The Central Election Commission (TsVK) of Belarus announced on 11 October that long ruling president Alyaksandr Lukashenko has officially won the Presidential elections for the fifth time with 83.49% of the vote. Despite calls to boycott the election from various oppositionists, the voter turnout was reportedly 86.7%. Lukashenko ran against 3 other candidates: opposition movement leader Tatsyana Karatkevich (Havary Pravdu /Tell the Truth) and pro-government politicians Syarhey Haydukyevich (Liberal Democratic Party) and Mikalay Ulakhovich (Belarusian Patriotic Party). The official results do not come as a surprise, as all of Lukashenko’s re-elections have had similarly high official results in elections that are widely considered rigged.
Turkish prime minister Ahmed Davutoğlu said that Islamic State (IS) is the prime suspect in the 10 October attack in Ankara, that left at least 97 dead and hundreds injured, the deadliest act of terrorism in Turkey’s history. A suspected double suicide bombing took place in the capital during a march against the violence in Eastern Turkey, where the Kurdish PKK forces and the Turkish army have been fighting since July. Many victims of the bombings are Kurds and/or members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which has led to a further increase in tensions between the HDP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The government announced three days of national mourning for the victims, including a halt to the campaigning for the November 1st snap elections by political parties.
In het weekend van 18-20 september organiseerde Foundation Max van der Stoel twee communicatietrainingen voor de oppositionele Sociaal Democratische Unie (SDSM). FMS trainers Bas Batelaan, Suus Harms, Souad Haouli en Thijs Kerkhoffs reisden naar het pittoreske Bitola af – stadje vlakbij de Griekse grens dat in 4e eeuw werd gesticht – om de training te verzorgen. De training werd georganiseerd door onze Macedonische partner Progress Institute for Social Democracy.
In het weekend van 18 tot 20 september organiseerde Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS), in samenwerking een kleine progressieve partij in Servië, Sociaal Democratische Unie (SDU), een training online-communicatie. FMS trainers Gritta Nottelman en Lodewijk Blijerveld verzorgden de training.
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.