There has to be democracy in
(but not in
“I hope that the African Union and its leaders will make it absolutely clear to Mr Mugabe that there has to be democracy, that there has to be change and a new government has got to be brought in. … The so-called elections will not be recognised.” (Daily Telegraph, 30 June 2008 
Those are the words of Prime Minister Brown, after Robert Mugabe was sworn in again as President of Zimbabwe, following his win in the runoff election on 27 June 2008, from which his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, withdrew.
Brown’s denunciation of Robert Mugabe’s re-election as illegitimate has been echoed by
every other political leader in Europe and
When you hear these people talk
about restoring democracy in
That government was the product of
elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in January 2006,
elections that were universally accepted as having been free and fair. That government was led by Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, a party that won 44.5% of the “national list” vote
and 74 out of the 132 seats in the PLC elections. That government was an all-party “national
unity” government, which was duly endorsed by the PLC in accordance with the
Palestinian constitution. Nevertheless,
these defenders of democracy in
Furthermore, these defenders of
In terms of democratic legitimacy, Robert Mugabe is streets ahead of Salam Fayyad, since he got over 40% of the vote in the initial presidential election, which may not have been as free and fair as the PLC elections, but had some claim to democratic validity.
Friends need not be democratic
Salam Fayyad has an advantage
over Robert Mugabe: he is very popular in
In the eyes of the US/EU, Robert Mugabe’s crime is not that his re-election was of dubious legitimacy, but that he isn’t one of their friends. If he were, his lack of democratic credentials would be disregarded.
After all, some of the West’s best
friends have no democratic credentials at all, for instance, King Abdullah of
The US/EU has a flexible approach to democracy in other states – roughly speaking, the rule is that allies need not have democratic institutions, but enemies must have, otherwise they lay themselves open to criticism at least and invasion at worst.
Problems arise when elections in
otherwise friendly places unexpectedly give victory to a party that isn’t an
ally of the US/EU. This happened in
(A problem of a similar kind has
recently arisen in
Double standards on intervention
Intervention of some kind in
And the situation is not improving. Over 400 Palestinians were killed in the first six months of this year, 106 in five days from 27 February to 3 March . In a report issued on 6 March 2008, a group of NGOs including Trócaire, CAFOD, Oxfam, Amnesty International and Christian Aid declared that “the situation for 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is worse now than it has ever been since the start of the Israeli military occupation in 1967” .
Robert Mugabe may be guilty of many things, but he is not guilty of taking over a swathe of neighbouring territory by force and colonising it, and holding on to the territory for more than 40 years against the wishes of the people who live there. Nor is he guilty of violating over 30 Security Council resolutions, most of them arising from that occupation.
But there are no calls for
Nelson Mandela “speaks out”
There has been a great deal of
On his recent visit to
“Friends, thank you for joining us here this evening, and your support for our causes.
“It is a great privilege having been able to travel here in our 90th year and be in the presence of so many good friends.
“Thank you for the continuing support in the fight against the terrible scourge of HIV and AIDS. You understand that it is in your hands to make a difference.
“The world remains beset by so much human suffering, poverty and deprivation. It is in your hands to make of our world a better one for all, especially the poor, vulnerable and marginalised.
“We look back
at much human progress, but we sadly note so much failing as well. In our time
we spoke out on the situation in
“We watch with
sadness the continuing tragedy in
“Nearer to home
we had seen the outbreak of violence against fellow Africans in our own country
and the tragic failure of leadership in our neighbouring
“It is within this context that we should also see the plight of those affected by HIV and AIDS.
“It is now in the hands of your generations to help rid the world of such suffering.
“I thank you.” 
There, he also “spoke out” on
3 July 2008