Happy American Independence Day--it has now been a full four months since Kenya's 2013 election, yet the results have still not been released by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The 2012 Kenyan Constitution mandates in Article 81: "The electoral…
So now we have results of both a "Parallel Vote Tabulation" and an Exit Poll for the March 4, 2013 Kenyan election. The irony here is that the Exit Poll was privately funded, yet we have, courtesy of the video…
The Christian Science Monitor published an update today by Dan Murphy on the lingering situation of the trials of international NGO workers from the staffs of NDI, IRI and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Egypt: "Mostly forgotten, Egyptian trial of…
It seems to be "sorted" that the Canadian government will handle the purchase, funded as a "concessionary loan" of KSh 4.6M to the Government of Kenya, relieving the IEBC of the budgeted amount of KSh 3.9M for the procurement. Here…
From Ben Barber, senior writer at USAID during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, as quoted from a McClatchy piece on Egypt in a previous post: The Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004 might never have taken place if not for U.S. aid.…
Featuring: Maura O’ Neil, Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Counselor to the Administrator, USAID Thomas A. Khalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Senior Advisor for Science, Technology and Innovation, National Economic Council…
The State Department issued a Valentines evening statement on the "ongoing" electoral "process" in the DRC. Hard to know what the point of this is. Perhaps it is simply an example of the maxim "if you don't have anything nice…
Just asking . . . in light of the “Egyptian Circus” noted in my last post.
Perhaps you will recall that in March of last year Djibouti ordered the U.S. funded election observation mission led by Democracy International out of the country and declared its activities illegal. The sort of conduct that we have seen for years from Egyptian autocratic leaders–although fortunately they stopped short of arresting assistance workers.
Is Djibouti an example of a place where other priorities override our priority for supporting democratic rights? See Democracy Digest: “Stark division” in Arab Spring underlies U.S. policy too”.
Here I noted the spotlight on Djibouti as host to a small but established AFRICOM forces contingent in the form of the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa, CJTFHOA, with the recent special forces hostage rescue. see “U.S. sees Djibouti base as ‘central’ to its plans” in this week’s East African for further discussion.
How is Djibouti doing on democratic rights now? Here is a new report from Reporters Without Borders:
Reporters Without Borders roundly condemns radio journalist Farah Abadid Hildid’s abduction by the police yesterday and the threats and torture to which he was subjected during the 24 hours he was held. Hildid works for La Voix de Djibouti, a radio station that broadcasts on the shortwave from Europe and is now also available on the Internet.
He described his ordeal to Reporters Without Borders by telephone two hours after his release:
“I was in Djibouti City yesterday waiting for a meeting. It was 11:30 am. Two men in a car with tinted windows stopped next to me. It was a uniformed policeman and a man in plain clothes. They asked me to get in. I refused but they forced me into the car. They blindfolded me so that I did not know where they were taking me. I found myself in a cell. They removed my clothes and handcuffed me, and that is how I spent the night, sleeping on the floor.
“They beat my feet very violently with pieces of rubber. They also broke my glasses. ‘We’ve had enough of you,’ they said. ‘You must stop broadcasting information about us. You must stop bothering the police and the Department for Investigation and Documentation. It will be the worse for you if you continue.’ At midday today, they brought me my clothes and blindfolded me again. Then they drove me to a piece of waste ground in the Gabode 4 district and left me there.”
Reporters Without Borders has decided to refer this matter to the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and will remain in regular contact with Hildid in order to be kept informed of his security situation.
“The physical mistreatment and psychological torture inflicted on this journalist are a disgrace to Djibouti’s authorities,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call on them to put an immediate end to this sort of intimidation. If anything happens to Hildid again, we will know who is responsible.”
Hildid was detained twice in 2011 and was tortured and mistreated both times. This was confirmed by medical examinations after both periods in detention. The first time he was arrested, in February 2011, he was held for more than four months in Gabode prison on a charge of “participating in an insurrectional movement.”
The second time he was arrested, on 21 November, he was charged with encouraging an illegal demonstration and insulting the president. He was released four days later after being placed under the supervision of an investigating judge attached to the supreme court.
As a result of these and other events, Djibouti fell 49 places in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is now ranked 159th out of 179 countries.
Can we wait and take up the issue of democratic reforms later, sometime into the future? Take note of the “comment is free” op/ed in the Guardian from May 2009 about Obama being seen as continuing U.S. support for Mubarak:
Obama in Cairo is a blow to democracy; Obama’s decision to give a speech to the Muslim world from Cairo is an endorsement of Egypt’s brutal dictatorship
guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 May 2009 15.30 EDT
By choosing Cairo, Egypt as the platform for his long awaited address to the global Muslim community, President Barack Obama predictably leans on a reliable dictatorship suffocating a country that is teetering toward religious and political irrelevance.
Indeed, modern Egypt resembles its ubiquitous tourist attraction, the Sphinx, the symbolic temple guardian adorned with a human head on a prostrate lion.
Similarly, the near-30-year, brutal autocracy of Hosni Mubarak weighs heavily on the immobilised body of an
From the Washington Post story reporting the announced intent to prosecute Americans working for IRI, NDI and Freedom House: Pro-democracy groups have worked openly in Egypt for years, although the government has long refused to grant them operating licenses. The…
Dateline Ocean Springs, MS, USA: The AfriCommons Blog learned today of plans to form the International Colbert Institute, a new INGO (Individual Non-Governmental Organization). The mission of the International Colbert Institute ("ICI"), will be to promote freedom, democracy, the American…