Issue 278


Rainsy meets with LI Treasurer Eggleton in Ottawa

Sam Rainsy, the leader of Sam Rainsy Party (LI Full member) was recently in Ottawa ahead of the cross-Canada tour, highlighting his 'Appeal for International Parliamentary Solidarity.' Mr Sam met with LI Treasurer Senator Art Eggleton, as a follow up to meetings held last year - which included Liberal Party of Canada Deputy Leader Ralph Goodale MP. According to Senator Eggleton: “The opportunity to once again meet with Rainsy and to offer my solidarity and support as a Canadian Senator and as an LI Bureau Member is a distinct honour. It is only through the support of our colleagues around the world that we can put an end to the on-going injustices perpetrated against respected parliamentarians such as Rainsy. The cavalier use of kangaroo courts throughout the world to censure parliamentarians is a disgraceful practice and we as liberals must do our utmost to stop it.” LI President Hans Van Baalen issued a statement in support of Rainsy's Solidarity Campaign at LI's 57th Congress in Manila. Continuing his tour, Rainsy will host a rally in Montreal on 15 April.


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Egyptian Court rules in favour of suspension of Constituent Assembly

In Egypt, Court has ruled to suspend the 100-member Constituent Assembly as women, young people and minorities were under-represented. The Assembly was appointed last month to draft a new constitution for the country after last year's Revolution of 25 January. Secular and liberal parties, including Democratic Front Party, already withdrew from the Constituent Assembly last March, believing that their presence only legitimised the Assembly, while it did not represent all members of society. Al-Azhar University, one of Sunni Islam's most important institutions, and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt also announced a boycott of the Assembly. Commenting on the courts suspension, Wael Nawara, President of Arab Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (LI cooperating organisation) said: “Post-Revolution Egypt's constitution must represent Egypt with all its richness and diversity. Constitutions therefore do not and should not only represent parliamentary majority at any one moment of time, but should rather represent all parts of the society.” LI organised a panel discussion on the topic of ‘Current Situation in Egypt and Future Perspectives' at its 188th EC Meeting in Barcelona.


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IFLRY Executive Committee meets in Budapest

The International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY, LI Full member) met on 7-8 April for its biannual Executive Committee meeting in Budapest, Hungary. The event was preceded by a study session on the topic of local politics and youth mobilisation, which was organised in cooperation with the Council of Europe. IFLRY President Thomas Leys said that IFLRY wanted to show its “support for liberal forces in the country, which has seen a deterioration of the rule of law since the 2010 elections provided a two-thirds majority to the conservative Fidesz-party.” At the EC - delegates from over thirty countries discussed the financial crisis and campaigned for the human rights issues in Belarus and in the Caucasus. In both regions IFLRY is planning to hold extensive training activities in 2012. At its Executive Committee in Barcelona, LI adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Belarus, calling on the International Ice Hockey Federation to suspend its World Championship in Minsk scheduled for 2014. Also, LI is organising a Study Visit to Georgia on 10 May 2012. IFLRY's EC was attended by LI Policy Officer Robert Wintraecken.


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Shishlov elected as the Human Rights Commissioner in St. Petersburg

Alexander Shishlov, member of Yabloko's (LI Full member) Bureau and LI Vice-President, was recently elected as Commissioner for Human Rights in St. Petersburg. His candidacy was supported by 45 out of a total of 50 deputies from St. Petersburg's Legislative Assembly. Speaking to parliamentarians Shishlov promised to focus on protection of labour rights, the rights of the most vulnerable groups of population, rights to education, medical care and a healthy environment. Commenting on his election Shishlov said “A Commissioner for Human Rights is not just a defender of those whose rights have been violated. It is a position that links the society with the government.” He also spoke of his commitment to promoting dialogue and finding a common ground between public and government agencies and protecting citizens' rights in such a way as to create “an atmosphere of cooperation rather than mutual disputes and misunderstandings.” Yabloko's leader Sergei Mitrokhin spoke about the global impact of the Arab Spring on the Russian political system at the recently convened 188th Executive Committee meeting of Liberal International in Barcelona.


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Ouattara réussit à résoudre coup d'état militaire au Mali

Après le coup d'état militaire au Mali, le président Amadou Toumani Touré a décidé de démissionner ouvrant la voie à un président intérimaire, le président du parlement Dioncounda Traoré. Le vice-président au sein du Bureau de l'IL et Président du RLA (Organisation coopérative de l'IL) Dr Lamine Bâ a commenté: “Un coup d'état quel que soit sa nature est pour nous libéraux un poignard planté dans le dos de la démocratie. Le retour à l'ordre constitutionnel avec la désignation du président de l'assemblée national comme chef de l'état est une source d'espoir pour éviter le chaos au Mali. C'est l'occasion de féliciter la CEDEAO et son président Alassane Ouattara pour sa diligence diplomatique qui a permis de trouver une solution.” Le Président de la Côte d'Ivoire et vice-président de l'IL Alassane Ouattara, en sa qualité de Président de la CEDEAO, est fortement impliqué dans la résolution de la crise en indiquant que les pays de la CEDEAO 'prendront toutes les mesures nécessaires pour faire cesser la rébellion et pour préserver l'intégrité territoriale du Mali.' Le prochain Congrès de l'IL aura lieu en Côte d'Ivoire en Octobre 2012.


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Westerwelle: “Iran conflict is deadly serious”

Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister and former chairman of Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP, LI Full member) recently made a statement about the conflict over Iran's nuclear program and said that the conflict is ‘not a playground for polemics, ideology and prejudice' but is deadly serious. He made clear that Iran has the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy - but not the right to nuclear weapons. He also said that nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran would have serious consequences and would result in a barely controllable arms race and it would also be a threat to the security of Israel. 'Iran is driving its nuclear program despite international criticism of all. There is credible evidence of a possible military dimension. Iran denies violation of international law for many years comprehensive cooperation in the control of its nuclear program. To those who do not want to admit that even recently let it be said: All this is not a playground for polemics, ideology and prejudice, but deadly serious,“ Westerwelle stated.


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Liberals back strong response to failing cease-fire in Syria

In response to the Syrian regime's failure to pull back troops in accordance with the UN-brokered peace plan, Guy Verhofstadt MEP, leader of ALDE (LI cooperating organisation) in European Parliament, said that “this is Assad's last chance for peace before an all-out civil war of international intervention. The Syrian shelling of a refugee camp across the border in Turkey is a blatant provocation by Assad both towards the international community and Turkey.” Member of LI's Human Rights Committee Marietje Schaake MEP from D66 (LI Full member) added: “The EU has a special responsibility given its geographic location and trade relations; it should use its economic leverage to end the on-going violence. The Syrian opposition also deserves our full support, channelled through one focal point in order to prevent disunity.” At the EC in Barcelona, LI hosted Fawaz Thello, a former political prisoner and now member of the Syrian National Council, at a panel discussion on Syria. Also the EC adopted an urgency resolution that ‘strongly condemned the violence used by the Assad regime against the Syrian people'.


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Bonino calls for a second march for liberation

Emma Bonino, leader of Radicali Italiani (LI Full member) has recently called on liberals to march once again for amnesty, justice and freedom on April 25th. The march will take place in Rome and its the purpose is “to ask the Italian Parliament a real commitment as to address the dramatic conditions in which the judicial system and the prisons in the country appear to be in.” Ms. Bonino explained that the “malagiustizia” of the last months should encourage the Italian citizens to leave their houses on 25 April and gather together for a march in an effort to restore the rule of law in the country. “I believe that civilians can start to reflect how on 25 April, a date that reminds us of our liberation from fascism, it is suitable to march for a new liberation: a liberation from the absolute rule of parties, a liberation from this regime that has occupied all areas of civil life in our country” Bonino said. The first march of the Italian Radicals took place in Rome on Christmas Day 2005.

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