November 2011 IIJD Newsletter Update

Liberia: Presidential Run-Off Election Set to Go Ahead Next Week after NEC Chairman Resigns. In early October, Liberia held its presidential election, with incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, winning 43.7% of the vote; Winston Tubman, the American-Liberian nephew of former Liberian President William Tubman, took 32.7%; and former rebel leader, Prince Johnson won 12%. Because there was no clear majority, a run-off is scheduled for November 8th between Sirleaf and Tubman; Johnson recently threw his support behind Sirleaf. Tubman had threatened to boycott the run-off, decrying fraud and favoritism at the National Election Commission (NEC). However, he has since agreed to participate following the resignation of NEC Chairman James Fromayan.

Tunisia: Islamist Party Wins Majority in First Democratic Parliamentary Election; Population, International Community Wary of Islamist Rule. Moderate Islamist Party, Ennahda, which has been banned for decades, won nearly 40% of total parliamentary seats (90 of 217 seats); followed by the Congress for the Republic Party (CPR), a secularist party founded by human rights activists in 2001, with 30 seats; and then center-left Ettakatol, or the Democratic Forum for Labor and Freedoms, with 21 seats. Ennahda did not win an absolute majority so it will have to work with secular parties to form a coalition government. Ennahda chief, Rachid Ghannouchi, has promised to respect Tunisia’s modern, liberal societal traditions and to not impose any sort of Muslim code that would restrict women’s rights.

Cameroon: Paul Biya ‘Re-Elected,’ Extending 29-Year Dictatorial Rule. In early October, presidential elections were held in Cameroon, which pitted Biya, who has ruled for nearly three decades, against 22 other candidates. The election was marked by serious oppression of opposition party activities and media access/freedoms by the Biya regime, as well as significant voter apathy, which resulted in extremely low voter turnout. This past week, the country’s Supreme Court validated election results, confirming Biya’s ‘victory’ with 78% of the vote; John Fru Ndi, veteran opposition candidate, followed with just 11%. Several opposition candidates had filed petitions with the Supreme Court, calling for poll results to be completely thrown out due to widespread election fraud and irregularities; however, these petitions failed under the CPDM-controlled courts. Meanwhile, opposition party calls for massive public protests have gone unanswered and the international community’s response to Biya’s continued dismantling of democracy has been mostly muted.  

Libya: Muammar Gaddafi Tortured and Killed by Rebel Fighters. On October 20th, the former Libyan dictator’s convoy, which was trying to flee Sirte, was attacked by NATO forces. Gaddafi and his few remaining body guards fled the convoy and were found by rebel fighters in a network of drain pipes. Cellular phone footage taken by rebel militiamen at the scene shows a wounded Gaddafi being dragged from the pipe, sodomized with what is believed to be a knife, beaten and kicked, and eventually dragged partly naked through the streets by rebel fighters. Gaddafi was reportedly shot in the head by one of the rebels at the scene before being taken into NTC custody. Gaddafi’s body was placed on public display in Tripoli before being buried at an undisclosed location in the desert. Gaddafi’s son, Motassim, was also reportedly captured alive but then also executed. His other son, Saif, is still at large and said to be negotiating his surrender. The NTC has opened an investigation into the killings of Gaddafi and his son. The interim government, which just appointed an interim prime minister, Abdel Rahim al-Keib—an academic and wealthy businessman who is a native of Tripoli—is set to hold elections in eight months.

Somalia: Kenya Government Deploys Troops to Somalia to Combat Al-Shabaab. This month, after several cross-border kidnappings and killings of tourists and humanitarian workers by armed Somalis, the Kenyan military initiated a military offensive against Al-Shabaab targets in Southern Somalia, dubbed ‘Operation Linda Nchi’, which means ‘protect the nation.’ The Kenyan government stated that its military will continue operations within Somalia until the threat of Al-Shabaab had been severely downgraded. The government also plans to conduct a massive security operation within Somali areas of Nairobi to weed out the domestic Al-Shabaab threat. Human rights groups have stated their concern at the planned operation. In Somalia, Kenyan troops have advanced, removing Al-Shabaab fighters from several major Southern towns. Al-Shabaab fighters have been fleeing this advance, opting instead to attempt more organized ambushes of Kenyan troops. Kenyan fighter jets have also conducted aerial bombardments of Al-Shabaab positions; it recently bombed the town of Jilib, where it reportedly killed several civilians. Jilib residents staged a protest against the Kenyan bombardment. France is providing logistical support to Kenyan troops.

Other Developments…

US President Obama Announces Deployment of 100 Troops to Help Combat LRA. The US will send 100 soldiers, mostly special forces, to play an advisory role to forces from Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. US forces will assist them in dismantling the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and in tracking and apprehending its elusive leader, Joseph Kony. The LRA has terrorized populations throughout central Africa for nearly two decades, murdering, raping, pillaging, and kidnapping children.

Uganda: Opposition Leader Kizza Besigye Arrested Under Controversial ‘Police Act.’ Besigye was arrested on October 18th by Ugandan police after walking a mere 500 meters from his home towards his party’s headquarters. Police placed Besigye under house arrest in what they referred to as ‘preventive detention.’ Police were attempting to prevent Besigye from participating in another ‘walk to work’ protest against rising commodity prices; they claimed that Besigye’s detention was necessary to prevent possible violence. Besigye has petitioned the Constitutional Court, claiming that Section 24 of the Police Act, which was used to justify his detention, is unconstitutional and that his detention was unlawful.