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Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

What is the Samagi Balawegaya

November 18, 2013 Leave a comment

For the past few weeks I have been asking people to join the Samagi Youth Corp, and rightly so many of them have asked me what exactly is the Samagi and what are the goals of the Samagi Youth.

I am taking this time to write a brief summary of what the Samagi is and how the youth corp will operate.

The Samagi Balawegaya (Force for Unity) is a coalition of civil society activists, trade unions, media groups, politicians and individuals who are concerned about and are dedicated to working towards a sustainable and all-inclusive future for Sri Lanka. The Samagi as a whole has agreed upon the ten principles detailed below: 

ONE 

Abolishing Executive Presidency 

TWO

Strengthening of Good Governance by re-installing the 17th Amendment to the constitution and removal of the obstructionist clauses under 18th Amendment

THREE

Affirming a united Sri Lankan identity by conserving the rights of every ethnic group in Sri Lanka’s diversity.

FOUR

Strengthening of Parliamentary democracy by repealing “Manaapaya” system

FIVE

Right to Information and Freedom Expression and Freedom

SIX

Re-affirming Rule of Law and Independence of Judiciary

SEVEN

Controlling Cost of Living and Implementing anti-corruption laws

EIGHT

Preservation and Strengthening of Universal Education and Healthcare benefits

NINE

Reducing the poverty and implementing a truly people-centric development plan for the country

TEN

Implementation of LLRC Recommendations

These ten principles will form the backbone of the Samagi as we continue to push the current government towards the change that the people of Sri Lanka are asking for.

What is the Samagi Youth Corp?

The Samagi Youth Corp is an arm of the Samagi that will work alongside the youth of this country who are committed to ensuring a future that we all agree upon. The main aim of the Youth corp is to demand from the government the necessary assistance in helping them build a future that is not only prosperous but also sustainable. 

Politics and politicians have, for too long, been allowed to sneak past the voters with the outdated populist methods. As the youth it is now our turn to take a step forward and start asking the hard questions and once again force the politicians to return to the role of being the representatives of the people. 

Asking the questions alone will not be enough, the Samagi youth will take upon itself the lead role. As we expand through the provinces, the corp will form a consensus among their peers over issues that our generation will be forced to inherit. The tough questions must be asked both of ourselves and the government. The traditional image of the role of the youth in society must be re-evaluated. 

While the demands are made of the government, we the youth must be prepared to work towards achieving the future that we want. 

The Samagi Youth Corp is throwing out an open invitation to all those who are interested to join up.

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Morsi; The New Kid On The Block

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Egypt’s newly instated President, Mohamed Morsi, successfully orchestrated a ceasefire between Palestine and Israel this past week. In doing so he has announced himself as a key player in the post Arab Spring Middle East.

For many outside of Egypt, Morsi was a relatively unknown character prior to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Despite being a political figure for the better part of the 2000s, he failed to make headlines until he contested and won the Presidential election earlier this year.

Love him or hate him Mubarak left Morsi with some big shoes to fill. While his success was greeted with much jubilation in Egypt the rest of the world was waiting to see what the new President of the Middle East’s most populous state was capable of.

His opportunity of a meaningful contribution to the region came on November 14 when hostilities between Israel and Palestine escalated to aerial bombardment.

The US, which has been a vital component in the affairs of the Middle East for the past decade, was quick to jump in. Barack Obama voiced his support for Israel, justifying their defence of their country.

Obama’s relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu could be described as formal at best. Support for this act of aggression is surprising considering the heavy criticism Bashar al-Assad has received for similar action. The recently re-elected President’s support for Netanyahu would have come as a shock and disappointment to many.

Morsi’s time had arrived. With many people questioning America’s stance, Egypt came to forefront by hastily securing a peace accord between the two groups. It avoided, what was gearing up to be, an invasion of the Gaza strip by Israel. Morsi was suddenly the mediator of peace in the Middle East. Had the Arab Spring produced a leader who was capable of leading the region forward?

Syria’s civil war, Iran’s aggravation of the West with threats of producing a nuclear bomb, Libya’s rebuilding and Afghanistan’s turmoil are just some examples of the regions crises. Morsi decided to tackle the longest running issue, that of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It was a success, not so much in that halted the conflict but rather it forced Netanyahu to agree to a highly unpopular ceasefire a mere two months before he stands for re-election.

All-out war has been avoided, at least for the time being, which has been a shift in the pattern of events seen in the Middle East. The Arab Spring, while signalling a change, was marked with US support of potentially violent actions (as was seen in Libya and now in Syria). Obama’s vocal support of Israel could be seen as following a similar vein.

Morsi has instead diffused the situation and shown that continuity was possible through peaceful means. Supporting Gaza, and by doing that open warfare, was avoided through the Egyptian President orchestrating a ceasefire that benefited the Palestinians. While rumours circulate that a deal has been made with Israel to ensure the ceasefire, on the surface Morsi has championed the Palestinian cause.

The result was a showering of praise from the international community. From being an obscure figure Morsi was now being labelled as the regions much needed driving force for sustainable peace and democracy.

Twenty-four hours after brokering the deal Morsi passed a string of decrees back in Egypt. The image was destroyed. Supporters of Morsi were suddenly torn between loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood and a wish to see their revolution completed.

Morsi came in to power on the back of one of the longest running dictatorships in the region. He was looked upon to lead Egypt, and be an example for the rest of the Middle East. Instead he has now given himself powers which are further reaching than what was seen during Mubarak’s time.

While dividing the country over his new decrees, Morsi has also left the Obama administration embarrassed. A day after singing his praises the White House was forced to sit quietly and observe as, who they thought would be, the newest leader for Democracy take on a dictatorial stance.

He garnered admiration from the international community, he strengthened his standings in the region and now he has moved to cement his position as the undisputed leader of Egypt. Morsi is taking all of the right steps in announcing himself as a heavyweight of the Middle East, and from the early signs he is on the right path. However, it remains to be seen whether or not this will be a lasting reign.

Early Voting In The US

Election Day in the US will see millions of people around the country line up at polling stations ready to cast their vote. Unlike Sri Lanka, something I have noticed in the US is that the number of polling stations are far fewer and casting the vote itself would also take up to ten minutes. This means that people are left standing in line for hours. So the US election authorities have made it easier by making use of “early voting”.

Early voting is very simply an opportunity for voters to turn up before election day and cast their vote either in person or via mail.

Each State in the US has a separate time period for early voting which is determined by the state authorities. It can run from anywhere between a week to ten days. This election has seen an unprecedented prediction of over 46 million people casting their votes early.

The idea behind early voting is to ensure that on election day everybody can cast their vote before the polling stations close.

However, despite the opportunity to vote early the majority of the country still choose to come out on November 6.

Visiting the polling station at Elmhurst School in West Toledo, I was greeted with the sight of long voter lines. Speaking to the people I learnt that they had been in line for over two hours. Jessica Litzch said she had been in line for almost two hours and was tempted to leave and try again later.

“I never got down to voting early simply because I never had time with work. My boss said I can take time off to vote today which is why I am here”, she explained. Litzch added that she has to go back to work and will not wait to vote now but would try again in the evening.

Frank Bedford left the polling station complaining that he had been standing in line for 2 hours and could not afford to spend anymore time there. “I run my own business and cannot afford to keep it closed for too long”, he said.

Bedford added that it was unlikely he would come back and vote since he does not leave his shop until 7pm. He admitted that not making use of the early voting was a mistake.

Judging by the news from elsewhere in the county the lines seem to be even longer. One report suggests that in Florida voters are having to stand in line for almost 3 hours. Despite these time constraints the voters are, by and large, choosing to stand in line.

Of course a surprising aspect is that traditionally voter turnout in the US is not high. An interesting development considering all the assistance voters are given.

Democrats have complained that their voter bases are lazy and do not often turnout in full force on election day. Early voting would no doubt assist the Democrats.