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The World This Week
Elections in Senegal

  GP Team

The World This Week #258, Vol. 6, No.12
31 March 2024

Elections in Senegal: A democratic victory in Africa
Anu Maria Joseph

What happened?
On 29 March, Senegal’s Constitutional Council confirmed the provisional election results declared on 26 March. Opposition leader Diomaye Faye won the elections, securing 54.28 per cent of the votes against Amadou Ba, who secured 35.79 per cent. The voter turnout was 61 per cent. 

On 26 March, President-elect Faye pledged to govern Senegal "with humility and transparency." He stated: ‘’By electing me, the Senegalese people have chosen to break with the past."

The same day, outgoing President Macky Sall congratulated Faye describing the results as "a victory for Senegalese democracy." Opposition candidate Amadou Ba stated: “In light of presidential election result trends and while we await the official proclamation, I congratulate … Faye for his victory in the first round."

On 29 March, the AU welcomed the “unanimous acceptance of the results.” The AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, congratulated Faye on his victory and wished him “full success in his weighty and noble charge.”

On the same day, French President, Emmanuel Macron, conveyed his greetings to Faye and asserted that France wanted to “continue and intensify the partnership” between the countries.

What is the background?
First, Senegal's electoral history and successful transfers of power. Senegal, a former French colony, is referred to as a symbol of democracy in West Africa; a region where a series of coups have been unfolding. Senegal never witnessed a coup. Since 2000, it had five consecutive successive democratic power transfers. Outgoing president Sall was elected in 2012 and secured a second term in 2019. He hinted at a third term through his increasingly authoritarian policies and widespread crackdown on the opposition; however, it failed.

Second, the democratic contest. 19 candidates ran for the elections. The main competition was between Diomaye Faye and Amadou Ba. Faye belongs to the Patriots of Senegal (PATSEF) party, however, ran independently as his party got banned in July 2023. Amadou Ba ran for the ruling Alliance of the Republic party and as Sall’s successor. He vied for the political continuity of his government. Faye is a political newcomer. He has become the country’s youngest president. Faye campaigned to fight corruption and prioritise economic interests, including monetary reforms and the renegotiation of mining and energy contracts. Faye ran with the support of Ousmane Sonko, a young leader who gained popularity for his anti-corruption stance. Faye and Sonko were in jail until 15 March under the charges of provoking insurrection, conspiracy, corrupting the youth and endangering state security. Faye replaced Sonko as the presidential candidate after Sonko was barred from running in the elections. They campaigned together under a popular slogan “Diomaye is Sonko.” The only female candidate was Anta Babacar Ngom, a political newcomer who runs Senegal’s largest poultry company.

Third, protests, Macky Sall’s failed ambitions and the judicial intervention. Senegal has witnessed a series of violent protests since 2021 against Macky Sall, corruption and authoritarian shift. Sall’s administration resorted to a violent crackdown on the opposition to break down the protests. In June 2023, the leader of the protests, Ousmane Sonko, and his supporters were arrested, and his party, PASTEF, was banned. In July 2023, Sall announced that he would not run for a third term. Later, in February this year, another wave of protests erupted after Sall announced a postponement of elections to December 2024, citing a dispute between the constitutional court and the National Assembly over the eligibility of the candidates. However, the Constitutional Council annulled the postponement and demanded to hold an election before 2 April, when Sall’s term in office ends. 
 
What does this mean?
The previous week, the global media were discussing Senegal’s democracy in peril with the postponement of elections. The latest elections and the results came as a surprise. Although the elections did not gain media attention outside Africa, the intervention of the judiciary against Sall’s postponement of elections was an exceptional development that changed the country’s political course. 

Since 2020, the region has gone through seven military coups- two each in Mali, and Burkina Faso, and one in Niger, Chad and Guinea. The election in Senegal is an isolated event in West Africa, a region known to be Africa’s coup-belt. The elections were also the outcome of the mass protests. The protests that coerced the change in government imply the victory of democracy in Senegal and a lesson for Africa and beyond.

Now, the bigger challenge for Faye and his government would be the unemployment rate which has reached 20 per cent. Faye has promised larger economic and monetary reforms which are relatively unfavourable to foreign investors including its former colonial leader France. The change in the government is likely to bring a major shift in the country’s foreign policy. How the new government would address these challenges is to be anticipated.


TWTW Regional Roundups
News from around the World 

Akriti Sharma, Padmashree Anandhan, Anu Maria Joseph, Femy Francis, Shamini Velayutham, Akhil Ajith, Vetriselvi Baskaran, Sanjay Manivannan, Navinan Govindaraj, Narmatha S and Gopi Keshav

CHINA THIS WEEK
China: Research claims on a surface-to-air missile with a 2000 km range
On 28 March, the South China Morning Post reported on the Chinese language Journal of Graphics, paper publication, where the researchers claim that they successfully designed a surface-to-air-missile, with a kill range of 2000 km. Such ultra-long-range capabilities are considered infeasible, where the maximum flight range is tens of kilometers. The team is led by an associate professor at Northwestern Polytechnical University Su Han, who said that the weapon will be able to shoot down early-warning aircraft, and missiles. The paper stated that the People’s Liberation Army would first warn the target and it would be only launched if they refused to turn back. The paper stated that this technology is vital to maintain regional and global stability.

China: Lithography trade from the Netherlands to continue, says Chinese Commerce Minister
On 27 March, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met with the Dutch Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen and expressed his hope that the Netherlands would support the trade of lithography machines, by allowing companies to fulfil their contractual obligation and ensure normal trade. Wang stated that they take the Netherlands as a trusted trade and economic partner. Both heads discussed the future of lithography exchange and cooperation in the semiconductor industry. The Dutch government also denied a Dutch firm ASML license to export advanced “DUV” to China. This is in line with the other Western countries, which are curbing China’s access to critical technology and minerals.

China: Dispute settlement proceeding on EV against the US at WTO
On 26 March, the Chinese envoys at the UN said that it had initiated a dispute settlement proceeding against the US World Trade Organization (WTO) to safeguard its interests in the electric vehicle industry. It justified its stance as it was contesting "discriminatory subsidies" under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), as the Chinese mission said that it led to the exclusion of goods from China and other WTO countries. It further added that the proceedings are meant “to safeguard the legitimate interests of the Chinese electric vehicle industry and to maintain a fair level playing field of competition for the global market.” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that Washington has initiated a review of China's request for WTO consultations for IRA 2022 and its implementing measures. Defending the IRA, she said that the IRA is instrumental in promoting clean energy practices along with its allies and partners and accused China of engaging in unfair market policies.

China: Hosts Boao Forum for Asia discussing Asian economic outlook for 2024
On 25 March, China held the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), in Hainan Province. The forum consisted of participants from around the world discussing the regional challenges and the issue of trade protectionism behaviour with the rising geopolitical tensions. The forum projected substantial economic growth of up to 4.5 per cent in 2024. It stated that Asian integration in the economy remained unchanged. The report highlighted the contribution made by China to global economic growth. The BFA was attended by 2,000 representatives from 60 countries. The forum released its annual report on the Asian Economic Outlook and Integration Progress and the second one on Sustainable development in Asia. The report outlined that: “In 2024, global economic turbulence and divergence will persist. Faced with a severe external environment, many Asian economies will also encounter significant internal challenges. Nevertheless, the region's economic growth and regional integration continue to show promising momentum.”

EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC THIS WEEK
Taiwan: Navy chief plans to visit US
On 29 March, Reuters reported that Taiwanese Navy chief Tang Hua will visit the US next week to attend a military ceremony and discuss bilateral cooperation. It also revealed that Tang would visit the US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii for a Pacific Fleet change-of-command ceremony. He is also expected to attend the Sea-Air-Space conference on 8-10 April and plans to meet the US chief of naval operations, Admiral Lisa Franchetti. Idrees and Ben mention Tang’s visit as part of the US effort, known as the Joint Island Defence Concept, to coordinate with Taiwan, Japan, and others to counter China's armed forces within the first island chain. The visit announcement comes after China ramped up its military pressure on Taiwan for years by sending fighter jets over the median line in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan: Taipei does not doubt Washington’s support e, says Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
On 28 March, the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs report noted that the US support for Taiwan would have remained unchanged regardless of the election outcome of the US elections. And that they would stay on watch if the Taiwan-China issue gets manipulated as the tensions rise and campaigns heats up. The Trump administration also showcased strong support for the Taiwan government. It said: “As the US election heats up, we should beware of cross-Taiwan Strait issues being manipulated as a political issue of defence and attack.” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with US congressman Jack Bergman, who said that his delegation was present to showcase Congress's support for Taiwan. Bergman said that they would continue to assure their relationship and their future of security, and said: “This includes a strong Taiwan maritime strategy and how we can work together on shared goals to counter China on their increasingly aggressive actions in the region.”

North Korea: Pyongyang to discuss with Moscow to curb foreign espionage attempts
On 28 March, The Straits Times reported that a Russian delegation from their External Intelligence Bureau visited North Korea between 25-27 March. Both countries discussed cooperation against the espionage attempts, stated KCNA media (North Korean flagship news agency.) The two sides discussed the need for further cooperation between the countries and how to deal with the ever-present and growing threat of espionage and plotting by international hostile forces. The delegation included the Russian Bureau's director, Sergei E. Naryshkin, and North Korean Minister of State Security Ri Chang Dae.

Japan: Cabinet approves the export of defence equipment to other countries
On 26 March, the Japanese cabinet officially agreed to export next-generation future-generation fighter aircraft jets to other countries as part of its defence equipment export plans, making a shift from its pacifist stance adopted post-World War 2. The decision allows Japan to export the newly co-developing fighter jet with Italy and the UK, which gathers international arms sales and bolsters the Japanese arms industry and its role in global affairs. The new guidelines will, however, not allow the export of other co-developed lethal weapons and will require cabinet approval. In 2014, Japan began exporting non-lethal defence equipment, and in December 2023, it allowed the export of 80 lethal equipment and components. The December policy had allowed Japan to export its US-designed Patriot missiles to the US for its own munitions replacement for the missile aid to Ukraine. The new guidelines for exporting finished products were to ensure the successful completion of the joint fighter jet program. The delay in passing the new guidelines was due to resistance from the ruling party, LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, backed by Buddhist supporters. To address the opposition party’s concerns, the Japanese government limited the export of defence products with conditions for the buyer not to use them in active war.

Japan: Tokyo intends for a summit with Pyongyang, says Kim Yo Jong
On 25 March, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong said that Japanese PM Fumio Kishida has requested a summit with Kim Jong Un despite historically strained ties. In 2023, Kishida said he would meet Kim to resolve all issues without any conditions. The primary issue for Japan remains the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean citizens in the 1970s and 1980s. The Strait Times quoted the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), in which Kim Yo Jong said: “Kishida... conveyed his intention to personally meet the President of the State Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as soon as possible.” She further mentioned that the improvement in the DPRK-Japan ties will rest on Tokyo’s part for a substantial policy change as the relations are full of misunderstandings and distrust. She warned that Japan’s persistence with the abduction issue won’t materialize in improving ties with North Korea. In 2002, North Korea admitted that it had sent its agents to kidnap 13 Japanese people in the 1970s and 1980s. Atsuhito Isozaki, a North Korean expert and professor at Keio University, mentions ambiguity in Kishida convincing on improving ties with North Korea among the Japanese public.

SOUTH ASIA THIS WEEK
Maldives: Former President Solih advises President Muizzu to mend ties with neighbour
On 25 March, The Hindu reported that Maldives’ former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has urged current President Mohamed Muizzu to stop being “stubborn” and pursue dialogue with neighbours to tackle financial issues. This comes in the wake of President Muizzu seeking debt relief measures from India, stating that India was the archipelago nation’s “closest ally.” The former President said that the financial challenges facing Maldives were not due to Indian loans, adding that Maldives owes MVR 18 billion to China compared to the MVR 8 billion owed to India. He also stated that the current government was lying to the people by reinitiating projects that the former MDP government had launched. President Muizzu’s toned-down statements come at a time when Maldives is preparing to hold their Parliamentary elections on 21 April. The tough ‘India out’ stance of the current Maldives government has resulted in strained relationships between the neighbours since Muizzu came to power in November 2023. 

Sri Lanka: Central Bank cuts interest rates in hopes of boosting economy
On 26 March, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) reduced the interest rates by 50 basis points, lowering the Standing Deposit Facility Rate to 8.50 per cent and the Standing Lending Facility Rate to 9.50 per cent. CBSL Governor P. Nandalal Weerasinghe stated: “Going forward if we see that inflation on a stable basis remains between 4 per cent, I see space for monetary policy to be reduced further in the current cycle.” CBSL had maintained its policy rates without changes in January to manage inflation rates after a 3 per cent increase in sales tax at the beginning of the year led to rising prices with inflation reaching 5.9 per cent in February. The current move is considered an attempt to support demand conditions and increase growth as Sri Lanka begins to recover from its worst financial crisis since 1948. While the economy shrank 2.3 per cent in 2023, it grew 4.5 per cent in the fourth quarter, a positive sign for recovery.

Bhutan: Second tranche of INR 500 crore from India for infrastructure development
On 27 March, The Hindu reported that the second tranche of INR 500 crore earmarked for Bhutan’s GyalSung Project has been released by India. This comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Bhutan that concluded on 23 March during which he reiterated India’s strong support for Bhutan’s infrastructure development. India has agreed to give INR 10,000 crore for the same over the next five years. The first tranche of INR 500 crore was handed over on 28 January this year.

India: External Affairs Minister says Palestinian people denied of right to their homeland
On 27 March, External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar stated that any response to the ongoing crisis in Gaza should acknowledge that the Palestinians have been “denied the right to their homeland.” He stated that international humanitarian law must be considered even as countries might justify their responses to the issues. He added that getting the “balance right” was a challenge to framing foreign policies and that Indian interlocutors were used to “pass messages.” Dr. Jaishankar made these comments while addressing the Indian community on a visit to Malaysia. Post the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel, India has been maintaining dialogues with stakeholders in West Asia as well as Eastern Europe. Before the Malaysia visit, the Minister had been to Singapore where he referred to the “positive relationship” between India and Russia. He is also scheduled to host Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba later this week.

India: External Affairs Minister visits Manila, reassures India’s support to Philippines sovereignty
On 26 March, External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar visited Manila, where he stated that India supported the Philippines' sovereignty. The comments come in the backdrop of heightened Philippines-China tension over reported incursions of the Chinese Navy and Coast Guard into the sovereign waters of other countries in the South China Sea region. Vietnam and Indonesia have also raised voices against the same. He added that the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas has to be seen as the “constitution of the seas” and all parties “must adhere to it in its entirety, both in letter and in spirit.” The Chinese responded to these comments, stating: “Maritime disputes are issues between countries concerned. Third parties have no right to interfere whatsoever.” China is also keenly observing the sale of Brahmos missiles to the Philippines by India. Further, he discussed trade and capacity-building in digital infrastructure, India’s naval deployment in the Red Sea against Houthi militia, issues regarding the Indo-Pacific, Myanmar, and the Ukraine war with the Philippines’ Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo during the visit.

India: External Affairs Minister’s visits Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia
On 25 March, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar concluded his official visit to Singapore, as the first leg of his visit to Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia. In Singapore, he had several bilateral engagements with the leadership and senior Ministers of the Cabinet. He called on the Prime Minister of Singapore, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. They exchanged views on deepening engagement in the fintech, digitalization, green economy, skills development and food security. He held comprehensive discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. In the Philippines, the External Affairs Minister called on the President of the Philippines and briefed President Marcos about recent developments in the India-Philippines partnership and on the joint initiatives to further fortify bilateral ties. He also met with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines and discussed progress made in bilateral cooperation since the fifth meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation. Both countries reviewed the entire spectrum of engagements including political exchanges, trade & investment, defence & maritime security, development partnership, healthcare & medicine, agriculture & food security, education, infrastructure, engagements in new technologies and people-to-people exchanges. In Malaysia, the Minister met with the Prime Minister of Malaysia and thanked him for his support in deepening bilateral ties under the India-Malaysia Enhanced Strategic Partnership. He also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. The two leaders held wide-ranging discussions on bilateral cooperation including political, trade and economic, defence, digital, culture and education.

Nepal: Russia to release Nepali captives
On 26 March, Russian Ambassador to Nepal Alexei Novikov has stated that the Russian government is making efforts to secure the release of Nepalis held captive by Ukrainian forces. During a courtesy call on Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun, Ambassador Novikov mentioned that efforts are underway to release the Nepalis through a potential prisoner swap agreement. The exact number of Nepalis under the captivity of the Ukrainian army remains unknown. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha had previously stated that the Ukrainian forces captured some Nepali nationals as prisoners of war, and Nepal had demanded their safe release. Minister Pun urged the ambassador to help create a condition conducive to the safe return of Nepalis employed in the Russian army. Additionally, Minister Pun stressed the need for the Russian government to facilitate the repatriation of those killed, provide medical treatment for the injured, and offer relief and compensation to the families of the deceased. During the meeting, they also discussed the upcoming Nepal Investment Summit scheduled for April.

Pakistan: Suicide attack in KP kills five Chinese nationals
On 26 March, according to Malakand's deputy inspector general of police (DIG) five Chinese nationals and a Pakistani woman were killed in a suicide bombing near Bisham city in northwest Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Briefing about the incident, the DIG asserted that a suicide bomber collided his vehicle that had explosives into the Chinese nationals’ car. The official in charge of Rescue 1122 station in Bisham Sheraz Khan said: “The area was engulfed in smoke as the bus that had fallen into the ravine was on fire.” Following the attack, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) asserted that with the help of Pakistan’s ally China the military had pledged to ensure accountability of all the components comprising the aid to terrorism. The military media wing in a statement said: “Certain foreign elements are complicit in aiding and abetting terrorism in Pakistan, driven by their vested interests. Despite the veneer of innocence, these elements are being continuously exposed as sponsors of terror.” The ISPR further added that the two attempts were successfully intercepted by the Pakistani security forces, however, the recent resulted in causalities.

Pakistan: Majeed Brigade targets Turbat naval base
On 25 March, the Security forces claimed that they had swiftly intercepted an armed terrorist attack on the PNS Siddique, a naval airbase near Turbat of Balochistan city. The outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed that its Majeed Brigade was behind the attack. Makran Commissioner Saeed Ahmed Umrani asserted that heavy exchange of fire and explosions were reported near Turbat.  He said: “The armed men attacked from three sides of the airport boundary, but security forces responded immediately and foiled their attempt to infiltrate the premises.” The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement said: “Synergetic and effective response by the armed forces enabled the killing of all four terrorists in the ensuing joint clearance operation.” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif lauded the swift move of the security forces.

CENTRAL  ASIA THIS WEEK
Turkmenistan: Plenipotentiary ambassador meets Rector of the Russian Academy
On 30 March, the Rector of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation Alexei Komissarov and the extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Turkmenistan E. Aydogdyev, met in Moscow. Joint initiatives to develop cooperation in the sector of education were considered during the conference, according to the IIC. The parties talked about the need to share real-world experience and train highly skilled experts.  The training of Turkmen students under the President of the Russian Federation at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration was also brought up during the discussion.

Armenia: President meets Georgia PM
On 25 March, Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Kobakhidze and President of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan met at the President of the Republic of Armenia’s house. As per the presidential office, Vahagn Khachaturyan, Armenia places a great importance on amicable relations with Georgia. Khachaturyan Said: “I believe we are simply documenting the reality of our centuries-old historical relationship, which has always been of strategic importance. I am sure that your visit will be useful for the development and strengthening of relations between our countries.” Meanwhile, Kobakhidze said: “We are satisfied with the current state of our relations; the dynamics are very positive. It is in our interest to have a strong partnership in all possible areas, especially in political, economic, cultural, educational, and other fields, where there is untapped potential and opportunities for expansion. We are interested in having a very strong partnership with Armenia.”

MIDDLE EAST THIS WEEK
Israel: Egypt, France, and Jordan call for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire”
On 30 March, the “immediate and permanent ceasefire" in Gaza and the release of all Hamas hostages have been demanded by the foreign ministers of Egypt, France, and Jordan. The appeal was made following the three diplomats' Saturday meeting in Cairo, the capital of Egypt. French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne announced at a joint news conference that his country would present a draft resolution outlining a “political” ending for the war to the UN Security Council. According to him, the document would contain “all the criteria for a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the peace plan that the international community has long supported but that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Israeli government opposes.

Israel: Families of captives hold protests in Tel Aviv
On 30 March, calling for the immediate release of prisoners, Israelis are staging a march in Tel Aviv and threatening to bring Benjamin Netanyahu under more pressure by carrying their protest to the Knesset. Relatives of those detained in Gaza declared they would “turn off the lights in the squares, and meet in the streets,” calling for a large-scale march in a statement issued by the imprisoned family forum. The statement read: “Next week we will relocate to Jerusalem, in front of the Knesset, where the struggle for the release of the hostages will take place.” Families of those held hostage as well as supporters have accused the Israeli prime minister of mishandling the detainee agreement and endangering the stability of the country.

Lebanon: Hezbollah launches airstrike towards Israel
On 27 March, Hezbollah stated that it launched dozens of rockets towards the Kiryat Shmona town in Israel. It added that the attack was in response to Israeli strikes on Al-Habbariyeh in Lebanon, which killed seven people. According to the Israeli military, 30 rockets were launched from Lebanon. Meanwhile, Israel’s attack on Al-Habbariyeh targeted a paramedic centre affiliated with a Lebanese Sunni Muslim group. Lebanon’s Ministry of Health denounced the Israeli attack stating: “These unacceptable attacks violate international laws and norms, especially the Geneva Convention, which stresses the neutrality of health centres and health workers.”

Syria: Airstrikes kill dozens
On 26 March, Al Jazeera quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, that airstrikes killed 15 people in eastern Syria, including an Iranian military adviser and a member of the World Health Organization (WHO). The strikes took place in the Deir el-Zour province, which borders Iraq. The strikes were not claimed by any country or militant group.

AFRICA THIS WEEK
Zambia: Debt restructuring deal
On 26 March, Zambia signed a deal with its creditors to restructure its foreign debt of USD 3.5 billion. The deal entails a forgiveness of USD 840 million by private investors. The agreement came after months of disagreements about the restructuring terms between China and other creditors. President Hakainde Hichilema welcomed the deal as "a historic milestone.” The deal is part of the G20 Common Framework, launched in 2020, to provide debt relief to low-income countries. Zambia has become the first country to receive debt restructuring under this framework.

South Africa: The ruling party fails to dismiss the candidacy of the newly formed party
On March 26, South Africa's electoral court rejected the ruling party’s, the African National Congress (ANC), claim against the newly formed party backed by the country’s former President Jacob Zuma. The ANC accused Zuma’s party, uMKhonto weSizwe (MK), of not following the criteria for official registration in contesting the election. South Africa has scheduled its elections for 29 May.

Chad: Constitutional Council releases the candidate list for election
On 25 March, the Constitutional Council of Chad approved ten candidates for the presidential elections scheduled for 6 May. Interim President General Mahamat Idriss Deby is one of the ten candidates. Deby announced an 18-month transition in 2021 after seizing the power. However, he postponed the elections which sparked protests.

Sudan: Technocrats to run the government until elections
On 26 March, BBC reported that Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council member, General Ibrahim Jabir Ibrahim, stated that the military would form a non-political “technocratic government” until the elections are held. He added that the "technocratic government will manage the affairs of the Sudanese people and prepare for elections.” General Ibrahim's announcement came days after Sovereign Council member, General Yasir al-Atta, asserted that the military would not cede power to civilians until elections are held.

EUROPE THIS WEEK
The UK: High Court delays ruling on Julian Assange’s extradition to the US
On 26 March, Deutsche Welle reported on the delayed ruling by UK High Court judges on Julian Assange’s extradition to the US and requested assurance that he would not be subjected to the death penalty in the US if extradited. Assange, the WikiLeaks founder and whistleblower, leaked some of the most classified documents regarding operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and NATO presence in these countries. The US government believes that his actions were beyond journalism and had risked innocent lives by publishing classified information. Out of nine issues appealed, the judges only recognised three issues; freedom of speech, concern regarding the disadvantages as he is not a US Citizen and the risk of the death penalty. Assange faces 17 espionage charges, one charge regarding computer misuse and would be sentenced to a jail term of up to 175 years if convicted. Australian politicians have appealed for Assange, who is an Australian citizen, to be returned there. UK High Court judges Victoria Sharp and Jeremy Johnson have adjourned the case until 20 May.

France: Macron visits Brazil to boost business
On 25 March, according to Politico, French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to Brazil to convince the Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to strengthen ties between both countries through increased investments. An official in Elysée noted that Macron wanted to make up for a “four-year eclipse and a virtual freeze in political relations” during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro in his first official visit to South America. To boost investments in Brazil, especially to promote the green sector, Macron is joined by around 120 French business representatives. He will meet Lula in the tropical metropolis of Belém, which Lula aims to transform into the capital of green transition and host the COP 30 climate conference there. Macron had earlier criticised Brazilian beef exports and a trade deal between the EU and the Mercosur bloc, of which Brazil is the largest member, to appease French farmers. Lula had responded by criticising Macron’s protectionist policy. The controversy is set to remain the “elephant in the room” during the bilateral visit. Macron and Lula have differing views on the war in Ukraine, with the former a staunch supporter of Ukraine and the latter continuing his “neutral” position. However, Macron is expected to find common ground, including the reform of the IMF and World Bank where Brazil is underrepresented, as well as taxing the richest, in an attempt to take steps “towards each other.”

Ireland: Simon Harris to become the next youngest Prime Minister
On 24 March, according to Le Monde, Simon Harris is set to become Ireland’s youngest prime minister at 37 after he acquired the leadership of the Fine Gael party after receiving a series of endorsements from the party members.  Deputy leader of the Fine Gael party, Simon Coveney said: “I think he's done a really good job in securing the leadership in as comprehensive a way as he has.” Ireland’s Further and Higher Education Minister, Harris, would be replacing Leo Varadkar as Prime Minister, who resigned the previous week. Harris stated his commitment to the government programme agreed upon by the coalition of Fianna Fail and the Green Party.

THE AMERICAS THIS WEEK
Canada: School boards sue social media companies
On 28 March, four top school boards in Canada filed a lawsuit demanding 2.9 billion USD as damage from the big social media companies saying that “the platforms negligently designed for compulsive use and have rewired the way children think, behave and learn.” The boards involved in the lawsuit are the Toronto District School Board, Peel District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, and Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. Although the lawsuits were filed independently, the defendants in each case are identified as Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram; Snap Inc., the business that operates Snapchat; and ByteDance Ltd., the parent firm of TikTok.

Brazil: 1.1 billion USD program to protect the Amazon rainforest along with France
On 26 March, the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, came for a three-day visit to Brazil, and announced the launch of an investment of 1.1 billion USD to protect the Amazon rainforest, as they pledged a shared agreement to halt deforestation in the Amazon by 2030 to mitigate global warming. According to their joint statement, they expressed their commitment to conservation, restoration and sustainable management of the world’s tropical forests. In the event, Raoni Metuktire, an environmental advocate and leader of the Kayapo people, was awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor, France's highest order of excellence, by President Macron in recognition of his efforts to safeguard Indigenous rights and the rainforest.

Brazil: Former President Bolsonaro set to visit Israel, seeks court permission to approve his travel
On 25 March, the lawyers of the Former President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro submitted a request to federal authorities to return Bolsonaro’s passport and approve his travel to Israel, following the invitation from the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. In February, Bolsonaro’s Passport was seized by Federal Police during a raid connected to an inquiry into possible plots by him and senior associates to conduct an insurrection in 2022 and disregard the results of the election to maintain the leadership of the defeated party. On 25 March, the New York Times published the footage revealing his two-night stay at Hungary’s embassy in Brasilia in February, which had created widespread speculation saying it was an attempt to evade arrest. In a separate statement, lawyers of Bolsonaro denied it and stated illogical to assume he was avoiding authorities, as the stay was part of the political agenda with the government of Hungary. In his request to the Supreme Court for permission to visit Israel from 12-18 May, Bolsonaro's attorneys argued that the trip wouldn't interfere with his current legal proceedings because he had appointments beyond his anticipated return date.

Colombia: Foreign ministry orders the expulsion of Argentinian diplomats
On 27 March, the Colombia foreign ministry ordered the expulsion of Argentinian diplomats of the Andean nation, citing the “denigrating” comments made by the Argentinian President, Javier Milei about the Colombian President Gustavo Petro. The foreign ministry's statement stated, “The Argentinian president’s comments have deteriorated the trust of our nation, in addition to offending the dignity of President Petro, who was democratically elected”. Colombia's foreign ministry did not specify how many diplomats will be removed from the Bogota embassy but said the decision would be relayed to Argentina via "diplomatic channels". Milei in his recent interviews with CNN stated Petro was a “terrorist”, “murderer” and “communist.”

Argentina: Venezuela’s politicians shelters at the embassy
On 27 March, Argentina’s presidential spokesperson Manuel Adorni, in a news conference, announced, “We have sheltered political opposition leaders in our embassy in Caracas.” While the statement didn’t mention the names of the politicians they are providing shelter. Just one day before, Milei's administration issued a statement expressing concern over "acts of harassment and persecution directed against political figures in Venezuela". Milei also warned his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, about "any deliberate action that endangers the safety of Argentinian diplomatic personnel or Venezuelan citizens under protection". The opposition parties are facing threats of detention. Maduro is running for a third six-year term as president and was criticized for undermining the opposition candidate to secure victory.

The US: USD 60 million emergency fund for Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster
On 28 March, President Joe Biden’s administration unveiled a USD 60 million emergency fund to clean up and reconstruct the Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster in Baltimore. The Federal Highway Administration said it authorised the “quick release” within hours after receiving a request from the Maryland Department of Transportation. The swift disbursement of the funds came after Biden earlier this week stated that he had authorised the government to "move heaven and earth" to reconstruct the bridge, which collapsed on 26 March, after being hit by a cargo ship. The announcement came as Maryland Governor Wes Moore said it is a very long road ahead to recover from the damage as experts examine ways to remove the Singapore-flagged Dali from the wreckage. He added, “The Dali is almost as long as the Eiffel Tower and the Dali has the Key Bridge on top of it. We’re talking 3,000 or 4,000 tonnes of steel that’s sitting on top of that ship.” Federal officials have informed Maryland lawmakers that the eventual cost of repairing the bridge might surpass USD 2 billion.

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