Thursday, April 18, 2024

Diplomacy vital for democracy


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IT HAS OFTEN BEEN SAID that democracy thrives in a turbulent climate. It is also true that for it to function effectively there will be winners and losers, who must accept the verdict and the will of the majority of the people.
The situation in Venezuela is the latest example of the difficulty that could arise where party leadership is not prepared to accept the results of an election which could plunge a country into chaos and economic instability. Ideology also plays a pivotal role in most situations.
Former President Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, won a razor-thin victory in Sunday’s special presidential election but the opposition candidate has refused to accept the result and demanded a full recount.
Maduro’s close victory followed an often ugly campaign in which he promised to carry on Chavez’s self-styled socialist revolution, while challenger Henrique Capriles’ main message was that Chavez put this country with the world’s largest oil reserves on the road to ruin.
As the world waits with bated breath to see what happens following the recount of votes in Venezuela, there will be considerable manoeuvring by major powers to ensure that Venezuela doesn’t descend into a magnet for regional instability.
The issue of ideology also raises its ugly head in the case of Iran and its nuclear programme which it says is for peaceful purposes. There is another country in that region with reported nuclear capability but which is not even discussed or admitted (or denied) publicly.
The latest failure of talks between Iran and the six world powers – the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain (the five permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council) and Germany – suggests that a new approach is needed; otherwise, further talks will be futile.
Both sides, Iran on one hand and the United States and Israel on the other, have used aggressive rhetoric against the other side and have repeatedly threatened military action against Tehran in flagrant violation of the very UN Charter.
Article 2 provides that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the UN.” Yet the threats persist.
We believe much more could be achieved by fostering a stronger diplomatic approach and improving relations between the United States and other Arab states. Since threats of punitive action against states like North Korea and Iran are not weakening their nuclear ambitions, a different approach seems in order.


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