Americas: Mayor, 11 inmates killed as uptick in violent crime consolidates in Ecuador

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political violence; violent crime; gang-related crime

In Ecuador, on 23 July Mayor Agustin Intriago and one other person were killed and four people – including two assailants – were injured in a shooting attack by an identified criminal group in Manta, Manabi province. The motive for the attack remained unclear. The violence came after at least six inmates were killed and 11 were injured in clashes between gang members in the Guayas No. 1 prison between 22 and 23 July in Guayaquil, Guayas province. Such violence is commonly attributed to fighting between rival drug trafficking gangs. The two separate incidents highlight the consolidation of a nationwide uptick in violent crime in recent months. Deadly violence linked to gangs and drug trafficking will remain a high risk inside and outside prisons. Oil industry, media, security force personnel, political figures and civilians will remain key targets across the country.

Asia Pacific: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen prepares for succession following election win

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political instability; policy continuity

In Cambodia, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) claimed a landslide victory in the 23 July general elections in which it ran virtually unopposed after the main opposition Candlelight Party was barred from participating. The vote – as with prior election cycles – was widely seen as neither free nor fair and instead further entrenched Prime Minister Hun Sen’s iron-fisted rule. The victory is expected to pave the way for Hun Sen – one of the world’s longest-serving leaders – to hand over power to his eldest son, Hun Manet, who was elected to the National Assembly for the first time. While Hun Sen has given no timeline regarding a leadership transition, he signalled that his son “could be” prime minister as soon as August. Despite a noteworthy Western education, Hun Manet is expected to preserve his father’s autocratic regime and policy continuity is likely.

Eurasia: Belarus-Wagner joint military drills increase tensions between Minsk-Moscow and NATO

Sectors: all
Key risks: war on land

In Belarus, on 20 July the Defence Ministry announced that troops from Russian mercenary Wagner group had commenced joint military drills with Belarusian special forces near the country’s border with Poland. The move came after a video appeared on social media on 19 July showing Wagner Group’s head Yevgeny Prigozhin welcoming Wagner troops in the country and ordering them to “gather strength” for future operations in Africa. He added that they would no longer participate in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. In response to Wagner’s arrival and the commencement of the military drills, Warsaw moved its military units to the eastern part of the country, labelling the joint exercise a “provocation”. While the risk of direct confrontation between Poland and Belarus or Russia remains low, Wagner’s presence and the joint military drills further raise tensions between the West and the Moscow-Minsk tandem.

Europe: General election leads to political deadlock in Spain

Sectors: all
Key Risks:political instability

In Spain, on 23 July the opposition centre-right People’s Party (PP) won the 23 July general elections by securing 136 seats in parliament but failing to reach the 176 seats needed to form a government. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s ruling Socialists (PSOE) performed better than expected and secured 122 seats. The far-right Vox party won 33 seats while the far-left Sumar party won 31. PP and PSOE will each attempt to form a coalition in the coming weeks, but none of their most likely alliances – including with Vox and Sumar, respectively – have enough seats for an outright majority. The hardline separatist Together for Catalonia party could play a pivotal role by making a bargain with PSOE for its seven seats. However, it remains uncertain if either PP or PSOE would be able to form a viable coalition. A fresh election cannot be ruled out should they fail to do so.

MENA: Israeli Knesset passes first judicial overhaul bill amid widespread unrest

Sectors: all
Key risks: political stability; civil unrest; political violence

In Israel, on 24 July the Knesset passed the ‘reasonableness’ law by 64 votes to 0 as opposition members boycotted the vote. The law, part of the government’s judicial overhaul, amended the country’s Basic Law – a set of quasi-constitutional laws – to prevent courts from reviewing the ‘reasonableness’ of administrative decisions made by the executive. Since January hundreds of thousands of Israelis have participated in weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s overhaul. Ahead of the vote, hundreds of thousands marched from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and several strikes were launched by labour and business organisations. With a majority in the Knesset, Netanyahu’s coalition was expected to win the vote amid failed attempts by opposition leaders to find a last-minute compromise. The bill’s passage is causing concerns on the Israeli stock market as disruptive unrest continues and is likely to escalate.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Anti-LGBTQ+ protests in Botswana amid growing regional pushback

Sectors: all
Key Risks: civil unrest

In Botswana, on 22 July hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrators marched in Gaborone to protest a bill that would align legislation with a 2019 High Court ruling favouring LGBTQ+ rights. Protesters – including the Evangelical Fellowships of Botswana – called for a referendum. In 2019 the High Court ruled in favour of campaigners seeking to remove jail sentences for same-sex relationships on the basis that the punishment was unconstitutional. The government failed to appeal and overturn the ruling in 2021. The protests came amid a growing regional pushback against LGBTQ+ rights. On 13 July thousands protested in Malawi ahead of a constitutional court case challenging a ban on same-sex relationships. On 19 July Namibia’s lawmakers passed legislation effectively banning same-sex marriages and allowing for the punishment of its supporters following a Supreme Court ruling that allowed for the recognition of some unions contracted abroad.