June 2018 — Page 2 of 2 — CANVAS

Georgian Prime Minister Resigns Amidst Protests Against Corruption

Photo: Protest leader Zaza Saralidze speaks to demonstrators and journalists. Source: RadioFreeEuropeRadioLiberty Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigned on Wednesday following several weeks of popular protest and political disagreements with Georgia’s ruling party, Georgian Dream. Kvirikashvili has been prime minister since 2015. Kvirikashvili stepped down in the midst of other resignations by global officials following protests condemning government corruption. On April 23 Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned after 11 days of popular protest, as did Jordanian Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki on June 4. The protests began on May 31st in reaction to the killing of two teenagers in December and the allegedly improper sentencing of their killers. According to protest leader Zaza Saralidze, whose son was one of December’s victims, the two subjects put on trial for his son’s death were not the real culprits, and those truly responsible escaped prosecution because of their relatives who worked in the Prosecutor-General’s Office. Protesters originally called for the resignation of chief prosecutor Irakli Shotadze; however, their demands grew into broader calls against government corruption after Shotadze’s resignation. On June 11, police dismantled protestor tents and detained several members of the political opposition. Saralidze’s protests follow earlier demonstrations in May against excessive force used by police in anti-drug raids at nightclubs in Tbilisi. In his resignation speech, Kvirikashvili stated that “we had a number of fundamental disagreements with the party’s leader” Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is the richest man in Georgia.   Kvirikashvili went on to state that “today is the moment when the party’s chairman should have the opportunity to form a team on the basis of his own views.” According to...

Weekly Report: 8 June 2018

Photo: Protesters outside the prime minister’s office in Amman, Jordan. Raad Adayleh, Associated Press Malaysia Malaysian Central Bank Governor Muhammad Ibrahim officially resigned from his position this week after speculations of a multi-million dollar scandal. The scandal involves the 1MDB, a strategic development company,  that has been under investigation since 2015. Ibrahim’s resignation was announced by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on June 6. Ibrahim denies any relation to the scandal, however, claiming “…Bank Negara Malaysia will never be party to any such activities that would betray the public trust in us”. The new administration’s Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng, has suggested that a land sale made by the recent Prime Minister Najib Razak to the Negara Bank is being used to pay off debts to 1MDB. Bank Negara states that the transaction made with Najib Razak was “fair” and in alignment with “relevant laws.” Attorney General Tommy Thomas highlighted the importance of the case, stating his number one priority is to “nab the culprits responsible for the 1MDB scandal.”  Thomas has announced that his department is requesting help from United States, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Singapore to ensure that the money involved in the scandal is rightfully returned to Malaysia.   Cambodia Cambodia’s ruling party announced official plans to monitor and control online content intended to “cause instability” leading up to the July election. Cambodia’s Ministries of Information, Interior, and Posts and Telecommunications will work jointly on “controlling all dissemination of information.” Following a recommendation from the National Electoral Council, the regulation also bans journalists from including personal opinion or bias in their reporting. Violations will be punishable with fines...

Death of Palestinian Medic Sparks Outrage and Investigations

Photo: Razan al-Najar’s blood-stained white tunic was carried by mourners. Source: AFP.   The death of 21-year-old Palestinian medic Razan al-Najar in Gaza has prompted international outcry and an investigation by Israeli officials. Al-Najar had been shot by Israeli Security forces as she approached the border fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel on June 1st.  Her death comes as hundreds of Palestinian protesters have been killed by the Israeli military near the border in a recent round of protests. Al-Najar’s funeral procession on June 2nd drew thousands of Palestinians, including uniformed medical workers, who are in high demand after thousands have been injured or killed since protests began in March. On Saturday, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator released a statement condemning the death of al-Najar. Three days later, Israel’s military issued a statement on Twitter calling her death unintentional and stating that “no shots were deliberately aimed at her”. A follow-up tweet stated that there will be an additional investigation. The current series of protests in Palestine began in March, pushing for the end of an 11-year blockade of Gaza. Israel claims that these protests are staged by members of the Islamist group Hamas as a way to promote attacks against Israel by using women and children to storm the border fence. As of June 5th, Israeli Security forces along the border have killed more than 115 Palestinian protesters. Although the international community has decried this excessive use of force, the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution on June 1st  that condemns Israel’s actions. The Trump Administration blames the protests on Hamas. Furthermore, Al-Najar’s death comes more than...

Weekly Report: 1 June 2018

Photo: Nicaraguan mothers protest the killings of their children at demonstrations over past months. The Guardian. Maldives In a primary election labeled illegal by the ruling government, members of the country’s largest opposition, the Main Democratic Party (MDP), voted resoundingly in favor of Mohamed Nasheed as their candidate for the upcoming presidential elections. Police attempted to halt all “illegal” voting this week, seizing many of the party’s ballot boxes, but their attempts were largely unsuccessful. Creative MDP supporters used an assortment of bins, plastic containers, and cement mixing tubs to make sure people were able to vote. Thanks to these efforts, reports show that Nasheed was able to secure approximately 44,000 votes, or about 85% of the MDP’s support (99.8% among those who voted). Nevertheless, there remain immense obstacles to his candidacy. The Maldivian government has not only condemned this election as illegal, but has pointed out that Nasheed is an invalid candidate for the presidency. After he was ousted from leadership in 2012, the implemented government followed up his case with a politically-motivated terrorism charge. Nasheed is currently still serving the resulting 13-year sentence, and as a convicted criminal, he is ineligible to be president as per the Maldivian Constitution. The MDP has vowed to fight for the reversal or otherwise elimination of this obstacle, but the future of the election remains to be seen. Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen has taken up the garment workers’ ongoing dispute with their employer over severance wages and back pay. He has agreed to have the government pay the workers and encouraged the Labour Ministry to amend legislation to ensure that...

What you need to know about Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections

Photo: Opposition MDC supporters wave flags at a rally to launch their election campaign in Harare, Zimbabwe, Jan. 21, 2018. VoA. Associated Press. On Wednesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the country is to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on July 30th. In less than two months, Zimbabwean citizens will have the opportunity to vote, in the first elections since the ousting of Robert Mugabe in November last year. What do you need to know about the upcoming elections?   Legitimacy For current President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the 2018 elections are mostly about legitimizing his presidency. Following the November 2018 coup, in which the military leadership installed the former vice-President as the country’s new leader, Mnangagwa needs democratic confirmation through the ballot. Mnangagwa has invited Commonwealth election personnel to monitor voting in Zimbabwe for the first time since 2002, when Harare was suspended from the group over accusations of rigged elections. Experts claim that, if qualified as free and fair, the July-elections could be an important step in bringing foreign investors back to the southern African country after a decade of economic decline. Nevertheless, there are grave concerns about several aspects of the upcoming elections. Despite Mnangagwa’s narrative of free and fair elections, many still fear rigging. This is not without a reason. A little over a week ago, deputy Minister of Finance Terrence Mukupe made a controversial statement during a ZANU-PF meeting, claiming that those who were behind the military intervention to oust Mugabe will never let MDC-T leader Chamisa take over if he wins the elections. The electoral Act still does not allow Zimbabweans who live outside the country to...