Americas: Government, EMC 10-month bilateral ceasefire to take effect in Colombia
Key Risks: targeted attacks; violent clashes; violent crime; kidnapping
In Colombia, on 8 October President Gustavo Petro’s government and the EMC – the country’s largest dissident former FARC rebel group – will launch peace talks in Tibu, Norte de Santander department, and will begin a 10-month national, bilateral ceasefire as agreed on 19 September. The peace negotiations are part of a process that has already suffered several setbacks: on 22 May the government suspended a previous bilateral ceasefire – in place since 1 January – with the EMC after its members killed four indigenous minors who tried to flee after being forcibly recruited on 17 May. Although the talk’s success will remain one of Petro’s top priorities as he strives towards his ambitious goal of achieving ‘total peace’ in the conflict-ridden country, further setbacks cannot be ruled out and the risk of attacks, armed clashes and kidnappings will remain high across EMC strongholds.
Asia Pacific: President Solih’s re-election bid defeated in Maldivian presidential run-off vote
Key Risks: political instability; policy continuity; economic risks
In the Maldives, on 30 September Male Mayor Mohamed Muizzu defeated President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential run-off. He garnered 54.04 per cent of the vote compared to the incumbent’s 45.96 per cent, foiling Solih’s re-election bid and marking a solid victory for the opposition Progressive Congress Coalition. On 9 September Muizzu unexpectedly won the first-round vote after vowing to foster closer ties with China, furthering the contentious “India Out” campaign first championed by former president Abdulla Yameen. Yameen had previously run in the election but was ruled ineligible due to an 11-year prison sentence over corruption charges that is now widely expected to be reduced. Meanwhile, Solih had pledged to strengthen relations with India – the country’s traditional ally. The impending change of government will likely mark a major reorientation of economic, trade and foreign relations back towards China.
Eurasia: Ukraine anti-corruption drive expands as billionaire Kolomoisky arrested
Key risks: war-on-land
In Ukraine, on 2 October EU representatives arrived in Kyiv for their first-ever meeting outside of the bloc, seeking to ease concerns over faltering support for the country in the face of Russia’s invasion. The meeting came after the victory of Robert Fico in Slovakia’s parliamentary elections on a campaign to end Bratislava’s military aid for Ukraine and after a 30 September move by the US Congress to omit aid for Ukraine from their temporary spending bill. Moscow presented the US’s congressional bill as a sign of increasing divisions in the West over military support for Kyiv, but added that it did not expect an imminent change in US policy. Meanwhile, on 1 October US President Joe Biden stated that Republicans had pledged to provide aid for Ukraine in a separate bill. Concerns over the future of military aid for Ukraine will remain.
Europe: Serbia announces partial military withdrawal amid troop build-up on Kosovo border
Key Risks: civil unrest; violent clashes; war-on-land
In Serbia, on 30 September President Aleksandar Vucic announced a partial withdrawal of troops from the border with Kosovo, stating that any military action would be counterproductive after the US issued a declaration of concern. On 29 September the US reported a major military build-up along the border, prompting a warning from Kosovo that it was ready to defend its territorial integrity against any Serbian attack. Bilateral tensions have soared since 24 September, when a Kosovo police officer and three ethnic Serb gunmen were killed in a clash at Banjska monastery in northern Kosovo. Pristina blamed the incident on ‘Serbia-sponsored criminals’ and claimed that six of the injured gunmen were hospitalised in Novi Pazar, southern Serbia, demanding Belgrade to hand over the assailants. NATO authorised the deployment of additional peacekeeping troops to Kosovo on 29 September. Tensions will remain high.
MENA: Turkey to intensify anti-PKK operations in the wake of attack in Ankara
Key risks: internal conflict; political violence
In Turkey, on 1 October two police officers were injured in a bomb blast near the Interior Ministry building on Ataturk Boulevard in the capital Ankara. The attack was perpetrated by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, hours before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was due to open the new session of the nearby Parliament. The PKK – considered by Ankara as a terrorist organisation – has been engaged in an armed insurgency against the Turkish government since 1984. In recent years, PKK militants have taken up positions in Kurdish-majority areas in northern Iraq and Syria, prompting Turkey to launch military campaigns in these regions in a bid to prevent the group from establishing rear bases from which it can coordinate attacks against Turkish targets. In the wake of the attack, Ankara is likely to intensify anti-PKK operations, particularly in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Nigerian government workers receive wage increase ahead of strike
Key Risks: civil unrest; commercial disruption
In Nigeria, on 1 October President Bola Tinubu announced – among other measures – a three-month NGN25,000 (US$32) temporary wage increase for government workers and a pause on value added tax (VAT) on diesel during that same period, as the government attempts to placate labour unions and avert a nationwide strike scheduled for 3 October. The wage increase – significantly less than the NGN200,000 (US$255) demanded by unions – will be in effect from end-November until February 2024. Dozens of unions and their affiliates plan to hold a countrywide strike to denounce the high cost of living. The latter has significantly increased in recent months following Tinubu’s decision to scrap the fuel subsidy programme which kept petrol prices low while weighing heavily on the state coffers. The strike will likely lead to significant commercial and traffic disruption in major urban areas.