Arafat Calls for Democratic Elections in U.S.

Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat stunned
the world yesterday by demanding that the United States hold democratic elections for a new Chief Executive before it attempts to continue in its role as broker between Israel and Palestine. Hugo Chavez, elected president of Venezuela with 62% of the popular vote, concurred with Mr. Arafat.

2002.06.26

Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat stunned
the world yesterday by demanding that the United States hold
democratic elections for a new Chief Executive before it attempts
to continue in its role as broker between Israel and Palestine.

“Mr. Bush is tainted by his association
with Jim-Crow-style selective disenfranchisement and executive
strong-arm tactics in a southeastern province controlled by his
brother,” said Mr. Arafat, who was elected with 87% of the
vote in 1996 elections in the West Bank and Gaza, declared to
be free and fair by international observers, including former
U.S. president Jimmy Carter.

“Our count shows that he would
have lost the election if his associates hadn’t deprived so many
thousands of African-Americans, an oppressed minority, of the
right to vote. He is not the man to bring peace to the Middle
East.”


Hugo Chavez, elected president of Venezuela
with 62% of the popular vote, concurred with Mr. Arafat.

Chavez has long been a victim of Bush’s anti-democratic attitude, as
the Bush administration funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars
through the “National Endowment for Democracy” to anti-Chavez
forces and reportedly gave the go-ahead for an attempted military
coup by those forces.

“After it was over and I was back
in power,” said Chavez, “his administration actually
told me ‘legitimacy is not conferred by a majority vote.’

“Unless, of course, it’s a majority of the Supreme Court.

“I respect the local traditions, however quaint, of the United States, but he
hardly sets the best example for the Middle East, does he? Why don’t we get
back to that idea of an international conference
to settle the question of Palestine?”


Bush was not without his supporters, however.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, elected head of
a country that legally discriminates among its citizens on the
basis of religious belief, forbids political candidates from
advocating an end to that discrimination, and disenfranchises
an entire people through military occupation, dismissed the call
as “absurd.”


Hamid Karzai, recently “elected”
head of Afghanistan by a grand council, or “loya jirga,”
in which a foreign body, controlled by the United States, selected
delegates; unelected warlords who had ravaged the country were
permitted to control the meeting and to threaten delegates who
refused to vote their way; and the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan,
Zalmay Khalilzad, refused to allow at least two other candidates
to stand for election, added his support for Mr. Bush in his
hour of need.

Said Karzai, “In Afghanistan, we have the
loya jirga. In the United States, you have your own process —
as we understand, it’s traditional over there for corporations
to play a large part in electing officials and writing legislation.
We’re very interested in looking into that kind of system ourselves.”


Vojislav Kostunica, chosen head of Yugoslavia
in an election where the United States spent an estimated $25
million to influence the results, was also keen to rush to Bush’s
defense, indicating that he saw no procedural problems with the
2000 elections.


And Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, long
derided for his claim that “Asian culture” is at odds
with universal human rights, added, “The elections are strictly
an internal matter, and should have no bearing on the status
of the United States as a broker. The Palestinians’ high-handedness
is a serious threat to national independence.”


In a surprise move, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, long an ally of the United States, supported Arafat’s
call, saying, “While we’re at it, let’s take another look
at our agreement on American independence.

“George Washington was not only unelected, he did rather associate
with terrorists. Benedict Arnold would have been a much more suitable
partner for peace, n’est ce pas?”


Arafat, busy working on a plan to find
a new Israeli leader not tainted with the massacre of hundreds
of innocents in Sabra and Shatila to negotiate with, could not
be reached for further comment.

Author: Rahul Mahajan

News Service: CounterPunch

URL: http://counterpunch.org/mahajan0626.html