Democracy is in action across Africa, from Egypt to Morocco to DR Congo. Also, the UN climate conference is getting underway in Durban in South Africa. The country's Deputy President says "we're suffocating". That's the focus for Monday 28th November, 2011.
The International Herald Tribune cartoon (selected from Canada's National Post) shows five Egyptian generals around a table. One says: “All those in favour of ending violent suppression and switching to deceit, subterfuge and manipulation instead”. And they all have their hands up. That’s a twist on democracy in action. Among the Egyptian papers, I looked at Al-Shorouk which argues that what is needed now is negotiation. It says the military doesn’t want power so much as money. The challenge is to reach a settlement on terms and conditions so that they return to barracks. The paper points out that this is the only way forward, as the military has had huge influence in the country for more than six decades.
In the French press review, I reported on Le Figaro’s editorial praising King Mohammed VI for his reforms. A moderate Islamist party has emerged victorious in elections there. For balance, I turned to an opposition blog which is neither Islamist or nationalist: larbi.org. It headlines: “The lure of elections” and says the key result in the vote was the low turnout. Seven out of ten eligible voters didn’t show up, an abstention rate higher than in Morocco’s last two general elections.
The Bahrain-based Gulf News, meanwhile, has a comment piece arguing that the transition to democracy was never going to be easy in various Arab countries. The piece is headlined “Arab Spring is still work in progress” and is written by Kuwait University’s Abdullah Al Shayji. He argues people power is here to stay regardless of how messy, bloody the revolution might be. He also points out that the Arab World has changed more in one year than it has in decades.
Slate Africa is looking at why the opposition to incumbent President Joseph Kabila could get a thrashing in elections that begin today. Slate says the opposition is hugely divided and the move to a one-round vote works against it. In the general election, almost 19,000 candidates are vying for 500 seats. People in DRC are going to the ballot box after a weekend of clashes between supporters of rival parties and security forces.
Moving down the continent, The Times of South Africa is leading with the word “revolution”. It’s not a reference to the Arab Spring but a plea instead. The paper headlines: “Revolution needed to save our planet”. The latest round of UN climate change talks start today in Durban. The paper reports that Africa is the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with millions already suffering from drought and extreme weather. And there is a quote from South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe saying: “we are suffocating ourselves”.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal Europe has a feature on lying. A village in the Lake District in the north of England has hosted the World’s Biggest Liar competition. Brits are known for their eccentricity but the article points out that this lying fest has gone international. “Fibbers are increasingly coming from other parts of the world,” the paper reveals.