Following theDemocratic Alliance's (DA – LI full-member) staggering gains in the recent local elections, Athol Trollip, Solly Msimangaand Herman Mashabahave now been elected as the new DA mayors of Nelson-Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg, respectively.
Breaking the governing ANC party strongholds for the first time since apartheid ended in the country in 1994, the DA has emerged as the strongest opposition force in the country.
Commenting on the incredible success and his future plans as Mayor, Mashaba said: “I am honoured and deeply humbled to be elected as the new Executive Major of Johannesburg. The residents of our city called out for change that would once again get Johannesburg working again. Our vision is centered around our promise to create jobs, deliver better services and eliminate corruption. I want Johannesburg to be a city that empowers young entrepreneurs so they are given every opportunity to succeed.”
Back in April, Mr. Mashaba was in London on an official visit alongside party leader Mmusi Maimane to discuss the DA’s vision and mission for making Johannesburg “Africa’s leading business and cultural city”.
“It’s now time to get Johannesburg working again […] Together we will make this a city of golden opportunities,” concluded the new DA Major of Johannesburg.
Prominent leaders and liberals have expressed their respect for the Liberal International Patron and former German President Walter Scheel, who passed away at the age of 97 on 24 August, 2016. Saying that "he remains an inspiration", LI President Dr. Juli Minoves offered his condolences to his family and party, the German Freie Demokratische Partei (FDP – LI full member).
Dr. Minoves issued a statement saying: "Walter Scheel, our late Patron, believed throughout his long life in liberal policies of openness and inclusiveness. He remains an inspiration. He was a leader who fought hard for internationalism and cooperation in Germany, Europe and the world. He was, as Patron, very fond of Liberal International. Today, we honour his memory and his legacy."
For LI Vice-President and Chairman of the LI Human Rights Committee, Markus Löning, Water Scheel was a "role-model" for he was "cosmopolitan, optimistic, and for a modern society."
FDP leader, Christian Lindner, praised the achievements of the fourth President of the Federal Republic of Germany: "Without Scheel, there would have been new 'Ostpolitik' [of openness towards East Germany] and more social liberalism. We and our country owe him a lot."
LI cooperating organisation Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Libertyexpressed great sadness for the death of its Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees, saying that "liberalism and Germany lost an outstanding personality that has decisively shaped the destiny of our country."
Walter Scheel served as Foreign Minister, Vice Chancellor, Acting Chancellor and President of FR Germany. He was also Germany’s first Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development. Sheel was elected FDP Chairman in 1968 and was known for his policy of reconciliation with the communist bloc.
Less than two weeks remain for Liberal International members to nominate a human rights hero for the LI Prize for Freedom – LI’s top award for global human rights defenders, awarded annually. Member parties can, through their international officer, nominate a candidate who has made an exceptional contribution to the advancement and promotion of human rights and political freedoms. The deadline is Thursday 1st September 2016.
Awarded annually, the Prize is an opportunity to put forward a global human rights defender deserving of aninternational recognition in his/her fight for equality or against tyranny.
Previous recipients come from across the world and have fought for a broad range of human rights issues: from women's empowerment to establishing democracy, basic civil and political rights. Some of the most recent laureates include one of the most prominent campaigners for the abolition of the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Waris Dirie, LI President of Honour and Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict (CRIC) at the Harris Manchester College at Oxford University Lord John Alderdice and liberal blogger Raif Badawi, who has been unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since 2012 for criticizing the Saudi regime online.
In order to qualify for the Prize, candidates have to be nominated by the LI membership and fulfill the following criteria:
1. Individuals who fight for liberal values, promoting freedom of conscience, human rights, democracy, and peace.
2. Individuals who are key contributors to significant changes in a country or region.
3. Individuals to whom this award might offer protection from extreme forms of political persecution.
4. LI member party leaders or groups may not be considered except for extraordinary circumstances, as the Prize aims to stand behind those who fight for democracies without political protection.
Each nomination is to be accompanied by a brief biography of the nominee and the reason for your nomination. The nominee should also be willing to accept the Prize and travel to the Prize for Freedom award ceremony. Nominations have to be submitted to the Head of LI Human Rights Programme Tamara Dancheva by sending an email to email@example.com.
The LI membership is advised that 1 September is also the statutory deadline for submitting political documents for the upcoming 197th LI Executive Committee meeting due to take place in Marrakech, Morocco from 11 to 13 November 2016.
Democracy watchdog Freedom House speaks out against Ortega's SandinistasThursday 11 August 2016 20:08 President Daniel Ortega's attempt to bring an end to pluralistic democracy in Nicaragua has collided with further condemnation, this time from Freedom House, the internationally renowned democracy watchdog, which called greater global attention to the power-grab by the authoritarian leader ahead of elections in November.
Carlos Ponce, director of Freedom House's Latin American programmes, expressed clear concern at the judicial farce instigated by the Sandinista regime of President Daniel Ortega.The Freedom House statement reads: “The Electoral Court’s decision is a blatant attempt to stifle political pluralism and dissent”, and comes in response to the decision taken by the Nicaraguan courts included stripping LI Vice-President Eduardo Montealegre MP of his leadership role within Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI - LI full-member) and removal all PLI deputies from the Congress.
"This is another effort by President Ortega to stay in office indefinitely by undermining democratically elected institutions, especially as he aims to win a third consecutive six-year term”, the statement continued.
Earlier last week, LI President Dr Juli Minovesdenounced attempts by the Ortega regime to eliminate the opposition posed by the PLI and its leader LI Vice-President on the Bureau Eduardo Montealegre MP as a threat to his unconstitutional re-election in the Central American country in November.
DA makes staggering gains in breakthrough electionsThursday 4 August 2016 14:08“People have voted for change”, was the clear message from Mmusi Maimane MP, the leader of LI full member Democratic Alliance (DA), as his party delivered outstanding results, winning many seats from the ruling Africa National Congress of embattled President Jacob Zuma.
With votes still being counted two days after the elections were held, on Wednesday 3rd August, Mr. Maimane told the media: “This election has seen voters put their faith in change through the ballot box.” The incredible surge in DA support has seen the party become front-runners or level-pegging in formerly ANC strongholds and the economic heartlands of South Africa.
Rejecting the divisive rhetoric of the ANC, in elections were been billed as the most important since the post-Apartheid 1994 elections, the Liberal leader added: "This election has shown that when you put a positive offer to the voters, they will come out to support you. I feel very, very positive about where we are going as a party”
With the DA on course to win more votes in local elections than ever before and push the ANC clearly under a 60% share of the vote LI Deputy President and Premier of South Africa’s Western Cape Province, Helen Zille,took to Twitter to tell her almost 1 million followers: “Today ppl take it for granted that DA and ANC are Neck-and-neck in major cities. It was unthinkable even 5 years ago.”
(1/3) Newpaper headlines today, from around South Africa.
'Nicaragua now a democracy in name only', says LI PresidentThursday 4 August 2016 13:08 LI President Dr. Juli Minoves has described his outrage at the actions of the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega to turnNicaragua into a single-party state by stripping liberal parliamentarians – the largest opposition group – of their power in parliament, a reflection of the concerning rise of illiberalism globally.
The news comes following an earlier decision by the Sandinista-backed courts to rob LI Vice-President, Eduardo Montealegre MP, of his legal position as head of the Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI - LI full-member) in June. Dr. Minoves wrote: “Authoritarian populists enriching themselves dispose of liberal democracy and claim legitimacy in the name of closely controlled 'electoral democracy' where the opposition becomes non-existent or has no chance."
“The future looks grim under illiberal 'caciques' in a multipolar world of democracies in name only that respect each other's sovereignties to rule by decree or by so-called 'independent institutions' heavily controlled by the powers that be. This is appalling,” added the LI President.
In solidarity with the plight of the liberal parliamentarians and democratic values in Nicaragua, President of the Partido Liberal de Chile (LI full member), Vlado Mirosevic MP, condemned Ortega’s actions in an address to the Chilean Congress.
The timing of President Ortega’s seizure of power is no coincidence. A national general election is scheduled to take place in November 2016 and, sensing the menace from the Liberals, to be a threat to his unconstitutional re-election. In June 2016, Ortega announced that international observers would not be permitted to scrutinise the November elections.
Liberals celebrate making of history at DNC in Philadelphia Friday 29 July 2016 11:07 Liberals from around the world have convened in Philadelphia, USA at the Democrat National Convention (DNC) to mark the historic nomination of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the Democrat Party candidate for the 2016 US Presidential Elections.
In the margin of the National Democratic Institute (NDI – LI cooperating organisation) International Leaders’ Forum, with ran alongside the DNC, Liberal International and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF – LI cooperating organisation) brought together over 60 liberals from more than 26 countries around the world – from Andorra to Taiwan. Addressing the gathering, which included liberal Prime Ministers, Ministers and parliamentarians, LI President Dr. Juli Minoves said: “What brings us all here in Philadelphia is the common sense that our values are challenged by dangerous illiberal political tendencies in many countries.” The LI President also invited those present to submit contributions to the 2017 Liberal Manifesto.
Alongside the LI President, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen elaborated on Dr. Minoves’ comments, speaking of the challenges posed by populist political figures. “We should not give in to populism and talk of easy solutions, but should listen and should work harder to address the concerns that the people are voicing", as he spoke on the growth of populism in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.
- 60 liberals from 36 countries congregate at the LI-FNF liberal gathering at the DNC, Philadelphia
Accepting the nomination from her party, and in so doing becoming the first-ever female presidential candidate in US history, Hillary Clinton said: “Now we are clear-eyed about what our country is up against. But we are not afraid. We will rise to the challenge, just as we always have. We will not build a wall. Instead, we will build an economy where everyone who wants a good paying job can get one.”
The United States Presidential election will take place on 8 November, 2016.
International Liberal family appalled at stripping of liberals' political mandateThursday 28 July 2016 17:07The international liberal family is appalled at the latest move to crush political opposition in Nicaragua as the Socialist Sandinista Front moves to strip opposition legislators of their mandates in the central American country. Liberal International condemns the decision taken by the Parliament of Nicaragua in violation of any normal democratic procedure.
In response to the growing oppression of the liberal opposition, a wave of support from the allies of Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI - LI full member) has been rising inside and outside of Nicaragua; supporters have backed the leader of the opposition and LI Vice-President Eduardo Montealegre MP against the ruling of the Constitutional Court, which removed Mr. Montealegre from his position as leader of the party last month.
Even at a time when media organisations are being threatened with harsh measures by populist and oppressive governments around the world, one of the most important newspapers in Nicaragua, La Prensa, has refused to remain silent over the injustice that PLI are suffering at the hands of the Socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
A plan to rig the upcoming elections has been suggested as the reason for the court’s ruling, as claimed during an appearance in a TV programme by one of Daniel Ortega’s consultants. The Nicaraguan newspaper underlines how unsubstantiated conspiracy theories have been used throughout history by dictatorships to eliminate the internal opposition and accomplish their plans of repression.
“It would be fool on my side”, said Eduardo Montealegre “to join those plots or conspiracies that officials of FSLN allude to and that could affect the most vulnerable Nicaraguans or the businesses, be they big, medium, small or micro. Nothing could be further from reality, as I know from my experience in the public and private sector, how much it has cost all Nicaraguans recovering from the situation we inherited on 25 April 1990”.
Convening in Taipei, Taiwan, the drafting committee for the 2017 Liberal International manifesto, which will centre on global challenges and opportunities for liberalism in the twenty-first century, has brought together representatives from LI member parties in Asia, under LI President, Dr. Juli Minoves.
Welcomed by recently elected liberal President of Taiwan and leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP - LI full member), DrTsai Ing-wen, in central Taipei, the members of the Committee charged with the reflection process discussing contributions from LI’s worldwide membership. Particular attention was paid to opinions from liberals in Asia, including the Liberal Party of the Philippines, the Cambodian National Rescue Party, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat of Malaysia (LI Member), and the DPP.
At the meeting Prof. Karl-Heinz Paqué, the Deputy Chairman of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF - LI Cooperating Organisation) who earlier accepted President Minoves’ invitation to be the Executive Chair of the Drafting Committee, recalled the historic conditions surrounding Liberal International’s founding document, adopted in 1947, saying: “In Oxford liberals gathered to speak out against fascism and communism. Seventy years later the world looks very different.”
“There is a new trend towards authoritarianism. In Russia and Turkey fundamental rights are curbed, and media are increasingly constrained in their operations, but also inside countries such as Hungary and Poland there seems to be a nationalistic revival,” he added.
On the prospects of a world influenced by the massive technological innovation of the early 21st century, including contemporary issues such as free access to the internet and the politics of civil technology movements and crowd-sourcing, LI President Minoves added that "Liberals must use their core values as a guide to look to the future with confidence."
The Drafting Committee will present its conclusions on the global liberal agenda, which include climate change as a key part, to the LI Membership at the upcoming 197th Executive Committee Meeting in November 2017.
Leading up to the meeting in Taipei. LI President Minoves had dedicated bilateral discussions with both former President Benigno Aquino and current Vice-President Leni Robredo of the Philippines. The drafting of the new manifesto is part of the LI President’s Reflection Process on Liberalism in the 21st Century, which was initiated at Oxford University in March 2015 and is set to culminate in the presentation of a new worldwide 'reflectionist' liberal manifesto in early 2017.
In a statement released on his social media account, the LI President, Dr. Juli Minoves, said: "Liberal International condemns the attack. Our condolences to the families of the more than 80 dead. Our determination to fight for our way of life and freedoms is only reinforced by such atrocities."
LI President of Honour and President of the ALDE Party Hans Van Baalen MEP echoed the statement saying: "Once again, a sad day for Europe. Our thoughts are with the victims of the attack in Nice, and their family and friends. More than ever we will have to stand up united against fanatics and defend our open society of liberté, égalité and fraternité."
A compilation of reactions from liberal heads of state from accross the globe can be found below:
Quel acte barbare! Solidarité et pensées avec #Nice06 XB
Explaining the complete disregard for the rule of law and judiciary in the country, VP Löning said: "Our thoughts are with all the victims of the attempted coup in Turkey. The situation for human rights in Turkey has been going from bad to worse over the last years. After the attempted coup, President Erdogan now seems to be on the way to turn Turkey into an authoritarian state. Tens of thousands of arrests and suspensions from office under vague suspicion are in no way compatible with Turkey’s international obligations."
Löning, who is also a Chairman of LI Human Rights Committee, further insisted that the deteriorating situation with human rights is incompatible with Turkey's membership of the Council of Europe and as such, the government has a commitment to respect human rights. "It is the President’s duty to protect the citizens of his country. I urge President Erdogan to immediately release all political prisoners and restore freedom of speech and the rule of law in his country. Liberal International will be supporting all those fighting for liberal values in Turkey," he said.
The LI Vice-President has released the statement as Turkey has announced that it will suspend the European Convention on Human Rights during a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of the attempted coup.
Can Dündar, the editor of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, and LI's nominee for the Council of Europe's Vaclav Havel Prize for Human Rights, has reacted strongly against this latest attempt to stifle any dissent in the country, saying: “Turkey has now turned into an oppressive regime where the law and liberties will be suspended, press will be censored, and the parliament eliminated.”
A small delegation led by LI VP on the Bureau Robert Woodthorpe Browne MBE and LI Treasurer Manfred Eisenbach,had met with Mr Dundar and members of the opposition during a study visit to Turkey following the 196th LI EC Meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia as a sign of LI's direct support to democracy activists and independent journalists in the country.
Philippines' new Vice-President welcomes LI PresidentThursday 21 July 2016 15:07 Last weekend, LI President Dr. Juli Minoves was welcomed to the Philippines by the country’s most senior Liberal leaders – representatives of the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LI full-member) - where he discussed domestic politics and the Philippines' role in the South East Asian region in the coming years.
Meeting with former President Benigno Aquino, who stepped down earlier in July having served his constitutional limit as head of state, the LI President talked of the recent verdict by an international tribunal concerning the South China Sea, which ruled in favour of the Philippines' sovereign claims to territory around its coastline. President Aquino said: "International relations in Asia will shape the 21st century and domestic politics in Asian countries are crucial to understanding their international priorities."
Having met with President Aquino, Dr. Minoves spoke with newly elected Vice-President of the Philippines, Leni Robredo, who took office earlier in July. The liberal leaders talked of the future of liberalism in the Philippines: “We discussed the recent Philippines' elections and the importance of promoting a vibrant, involved Liberal Party in the years ahead. I congratulate VP Robredo on her well-deserved victory and will call on her often as a major Asian partner of LI. Our organisation is global and has many strong Asian liberal partners," said the LI President.
- LI President Dr. Juli Minoves meets with former President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino
The meetings in the Philippines were facilitated with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (LI cooperating organisation).
LI awards President Tsai with Medal of Liberalism in TaipeiThursday 21 July 2016 14:07 “I am grateful to Liberal International for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the DPP in opposition and now in government”, commented the President of Taiwan, Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen, having been presented with LI’s highest political honour, the Medal of Liberalism, by LI President Dr. Juli Minoves at a ceremony in the Presidential Palace in Taipei on Monday.
Presenting the Medal to President Tsai, who won by a landslide victory for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP - LI full member) after elections on 16 January 2016, Dr. Minoves said: "President Tsai, you are important because you represent democracy in the Chinese culture, and that is crucial for the future… we came to Taiwan… to send a signal that we are with the people of Taiwan.”
During the elections which elevated Dr. Tsai to the presidency, the DPP concurrently won its first majority of parliamentarians in the legislative Yuan. Having been honoured with the Medal, Dr. Tsai added: “As president, as the largest political group in the legislative Yuan and, above all, as liberals, my party and I will implement our progressive policies with dedication: From education and the economy to social housing and beyond, we will serve the people of Taiwan with liberal values in our hearts.”
The Liberal International Medal of Liberalism is awarded to individuals who have worked to advance liberal values on a national and international level. Recent recipients of the Medal of Liberalism include Prime Minister of Luxembourg, H.E. Xavier Bettel, during a ceremony in Luxembourg in June 2016 and the President of Cote d’Ivoire, H.E. President Alassane Ouattara, during a ceremony in Abidjan in February 2015.
Ahead of the parliamentary elections in Marrakech, Morocco, LI Treasurer Dr. Dzhevdet Chakarov MP and LI Secretary-General Emil Kirjas met with the President of the Moroccan Parliament, Rachid Talbi Alami (RNI – LI member), to discuss the potential political successes for liberal parties in Morocco.
The LI delegation, which was joined by representatives of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF - LI cooperating organisation), was received at the offices of the President of the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat. Expressing expectations that the liberal forces in the Moroccan parliament will achieve "good results", Alami said: "We see in Morocco the strength of populism too. They offer comforting words to the people, but no policies and certainly not solutions. Based on the results of the most recent by-elections in the south won by my party RNI, I'm optimistic that we and the other liberal parties will strongly return in the new parliament at the end of October."
Parliament's President welcomed the reflection process on liberalism in the 21st century and the drafting of the 2017 Liberal Manifesto. He answered positively to LI's invitation to add his personal contribution to the drafting effort saying: "Liberalism is a dominant ideology in the world today and it will continue to increase. As liberals, we must come up with a new way to deal with the populists who have filled up the empty space left by the dissolved socialists and those who don't believe in freedom."
The discussions in the parliament underlined the important mission of LI - Dr Chakarov reminded: "As a political family, we unite a very big number of liberal parliamentarians across the world - it is an intellectual potential that has the capacity to offer solutions to the most challenging problems that concern us locally and globally, and it is a huge political potential that we must continue building upon."
During the preparatory visit for the upcoming LI Executive Committee in November, the LI delegation was received in Morocco's major city - Casablanca - by Mohammed Tamaldou, Director of the Political Board of Union Constitutionelle (LI full-member). Welcoming the decision for LI to return to Morocco for a third time for its statutory meeting, he recalled the LI Executive Committee held in Casablanca in 2003 and added: "You might realise that Casablanca has transformed substantially over the last decade. Our mayor, from Union Constitutionelle, oversaw the growth and modernisation of the city into an important trading, cultural and financial hub of Africa. Casablanca and Cape Town, two important ports in the North and South of the Atlantic coast of Africa serve as best examples how open liberal policies can lead to growth to the benefit of the people." He described the upcoming elections as "a challenge", stressing that UC presents itself as "a bold liberal alternative", especially in the social liberal agenda.
The visit of the LI delegation to the country coincided with Morocco's announcement that it has requested to re-join the African Union.
"Climate Change: Key Part of the Global Liberal Agenda" agree LI Bureau MembersFriday 15 July 2016 10:07Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference-COP22 in Morocco in November, LI Vice-President and Minister of the Environment of Morocco Hakima El Haite and LI Vice-President and Former Minister of the Envorinment of Bulgaria Dr. Dzhevdet Chakarov have met in Marrakech to discuss the liberal vision for tackling climate change in the 21st Century.
Discussing a number of other issues among which the upcoming 197th LI Executive Committee meeting, the two LI Bureau members have agreed that dealing with climate change should include reduction of carbon emissions and a focus on renewable sources of energy.
"Having an LI statutory meeting during the UN Climate Change Conference-COP22 will clearly demonstrate LI's firm commitment to this global problem. We have an opportunity for transformation and development", said the Ministers.
The meeting took place within the framework of the Carbon 360 Forum hosted by the Moroccan Minister and LI Vice President El Haite. Together with LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas, the Ministers discussed the need to have Liberal International's presence at COP22 visible and vocal, both directly and through the liberals present as part of their national delegations. "Paris COP21 was about reaching an agreement, Marrakesh COP22 will be about the difficult job - the implementation," said resolutely Minister El Haite.
"We have new positive experiences in Bulgaria that I want to share with our friends in Morocco and encourage them to follow," said Dr Chakarov. He continued: "This concerns in particular the waste treatment which we now do in the capital city of Sofia. One such waste treatment methodology leads to production of RDF that are used as lower-carbon polluting combustible in the industry, like the cement factories. There are EU and international standards that once imposed correctly offer an opportunity for the local economy. The benefit of these new technologies will be for the Bulgarian economy and people. The Moroccan people deserve to feel the benefits too."
In Marrakech the team behind preparation of COP22 presented to the LI secretariat Members Kirjas and Alessandro Bilotta the plans of the Moroccan hosts and the opportunities for an LI Executive Committee to meet there.
Liberal leaders discuss security reform at NATO SummitThursday 14 July 2016 18:07 At a historic NATO summit in the Polish capital, LI President of Honour Hans van Baalen MEP, who is also the President of the ALDE Party (LI Cooperating Organisation) convened the liberal heads of state and government to coordinate the liberal response to further modernise Europe's collective defence and deterrence.
Together with the leader of Nowoczesna (LI Partner) from Poland, Ryszard Petru, the LI President of Honour discussed the future of the EU and NATO with Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers from Belgium, Estonia, The Netherlands, Denmark, Slovenia and Georgia.
In a press release, Van Baalen spoke out in favour of further strengthening Europe’s defence: “[the] EU member states should put their mouth where the money is. We should strengthen our defence efforts. Today, we don´t need superfluous words, we need to act when our security is threatened, which is the case concerning the positions and actions taken by Russia.”
CUF leader at LI: Democracy in Tanzania in serious dangerMonday 11 July 2016 18:07 The winner of last October's elections in Zanzibar, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, along with a high-level delegation from Liberal International's (LI) full member in Tanzania - the Civic United Front (CUF) - started his European tour at LI headquarters. The CUF delegation raised the alarm about the increase in human rights violations in Zanzibar - including detention without trial and limiting freedom of expression.
"What is happening now is oppression” said the CUF Secretary General Seif Sharif Hamad. He discussed the peaceful and democratic resistance by the opposition after having had their election victory snatched by the government of Tanzania in October 2015. The Zanzibari leader warned that “the government is acting to make sure that CUF is not operating," and called on the international community to recognise and “act to prevent” the potential instability that the denial of democracy might lead to in an already volatile region.
Welcoming the delegation to the international house of liberalis, LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas reminded of the immediate reaction of the LI President Dr Juli Minoves after the October 2015 elections, when he sent an unequivocal message to the Tanzanian authorities to “respect and ratify the electoral will of Zanzibaris” and to “celebrate plural democracy”.
On behalf of LI, Kirjas expressed his full support to the Tanzanian colleagues saying “you are not alone in this struggle.” LI Secretary General said: “All of us in the international liberal community will do everything in our power to ensure that your lives are protected and that the expressed will of the majority of the people of Zanzibar will be respected in the end and that the Civic United Front with Maalim Seif will be forming a government of development and prosperity of Zanzibar.”
2017 LI Prize for Freedom: Nomination period openFriday 8 July 2016 10:07 Liberal International is pleased to announce that the nomination period for the 2017 Prize for Freedom is now open - awarded annually, the Prize is an opportunity for LI member parties to put forward a global human rights defender they believe is deserving of international recognition in their fight for equality or against tyranny.
Each year, LI presents the award to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement and promotion of human rights and political freedoms around the world.
Recipients come from accross the world and have fought for a broad range of human rights issues: from women's empowerment to establishing democracy, basic civil and political rights. Some of the most recent laureates include one of the most prominent campaigners for the abolition of the harmful practice of Female Gential Mutilation (FGM) Waris Dirie, LI President of Honour and Director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict (CRIC) at Harris Manchester College at Oxfrod UniversityLord John Alderdice and liberal blogger Raif Badawi, who has been unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia since 2012 for criticizing the Saudi regime online.
In order to qualify for the Prize, candidates have to be nominated by the LI membership and fulfill the following criteria:
1. Individuals who fight for liberal values, promoting freedom of conscience, human rights, democracy and peace.
2. Individuals who are key contributors to significant changes in a country or region.
3. Individuals to whom this award might offer protection from extreme forms of political persecution.
4. LI member party leaders or groups may not be considered except for extraordinary circumstances, as the Prize aims to stand behind those who fight for democracies without political protection.
Each nomination is to be accompanied by a brief biography of the nominee and the reason for your nomination. The nominee should also be willing to accept the Prize and travel to the Prize for Freedom award ceremony. Nominations have to be submitted no later than Thursday, 1 September 2016 to the Head of LI Human Rights Programme Tamara Dancheva by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At its meeting in September, the LI Bureau will draft a shortlist of nominees and present it to the upcoming 197th LI Executive Committee in Marrakech, Morocco for the final decision.
The political crisis in the Republic of Congo following the aftermath of the disputed re-election of the incumbent president in March this year has reached a stalemate. Major democracies -- including the USA and the European Union -- have not accepted the new authorities in Brazzaville, while prominent political leaders are increasingly subjected to prosecution and harassment.
“It was deplorable that the leader of our member party MCDDI and presidential candidate at the last elections Guy Brice Parfait Kolélas was prohibited by the Congolese authorities to leave the country and join us at the LI Human Rights Committee meeting at the UN Place of Nations in Geneva”, said LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas. He urged the Government in Brazzaville “to release all political prisoners and to lift supervision placed on residences of opposition candidates in the last presidential election.”
On his recent visit to London, Africa Liberal Network’s (ALN - LI cooperating organisation) Vice-President Medard Mulangala qualified the elections in Congo-Brazzaville as “marred by orchestrated fraud, telecommunication and media blackout, no real observation, and suppression of democracy.”
LI President Dr Juli Minoves recalled Liberal International’s permanent engagement for respect of the democratically expressed will of the people, adding: “Freedom is a right and not a privilege”. He continued: “I urge the Congolese Government, political forces and civil society to work towards the widest possible consensus to restore the democratic process. It is essential that a roadmap is defined based on dialogue with the international community, the European Union and the Government of Congo. The Congolese citizens must have the opportunity to determine their future in full freedom, with respect for pluralism, based on open debate and promotion of democratic principles.”
Liberal International and Africa Liberal Network remain actively involved in supporting Guy Brice Parfait Kolélas, who addressed the LI Executive Committee in Zurich in 2015 when his party MCDDI presented the application for the Liberal International membership in 2015.
Chilean liberals condemn Ortega's political 'aberration' against VP MontealegreThursday 7 July 2016 17:07 Speaking out in the Chilean parliament, Partido Liberal de Chile (LI full member) MP, Vlado Mirosevic, has voiced the concern of Chile’s liberals at the acts of political sabotage playing out in Nicaragua against LI Vice-President, Eduardo Montealegre MP, whose party, Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI - LI full member) was recently stripped of its legal status in Nicaragua.
Having seen Mr. Montealegre’s party, the official opposition, stripped of its legal status ahead of the presidential elections later this year, Deputy Mirosevic slammed Ortega’s subversion of democracy when addressing the Chilean Congress. “I would like to communicate officially to the ambassador of Nicaragua in Chile my solidarity with Eduardo Montealegre and with the Partido Liberal Independiente in Nicaragua, because it seems to be an aberration what the supreme tribunal in the country is doing,” Mr. Mirosevic said during a parliament session.
The Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega is said to have manipulated the Supreme Court to bar PLI from running, and the Chilean parliamentarian was clear about where the blame rests: “[The tribunal] is openly controlled by the Sandinista front and wants to limit democracy in the country and wants to prevent the liberals from competing in the elections.”
LI delegation in Macedonia meets LDP; addresses IFLRY seminarTuesday 5 July 2016 15:07An “effective solution to the political crisis requires a clear alternative – a united and formalised broad democratic opposition front that will bring Macedonia back to its constitutionally guaranteed values of freedom, democracy and justice," said LI Treasurer on the Bureau Dr.Dzhevdet Chakarov MP during his visit to Skopje last weekend.
“Liberal International is again here in Macedonia with clear support for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP - full member) and the citizens,” said Dr. Chakarov after meeting with top LDP officials. Discussions focused on the recent developments with the scandalous elections of the student parliament, the so-called "Colourful Revolution", the unprecedented blanket amnesty by President Ivanov, and the election preparations.
"The recent shocking events with the intervention of the police against the students and the decision of the EU to cut millions of euros in support of Macedonia are a clear message to put an end to this government," reads the joint outcome statement from the LI and LDP delegations, which next to Dr. Chakarov included LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas, LDP Vice President Zoran Sapuric and LDP Women Forum Leader Juliana Nikolova.
In Skopje, on behalf of LI, Dr. Chakarov and Mr. Kirjas addressed a seminar on “'Youth in the Heart of Decision Making” organised by the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY - LI full member ). Dr. Chakarov celebrated the valuable role of young liberals in politics worldwide, explaining that younger generations are not shackled by past prejudices.
“Today we need young people with new ideas that are not loaded with the prejudices of the past. We need your activity. You have the chance to be part of the great liberal family that rates the activity of young people. Be active and you will succeed. Your success will be a success for all of us, for Europe and for our region”, said the LI Treasurer and Bulgarian Member of Parliament from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
"These are critical times in Macedonia, an oppressive government is grabbing hold on power, dismantling democracy and cracking down on human rights. But thousands are now rising up against them and demanding their voices to be heard. We wish to thank all our participants from Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia that participated and made it a great event. IFLRY will continue to support our friends in Macedonia and all across The Balkans!", was the message voiced by Anders Rehnberg, IFLRY Vice President.
Macedonia's "Colourful Revolution" - Monument sprayed with "Слобода“/“Freedom“
IFLRY Seminar on Youth in the Heart of Decision-Making in Skopje
Media quote LI SG Kirjas on "deep political crisis" requiring "reasonable dialogue"
LI parliamentary work discussed with IPU Secretary GeneralThursday 30 June 2016 18:06 Martin Chungong, Secretary General of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), received a liberal parliamentary delegation led by LI President Dr. Juli Minoves in the IPU's headquarters in Geneva. The discussions focused on most effective ways to foster the human rights dimension in the work of parliamentarians within their parliaments and in the international fora.
"We are pleased to have Liberal International as an active permanent observer of IPU," said SG Chungong, marking the anniversary since LI formally applied for a permanent status with the international organisation. “Prominent liberals play key roles in our work”, said the IPU Secretary General, pointing out to Senator Franklin Drillon of the Philippines (Liberal Party, LI full member) and Saumura Tiulong MP of Cambodia (CNRP, LI full member).
LI President Dr. Juli Minoves reminded that the liberal parliamentarians often face difficult challenges, and in some cases are subject to political persecution despite the popular mandate. “We rely on the inter-parliamentary solidarity for swift resolution of the cases of our leaders Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia and Sam Rainsy in Cambodia. There can be no excuses for further continuation of their suffering,” said LI President.
Current and past parliamentarians part of the LI delegation were LI Vice President Baroness Kishwer Falkner (LibDems, UK), Assiatou Diallo MP (UFDG, Guinee), Abir Al-Sahlani (Centerpartiet, Sweden) and Marina Shuster (FDP, Germany). Baroness Falkner emphasised the importance of democratic control that parliaments must exercise over the executive power, while former LI Vice President Abir Al-Sahlani spoke of the role that parliaments -- in particular women parliamentarians -- play in conflict resolution. Explaining the difficult situation in Guinea in the aftermath of the elections with questionable credibility, Assiatou Diallo and the IPU Secretary General agreed to work together with the national leaders of the country to overcome the crisis.
LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas joined the meeting and informed that LI will be holding a meeting for liberal parliamentarians attending the upcoming IPU General Assembly in Geneva in October 2016.
LI delegation at the IPU HQs with Secretary General Chungog
"Global erosion of liberal democratic values", LI President tells ALDE Leaders summitThursday 30 June 2016 17:06 Alongside 7 liberal Prime Ministers, 3 EU Commissioners, party leaders and other prominent liberals from across Europe, LI President Dr. Juli Minoves joined the European liberal leaders’ meeting in Brussels, at the invitation of ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen MEP and ALDE Group leader Guy Verhovstadt MEP. The meeting focused on the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union.
Addressing the gathered leaders in Brussels, LI President Dr. Minoves said: “Brexit is happening in the background of a huge erosion, globally, of liberal democratic values. Let's not forget who is now rejoicing at the possible weakness of Europe. Europe was born as an idea, a political idea, with values - liberal democratic values - as its backbone.”
“At LI, we are very worried about this erosion of values and the difficulty for Europe to lead in the future.”
Dr. Minoves also took the opportunity to invite the leaders to Liberal International’s leaders meeting on 21 September in New York City, in the margin of the opening of the United National General Assembly.
LI Secretariat welcomes new intern Kathleen Rose KennedyThursday 30 June 2016 16:06 The Liberal International Secretariat is pleased to welcome its latest intern, Kathleen Rose Kennedy. As a recent Political Science graduate from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, Kathleen Rose's main focus at university was studying social and political issues in developing countries and the political behaviours and processes in Canada.
Having travelled to over 30 countries, she is keen to learn more about liberal ideals and human rights around the world. Kathleen Rose has worked with various local and international newspaper and journals, and her interests lie in the protection and promotion of children and women's rights.
Kathleen Rose will be integrated into the secretariat team over the coming 6 months with a focus on political communications. She will also contribute to the delivery of LI’s international political events, including the gathering of liberal parliamentarians at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in October and the LI Human Rights Committee meeting, which will be held in the European Parliament in Brussels in December.
LI President condemns Istanbul terror carnage Wednesday 29 June 2016 17:06 Writing in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Turkey, which claimed the lives of 41 people and injured over 200, LI President Dr. Juli Minoves has offered his condolences to the families of the victims and condemned the act of violence.
On behalf of the global liberal family, the LI President said: “As President of Liberal International, I offer my condolences to the families of the victims of the carnage in Istanbul and I resolutely condemn this act of terror. Just a month ago, Liberal International sent a high-level fact-finding mission to Istanbul; we feel close to the Turkish people in these hours of mourning.”
“Coming back to Andorra from Brussels, where another terrorist attack happened earlier this year, I am reminded of the ubiquitous quality of these killings of innocent bystanders. In the end, those who cause so much sadness and hurt want to alter our way of life, our liberal democratic values of tolerance and living together. Human beings are called to the higher purpose of establishing societies where mutual respect, diversityand prosperity take hold. We will not be brought back to the middle ages”, Dr. Minoves added.
LI Vice-President, Robert Woodthorpe Browne MBE -- who led an LI study mission to Istanbul just last month with a goal to investigate the increasing authoritarianism of the Erdogan presidency and the persecution of journalists -- added: “Turkey's fight against ISIL has been inconsistent, but has sufficed to bring about situation where the Turkish people pay with their lives on two fronts.”
Under the theme Imprisoned for Thinking, the Liberal International's Human Rights Committee (LI HRC) met at the headquarters of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Geneva for the fourth consecutive year, focusing its debates on the principle of freedom of expression.
The meeting, co-hosted by the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY - LI full member) and the Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC - LI cooperating organisation) with the support of the ALDE Party (LI cooperating Organisation), aimed at offering a powerful fight back for freedom in light of the decline of civil and political rights in many parts of the world, including an increased number of journalists behind bars, more prisoners of conscience and liberal politicians being harassed and threatened in their daily work.
LI President Dr. Juli Minoves and IFLRY representative Caroline Green (International Federation of Liberal Youth - LI full-member) delivered the welcoming remarks of the Conference. The LI President cautioned that "the norm of liberal democracy is eroding in international affairs", while Mrs. Green emphasized that "enabling the youth voice at the UNHRC is crucial for the sustainability of a liberal future."
The first panel debated the criminalisation of political activity and featured the Director of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation Olga Tikhomirova alongside LI HRC Member and ALN Vice-President Medard Mulangala.
In her presentation, Tikhomirova launched a call towards the international community to be firm with President Putin and condone the ongoing crackdown on dissent by the Russian regime as an unacceptable practice. Mulangala, on the other hand, stressed that while the volatile political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo has received some support from the international community, there is an urgent need for a national dialogue. "Liberal International should continue to raise awareness to make our case better known in the international arena" he concluded.
Chair of LI Human Rights Committee and LI Vice-President on the Bureau, Markus Löning, emphasised the need to provide support for political movements that want to improve democratic transition as "there is an obligation for those who have privilege to support those who don't when it comes to human rights."
The second panel saw lively debates around the (ab)use of the media by illiberal governments.OSCE – The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Representative for Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, identified "a shrinking space for civil society", warning that "silencing people of opposing opinions is not new."
Ten months after his release from a 438 day prison sentence for doing his job, international journalist Mohamed Fahmy used his participation at the LI Human Rights Committee meeting to call for a United Nations Special Rapporteur for Journalist Safety.
The panel also touched on politicised oppression of the media in Turkey, where opposition journalist and founding member of the Platform for Independent Journalism (P24) Yavuz Baydar, shared his personal experience with regards to the harsh crackdown on freedom of expression by the government of President Erdogan.
LI VP on the Bureau and Member of the House of Lords, Baroness Kishwer Falkner (Liberal Democrats, LI full-member), moderated the session reminding those present that "if we are silent when the press wants to tell us something then we might as well be all silent."
The discussions were furthered during the working lunch session which was opened by SILC Information Officer Åsa Nilsson-Söderström and saw a bilateral briefing by Spela Kosic, a Human Rights Expert with the Sloveninan Permanent Representation to the United Nations. Kosic gave an overview of the working mechanisms of the Human Rights Council and the work of the Slovenian Representation to the issue of political prisoners at the UN.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats (LI full member) in the United Kingdom, Tim Farron MP, spoke out this morning: “I’m devastated and I am angry. Today we wake to a deeply divided country. Nigel Farage’s vision for Britain has won this vote, but it is not a vision I share.”
“Young people voted to remain by a considerable margin, but were out voted. They were voting for their future, yet it has been taken from them,” he added.
“Our fight for an open, optimistic, hopeful, diverse and tolerant Britain is needed now more than ever,” he concluded.
In a statement, the President of the ALDE Party (LI Cooperating Organisation), Hans van Baalen MEP, who is also a President of Honour of LI, spoke out with disappointment on the result of the referendum saying that regardless of the outcome "Britain and the EU must stay friends and allies".
Four months away from Parliamentary Elections in Georgia this October in a statement the liberals of ALDE-PACE expressed deep concern “that several Georgian politicians, including our former and current colleagues, as well as journalists have recently been harassed and physically attacked.”
Strongly condemning the attacks, ALDE-PACE called on the Council of Europe “to take appropriate action in order to bring the individuals responsible for violence to justice and to prevent such acts from occurring in the future”, and concluded that “violence cannot be a means of political struggle, and impunity for those who physically attack politicians and journalists is a serious threat to democracy.”
Together with RPG (LI full member) in May 2016 Liberal International organised its 196th Executive Committee Meeting in Georgia on the topic of ‘Safeguarding Freedom and Security’, where delegates concluded that cyber-security is one of the main international challenges of the 21st century.
PM Rõivas at Council of Europe: Protecting human rights and rule of law offline and online. More relevant than ever pic.twitter.com/X9YPUe9w1g
Addressing the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas of the Reform Party (LI full member) of Estonia spoke at length about the importance of the Council to protect civil liberties and was among those to welcome the recently released Nadiya Savchenko to the PACE after liberals campaigned for her freedom earlier this year.
I admire Nadiya Savchenko for her incredible strength and courage. Told me she felt the support of Estonian people. pic.twitter.com/NjaXwZHDFn
“Stand together against violence and hatred”, says LI HRC member Kyuchyuk Thursday 23 June 2016 11:06 “The Liberal International Human Rights Committee has proven to be a leading and sustainable liberal instrument that promotes and advocates women’s rights, LGBTI rights, freedom of believe and responsibility to protect doctrine worldwide,” said Ilhan Kyuchuk MEP, ALDE Party Vice President and member of the LI HRC during his visit to the LI Secretariat in London.
Kyuchyuk - who hosted last December the LI/ALDE conference in Brussels on the 10th anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect - has renewed his invitation to the LI Human Rights Committee to meet in the European Parliament ahead of the International Human Rights Day in December. He said: “Promotion and protection of Human Rights are indivisibly connected to core Liberal ideas of liberty and equality. Liberal International Human Rights Committee actively contributes to the working mechanisms of the United Nations through its UN ECOSOC consultative status. It is important that we are equally vocal in the European Parliament.”
The young Bulgarian liberal leader who presides with the youth of the LI full member Movements for Rights and Freedoms – Mr Kyuchuk, made headlines in his country becing only one of the two MEPs who expressed public support to last weekend’s Sofia LGBTI Pride. In a letter to the Pride Organisers he recalled the mass shootings in Orlando, USA, Ilhan Kyuchuk called “to stand together against violence and hatred.”
At the LI office My Kychuk was received by LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas and Head of Human Rights Programme Tamara Dancheva.
LI Medal of Liberalism Awarded to Luxembourg PM BettelWednesday 22 June 2016 16:06 Recognising the long-standing commitment of Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, to the promotion and development of liberal values nationally and worldwide a delegation from Liberal International, led by LI President Dr. Juli Minoves, has presented Prime Minister Bettel with LI’s Medal of Liberalism. "At this important occasion I want to emphasise that for us liberals the economy has importance but in first place are human beings,” said Luxembourg's liberal leader.
Investing Prime Minister Bettel with the Medal, LI President Dr. Minoves said:
“As Prime Minister he [Xavier Bettel] refuses easy populism and assumes the responsibility to govern taking difficult decisions crucial for the future of Luxembourg and the people of Luxembourg.
“His marriage with Gauthier has touched the world and has made Luxembourg an example of equality. It is a key principle of liberalism to have the state and the laws based on equal opportunities of the citizens and without discrimination of any kind.
“He presided in an exemplary way the Security Council of the United Nations and the European Union, gaining recognition by the international community.”
Expressing true appreciation for the medal, Prime Minister Bettel said: “It means a lot to me. I have always been fighting for liberalism and liberal values.
The special ceremony in Luxembourg was attended by President of the ALDE Party and LI President of Honour, Hans van Baalen MEP, President of Demokratesch Partei and Minister of Families, Corinne Cahen, LI Secretary General, Emil Kirjas and Friedrich Naumann Foundation Regional Director (Europe), Hans Stein.