Saturday, September 29, 2007

Growing Pains

Rangoon's not the only city seeing anti-government protests this week. Thousand of people have marched in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, angry at the arrest of a senior minister who has accused President Saakashvili of plotting to kill a businessman. Meanwhile, Ukraine votes on Sunday in parliamentary elections called following yet another political crisis.

It wasn't meant to be like this. Not so long ago, Georgia and Ukraine were being hailed by western leaders, after street protests in both countries led to changes in governments. In both nations, pro-western and anti-Kremlin leaders were swept to power, with promises of new dawns and brighter futures. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it hasn't been that easy, and aside from the turmoil in Georgia, the split coalition that led Ukraine's Orange Revolution now faces a challenge from a resurgent old guard.

The main reason why new governments have struggled in Georgia and Ukraine is not their pro-western policies - although perhaps the people of both countries were allowed to foster unrealistic hopes of how quickly their lives might change for the better. Really it's down to a mixture of inexperience and infighting, problems that can affect any new administration in any country. But even if voters in either nation end up turning again to those who ran the show previously, they've both already come far enough for us to be sure the people don't want to turn the clock all the way back.

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