Jan. 14, 2014, 11:12 a.m.
Central African Republic: The interim President Michel DJOTODIA and his Prime Minister have resigned amid continuing sectarian clashes across the country. Djotodia had proved unable to disband the Muslim Seleka rebels who seized power in a coup last year, prompting violence with Christian militias. Thus far, African Union and French peacekeepers have been unable to prevent the violence from escalating, with over a thousand dead and reports of widespread human rights violations on both sides. It remains to be seen how this development will affect the presidential elections scheduled for later this year.
Egypt: On January 14-15, Egyptians will go to the polls for the first time since former Islamist President Mohammed MORSI was ousted by the military to vote in a referendum on the new constitution. The referendum is widely seen as a test for Gen. Abdel Fattah al-SISI, who has recently hinted at his intention to run for president later this year. If Egyptians turn out in large numbers and approve the constitution, many in Egypt will view it as a legitimization of the coup and of SISI personally. While the new constitution contains stronger language protecting Christians and women, it also calls for less civilian oversight over the military. The arrests of those campaigning for a No vote further worries those who are wary of the military’s influence over the new Egyptian administration.
North Korea: The Supreme People’s Assembly has called for parliamentary elections on March 9. While the country holds these elections every five years, they are largely a formality as the candidates are hand-picked by the ruling Workers’ Party. In the last election, held under KIM Jong Il’s regime in 2009, only one candidate was permitted to stand in each constituency. Nevertheless, the election is significant in that it will allow Supreme Leader KIM Jong Un to secure his power by replacing older regime figures with younger loyalists.
Thailand: On January 13, an estimated 170,000 protesters began a “shutdown” of Bangkok, designed to disrupt government and commerce and force Prime Minister Yingluck SHINAWATRA to step down. The protesters, led by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), have been demonstrating for months, calling for the abolition of the parliament and the creation of a “people’s council” to oversee political reforms. While political tensions have existed in Thailand for years, the current crisis began when Prime Minister SHINAWATRA introduced legislation designed to allow her brother Thaksin SHINAWATRA, ousted from office and exiled in 2006, to return to the country. In response to the protests, SHINAWATRA dissolved the government and scheduled new elections, but the PDRC and opposition Democrat Party plan to boycott and the election commission has recommended delaying the vote.
(Image Credit: cnn.com)