Americas: Civic committee leader declares day of national protest on 10 January in Bolivia
Sectors: all; transport
Key Risks: civil unrest; political violence; business disruption
In Bolivia, on 4 January President of the powerful Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee Romulo Calvo declared 10 January as a day of nationwide mobilisation to demand the release of right-wing Governor of opposition stronghold Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho. Camacho was arrested on terrorism charges on 28 December 2022 and sentenced to four months of pre-trial detention following accusations of leading protests that led to leftist former president Evo Morales’ resignation in November 2019. President Luis Arce’s government classifies the 2019 events as a coup. Human rights groups have criticised Camacho’s detention. Several disruptive roadblocks and clashes between security forces and protesters have been reported across Santa Cruz department since 28 December. Highly disruptive roadblocks and protests with the potential to turn violent should be expected – particularly in Santa Cruz department – at least in the coming days.
Asia Pacific: Police officers heed Philippine Interior Secretary’s call to tender resignations
Key Risks: internal security; government instability
In the Philippines, on 9 January National Police Chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. revealed that more than 500 senior officers had adhered to Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos’ call on 4 January to submit their ‘courtesy’ resignations in an attempt to cleanse the force of alleged drug links. A three-month review process led by a five-member committee is set to begin on 31 January, with more officers likely to tender their resignation before then. The call came amid rumours of a ‘destabilisation plot’ and turmoil within military ranks following the controversial re-appointment of Army General Andres Centino as Armed Forces Chief of Staff on 6 January. In a purported memo refuted by authorities, the move reportedly triggered the police into a heightened state of alert. Tensions within the military establishment and police force are likely to remain elevated in the coming days.
Eurasia: Belarus opposition leader warns that Minsk may launch mobilisation
Key risks: war on land
In Belarus, on 7 January opposition leader Pavel Latushka warned that Minsk may soon begin a military mobilisation to assist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Latushka claimed that according to his contacts in Minsk, authorities had forced most internal affairs personnel to hand in their passports to prevent them from leaving the country. This followed the Ukrainian Defence Minister’s warning on 30 December that Moscow and Minsk were planning to introduce martial law and close their borders for military-age men in early January. Belarus and Russia expanded their joint military training drills on 8 January and Russia has allegedly increased its deployment of troops and equipment to Belarus following President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Minsk on 19 December. Belarus has so far avoided joining the war, but Moscow seems to be increasing its efforts to put pressure on Minsk to do so.
Europe: Czech Republic to hold presidential elections on 13 and 14 January
Key Risks: political instability
In the Czech Republic, voters will head to the polls on 13 and 14 January to elect a president. Should none of the candidates gain over 50 per cent of the votes – which is highly unlikely – the two candidates with the most votes will progress to a presidential run-off scheduled for 27 and 28 January. According to pre-election polls, only three candidates out of eight have a chance to go forward to the second-round – former prime minister Andrej Babis, former NATO military commander Petr Pavel and former university rector Danuse Nerudova. Opinion polls indicate that Babis – a populist close to outgoing President Milos Zeman – is likely to narrowly win the first round but lose the second one to either Nerudova or Pavel. The elections will mark the end of Milos Zeman’s presidency, known for his warm ties to Russia and China.
MENA: New Israeli government targets Palestinians with punitive measures
Key Risks: political violence; internal conflict; civil unrest
In Israel, on 6 January Benjamin Netanyahu’s newly-inaugurated right-wing government announced a series of punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, including freezing the issuance of building permits for Palestinian construction projects in Area C – under full Israeli civilian and military control – as well as withholding US$39m earmarked for the Palestinian Authority (PA). These measures aim to retaliate against the recent UN General Assembly resolution allowing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to deliver an opinion on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. In addition, on 8 January Tel Aviv revoked the travel permit of PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki. Travel permits allow Palestinian officials to travel to and from the West Bank. With already heightened tensions in the Palestinian territories, these latest measures are likely to further escalate the risk of unrest.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Benin’s opposition parties return to the polls in parliamentary vote
Key Risks: political stability
In Benin, on 8 December seven parties took part in parliamentary elections, including three opposition parties who attempted to challenge the electoral dominance of the two ruling parties – Bloc Republicain (BR) and Union Progressiste le Renouveau (UPR) – who are affiliated with President Patrice Talon. The BR and the UPR are the only parties with legislative seats, as no major opposition party has participated in an election since 2019. Opposition parties boycotted the 2021 presidential vote and were blocked from participating in the 2019 legislative elections after failing to meet strict eligibility criteria. Talon’s drive to overhaul and reform the country’s economy has been accompanied by democratic backsliding, with several opposition leaders in exile or in prison on politically motivated charges. Opposition parties are expected to win several legislative seats as public discontent against President Talon continues to grow.