On August 23, 2017 NDI received a letter from Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation ordering the Institute to close its office and expelling its international staff from the country. The government’s action against NDI was part of a larger and intense campaign against independent media, the political opposition and civil society. The crackdowns are taking place in the lead-up to the July 2018 elections, which are expected to be closely contested.
Liberia is in transition, celebrating more than a decade of peace since the end of its civil war in 2003 and surviving the Ebola crisis. The country is moving past a focus on political stability and towards building a resilient democracy that delivers for its people. After electing Africa’s first woman head of state, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in 2005, Liberians face another historic election on October 10, 2017: the first peaceful transfer of power between two democratically elected governments.
Nicaragua’s democratic institutions have eroded substantially over the past decade, to the degree that many Nicaraguan youth do not see viable options for making change in their communities or country through politics. Through grassroots organizing, a group of Nicaraguan youth have found ways to exercise their right to hold elected officials accountable and to secure action to bring about improvements in their communities.
On July 26, 2017, Tunisia’s Assembly of People’s Representatives (ARP) unanimously passed groundbreaking legislation on the Elimination of Violence against Women. After years of debate and deliberation, the new law strengthens penalties against those who commit violence against women, both in the privacy of their home or in public.
Following its groundbreaking work in 2015 as the first-ever citizen monitoring group registered in Burma/Myanmar, the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE) emerged as one of the country’s leading election monitoring organizations. Since then, PACE has continued to play a prominent role in promoting electoral integrity during parliamentary by-elections and municipal polls which further consolidated the country’s democratic transition. Having now mastered its own methodology, PACE has begun to mentor other Myanmar organizations to do the same.
Timor-Leste’s July 2017 parliamentary elections, and its earlier presidential polls in March, marked significant milestones for this island nation’s young democracy. First, these were the first-ever Timorese-administered national elections since the country achieved full independence from Indonesia in 2001. Previous elections in 2001, 2007 and 2012 were held under United Nations stewardship as Timorese citizens struggled to find peace in the bloody aftermath of a 1999 independence referendum that displaced more than half its population and destroyed over 70 percent of its infrastructure.
At 5 AM on August 8, delegates participating in NDI’s international election observation mission (IEOM) to the Kenyan elections were on their way to poll openings in 13 counties across the nation. They were hardly the first to arrive. Already, long lines of voters had formed overnight in many places, patiently waiting to cast their ballot for Kenya’s future. As delegation co-leader Rep. Karen Bass (CA) put it, “The Kenyan people have a lot to be proud of. I’d give anything to have a turnout like that back home.”
North Korea receives significant international attention for the nuclear threat it poses to international security, for its uniquely closed nature, and for the severity and scale of human rights violations perpetrated by the regime. North Korean defectors have fled their home country to escape political prison, torture and/or starvation, and their stories have painted a picture of severe, widespread human rights abuses.
Last week, NDI-Eurasia Deputy Director Katherine Fox, alongside IRI-Eurasia Director Stephen Nix and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Minsk, Sanaka Samarasinha, briefed the Helsinki Commission on political developments in Belarus. The panel was entitled “Engaging Belarus on Human Rights and Democracy.”