Jan. 23, 2014, 9:48 a.m.
Algeria: Although the presidential election has officially been scheduled for 17 April, uncertainty remains over who will run. The fifteen-year incumbent, President Abdelaziz BOUTEFLIKA, is suffering deteriorating health and was briefly incapacitated by a stroke last April, yet he has not announced whether or not he intends to stand for reelection. This uncertainty has had the effect of keeping potential challengers from entering the race, benefitting BOUTEFLIKA and the military-administrative complex that backs him as they attempt to manage the transition.
Central African Republic: The interim parliament has elected Catherine SAMBA-PANZA to replace interim president and former Seleka rebel leader Michel DJOTODIA, who resigned under international pressure earlier this month. SAMBA-PANZA, the CAR’s first female head of state, is seen as politically neutral and has called on both ex-Seleka rebels and anti-Seleka militias to cease their hostilities. While the replacement of DJOTODIA represents a significant step forward in ending the sectarian conflict, widespread civil unrest continues to cause a severe humanitarian crisis in the country and African and French peacekeepers have had limited success in stemming the violence.
Egypt: The election commission has announced that 98.1% of voters voted “Yes” in the constitutional referendum on 14-15 January, with 38% turnout. Many view the result as an expression of popular support for the military coup that overthrew President Mohamed MORSI last year, yet others are wary of the way in which the military stifled those attempting to campaign for a “No” vote. While the 98% approval is far higher than the 64% given to MORSI’s draft constitution, the low voter turnout indicates that many who disapprove of the new draft, including the Muslim Brotherhood, did not vote.
Fiji: Commodore Frank BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister of Fiji since leading a coup in 2006, will step down as commander of the military in order to run for office in September. BAINIMARAMA plans to form a political party, which under Fijian law he could not do while retaining his position in the military. As per the new constitution, BAINIMARAMA will be able to nominate his successor, who will then be appointed by the President.
Slovakia: Registration for the presidential election in March has ended. 15 candidates will contest the election, including current Prime Minister Robert FICO. If no candidate receives a majority of votes on 15 March, a runoff will be held between the two top candidates on 29 March.
(Image Credit: aljazeera.com)