Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Posts Tagged ‘election’

IAEA Update: Yukiya Amano To Succeed ElBaradei

Posted by K.E. White on July 2, 2009

Amano clinched the two-thirds majority…barely. From The Guardian:

Yukiya Amano collected 23 votes, compared to 11 for Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa, with one abstention, barely giving him the two-thirds majority needed for victory.

Even that tight margin came only after hard-fought preliminary sessions. A March vote between the two men — Amano, backed by the U.S. and like-minded countries, Minty supported by the developing world — was inconclusive, showing the divide separating the two camps.

Thursday’s vote also went down to the wire. It took four rounds for Amano to prevail due to stubborn support in initial rounds for his rival from the developing nations — a split the Japanese touched on his brief post-session comments to the media.

And Bloomberg News offers this:

“Yukiya Amano was, from day one, the preferred choice of the United States and Europe,” Andreas Persbo, a senior researcher at the London-based Verification Research, Training and Information Center, said in an e-mail. “He is generally seen as a competent diplomat and good administrator.”

Amano is the first Asian elected to lead the IAEA, the body charged with preventing nuclear weapons proliferation and promoting peaceful atomic energy use. Japan is the second- biggest contributor to the IAEA budget.

“I am very pleased for this support,” Amano said in a statement to the media. “I will do my utmost to enhance the welfare of human beings, ensure sustainable development through the peaceful use of nuclear energy” and “prevent the threat of nuclear weapons.”

And BBC News suggests his thin margin of victory may hamper Amano’s leadership of the IAEA, though one would expect with the many hot-botten issues facing the IAEA Amano will have ample opportunities to increase his standing among nations that voted against him today:

Correspondents say his narrow victory may weaken his position, as many countries had stressed the need for the new head to be chosen with the broadest possible backing, to be able to tackle the threat of nuclear non-proliferation.

Some diplomats see Mr Amano as less political than the outgoing chief, Mr ElBaradei who, they say, has been too soft on Iran and too ready to speak out on matters outside his mandate.

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Round-Up: India’s Surprising Election

Posted by K.E. White on May 19, 2009

With all the attention given to Pakistan’s extremist threat, insufficient attention has been paid to India’s recent parliamentary election.

What’s the big news? The incumbent Congress Party (and its allies under the United Progress Alliance) won a resounding re-election. The UPA’s opposition on the right—the more hawkish and socially conservative BJP—lost seats, while its leftist critics were routed. These results defied predictions of a much tighter race.

But more importantly this election, juggling nine national parties and dozens of state parties and 400 million voters, rendered a decisive political judgment in India: awarding the Congress Party enough seats to pursue a national agenda, and not be held hostage by smaller, more insular parties.

The New York Times offers this macro-analysis of the election by Rahul Singh, who ushers in a new era of stable governance (this is the first time a majority government has won re-election in India) and the ascent of a younger, more secular worldview.

(Note: Singh’s last point is only partially true. While the number of under-40 members has increased, the average age of the lower house—Lok Sabha—is higher, making it the 3rd oldest assembly in India’s history.)

Anshul Chaturvedi blames the BJP loss not on policies, age or message but on tactics. His interesting post, drawing on years of following BJP politics, portrays a party made irrelevant by rooting its political power in coalition jockeying and neglecting its base.

The Times of India also offers this article exploring just how the Congress Party overcame the challenge of February’s Mumbai attacks. The article credits Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee’s political tactics with blunting BJP criticism of the Congress Party’s handling of homeland security.

But, as Keith Jones points out, the Congress Party’s sweeping parliamentary victory represents a mere 2 percent increase in popular support. But this line of attack obscures the greater truth. Indians, presented with two national coalition parties and gobs of local parties, opted for UPA coalition led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

How will this election affect US foreign policy? Myra MacDonald, writing for Reuters, shows that tensions between India and Pakistan are still high. This might stymie US efforts to cool tempers so Pakistan can focus on its counter-insurgency, not to mention resolving the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir. Making progress on these fronts permits strengthened civilian rule in Pakistan, which can provide stability over its border with Afghanistan and battle terrorists posing a direct threat to America and its allies.

But what MacDonald omits in her article is the significance of the US-India nuclear deal brokered by the Bush administration. The nuclear deal threatened UPA’s parliamentary control in 2008. With the Congress Party’s reestablished mandate, this nuclear linkage may assist future diplomatic engagement.

Will a now strengthened UPA, popular Obama administration and extremist-battling Pakistan be able to make tough decisions regarding Pakistan?

Maybe. But with (a perhaps duplicitous) Pakistani regime ramping up its nuclear arsenal, the road ahead will be bumpy.

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Islamic Parties Suffer in Pakistan’s Federal and Regional Elections

Posted by K.E. White on February 20, 2008

Here’s one thing to cheer: The fundamentalist ruling party of the North-West Frontier Province—Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) of the Pakistan frontier region—suffered a huge defeat in Pakistan’s elections earlier this week. 

The shift from MMA-rule to the Awami National Party (ANP) may bring considerable changes to Pakistan’s anti-terror policies, particularly the purpose of Al Qaeda members. 

From The Times of India

The Red Caps are back in the Frontier. In a remarkable display of resilience and commitment to its secular values, the Awami National Party (ANP), which bore the brunt of suicide bombers in the run up to the elections in the country’s most volatile province bordering Afghanistan, swept to power in NWFP on Tuesday as it completely decimated Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) in its stronghold.

So powerful was the Pashtun nationalist party’s resurgence that the MMA affiliate, Maulana Fazlur Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islami, lost his own seat in his hometown of Dera Ismail Khan, despite the fact that women were stoped from voting in many parts of the province.

To add insult to injury, the Islamic party also lost votes and seats in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), dubbed by some as the nursery of Islamic fundamentalism.   

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Election NIght Pakistan: Sweeping But Not Complete Opposition Victory

Posted by K.E. White on February 19, 2008

While the PML-N and PPP have had a huge night, it appears initial forecasts of a two-thirds majority (which would allow presidential impeachment or Constitutional restoration) may need to be corrected. 

Whether owing to vote-rigging or not, the failure to seal a 2/3s majority may be why President Musharraf feels comfortable calling this “mother of elections” the “voice of the nation.”

It also appears that the PML-N had more success than expected. 

From The Dawn:

But while the partial results had already started trickling in, the president, while appearing briefly on the state-run Pakistan Television, called the vote “the voice of the nation” and said whoever won in what he called the “mother of elections” must be accepted. “We must accept the result gracefully.”

While the PPP was likely to win most of the National Assembly and provincial assembly seats in its main power base of Sindh province, besides sharing the spoils in the other three provinces of Punjab, North-West Frontier Province and Balochistan, the PML-N looked doing unexpectedly well in Punjab, even giving some shocks to a friendly PPP.

While top PPP leaders remained comparatively inactive during a 40-day mourning for Ms Bhutto and did not campaign much even afterwards, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif created his own wave in his home province of Punjab and Hazara region of the NWFP with his hard line against President Musharraf and for the restoration of about 60 superior court judges who were sacked under the extra-constitutional emergency the president had declared on Nov 3 in his now given up capacity as army chief.

Both the PPP and PML-N have vowed to cooperate in the formation of the future government — and possibly have a government of national consensus — if they together win a majority. A two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament would enable them to impeach the president and to deprive the presidency of its powers to sack a prime minister and dissolve the parliament by restoring the Constitution to its pre-Oct 12, 1999 position when General Musharraf suspended it while capturing power by toppling the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and then amending it by decree.

But that does not seem to be an immediate possibility while a PML-led coalition has a majority in the 100-seat Senate and it is not yet certain if all the opposition parties together will have a two-thirds majority in the 342-seat National Assembly.

The coming days guarantee high-stakes discussions between the PPP and PML-N. How these will pan out, and where Musharraf will end up seems an open question.

But one thing seems clear: While low turnout and violence did mar the elections, the day was a success—a considerable feat in light of Benazir Bhutto’s recent assassination.

And if you didn’t know, Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Kerry (D-MA) were in Pakistan for the historic day.

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Pakistan Election Update: Early Results Suggests Sweeping Opposition Victory

Posted by K.E. White on February 19, 2008

From Bloomberg News:

Pakistan’s opposition parties were poised to win parliamentary elections as voters sought an end to President Pervez Musharraf’s eight years of military rule.

“It seems, according to predictions, that the opposition has won,” Tariq Azeem, a spokesman for the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-i-Azam, said by telephone from the capital, Islamabad.

Early results from the 64,000 polling booths showed that the two major political groups — the late Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party and former prime minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League — could gain control of two- thirds of the parliament’s seats. That would give them government control and the mandate to reverse constitutional changes that have kept Musharraf in power since a 1999 military coup.

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Election Night Pakistan: Early Returns Suggest Musharraf Defeat

Posted by K.E. White on February 18, 2008

But will the two leading opposition parties get to a two-thirds parliamentary majority? And just how well will the PPP and PML-N get along?

The Times of India writes on the early returns. And The Dawn offers this geographic breakdown of support.

The Dawn also offers articles on the killings of policemen and parliamentary candidate, not to mention an election delay owing to violence.

And The New York Times offers this slide show of Pakistan’s consequential and violent election day.

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Musharraf Snags An Impressive Victory, But At What Cost?

Posted by K.E. White on October 8, 2007

Pakistan’s turbulent political scene continues, but President Musharraf is showing off his staying power.

But at what cost?

There’s the maneuvering over the Musharraf-Bhutto deal, referred to as the National Reconciliation Ordinance. Today’s update: Musharraf’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League has successfully exploited the deal to seal Musharraf’s landslide victory in last weekend’s presidential election.

The ordinance had been hoped to restore stability to Pakistan, with two rivals—Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto—coming to agreements about Musharraf’s role in the military, his third race for President, and bringing parliamentary elections that include Musharraf rivals.

The landslide victory came easily after the Pakistan Muslim League successfully brewed infighting between their competitors by releasing terms of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The ordinance was meant to return Benazir Bhutto—leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)—to Pakistani politics, and perhaps form a caretaker regime that would restore democratic rule to Pakistan.

The result was never in doubt, as Pakistan’s parliament selections the President and is now controlled by Musharraf’s political party. But the inevitable victory was made more impressive: with parliamentary opponents arguing with each other–instead creating a unified voice against Musharraf’s rule–over the terms of the controversial deal between Bhutto and Musharraf.

The Australian explores Musharraf’s successful manipulation of the negotiations over the deal:

“The Pakistan People’s Party (Ms Bhutto’s party) played games with us and we played our game, which we won,” said Chaudhry Shujaat of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, signed by General Musharraf hours before the start of polling, which granted indemnity to Ms Bhutto, her husband Asif Zardari, and their immediate allies over corruption charges.

The deal had the effect of stopping the PPP from ordering its MPs to resign their seats along with other opposition groups.

The PPP’s parliamentarians limited their protest again General Musharraf to abstaining from voting.

According to Mr Aziz and Mr Chaudhry Shujaat, that was the real purpose behind the deal, and a remarkably candid PML boss added: “If the higher judiciary strikes off the NRO, we have no obligation to renew it or bring any other law in its place.”

But Musharraf isn’t out of the woods. While on the ballot during last weekend’s presidential election, the Pakistani Supreme Court is ruling on the constitutionality of this third run for President.

From ABC News coverage of Musharraf’s court challenge and fading legitimacy:

A vast majority of people in Pakistan view Musharraf’s bid to secure another five-year term as illegal and unconstitutional. They say Musharraf is part of the problem that the country faces today.

Last week, Musharraf signed a national reconciliation ordinance, thereby absolving Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and other favorable politicians, of all corruption charges — a move that has been criticized by many national and international forums.

Bhutto, a one-time rival, termed as a “security risk” and a “plunderer of national wealth,” by none other that Musharraf, himself, is now seen as a major partner in the future government to be formed under Musharra.

The Associated Press brings focus to Pakistan’s democratic corrosion:

But many ordinary Pakistanis feel that power is the preserve of a corrupt elite, too busy securing their own interests to tackle issues such as rising Islamic militancy and the poverty and inflation that feed it.

“All politicians are the same,” said Ali Ahmad, a 28-year-old teacher in the eastern city of Quetta. “They are the enemy of poor people. They gave us nothing but suicide attacks, terrorism and violence.”

Musharraf acknowledged as much when he seized power in a 1999 coup, vowing to install “real democracy” in a country whose ineffectual civilian governments have been regularly swept aside by its generals.

Eight years later, the current wave of disappointment appears focused on the military strongman himself, but it has failed to dissuade him from seeking five more years.

Meanwhile Musharraf survives yet another brush with death: one of the helicopters traveling in a Musharraf caravan crashed–Musharraf’s helicopter was safely ahead of the downed aircraft. And fighting in North Waziristan has claimed the lives of 80 Pakistani soldiers.

The Hindu reports on the helicopter crash, apparently due to mechanical malfunction:

A helicopter carrying officials accompanying President Pervez Musharraf crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Monday, killing four persons, including three armymen, onboard and injuring his spokesman.

Musharraf, who was in another helicopter flying ahead, reached his destination safely, military spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.

Musharraf has survived three assassination attempts.

Posted in Bhutto, crash, election, helicopter, Musharraf, National Reconciliation Ordinance, Pakistan, Waziristan | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »