Americas: Court to deliver ruling in corruption case against Vice President Kirchner
Key Risks: civil unrest; political violence
In Argentina, on 6 December the court is expected to deliver its ruling in the corruption case against former president and current Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK). The verdict will coincide with rising tensions resulting from the dual political and economic crises. Anti-government sentiment is already high with over 75 per cent of voters disapproving of President Alberto Fernandez. High and rising inflation – expected to reach 99.6 per cent by end-2022 – a weak peso and growing fears of a potential default on its sovereign debt will continue to stoke tension in the troubled country. Protests by social organisations and unions demanding wage increases to keep up with inflation have become increasingly common. December has traditionally been a month prone to social unrest in the country. The risk of unrest will remain heightened in the coming weeks.
Asia Pacific: Thousand rally in support of South Korean trucker strike
Sectors: oil and gas; construction; transportation; shipping; retail
Key Risks: economic risks; business risks; supply chain disruptions
In South Korea, on 3 December more than 5,000 workers, mostly affiliated with the Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), rallied in Seoul, in a show of support for cement truckers striking since 24 November against rising fuel costs and a guarantee for minimum wage increases. The demonstrators denounced President Yoon Suk-yeol’s attempts to widen the country’s first ever ‘start work order’ originally issued on 29 November for the cement sector, into the oil and steel industries. Yoon called the prolonged strikes “political, illegal and violent”, likening them to the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear activities to the country’s economy and people’s livelihoods. Negotiations between unions and the government are at an impasse and the KCTU has announced a nationwide general strike planned for 6 December to further protest the order. In turn, the government will likely escalate its response.
Eurasia: Opposition in Georgia set to relaunch protests demanding Mikheil Saakashvili’s release
Key risks: political instability
In Georgia, on 4 December the largest opposition party, the United National Movement (UNM), relaunched a series of protests demanding the release of imprisoned former president Mikheil Saakashvili. Several thousands of protesters gathered in front of the ruling Georgia Dream party’s office, calling for Saakashvili’s transfer abroad to recover his health. The demonstration came after a Tbilisi-based anti-torture watchdog warned that he could die if he did not receive treatment outside the country. Saakashvili’s health significantly deteriorated after his over 50 days-long hunger strike in autumn 2021. On 5 December his legal team disclosed a medical report which claimed that Saakashvili was “poisoned” in custody by heavy metals and risks dying without proper treatment. Further protests are likely and could increase in size following the published report and authorities’ refusal to transfer him abroad.
Europe: EU Justice Ministers to decide over Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia’s Schengen accession
Key Risks: economic risk; business risk
EU Justice Ministers are set to meet on 8 and 9 December to discuss the accession of Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania into the Schengen area – the EU’s free movement area. The meeting will come amid EU member countries’ disagreement over the accession of all three countries. On 2 December Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that Amsterdam was ready to veto Sofia’s accession into the Schengen area due to concerns over corruption at the country’s external border and organised crime. Vienna also expressed reservations over Bulgaria and Romania’s accession. Although the EU Commission confirmed that all three countries meet the criteria to enter the Schengen, it is likely that some EU member states will block Bulgaria and Romania’s accession during the meeting.
MENA: Tensions in the Palestinian territories continue to escalate
Key Risks: internal conflict; political violence; civil unrest
In Gaza, on 4 December the Israeli forces carried out airstrikes targeting Hamas positions in the southern Gaza strip in response to Hamas rockets fired at Israeli territory. On 2 December a Palestinian civilian was killed by an Israeli soldier from point blank range in Hawara in the northern West Bank. On 5 December a 22-year-old Palestinian civilian was killed by Israeli forces during an operation targeting alleged members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Bethlehem in the southern West Bank. There has been a surge of violence in recent months in the West Bank as increased Israeli raids have sparked clashes with Palestinian militant groups. With Hamas carrying out rocket attacks and the recent nomination of far-right Israeli politicians to key government positions, a further escalation of tensions can be expected.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Sudan’s military junta and FFC-CC sign initial transition deal
Sectors: oil and gas
Key Risks: political stability; civil unrest
In Sudan, on 5 December the ruling military junta and the country’s largest pro-democracy group, Forces for Freedom and Change – Central Council (FFC-CC) signed a framework agreement at the Republican Palace in Khartoum that provides for a two-year civilian-led transitional government to guide the country to elections. The deal limits the military’s formal role to security and defence headed by a prime minister but excludes sensitive topics such as transitional justice and military reforms. The deal is the first of two planned accords and was signed by two ruling generals, Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo and the leaders from the FFC-CC. Pro-democracy groups insist that transitional justice and military reforms provisions must be included in the deal and accused the FFC-CC of granting immunity to military leaders. Pro-democracy groups called for countrywide protests to reject the deal.