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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘presidential elections’

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be ‘Re-elected’ on Tuesday

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is going to be “re-elected” in the upcoming presidential polls scheduled for Tuesday.

Obviously, Assad will win his third seven-year term at the end of the day – if anyone other than his friends even show up to slip the ballots into the box. It would be lethal to do so.

A few “opponents” will stand as candidates to give the appearance that the elections are actually a process rather than the farce the process really is.

One of those willing to cooperate is Hassan al-Nouri, a U.S.-educated businessman who once served as minister of administrative development. Age 54, he is the first of two people ever to run against the Syrian leader – even in a rigged election. His fellow ‘opponent,’ Maher Hajjar, is a legislator from Aleppo.

The fee for Nouri’s cooperation was massive publicity. His face has been plastered all over the country on billboards from one end of Syria to the other. A savvy businessman, Nouri understands that the price of doing business is keeping your name in the news. He is a wealthy man, but more money is always welcome, and Nouri until now has been known mostly to the Damascus-area market.

Neither are really opponents, of course. Nouri even admitted as much to The Washington Post. “I’m not opposition, a hundred percent. But I’m not part of the regime,” he said. “I’m leading the third party.” Western leaders and analysts have dismissed this and the entire election as a charade.

But more to the point, Nouri expressed a view repeatedly stated by the Assad government, more succinctly and in terms a democratic audience can more easily understand: “Millions of Syrians are the silent majority. They don’t give a damn who is the president. They want food on the table, they want peace, they want security.”

The question is, what happens the day after tomorrow?

El-Sisi Becomes President of Egypt

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Exit polls show that former Field Marshal and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has swept the polls to become Egypt’s new president.

With nearly all the votes counted, el-Sisi has won 95.3 percent, with leftist opponent Hamdeen Sabahi taking 4.7 percent. The data comes from the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research and the Egyptian TV channel MBC Masr.

Some 25 million Egyptians managed to make it to the polls by the end of the three-day extended voting period, according to the state-run Al-Ahram Online news service. Both candidates filed complaints against the decision to extend the voting by an extra day.

The Human Rights Watch agency also complained, issuing a statement saying, “The mass arrests of thousands of political dissidents, whether Islamist or secular, has all but shut down the political arena and stripped these elections of real meaning.”

El-Sisi removed his predecessor, the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Morsi, last June after he had spent one year in office. That year resulted in an Islamist parliament and a tourism industry torn apart by fears over limits on alcohol, music, dress codes and more.

The economy, already limping after the January 25 Revolution in 2011 toppled the government of former President Hosni Mubarak, crashed. And thousands took to the streets to protest when there was no improvement in any sector month after month from the new regime.

When the figure hit the million mark, el-Sisi stepped in, removing Morsi and installing a provisional governing council with representation from across the political spectrum and an interim president. The Muslim Brotherhood was also invited to send delegates – but refused and instead sent its people into the streets, where clashes escalated to more violence.

Eventually more than 600 were killed in the clashes between police and protesters, and thousands were injured. Ultimately the Muslim Brotherhood was banned as a political organization, as it was in earlier years by the Mubarak government, and its leaders jailed.

El-Sisi also poured police and other security personnel into the Sinai Peninsula to put a stop to the flood of terrorists ‘immigrating’ to the region to establish new bases there. He also ordered the Egyptian army to seal the smuggler tunnels with which Gaza terrorists were ‘importing’ weapons and other contraband under the border from Iran and elsewhere.

The issue now is whether the new administration under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will have the tools and the legitimacy it needs to restore order and peace to a nation wracked by rage, violence and poverty for so long.

Egyptians Choose a President (Again)

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Egyptians are going to the polls today (Monday) and tomorrow to elect a president in what many see as a foregone conclusion. But the issue is not whether former Field Marshal and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will be elected president – the issue is how many of Egypt’s 80 million citizens will actually turn out to vote.

El-Sisi, whose opponent was socialist activist Hamdeen Sabahi, was responsible for the June 30, 2013 removal of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president.

Former President Mohammed Morsi was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood and elected by a popular vote that many Egyptians said was rigged. The election followed the “January 25 Revolution” that toppled the decades-old regime of former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

The “intervention” – as the subsequent military government called it – came in response to months of protests against the increasingly restrictive Islamist regime.

By June, millions of Egyptians had signed a petition asking the president to resign, and were flooding the streets in major cities around the country. But the streets ran with blood as the protesters clashed with their Muslim Brotherhood counterparts, who supported Morsi and claimed the entire scene was a setup by the military.

Now new elections have arrived and the question is whether the country will turn out to support el-Sisi — the military chief who seized the initiative to remove Morsi from office, attempted to restore order to Egypt and has since cooperated with Israel in trying to eliminate terrorist camps in Sinai.

El-Sisi Heading to Presidential Victory in Egypt

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Presidential elections in Egypt are on the way, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has already picked up 85% of the ex-pat vote.

Of course, he has very little competition.

He is opposed by only one other candidate: Socialist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, an opposition activist during the eras of Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, who was jailed during the terms of both presidents.

Egypt’s presidential elections are set for May 26-27.

Two police officers and two civilians were injured Saturday when a “homemade” bomb exploded at a rally for el-Sisi in Cairo, AP reported.

The former Egyptian army field marshal and defense minister was not there, however; he has restricted his appearances to television programs and interviews for security reasons.

Thus far two assassination plots have been uncovered, el-Sisi said in an Egyptian television interview, but gave no details. He accused the Muslim Brotherhood in connection with the plot and that under his regime the organization would no longer exist, “just like that.”

Former president Mohammed Morsi, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, was the first democratically-elected president to enter office following the January 25 revolution that ended the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Last June, el-Sisi removed Morsi from his post after he had spent one year in office due to a groundswell of grassroots protests throughout the country.

Since that time the country has been run by a national council but the Muslim Brotherhood withheld its support, instead choosing to continuing protests and clashes with security personnel.

More than 16,000 members of the movement and other radical Islamists have been arrested, according to Aljazeera, and hundreds of others have died in the violence.

Kharkov Moving Towards Secession?

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Less than a month after the eastern Ukrainian capital city’s Jewish mayor was shot in the back, the Kharkov region is set to hold a referendum on independence within the next week.

Kharkov residents were urged to go to the polls to vote on whether to join the secession of the southeastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, the Itar-Tass news site reported.

“Southeast” Coordinating Council of Movement spokesman Yuri Apukhtin made the announcement Sunday at a rally in the city’s Freedom Square. A number of demonstrators waved Russian national flags at the rally, including those from the Ukrainian Communist party and from “Borba” (Struggle).

“Our task is not to participate in Ukrainian presidential elections in any case,” the activist said from the podium. “We should meet on this square on May 25. We do not recognize these elections.”

Presidential elections are scheduled in Ukraine for May 25 although the original election date was to be held on March 29, 2015. The date was changed following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. A second and final runoff election will be held on June 15 if the first election is inconclusive, according to media reports. The elected candidate will serve a five-year term in office.

Apukhtin said that although he had been invited to attend a second all-Ukraine national unity roundtable meeting held in Kharkov on Saturday, he “refused to participate.”

Jewish communities around Ukraine are watching the secessionist movements closely, and contingency plans are being made in each area. For the most part, however, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries say they are not leaving. All programs are continuing as planned thus far.

Meanwhile, Kharkov Mayor Gennady Kernes, 54, has been recovering in Israel since the beginning of the month from the critical wounds that nearly ended his life. Kernes suffered gunshot wounds to several vital organs, including the lungs and liver, during an assassination attempt in the wee hours of the morning several weeks ago.

Opposing his former Russian patrons, Kernes began to support Ukrainian nationalists in February following a coup in Kiev. He was shot while jogging prior to starting his work day.

Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz, Kharkov chief rabbi and Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, visits him regularly at the hospital where he is being treated in Haifa. The mayor has reportedly continued to carry out his duties with his staff in Kharkov to the best of his ability via telephone. However, due to his medical condition, doctors say it is unclear when he will be able to return to his office, although they are sure his condition will improve.

Knesset to Choose Next President June 10

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Knesset members will choose Israel’s next president on June 10, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced Monday.

The decision to hold elections now is a political blow to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who tried to push off elections to replace retiring President Shimon Peres in order to block the election of current front runner, MK Reuven Rivlin.

“The current race has been muddied by slander and delegimitization,” Edelstein said, “which I feel has disgraced the process and caused severe damage to this important institution.”  While the Israeli president is technically the head of state, it is a position has traditionally been a ceremonial post, with little official jurisdiction. Presidents have little authority apart from granting pardons and accepting credentials from foreign diplomats to Israel.

Peres, however, has used the office as a personal soapbox. As president, he has remained outside politics, but has frequently voiced opinions on Israel’s diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority and other issues that have traditionally been considered outside the purview of the presidential office.

Seven who would be president

Currently, there are seven candidates for president. They include former Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin, former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Likud MK Silvan Shalom, former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik. former finance minister MK Meir Sheetrit, former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner and Nobel Laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman.  Candidates have until May 27 to declare their candidacy, together with signatures from 10 Knesset members.

“I want to wish each of the [seven] candidates good luck, but beyond that I beseech and even demand of them, for me, for the Knesset and for the people of Israel, to behave with dignity, respect, decency, morality and integrity,” Edelstein continued.

Netanyahu’s Struggle for the Presidency

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Behind closed doors, President Shimon Peres is whispering (loudly) that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to be a dictator over Israel.

That’s because the prime minister is attempting to end the president’s authorization to assign the top political party the task of assembling a governing coalition after each election.

Netanyahu also wants to postpone the presidential elections for up to six months, according to a report broadcast last week on Voice of Israel government radio. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein would take over the reins from Peres in July if the prime minister succeeds.

But according to a report last week in the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv, Netanyahu’s real goal is to abolish the presidency altogether.

Peres said in conversations with confidantes that Netanyahu’s initiative is “an attempt to establish a dictatorship here,” The Jerusalem Post reported. He claimed the prime minister would not “be satisfied until there is an absolute ruler [in the prime minister’s office].”

The president, who retires next month when he turns 90 years old, has always been far more active politically and diplomatically than is generally accepted. In that he is similar to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, also elderly, who has traveled to numerous nations around the world and freely spoken his mind, regardless of the impact his actions might have on U.S. relations or foreign policy in those regions – including here in the Middle East.

In the State of Israel, the position of president is one that is supposed to be primarily ceremonial, rather than actively political, and brings with it little actual authority. This has proved to be a major frustration for Shimon Peres, who has likewise felt the need to express his opinions regardless of whether they contradict those of his own government. Both men have created awkward situations for their governments and at times have even sabotaged their governments’ efforts as a result.

However, not every president is a Shimon Peres and new presidential elections are coming up fast. Netanyahu still has to drum up support for any move either to postpone elections or to eliminate a president’s ability to assign coalition-building — or for that matter abolish the post — and that’s not easy.

Likud MK Reuven Rivlin, 74, has a great deal of support for his candidacy in the upcoming election, and not only from Bayit Yehudi Housing Minister, MK Uri Ariel. Although Rivlin appears to be a genial man, he is not likely to allow himself to be sidelined so quickly, nor are his colleagues likely to be willing to sit silently by and let it happen.

His biggest rival, Binyamin Ben-Eleizer, 78, is another strong contender unlikely to allow Netanyahu to give away his right to assign coalition formation. The Iraqi-born former IDF general is close with the Sephardic population and maintains excellent relations with Arab leaders.

Silvan Shalom, 55, and a former finance and former minister, also has considered running for president but now may drop the idea. His candidacy would likely not succeed due to allegations of sexual offenses against former employees. At least one involved formal charges, but the case was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. Each of the others did not materialize for various other reasons, according to a statement by the Justice Ministry last week.

There are also reports that former Soviet refusenik Natan Scharansky, 66 and currently director of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has been approached by various people asking him to toss his hat into the ring. Hugely popular, Scharansky has not yet discussed the matter in public.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahus-struggle-for-the-presidency/2014/05/12/

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