It may seem strange to those in countries where election campaigns increasingly look like warped beauty contests in which the person matters more than the policy, that a candidate could stand in a presidential election without once stepping foot onto a podium. Stranger still: that the candidate in question would be all but guaranteed victory in said election. This is precisely the situation, however, in Algeria; with less than a week to go before the election – 17 April 2014 – seventy-seven-year-old incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika, silent since the shakily croaked announcement of his candidacy, will almost undoubtedly win a fourth term. However, an increasingly vocal opposition movement has made it clear that it does not intend to allow the elections to pass uncontested; weekly protests have been held to decry political stagnation, raising the much-feared spectre of unrest in Algeria, and making an arguably inevitable result marginally less inevitable.read more
On 05 April 2014, Afghanistan will go to the polls, to hold elections for a new president and over 400 provincial councillors. This will be the fifth national election held since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, but will be the first to be held on a constitutionally established election schedule, and also the first to be overseen by a permanent and independent entity, the IECC, rather than the controversial temporary bodies set up to monitor previous votes. Without a doubt, this upcoming election is an important moment in Afghanistan’s modern history, particularly in relation to its often problematic, decade-long democratic transition. A successful election that establishes a legitimate government would deal a substantial blow to the aspirations of Afghanistan’s militant groups. However, a failed election, combined with a coordinated push by Taliban forces, could provide an impetus and a rallying cry to these same extremist groups, potentially reinvigorating the insurgency that has caused so much bloodshed over the past decade. Although the elections could be crucial to the future stability of Afghanistan, the process is likely to be far from smooth, as there are a number of important obstacles that could significantly impact the chances of a successful outcome.read more
As Somalia has attempted to shrug off its long-standing image as a ‘failed state’, a series of successful military operations against Harakat al Shabaab al Mujahideen – more commonly known as Al Shabaab – signify the beginning of a much anticipated full-scale offensive against the Islamist terrorist group. Since its emergence from the now-obsolete Union of Islamic Courts in 2006, Al Shabaab has controlled significant areas of Somalia, in which it imposes its strict interpretation of Sharia law. Despite gaining international notoriety via its merger with Ayman al Zawahiri’s Al Qaeda in 2012, however, Al Shabaab has steadily lost territory since a 2011 African Union (AU) operation forced it out of the capital, Mogadishu, which was closely followed by a subsequent operation which seized back Kismayo, a port city in the Lower Juba province which had previously generated a large portion of Al Shabaab’s income.read more
BERNIE ECCLESTONE: DO THE FINDINGS FROM THE DAMAGES CASE IN THE UK REALLY HAVE A BEARING ON THE GERMAN CRIMINAL TRIAL?
Formula 1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone and three other parties were accused of making a ‘corrupt bargain’ with a German banker Dr Gerhard Gribkowsky. It is alleged that they paid him £27 million in bribes to undervalue BayernLB’s stake in the sport prior to its sale to current owners CVC Capital Partners eight years ago. Constantin Medien were a shareholder in the sport and claim that they lost out on a large amount of commission as a result of Ecclestone’s dealings with Gribkowsky. A seven week hearing took place in London’s High Court aimed at establishing whether the shares were undervalued as alleged.read more
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There is no overarching theme in Libya – that is, unless you count the effect political paralysis in Tripoli has on the country’s numerous security problems. The longer Prime Minister Ali Zeidan remains isolated, and the General National Congress (GNC) can override his wishes, the longer the Libyan Government will remain unable to brave the endless oil blockades in the East, as well as terrorism, assassinations and intertribal clashes. In fact, the continued political stalemate in Tripoli, as well as the tendency of authorities to divert attention toward the supposed threats of Muammar Gaddafi’s ghost, has only exacerbated these problems.