Dec. 4, 2013, 12:16 p.m.
Bangladesh: The largest opposition party in Bangladesh, the Nationalist Party, has announced it will boycott the general elections on 5 January, claiming the government will interfere with the poll to ensure its own victory. Political violence in Bangladesh has killed 52 since October, as opposition supporters stage protests and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh HASINA.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: According to high-ranking officials, progress has been made in reforming Bosnia and Herzegovina’s electoral system after 16-hour talks with the European Union. In order to apply for EU membership, Bosnia must comply with a 2009 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that elected positions must be open to all ethnic groups. The current Bosnian Constitution ensures the country’s three major ethnic groups (Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks) equal representation in the 15-member legislature and tripartite presidency, excluding members of the country’s Romany and Jewish minorities from those offices. While the president of the Serb-dominated sub-state entity Republika Srpska walked out of the negotiations, Bosniak President Bakir IZETBEGOVIC and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan FUELE are both optimistic about reaching a resolution. The negotiations will continue in Sarajevo later this week.
Egypt: The 50-member panel tasked with amending the draft constitution written under ousted President MORSI’s administration has finalized its amendments and approved the constitution for a referendum. The constitution maintains the Egyptian military’s far-reaching powers, including the right to try civilians in certain circumstances, and mandates that elections be held within six months of ratification. Meanwhile, thousands of MORSI supporters clashed with police in Tahrir Square and outside the High Court. The protesters were forcibly dispersed with teargas, but small-scale violence continued throughout the day. Supporters of the ousted President continue to stage demonstrations across the country in violation of new laws severely restricting the right to assemble in public places. Over a thousand have been killed and thousands more jailed since the government crackdown began in August.
Honduras: The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has announced a recount of vote tally sheets from the 24 November presidential election. While the official results favored National Party candidate Juan Orlando HERNANDEZ, second-place candidate Xiomara CASTRO claimed victory and denounced the results as fraudulent. On 1 December, CASTRO and her husband, ousted President Manuel ZELAYA, led a march of several thousand supporters. The next day, CASTRO filed a formal complaint with the electoral court, demanding a recount of the vote tally sheets from all the polling stations. CASTRO claims that these tally sheets were altered, and that the voter registry was inaccurate, though she has presented no clear evidence of either.
Nepal: The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) suffered a major defeat in the country’s general elections on 19 November, winning just 80 of 601 seats and coming in third to the centrist Nepali Congress and the center-left Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist). However, because neither of the latter parties won a majority of seats (196 and 175 seats respectively), the Constituent Assembly tasked with finalizing the country’s new constitution is set for more political gridlock. Formed in 2008, the members of the Constituent Assembly have been unable to agree on the structure of Nepal’s post-monarchy government, particularly over the role and extent of federalism. While the absence of the Maoists, who have pledged to boycott the new Assembly, will change the political dynamic and offers hope for a breakthrough, Nepali experts are pessimistic that the remaining parties will be able to overcome their differences and form a productive coalition.
North Africa: Egyptian and Tunisian civil society organizations are investigating the use of SMS technology and data mapping as potential tools to be utilized in monitoring their upcoming elections. Mobile phones, smartphone apps, data visualization platforms, and social media websites are increasingly being recognized as valuable assets for election observers and monitors, as well as voters themselves. These technologies allow those present at polling stations to provide real-time updates on polling station security, evidence of fraud, and even vote tallies. The two main benefits of utilizing these technologies are: (1) the way it allows election observers to respond to incidents of fraud as they happen and prevent additional incidents, and (2) the way it allows them to create a coherent picture of the level of fraud committed in order to combat rumors and limit the ability of losing candidates to disrupt the process with baseless allegations.
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