Americas: Fresh anti-government unrest expected in Peru’s southern regions
Sectors: all; mining; cargo transport
Key Risks: civil unrest; business interruption; political violence; political stability
In Peru, local communities are set to resume the blockade of a key transport road in the Southern Mining Corridor from 6 March. The fresh unrest to demand President Dina Boluarte’s resignation will mark the end of a truce in place since around mid-February to allow mining firms to restart operations – which were significantly affected by the nationwide wave of protests triggered by the ouster and arrest of former president Pedro Castillo in early December 2022. Key mines including MMG’s Las Bambas, Glencore’s Antapaccay and Hubbay Minerals’s Constancia will remain at risk of further operational disruption in Cusco region. Although demonstrations appeared to have receded in recent weeks, protests in Lima and an overall uptick of unrest-related incidents across Puno since early March – including violent incidents in Juli on 4 March – underscore persistent political instability and disruptive unrest risks.
Asia Pacific: China directs Hong Kong’s John Lee to strengthen intelligence gathering at NPC
Sectors: national security
Key Risks: civil unrest; arbitrary detention
In China, on 5 March the National People’s Congress (NPC) began and Beijing official Xia Baolong directed Hong Kong SAR’s Chief Executive John Lee to swiftly tackle national security risks by “nipping them in the bud”. Lee stated that his administration would focus on strengthening intelligence-gathering efforts and promised to “firmly crack down on any attempts to undermine national security.” The bid to increase security risk mitigation followed the last-minute cancellation of a pre-approved women’s rights demonstration that was scheduled to take place in Hong Kong on 5 March. Police claimed that the march was cancelled because violent gangs intended to participate. However, reports emerged that four members of the opposition League of Social Democrats were questioned by the National Security Department and were warned against participating in the march. The crackdown on dissent is expected to continue and may intensify following the conclusion of the NPC on 13 March.
Eurasia: Tensions in Nagorno Karabakh set to remain high amid Lachin Corridor blockade
Key risks: war on land
On 5 March Baku’s Defence Ministry reported that two Azerbaijani servicemen were killed in a shootout after its forces stopped a vehicle suspected of smuggling weapons into the disputed Nagorno Karabakh (NK) region, bypassing the blocked Lachin Corridor. Armenian and Karabakh officials denied this, and instead claimed that a group of saboteurs from the Azerbaijani armed forces had crossed into NK and ambushed a Passport and Visa Directorate patrol car, killing three officers and injuring one. The clash came only four days after a meeting between an Azerbaijani delegation and NK officials over the Lachin Corridor blockade. Azerbaijani activists have blocked the corridor – the only link between NK and Armenia – for nearly three months, fuelling tensions between Baku and Stepanakert. Further clashes are likely as Baku is seeking to establish a checkpoint on the corridor and the blockade appears set to continue.
Europe: Turkey to resume talks over Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO accession
Key Risks: war on land
In Turkey, on 27 February Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that talks over Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO accession bids would resume on 9 March. Stockholm and Helsinki jointly applied to join the alliance in May 2022, but Ankara blocked the bids over concerns that both countries were harbouring Kurdish militants linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a “terrorist group” by Ankara, the US and EU. These concerns appeared to ease in June 2022 after Helsinki and Stockholm signed a deal with Ankara pledging to end support for Kurdish militants. However, Ankara cancelled the talks in January after a series of protests in which a far-right politician burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm. While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signalled his approval for Helsinki’s bid, he has refused to ratify Stockholm’s accession – which looks increasingly uncertain ahead of the 18 June general elections in Ankara.
MENA: President Saeid incites anti-migrant sentiment amid political crisis in Tunisia
Key Risks: political stability, political violence, civil unrest
In Tunisia, on 4 March hundreds of West African migrants left the country on repatriation flights amid fears of rising anti-migrant sentiment following a controversial 21 February speech by President Kais Saied in which he claimed that a plot was underway “to change Tunisia’s demographic makeup”. Consequently, there has been a rise in anti-migrant attacks and many immigrants lost jobs and homes. Concurrently, Saied is increasingly under pressure from opposition parties, trade unions and activists who denounce the government’s authoritarian slip and the recent politically-motivated arrests of opposition leaders. On 5 March thousands of protesters demonstrated in Tunis to call for Saied’s resignation, with some expressing solidarity with the ongoing plight of migrants. Saied’s anti-migrant statements are likely an attempt to deflect from the government’s increasingly tenuous position as further protests and strikes are expected in the coming weeks.
Sub-Saharan Africa: TPLF rebels deny forming an interim government in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region
Key Risks: civil unrest; war on land; political instability
In Ethiopia, on 6 March the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group denied claims that they had finalised the process of forming a transitional regional government in the Tigray region. The announcement came in response to a 5 March local media report which claimed that the TPLF had formed a 28-member Interim Regional Administration, which required federal government approval. TPLF spokesperson Gatechew Reda similarly denied the claims, adding that an interim government would only be formed after consultations with regional opposition parties and Addis Ababa, in line with the Pretoria Agreement of 2 November 2022. In February three opposition parties in Tigray boycotted a conference on the formation of a regional government, citing the TPLF’s monopolisation of the process. An interim government excluding opposition parties could lead to localised civil unrest, although a resumption of armed conflict is unlikely.