Santiago, Nov 15, 2019 Political parties in Chile have agreed on a path to a new constitution, negotiators announced in Santiago de Chile, early Friday after weeks of protests.
Chileans are to vote on whether they want a new constitution in a referendum in April next year, representatives of the conservative government coalition and the opposition said.
The text of a new constitution is then to be put to the voters in another plebiscite.
“We want a peaceful and constructive way out of the crisis,’’ Senate President Jaime Quintana asserted.
“We will for the first time have a 100 per cent democratic constitution.’’
The current constitution was written during the rule of the former dictator, Augusto Pinochet.
In a recent poll, 78 per cent of Chileans said they were in favour of a new constitution.
The nearly month-long wave of protests has been highly violent, with more than 20 people killed and hundreds injured.
Marches in Santiago were largely peaceful on Thursday, while in the city of Valparaiso, protesters armed with sticks and stones clashed with police amid clouds of tear gas, broadcaster 24 Horas reported.
In a bid to defuse the situation, President Sebastian Pinera had earlier cancelled metro fare hikes, which initially sparked the protests and announced measures such as increases in the minimum wage and pensions and higher taxes for the rich.
But the measures did not calm the protesters and Pinera finally accepted their demands for constitutional reform.
Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde
Gambari’s wealth of experience will move Nigeria to next level-Political scientists
Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA), an umbrella body for all Political Science lecturers in the country, has applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, a career diplomat, as his new Chief of Staff (CoS).
NPSA in a statement signed by its National President, Prof. Aloysius Okolie of University of Nigeria, Nsukka and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria , commended Buhari for the appointment.
Okolie said the association received the news of the appointment of Gambari, a distinguished scholar, career diplomat and eminent member of NPSA with great joy and expectations because of his wealth of experience.
“The CoS with his wealth of experience locally and internationally will help to move the country to the next level, “he said.
He noted that Gambari as a lecturer broadened the field of Political Science at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria by establishing International Relations programme.
“Based on his pioneering efforts, International Relations today has become a very attractive discipline to prospective candidates seeking admission in the country.
“His numerous academic contributions, including his vast enriching publications, as head of department and community services earned him promotion to the rank of professor by management of ABU,” he said.
Okolie said it was in view of Gambari’s numerous contributions to NPSA in particular and humanity in general that the association resolved in January to confer on him the award of Fellow of the Academy of Politics.
“This is in recognition and appreciation of his numerous positive contributions to our great discipline in particular and humanity in general, “he said.
The don urged Nigerians to give Gambari maximum support and cooperation as political scientists were hopeful that, this intellectual icon and career diplomat would be a viable asset in engineering and deepening good governance framework in Nigeria.
“NPSA is happy with Gambari’s achievements so far, because he has done the association proud in all positions held locally and internationally, “Okolie said.
News Analysis: Political ties between Palestine, Israel hard to be disengaged despite Palestinian abolition of bilateral agreements
The political ties between Israel and Palestine are difficult to be disengaged although the Palestinians announced the abolition of all the agreements reached with Israel in response to Israeli annexation plan, said Palestinian political analysts.
Nabil Amro, a former Palestinian diplomat, said that “the absence of a political track to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has turned the relationship between the two sides to be so hard to get disengaged.”
“The transitional Oslo Accords had established a de facto status during the past 25 years, which included administrative and economic ties and daily life coordination that it is hard to skip nowadays,” said Amro.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced two weeks ago that the state of Palestine and the Palestine Liberation Organization are not bound to all the bilateral agreements that had been reached with the governments of Israel and the United States.
A few days later, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtaye announced that the Palestinian side began to implement the leadership’s decision on the ground and has stopped coordination with Israel on all levels, including security cooperation.
The Palestinian decision was made in response to an Israeli government plan of annexing the Jordan Valley and imposing Israeli sovereignty on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which is expected to come into effect on July.
However, some local Palestinian political analysts told Xinhua in separate remarks that the practical implementation of the Palestinian decision of ending all the agreements with Israel is very complicated in regards to the nature of entanglement in the ties between the two sides over the past two decades.
Hani al-Masri, director of Masarat Center for Researches and Studies in Ramallah, said that “the intertwining relationship between Israel and Palestine is very big and large, and both sides’ interests are linked. Therefore, it will be so hard to overcome the existing agreements.”
“Implementing the decision of ending all the agreements with Israel is a hard disengagement and needs a long process that must start with gradual steps until reaching the level of the abolition of all agreements and understandings,” said al-Masri.
He suggested that the Palestinian side can put a multi-stage plan to make a gradual disengagement from all agreements and understandings reached with Israel.
“Then, the Palestinians can reach a stage of changing facts on the ground and reach the goal of ending the Israeli occupation,” al-Masri added.
Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians had stopped in 2014, nine months after it had been sponsored by the United States without achieving any breakthrough to resolve the conflict which has been going on for so many decades.
United States President Donald Trump‘s controversial peace plan, known as the Deal of the Century, made it more complicated for both sides to resume their peace talks after the Palestinians slammed the United States plan and rejected it.
While Israel insists on annexing around 30 percent of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley and several Israeli settlements, the Palestinians said that this plan means that Israel on purpose is undermining the vision of the two-state solution.
News Analysis: Experts welcome Afghan leaders “Political Agreement” as step towards overcoming challenges
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah inked the much-awaited patch-up accord on Sunday, bringing an end to the political impasse stemming from last year’s controversial presidential polls in the militancy-battered country.
Afghanistan’s fourth presidential election since the end of the Taliban’s reign was held on September 28 last year and Ghani’s victory was announced on February 18 this year.
Abdullah, however, rejected the result and took the oath of office on March 9, the same day Ghani was sworn in for a second term.
With the mediation of Afghan elders and politicians, both rivals on May 17 signed a power-sharing deal titled “Political Agreement,” under which Ghani would remain president and Abdullah would head the High Council for National Reconciliation and lead peace talks with the Taliban outfit to find a negotiated solution to the country’s endemic conflict.
According to the agreement, Abdullah, who had served as Chief Executive, a post equal to that of prime minister, in the previous administration, has the right to appoint half of the new government’s Cabinet members.
Afghan observers have cautiously welcomed the power-sharing deal as a step towards strengthening the establishment and initiating peace talks with the Taliban from a united platform.
Singing the praises of the Political Agreement as being a “welcoming step to end political instability and enhance government functionaries’ abilities to perform their duties properly,” political expert Hamidullah Arefi told Xinhua that almost all the ministries are currently run by acting ministers.
Arefi, chief of the state-run Daily Kabul Times newspaper, added that inking the political agreement would enable the president to appoint ministers and form a capable Cabinet.
However, Arefi said with pessimism that Abdullah’s new mission to lead the peace talks with the Taliban would be very difficult, stating, “The armed group has refused dialogue with the government in the past and won’t talk in the future unless the government secures the upper hand on the battle ground.”
“Tasking Abdullah with leading the peace process is a challenging assignment. However, it is still a welcome step towards encouraging the Taliban to return to the negotiating table,” Arefi said.
“Taking steps towards ending differences within the government and making a strong and united voice against the Taliban is a positive step,” he added.
The Political Agreement has come to fruition amid an escalation of fighting as the Taliban outfit, after inking a peace deal with the United States on February 29 in Doha, has intensified activities in Afghanistan.
Taliban militants in their latest high profile attacks targeted a military base in the eastern Paktia region and stormed a counter-intelligence agency in the neighboring Ghazni province recently, claiming the deadly attacks were a response to president Ghani’s order to resume offensives against the insurgents.
Afghan forces have maintained a defensive position since the U.S.-Taliban peace deal was agreed in Doha in late February, which facilitated the release of 5,000 Taliban detainees in exchange for 1,000 Afghan troops detained by the Taliban, and paved the way for intra-Afghan dialogue.
However, as a result of deadly attacks on a maternity hospital in Kabul and a funeral ceremony in Nangarhar last week, which president Ghani blamed on the Taliban leading to the ordering of security forces to resume offensives against the militants, the prisoner swap deal has been disrupted.
“The political agreement signed on Sunday is a significant step towards paving the way for peace and taking practical step towards achieving peace,” political analyst and former parliamentarian Salih Mohammad Registani told local media.
However, Registani maintained, “reaching peace with the Taliban group is possible but very difficult as the armed group demands replacing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and ignores women’s rights, which are both unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, the Taliban spokesman in Doha’s liaison office, Suhail Shaheen, without mentioning the Ghani-Abdullah political agreement, wrote on Twitter: “Things taking place in Kabul are only a repetition of the past failed experiences and the solution to the Afghan issue lies in the implementation of the Doha Accord.”
Political will fundamental to realizing more just, prosperous Iraq: UN envoy
A more prosperous and inclusive Iraq can be achieved provided the political will is there, a top UN official in the country told the Security Council during a virtual meeting held on Tuesday.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert briefed ambassadors on latest developments, including the appointment last week of new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, and the majority of his 22-member cabinet, following months of political infighting and stalemate.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has quieted months of corresponding protests, which saw Iraqis taking to the streets to call for an end to corruption, unemployment and poor public services, the UN envoy hoped that the new government will be guided by their demands and aspirations, for the good of the country.
“I remain convinced that a more just, prosperous and resilient Iraq can emerge from the current compounded crises. But for that to happen, political will is fundamental,” said Hennis-Plasschaert, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.
“Iraq must move away from endless crisis management towards a more productive approach, building resilience at both the state and society level. Short-term political and private calculations do not serve Iraq’s long-term interests, on the contrary. And yes, the challenges are many; but so are the opportunities.”
The UN envoy noted that the new prime minister’s priorities include tackling the pandemic, reforming the security sector, strengthening the economy, and fighting corruption, which she characterized as “perhaps the greatest source of dysfunction” in Iraq.
“These worthy aspirations must be turned into action urgently,” she said.
“And let me emphasize: Iraq does not have the luxury of time. Nor can it afford destructive petty politics.”
Iraq has long battled political turmoil but also social, economic and security crises. COVID-19 has added to these challenges by bringing commercial activity to a standstill and putting the livelihoods of millions in peril.
Oil-dependent Iraq has also seen monthly revenues from this commodity drop from 6 billion U.S. dollars to 1.4 billion dollars between February and April. Additionally, the economy is projected to contract by nearly 10 percent this year, with poverty rates rising to around 40 percent.
As Hennis-Plasschaert pointed out, these developments are occurring at a time when it will become even harder for Iraq to access international funding. The need to broaden its revenue base could not be more apparent.
“Time and again, it has been made clear that Iraq should reduce its oil dependency; repair and upgrade critical infrastructure; temper its ballooning, inefficient public service; build viable and responsive state institutions; combat patronage and clientelism; fight corruption, and incentivize the domestic private sector while attracting foreign investment,” she stated.
Meanwhile, Iraq continues to bear the impact of domestic, regional and international security developments.
Hennis-Plasschaert reported that although “inflammatory rhetoric” and a “pattern” of attacks and counter-attacks have tapered off in recent weeks, they remain a constant threat.
“And I can only emphasize: the way armed elements, armed entities, with differing ties to the state, choose to act in this moment will determine how Iraqis – and, indeed, many others – will perceive them,” she added.
“Once again, Iraq cannot afford to be used as a theatre for different power competitions and/or proxy conflicts.”
The UN official also warned against the resurgence of violent extremism, stating that the best way for the government to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other groups is to provide for citizens by addressing the root causes of their grievances.