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NightWatch 20100902


For the Night of 2 September 2010

North Korea: Update on the 3rd Party Conference preparations. In mid-July farm villages, industrial workers, municipal and provincial peoples committees plus cabinet departments and functional groups, such as the Korean Peoples Army and the internal security forces, began holding rallies in support of the Conference. By August the groups began voting for their representatives to the Party Conference. Since 25 August North Korean media occasionally have published results of the voting. Every group has voted General Secretary Kim Chong-il as a representative to the conference.

The 1958 and 1966 Party Conferences provide only general guidance as to the date of the conference. In 1966, the conference was held six days after elections. Prior to the 1958 Conference no special elections were held. Both earlier conferences dealt with the major tasks of the socialist system.

In 1958 the main agenda item was the launching of the first five-year plan. In 1966 the main item was also economic, namely the tasks of socialist economic reconstruction.

This Conference will be devoted to succession, for the first time. No conference of this kind preceded the naming of Kim Chong-il as successor. Kim IL sung died suddenly in 1994, preventing an orderly succession process anointed by the Workers' Party and creating the dynastic succession of which China has been strongly critical.

This succession also will be dynastic, but the resistance to the untested and Swiss-educated third son as successor has been such that Kim has fallen back on the rubrics of communist orthodoxy to try to legitimate his personal choice of a successor.

The Koreans will go through the motions and accept the bribes from the Kim family, but they are jaded to the blandishments of regime cheerleading. An incompetent, ingénue with no communist or revolutionary credentials as leader is a prescription for factional infights, internal instability unless the economy improves by some miracle and invites a military takeover… but after Kim Chong-il dies.

Pakistan: During a tour of the devastation from the floods, Prime Minister Gilani said, "Pakistan is passing through a critical phase... we are literally in troubled waters. No country alone can tackle this kind of disaster." He described the effects of the flooding as even exceeding the destruction from the 2005 earthquake.

Comment: Leveraging its status as a nuclear weapons state, Pakistani leaders are engaging in a subtle form of extortion. Gilani almost is demanding that the community of nations bail out Pakistan, without vocalizing the obviously implied, "or else."

Gilani also is not wrong in describing the situation as critical. Farmland and herds are wiped out. The floods have affected one in eight Pakistanis, according to Gilani. The government has not begun to assess the damage to infrastructure.

The situation also is politically critical because the government's military relief efforts have generated more favorable support than the government's civilian efforts. The difference is the military gets popular gratitude and the government gets criticized.

The speed and extent of flood relief, crisis stabilization and recovery will determine whether elected government will survive or be replaced by another military regime. Gilani's implied message to the community of nations is that if the community supports democracy in Pakistan, give now.

Mozambique: For the record. Food riots continued in the Mozambican capital, Maputo for a second day on 2 September. Protestors demanding lower food prices clashed with police.

In response, the government convened an emergency cabinet meeting, after which a spokesman called for calm and promised the government would continue to enforce public order. He also confirmed seven deaths and 288 injured. More riots are expected.

End of NightWatch for 2 September.

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