Americas: Chile’s protest movement reaches two-year anniversary amid persistent risk of unrest
Key Risks: civil unrest; protest-related violence; political instability
In Chile, on 18 October nationwide demonstrations and related disruption are expected to mark the two-year anniversary of the anti-government protest movement that erupted in October 2019. Although the intensity of the protests has significantly subsided since early 2020, unrest-related violence will remain a high risk ahead of the 21 November general elections. On 15 October at least one thousand people took to the streets in the capital Santiago to demand the resignation of President Sebastian Pinera and the release of those detained during the 2019 protests. The protest movement has pushed for a constitutional reform process currently being led by a Constituent Assembly controlled by independent and centre-left members. The risk of violence, including arson attacks, looting and violent clashes between protesters and the police will remain high over the coming weeks and during the constitutional and electoral processes.
Asia Pacific: ASEAN excludes Myanmar’s military leader from summit amid escalating violence
Key Risks: political instability; internal conflict; civil war
In Myanmar, the security environment continues to deteriorate amid rising violence between the military and the People’s Defense Force (PDF) since the National Unity Government called for an armed rebellion on 7 September. Between 13 and 15 October over 50 soldiers were killed in a series of clashes in the regions of Mandalay, Sagaing and Yangon and in the state of Kayah. The violence came as ASEAN announced the exclusion of military leader Min Aung Hlaing from the upcoming leaders’ summit citing the military regime’s lack of progress in implementing the five-point consensus reached in April. While the exclusion could mark a turning point in ASEAN’s effort to push for de-escalation – the regional organisation has been hamstrung by its core policy of non-interference in domestic affairs of member states – the risk of violent clashes remains very high in the near-term.
Eurasia: A second Mirziyoyev term likely in Uzbekistan’s election; Russia to host Taliban talks
Key Risks: political instability; policy continuity; reform; security; terrorism
In Uzbekistan, incumbent president Shavkat Mirziyoyev is all but certain to win a second term in the upcoming 24 October presidential elections. Mirziyoyev faces five other candidates in the contest, all considered to be broadly pro-government figures who have received very little coverage from state media. Authorities barred two other potential candidates from unregistered opposition parties from running. Mirziyoyev has spearheaded extensive reforms in the country, with an ambitious privatisation programme and a banking sector reform. Whilst these reforms will continue to dominate Mirziyoyev’s agenda during his potential second term, questions over political reform and human rights will continue. Meanwhile, on 20 October Russia will host representatives of Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government. Although regional security discussions, particularly over Kabul’s border with Tajikistan, are likely, no major breakthroughs are anticipated.
Europe: Brussels to discuss Poland’s EU treaties ruling; further sanctions on Belarus
Key Risks: political instability; policy uncertainty; economic; sanctions
The landmark 7 October ruling by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal will come under focus when Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki delivers a speech in Strasbourg on 19 October, and when EU leaders meet at a summit on 21 and 22 October. The court’s ruling – which stated that Article 1 and Article 19 of the Treaty on European Union are incompatible with the Polish constitution – challenges the primacy of EU law and escalates an ongoing dispute between Warsaw and Brussels. Questions remain over the EU’s precise choice of response to the ruling, though it will likely result in a further delay to the release of Warsaw’s pandemic recovery funds. Meanwhile, on 18 October EU foreign ministers will meet to discuss imposing further sanctions on Belarus in response to a migrant influx in Poland and the Baltic states which Brussels accuses Minsk of orchestrating.
MENA: Six killed in armed clashes in Lebanon amid protests over Beirut Port blast investigation
Key Risks: civil unrest; political violence; protest-related violence
In Lebanon, at least six people were killed and dozens were injured by gunfire during a Hizbullah-organised protest on 14 October against Judge Tarek Bitar, who leads the investigation into the 4 August 2020 Beirut Port blast. The demonstration coincided with the Court of Appeals’ rejection of a second recusal request against Bitar. Hizbullah and the Shi’ah Amal Movement accused Bitar of bias in questioning politicians, many of which are Hizbullah allies. The armed clashes continued for several hours in the most violent street fighting Beirut has seen since 2008. Closure on the issue of the blast, in which more than 200 people were killed, remains unlikely as the country’s political elite continues to obstruct the probe. Tensions are likely to remain high amid Bitar’s persistence in pursuing political and security officials, with an increased risk of protests and civil unrest.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Transport operators launch strike amid pro-democracy protests in eSwatini
Key risks: civil unrest; protest-related violence; business disruption
In eSwatini, taxi and bus operators launched an indefinite nationwide strike on 17 October amid ongoing protests to support calls for the release of two members of parliament who were arrested during pro-democracy demonstrations in July. The latest student-led protests, which erupted on 11 October, prompted army deployments to schools followed by an indefinite school closure on 16 October. Temporary internet suspensions were reported in Mbabane on 15 October. The protests, which first began in June, reflect growing dissatisfaction with a lack of political representation under King Mswati III and economic stagnation. The monarchy has not indicated any intention to negotiate with protesters. There is a risk that major civil unrest, including riots and looting, could erupt in the coming days. There is also a significant risk of further communications blackouts and violent crackdowns by security forces.