UPDATE September 14th
On September 12th Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab submitted the resignation of his Cabinet to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, despite earlier claims by Cabinet spokespersons that there would be no Cabinet Reshuffle. Al-Sisi has asked the Cabinet to continue in a “caretaker role” until a new administration is formed, while he has asked Oil Minister Sherif Ismail to form a new Cabinet. The reason for the resignation is still unclear, although concerns over wide spread corruption and the mismanagement of several Ministries have been prevalent. Oil minister Ismael is seen as one of the best performing Ministers.
On Sunday September 13th nationwide regional elections were held in Russia in 84 of the 85 regions of the country, including the disputed region of Crimea. More than 189.000 candidates were eligible for election by 59 million voters in 10,700 different elections and 70 referendums were held in 10 regions. In 21 regions Governors were elected. The Kostroma region was the only region where an opposition party openly critical of the Kremlin, the People’s Freedom Party (Parnas), participated in the elections. Preliminary results show that Vladimir Putin’s party United Russia won the elections. Independent watchdogs registered multiple violations during the elections, including fraud and pressure on independent observers.
After two attacks on Friday September 4th that left a reported 22 people dead in the Tajik capital Dushanbe and the nearby town Vahdat, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has now confirmed that former Deputity Defence Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda was involved in the attacks. He has been charged with sabotage, terrorism, treason and the organization of an extremist community. Nazarzoda and “as many as 130” of his supporters fled to the mountainous Ramit Gorge, where a special investigation group of officers of the National Security State Committee (NSSC), the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s office have started an operation to detain them. According to Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon they are “evil terrorists” who are “pursuing the same goals as IS” and want to “undermine his rule”.
For two months now, garbage in the streets of Lebanon has not been collected, resulting in massive piles alongside roads and the illegal dumping of garbage in the Mount Lebanon area by frustrated civilians. For many citizens this waste crisis has become symbolic for what they call an “incompetent and corrupt” government. This let them to the formation of the “You Stink” protest campaign which has organized several protests during the last couple of months. Meanwhile, different political parties have agreed to join speaker of parliament Nabih Berri on 9 September for a “national dialogue”.
Sunday an estimated 60.000 protesters gathered on the central square in the Moldovan capital Chisinau to call for the resignation of president Nicolae Timofti and for new elections to be held, after a major bank fraud further derogated Moldova’s already struggling economy last year. One billion dollar, equivalent to roughly 1/8th of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), disappeared from three banks in November 2014, leading to steep inflation, the depreciation of the national currency, Leu, and a lowering of the living standards of the population. Protesters, shouting “bring the billion back home” and “down with the mafia”, further demanded the resignation of officials at Moldova’s central bank and the attorney general’s office. Moldovans form all over the country and from different political backgrounds came together at the six hour long protest, while up to 40 tents had been erected early Monday morning as a base for some of the protesters who pledged to stay until their demands are met.
Tuesday morning the Turkish finance ministry’s crimes investigation board (MASAK), escorted by masked police forces, raided the headquarters of the IPEK media group along with 22 other locations tied to its parent company the Koza-Ipek holding. Six people were arrested during the raids and a warrant has been issued for chairman Akin Ipek, whose house was raided as well. The Koza-Ipek holding is active in various sectors including mining, media and energy. Government-critical daily newspapers Bugün and Millet, as well as TV stations BugünTV and Kanaltürk are subsidiaries of the holding. The raids were conducted on the authorities’ suspicion of Koza-Ipek providing financial support and “the disseminating of propaganda” to the “Gulenist Terrorist Group”. With elections coming up in November, many of Erdogan’s critics fear that this raid is yet another step by the Turkish government to silence the media in a bid to strengthen the rule of the ruling Justice and Development Party ( AKP) and weaken Erdogan’s rival Fethullah Gulen.
On 19-23 August the sixth annual Summer Academy organised by the British Labour Party, Foundation Max van der Stoel, European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity and partners in Ukraine from the New Social Democratic Platform was held Lviv, Ukraine. The Summer Academy is organised for young social democrats from Eastern Europe and is aimed to help the participants learn new skills in political ideology, campaigning, communication and debating as well as gain enough confidence and knowledge to be able to repeat the training themselves. The participants were selected from social democratic parties from 4 countries - Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. Trainers from the UK and The Netherlands facilitated the training together with trainers from Moldova and Ukraine (who were themselves alumni of previous Summer Academy editions).
In Kyiv three members of the National Guard died as a result of injuries sustained by a grenade explosion during protests in the Ukrainian capital on Monday. A further 140 people, mostly law enforcement officers, were hospitalized after a group of protesters tried to storm the parliament and clashed with the National Guard. The far-right Svoboda party organized protests with the participation of other far right-wing/populist groups, which took place after the parliament voted in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment expanding autonomy to the separatist-held territories in Eastern Ukraine, in accordance to the terms of the second Minsk cease-fire agreement. President Petro Poroshenko puts the blame on ultra-nationalist groups as Svoboda and Right Sector and called the violence “a stab in the back” and “an anti-Ukrainian action”. His prime minister Arseniy Yetsenyuk stated that “so-called pro-Ukrainian political forces” were weakening the country by “opening a second front inside the country”.
Onder grote invloed van de VN heeft de president van Zuid-Soedan, Salva Kiir, op 26 augustus met uitstel van ruim een week het vredesakkoord getekend. Dit hoort een einde te zijn van een burgeroorlog die Zuid-Soedan vanaf december 2013 in zijn greep houdt. De ondertekening verliep onder toeziend oog van andere Afrikaanse leiders uit de regio. Kiir lijkt echter nog niet volledig achter het akkoord te staan: ‘’With all those reservations that we have, we will sign this document’’. Ook rebellenleider Riek Machar heeft nog zijn twijfels bij het akkoord, alhoewel ook hij heeft getekend.
On 25 August the prime ministers of Kosovo and Serbia have reached new agreements in four key areas that should enhance the relations between the two countries and between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo. EU Foreign Affairs and Security chief, Fedrica Mogherini, brokered the deal, calling it a “landmark achievements in the normalisation process.” If implemented accordingly, the deal is expected to enable both countries to advance on their path to EU membership.