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NightWatch 20120410

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NightWatch

For the night of 10 April 2012

North Korea: For the record. Assembly and preparations for a satellite launch have been completed, North Korean Deputy Director of Space Exploration in the Department of Space Technology Ryu Gum Chol said on 10 April.

Comment: The North will at least try to launch this rocket.

Syria: Update. Neither the Syrian opposition nor the Syrian government have complied with the UN ceasefire plan. The international media emphasis is on Syrian compliance, but both parties have unfulfilled obligations.

Egypt: The Cairo administrative court on 10 April enjoined a parliamentary decision to create a new constitutional assembly because of defects in the composition of the assembly.

Under the military decree ordering a new constitution to be drafted and approved by a public referendum, no members of parliament may be members of the drafting committee. The plaintiffs complained successfully that male Islamists dominated the group's composition, to the virtual exclusion of minorities, Christians and women. The decree specified that the assembly must represent the major interest groups in Egypt. The court found that the make-up of the assembly has to be reconsidered and the new representation has to represent the entire society.

The injunction is temporary until the legality of the assembly's formation may be decided by an appellate court.

Comment: The Brotherhood-led parliament and the constitutional assembly it appointed got caught trying to bypass the language of the decree. Several commentators have noted that the court ruling leaves intact the prior constitution which established a strong presidential form of government.

As the result of a likely long appeals process, a new constitution will not be ratified before a new president is elected. The new president would then have all the powers Mubarak had to shape a constitution or even to decline to make any changes.

Now that the armed forces leadership knows what to expect from elections, i.e., an Islamist government, it might decide that a strong secular presidential government suits their best interests.

On the other hand, if the presidential election is held as scheduled, an Islamist is likely to be elected president of Egypt and would be in position to shape the future government … unless the army intervenes again.

This is not the result the secular interests expected when they brought their suit.

Tunisia: Security forces used tear gas and batons to disrupt an anti-government demonstration in Tunis on 9 April. Some 2,000 protestors chanted slogans from last year's rallies to overthrow former president Ben Ali in honor of Martyrs' Day. President Marzouki called the violence unacceptable. Fifteen protestors and eight policemen were injured.

Comment: A year later, local analysts assert that Tunisians have more political freedoms than they have had in at least a generation. Nevertheless, the six-month old government banned protests in central Tunis, where the so-called revolution began and strongly enforced the ban on Monday.

The economic conditions, which gave rise to the uprising more than a year ago, have deteriorated. While inflation was under control last year at under 4%, the impact of high energy prices has not yet been factored. Last year GDP declined 2.2%, after having grown 6.5% in 2010. Unemployment is over 16%. One of the complaints by the protestors is the government has failed to keep its promise to create jobs.

End of NightWatch for 10 April.

NightWatch is brought to you by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.

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