Podcast hosts Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson with Abdulwahab Alkebsi (right).
CIPE Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa Abdulwahab Alkebsi’ s passion for democracy work goes back to his childhood in Yemen.
In this podcast, Alkebsi discuses how his childhood in Yemen informs his democracy work today, the success of Arab Americans and Muslim Americans in the United States, in contrast to the situation in Europe, and the need for a reassessment in the Middle East of what Islam is and what it is not.
He also talks about the correlation between the institutions that build the Islamic faith and those that build democracy, what is happening on the ground in the Middle East today that makes him hopeful for the future, and the exciting contribution the private sector is making to building democratic institutions in Africa.
Listen to past episodes of our show here.
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Samriddhi wins an award at the Asia Liberty Forum in Kuala Lumpur.
By Sarita Sapkota, Samriddhi
In the annual Asia Liberty Forum in Malaysia this year, Atlas Network presented the Asia Liberty Award to Samriddhi for its ‘Econ-ity’ initiative. As part of Atlas’ Regional Liberty Awards, The Asia Liberty Award recognizes think tanks within the Atlas Network that have made important contributions to improving the landscape for enterprise and entrepreneurship in their regions. Through the award, Econ-ity was specially appreciated for the success it has brought about in advocating for and having an impact on energy sector reforms and investment policy reforms in the area of foreign investment in Nepal.
These reform efforts include pressuring the government to remove the minimum investment requirement in its recent foreign investment policies to allow small entrepreneurs to receive smaller investments and technology transfer from foreign companies as well as the establishment of a hydropower trade agreement with India that creates a more optimistic environment for investors in the sector. CIPE has been partnering with Samriddhi on several research and advocacy projects in both areas over the years.
Participants in the civic education program (photo: SEF)
Women comprise more than half of those displaced by the Syrian civil war, a conflict affecting more than 12 million people. As entire communities’ social services and educational structures have been upended and 3 million children forced to abandon their education, girls and young women have been disproportionately affected by the unrest. Those who would otherwise attend school, complete their educations, and pursue diverse careers are being forced into early marriages and motherhood, sexually exploited, and used as unskilled labor in dangerous working conditions in large urban centers like Amman, Beirut, and Istanbul.
There is a strong correlation between education and positive health and socioeconomic outcomes for women and girls, yet education is often one of the first things to be disrupted when conflicts break out. In areas where traditional educational models become unavailable or unfeasible, civic education courses that nurture cultures of peace, promote dialogue and non-violent conflict resolution, and build the cognitive and participatory skills of participants can help fill a critical gap.
This post has been updated on December 17, 2015.
What a difference a month can make! During Argentina’s first presidential candidate debate in October, Daniel Scioli, the Peronist government party candidate, appeared to be a shoo-in with voters. A month later at the November debate held at the University of Buenos Aires Law School the tables were completely turned. Mauricio Macri, representing the opposition voice of market friendly change had now become the favorite to win the election. What happened?
The role of the presidential debates—the first in Argentine history (see my previous post on the first debate which talks about this CIPE supported initiative)—is difficult to quantify. What we can see is that Scioli paid a heavy political price for not participating in October’s debate. The other candidates made constant references during the debate to the empty podium that referenced his absence. The press also excoriated Scioli’s last minute decision to not participate.
Mauricio Macri, nuevo presidente de Argentina (Foto EFE)
By Mario Felix Lleonart
Originally published on his blog Cubano Confesante.
I was brought by God’s winds to the epicenter of a democratic battle: the Argentina ballotage (runoff), the second round of an election for the presidency of the Republic between two candidates.
I landed on Sunday, November 15 in Buenos Aires, exactly at the moment of the first presidential debate in the history of Argentina. During an incredibly intense week, for the first time in my forty years I observed the effervescent passion of a nation that today can settle the future of their country through ballot boxes.
The 8th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy, in Seoul, Korea, focused on ways to renew democracy, prevent backsliding, and sustain democratic transitions. In line with this theme, CIPE organized a workshop for participants to share experiences in balancing economic and political reform priorities and engaging civil society to drive reforms.
The speakers focused on two of the four dimensions in the Steering Committee’s “Call for Democratic Renewal”: the need to prepare civil society to protect fragile new democracies and the need to restore the credibility of mature democracies. They also stressed the need for two-way international engagement.
Across the world, poor governance and an overbearing state have presented themselves in the form of land grabbing and weak property rights; the denial of opportunities to women, local communities, and small businesses; and the suppression of efforts to build civil society. Specific challenges cited include efforts to deprive women of their rights in Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Morocco; unbalanced economic reforms that neglected political reforms in the Middle East; and restrictions on independent civil society organizations including business associations in Vietnam and China.
On February 21, Bolivians will head to the polls to cast a yes or no vote on whether the constitutional two-term limit for presidents and vice presidents should be amended. The outcome will decide whether Bolivia’s current president Evo Morales will be permitted to run for office again if he so chooses.
Recent polling (10/26, 11/4) indicates that the vote will be close, with the intention to vote yes ranging from 46-49 percent and no from 39-45 percent, with 9-11 percent undecided. The current Bolivian constitution, approved in 2009 when Evo Morales was already president, establishes that presidents are limited to two terms (i.e. one reelection). President Morales was first elected in 2005. He was re-elected in 2009 and then was granted permission to run a third time in 2014 on the grounds that he had only served one term under the new constitution.
Why does it matter if citizens in Bolivia vote to approve a constitutional change that would pave the way for President Morales to run for a fourth term?
In an op-ed published in October 28, 2015 in Los Tiempos newspaper, Bolivian economist Roberto Laserna reminds his fellow citizens that the February 21, 2016 referendum only indirectly questions the permanency of president Morales. Ultimately, the vote will weaken legal certainty and stability of the rules of the game – i.e. democracy and rule of law. Read the translated text of the article below.
Brent Ruth is a Program Officer for Latin America & the Caribbean at CIPE.