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The Peace News log
For the Maldives, indefinite political chaos remains the only certainty should presidential polling scheduled for today - the fourth attempt over the last two months to vote a new head of state to office - not be allowed to proceed.
Today's poll is scheduled to take place just days before the expiration of a constitutional deadline requiring that a new president be appointed by November 11.
The Maldives' fledgling democracy, ushered in following the nation's first ever multi-party presidential election in 2008, faces being plunged further into legal and political limbo should authorities fail to ensure the 2013 presidential vote goes ahead on the weekend.
After a first round poll held on September 7 was annulled by the country’s under fire Supreme Court - despite being recognized as both fair and credible by local and international observers - the government of outgoing President Dr Mohamed Waheed has come under intense global scrutiny to ensure the Maldives five year-long democratic transition continues.
The now defunct September 7 poll saw sole opposition candidate former President Mohamed Nasheedd – with 45.45 percent of the popular vote – scheduled to face Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen – who obtained 25.35 percent of ballots - in a run off originally due to be held on September 28.
As a Christian, I had often thought of going to Israel-Palestine but had never quite been able to overcome the uneasy feeling of visiting a place regarded as ‘holy’ which is also a place of such injustice and violence.
In 1999, that changed when Pax Christi held its international council in Jordan and Jerusalem to offer support and encouragement to its partners in the whole region. To be invited by organisations working on the ground for peace and justice to ‘come and see’ made it somewhat easier to contemplate a visit. Since then I have made six visits to Israel/Palestine, most recently in October....Read More
In a New York court yesterday a compensation claim against the UN was brought on behalf of the victims of the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti, the origins of which have been traced back to the organisation. More than 8,000 people have been killed with over 650,000 becoming ill as a result of the on-going outbreak of a disease that was previously only rarely experienced in Haiti despite numerous outbreaks in the region.
As noted in a previous Peace News blog piece, a number of scientific studies have shown that the cholera strain was likely brought into the country by Nepalese UN troops and spread after a river was contaminated with human waste from their barracks. Despite this, whilst professing his “profound sympathy for the terrible suffering caused by the cholera epidemic”, in February the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, dismissed such compensation claims citing the organisation’s immunities privileges.
One such study was entitled ‘Peacekeeping without Accountability’, a Yale University report published in August that provided a comprehensive analysis of the cause of the cholera outbreak the conclusion of which was in line with previous scientific investigations, stating that its research “overwhelming demonstrates” the origin was from the UN. As a consequence of these findings the report stressed that the organisation should be required to remedy as best as is possible the outbreak’s consequences and prevent its further spread.
At what point is it that an infant democracy can really say it is growing up?
For the Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives, which held its first multi-party democracy in 2008, uncertainty remains over whether the country is on the cusp of realising some form of political maturity, or is rather facing protracted political instability, potentially violent clashes and continued name calling between its elected officials.
While established democracies like to boast of political divides based on clear ideologies - usually evolved from decades and even hundreds of years of struggle - Maldives politics remains very much personality based as of five years into its democratic transition.
Of these personalities, arguably the most divisive, yet influential, politician at present in the country is former President Mohamed Nasheed.
Nasheed, who resigned from office on the back of a mutiny by sections of the police and military on February 7, 2012, is hailed locally by his supporters as the country's only means of reforming the tested methods of cronyism and autocratic rule, while at the same time derided by opponents as an “anti-islamic”, dictatorial leader who flouted the country's 2008 constitution,
Being cautious and trying to apply the saying “you are what you eat” today can perhaps be trickier than simply checking the nutritional information about the levels of sugar, fat and vitamins that the food you are buying contains. Indeed, last year about 170 million hectares of genetically modified (GM) crops were cultivated in 28 countries and although none of them are being grown commercially in the UK, imported GM commodities, especially soya, are being used here, mainly for animal feed.
In June the controversy about the subject was once again reopened after the Environment Secretary told the BBC that “GM has significant benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment.” Opponents of GM, including some scientists and activists, say the opposite.
Anti-GM researchers and food campaigners gathered to discuss the implications GM has for our food system at a public meeting in the Senate House of the London University on September 4th. At the centre of the debate was the often cited, by both sides of this issue, 2012 study co-authored by the Professor of Molecular Biology from the University of Caen, Gilles-Eric Séralini, which links GM and the Monsanto pesticide Roundup to organ damage and increased risk of tumours in rats. Due to medical conditions Mr Séralini was not able to attend the event in person and was instead represented by Dr Michael Antoniou from King’s College London School of Medicine who is co-author of the study “GMO Myths and Truths”....Read More
On 10 September, DSEi invades London. DSEi, or Defence & Security Equipment International, is the world’s largest international arms trade fair, and is held every two years at the London ExCeL Centre.
One of the most touted arguments in favour of arms production is employment. Companies and politicians constantly make the claim that a reduction in arms development means a loss of jobs.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case, and some alternatives to arms trade may actually be better for workers and the economy.
In many nations with arms trade industries, governments subsidise arms trade-related jobs with taxpayer money. As of May 2011, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated the UK arms export subsidies at around £700 million per year.
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