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-->DAYBOOK updated on 26 August 2015

THE INTERNATIONAL OBSERVER

and

GLOBAL SURVEY

            

 

 

 

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Our 34th year of publishing The International Observer

The Latest Issue

July 2015: G7 leaders agree on tackling climate change, countering terrorism financing

Burundi elections compromised, called a 'sham' by some

Madagascar Assembly's attempt to oust president fails

Mauritius elects first woman president

South African Democratic Alliance (DA) elects first black leader

Canada's PQ elects media tycoon leader

Republican candidates stepping forward for US presidential election

Taliban names new Emir after 2-year old death of Omar is disclosed

Constitutional draft of Nepal is advancing

Danish Liberals form minority government

Irish voters reject lower presidential minimum age, support equal marriage

UK conservatives and prime minister win, upset dire predictions

Netanyahu heads his 4th government

Saudi king replaces crown prince

Australia revokes autonomy of Norfolk Island

 

Situations of Concern

Burundi

Flawed presidential election may continue instability

The ensuing unrest and a failed military coup d’état are feeding growing concern that the country will remain unstable and that a government in exile may be formed.  On 27 July, the UN Election Observer Mission (MENUB) found that the situation in the country was “not conducive for an inclusive, free and credible electoral process.” The political crisis erupted on 26 April when the president insisted on running for a third term in violation of the two-term limit in effect then. The situation worsened since some opposition political parties and civil society organizations were already criticizing how the National Assembly elections (see above) had been handled and which they called a “sham” and declared they would not recognize the results.

 

Afghanistan

Flawed presidential election may continue instability

The ensuing unrest and a failed military coup d’état are feeding growing concern that the country will remain unstable and that a government in exile may be formed.  On 27 July, the UN Election Observer Mission (MENUB) found that the situation in the country was “not conducive for an inclusive, free and credible electoral process.” The political crisis erupted on 26 April when the president insisted on running for a third term in violation of the two-term limit in effect then. The situation worsened since some opposition political parties and civil society organizations were already criticizing how the National Assembly elections had been handled and which they called a “sham” and declared they would not recognize the results.

 

China

China turns on Japan to deflect from its disputed presence in China Seas

Verbal exchanges over claims in the East and South China Seas have become more belligerent . Japan, and to a lesser extent the Philippines, are singled out by the People’s Republic government and portrayed as expanding the conflict. To place even more opprobrium on Japan, Beijing is busy giving maximum play in documentaries and exhibits to Japanese misdeeds during World War 2. It maintains that all the claimed islands and shoals are Chinese territory or inside its economic zones and therefore there is no case for international arbitration or involvement. All claims can be settled bilaterally and “outsiders,” such as the United States of America, are told not to get involved. To discourage Japanese and US aerial surveillance, the Chinese navy threatened to set up an air defense zone in the South China Sea.

The US is challenging China’s reclamation of islands in the disputed Spratly chain and flying surveillance in “international space.” In May, the US Secretary of Defense called for an immediate halt to land reclamation in the South China Sea while a Chinese admiral denied that reclamation is impeding freedom of navigation. In June, the Japanese military said it is considering taking part in US surveillance missions.

Nepal

Humanitarian help challenged by enormous needs

Post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction pose “daunting challenges,” an assistant administrator of the UN Development Program (UNDP), noted on 26 May. Contacting survivors in remote areas and delivering food and medical aid are continuing. The assessment of damage, hampered by aftershocks and landslides, offers grim statistics:

  • An estimated 2.8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance with over 860,000 people in immediate need due to loss of shelter, limited road access and poverty. The total number of casualties now stands at 8,669 with 384 people still missing, reported the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).  

  • Between 500,000 and 600,000 homes in mostly rural areas are severely damaged, as well as cultural and historical heritage structures such as temples, upon which Nepal’s economy depends.

The coming monsoon season in Nepal is adding further urgency to relief operations because heavy rains from June will curtail access to remote rural areas. [July 2015]

 

Noticed and Noted

 

Turkey

National security threat or power ploy?

Turkey’s belated military involvement in the Syrian civil war is worrying a growing number of governments, politicians, and people in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Even among members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which supports the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) there is disagreement about Turkey’s renewed attack against the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). Critics of the Turkish government and especially of its President Reccep Tayyip Erdoĝan see the move as a political maneuver aimed at adoption of a presidential system.  By recreating an external enemy―and the PKK foolishly is playing into its opponent’s hands by resuming some fighting―portraying the new and growing People’s Democratic Party (HDP) as siding with the enemies and attempting to criminalize its leadership, and making it hard for a new government to form, the president hopes to call for new elections in November and by sidelining HDP obtain an overwhelming majority of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Once achieved, it will unhesitatingly oblige Erdoĝan and give him the coveted presidential executive powers. [July 2015]

European Union (EU)
Leadership trio in place

The special meeting of the European Council—heads of member state or governments—on 30 August was overshadowed by the issues of the Islamic State (IS), Ukraine, Palestine, Libya, and Ebola but it also completed forming the EU’s executive arm for the new term.  It elected the President of the European Council for the period from 1 December 2014 to 31 May 2017 and appointed the Union’s “foreign minister,” the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to serve until 31 October 2019.

After consultations among member governments, former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker (born 9 February 1954) of the Christian Social People’s Party (CSV) became the first President of the new European Commission (EC) to be elected by the European Parliament. Although he was deemed too pro-European and federal-minded by some, especially in the British government, he was chosen by 422 against 250 votes on 15 July. There were 47 abstentions and 10 invalid votes. He succeeds José Manuel Durão  Barroso (born 23 March 1956) of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) who served as 11th President since 22 November 2004 after holding the office of Prime Minister of Portugal (2002-2004).

The Prime Minister of Poland Donald Franciszek Tusk (born 22 April 1957) of the Civic Platform (PO) was elected by the European Council as its next President on 30 August. He will succeed Herman Achille Van Rompuy (born 31 October 1947) of the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) party who assumed the office on 1 December 2009 after serving as prime Minister of Belgium (2008-2009).

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy since February 2014, Ms. Federica Mogherini (born 16 June 1973) of the Democratic Party (PD) was appointed High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy with agreement of the incoming Commission President on 30 August. Her selection, actively promoted by the Italian Prime Minister, had run into some objections from the Baltic States and Poland who feared she may not pursue a strong and determined approach when rejecting Russian support for Ukrainian rebels. She is probably more engaged in Islamic and Middle Eastern affairs but since she was politically active in communist youth and later socialist causes and has followed the less assertive Italian government role when dealing with Russia, these concerns arose. (It is ironic, given that the former  prime minister did not stop  cozying up to the Russian president and praising him. To the embarrassment of other Western leaders, he never tired of speaking of his Kremlin friend and seeking him out.) The current High Representative—and 1st Vice President of the European Commission (EC)—Baroness Ashton of Upholland, the former Ms. Catherine Ashton (born 20 March 1956) of the Labour Party assumed the position on 1 December 2009 after serving as European Commissioner for Trade and Labour Leader in the House of Lords (2007-2008).

 Not part of the executive branch of the Union but a leader in European affairs is the President of the European Parliament (EP). Martin Schulz (born 20 December 1955) of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany and EP Member since 1994 was reelected President by 409 of 612 votes on 1 July 2014 after holding the office since 17 January 2012. [August 2014]

 

 

 

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