Americas: Widespread disruptive protests by Morales’s supporters set to continue in Bolivia
Sectors: all; cargo transport
Key Risks: civil unrest; political violence; violent clashes; business interruption
In Bolivia, on 1 February at least 14 police officers were injured in clashes with former president Evo Morales’s supporters in Caracollo, Oruro department. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the protesters who reportedly attacked a Bolivia TV media team. The violence came on the eleventh consecutive day of nationwide protests and blockades by pro-Morales demonstrators demanding the resignation of Supreme Court justices, who in December 2023 extended their own terms in office and barred Morales from seeking a fourth presidential term in the 2025 general elections. At least 25 road blockades were reported in La Paz, Cochabamba, Beni, Oruro, Potosi and Santa Cruz departments. On 31 January the government estimated that the protests have caused losses totalling US$680m and shortages of fuel and basic goods in major cities. Further disruptive protests with the potential to turn violent should be expected in the coming weeks.
Click here to access Bolivia’s Global Intake country profile.
Asia Pacific: Nawaz Sharif set to return as Pakistan’s PM following 8 February general election
Key Risks: political instability; civil unrest; political violence; terrorism
In Pakistan, on 8 February voters will head to the polls to elect the country’s next government. The election will come as authorities have cracked down on former prime minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Khan is currently serving several prison sentences, while PTI candidates have been forced to run as independents. The most likely outcome is that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, will emerge as the largest party and lead a coalition government. Nawaz – who was thrice deposed as prime minister – appears to have the backing of the country’s powerful military. If the PML-N forms a government, there is unlikely to be a dramatic shift in policy. Risks of terrorism and civil unrest are expected to be elevated leading up to and following the election.
Click here to access Pakistan’s Global Intake country profile.
Eurasia: Azerbaijan to hold presidential election on 7 February
Key Risks: civil unrest
In Azerbaijan, on 7 February voters will elect a president in a snap presidential election. The vote – unexpectedly announced on 7 December 2023 – is highly unlikely to produce a change in leadership due to Baku’s authoritarian regime built by former president Heydar Aliyev and sustained by his son Ilham, who is running in the election. Genuine opposition parties are boycotting the vote while Aliyev’s registered challengers pose no threat, with most of them publicly praising the incumbent. Ahead of the election, the government has intensified efforts to crack down on voices critical of Aliyev, detaining at least 13 independent journalists on fabricated charges. Such a crackdown should also be expected in the event of protests against the election outcome. However, major civil unrest remains unlikely following a recovery of Aliyev’s popularity due to the 19 September 2023 takeover of Nagorno Karabakh.
Click here to access Azerbaijan’s Global Intake country profile.
Europe: Finland to elect new president in run-off vote on 11 February
Key Risks: political stability; geopolitical tensions
In Finland, on 11 February voters will elect a president in the second round of the presidential election. On 29 January the centre-right National Coalition Party’s candidate Alexander Stubb – former prime minister from 2014-2015 – won the first round with 27.2 per cent of the vote. The liberal Green Party’s Pekka Haavisto came in second place with 25.8 per cent and the right-wing Finns Party’s Jussi Halla-aho came third with 19 per cent. Stubb and Haavisto will face off in the second round. The election follows Helsinki’s April 2023 NATO accession in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The winner of the election will succeed highly popular outgoing President Sauli Niinisto – who was ineligible for re-election – for a six-year term. All candidates strongly support Ukraine and have called for tough measures against Moscow.
Click here to access Finland’s Global Intake country profile.
MENA: 40 killed in retaliatory US airstrikes on Iran-linked sites across Syria and Iraq
Key risks: regional escalation; political instability; political violence; war
In Syria and Iraq, on 2 February approximately 40 people were killed in US airstrikes on 85 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-linked sites in response to the 28 January attack which killed three US soldiers and injured at least 40 others in Jordan. The strikes killed 16 people, including Iran-backed militants and civilians, and injured 25 others in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. In Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 23 militants guarding the targeted sites were killed. However, the Syrian Defense Ministry stated that an unspecified number of civilians and regime soldiers were also killed and injured. Local news reported that airstrikes hit al-Mayadin and al-Bukamal areas in Dayr al-Zur province and other sites along the Syrian-Iraqi border. Further similar airstrikes cannot be ruled out amid repeated warnings by Washington of retaliatory strikes.
Click here to access Syria’s Global Intake country profile.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Senegal’s President Macky Sall indefinitely postpones election
Key risks: political instability; civil unrest
In Senegal on 3 February President Macky Sall indefinitely postponed the 25 February presidential election. According to Sall, the dispute between the judiciary and Parliament over the final list of presidential candidates could lead to post-election violence. On 20 January the Constitutional Council released the final list of 20 presidential candidates which excluded prominent opposition leaders Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade. Sall is expected to conclude his tenure on 2 April and according to the country’s electoral code, a ballot requires an 80-day notice. This implies that the earliest possible voting date would be at the end of April. On 4 February – a day after Sall’s announcement – opposition supporters clashed with the police in the capital Dakar and internet disruptions were reported until the early hours of 5 February. Opposition protests will likely persist in the coming days.
Click here to access Senegal’s Global Intake country profile.