Between the 8th and 11th of October the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity organized the first training weekend in the framework of the Future Leaders project. The training was attended by young representatives of social democratic and progressive political parties from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. It took place in Amman (Jordan) and focused on ideology, communication and campaigning. The Future Leaders training course is supported by the UK Labour Party through the Westminster Foundation. Our partner in Jordan, the Al Sindyan Institute provided great assistance in making the training possible, while the UK Labour Party and the Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) provided each one trainer to conduct the training.
Afgelopen weekend organiseerden wij een training in Oekraïne, met de New Social Democratic Platform, een jongerenbeweging van onze partner daar, de Institute for Democracy and Social Progress. FMS trainers Thijs ’t Hart en Marjolein Nieuwdorp kregen een groep jongeren voor zich die – soms ondanks vele uren reizen om bij de training te kunnen zijn – zich met ontzettend veel enthousiasme en energie stortten op de materie.
On the 18th and 19th of October Egyptian residents will vote in the first round of the elections for the House of Representatives, including in the governorates of Alexandria, Luxor and the Red Sea. On the 21st and 22nd of November the second round of the elections will be held, including in the governorates of Cairo, Suez and Sinai. A total of 27 million voters are registered to vote in the first round, while some 2,500 candidates are eligible for 286 seats in the elections in 14 governorates. It will be the first parliamentary elections since the last elections in 2011/2012. The 2014 Constitution abolished the old Shura Council (Upper House) and the old People’s Assembly (Lower House) was replaced by the House of Representatives, that will be elected these elections The elections were delayed by constitutional reforms. The results of the first round will be announced on 29 October.
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”.