Kenyan election results

Kenya‘s President Mwai Kibaki won Thursday’s closely-fought election, the electoral commission has declared.

The announcement came after opposition leader Raila Odinga accused Mr Kibaki of electoral fraud and called for a full re-assessment of the results.

Opposition protesters began riots in the capital Nairobi, just minutes after the announcement.

Africans should learn to rule by respecting democratic principles. This can make it easy for their countries to have fair elections. Ruling through nepotism and corruption has its effect in elections as each side tries to use whatever means to get elected including vote rigging and violence.

Election campaigns in Kenya were marred by relative violence to become even worse after the result announcement with about one hundred deaths and extensive damages to property. It’s no wonder if the results are controversial and disputed by all side in the absence of fair play by all sides to get undisputed results.

In Kenya, although it was a good step to have elections to give power to the voice of people, the delay in announcing the results has put in question the fairness of the elections as the defeated party sees the delay as a way to rig votes and not to count them.
For the election commission to hold talks with the parties and international election monitors means voting was flawed and a compromise is needed by the parties. This means people’s choice at the ballot boxes can be set aside to satisfy the political forces in the country. Elections will be for many just a sham.

It’s time for African leaders during elections to admit defeat, if they haven’t got enough votes, just at the close of polling stations and to reassure their supporters of a better day. Each claiming victory in elections is in itself an invitation to unrest as each seeks their supporters to impose themselves at the expense of political and social stability.

In African elections, the accustomed use of terms like vote rigging and corruption just reinforces the idea that many African haven’t yet reached political maturity and their political level is still as low their economic and social one. It seems that in Africa to be a leader on should have an armed force behind. Civilian vote is used just as a façade to celebrate an event with dances and speeches and not to count it or use it as an account of who should be in power.


Democracy and political assassinations in Pakistan

Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated in a suicide attack.

It is sad that the Bhutto family should be plagued with political assassinations. It is like the Kennedy family in The USA and the Ghandi family in India. It seems that in many cases political bravery involves bravery to face death. Political assassination is not the democratic way to make a point.

Pakistan has the flaw of being a society where there are different forces that can’t cohabit. There is the military that is unlikely to fully relinquish power to elected institutions. It will always continue to seek a crucial role in the country’s politics. There are also religious views that oppose democratic rule as it views it as western style that has nothing to do with Islam.

As long as politicians are constantly under assassination threats, Pakistan will remain a country in political turmoil that emerges from time to time. The military will continue to have direct interferences in what is taking place. Pervez Musharraf, although now a civilian, has a military past behind him. He will continue to work closely with the military to stay in power. Events have shown that political parties have only the power to rally supporters to denounce measures by the president. Elected institutions are just a sham as they have little power to sway the country’s general politics.

Al Qaeda denying it killed Benazir Bhutto can be just a tactic on its part. It has succeeded in eliminating her. Now it should work to destabilize the government of Pt Musharraf by showing it to be behind her killing as a way to create massive anger and unrest in Pakistan to its advantages.

Benazir, during her life, was a controversial figure in Pakistan politics. Now from her grave, she’ll continue to create controversies about who was her real killer and the real motives behind her death.

Religion and politics

Religion in a multi-faith society should be left aside. Many atrocities were carried out in the name of religion. In recent history, there were many incidents. Yugoslavia was broken up because of religious tensions between Muslims and Christians.

Lebanon has so far failed to elect a president because of political disagreement between political factions whose background is religious. The president in this country should be a Maronite Christian. Politicians because of their different faiths have different alliances even outside their country. The Shiites are allied with Iran and Syria. The Sunnis are allied to Saudi Arabia and the United States. India can be a good model about religious tolerance when it comes to politics as it had a Muslim president, although Muslims don’t make the majority of Indians.

Religion can be a card used to sway the voters. In the USA, Obama has been attacked by his opponents because of suspicion about his religious background and the Muslim religion of his stepfather. Religion can serve just a moral code but it shouldn’t be used as a weapon to discriminate against opponents of other faiths.

Politicians in power as in Iran use mosques to make their points. The Iranian president has made many of his controversial political speeches on Friday prayers. But in the eyes of many Iranians, despite religious devotion, he doesn’t make a good president. It can be a disaster for Iran because of his uncompromising attitudes. George Bush is unpopular although he’s religiously devout.

People expect from politicians integrity and competence. Secular political system can be a compromise for countries on the brink for break-up because of tensions between religious factions. Religion alone isn’t enough for better governance. What matters is tolerance on all levels, including political and religious tendencies.

Elections in Thailand

The party allied to Thailand’s ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra has won the general election, initial results from the Election Commission show.

The results of the elections in Thailand in must be a personal victory for ousted PM Thaksin. Far away from his country, he was still able to command influence despite the grip of the military on power. The vote for his party is partly a vote for him. It’s a message for those seeking democracy that the military’s place is in the barracks and not in government seats.

This means democracy can be a reality if the military step aside and leave elected institutions exercise their political powers. In view of the history of coups in Thailand, the military will probably continue to stand by for any possible intervention in the Thai political affairs. Thailand remains stable despite political shakeups thanks to the influence of the King who seems obeyed by all. But this isn’t enough for the Thai people to enjoy a better life. They also need effective leaders who can deal with their urgent problems.

It remains to see if former PM Thaksin will be able to return to his country or he will be the dragon behind the throne. His being kept outside the country as a kind of political refugee will put into question the validity of the elections and who’s really in charge of the country despite the facade of elected institutions.

ANC new leader, political ambitions and accusations

South Africa’s top prosecutor says there is enough evidence to charge the new leader of the governing party, Jacob Zuma, with corruption. This can have effect on political cohesion in this country.

South Africa is still plunged in deep social problems. Many black Africans still live below the poverty line. Crime there is among the highest in the world. South Africa still needs to take rigorous policy to uproot social and political discontent. It seems that despite these troubles, young South African are becoming politically indifferent contrary to the young blacks during apartheid who were politically engaged to end racial segregation.

South Africa needs a strong leadership. Nelson Mandela was the unique model of a clean leader who took the presidency and left it without putting into question his integrity. The current leadership should take him as a model. Black activists fought for the end of apartheid and the unification of the country, especially the unity of black people. The spirit of struggle should continue for ANC not to lose credibility.

Jacob Zuma has been a controversial politician, starting with accusations and trial over rape and corruption. If found guilty of corruption , it’s better for him and his country to resign the leadership of the ANC. It will be a victory for the justice system that should be respected. It will be a victory for democracy in this country. It’s better to uproot the causes of national discontent from the beginning. It can be dangerous for South Africa to have blacks in particular becoming sworn enemies after decades of struggle and just a few years of liberation from apartheid.

If the political situation worsens, the ANC can split and its ideal for a justice and national unity can evaporate.

The eyes of the world are on South Africa because in 2010 it’s going to hold the World Cup . It will be queer to have a prestigious tournament run in a country with visible political rift. South Africans still have the time to put their political system in order. Now it is below the expectations of many South Africans who haven’t benefited from the end of apartheid. Politicians of all type should continue to play it fair away from political stratagems. Using dubious ways in political management will downgrade the ANC. No one will look to it as a champion of dignified struggle but just an oligarchy rewarding kin and friends with little regards for the majority who are still waiting for a better day for all and not just for a minority of black whose fortunes are added to those of the white minority.

Happy birthday BBC!

Happy birthday BBC!

If the BBC is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, I am celebrating my 25th year of listening to or devouring BBC world service English programmes. ( but unlike the BBC I can’t remember the exact date I started listening to the BBC English programmes but I am sure that was in 1982, when I was still a English learning beginner. (At that time, in Morocco, students started learning English at the age of 15/16). I still remember the issue of the magazine “London Calling”, I received from the BBC which was about BBC’s 50th anniversary.

I still remember when BBC Arabic service was the second radio station in Morocco. People seeking extra news used to listen to BBC Arabic service. At that time, it used to have two broadcasting periods. One in the morning for two hours. And another period from 13:00 GMT to 20:00 GMT.

My favourite programmes on BBC English service were “Outlook”, “Play of the Week” and “24 Hours” and programmes from “Learning English” like “Can I help you” and “Speaking of English”.

Since 2006, I’ve become hooked to BBC WHYS. I still remember the first call I had from the show to take part. At first, I was hesitant because I had never spoken live on air. My contribution was, I think, the shortest on the show: 15 seconds! But through repeated contributions I succeeded in speaking longer without exceeding the allowed time.

WHYS now takes a great part of the time I spend on BBC site.

The BBC in the period I have been listening didn’t stop being innovative. Despite the emergence of tens of major news channels, BBC remains unique in its approach to the news in terms of coverage, tone and impartiality. It’s the only that targets the largest audience 33 languages on its website.

The BBC through its dedicated journalists and staff received many awards. It still deserves more.

Once again many Happy returns!!

A question to Director of the BBC World Service, Nigel Chapman

On the celebration of the BBC 75th anniversary, I had the chance to put this question to Director of the BBC World Service, Nigel Chapman about the launch an Arabic TV channel:

“The BBC is going to launch an Arabic TV channel
. How distinct is this channel going to be vis-à-vis the existing Middle Eastern Arabic channels like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya?”

Nigel Chapman: What we want to make sure is that the BBC brings a very high quality international news service on television in Arabic to the Middle East. The BBC has a genuinely international perspective on the news and the big events in the world. It’s not rooted in the region itself like some of the channels you mention. I expect a wide agenda and also the ability to reveal news stories especially in the Middle East itself, but also right across the world.

This what I think about this launch.

The plan to launch an Arabic service new satellite TV station in the Middle East is a good step by the BBC to address an audience whose region is extensively daily in the news. Although the launch seems a bit late, but it’s better late than never. The region is now swarming with different news “homemade” Arabic channels, but each is with a political agenda. Although they appear to be neutral or reflecting both sides, they remain tied to the political directions of the countries that sponsor them. Al Jazeera is known for broadcasting programmes like “Opposite Directions” in which debates get hot to the point of uncivilised shouting and interruption, but it never dared broadcast a programme about Qatar showing the problems facing the country. Al Arabiya can never broadcast programmes showing the social or political problems in Saudi Arabia. Such channels are free to broadcast programmes critical of other countries, except the countries that sponsor them.

The BBC will be an occasion for those seeking facts without being bombarded with set political views that reflect only the official lines to watch the news and to make their mind about it. Those who visit BBC Arabic website, listen to Arabic service will quickly fit in BBC Arabic television service. Those used to biased news will find the BBC biased because it isn’t leaning to the side they are used to adhering to.

BBC will surely represent a serious rival to the established Arabic news channels if it starts to broadcast 24/7 and if the audience learns that the new approach to the news isn’t to be dictated how to view events, but to have views on them. BBC English service has succeeded in making its users, website visitors, viewers and listeners become interactive. The BBC leaves them to comment and as it has no political agenda amounting to propaganda, contrary to the other Arabic channels who invite “experts” to tell the viewers what is right and wrong.

Speech freedom and responsibility

Freedom of speech entails a lot of courage, especially in countries where the media is state controlled. People in countries ruled by one-party-system were and are still afraid to express themselves freely even when speaking to a stranger. In Russia, there was a competition for the best political joke as an opening on free speech. During the communist era, people were afraid to express opposition to the regime even to their closets friend for fear of being reported to the KGB. However, this campaign was just a joke as in recent years freedom of speech seems to be repressed with the death of journalists like the famous Anna Politkovskaya .

Despite the opportunity the internet gives people to express themselves through blogging, there are still risks of being caught. Yahoo and Google are particularly known for passing information about net users, especially in China, leading to prosecution and imprisonment. There is still censorship as many sites are closed. In Morocco, Google Earth and Live journal aren’t available. There were attempts to close Youtube. But this lasted for only a week.

One area that has become a breeding space for those seeking free expression is blogging. Many are using this tool to communicate their views. But blogging can’t be without shortcoming as there is the risk of publishing unfounded ideas, especially when it comes to religion or race.

Despite for calls for total freedom of speech, there is still scepticism about blogging as it can be just about inventing news. But blogging can be fascinating and inspiring if it is about views that seek to bridge the gap between opposite tendencies. Bloggers should have responsibility about what they publish. They shouldn’t use free access to the internet and internet facilities to propagate disparaging attitudes. Blogging should be an open forum for people to share ideas with one another across the world regardless of nationality, creed or race.

If some use blogging as an escape from news censorship imposed on professional journalists, they should learn to be enlightening and inspiring. However, blogging remains for the few lucky. Currently, there is still information divide because of basic and computer illiteracy affecting poor countries.

Bloggers can be more challenging if they can get reliable sources for their output and come up with convincing opinions. Blogging should at least remain a mental exercise and an intellectual leisure. The more one blogs, the more one gets new horizons through personal efforts and continuous mental drills.

Russia delivering nuclear fuel to Iran

Russia has delivered its first shipment of nuclear fuel to a reactor it is helping to build at Bushehr in Iran.

Iran seems to be scoring a diplomatic victory over the USA. US intelligence reported that Iran was still incapable of producing nuclear weapons. Now Russia has come to Iran’s side by supplying it with nuclear fuel. This will make the task of the USA to convince UN Security Council of imposing new sanctions on Iran difficult.

Now it’s Russia’s turn to make sure its nuclear fuel is used for peaceful purposes. If Iran succeeds in making nuclear weapons, a new political era will set in the Middle East. This can be advantageous to Russia as it will have a strong ally in the region to offset US dominance in the region. At the same time, it will be the chief intermediary between Iran and the USA to settle differences.

Iran getting nuclear fuel is a new chapter in its saga with the West. Time will tell who is wrong or right about Iran’s intentions. Meanwhile Iran will continue to be a key player in the Middle East by holding its opponents in suspense about its intentions while successfully manoeuvring with other parties like Venezuela , China and Russia to create a protective block in case of intense pressures from the rest of the international community.

Sex appeal and feminism

Sex is a major factor in people’s behaviour by either practice or abstinence. The sexual revolution of the 60s seems to have left a great impact on today’s girls. They seek more freedom from their parents or family. It has become natural in many societies to see single mothers whose children’s father may be unknown even to them.

Advertisement and fashion also play a great role in how girls should look and behave. In the past, many areas like bars were exclusive just to men. Today in the name of equality, girls are indulging in behavioural activities to assert themselves. It is no wonder if priorities are given to sex appeal , as it is in fact a woman’s nature to seek admiration and open compliments.

Many women find it difficult to get what they want through “logical” persuasion or qualifications. They use their sexual powers at the place of work with their colleagues and employers to advance quickly profiting from their own advances and the advances of the males around them.

In developed countries, it is a foregone conclusion that, in most cases, if a man is set on marriage he will meet a career woman since women have become a major force in the market although discrepancies still remain for top jobs. But this fact is creeping in developing countries. Some work areas recruit more women than men such as the textile industry and nursing.

A lot of men are resentful to see women at the top because of their chauvinism. When it comes to marriage, a man likes to be the boss in the house. For that, a woman with a career -especially superior to his- finds it difficult to have the last word.

A man still sticks to his sense of superiority to women. It is no wonder if the majority of men prefer for their marriage a woman who is less old, less tall, less rich, less educated, less situated in work than them. Some women, if not the majority of them, take pride in marrying men superior to them to show themselves and their surrounding how valuable they are. In a sense, women brandish the equality law just to have a status in society and to be independent. When it comes to relations or marriage, it is nature that dominates. A man feels pride in protecting a woman and she, too, takes prides in being protected. A man seeks protection from a woman emotionally, rather than financially.

As career is about income and responsibility, some men find it difficult to adjust to the fact that the women with whom they share the same roof can be a person inside the house and another in the place of work, where they have professional responsibilities entailing professional relationships. Men, in other cases, resign to women with a career just for economic reasons or fir fear of not being able to have any prospect of marriage at all. It has now become rare to find a woman ready to sacrifice her career to be blessed by marriage, which at any time can end in divorce.

Listen to part of BBC WHYS show on the topic.

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