Americas: Guyana’s electoral authorities to decide on general elections full recount
Sectors: all; oil & gas
Key Risks: political stability; policy continuity; civil unrest
In Guyana, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is meant to decide on the modalities under which it will conduct a full recount of the 2 March general elections. The recount was authorised by the Court of Appeal on 5 April following several legal challenges presented by members of the ruling APNU+AFC coalition. Six weeks after the controversial vote took place, uncertainty over the future of the electoral process persists and has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has triggered a set of measures that could further delay the recount of votes to which President David Granger and the opposition had already agreed. Policy and political uncertainty will remain heightened, particularly if lack of transparency and/ or legitimacy are observed or perceived over the coming weeks.
Asia-Pacific: Taiwan become first to declare no new cases, renewed activity in South China Sea
Key Risks: economic; security
On 14 April, the government of Taiwan announced that it had not recorded any new cases of COVID-19 coronavirus the previous day, a week after the government of the People’s Republic of Chinaannounced no new deaths for the first time. However, new cases continue to be reported in China but the government has slowly reopened the city of Wuhan, the pandemic’s epicentre, and has publicly indicated that it considers the virus now under control. Nonetheless, epidemiologists have warned that there remains a risk of a renewed breakout that would again have a major impact on the economy. Tensions may rise as China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailed near Taiwan’s eastern coast on 14 April, causing Taiwanese ships to be deployed in response. The previous day Chinese ships resumed activity off the coast of Vietnam. However, escalation is considered highly unlikely at present.
Eurasia: Intra-Afghan talks struggle to get off the ground; Russia backs down over OPEC oil deal
Key Risks: war on land; political stability; civil unrest; economic
On 14 April representatives of the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan met with Taliban deputy leader Mullah Baradar in Qatar. Washington has also been pushing President Ashraf Ghani and erstwhile national CEO Abdullah Abdullah to end their spat, which could include the formation of a national reconciliation council. However, it is unclear how any steps can proceed to bridge the gap with the Taliban’s demands. Russia, the US and OPEC agreed to slash oil output in a move that marks a step down for Moscow amid crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages global markets. Russia’s output over the next two months will likely drop to levels not seen in 17 years which could have a significant negative impact on the budget if prices do not rise. It remains unclear what concessions US President Donald Trump may have offered the Kremlin.
Europe: Some EU states move to ease lockdowns; concerns spread over Chinese investment
Key Risks: lockdowns; frustration of process; economic
Austria, Spain, Italy and Denmark became the first EU states to take measures to ease their lockdowns imposed over the spread of COVID-19 on 14 April, although the steps taken varied significantly. On the other hand, France’s tight lockdown was extended until 11 May. Brussels will look to better coordinate future steps but it should be emphasised the initial measures could still be rapidly reversed. Britain’s lockdown is to remain in full effect as well, though the release of Prime Minister Boris Johnson from hospital on 12 April will return at least one aspect of normalcy to government function once his recovery ends. Amid the economic impact of COVID-19 and renewed Brexit talks, albeit at a distance, one area of commonality between Brussels and London is both are signalling they will take measures to further limit investment in sensitive technologies by Chinese state-owned businesses.
MENA: Iraq’s new PM designate; Israel unity government talks restart; Tunisia seeks support
Sectors: oil & gas; all
Key Risks: political instability; civil unrest; economic
Iraqi Intelligence Chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi begins cabinet formation after being sworn in as prime minister-designate following Adnan al-Zufi’s withdrawal on 9 April. Kadhimi has tenuously been endorsed by most blocs but faces increasing security risks posed by expanding Islamic State activities and the COVID-19 pandemic which could destroy Iraq’s already basic healthcare. Israel’s leading Likud and opposition Blue and White resumed talks for an emergency unity government after the deadline was extended by two days. Both again indicate that a resolution is imminent, despite the talks falling apart on 6 April before the Passover holiday. Tunisia may seek an IMF programme after the COVID-19 virus all but crippled an already beleaguered economy. The fund disbursed an emergency facility of US$745m on 10 April, mainly to support FX reserves, which sit at just below 4 months’ imports. The country’s US$2.9bln 2016 IMF programme has been halted.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Chad claims Boko Haram forced out of country as 1,000 militants killed in operation Bohoma Anger
Key Risks: terrorism; internal conflict
Chad’s government claimed that Islamist militant group Boko Haram had been forced out of the country after 1,000 militants were killed in an eight-day operation in the Lake Chad region. Several militant camps in Chad, Niger and Nigeria were reportedly destroyed. Operation ‘Bohoma Anger’ was launched following the 23 March attack on the Bohoma Island military base, in which at least 98 Chadian soldiers were killed, marking the deadliest assault on the country’s troops in recent history. Following the operation, the government declared its troops would no longer engage in action outside Chad, although it later clarified that this did not pertain to the Chadian contingents in the G5 Sahel and Multinational Joint Task Force regional counter-terrorism initiatives. Although the offensive has severely weakened Boko Haram in Chad, there remains a high risk of retaliatory cross-border attacks.