Tag Archives: election

Election, a challenge in Sunabeda Sanctuary area

Caught in the violent conflict between security forces and left wing extremists, many voters in remote villages of Sunabeda Sanctuary area in Odishas Nuapada Assembly segment are apprehensive of their participation in the upcoming elections. In fact, Sunabeda Sanctuary, a Maoist warzone bordering Chhattisgarh, poses a challenge to the district administration to hold elections because of its sheer remoteness and difficult terrain. The region is going to poll on April 10. Although CPI (Maoist) is yet to call for poll boycott, villagers, many of whom have already been identified as supporters of security forces and rebels, fear for their lives. With the backing from security forces, residents of Sunabeda, Gatibeda, Koked and Janpani villages inside the sanctuary had dared naxalites to enter their villages and vowed to confront them with bows and arrows in January this year. On the contrary, some villagers under Soseng gram panchayat in the sanctuary have been branded as rebel sympathisers. Security forces closely monitor their movements. As the elections near, these villagers are finding them in tricky situation.

In fact, prior to announcement of elections, Nuapada Divisional Committee placed names of seven persons of Sunabeda sanctuary in their hit-list. The CPI (Maoist) division had also warned Nuapada administration not to lay any road inside the sanctuary under Integrated Action Plan scheme. The construction of roads could become a flash point for Left wing extremists to perpetrate violence. At present six road projects and construction of culverts are going oninside the forest area.

When contacted Nuapada SP Umashankar Das said, taking up normal road projects is nothing to do with elections. The projects will go on in spite of the election process. The rebels, however, allowed other welfare schemes pertaining to drinking water and education.

Difficult terrain

Nuapada district administration has identified 65 polling booths which are very sensitive on account of threat from naxalites in Sundabeda area. In case of 35 booths, polling parties will have to walk a distance between 3 km. and 10 km. In fact, on the day of poll, voters may walk down 10 km. to reach polling booths. Paharia community, which lives in Khadanga village on top of mountain, will have to spend whole day on making to and fro journey to exercise their franchise.

Patadhara village under Bhainsadani gram panchayat under Boden block has been identified as the most difficult polling station in the region. The polling party will have to trek 15 km.-long mountainous terrain to reach Patadhara, from where Chhattisgarh is a few kilometre distance. Selection of polling party for Patadhara will not be made through process of randomisation. We will select young government employees and convince them to set up polling station at Patadhara, said Sarat Kumar Srichandan, Nuapada District Electoral Officer.

Although polling parties will be flanked by security forces, there will always be threat of ambush by naxalites. If reports on growing confrontation between security forces and rebels appearing in newspapers are to be believed, the upcoming Assembly and general elections might witness incidences of violence. It will impact the voters as far as their participation in elections is concerned, said Ajit Panda, Khariar-based journalist and activist. By the last election (2009), Sunabeda, spread over 600 sq km, had not seen any violence by Left wing extremist. However, during past five years, security personnel, government employees, elected representatives and innocent villagers have been killed inside the forest. Naxalites from Chhattisgarh, who used to cross over border to take shelter in dense forests of Sunabeda, have been trying to protect their area dominance.

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Election, a challenge in Sunabeda Sanctuary area

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Tony Benn Dead: How Twitter Thought It Was Boxer Nigel Who Had Died

Tony Benn

PA News Photo 13/2/82 A library file picture of Tony Benn in London

Labour MP for Chesterfield, Tony Benn addresses a meeting and rally at Notting Hill, London when he called for total support from the Lbouir movement for the miners in their fight.

Energy Secretary Tony Benn (C) holds a sample of oil at a ceremony to mark the opening of the valve to bring ashore Britain’s first North Sea oil at the BP refinery on the Isle of Grain, Kent. * With Benn are Frederick Hamilton (L) chairman of the Argyll Consortium and Captain Harry Koutsoukos of the tanker Theogennitor which transported the crude oil ashore.

Mr Antony Wedgewood Benn, Minister of Technology and Acamedician V A Kirlin, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Minsters of the USSR and Chariman of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers if the USSR for Science and Technology at the Ministry of Technology at Millbank Tower, after signing a Technological Agreement on behalf of their respective Governments.

Tony Benn hand in hand with his wife Caroline at Heathrow Airport.

Tony Benn, who was defeated by Denis Healey in the election for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party, speaking at the party conference in Brighton.

Industry Secretary Tony Benn and his daughter Melissa, 18, leave a church hall polling station on Portobello Road, after casting their votes in the European Referendum on the Common Market.

Tony Ben, former Minister of Technology, addressing the Labour Party Conference.

Postmaster General Tony Benn during a visit to the new Western District Office in Rathbone Palace, London, during the start of the Christmas rush

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Tony Benn Dead: How Twitter Thought It Was Boxer Nigel Who Had Died

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Why Rebecca Kaplan Would Help the Oakland Mayor's Race

Two polls in the last few months showed that a large number of Oakland voters remain undecided about the 2014 mayor’s race. But the surveys also revealed that a plurality of residents prefer a candidate who has not yet announced her candidacy for mayor: Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

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Why Rebecca Kaplan Would Help the Oakland Mayor's Race

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Left-wing parties to take EU power

Left-wing parties to take EU power

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Parties of the left, including Sinn Fin, will be the largest single group in the next European Parliament, taking power from centre right parties that include Fine Gael, according to the latest poll.

By Ann Cahill, Europe Correspondent

Ireland loses one of its 12 seats in this election and, according to predictions, this will result in Fine Gael winning three rather than their current four seats in the new, bigger constituencies.

Labour, which won three seats in the 2009 vote but effectively lost one when Nessa Childers left the party last year, will win two seats with Ms Childers running as an independent in Dublin predicted to lose hers.

The prize for the Socialists if they become the largest group in the Parliament could be that their nominee, German MEP and president of the Parliament Martin Schultz, becomes the next president of the European Commission.

Fianna Fil, which was in government during the last elections, on current showing will retain their three seats, as will independent Marian Harkin in the west.

The two remaining seats could go to Sinn Fin.

The European Peoples Party, whose member parties are in government in more EU countries than any other, will see the biggest drop in seats losing nearly a quarter, 72 of their current 274. While the Socialists will pick up 27 to bring them to 221, the liberal group, ALDI, to which Fianna Fil is allied will lose seats in Britain and Germany.

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'Mother Tongue' Campaigning Debate Fires up Bulgarian MPs

A huge scandal erupted in the Bulgarian Parliament Friday, caused by the rejection of the possibility of election campaigning in native language other than Bulgarian.

The resulting lack of quorum led to the adjourning of the session only 50 minutes after it started, despite the pressing need to approve the new Election Code, ahead of the European elections.

The lawmakers rejected the proposal of the liberal, predominantly ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) to allow election campaigning in a language other than Bulgarian with translation in Bulgarian.

This caused a sharp reaction from the leader of DPS, Lyutvi Mestan, who announced that with this action the Parliament sends a message to countries with Bulgarian minorities that they may not respect their rights.

DPS MP Hussein Hafazov, a former spokesman for the Chief Mufti’s Office, took the floor after Mestan and said that his dream was to live in a free and democratic Bulgaria.

“And one day I will achieve it, no matter your attitude to democracy,” said he and turned to his colleagues who voted against the proposal.

“I will walk the path of Osman Kalic, Ahmet Davutoglu from the village of Iskra, the path of Nuri Adala and Ahmed Dogan. I am for democracy, no matter your attitude to democracy and minorities in the country,” stated Hafazov.

The mention of Ahmet Davutoglu fired up a number of those present and prompted all MPs from the formerly-ruling opposition centrist Citizens for European Development of Bulgarian party (GERB) and the ultranationalist Ataka to leave plenary hall.

From the parliamentary tribune MP Yanaki Stoilov, from the ruling left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), expressed hope that his colleague from DPS did not mean Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu who is the ideologist of neo-Ottomanism.

In a subsequent statement Hafazov said that all names he mentioned were of Bulgarian citizens who have fought for the rights of minorities.

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'Mother Tongue' Campaigning Debate Fires up Bulgarian MPs

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Blast in Afghanistan's capital strikes near NATO convoy

KABUL, Afghanistan A suicide attacker rammed a car bomb into a NATO convoy in the Afghan capital on Monday, killing two foreign civilian contractors, authorities said.

The Islamic militant group Hizb-i-Islami claimed responsibility for the attack in eastern Kabul, saying it would drive all foreign forces from Afghanistan.

Taliban insurgents and other militants like Hizb-i-Islami have stepped up attacks in the final year of the international coalition’s 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan, seeking to shake confidence in the Kabul government’s ability to keep order after they assumed full security responsibility last year.

Police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said the attacker struck the convoy near the capital’s Pul-i-Charkhi prison. He said at least seven Afghan civilians were wounded, including a child.

Police and ambulances rushed to the scene. Only the charred wheels and axels remained of the attacker’s car. Two civilian vehicles lay overturned and nearby shop windows were shattered from the force of the explosion.

A local shopkeeper named Jameel, who uses only one name as is common practice among Afghan men, said he saw two NATO vehicles leaving the prison and a car slamming into the second one. He said he saw at least two wounded foreigners but he could not tell the extent of their injuries before they were evacuated.

A Hizb-i-Islami spokesman, Haroon Zarghon, said one of group’s fighters carried out the attack using a Toyota Corolla. He said the attacker was targeting “foreign occupiers” and vowed to strike again.

Hizb-i-Islami is a radical group with thousands of fighters and followers across the country’s north and east. It was founded by former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar a former Afghan prime minister and one-time U.S. ally who is now listed as a terrorist by Washington.

The Taliban have vowed to disrupt presidential elections scheduled for April 5, a key test of Afghanistan’s fragile democracy and the ability of its 350,000-strong, Western-trained security forces to counter violence.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said Monday that Afghan forces will be able to protect 94 percent of the planned polling places in the election. He said police and the military have been working closely with the country’s election commission and have determined that 420 of the 7,168 planned voting centers will be too difficult to secure.

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Blast in Afghanistan's capital strikes near NATO convoy

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Why El Salvador's first-round electoral powerhouse is no sure thing in runoff (+video)

El Salvador’s left-wing candidate won 49 percent of the vote, just short of the majority needed to secure victory in this weekend’s election. The next round isn’t expected to be an easy win.

San Salvador, El Salvador

El Salvador’s left-wing candidate, current Vice President Salvador Snchez Cern, overwhelmingly beat his right-wing rival in elections yesterday, but fell a few points shy of the more than 50 percent support needed to avoid a runoff.

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Mr. Snchez Cern, of the ruling Farabundo Mart Liberation Front (FMLN), will face his main opponent again in aMarch 9runoff after winning 49 percent of votes Sunday. Norman Quijano, the conservative National Republican Alliance (ARENA) party candidate and mayor of San Salvador, came in second with 39 percent of the vote, a much wider gap than polls previously predicted.

The social programs FMLN has instituted over its five years in power, including giving milk and school supplies to children, appeared to have resonated with voters, even as the country is gripped by gang violence and high levels of insecurity, and a sluggish economy.

This is a government that is doing something for us, says Sara Silvia Calles, an FMLN supporter in Soyapango, outside San Salvador. We have seen how they help the poor.

Yet Snchez Cern, a former guerilla commander, is not assured a victory in the runoff election against Mr. Quijano. A third party candidate, former President Antonio Saca, may have been siphoning off votes from the right in the election yesterday.

Mr. Saca, a former president and ARENA member who ran under his newly founded Unity party, came in a distant third with just over 11 percent support. But his 300,000 voters could be crucial in a runoff, which Snchez Cern acknowledged during a speech to supporters late last night.

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Why El Salvador's first-round electoral powerhouse is no sure thing in runoff (+video)

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Why El Salvador's first-round electoral powerhouse is no sure thing in runoff

El Salvador’s left-wing candidate won 49 percent of the vote, just short of the majority needed to secure victory in this weekend’s election. The next round isn’t expected to be an easy win.

San Salvador, El Salvador

El Salvador’s left-wing candidate, current Vice President Salvador Snchez Cern, overwhelmingly beat his right-wing rival in elections yesterday, but fell a few points shy of the more than 50 percent support needed to avoid a runoff.

Subscribe Today to the Monitor

Click Here for your FREE 30 DAYS of The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition

Mr. Snchez Cern, of the ruling Farabundo Mart Liberation Front (FMLN), will face his main opponent again in aMarch 9runoff after winning 49 percent of votes Sunday. Norman Quijano, the conservative National Republican Alliance (ARENA) party candidate and mayor of San Salvador, came in second with 39 percent of the vote, a much wider gap than polls previously predicted.

The social programs FMLN has instituted over its five years in power, including giving milk and school supplies to children, appeared to have resonated with voters, even as the country is gripped by gang violence and high levels of insecurity, and a sluggish economy.

This is a government that is doing something for us, says Sara Silvia Calles, an FMLN supporter in Soyapango, outside San Salvador. We have seen how they help the poor.

Yet Snchez Cern, a former guerilla commander, is not assured a victory in the runoff election against Mr. Quijano. A third party candidate, former President Antonio Saca, may have been siphoning off votes from the right in the election yesterday.

Mr. Saca, a former president and ARENA member who ran under his newly founded Unity party, came in a distant third with just over 11 percent support. But his 300,000 voters could be crucial in a runoff, which Snchez Cern acknowledged during a speech to supporters late last night.

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Why El Salvador's first-round electoral powerhouse is no sure thing in runoff

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Va. Quickly Emerging as Key in Gay Marriage Fight

Almost overnight, Virginia has emerged as a critical state in the nationwide fight to grant gay men and women the right to wed.

This purple state was once perceived as unfriendly and even bordering on hostile to gay rights. That’s changed after a seismic political shift in the top three elected offices, from conservative Republicans to liberal Democrats who support gay marriage.

Two federal lawsuits challenging the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage are moving forward, and a hearing on one of the cases is scheduled for Jan. 30.

Along with the recent court rulings in which federal judges struck down gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma, gay rights advocates are heartened by the new mood in Virginia.

Symbolically as well, they say, the challenges of Virginia’s gay marriage ban resonate because of the founding state’s history of erecting a wall between church and state and a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Virginia couple and a past taboo: interracial marriage.

“Virginia is one of several important battlefronts where we have the opportunity now to build on the momentum, embrace the public’s movement in favor of the freedom to marry and end the discrimination,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of New York-based Freedom to Marry, which seeks to have same-sex marriage bans struck down nationwide.

With the election of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring, the state made a hairpin turn away from the socially conservative officeholders they succeeded, particularly Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, an activist on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Herring had campaigned, in part, on marriage equality, and McAuliffe issued an executive order on inauguration day prohibiting discrimination against state employees who are gay.

The lawsuits put Herring’s office in the position of arguing against a right he championed on the campaign trail. A spokeswoman said “he’s reviewing appropriate legal options.”

Victoria Cobb, president of the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia, said she is concerned about the recent court decisions on gay marriage and Herring’s recalcitrance.

“I’d like to see the attorney general, as the person elected to defend our laws, give a staunch defense of it,” she said. “That’s what the top attorney should be doing.”

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Va. Quickly Emerging as Key in Gay Marriage Fight

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It is tantalising to speculate that the illness of a man who had spent so much of his life at war may have robbed the …

It is tantalising to speculate that the illness of a man who had spent so much of his life at war may have robbed the region of its greatest chance for peace

For Palestinians living in the West Bank, Ariel Sharons legacy is clear. They can see it from their windows: the monument of grey, graffitoed slabs topped with barbed wire and dotted with watchtowers that make up parts of the West Bank separation barrier. This aggressive line of control, which when complete will extend 700km, is the prime physical reminder of the life of a divisive leader whose affiliations and policies shifted dramatically but who could claim to have influenced the shape of Israel more than anyone except David Ben-Gurion.

Mr Sharons biography is rich in symbolism: for his fifth birthday, his father gave him a dagger. (He gave him a violin the following year, but by all accounts young Ariel did not much take to it.) The weapon was prescient for the boy who became the embodiment of the Israeli soldier-hero and called his autobiography Warrior. In 1948, aged just 20, he fought alongside his godfather, Ben-Gurion, in the war for independence; in 1967 he won a tactically complex victory during the six-day war; and in 1973 he brought about what many regard as the turning point in the Yom Kippur war by leading his unit across the Suez canal.

Mr Sharon was adored by his troops, but a reputation for brutality was never far behind. In 1982, serving as defence minister, he allowed Christian Phalangists into the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila, where they massacred more than 700 men, women and children. An Israeli government inquiry concluded that Mr Sharon bore personal responsibility for the incident. But it was Mr Sharons promotion of settlements that would produce the most vitriolic reaction against him in the wider world. He was an early enthusiast for building Jewish homes in occupied territory and, for almost three decades, from the mid-1970s, he used a number of cabinet roles to push more than 100 developments into the West Bank and Gaza.

There is a twist in the tail of Mr Sharons political career, which came during his final period as prime minister. Like much in his life, the circumstances of his election in 2001 are controversial: in September 2000 he made a deeply provocative visit to the holy Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif with 1,000 police officers, sparking a riot that coincided with the start of the second intifada. In the climate of spiralling violence that followed, Israelis turned to the strongman of Suez, who was elected prime minister the following February. It was during this term that Mr Sharon took the substantial leap of moving to a strategy of disengagement, unilaterally withdrawing troops from the Gaza strip and bulldozing Israeli settlements there. The Israeli right, including members of the Likud party he had helped found, were furious. Soon after, Mr Sharon left the party and set up the more centrist Kadima.

The stroke that felled him in January 2006 left his newfound policy to crumble, and created one of the enduring mysteries of recent Middle Eastern politics. At the end of his life, was the great war leader determined to secure peace by withdrawing from the West Bank? In the optimists view, the point of Mr Sharon creating Kadima was to make the second, much more difficult, withdrawal. Pessimists say the Gaza pullout was a ruse to hold on to the West Bank, or that it traumatised Israeli politics so deeply that even he would not have had the capital to bulldoze Jewish homes there. All we know for sure is that in the subsequent eight years in which Mr Sharon lay in a coma, the settlements only grew.

It is tantalising to speculate that the illness of a man who had spent so much of his life at war may have robbed the region of its greatest chance for peace, but in the end Mr Sharon must be judged on what he did, rather than what he did not do. There may be nostalgia for his decisiveness and strength, and we may applaud the withdrawal from Gaza, but we cannot cheer his role in creating the settlements, or his long-held belief that the fight against terror can be waged only with bullets and bombs.

Ariel SharonIsraelPalestinian territoriesArab and Middle East unrestEditorialtheguardian.com

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It is tantalising to speculate that the illness of a man who had spent so much of his life at war may have robbed the …

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