DG Roundup: February 5-11, 2014

Feb. 11, 2014, 2:43 p.m.

Bahrain: King HAMAD bin Isa al Khalifa has enacted a new law that makes it illegal to criticize his rule. The law applies to anyone who offends the King, the flag, or the national anthem, and the punishments range from a fine of BD 1,000 (about $2,600) to BD 10,000 (about $26,000) and from 1 to 7 years in prison. Meanwhile, anti-government protests continue in Bahrain on the third anniversary of the uprising against King HAMAD, which was suppressed by force with the help of Saudi troops in 2011.


Egypt: Leading political figure and former presidential candidate Amr MOUSA has confirmed that Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-SISI will run for President of Egypt in the upcoming election. Field Marshal el-SISI has held a powerful position in Egyptian politics since leading the military coup against then-President Mohamed MORSI last year, and sees the passage of the constitutional referendum last month as popular support for his policies. Nevertheless, el-SISI has been criticized internationally for his regime's lack of tolerance for civil liberties and violation of human rights in its crackdown on Islamists in the country. El-SISI is expected to make his formal announcement later this month and is likely to become the immediate frontrunner in the race.


Switzerland: A referendum has narrowly passed that will force the Swiss government to impose immigration quotas and restrict migrant labor from European Union countries. These restrictions must now be negotiated with the EU as they violate the 1999 treaty that ensures freedom of movement between the EU and Switzerland. The move will likely have adverse effects on the Swiss economy, which relies on trade with and labor from the EU, and may inspire other Eurosceptic countries such as the United Kingdom to further restrict their EU immigration laws as well.


Thailand: Election commission officials announced that parliamentary elections will be re-held in late April for constituencies where voting was severely impeded by protesters on 2 February.  It is estimated that voting was affected in about one fifth of constituencies, which has prevented a quorum from being obtained in the parliament. This quorum is required to appoint a new government, which although unlikely to end the political crisis, would allow important economic policy decisions to be taken, e.g. renewing or reforming Thailand's rice subsidy program.


(Image Credit: dw.de)

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