The Tunisia effect: where next?

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Mark.
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Feb 19 2011 18:24

Tomorrow, D-Day in Morocco #fev20

The Arabist wrote:

Above is the second video ahead of February 20 protests for constitutional reform, the dissolution of parliament and the formalization of the Amazigh (Berber) language(s) in Morocco. These videos have been attacked as too well produced to be the work of young Moroccans, which tells you a lot about the contempt the regime has for the country's youth. Incidentally, I think it was a mistake to add the second two requests — the last parliamentary election was fairly clean (even if money played a big role) and the question of Amazigh is a) divisive and b) something parliament can vote for. The real problem is the emasculation of parliament by a constitutional framework that gives all power to the palace. But that just my jouj centimes and I wholeheartedly support the protest movement.

Tomorrow's protest will be joined by all sorts of people, but it seems to me two groups will stand out. One is a network of mostly leftist youth that has been involved with all sorts of activism in the last few years and is close to the human rights world and the AMDH specifically. It gravitates around leftist parties such as the PSU and will probably include disaffected members of the USFP, the historic center-left party. The other group will consist largely of Adl wal-Ihsan, the largest Islamist movement in Morocco, which has long advocated constitutional reform. It is legally banned. Also present should be the wing of the legal Islamist party, the PJD, whose leaders have largely been "Makhzenized" but that has a strong figure of resistance in Mustafa Ramid, a member of parliament for Casablanca. And of course there will be tons of ordinary people with no political affiliation…

Mark.
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Feb 19 2011 19:09

Bahrain: from the comments for the Guardian live updates

gooneriman wrote:

19 February 2011 4:28PM
Just got back from the Pearl huge party atmosphere but with lots of sadness thrown in as well. Must be about 30 or 40 thousand protesters there. There are people celebrating and people paying their respects to where people died. Lots of the protesters believe that this is the end for the Prime Minister. They believe he will resign tonight or tomorrow. Around the corner outside the City Centre shopping mall there is around 100 police vehicles. No army vehicles or tanks. I hope they are right but with such a police presence and also what has happened in the past I do worry. Yesterday was such a dark day and today is such a celebration. Lots of peace signs and lots of happiness. One man was holding the shoe of his daughter who he claimed had been shot on Wednesday night.

I really hope this is an end to it but personally I can't see the PM going without a fight and certainly now as positions have become so entrenched. What kind of a sign does this show the Saudis and the Kuwaitis and maybe even the Emiratis. Is the PM willing to give up and are the Royal Family really going to have a fully elected PM. We shall see.

Mark.
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Feb 19 2011 20:48

Moroccans riot ahead of protests

Al Jazeera wrote:

Protesters have attacked a police station and premises linked to French firms in the Moroccan city of Tangier in a dispute over the local utility firm's management, organisers and residents have said.

Saturday's violence came a day before a planned nationwide protest to push for political reform but there was no immediate evidence of a direct link.

Riot police intervened to break up the protest in Tangier, which evolved from a sit-in in front of the city hall to a march that gathered hundreds of protesters, the Moroccan branch of the local activist organisation, Attac, said on its website.

The sit-in was organised to push for the cancellation of a utilities contract that the city has awarded to an affiliate of the French firm Veolia.

Moroccans in cities where foreign firms run utility services often complain of hefty tariffs.

Residents, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that a protest initially against utilities tariffs had developed into a march, which anti-riot police prevented from reaching the city centre.

"No tear gas, nothing was fired. They used long truncheons to disperse the crowds," one resident said.

Tanjanews.com published pictures showing the shattered windows of a police station and branches of firms affiliated to Veolia and the French bank Societe Generale, and said a branch of the latter had been set on fire...

Mark.
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Feb 19 2011 21:34

Al Jazeera: Taking back Bahrain's 'Tahrir'

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Feb 19 2011 23:24

I don't know if it was already mentioned, but AJE has just said that there is a strike in Bahrain tomorrow involving 65 different unions.

Mark.
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Feb 20 2011 11:31
Samotnaf wrote:
Although these updates are confined to movements in the North African region, wouldn't you say that in fact, the movements have had a rippling effect globally - in Wisconsin and Ohio, for instance? And - who knows? - France had an effect on Millbank which had an effect on .... ?

From another thread...

Hieronymous wrote:
Working Class Internationalism
Mark.
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Feb 20 2011 13:10

Guardian live updates

Quote:
10.48am Morocco:
Our correspondent Giles Tremlett is in Madrid but will be in contract with protesters in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Tangier throughout the day. Here's his take on the current situation:
Quote:
Today the focus for the protest movements sweeping through north Africa and the middle east moves partly to Morocco, which has been free of trouble until now. Youth groups, who began their campaign on Facebook, have called people to protest across the country this morning.

Last night Moroccan state media began claiming that the protesters had called their marches off. Reuters confirmed that a handful of leaders were now shying off, but organisers denounced a propaganda operation, claimed Facebook pages were being hacked by security forces and confirmed that the protests were going ahead at 10am (UK and Morocco time).

Although people are expected to take to the streets of many cities, the main protests are in the capital Rabat as well as in the major cities of Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier. Early reports suggest several hundred people are out in the rain in both Rabat and Casablanca.

Protesters are calling for a rewrite of a constitution which accords King Mohamed VI vast powers. They also want action against corruption and other ills. They stress that these are to be peaceful demonstrations - calling for evolution towards real democracy rather than revolution.

There has been some police harassment of the organisers, but Morocco claims it is more liberal than the rest of North Africa and with greater freedoms - including of protest. Police reaction to the protests will, therefore, be key. It will also be interesting to see if protesters try to set up camps, as in Bahrain and Egypt, in order to keep the pressure on the regime for greater reforms.

Protests have started in Morocco

Photos and videos

liveblog in French

http://mariamsrevolution.blogspot.com/

http://twitter.com/search?q=%23Morocco

Claim on Twitter for numbers on demos. I've no idea if these figures are accurate. Some of the figures quoted on the liveblog are lower.

Quote:
5000 à Rabat, 1400 à Casablanca, 1000 Agadir, 200 Hoceima, 10000 Marrakech, 1000 Oujda.

Edit: figures according to the liveblog

Quote:
12h03 GMT Selon les estimations de notre correspondante, 3000 personnes défilent à Rabat, 2000 à Casablanca et 1500 à Marrakech.
Mark.
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Feb 20 2011 11:41

Also from the Guardian

Quote:
11.36am Bahrain:
Martin Chulov reports from Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital Manama:
Quote:
The hub of Bahrain's anti-Government revolt resembles a folk festival today, with tents pitched, candy and juice being handed out and thousands of people continuing to stream to and from the site. Blood from the last battle to be fought here on Saturday afternoon between government forces and Bahraini youth still stains the ground in parts. But the razor wire that had barricaded the central Bahrain site has been taken away and the roundabout is again being used by traffic.

Teachers and lawyers who went out on strike today in a bid to maintain pressure on the regime, called for civic unrest until their demands of more inclusion in the affairs of state. So far the main opposition group, which walked out on the Government after a savage pre-dawn assault by loyalist government riot police on Thursday, has refused the kingdom's pleas that it join a national dialogue. However, talks seem inevitable.

For now though, the riot police are nowhere to be seen and the military has removed tanks and armoured personnel carriers from the streets of the central city. Pearl Square is festooned with Bahraini flags and peace signs.

Mark.
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Feb 20 2011 12:47
rooieravotr wrote:
China. I wouldn't hold my breath - yet. Still...
A call for 'Jasmine Revolution' in China...

EA liveblog: China

Quote:
1030 GMT: The Associated Press posts its summary of today's events in China: "Jittery Chinese authorities staged a show of force Sunday to squelch a mysterious online call for a 'Jasmine Revolution' apparently modeled after pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping the Middle East."

0845 GMT: Police take away a protester in Shanghai

0745 GMT: It appears that the flutter of protest is over. Police have dispersed the gatherings in Beijing. What is left are defiant messages on the Internet: "The seeds of freedom have also been broadcasting [to] the people. We tell the ruling class...to use action. The power is in the hands of the people. Their time is running out, and if we do not reform, people will come to write history."

There are still some claims of protest, such as a report that in the northern city of Harbin, police cars blocked central square as protesters moved toward the Sofia Church area.

0715 GMT: Police have been deployed at a supposed protest location, Renmin Park, in the southern city of Guangzhou.

0655 GMT: Despite the regime's efforts, there has been a gathering in Wangfujing in Beijing

0645 GMT: Suddenly, the Internet is awash with talk of protests in China.

AFP, who reported this morning that up to 15 leading Chinese rights lawyers and activists have disappeared since Saturday after  a Web campaign called for commemoration of the "Jasmine" uprisings in the Middle East.

The campaign, apparently fuelled by posts on overseas websites run by exiled Chinese political activists, called for demonstration in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and 10 other Chinese cities. Slogans would include "We want food to eat", "We want work", "We want housing", "We want justice", "Long live freedom", and "Long live democracy".

Human rights attorney Ni Yulan said, "Many rights defenders have disappeared in recent days, others are under house arrest and their mobile phones are blocked. "The police detachment outside my door has increased. They follow us if we go out." 

Searches Sunday for "jasmine" on China's Twitter-like micro-blog Weibo produced no results, and messages on the Baidu search engine said that due to laws and regulations such results were unavailable. Some Chinese Internet search pages listed "Jasmine" entries, but links to them were blocked.

In a speech on Saturday, Chinese President Hu Jintao acknowledged growing social unrest and urged the ruling Communist Party to safeguard stability as he ordered strengthened controls over "virtual society" and the Internet.

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Feb 20 2011 15:27

Iran: http://iranenlutte.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/la-raffinerie-dabadan-bloquee/

Quote:
La révolte sociale et politique envers Ahmadinejab prend de l’ampleur.

La raffinerie d’Abadan, complexe clé du pétrole made in Iran, est désormais paralysée par les manifestants anti-régime. A l’abris des caméras, la dictature d’Ahmadinejab commence à vaciller.

the refiney in Abadan is one of the largest in the world, when the oil workers in Chuzistan start moving, the regime will be in serious trouble

http://iranenlutte.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/premieres-informations-des-protestations-du-20-fevrier/

http://iranenlutte.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/premieres-nouvelles-des-protestations-en-province/

http://iranenlutte.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/un-manifestant-tue-a-teheran/

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Feb 20 2011 16:35

Iranian Kurdistan:

http://iranenlutte.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/breves-des-protestations-du-20-fevrier/

Quote:
Mahabad (Kurdistan) : La ville de Mahabad est en flammes. Les agents du gouvernement ont perdu le contrôle de la ville. Une très grande foule avance depuis la Place Esteghlal et d’autres lieux autour de la ville. Les agents du gouvernement sont incapable de contrôler la foule. La foule crie des slogans contre le gouvernement et jette des pierres en avançant vers les agents du régime. Les flammes sont visibles à plusieurs endroits dans et autour de Mahabad.
Samotnaf
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Feb 20 2011 18:27

More about Iran in French here.
Though Mahabad seems to be the centre of the most significant confrontation, there are also confrontations in Teheran in at least 10 differtent parts of town, with "Death to Khamenei" being shouted. Also confrontations in Marivan (in the West), demonstrations in Ispahan ("Death to the dictator" shouted), Racht (in the North) and Kerman.

Mark.
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Feb 20 2011 20:24

More on Iran

EA liveblog

Videos

Mark.
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Feb 20 2011 22:43

Report on protests in Morocco

aloeveraone
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Feb 21 2011 17:03

From the Guardian liveblog:

Quote:
9.22am – Sudan: The Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir has announced he will not stand at the next election, writes my colleague Adam Gabbatt. His pledge not to stand in the 2015 poll comes after been dozens of small protests have been staged throughout the north of the country since January, as an economic crisis began to bite and Sudanese people witnessed uprisings in other Arab countries.

"[Bashir] announced that he will not enter the coming elections to compete for the presidency," Rabie Abdelati, a senior National Congress Party official, told Reuters.
Bashir, the only sitting head of state to be indicted by the international criminal cCourt, for war crimes and genocide in the war-torn Darfur region, took power in a bloodless coup in 1989. In April 2010 he won presidential elections which many opposition parties boycotted, citing fraud.

aloeveraone
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Feb 21 2011 17:25

Again from the Guardian:

Quote:
1.59pm - Morocco: Giles Tremlett writes:

Yesterday's 'Day of Dignity' protests in Morocco have turned out to be both more numerous and more violent than it initially seemed, with some violence continuing today in the city of Fes, according to Tweets from a reporter at Morocco's Atlantic Radio @mathiaschaillot. Protests took place in 53 towns and cities.

Protest organisers denounce the violence and blame thugs who took advantage of the peaceful demonstrations to riot.

1.34pm - Morocco The county's interior minister said five charred bodies were found in a bank set aflame by "troublemakers" in pro-democracy protests.

Taeib Cherqaoui told reporters at least 128 people were injured, mostly security forces in unrest linked to protests a day earlier that drew at least 37,000 demonstrators in dozens of towns and cities.

The minister said that "troublemakers" vandalised dozens of public buildings, shops and banks, including one in northeastern Al Hoceima where the five bodies were found. He said 120 people were arrested.

Political campaigners said the protests were hijacked by thugs in some towns, especially by football fans leaving matches. Some 37,000 protested, according to the interior ministry.

baboon
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Feb 21 2011 21:24

Channel 4 News tonight reports that teachers have gone on strike in the Yemini capital.

Mark.
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Feb 21 2011 22:33

Teachers on strike in Bahrain yesterday

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Feb 21 2011 22:47

Don't forget to keep checking the news for Qatif. If anything starts in Saudi, it's most likely to start there. (although the current tack in Bahrain's zig-zag fishtailing reduces the pressure temporarily).

from Sunday
Reuters: Three Saudi Shi'ites released after rare protest

Quote:
AWWAMIYA, Saudi Arabia, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Three Shi'ites held in prison for over a year were freed in Saudi Arabia's oil-producing Eastern province, a Shi'ite preacher and a local journalist said on Sunday, days after a rare protest demanding their release.

Shi'ites staged a small protest on Thursday in the town of Awwamiya, near the Shi'ite centre of Qatif on the Gulf coast, to demand the release of the three, who had been held without charges.

"They were released today," preacher Khoder Awwami told Reuters on the sidelines of a ceremony in a small mosque where the three were welcomed.

"I am so happy," said Muneer al-Jasas, a blogger and one of the released men.

Officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Saudi Arabia's Shi'ite minority mostly live in the Eastern province, which holds much of the oil wealth of the world's top crude exporter.

The province is near Bahrain, scene of protests by majority Shi'ites against Sunni rulers. [ID:nLDE71J00K]

Saudi Arabia applies an austere Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam and Shi'ites say that, while their situation has improved under reforms launched by King Abdullah, they still face restrictions in getting senior government jobs.

The government denies these charges.

Awwamiya, a town visibly less affluent than the rest of the country, was the scene of protests for weeks in 2009 after police launched a search for firebrand Shi'ite preacher Nimr al-Nimr, who had suggested in a sermon that Shi'ites could one day seek their own separate state.

The secessionist threat, which analysts say was unprecedented since the 1979 Iranian revolution provoked anti-government protests, followed clashes between the Sunni religious police and Shi'ite pilgrims near the tomb of Prophet Mohammad in the holy city of Medina.

Since then, Shi'ites say the situation has calmed down but they are still waiting for promised reforms to be carried out.

Officials say Shi'ites make up 10 percent of the Saudi population, although diplomats put it closer to 15 percent.

Aside from Qatif, the other name to keep an eye out for would be Hofuf - although it's unlikely, anything there would be prelude to armageddon.

rooieravotr
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Feb 21 2011 23:38

Ocelot:

Quote:
Aside from Qatif, the other name to keep an eye out for would be Hofuf - although it's unlikely, anything there would be prelude to armageddon.

What makes Hotuf such a sensitive location? Trying to follow all this, and would like to know more.

Then again, I would think that the Saudi rulers would unleash Armageddon as soon as anything big occurs in that country, no matter where exactly. Like the Bahreini rulers, and even a bit like Khadaffi, they don't have anywhere to go, and there is not much room for compromise. An institution that at least 'looks' neutral (like the army in Egypt), that can dump the dictator while retaining the regime's structure, is not really there, is there? Just wondering.

Mark.
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Feb 21 2011 23:41

The Moor Next Door on Mauritania

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Feb 22 2011 00:00
rooieravotr wrote:
Ocelot:
Quote:
Aside from Qatif, the other name to keep an eye out for would be Hofuf - although it's unlikely, anything there would be prelude to armageddon.

What makes Hotuf such a sensitive location? Trying to follow all this, and would like to know more.

Then again, I would think that the Saudi rulers would unleash Armageddon as soon as anything big occurs in that country, no matter where exactly. Like the Bahreini rulers, and even a bit like Khadaffi, they don't have anywhere to go, and there is not much room for compromise. An institution that at least 'looks' neutral (like the army in Egypt), that can dump the dictator while retaining the regime's structure, is not really there, is there? Just wondering.

Hofuf (or anywhere in the al-Hasa area) would be dynamite because it sits on the Ghawar oil field. That's the largest oil field in the world, by far. And historically the al-Hasa oasis area was part of the old Al-Bahrayn kingdom, although the Saudis have, afaics, made a special effort to bring in Sunni/Wahabi population to outweigh the Baharna population, which is why it is unlikely.

Just on the Wahabi thing, I find it bizarre that certain commentators seem to worry about the possibility of Saudi becoming an Islamic fundamentalist country. Hello?

rooieravotr
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Feb 22 2011 01:13

Ahaa, I see. Thanks! And yes... the Saudi monarchy is fundamentalist enough , one would think... they subsidized the Taliban coming to power in the nineties, members of the ruling class subsidize all kind of fundamentalist outfits. The current revolts not only put fear intu o Western capitals, but in these kind of outfits as well, by the way. Their funding is threatened, and there message seems more irrelevant as ever. Who needs Al Qaeda when one can make a revolution oneself?

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Feb 22 2011 03:49

here are all the reports i've come across on the china 'jasmine' protests:

The Secret Politburo Meeting Behind China’s New Democracy Crackdown http://bit.ly/i7ReyI
China acts to stamp out call for 'Jasmine Revolution' likely inspired by Egyptian protests http://bit.ly/gefOtX
China cracks down after calls for protests http://bit.ly/fILKOd
Mideast Protests a Concern for Party, not Police http://on.wsj.com/fxyZjO
China state-run media play down protest calls http://bit.ly/h0Uua7
China Crushes Internal Dissent http://bit.ly/h0pvU4
Pro-Democracy Protest Repressed in China http://bit.ly/fa2fH9
Authorities in China stage swift response to crush mysterious calls for 'Jasmine Revolution' http://nydn.us/fZUwV8
Chinese police snuff out planned Arab-inspired protests http://reut.rs/hYjkgn
Analysis: Discontent, but no revolt in China _ yet http://wapo.st/fA3Xm9
China police show up en masse at hint of protest http://lat.ms/f1Mgt3
Activists Detained as China Web Users Call for ‘Jasmine Revolution’ http://bit.ly/gYFBf0
China's 'Jasmine Revolution' draws small crowds http://bit.ly/dI8tSd
Clampdown on "Jasmine Revolution" http://bit.ly/htfM4n

so yeah, so far not much in terms of a comparable movement arising, although this month there have been a couple of the usual village uprisings over land disputes and a bus drivers strike. apparently media controls have been tightened recently though, so it's possible even fewer reports of events like this are getting out than before. there's also been this:

China Deletes Egypt Song http://t.co/YHQ6NcY

china is rather different from the middle eastern countries though - the state is far more sophisticated in it's response to dissent, and those at the top have certainly read marx (albeit through the distorting prism of maoism) and listen less to the us and europe for advice on maintaining stability, which seems to have worked for them so far. the economy there has also been doing pretty well so far, and so holds out enough of a mythical carrot of self-improvement through hardwork still. also, if things did kick of in a big way there, my understanding is that since 1989 the army has undergone major reforms, making it even more politically tied to the party than it was, and no longer based on conscription, which could be a problem.

on the other hand, prices are rising, the number of unemployed workers is rising, complaints tend to be dealt with heavily despite the rhetoric from the top, corruption is rife, despite tight controls there is an ever-growing section of the population that uses the internet to spread news and critical views, the cities will soon have a greater share of the population than the country (if that isn't already the case) and thanks to the ccp, there is no credible or effective opposition party or union that could coopt any outburst in an effective way.

btw, thanks to everyone contributing to this and other middle east threads, they've been really helpful

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Feb 22 2011 04:35

zimbabwe?

Arrests in Zimbabwe for Seeing Videos http://nyti.ms/ewFEcw
Zimbabwe police arrest 46 attending lecture session on uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia http://bit.ly/hn4V9u

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Feb 22 2011 07:23

re: the global spread of struggles, i've been thinking for a while since seeing this site that it would be good to have something similar for the whole world, both to visualise the geographical and chronological developments of the proletarian response to the crisis and to emphasis that they are not isolated.

so today i set one up: http://workerstruggles.crowdmap.com/

at the moment it's just a very rough draft version to see how it would work and whether it would be useful - hence the rather arbitrary categories. if others think it's a good idea, i'm happy to add them as admins and maybe start a thread somewhere else on stuff like categories and how to decide a report is reliable etc.

Mark.
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Feb 22 2011 09:53

Al Jazeera article on the prospects for uprisings in sub-saharan Africa

In search of an African revolution

squaler
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Feb 22 2011 11:28
Mark. wrote:
Al Jazeera article on the prospects for uprisings in sub-saharan Africa

In search of an African revolution

I'm not sure how trustworthy the global voices site is... I referenced their report on Gabon earlier in the month, the same report the al jazeera article references, but afterwards a friend who just got back from zimbabwe told me they were heavily partisan and not to be trusted. My friend is smart and trustworthy, so I would naturally pay attention to what she says, but it might be this global voices site is simply not to be trusted about zimbabwe. I'm not sure, but thought I'd drop that caveat

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Feb 22 2011 11:36

This looks a bit different from what we're seeing elsewhere - if the protests are indeed pro not-in-office-elected government as opposed to more generall anti in-office-un-elected government. But you never know what might happen:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/21/ivory-coast-protesters-laurent-gbago

Ivory Coast protesters killed calling for Laurent Gbagbo to step down

Quote:
Ouattara's government has called for an Egyptian-style revolution to remove Gbagbo, but attempts to demonstrate have been thwarted by security forces. Residents reported gunfire all morning in pro-Ouattara neighbourhoods of Abidjan, as soldiers and paramilitaries broke up attempted demonstrations.

Residents of the Koumassi district said soldiers fired on protesters from machineguns mounted on military vehicles. Djate Traore, a local resident, said at least three demonstrators were killed, and reported seeing the bodies.

An official at the mayor's office who asked not to be identified said three people were killed and 14 wounded in the city's Treichville neighbourhood, adding that he saw the dead and helped evacuate the wounded to a clinic.

There was no immediate comment from the military.

Similar attempts to demonstrate at the weekend were crushed by pro-Gbagbo forces, who witnesses said killed at least five people when they opened fire on attempted gatherings.

Army spokesman Babri Gohourou told state television at least four soldiers or police officers had been lynched by protesters on Sunday, three of them killed by having their throats cut.

Mark.
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Feb 22 2011 22:48

From Paul Mason's blog

Revolutions: the democracy thing is becoming an economic thing

A Suez-type moment?

Twenty reasons why it's kicking off everywhere