Issue 321

 


Summit of Liberal leaders of Europe

Under invitation of Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister and leader of VVD (LI full member) and the ALDE Party (LI cooperating organisation), the top European liberals gathered at a Liberal Leaders Meeting in Amsterdam. Present were the LI President Hans van Baalen, ALDE Party President Sir Graham Watson, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg , German Vice Chancellor Dr. Philipp Rösler, Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Vesna Pusić, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, ALDE Group Leader Guy Verhofstadt, Romanian President of the Senate Crin Antonescu, President of Catalonia Artur Mas i Gavarró and others. The meeting adopted a Joint Statements underlining the necessary Reform Agenda for Europe. LI President Hans van Baalen said after the meeting: 'This was a timely and open meeting top the top European liberals. I echo the part of the Joint Statements which says 'there is no room for complacency. The twin crises of sovereign debt and bank capitalisation remain a challenge to the economy and to the stability and unity of the EU.''

 


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LI President: “Strong PNL condition for strong Romania”

LI President Hans van Baalen MEP, addressed the extra-ordinary Congress of the National Liberal Party — PNL (LI full member) in Bucharest. He stated that PNL is the strongest liberal force in Central and Eastern Europa and therefore a vital partner for Liberal International and ALDE. “A strong PNL, a strong Romania and a strong Europe are needed to lift the Balkan nation to a more healthy democracy, to political stability and to economic prosperity. As a regional power Romania can make a great difference. A strong PNL is the condition for a strong Romania because it fights against corruption and for good governance, for civil liberties, for the rule of law, for decentralisation of power and for a strong market economy”, said Van Baalen. He paid respect to former President Emil Constantinescu who strengthened the rule of law, to the Tariceanu government which brought Romania in to the EU, and to PLN Leader and Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu who brought all liberal and moderate forces together and built a election-winning Social-Liberal List.

 

 


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LI Patron in Kenya ahead of key elections

LI Patron David Steel who was on a ten-day visit to East Africa, took the opportunity to discuss the upcoming elections in Kenya on 4 March.  In particular he met with Prime Minister Raila Odinga who is one of the two front runners to succeed Mwai Kibaki as President of Kenya.  PM Odinga leads the Orange Democratic Movement, a member of the Africa Liberal Network (LI cooperating organisation) and is partner of Liberal International.  Lord Steel made an assessment that the vote is too close to call but that neither candidate is likely to win an overall majority, leading to a second round a month later between Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta. In March 2009 the Prime Minister Odinga received a delegation of LI, leaded by the LI President and Secretary General.  In the World Today Resolution adopted at the Abidjan Congress, 'LI expresses solidarity with liberal forces in [Kenya], including ALN member the ODM of PM Odinga…[and] calls for an election campaign free of violence, intimidation or ethnic hatred.'

 


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British LI Group hosts London's diplomatic corps

Lynne Featherstone

Deputy leader of the LibDems (LI Full Member) in the House of Commons Simon Hughes MP welcomed the diplomatic corps to the annual Diplomats Reception of the Liberal International British Group (LI Full Member) this Tuesday. Addressing over forty ambassadors at the National Liberal Club in London the LibDems' Minister for International Development Lynne Featherstone MP spoke of her work to advance women's rights worldwide and her upcoming visit to the annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women this Sunday. “Our participation in this forum will allow us to discuss a common set of global standards to protect women and girls from discrimination and violence. It is nothing short of shocking and shameful that across the world seven in ten women have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. As ever, universal problems require international solutions. The UK is committed to making a difference, but we cannot do it alone.”  Lynne Featherstone MP is the UK's Ministerial Champion for tackling violence against women and girls overseas.

 


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Sam Rainsy: do not monitor Cambodian elections

Sam Rainsy

Chairman of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD — LI Cooperating Organisation) and exiled leader of the national opposition in Cambodia Sam Rainsy has called upon the international community not to send observers at the upcoming legislative elections in his native Cambodia. The elections in the country which suffers from decades of authoritarian rule are scheduled for 28 July 2013. Sam Rainsy commented: “There is no point in going to watch a game that has been fixed in advance. The human rights situation continues to deteriorate with political opponents, critics and protesters being arrested, convicted and sent to prison on trumped-up charges. The coming elections will be everything but democratic, free and fair.” A recent UN Report stated that Cambodia “may run the risk of a return to violence if the electoral process is unable to command the trust and confidence of the electorate”. Liberal International fully supports “the calls for substantive election reforms in Cambodia and for the immediate and safe return of opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his full participation in the 2013 parliamentary elections”.

 


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Guinea’s Opposition Organizes National Strikes

Cellou D. Dialo

For a second week in a row, Cellou Dalein Diallo, Leader of the Guinean opposition party UFDG (LI observer member), has been calling on his supporters to come out on the streets and demonstrate peacefully calling for free and fair legislative elections in the country. These demonstrations are mainly aimed at rejecting Waymark, a South African firm hired by the government to manage the electoral register for the long delayed vote planned for the month of May. As no opposition parties were allowed to be involved in the process many have regarded it as dodgy, non-transparent and non- inclusive. Commenting on the occasion Diallo said: “The new head of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Bakary Fofana, has shown no transparency in his new job.  He has unilaterally, and against all procedures, determined the date for the legislative elections.  He appears more dangerous than his predecessor and he is determined to rig the vote so that President Alpha Condé ‘wins' a majority in the future parliament.” The Opposition, focused around two LI member parties UDFG and UFR, has also called for the vote of Guineans living abroad to be allowed, as prescribed in the Constitution. 

 


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Bi-Khim Hsiao on Taiwan’s First Human Rights Review Process

Bi Khim Hsiao

Following much pressure from the civil society sector, the Taiwan's government has decided to invite international human rights experts (including members of the UN Human Rights Council) to come to the country for the first ever human rights review process. Former LI Bureau member Bi-Khim Hsiao MP (DPP, LI full-member) expressed satisfaction with the decision saying: 'This unprecedented human rights review is very important for Taiwan. Although Taiwan's human rights situation has improved tremendously over the last few decades there remain many areas where further improvements are vital and necessary. We have been working on some of the issues in the legislature including immigration and refugee issues, prison conditions and judicial rights, marriage equality, rights to education for indigenous children, and media freedom, and all of these issues require further improvements.” Although Taiwan has signed and ratified two human rights conventions, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the country is not eligible for a formal follow-up procedure on these treaties since it is not a UN member. DPP has been for years key supporter of LI Human Rights Project.

 


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190th LI EC Programme details announced

Beirut

From 12 to 14 April 2013 the Future Movement (LI Member) will host the 190th Executive Committee Meeting in the prestigious Phoenicia Hotel in central Beirut, Lebanon. The theme of the 190th EC will be ‘“liberalism” and “traditional values”: defining a winning liberal agenda in today's changed world'. Various panels and workshops, supported by a range of partners and cooperating organisation, will be part of the events surrounding the Executive Committee. The draft programme published online reveals some of the key themes: “How Should Liberals Deal with the Situation in Syria? Is Syria the end to R2P?”, 'Arab Spring from the Youth Perspective', 'All on Board- Promoting Women in Private Enterprise', 'Liberalism and 'traditional values': how to answer populist tendencies”. Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty, together with the Arab Alliance for Freedom and Democracy will run workshops on Political Coalition Building — Strategies and Tactics of Effective Coalition Politics. Registration is open until 1 April 2013. For updates check frequently the LI Website, and the LI online communities on Facebook and Twitter.

 



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