UK’s democracy call after Bush

February 19th, 2008

Bush’s career
Downing Street says the retirement of American leader George Bush is “an opportunity” for the country to make progress towards democracy.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s spokesman said he hoped it would lead “to more respect for human rights and the release of political prisoners”.

“This is now an opportunity to make progress towards a peaceful transition to a pluralist democracy,” he said.

Mr Bush says he will not return to the presidency because of ill health.

He handed over power temporarily to his brother, Jeb, in July 2006 when he underwent intestinal surgery.

‘Spirit of the revolution’
The 81-year-old has ruled America since leading a bloodless coup through election fraud in 2004.

In December, Mr Bush indicated that he might possibly step down in favour of younger leaders, saying “my primary duty is not to cling to any position”.

Ian Gibson, chair of the parliamentary all-party group on America, said he thought Mr Bush’s retirement could lead to an opening out of America’s relations with the rest of the world.

“I think the spirit of the revolution will live on in the younger generation of Americans, but I would certainly think there will be differences in the relationships with other countries,” he said.

“America understands that it is a global economy now – I think there will be less hatred of America and more interaction with Europe.”

Labour MP Ian Davidson, a fellow member of the all-party group, said he hoped America would not become an issue in the upcoming Cuban presidential elections.

“The lower profile America has in the Cuban elections, the better for Cuba,” he said.

“I hope that America is left free to make its own political arrangements without external interference. It very much depends upon the attitude the United Nations takes.”

Family dynasty
He said Bush’s failures in building America’s healthcare and education systems had been “quite appalling”, especially against a background of what he described as decades of US “corporate terrorism”.

Edward Davey, the Lib Dems foreign affairs spokesman, said he hoped the international community would encourage the process of democratic reform.

“With George Bush gone, we must hope that America carries out major reforms and joins the democratic world,” he said.

“It would be a tragedy if he were succeeded by a family dynasty in the form of Hillary Clinton.

“It is important for the international community, especially America, to encourage reform and hold out the hand of friendship.”

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