Nov. 12, 2013, 1:28 p.m.
China: A recent report by the People’s Daily Public Opinion Monitoring Unit reveals that the Communist Party’s campaign to combat dissenting views on social media outlets is stifling online speech. The crackdown began in August, when the State Internet Information Office compelled major online opinion leaders to adopt a set of “self-censorship guidelines.” That same month, Chinese President XI Jinping urged party leaders to better enforce ideological control and encouraged the Party to build a “strong Internet army” of censors. The new report, presented at the China Internet Media Forum, shows that official media outlets have crowded out independent commentators on Chinese websites, giving the Communist Party greater opportunity to manipulate public opinion.
Maldives: The Maldives is experiencing a constitutional crisis after current president Mohammed Waheed HASSAN refused to step down from office when his term officially ended on November 10. HASSAN’s successor has not yet been determined due to several Supreme Court orders delaying the current presidential election. While the first round of the election was held in early September, the results were later annulled by the Court. A second attempt at elections was held on November 9, resulting in a new runoff that is now rescheduled for November 16. The Supreme Court has allowed President HASSAN to stay in office until the presidential election is concluded, but hundreds of protesters have gathered outside of the Parliament building alleging that the Court’s delays are meant to benefit the second place candidate, a brother of the Maldives’ former dictator, and many fear that the protests could turn violent.
Ukraine: Ukrainian President Victor YANUKOVYCH will decide on November 28 whether or not Ukraine will sign an Association Agreement with the European Union. This decision will have both domestic and regional consequences. A partnership with the EU would prioritize the development of democracy, rule of law, human rights, good governance, and trade, while refusing the offer and joining the Russian-led Customs Union would shift Ukraine back into Moscow’s sphere of influence, which many fear would hinder its political and economic progress. The decision will also have electoral consequences: if YANUKOVYCH decides to reorient Ukraine toward Russian interests, it will anger many pro-Western constituents, forcing him to find new ways to appeal to these voters before presidential elections in 2015.
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