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February 27, 2005

UAE Catches "Election Fever"

I'm starting to think that maybe this really is a paradigm shift:

Academics and members of the appointed consultative council in the United Arab Emirates came out in favor of elections in the Persian Gulf state, arguing that it could not stay out of the regional trend toward elected bodies.

When millions of Arabs in Palestine, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have gone to the polls, the UAE cannot continue to lag behind, Professor Abdul Khaleq Abdullah of the UAE University told the English-language daily Khaleej Times.

...

Atiq Daka, a professor of political science at the UAE University, told AFP: "Our country is now the only member of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) which has yet to catch up with the political opening up under way in the Arab world. Even countries we thought incapable of political change, such as Saudi Arabia, are now ahead of us."

...

"We are certainly ahead (of other countries in the region) at the economic and trade levels. But we should also lead the way on the political front," Daka said.

"How come that we encouraged Iraqis to take part in elections and hosted Iraqi elections on our soil while even officials of sports clubs in our country are appointed?" Daka asked.

...

"We need not just municipal and legislative elections, but also transparency in terms of freedom of expression and total independence of the judiciary," said Abdullah Shamsi, also a political science professor.

"Political institutions must be given real powers ... if elections are not to be worthless," he told AFP.

Geeze... what if it works?

Thanks to JimW and Protein Wisdom for the tip.

And Now Egypt: Via Insty:

In a surprise announcement Saturday, Egypt's long-ruling president, Hosni Mubarak, ordered constitutional changes that would open the door for the first-ever multiparty presidential elections in the world's most populous Arab country. The move is the latest indication of a cautious democratic shift under way in the Arab world.

This is starting to get crazy.

I have to say that at the beginning of this effort, I harbored hopes that Iraqi democracy would spark a wildfire of pro-democratic reforms throughout the Middle East. Since then, I've become far less sanguine.

But maybe... maybe.


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posted by Ace at 03:13 PM

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