Tunisia: On 31 May, Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said that the government would deal firmly with Salafists in the wake of several recent violent incidents. While not offering any specific details, Jebali said that Tunisians have lost patience with hardline Islamists and their moves to "purify society."
Comment: As in Egypt and Libya, Tunisians seem polarized between secularists and Islamists. The weak moderate Islamist government is reluctant to restrain the extreme Islamists who actively demonstrate in favor of imposing Sharia, strictly enforced. They are not the majority, but they are shaping the choices of the majority because the government is weak the Tunisian secular and moderate parties are intimidated.
Mali: Update. News services confirmed that the Tuareg rebels in northern Mali refuse to accept strict enforcement of Sharia by the Islamists. The disagreement changes little. The north remains in secession, but unable to organize itself.
Elections: June is emerging as the month for pivotal elections on several continents.
3 June Cambodia: Local council elections. The opposition controls a small number of councils but its leaders judge a good showing would be to increase its control to 163 of the 1,633 councils. The rest are controlled by Cambodian strong man Hun Sen's party. Cambodia will remain essentially a one-party state going through the motions of democracy.
10 and 17 June France: Parliamentary elections for the 14th National Assembly. Five hundred seventy-seven single member constituencies will be contested. Former President Sarkozy's UMP party holds 314 and Hollande's socialists hold 204. Changes to these numbers will be indicators of public sentiment about France's role in the eurozone, most analysts agree.
The results of this election will determine whether President Hollande's victory represented voter rejection of Sarkozy in person or a repudiation of his policies. The polls at this time suggest the vote was anti-Sarkozy and not necessarily anti-UPM or in favor of the Socialists.
16 and 17 June Egypt: Presidential elections between the Muslim Brotherhood candidate al Mursi and the establishment candidate Mubarak's last prime minister al Shafiq. This will be a vote for the soul of Egypt. After prayers on the 1st, demonstrators protested Shafiq's candidacy because he had been disqualified in late April for being a holdover from the Mubarak regime. On appeal of his disqualification, in early May the election commission reinstated him as candidate for reasons that were not subject to judicial review but were supported by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
17 June Greece: This is the run-off parliamentary election between the New Democracy party that supports the European Union's austerity measures and the leftist coalition that opposes austerity. Latest polls indicate the Greeks favor the New Democracy Party and remaining in the eurozone.
19 June Libya: This is the scheduled date for the election of an assembly that would write a new constitution. The National Transitional Council is likely to delay the election because so many people applied to be candidates by 23 May when nominations closed that the election authorities cannot process them by 19 June. Many groups suspect the NTC is using the processing and vetting procedures to justify remaining in power indefinitely. The Libyan electorate is polarized much like Egypt's between secularists and Islamists.
There no doubt are other elections not included, but most of those listed have large consequences and implications. As others become known, NightWatch will summarize the issues.
International North South Transportation Corridor: correction: The route runs through Azerbaijan vice Tajikistan.
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