Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekend democratic roundup

It’s been a busy week for “democracy” and human rights, and my weekend papers are unusually full of stories of interest. I thought I would offer a small collage, particularly as many of these items touch on issues discussed earlier on this site. I’ll begin with “democracy”, which, as "Grace O’Malley" [IntLawGrrl Diane Marie Amann] noted here , does not simply mean holding democratic elections: the IHT reports that With the return of democracy, Nepal struggles with big questions”. In particular, how to set up a non-discriminatory, representative democracy. As you may recall, popular revolt in Nepal led to last year’s transfer of power from the King to Parliament and a peace agreement with Maoist rebels, who recently joined the Parliament. Since then, an interim constitution has been put in place and a coalition government, which includes the Maoists, has taken power. To clearly mark the transition, the Nepalese drafted a new national anthem and dropped “Royal” from the name of the Army and the state-owned airline. The government has even promised to start taxing the king’s property. But the major issue and source of frustration is still to be resolved: should Nepal become a federal state that grants autonomy to various ethnic groups and regions? If so, how? Meanwhile in Mali, voters go to the polls today for the first round of presidential elections, while the French study the results of yesterday’s Royal-Bayrou debate, in which Ségolène Royal tried to persuade François Bayrou's supporters to vote for her rather than Nicolas Sarkozy, in the upcoming 2nd round (see my earlier post). At the same time, the Ligue des droits de l'homme (as well as several of my neighborhood political associations) is calling for a massive turnout in favor of Ségolène Royal. Having said it would not intervene in pre-election debates unless it felt that democracy was in danger, the LDH announced that, given Sarkozy’s agenda, it considers that it is its “duty to warn the citizens”. Clearly, as "Amelia Earhart" [IntLawGrrl Elena Baylis] wrote earlier, there are many ways to run an election: having read LDH's statement, Grace O’Malley asked me if it's typical for NGOs to endorse candidates, noting that IRS nonprofit rules wouldn’t allow such a thing. My (French) husband responded, "where would we be if NGOs couldn’t speak out on such an important issue?

1 comment:

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