Sunday, August 02, 2009

Zimbabwe and Iran turn to the courts.

They are two entirely different country's, but the same shit always happens when the leadership wish to ignore the democratic will of the people: they put the full force of the law behind them to frighten the opposition into silence.


Zimbabwe is on the verge of a new political crisis, amid growing evidence that President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has launched a strategy to wipe out the former opposition's slim parliamentary majority.

The campaign has in the past few days seen MPs for the Movement for Democratic Change arrested for offences including playing music that "denigrates" Mugabe, and stealing a mobile phone. Fourteen MDC MPs and senators are facing charges ranging from corruption to rape. If convicted, they will lose their seats, forcing by-elections. Less than six months after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister, the strategy again raises questions about the role of the country's courts and police.


More than 100 Iranian opposition politicians and activists accused of involvement in violence after June's disputed presidential election appeared in court in Tehran yesterday on the first day of what opposition activists allege is a mass show trial.

The trial is the first of what is expected to be a series of court hearings which the hardline ruling regime hopes will reinforce its hold on power and deter any further attempts to contest the victory of conservative candidate and incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

So, Khamenei now finds himself emulating the actions of Mugabe. It's astonishing. Up until the last election I would have said that Khamenei's position was unassailable; indeed, even with Ahmadinejad losing the election, I would have thought that Khamenei was in no danger of being removed from power.

But, once he declared that Ahmadinejad was the winner with such obscene haste, he placed himself in direct opposition to the people he is supposed to lead and, eventually and inevitably, finds himself using the full force of the state in an attempt to impose his will.

I wonder if he dares to go as far as Mugabe is going in Zimbabwe to make sure people understand that he will do anything to retain power?

That old bastard sends signals that are impossible to ignore:
Yesterday, many Zimbabweans were outraged after a court in Chivhu imposed a fine of just US$200 (£120) on Chinoona Mwanda - who had been found guilty of culpable homicide, after the 6 March incident when his lorry swerved into the path of Tsvangirai's car, killing Susan, his wife of 31 years.
Mugabe doesn't care how blatant his acts of theft appear; indeed, he seems to almost revel in daring people to question his authority so that he can crush them. He is proud of his iron will, which he sees as one of his greatest strengths.

But this is new ground for Khamenei. He appears to be still clinging to the notion that his regime has legitimacy, and he is using the courts - in his mind - to solidify the legality of those claims.

The question now is what will Khamenei do if these court actions fail to stop protesters taking to the streets? We all know what Mugabe would do, because Mugabe doesn't give a monkeys about what anyone thinks of him. But Khamenei has, until now, ruled with the approval of a majority of Iranians.

He has utterly blown that approval and, unnecessarily, put his own position at risk. There's still a chance, albeit an infinitesimal one, that this regime could fall.

That's dependent on just how far each side, the protesters and Khamenei's government, are prepared to go to get what they want.

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