Americas: Potential trial for Venezuela’s dissident Attorney General to continue to fuel unrest

Sectors: all
Key Risks: civil unrest; violent clashes; political instability; looting

In Venezuela, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz is expected to face a hearing on 4 July that could lead to her being put on trial over ‘grave faults’ and ‘treason’. The government, and the government-controlled Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) are expected to intensify the crackdown against Ortega Diaz, a former loyalist who has recently been overtly critical of President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the violence with which daily anti-government protests have been met. On 30 June Ortega Diaz asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection two days after the TSJ banned her from leaving Venezuela and froze all her assets. Demonstrations supporting Ortega Diaz took place in Caracas on 1 July. The government’s crackdown on opposition and dissent is expected to intensify. The risk of widespread unrest and associated violent repression remains high.

Asia-Pacific: Asian security tensions to feature heavily at G20

Sectors: all
Key Risks: geopolitics; external conflict; sanctions

The G20 will meet in Hamburg over 7-8 July, with Asian security high on the agenda of multiple countries. Specifically, United States President Donald Trump is keen to encourage greater international commitment to sanctions against North Korea. Trilateral talks with the presidents of Japan and South Korea will take place on the sidelines. Representatives of China will also seek greater understanding with the US, particularly after Trump’s recent expressions of frustration with its role in controlling its rogue neighbour on Twitter. Also of significance is the response from India, which stands accused of being one of the worst offenders in doing trade with the Kim regime despite United Nations sanctions against it. Yet with Chinese and Indian soldiers currently facing off at the Sikkim border, the scene is set for some tense meetings in Germany.

Eurasia: Tensions escalate between Yerevan & Baku; Georgia grapples with constitutional reform

Sectors: all
Key Risks: civil unrest; political violence

The Venice Commission criticised a number of the proposed changes to Georgia’s constitution, which the governing Georgian Dream party is seeking to push through in the coming weeks. The party has a constitutional majority and the move is likely to trigger some major protests, particularly if the proposed awarding of votes to parties that fail to meet the 3 per cent threshold to the winning party, a move Georgian Dream claims is aimed at securing effective majorities, goes through. Meanwhile tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia continue to flare, with increasingly bellicose rhetoric from Azeri President Ilham Aliyev a cause for concern. Although it remains unlikely that a major new war will break out, heavy fighting as witnessed in April 2016 cannot be ruled out.

Europe: Second-track negotiations likely over some aspects of Brexit

Sectors: financial services
Key Risks: inability to reach a deal; frustration of process

Representatives of the City of London, the UK financial services hub, are travelling to Brussels to seek to initiate second-track negotiations on a post-Brexit free trade deal for financial services with the EU. The news demonstrates the lack of faith in the ability of Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative government to secure a deal, despite the City’s history of support for the party. Political tensions within and around the UK government mean that the second-track negotiation may be best suited to achieving a deal. The move comes as the EU is growing increasingly bold on expanding financial and competition oversight, although progress on the latter is likely to take some time. It is likely to be fiercely debated within the EU whether the bloc should seek to on-shore euro clearing services after Brexit.

MENA: Blackouts in Libya reinforce poor power infrastructure

Sectors: power
Key Risks: civil unrest; political violence;

On 1 July prime minister of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayyiz Serraj met state electricity supplier General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL) president Abdul Majid Hamza following a total electricity blackout in the west and south of the country on 30 June and an almost total blackout in the eastern half of the country on 2 July, the longest power outages since January 2017. GECOL claimed the eastern outage was due to disruption at a local power plant, and has asked the public and commercial sector to reduce their electricity usage to reduce the strain on the grid in the hot summer months. Serraj warned against deliberate disruptions. Regular power cuts in Tripoli and disruption elsewhere in the country will continue to fuel public discontent and put pressure on the GNA.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Sudan president extends ceasefire as sanctions decision looms

Sectors: all
Key Risks: sanctions; internal conflict

On 2 July the Sudanese government extended a unilateral ceasefire in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile for an additional three months. The decision comes a little over a week before US lawmakers will decide whether to permanently lift sanctions first imposed in 1997 over the country’s harbouring of Osama bin Laden. In reality, sanctions have had a negligible impact on violence. Instead, the poorest have been hardest hit while the criminalisation of the economy simply fuelled the parallel one where transactional, patronage-based politics - the kind of which Bashir is adept at managing - flourish. While some human rights organisations have and will continue to make last minute protests in favour of continued sanctions, AKE expects they will be lifted. It is unlikely to lead to a sudden rush of investment, however, given the country’s precarious economic position and difficult business environment, but it could help temper inflation, ease shortages of basic goods, and kickstart an ailing economy.