Americas: Hundreds participate in anti-government protests amid Cuba’s economic crisis

Sectors: all
Key Risks: civil unrest

In Cuba, on 17 March, hundreds participated in rare anti-government protests in Santiago, Santiago de Cuba province, and Bayamo, Granma province, amid prolonged blackouts and shortages of basic supplies, including fuel, food and medicine. The government reportedly cut off communications and internet access and deployed the police and military forces to quell the unrest. On 29 February President Miguel Diaz-Canel’s government sought aid from the UN’s World Food Programme for the first time, highlighting the severity of the ongoing economic crisis. In July 2021 the government drew international criticism for its repression of the largest anti-government protests in decades. During this period, over 700 people were arbitrarily arrested and charged with various crimes, including sedition. Further similar protests cannot be ruled out. Heightened security force presence is expected and the risk of arbitrary detentions and repression will remain heightened.

Click here to access Cuba’s Global Intake country profile.

Asia Pacific: Vietnamese National Assembly calls extraordinary session on 21 March

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political instability; policy uncertainty

In Vietnam, on 21 March the National Assembly will hold an extraordinary parliamentary session to discuss unspecified “personnel issues”. The session was called amid widely reported speculation regarding the possible resignation of President Vo Van Thuong and the weeks-long public absence of Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. In January 2023 Thuong’s predecessor, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, abruptly resigned after he purportedly took responsibility for a series of COVID-19 graft scandals by senior government figures amid an anti-corruption purge spearheaded by Trong, which in recent years have destabilised the country’s leadership. Public Security Minister To Lam was reported as a leading candidate for the largely ceremonial presidency. While even major leadership changes are unlikely to result in significant policy divergence, the anti-corruption purge is expected to sustain heightened risks of political uncertainty.

Click here to access Vietnam’s Global Intake country profile.

Eurasia: Russia’ President Putin expectedly secures re-election for six-year presidential term

Sectors: all
Key Risks: political reshuffle, government repression,

In Russia, on 18 March President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the 15-17 March presidential election held across the country and occupied territory in Ukraine, with results showing Putin ahead with at least 87.3 per cent of the vote and an alleged record turnout of over 77 per cent. The election was not deemed free or fair, with no genuine opposition allowed to compete. Opposition activists engaged in some minor protests on the final day and several were detained for seeking to disrupt ballot boxes on 16 and 15 March, but no major unrest occurred. Putin will likely interpret the landslide victory as a mandate for continuing the war in Ukraine and will focus on strengthening the military. Some analysts also expect Putin to replace certain senior government officials with a younger generation following his re-election. Further consolidation of power is likely.

Click here to access Russia’s Global Intake country profile.

Europe: European Council to discuss Ukraine military; Bosnia’s accession talks on 21-22 March

Sectors: all; defence
Key Risks: economic risks; internal disputes; war

In Brussels, on 21-22 March European leaders will meet for the European Council summit. The Council is expected to discuss the European Commission’s 12 March recommendation to open EU accession talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina. While there are some opposing voices to the move, should the Council vote on the issue, it will likely approve it. However, reports emerged that some member countries – including France and Germany – would prefer the summit to focus primarily on military aid to Ukraine. On 11 March reports emerged indicating that the European Commission was preparing a proposal to provide Kyiv with EUR2-3bln in 2024 from profits derived from frozen Russian assets. The Commission is widely expected to officially unveil the proposal ahead of the summit. However, even if the proposal is revealed and discussed during the summit, it will likely prove highly divisive.

Click here to access Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Global Intake country profile and here to access Ukraine’s Global Intake country profile.

MENA: IDF hospital raid in Gaza puts thousands of Palestinian civilians at risk

Sectors: all
Key risks: war, humanitarian crisis

In Gaza, on 18 April Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ordered the evacuation of al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city as well as entire residential blocks surrounding the medical complex, where thousands of Palestinians have taken refuge. The order came ahead of a planned Israeli raid on the hospital – the fourth such raid since the start of the Israel-Gaza war. The Israeli military claimed that Hamas militants had taken positions inside the hospital. Gaza’s Government Media Office denied the claim and denounced the raid as a “war crime”. Several casualties within the hospital and surrounding areas were reported by Gaza’s Health Ministry. In addition, dozens of Palestinians were reportedly arrested and beaten by Israeli forces in the hospital, including medics and reporters. The IDF raid on al-Shifa is expected to continue for several hours amid widespread destruction and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Click here to access Gaza and the West Bank‘s Global Intake country profile.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Fierce contest ahead of 24 March presidential elections in Senegal

Sectors: all
Key risks: political instability; civil unrest

In Senegal, on 24 March the country will hold presidential elections to elect a new leader as President Macky Sall’s term comes to end on 2 April. The election will come after Sall postponed the 25 February presidential vote to December on 3 February citing disagreements between the National Assembly and the Constitutional Council. However, on 15 February the Constitutional Council nullified the postponement. On 14 March prominent opposition leaders Ousmane Sonko and Bassirou Diomaye Faye were released from prison following a 6 March parliamentary amnesty agreement. However, Sonko remains ineligible to run due to a defamation conviction. Sonko’s PASTEF party has endorsed Secretary-General Faye as its presidential candidate. Faye will likely emerge as a stronger contender against Amadou Ba, the leader of the ruling BBY coalition. The risk of political violence will remain high during the polls.

Click here to access Senegal’s Global Intake country profile.