Middle-East protest for democracy - your opinion?

Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2003 04:54 pm
If you would read this story about the political situation in a foreign country, what would you think? Who would you sympathise with? What would you think should be done?

Demand met, protesters want more
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post

Published December 13, 2003

The demonstrators converged on the provincial governor's office Sunday with banners, sleeping mats, cooking pots and a simple demand: that the governor quit.

After three days and nights of continuous protests, he did just that. But the demonstrators have refused to budge.

As soon as he resigned, the local representative of the occupation authority appointed a former air force officer as acting governor. To the protesters, that was unacceptable. The new governor, they insisted, should be chosen not by a foreigner, but by one of their own -- through an election.

"Yes, yes for elections!" shouted the protesters, a collection of students, clerics and middle-aged professionals whose ranks swelled to more than 1,000 on Thursday. "No, no to appointment!"

The protesters have pledged to continue their sit-in outside the governor's office -- they have erected tents and dug latrines -- until their demand is met. Leaders of the town's largest labor unions have vowed to hold a general strike starting today in support of elections.

Local leaders described the passionate but peaceful demonstration in the city as a preview of what the occupiers will face if they follow through with a plan to select a provisional government through regional meetings instead of general elections. Although elections have become an increasingly popular rallying cry in the central and southern regions of the country, the protest in this town is the first indication that the mainstream population is willing to take to the streets to press the issue, adding a volatile element to the country's impending political transition.

"It's been peaceful in this town until now, but if the occupation forces keep refusing what the people want, it will become a big problem that they will not be able to control," said the chairman of the council that governs the province. "Everyone will oppose them."
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Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2003 04:57 pm
I didn't read this or have an opinion...really! Cool
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Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2003 05:26 pm
OK alors ;-)
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Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2003 07:07 pm
This is definitely leading somewhere. I don't mind stepping into a trap as long as there is something to take with me when I'm cut loose.

There isn't much history of the place, so I'm not sure what kind of turmoil this particular region was in before the peaceful coup. Give the people what they want is an American standpoint. But, obviously there will be more to discuss about this topic I'm sure.
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Reply Sun 14 Dec, 2003 01:18 pm
I guess my first thought on it would be "If there is no temporary appointed government who will arrange any elections?"

Protesting and demanding things is all well and good but someone has to actually set the elections up and conduct them don't they?
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Reply Sun 14 Dec, 2003 04:22 pm
Yes, MichaelAllen, there's a trick element involved in this thread. It's kind of a game, or a (light-hearted) mental exercise.

Meanwhile Fishin' does ask a good question. One could suggest "the occupation authority" could organise elections - if they can organise "regional meetings" to select a provisional government, why not go for the real thing, elections, instead?

One could say, to counter that, that any parliament elected in elections organised by an occupation authority would lack legitimacy. But this would be even more true for a body elected by regional meetings.

Meanwhile, how to appraise these demonstrations? Considering the context is a Middle East country, I would say people spontaneously and passionately demonstrating for free elections and democracy is actually a very hopeful thing? And how should one approach such demonstrators?
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Reply Sun 14 Dec, 2003 04:39 pm
As someone who supports democracy only in the alternative of a system that is demonstrably better, I'm a little unsure of how I feel about this. (No one willing to step out there, eh?) I think my answers hinges on whether there is an extant constitution -- it sounds as though there isn't, nor does there seem to be any sitting legislative body. Hard to imagine a successful election if the rules of the game haven't been written yet.

Self-determination's all well and good, but there's got to be some degree of organization before a government can be capable of doing anything. Better to be able to elect a full government into a system that's going to work than just have a single popularly elected official who may or may not have any ability to establish a government.

(The cynic in me, of course, says to hold the illusion of a free election and prop up a puppet governor...)
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Reply Sun 14 Dec, 2003 05:28 pm
Obviously, this is some sort of a democratic system or at least an understanding authority exists. The protests weren't met with military action when people were camping outside the governor's office. In fact, he obeyed their will.

Second, it seems as if a positive line for communication exists. We know that they oppose a foreign appointed governor. There must be a speaker in the group and everyone agrees with him or her. There seems to be other leadership in the town as well. Leaders of labor unions and local leaders have been mentioned as people with enough clout and representation to make commentary. So, we have an election board in the making if we just pay attention to the people who are in charge whether they know it or not. The next step is the nominations of people to elect.

Now, there are only 1,000 people protesting. I'm not sure how populated the country is, but the squeeky wheel in this case seems to be getting the most attention. But, as the article indicates, more people back the election process, it just took this town to make it an explosive issue no matter how peaceful they decided to do it.

As far as the occupying forces are concerned, we have no history here to tell us why they are there. They must have been asked at one point in time to do something for the town, but their presence is no longer needed or desired. Of course, one might say they should just leave. On the other hand, one might say it is time for them to implement policy to ensure they don't have to return and do the job all over again at some other point in the future.

Alright, I have put enough rope out there. How am I going to get hung?
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Reply Sun 14 Dec, 2003 05:43 pm
I believe nimh is comparing Nigeria to Iraq. Nice setup, if so.
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