IRI President Testifies on Support for Democracy in the Middle East and Central Asia

Washington, DC – Lorne Craner, president of IRI, testified today before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, chaired by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18).  Craner’s testimony focused on support for democratic reform in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Craner highlighted the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), “Thanks to the State Department’s MEPI, IRI is able to provide that democratic support in the region in ways we could not in the 1990s.  Essentially, IRI, the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House, Internews, American Bar Association and others are implementing, on a daily basis, in ways diplomats cannot, the President’s policy of backing democrats in the Middle East.”  He continued, “MEPI has served the Middle East well; what is needed now is a Muslim World Partnership Initiative that will do the same for other areas from Nigeria to Indonesia, with an emphasis on Central Asia.”

IRI has been active in the Middle East and Central Asia supporting democratic reform and freedom.  At both the local and national levels, IRI is working with elected officials, political parties and civil society to expand democracy and increase political participation.

Recent elections in the West Bank and Gaza and Iraq have led to a greater demand for political freedom throughout the Middle East and IRI is working to build democratic institutions, open-up the political process and increase the participation of women.  Recent and dramatic successes the Kyrgyz Republic, demonstrate that democracy-building is a long-term commitment.  In Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, IRI is working to instill basic democratic principles.

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