Americas: Venezuela’s Maduro, opposition to re-launch talks ahead of November elections

Sectors: all

Key Risks: political instability; economic risks; sanctions; protests

In Venezuela, negotiations between President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the opposition are set to start as early as 13 August in Mexico. On 4 August Maduro’s government reportedly agreed to launch the Oslo-mediated talks after Juan Guaido – recognised by the US and several other countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader – first proposed such talks in May to schedule free and fair elections, while Maduro has stated that the process should focus on lifting US sanctions. One opposition coalition is reportedly mulling participation in the 21 November regional and local elections despite most of the opposition having boycotted the 2018 presidential and 2020 legislative elections over fraud and lack of fairness. Although Maduro’s government has recently shown readiness to ease its position towards the opposition, previous dialogue attempts have failed and the prospect of reaching meaningful results remains highly questionable.

Asia Pacific: Philippines’ PDP-Laban endorse President Duterte for vice president

Sectors: all

Key Risks: political instability

The Philippines’ ruling PDP-Laban endorsed President Rodrigo Duterte for the vice presidency in the 2022 May general elections, paving the way for Duterte to continue to wield significant political influence. The move, which still needs to be approved by the party’s general assembly, came as polls suggest Duterte’s oldest daughter Sara Duterte, the current mayor of Davos, ranked the most preferred presidential candidate although neither has confirmed they will run for the country’s two highest offices. Yet, critics warned against Duterte’s vice presidential bid as an attempt to extend his terms and avoid legal prosecutions once the presidential term ends amid investigations into the war on drugs that has led to thousands of extra-judicial killings. A formal vice presidential bid from Rodrigo Duterte cannot be ruled out although stiff competition is expected from other hopefuls.

Eurasia: Afghanistan security outlook to remain weak; Uzbekistan elections on the horizon

Sectors: all

Key Risks: war on land; political violence; policy uncertainty; political instability

Taliban militants have seized control of five of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals – Zaranj, Sheberghan, Sar-e Pul, Taleqan and Kunduz – since 6 August, marking both the first provincial capitals to be overrun in several years and what is likely the most significant loss of government control since the US-led intervention in 2001. Clashes are underway in or near other provincial capitals, including Kandahar, Herat, Lashkar Gah, Mazar-e Sharif, Aybak, Pul-e Khumri and Faisabad. Limited air support means further government losses are likely in the short term. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan’s ruling Liberal Democratic party announced the nomination of current President Shavkat Mirziyoyev as its candidate for 24 October presidential elections. Four other candidates have also been announced, including the conservative firebrand Alisher Kadyrov and the Ecological Party’s first ever candidate. Though the vote is likely to be a highly managed affair.

Europe: Poland’s legal dispute with the EU intensifies; Italy’s 5-Star sees new leadership

Sectors: all   

Key Risks: judicial reform; political instability; policy uncertainty;

Ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) head and Poland’s de facto leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski announced that the government will seek to change a controversial system for disciplining judges which has ignited a legal dispute with the EU. On 15 July the European Court of Justice ruled that the system was in breach of EU law and the European Commission set Warsaw until 16 August to outline plans for its amendment of the system, which in its current state allows judges to be punished for the content of their verdicts. The move could lead to some political instability in the long term as PiS’s coalition partners have insisted Warsaw not bow to EU pressure. In Italy, months of uncertainty in the 5-Star Movement’s leadership ended when former prime minister Giuseppe Conte was elected as leader on 7 August.

MENA: Rocket fire continues between Hizbullah and IDF amid regional tensions

Sectors: all

Key Risks: civil unrest; political risks; political instability

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated on 8 August that Lebanon’s government will be held responsible for recent cross-border rocket attacks, notwithstanding Hizbullah involvement. This followed a televised speech by Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah on 7 August in which he promised retaliation for further Israeli strikes. This came amid the heaviest flare-up in violence between Israel and Hizbullah in recent years, triggered on 5 August by Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon in retaliation for rocket fire. Hizbullah responded on 6 August by firing dozens of rockets at the Israeli-claimed Sheba’a farms area. This marked the third day of cross-border attacks. Bennett stated that Israel did not want a full war, but was prepared to expand its retaliatory response if rocket fire continued. Nasrallah echoed the same sentiment. There is a possibility of escalation as regional tensions remain high.

Sub-Saharan Africa: 30 people killed in SPLM-IO/A intra-party clashes in Magenis, South Sudan

Sectors: all

Key Risks: political instability; political violence

In South Sudan at least 30 people were reportedly killed on 7 August when fighting broke out between rival factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) in Magenis, Upper Nile region. Clashes occurred when forces loyal to General Simon Gatwech Dual reportedly attacked loyalists of the country’s Vice President Riek Machar. Machar’s SPLM-IO stated it had killed two major generals and over 27 soldiers ‘in self-defence’. However, claims cannot be verified. The clash followed the attempted removal of Machar and replacement of Dual as interim leader by the military wing of the SLPM-IO on 4 August – a move Machar denounced and criticised for trying to block the country’s peace process. The situation remains highly fragile and could threaten to destabilise the tenuous 2018 peace agreement, following a five-year civil war, with President Kiir’s SPLM party.