Americas: Main parties due to announce their 2024 presidential candidates in Mexico

Sectors: all
Key Risks: policy continuity; political stability

In Mexico, on 3 September the opposition alliance – made up of the National Action Party (PAN), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) – is set to announce its candidate for the 2 June 2024 election. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)’s ruling Morena party is also set to announce its presidential candidate  – based on national polling – on 6 September. Recent polls suggest that former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum – with around 37 per cent public support – will likely secure the Morena candidacy over former foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard – with 22 per cent. Polls show that Morena is by far the country’s most popular party, bolstered by AMLO’s high approval rating of around 67 per cent. By law AMLO cannot run for re-election. A Morena victory in the 2024 vote seems most likely under the current outlook.

Asia Pacific: Vanuatu’s Supreme Court affirms no-confidence vote, prolonging political crisis

Sectors: all
Key Risks: government instability; political impasse; policy continuity

In Vanuatu, on 25 August the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the opposition led by former prime minister Bob Loughman and affirmed that a parliamentary majority succeeded in the 16 August no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau’s nine-month old government. Kalsakau was initially believed to have narrowly survived the vote, which was prompted by domestic opposition against his signing of a security agreement with Australia in December 2022. The political crisis came amid a backdrop of heightened strategic rivalry between China and the South Pacific’s traditional security guarantors including the US, France and Australia. No-confidence votes are commonplace in the island nation, but its growing relevance within this increased geopolitical competition has accelerated the pace of turbulence and deepened political divisions. Political uncertainty is expected to persist in the coming months and a change of government is increasingly likely.

Eurasia: Erdogan to visit Russia to discuss collapsed Black Sea Grain Initiative 

Sectors: all; maritime shipping; grain exports
Key risks: trade disruptions; food shortages

In Russia, on the week of 4-8 September Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will reportedly travel to Sochi to discuss the collapsed Black Sea Grain Initiative with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting and its precise date are yet to be confirmed but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that the talks were in preparation. Erdogan is expected to press Putin to revive the UN- and Turkish-brokered Initiative which enabled Ukraine to ship millions of tonnes of grain from ports in Odesa Oblast. Moscow withdrew from the deal on 17 July and has increasingly targeted Ukrainian Black Sea ports with drone and missile strikes, disrupting global grain supplies and raising the risk of food shortages in Africa and the Middle East. Moscow is unlikely to revive the deal without concrete concessions from Western countries on guaranteeing Russian fertiliser and grain exports in return.

Europe: Estonia’s PM Kallas risks no-confidence vote over husband’s Russia business ties

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political instability 

In Estonia, on 23 August reports emerged indicating that Star Logistics – a company partly-owned by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’s husband, Arvo Hallik, had continued doing business in Russia following the beginning of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Kallas stated that she was not involved in her husband’s business and that she did not know about the company’s continued operations in Russia. She subsequently added that Star Logistics would halt its operations in Russia by September. On 25 August Hallik announced that he decided to sell his share in the company and resign. Despite that, two major media called on Kallas to quit and the opposition Centre Party called for a no confidence vote.The anti-corruption and the state budget control committees are expected to hold an emergency joint meeting to discuss the allegations on 30 August. Kallas’ potential resignation would significantly increase the risk of political instability.

MENA: Iraqi government under increased pressure to combat and disarm Kurdish militant groups

Sectors: all
Key risks: political stability; political violence; interstate conflict

In Iran, on 28 August the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that the Iraqi government had committed to disarming Kurdish armed groups in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) by 19 September following bilateral talks. Baghdad reportedly agreed to shut down Iranian Kurdish rebel groups’ bases in the KRI – which borders the Iranian Kurdistan province – including the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI). The announcement followed a Turkish request that Baghdad classify the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation. With increased pressure from Tehran and Ankara, Baghdad will need to dedicate significant ressources to suppressing Kurdish groups, likely leaving the Iraqi security apparatus stretched thin as it continues to deal with rampant drug trafficking and Islamic State (IS) remnants in northern and western parts of the country.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Ossa claims victory in Gabon general election while waiting for the results 

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political instability, political violence

In Gabon, on 28 August Albert Ondo Ossa, the unity candidate of Alternance 2023 opposition coalition, claimed victory in the 26 August general election and urged President Ali Bongo to concede defeat and hand over power whilst waiting for the official results. After the polls closed on the evening of 26 August, authorities blocked internet access and imposed a nighttime curfew from 19:00 to 06:00 local time to ostensibly counter the spread of calls for violence and misinformation. The government has denied access to international observers and refused to grant foreign journalists accreditations. Opposition parties have criticised the government, stating that these measures are intended to manipulate the results in favour of Bongo. The publication of partial results is prohibited by law and only the Centre Gabonais des Elections (CGE) may publish the results. The results will likely be published within the coming week.