The POMED Wire

1500 Militants Arrested in Efforts to Secure Upcoming Elections; Ban Ki-Moon Visits Tunisia to Pledge UN Support

Photo Credit: Mosaique FM

On October 10 and 11, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon traveled to Tunisia to meet with top Tunisian officials, to “pledge full United Nations support for the North African nation in its forthcoming elections and transition to democracy.”  Ban noted that the UN had already “actively supported the democratic transition with technical assistance on elections, transitional justice and Tunisia’s extremely valuable constitution,” and that it “will do its utmost so that the elections will be open to all, transparent and peaceful.” The Secretary-General affirmed that “you deserve international support as you solidify this progress” and commended Tunisia for raising hopes across North Africa, the Middle East and the globe. “Tunisia has risen to high expectations by staying true to its ideals.” He added that “here we see that with integrity, leadership, civic engagement and commitment, peaceful revolution leads to promising stability.”
In related news, Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa announced that some 1,500 militants so far had been arrested, and that 500 would be facing trial this month, as part of an effort to secure Tunisia’s transition. This is the first time since Ben Ali that Tunisia will hold [It] mass trials for presumed terrorists. Jomaa further …

Bahrain Arrests Pro-Democracy Activist Zainab al-Khawaja

zainabPhoto Credit: PressTV

Human rights and pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested in Bahraini court Tuesday for ripping up a picture of the gulf island’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa during her hearing. al-Khawaja was in court on charges for doing the exact same thing in 2012. According to Zainab’s sister, equally notorious activist Maryam al-Khawaja, Zainab told the court “it is in [her] right, and [her] responsibility as a free person, to protest against oppression and oppressors,” before tearing another photograph of King Hamad and placing it before the judge. al-Khawaja could face up to seven years in prison for insulting the king in public.

In 2012, Zainab al-Khawaja tweeted that “tearing up pictures of a criminal dictator is a legitimate method of peaceful resistance.” Before she even attended her court hearing on Tuesday, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights accused the government of Bahrain of judicially harassing al-Khawaja, setting court dates for multiple charges such as “entering a restricted area, not cooperating with police orders, and verbal assault.” The Bahrain Center for Human Rights called on the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United Nations, and Bahrain’s other allies to pressure the government to drop all charges …

Egypt Sentences Al Jazeera Journalist to 15 Years in Prison

timthumbPhoto Credit: Al Jazeera

Egyptian courts sentenced Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Ahmed Mansour in abstentia to fifteen years imprisonment. The court charged Mansour with torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square during the January 25 uprising in 2011. An Al Jazeera spokesperson said that the ruling is “further evidence of [Egypt's] attempt to silence journalists, tarnish their reputations and disrupt their work.”

Al Jazeera reaffirmed “its demand for all jailed journalists to be released and stands firmly by its colleagues.” When a reporter asked State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki if Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the issue of Egypt’s many detained journalists with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during their recent meeting, Psaki replied that the Secretary has “raised specific cases over which we have consistently expressed concerns. Certainly that includes the detained journalist and others [...] There were sensitive discussions going on about a number of cases. We’ve addressed them publicly. We’ve addressed them privately. We’ll continue to address them and he does on every occasion of him meetings.”

When someone asked Psaki if the Egyptians had made any progress on the issue of freedom of expression, she added, “We continue to urge the Egyptian Government to repeal or …

Bahrain Opposition Parties Refuse to Participate in Upcoming Elections

_78156115_024284754-1 Photo Credit: AP

Al-Wefaq’s Sheik Ali Salman announced that al-Wefaq, along with several other opposition parties, would not be participating in the country’s upcoming elections. The announcement followed a unilateral redrawing of Bahrain’s electoral districts by the gulf state’s ruling family.

The redistricting was one piece of a five-part plan proposed by Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa in late September, which included provisions on electoral districts, reforms to legislative authority, security sector behavior, and government formation. The organization Citizens for Bahrain celebrated the district reforms as successful in equalizing district sizes, with most districts now representing between 8,000 and 11,000 voters.

Justin Gengler, a Senior Researcher at the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute of Qatar University, criticized the government’s redistricting plan for equivocating successful democratic reform with success in equalizing population sizes across districts. Although al-Wefaq’s electoral prospects remain unchanged, successful reform was supposed to address the problem of drawing districts along sectarian lines. Opposition parties do not want to be handed electoral guarantees, but rather the opportunity to compete for seats in contestable districts not drawn along sectarian lines.

Gengler calls on the Crown Prince to consider proportional representation or party lists as an alternative to …

Yemeni Prime Minister Appointed, Houthis Approve

get_imgPhoto Credit: Yemen Times

Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi appointed UN Special Envoy Khaled Bahah to the position of Prime Minister yesterday, a week after Houthi rebels in the capital rejected Hadi’s first pick for the premiership, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak. A spokesperson for the Houthi’s Political Office, Hussein al-Bukhaiti, told the Yemen Times that the Houshis accept Bahah’s appointment. He also highlighted that the appointment was announced only after President Hadi consulted with advisors from Houthis and the Southern Movement.

According to Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani, the Houthi’s rise in prominence could push Yemen toward sectarian conflict similar to Syria. The Houthi occupation of the capital has caused the Sunni Islah party to re-entrench itself in Sunni provinces. The General People’s Congress, Yemen’s former ruling party, has been marginalized by Houthi gains and has been obligated to  support the new Houthi leadership.

However, al-Iryani also contends that Houthi organization, commitment to good-governance, and opposition to corruption and government inefficiency could allow a strong prime minister to implement “true and necessary reforms that could put the country back on a path of economic growth.” Yaseen al-Tamimi, a political analyst in Sana’a, said that Bahah achieved little success …

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