I have been fascinated recently by the events of two countries. First, is Niger. The President of Niger has served two terms of 5 years each and according to the constitution is not allowed to run for reelection. Amid all this he has dissolved the parliament and scheduled a referendum on a new constitution for August 4. This past Sunday “a large” group of anti-referendum protesters turned out to demonstrate this move. During the protest one of the protest leaders with a history of illness had to go to the hospital where he later died. The demonstration was reportedly peaceful.
The President of Iran was declared the winner of the weekend election there. Iran has an interesting mix of democracy and theocracy. The main ruling body body is made up of religious clerics who appoint a leading cleric whose decisions trump that of anyone else (including the president). It has been interesting to read the reports of protests throughout the capital city of Tehran. Citizens even taking their angst out openly against secret police. (Apparently secret police are never as secret as intended.)
Two countries at the crossroads. Two muslim countries. Two leaders who are reportedly holding onto power. Two important players in nuclear politics. (Niger is the 2nd leading exporter of uranium and Iran is notorious for its “nuclear program”.)
It always intrigues me why things happen the way that they do. With Iran I hope the revolution continues and culminates in broader freedoms for the people of Iran (especially religious freedom). With Niger I hope that the President changes his mind and steps down. I especially hope that he does not try to sieze control of the army and use force to keep himself in power. Africa in general does not have a great track record when it comes to democracy, but there is no better time to start than now.
What other parallels do you see? What outcomes do you hope for?