assembly world hunger World Refugee Day WorldCup WTO WWF Xi Jinping Xingu Yemen Youssou N'dour Youth Youth Olympics YouTube Yoweri Museveni Yukon Yulia Tymoshenko Zambia Zimbabwe Zuma

HUM QR CODE

Entries in ICG (5)

Thursday
Aug112011

Macedonia: Ten Years after the Conflict (REPORT) 

- by International Crisis Group 

Ten years after signature of the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) that ended fighting between the country’s ethnic Albanians and Macedonians, much of the agreement has been implemented, and a resumption of armed conflict is unlikely. Macedonia is justified in celebrating its success in integrating minorities into political life, but inter-party and inter-ethnic tensions have been growing for five years.

While this part of the Balkans looks to eventual EU membership to secure stability, it remains fragile, and worrying trends – rising ethnic Macedonian nationalism, state capture by the prime minister and his party, decline in media and judicial independence, increased segregation in schools and slow decentralisation – risk undermining the multi-ethnic civil state Macedonia can become.

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who has just formed a new government, should work closely with his Albanian coalition partners and opposition parties to pass and implement the measures needed for more democratisation, inter-ethnic reconciliation and a solution to the name dispute with Greece.

On 5 June Macedonia held elections that international observers assessed as generally positive and whose results political parties accepted quickly. The opposition Alliance of Social Democrats in Macedonia (SDSM) coalition increased its presence in parliament from 27 to 42 seats. Re-elected to lead the government, but with ten less seats, Gruevski and his Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation – Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) will now have to cooperate more closely with their Albanian coalition partner, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI).

Albanian parties should strengthen their loyalty to the state and engage more substantially in policy and decision-making. The new more pluralistic and balanced 123-seat parliament should foster greater cooperation among political elites and help overcome the highly polarised environment that was exacerbated during the SDSM’s four-month parliamentary boycott.

A more balanced legislature should also temper the prime minister’s state-sponsored nationalism, most evident in the hugely expensive and divisive urban renewal program in Skopje, built around a nationalist vision of ancient Macedonia that is offensive to the country’s minorities and Greece alike. The failures to secure NATO membership in April 2008 and to begin negotiations over membership with the EU in 2009, four years after obtaining candidate status, helped Gruevski secure support for his “national renaissance” policy line. The resulting increased emphasis on nationalism, however, is dividing Macedonians unhealthfully between “patriots’ and “traitors”, irritating Albanians and discouraging Macedonia’s friends in the EU.

The previous government coalition captured many state institutions, especially the parliament that it dominated. Political dialogue broke down, and Gruevski and the SDSM leader attacked each other in highly personal terms. Legislative boycotts and laws passed under emergency procedures undermined democratic debate. VMRO-DPMNE and DUI party members were favoured for public jobs, without regard for merit. The government reduced criticism in parts of the highly politicised media by buying favours through advertising. Selective fiscal investigation into and subsequent forced bankruptcy of the opposition-leaning television station A1 and detention of its owner were viewed at home and abroad as silencing criticism. As under past administrations, the judiciary lacked independence.

Relations between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians also suffered. The government was criticised for not doing enough to ensure equitable representation, implement the law on languages and oppose cultural exclusion. At the same time, segregation in the education system was becoming more entrenched. Although a good institutional framework exists to promote and encourage inter-ethnic dialogue, relations suffered from weak central government support. The prevalent view among much of the Albanian political elite is that the DUI must be more forceful in articulating the needs of ethnic Albanians than it was in the previous coalition.

Albanians are especially frustrated at successive governments’ inability to resolve the name issue. As Crisis Group has repeatedly argued, the dispute risks derailing the strategies of the EU and NATO to stabilise Macedonia and the wider region through integration and enlargement. Years of UN-mediated negotiations have made little progress, and further talks have not been scheduled. Macedonia in particular appears to be waiting for an International Court of Justice (ICJ) verdict in the case it brought for alleged violations of the 1995 Interim Agreement that regulates bilateral relations in the absence of a name agreement. The financial crisis in Greece and popular resentment of austerity measures there do not make it easy for the Greek leadership to focus on resolving the dispute. Nevertheless, Macedonia should seek decisive progress so as not to miss the opportunity to get the go-ahead for membership negotiations when the EU makes new enlargement decisions in December.

Citizens of all ethnic backgrounds and political persuasion have reason to celebrate Ohrid’s tenth anniversary. The OFA has done much to reduce discrimination and inequality and maintain unity. It is still needed to forge a common understanding of the civic state. During his immediately preceding term as prime minister, however, Gruevski sought to build a strong state identity based on Macedonia’s ancient history, from which ethnic Albanians feel excluded. They are more focused on advocating a highly decentralised federal and bilingual state that ethnic Macedonians see as threatening to the country’s survival. The two concepts have little in common; managing and shaping them so that they can provide mutual support or at least coexist constructively is difficult. But bringing Macedonia’s political and ethnic elites and ordinary citizens closer together around a shared vision of a unified multi-national state is a challenge that the new government cannot avoid.

Skopje/Istanbul/Brussels / Report by ICG August 11, 2011 - for ICG's recommendations please click here 

Saturday
Jul092011

South Sudan: New Countries, Old Problems (PERSPECTIVE)

Even before today's independence celebrations, the GOSS had established offices in key African capitals, such as Addis Ababa. CREDIT: HUMNEWS

By Louise Arbour

South Sudan’s independence on Saturday will in some sense mark the welcome end of one of the most devastating conflicts of recent times. When decades of hostilities between North and South concluded with the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, several million people had already died as a result of the civil war, and millions more had lost their homes. As a culmination of that peace deal, independence would seem to be the last chapter of the story.

It is, however, anything but.

Saturday’s formal separation may have been an inevitable and even necessary step, but these two states will be tied together for many years to come. Trying to work through outstanding disagreements, many of them already violent, will require difficult negotiations, political savvy, and carefully considered international engagement to ensure both North and South develop into peaceful and stable states.

At this point, the signs do not look particularly good. Both sides have violated the 2005 agreement, and escalating tensions have sparked conflict in critical border areas. In May, Khartoum’s forces launched an attack on the contested town of Abyei.

Even more worrisome, there is wide-scale fighting between Northern and Southern forces in the border state of Southern Kordofan. Reportedly some 360,000 people have been displaced over the past six months, more than half in the last month.

The North, in particular the ruling National Congress Party (N.C.P.), is moving boldly both to assert control over Northern territory and to improve its negotiating position vis-à-vis the South on the post-independence arrangements. Of these, probably the most important to the North concerns oil revenue sharing, since Khartoum will lose a majority share of its primary income source, the petroleum being found predominantly in the South.

In any case, revenue sharing, border demarcation, the status of southern military units from northern regions, as well as future arrangements on citizenship and natural resource management will likely remain points of contention for years to come, and could trigger large-scale violence.

While both North and South will have to work closely together on these issues to avoid renewed war, each also faces extremely difficult internal challenges. In Khartoum, the ruling party’s rank and file are increasingly discontent. Despite austerity measures, the government is confronting a serious budget deficit and spiraling inflation, and it is not able to pay all salaries. The N.C.P.’s security-dominated policies are alienating huge swaths of Sudanese.

Northern opposition parties and rebel groups (from Darfur and elsewhere) are trying to position themselves for post-July, but they are weakened by the decision of some of them to enter into unilateral negotiations with the N.C.P. Unless the opposition forces present a much more unified front, it is quite likely that the N.C.P. will continue to stymie attempts to bring about badly needed government reforms.

Southern leaders meanwhile have to switch gears from the solidarity of the liberation struggle to the more mundane, though more divisive, tasks of running a democratic country. The signs are not encouraging. The new draft transitional constitution includes several red flags, including an amendment giving the president power to dismiss democratically elected governors as he pleases.

The leading party in the South, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (S.P.L.M.), has to open up political space — both inside and outside the party — to lay the foundations for a more inclusive multiparty landscape.

The international community also has an important role. Realizing that localized conflict in the new border zone will likely continue or even escalate if left to fester, it has to carry on acting as an impartial mediator, fact-checker and arbitrator, all the while dealing with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

To deal with Southern Kordofan, external actors need to get leaders back to the negotiating table with sufficient political will to contain the violence, including a cease-fire and new security arrangements for the transitional states. The initiative undertaken by the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, led by Thabo Mbeki, is a good first step. It helped lead to an agreement on Abyei, which is a welcome deescalation, but the international community can only preserve the status quo — both Khartoum and Juba need to make the hard decisions and compromises necessary for peaceful coexistence.

Southern independence will also mean that the international community must recalibrate its relationship with the S.P.L.M. and avoid the tendency to overlook its abuses and constrictions of political space.

If there is a single message for all parties it is surely “inclusion.” The leaders of North and South need to understand the broad spectrum of peoples and interests in their new polities and work hard to bring them in under their respective new roofs. And the international community must sustain its involvement and support to ensure that both North and South develop into peaceful and viable states.

Louise Arbour is president of the International Crisis Group.

Also read our article about how Ethiopia and other neighbouring states are eyeing tempting business opportunities in South Sudan

Thursday
Jun232011

India and Sri Lanka After the LTTE (PERSPECTIVE) 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh of India PHOTO: ICG

- By The International Crisis Group   Colombo/Brussels

India has long been the country with the greatest influence over Sri Lanka but its policies to encourage the government there towards a sustainable peace are not working.

Despite India’s active engagement and unprecedented financial assistance, the Sri Lankan government has failed to make progress on pressing post-war challenges. Government actions and the growing political power of the military are instead generating new grievances that increase the risk of an eventual return to violence.

To support a sustainable and equitable post-war settlement in Sri Lanka and limit the chances of another authoritarian and military-dominated government on its borders, India needs to work more closely with the United States, the European Union and Japan, encouraging them to send the message that Sri Lanka’s current direction is not acceptable. It should press for the demilitarisation of the north, a return to civil administration there and in the east and the end of emergency rule throughout the country.

New Delhi’s relations with Sri Lanka in the two years since the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have had four main priorities:

  • providing humanitarian assistance to displaced Tamils in the north and east;
  • supporting major development projects, primarily in the north, with concessionary loans;
  • pressing the Sri Lankan government and the main Sri Lankan Tamil political alliance, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), to work towards a negotiated settlement of ethnic conflict through the devolution of power to Tamil-majority areas in the north and east; and
  • encouraging greater economic integration between the two economies.

India’s approach has so far paid only limited dividends. Deepening militarisation and Sinhalisation in the northern province have increased the insecurity and political marginalisation of Tamils and are undermining prospects for inter-ethnic reconciliation.

The government continues to resist any investigation or accounting for mass atrocities in the final months of the war. Democratic governance is under sustained assault throughout the country, as power is concentrated in the president’s family and the military; attacks on independent media and political opponents continue with impunity.

Even on Indian-sponsored development projects and economic integration, the Sri Lankan government has dragged its feet; for example, construction has begun on only a handful of the 50,000 houses India has offered to build in the northern province.

While officials in New Delhi admit they are frustrated, India remains hesitant to press President Rajapaksa’s regime very hard. This is due in part to its history of counter-productive interventions in Sri Lanka.

India’s misguided policy of arming Tamil militants in 1980s significantly expanded the conflict, and its decision to send peacekeepers to enforce the 1987 Indo-Lanka accord ended in disaster as the LTTE fought them to a standstill and later took revenge by assassinating former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.

India’s interventions have made Sri Lankans of all communities suspicious, limiting India’s room for manoeuvre. Many Sinhalese see India as favouring Tamils and as wanting to weaken or divide the country, despite its crucial role in destroying the Tamil Tigers. For many Tamils, on the other hand, India is seen as having repeatedly broken its pledges to defend their rights and protect their lives, especially during the final phase of the war in 2009.

India’s reluctance to put serious pressure on the Sri Lankan government is also due to strategic considerations, in particular its desire to counter the growing influence of China, whose financial and political support the Rajapaksa government has been cultivating. India’s own growing economic interests in Sri Lanka have also tempered its political activism. New Delhi’s traditional reluctance to work through multilateral bodies or in close coordination with other governments – due in part to its fear of international scrutiny of its own conflicts, particularly in Kashmir – has also significantly weakened its ability to influence Sri Lanka.

India, nonetheless, has strong reasons to work for fundamental changes in Sri Lanka’s post-war policies.

It has a clear interest in preventing either a return to violent militancy or the consolidation on its borders of another authoritarian government with an overly powerful military. India’s own democratic values and successes in accommodating ethnic diversity should also encourage an activist approach, especially as it seeks recognition as a rising global power with hopes of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

India’s own restive domestic Tamil constituency, to which the central government needs to respond for electoral considerations, is pressing for stronger action. After decades of actively supporting minority rights and devolution of power in Sri Lanka, India has its reputation on the line. With the much-hated LTTE defeated with Indian assistance, New Delhi should, in principle, have more leeway to push for reforms.

If it is serious about promoting a stable and democratic Sri Lanka, India will have to rebalance its priorities and press more consistently and in concert with other powers for major political reforms in Sri Lanka. Parties in Tamil Nadu, in turn, will need to use their leverage with New Delhi in consistent and principled ways, even at the risk of sacrificing potentially profitable political deals.

India’s support for negotiations between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil National Alliance, which belatedly began in January 2011, has been useful and should be maintained. But the immediate focus of the talks and of Indian influence should shift from pressing for effective devolution of power to demilitarising the north and east and rebuilding meaningful democratic institutions and freedoms. This would require:

  • re-establishing the authority of the local civil administration in the north and east to oversee development and humanitarian assistance without interference by the military or central government;
  • holding the long-delayed election for the Northern Provincial Council;
  • publicising the names and locations of all those detained on suspected involvement with the LTTE (including those in “rehabilitation” centres);
  • expediting the release of land currently designated as (or operating as de facto) high-security zones; and
  • removing arbitrary restrictions on political activities and on the humanitarian activities of local and international NGOs.

India should monitor its projects in the north more closely and insist, along with other donors, that they effectively empower local people. India should insist on working through the newly elected local governments and, eventually, with the Northern Provincial Council.

To make this possible, India will need to coordinate more closely with Japan, Western donors and international development banks. Together they have the political and financial leverage to influence the Rajapaksa administration should they choose to use it. India should revive its idea of a donors conference to review post-war progress and to push the government to demilitarise the north, lift the state of emergency and relax anti-terrorism laws.

In New York, Geneva and Colombo, India should publicly acknowledge the importance and credibility of the report by the UN Secretary-General’s panel of experts on accountability and should support an independent international investigation into allegations of war crimes at the close of the civil war in 2009. At the same time, it should send strong, public messages to the Sri Lankan government on the need for domestic action on accountability.

It should also work towards the establishment of a truth commission that would examine the injustices and crimes suffered by all communities, including those committed by all parties during the Indian army’s presence in northern Sri Lanka in the late 1980s. Acknowledging the suffering of all communities will be necessary for lasting peace.

India should broaden its political agenda from focusing solely on devolution and ensuring the rights of Tamils.

Without a reversal of the Sri Lankan government’s growing authoritarianism, centralisation of power and continued repression of dissent, any devolution will be meaningless and the risks of renewed conflict will increase.

India’s longstanding interest in a peaceful and politically stable Sri Lanka is best served by strong messages to Colombo to end impunity and reverse the democratic decay that undermines the rights of all Sri Lankans.

By raising political concerns that affect all of Sri Lanka’s communities, India can also counter suspicions among Sinhalese and eventually strengthen its hand with the government. This will take some time, but the work should start now.

- International Crisis Group June 23, 2011. The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.  An entire PDF version of this report can be found here

Friday
May202011

The Dangers of Albania's Disputed Election (ANALYSIS/BLOG) 

Albania elections - photo courtesy of ICGBy Sabine Freizer

Albania’s second disputed election in three years threatens to push the country over the edge.

Almost two weeks after local elections, preliminary results have yet to be announced.

This is the time for sustained, coordinated international action to press parties to abide by the legal framework in place. The Socialist Party should immediately appeal the decision of the Central Election Commission (CEC), to change counting procedures, to the highest appropriate legal mechanism (the Electoral College), which should decide the issue on the basis of current practice.  All parties should exercise restraint if conflict is to be avoided; clarity is urgently required for the smooth running of future elections.

The Economist is not exaggerating when it writes that, Albania today stands “on the brink" of a return to violence”. A tight mayoral race in Tirana, a highly polarised environment which contributed to four deaths in January, and divisions within the security forces make bloodshed an unnerving possibility unless legal procedures are fully respected. Albania has a history of disputed elections, parliamentary boycotts and political violence.

The unofficial preliminary results of the Tirana vote gave the incumbent, Socialist Party (SP) leader Edi Rama, an edge of just ten ballots over his rival, former Interior Minister Lulzim Basha, out of a quarter million cast. In a sense then, no one won the mayoral race: for all practical purposes, it was a draw.

Albania nonetheless has to grant victory to one of the candidates on the most scrupulous application of previously-agreed rules. Any tactical application of new counting rules, no matter how fair they might sound in isolation, would ex-post facto alter the rules of the game and risk plunging Albania into chaos.

After the Central Election Commission (CEC) -- dominated by the Democratic Party (DP), which is part of the coalition behind Basha -- decided to change the counting procedure on 18 May, Rama and his Socialist supporters began threatening large scale protests. Minor clashes occurred between SP Members of Parliament and the police in front of the CEC immediately after announcement of the postponement. Two SP deputies are now under investigation for fomenting violence. There were more disturbances on 19 May.  

Until that point, the 8 May elections were generally considered calm, though at times voting was slow, and counting was a drawn out process. The delay was compounded when the CEC did not publish preliminary results for the Tirana race.  

The OSCE, the EU, and the US and European embassies in Tirana called on the CEC to complete tabulation of the Tirana results and publish them expeditiously on 17 May. They also noted that the appeals and claims procedures should be fully respected and the two main parties, the Socialist and Democratic Parties, should exercise self-restraint. The EU and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton made similar statements on 18 May. Ashton also added “All political leaders carry a particular responsibility not to put lives of citizens at risk.” Crisis Group fully supports these exhortations.

But instead of heeding this call, the CEC -- by a vote of four to three, which seems in itself against the electoral code -- decided on 18 May to include irregular ballots from several Tirana elections administration zones in the final tally, not only further delaying the process but potentially -- some say likely -- changing the result. Voters who had multiple ballots in Tirana to put in designated boxes sometimes failed to do so correctly, in part because the ballots were not clearly distinguished by color. The status of these ballots is the technical source of the current conflict.

The Election Code does not clearly state what should happen to these ballots. But in the 2007 local elections and 2009 general elections, they were considered invalid. Experts in the CEC had strongly advised the CEC to clarify the status of these misplaced ballots before election day, but they failed to do so. During most training sessions, commissioners were told to consider them invalid, and most election commissioners on this basis finalised the counting process for Tirana mayor and country wide.  

The SP has said that it will use all available legal channels to oppose the CEC decision to count the contested or invalid ballots, and it has called for massive protests. It has not yet appealed, but should do so immediately as it has only five days to do so to the Electoral College after the 18 May CEC decision. The College then has five days to issue a verdict.

In its Preliminary Findings and Conclusions for the 8 May election, the International Elections Observation Mission (IEOM) positively assessed the work of the Electoral College (the Court of Appeals of Tirana), whose decisions are final, but noted that it did not provide its reasoning which is crucial when a decision is returned to the CEC for review.  It also determined that the election code contains important gaps.

These legal and technical disputes now risk exacerbating an already deep and resentful political conflict between Rama, still the sitting Mayor of the capital city, and Albanian’s Prime Minister Sali Berisha and their respective supporters. Public protests risk becoming violent in the currently highly charged environment.

An investigation into the deadly violence at a DP rally in January has yet to be completed. Throughout the campaign period there were a large number of violent election-related incidents in several regions, including the killing of an SP candidate’s relative, non-fatal shooting incidents, explosions targeting the property of candidates and parties, beatings and threats, which marred the campaign environment according to the IEOM and Crisis Group observation. A conflict between the Tirana police and the Ministry of Interior and each other’s authority to intervene to respond to public protests also developed during the campaign.  

While the SP is likely to feel that it can only attract the wider international community’s attention to developments in Albania if it holds massive street protects, the DP is likely to feel that protests and violence will work in its favor and further discredit Rama. If the Electoral College rules in favor of the CEC, the CEC members from the SP are unlikely to certify the final results, and Rama is highly unlikely to recognise any election results that overturn his expected win. If it rules in favor of the SP, a peaceful outcome is still possible as the SP and DP will continue to divide power -- and its spoils -- in Albania.

The EU, US and OSCE played a coordinated and effective role during the campaign period to reduce tensions. They must continue to do the same now, reinforcing from capitals the messages of the local embassies, especially as Albania is an EU candidate country that still has to undergo significant reforms to start full fledged membership negotiations.

The international community should clearly demand that Basha and Rama firmly commit to respect the verdict of the Electoral College. The European Commission should lift its recommendation to give Albania EU candidacy status if there is violence leading to fatalities during post election rallies.

President of the EU Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule were supposed to be in Tirana today [20 May] but canceled their trip at the last minute, allegedly to show their displeasure with current developments. They lost the chance to deliver a consistent message to the parties clearly, in person. The international community should not squander such opportunities again.

- Sabine Freizer is the Istanbul-based Director of the Europe Program at the International Crisis Group

Originally published on the International Crisis Group's new blog "The Balkan Regatta" May 20, 2011 The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict. 

Friday
Apr152011

Thailand: The Calm Before the Storm? (Analysis) 

-by International Crisis Group

Photo courtesy of ICG(April 15, 2011) -- Nearly a year after the crackdown on anti-establishment demonstrations, Thailand is preparing for a general election. Despite government efforts to suppress the Red Shirt movement, support remains strong and the deep political divide has not gone away.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s roadmap for reconciliation has led almost nowhere. Although there have been amateurish bomb attacks carried out by angry Red Shirts since the crackdown, fears of an underground battle have not materialised.

On the other side, the Yellow Shirts have stepped up their nationalist campaigns against the Democrat Party-led government that their earlier rallies had helped bring to power. They are now claiming elections are useless in “dirty” politics and urging Thais to refuse to vote for any of the political parties. Even if the elections are free, fair and peaceful, it will still be a challenge for all sides to accept the results.

If another coalition is pushed together under pressure from the royalist establishment, it will be a rallying cry for renewed mass protests by the Red Shirts that could plunge Thailand into more violent confrontation.

The Red Shirt demonstrations in March-May 2010 sparked the most deadly clashes between protestors and the state in modern Thai history and killed 92 people. The use of force by the government may have weakened the Red Shirts but the movement has not been dismantled and is still supported by millions of people, particularly in the North and North East. Arresting their leaders as well as shutting down their media and channels of communication has only reinforced their sense of injustice.

Some in the movement’s hardline fringe have chosen to retaliate with violence but the leadership has reaffirmed its commitment to peaceful political struggle. The next battle will be waged through ballot boxes and the Red Shirts will throw their weight behind their electoral wing, the Pheu Thai Party.

The protracted struggle between supporters of the elite establishment – the monarchy, the military and the judiciary – and those allied with ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra began with the formation of the “yellow-shirted” People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in 2006. The September 2006 coup removed Thaksin from power but prompted the emergence of a counter movement: the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) or Red Shirts.

The PAD’s campaigns to close down Bangkok airports in 2008 created deadlock that was resolved by a court ruling that removed Thaksin’s “proxy” party – People Power Party – from power. This led to the formation of the Democrat-led coalition government, backed by the military. Two years later, the ultra-nationalist Yellow Shirts have apparently split from their former allies and are protesting outside Government House against Abhisit’s alleged failure to defend “Thai territory” in the Preah Vihear border dispute with Cambodia. The PAD’s call for a “virtuous” leader to replace the prime minister has raised concerns that it is inviting the military to stage a coup.

Abhisit has stated he will dissolve parliament in the first week of May after expediting the enactment of legislation to revise key electoral rules. He is moving quickly towards the elections amid rumours of a coup. With the new rules and pre-poll largesse, the Democrat Party hopes to secure more seats and position itself to lead another coalition.

Thaksin is still popular with much of the electorate and there is a strong possibility that his de facto Pheu Thai Party could emerge as the largest party. The formation of the government is likely to be contentious. The UDD has threatened to return to the streets if Pheu Thai wins a plurality but does not form the government. Obvious arm bending by the royalist establishment to this end is a recipe for renewed protests and violence. Should the opposite occur, and Pheu Thai has the numbers to lead a new government, the Yellow Shirts might regain momentum; they are unlikely to tolerate a “proxy” Thaksin government.

While elections will not resolve the political divide and the post-election scenarios look gloomy, Thailand nevertheless should proceed with the polls. A well-publicised electoral code of conduct and independent monitoring by local and international observers could help enhance their credibility and minimise violence during the campaign. If installed successfully, the new government with a fresh mandate will have greater credibility to lead any longer term effort to bring about genuine political reconciliation.

- International Crisis Group, Bangkok/Brussels