Theater of Cruelty

Democratic progress


We live in a historical moment.

And the historical lies in what may now appear as a democratic moment, in the long run can become more than a vision of a world based on democracy.

On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of women, men, young and old stood in line to vote in the first free elections in Liberia. After the brutal civil war of 1989 to 2003, in which 200.000 died under Charles Taylor's rule of power, people now went from house to vote for their presidential candidate and new parliament.

The two presumed main contenders for the presidential post in Liberia are as diverse as they can get: 66-year-old grandmother Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a Harvard-educated and former central bank of the World Bank. The 39-year-old challenger George Weah is a former superstar on the football field, raised in the slums of the capital Monrovia. While opposition politician Sirleaf has broad appeal with the elite, the urban and the wealthy, Weah is the hero of many young and poor. The country is meeting exciting and promising times.

But it is not just Liberia that is facing decisive elections. On Saturday, October 15, Iraqis will vote on the proposal for a new constitution in the country. One can easily have strong opinions about how Americans and Europeans have behaved in Iraq in the last couple of years, including responsibility for the current situation. In any case, most Iraqis cannot be deprived of the right to form their own opinion about the future of their own country. The Al-Jazeera commentary Ny tid this week brings on pages 6-7 is a sign that the view of the constitution, the present and the future is far more nuanced and diverse than what usually emerges in the Norwegian public.

On Wednesday, it became clear that Iraq's Islamic Party, the Sunni Iraqi leader's opposition party, would recommend its supporters to vote in favor of the new constitutional proposal.

In mid-September, both Afghanistan and Germany made peaceful elections. Both are the countries that have experienced some of the worst civilian collapse in world history, under the Taliban and Hitler respectively. The history of the countries is connected in a subtle way. It is only 16 years since the Germans in 1989 started the rebellion to rid the communist dictatorship also in the eastern part of the country, a few months after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. After the fall of the Taliban dictatorship in the fall of 2001, it was precisely in Germany's cold war capital Bonn that the framework for new Afghanistan was laid, which was partly due to the historical ties between the two countries.

On November 6, another country faces a democratic fate election: Azerbaijan. The opposition may have opportunities to cast the corrupt Ilham Alijev, the son of longtime Soviet dictator Heydar Alijev (1923-2003). Yet another predominantly Muslim country has such an opportunity to step into the ranks of democracy.

When the oppressed advocate for democratic revolution as their unifying future solution, in the long run they will not be able to stop.


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