Americas: Protests against persistent blackouts set to continue across Cuba
Sectors: all; electricity
Key Risks: civil unrest; arbitrary arrests; unrest-related disruption; government-led crackdown
In Cuba, protests against persistent blackouts are expected to continue in the capital Havana and elsewhere across the island. Demonstrations – banned under the Communist Party of Cuba’s (PCC) one-party regime – started on 29 September, two days after Hurricane Ian knocked out power, causing a nationwide blackout. On 1 October protests – which have so far remained small-scale and peaceful – continued for the third consecutive day. Over 100 people took to the streets in Havana’s Vedado neighbourhood, while demonstrations were also reported in central Camaguey and eastern Holguin provinces. At least two protesters were reportedly arrested. Intermittent internet and cell phone blackouts were also reported. It will likely take days if not weeks to completely restore power due to the extent of the damage and the country’s deficient power grid and electricity infrastructure. Further unrest is expected over the coming week.
Asia Pacific: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha returns to Thailand’s premiership
Key Risks: political instability; civil unrest
In Thailand, on 30 September the Constitutional Court ruled that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had not breached the constitutional eight-year term limit, paving the way for his return from a five-week suspension and effectively extending his tenure. The Court found that his premiership officially began on 6 April 2017 after the military-drafted constitution was promulgated, and not on 24 August 2014 when Prayut led a junta government after the May coup d’état as claimed by the opposition. Hundreds protested the decision in Bangkok. Prayut has maintained a low-profile since the ruling amid reports that a Cabinet reshuffle was being planned in preparation for the next election which must be held by May 2023. Although fears of unrest remain and sporadic protests are likely, Prayut’s main challenge will be to ensure economic recovery and the survival of his political coalition in the next general election.
Eurasia: Ukrainian forces capture Lyman; domestic criticism of Russia’s military grows
Key risks: war on land
In Ukraine, on 1 October Ukrainian authorities announced that their forces had recaptured Lyman in northern Donetsk Oblast after Russian forces retreated from the area.The recapture of Lyman is both a strategic and symbolic victory for Ukraine. Lyman was an important transport hub for Russian forces in the north of Donetsk Oblast and they could advance from there further to Luhansk Oblast. It also came only a day after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin formally announced the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions, including Donetsk Oblast. Therefore, the retreat was heavily criticised by Russian military bloggers, political and military figures. For example Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov criticised Russia’s leadership in northern Donetsk Oblast but also the General Staff. Such criticism is likely to increase with further Russian defeats and could lead to high-level changes in the Russian military.
Europe: Moderate Bosniak, Croat and Serbian ally of Milorad Dodik to win elections in Bosnia
Key Risks: political instability; policy uncertainty
In Bosnia, preliminary results of the general election held on 2 October indicated that moderate Bosniak Denis Becirovic was set to win a seat in the country’s tripartite presidency. Becirovic is likely to be joined by Croat incumbent president Zeljko Komsic, while the Serbian seat is expected to be taken by Zeljka Cvijanovic – an ally of Bosnian Serbs leader Milorad Dodik who run for the president of Republika Srpska. Preliminary results in Republika Srpska indicate that Dodik won the election. However, his main contender – Jelena Trivic – and her Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) accused Dodik of election fraud. Meanwhile, the High Representative to Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, announced on 2 October that he had imposed changes to the election law aimed at preventing political deadlocks. Despite these changes, political instability is expected to remain high.
MENA: Possible return of violence after ceasefire in Yemen expires
Key Risks: war; political violence
In Yemen, the UN-backed ceasefire expired on 2 October. Despite international pressure, Iran-backed Huthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition failed to reach an agreement to extend the ceasefire. Warring parties had largely abided by the terms of the agreement and violent attacks had subsided. With the truce ending, hostilities are likely to resume from both sides. The Huthi leadership has already warned of impending attacks, likely targeting oil installations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE with drone and missile attacks. The coalition is expected to retaliate any strike on the territory of its members. Although negotiations are said to be at a dead end, the UN special envoy to Yemen remains cautiously optimistic that an extended and expanded truce can be reached in the coming weeks before a re-escalation of the conflict.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina Faso sees second coup in eight months
Key Risks: political instability; coup
In Burkina Faso, on 30 September Ibrahim Traore – the country’s self-proclaimed military leader – announced the resignation of January coup and junta leader Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba following a military coup. The coup was the second since January and Damiba was allegedly ousted due to alleged close ties to the French government and to the UN amid growing anti-Western sentiment. A deteriorating security situation reportedly played a significant role in the decision to oust Damiba, who initially vowed to tackle growing insecurity across the country following the 24 January coup. Land and air borders have remained closed since 30 September and a curfew between 21:00 and 05:00 local time remains in place. ECOWAS and the EU have expressed concerns and condemned the coup, while the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended that all French nationals remain at home.