Americas: Transition tension mounts as Peru’s interim president resigns after deadly unrest
Key Risks: political instability; violent unrest; protests
In Peru, on 16 November Congress is to resume a session to appoint an interim president after failing to do so the day prior, when Manuel Merino from the centre-right Popular Action party resigned from the interim presidency less than a week after taking office following the killing of two protesters by the security forces on 14 November. Most of Merino’s cabinet had stepped down and Congress had demanded his resignation when he announced his ‘irrevocable’ decision to leave the presidency, which he had held since 10 November following Congress’ decision to impeach former president Martin Vizcarra. Mostly peaceful protests against Merino’s administration turned violent on a daily basis since Vizcarra was ousted, a move expected to be examined by the Constitutional Court. The risk of further nationwide protests and associated violence will persist at least over the coming days.
Asia Pacific: Future of Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape in doubt
Key Risks: political instability
In Papua New Guinea, James Marape’s premiership appears imperiled after 12 high-profile government officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basul, defected to the opposition while citing economic instability and debt woes. Prime Minister Marape has been in power for just 18 months, after replacing long-serving leader Peter O’Neil in a similar process that involved prominent government ministers switching allegiance. The defection came a week before the 2021 budget was scheduled to be handed down. Instead, the opposition blocked the government’s budget and voted 57 to 39 to suspend parliament until 1 December. A no-confidence motion is also expected once Marape’s 18-month post-election constitutionally-guaranteed grace period ends on 30 November.
Eurasia: Moldovan presidential elections return pro-EU candidate; Georgian stalemate continues
Key Risks: political instability; political uncertainty
In Moldova, a runoff vote returned a 57.75 per cent majority for opposition candidate Maia Sandu. Whilst this should pave the way for greater EU integration––Sandu is a former World Bank economist and campaigned on an anti-corruption ticket––her rival candidate, incumbent Igor Dodon, has announced he will challenge the result on legal grounds. Failing that, Dodon may try to manoeuvre into the legislature and frustrate Sandu’s goals from the prime minister’s office – though this would be unlikely to make it past the constitutional court. Meanwhile, the second round of Georgia’s parliamentary elections is scheduled for 21 November, but an opposition coalition is maintaining its boycott of the broadly transparent first round, which returned a majority for ruling Georgian Dream party. Mediation from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is visiting Tbilisi on 17-18 November, can be expected.
Europe: Bulgaria to block EU talks on North Macedonia’s accession; fears mount over
Budapest’s budget veto threat
Key Risks: business disruption; economic
Bulgaria announced its intention to block North Macedonia’s EU accession talks scheduled to start on 17 November. Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva explained the move did not intend to block North Macedonia’s accession but rather initial talks until disputes relating to history and language have been resolved. Zaharieva claimed that North Macedonia was not delivering on a 2017 friendship treaty and that it had policies based on anti-Bulgaria sentiments. Further delays to North Macedonia’s accession can be expected, which could in turn frustrate Brussels. Concerns continue to rise among EU member states over Hungary’s threat to veto the 2021-2027 budget due to a mechanism linking access to funds to the rule of law. Talks are reportedly underway to resolve the dispute ahead of a vote on the budget this week.
MENA: Saudi’s human rights violations highlighted in G20; Western Sahara conflict restarts
Key Risks: political instability; economic and political risks; sanctions
World leaders will travel to Saudi Arabia for the G20 conference which begins on 21 November in Riyadh despite US and EU legislators calling for a boycott over Riyadh’s human rights abuses. The summit comes amid arbitrary detentions of princes and activists, allegation of extrajudicial targeting of dissidents and two years after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which an independent UN commission determined to have been linked to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. Separately, Western Sahara’s rebel secessionist movement Polisario declared an end to the 29-year ceasefire after Rabat deployed Moroccan troops on 13 November to Guerguerat, a town in the buffer zone, to dispel a Polisario blockade. Polisario’s move may be a ploy to achieve more favourable terms under the UN MINURSO mission over the next 12 months, yet violence could easily escalate.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Tigray government fires rockets at Asmara as conflict spreads to Eritrea
Key Risks: political instability; political uncertainty; civil war
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) launched at least three rockets at the airport of neighbouring Eritrea’s capital Asmara, signalling a major escalation of the conflict. TPLF leader Debrestion Gubremichael stated TPLF fighters were fighting Eritrean forces on several fronts along Ethiopia’s border, although specific locations remained unclear. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed did not confirm reports that Eritrean forces were supporting the central government in its conflict with the TPLF, which has killed hundreds of civilians. The TPLF also fired rockets at the airports of Gondar and Bahir Dar in Amhara region on 13 November, presumably in retaliation for government airstrikes aimed at destroying Tigray insurgent equipment. Nearly 25,000 refugees have crossed into Sudan to flee intensifying fighting in and around Tigray. There is a high risk of prolonged conflict threatening to destabilise the region.