Saturday, February 19, 2011

Clamor for change sweeping the Arab world continues

Africa and the Middle East, home to the longest-reigning regimes of our time, continue to show instability since Tunisia's Ben Ali and Egypt's Mubarak were ejected a few weeks ago. Anti-government protests seem to have created ripples across the region leaving scores of people killed and wounded as governments quell the efforts to oust them.
Here is an update of countries that undergo public clamor for economic and political reforms, in alphabetical order.
Bahrain On its sixth day of protests, the government showed no mercy when soldiers opened fire to thousands of demonstratoss in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout leaving at least 50 injuries seven of them in critical condition thereby flooding the main hospital, said VOA News. Key allies such as the US strongly criticized the bloody outcome of events.
The people demanded that the kingdom relinquish its political power, effectively deal with increasing poverty and systematic discrimination of Shiite Muslims who make up 70 percent of its 1.2 million population. This Gulf state is home to the US Naval Force Fifth Fleet.
Djibouti This city-state located in the Horn of Africa saw thousands of protesters calling for Ethiopian-born President Guelleh to step down come April. Having served two six-year terms as its leader since 1999, critics say that the 63-year-old chief removed the two-term limits when he amended the constitution in March 2010.
The opposition said the situation is becoming violent when at least two rallyists were injured close to the Hassan Guled stadium when a clash broke out yesterday between a hundred protesters and the police, said Bloomberg.
A country with less than a million people, and host to several military bases and the only US base in the continent, Guelleh won in an unopposed bid for the presidency in 2005 and is seeking his second reelection two months from now. He could be challenged by London-based Boreh this year.
Egypt Hundreds of thousands stormed Cairo's Tahrir Square in celebration of Mubarak's resignation last week in what is called "Day of Victory." Waiving flags, protesters pressured the military to overthrow the former ruler's cronies who are still in the government, and move toward reforms, in a report by the LA Times.
After the 18-day march that ended the 30 years of Mubarak's power, 360 were reported to have been killed.
Jordan On its seventh straight Friday demonstration, riots erupted in the capital Amman when 2,000 protesters were assaulted with batons, pipes and stones that wounded eight people. Protesters were calling for constitutional monarchy and the power to elect a prime minister and parliament who may not be dismissed by the king, as currently practiced. They also seek to resolve problems in escalating prices of commodities and unemployment, in a report by Al Jazeera.
Libya At least 27 people were killed during the anti-regime demonstrations in this North African state on Friday, according to XinhuaNet. Seven were reported to have died in Derna in eastern Libya while 20 have died in Benghazi, second largest city, said theOea newspaper, owned by one of Gaddafi's sons.
Power outage was seen and Internet sites including Al Jazeera Arabic and Facebookwere blocked. Protests occur mainly in regional towns and cities in this oil-rich state where 33 percent live in poverty. In an attempt to appease the protesters Gaddafi offered to revamp his government.
Saudi Arabia The founding members of a new political party called the Umma Islamic Party were detained by Saudi authorities on Wednesday. The party called for a dialogue to end the power that is strictly confined in the hands of the ruling royal family and an improvement of the status of women, said The Washington Post.
A key US-ally and the world's largest oil supplier, Saudi authorities told the detainees that they must withdraw their demands before they are released.
Yemen On its ninth day of protests, riots were seen between the supporters of US-ally President Saleh and opposition groups in the capital Sanaa that seriously wounded 48 people after a blast that was followed by a stampede. Three were killed in the south port city of Aden when 7,000 protesters set a police station and government buildings on fire. Another one was killed when police opened fire at protesters earlier in Aden, said Sify News.
Protesters demanded the end of Saleh's 32-year-old rule due to corruption and economic difficulties. The ruler's promise not to seek presidential bid in 2013 and make his son as his successor did not deter the demonstrators.
Author's note: What country is next?

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