The World This Week

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The World This Week
Another US investigation on COVID origin, Russia's Belarus embrace, Mali's second coup, and Europe's Africa apology

  GP Team

The World This Week #121, Vol. 3, No. 22

Apoorva Sudhakar, Anu Maria, Harini Madhusudan and Sukanya Bali

Mali: The "coup within a coup" 
What happened? 
On 28 May, Mali's constitutional court appointed Colonel Assimi Goita as the transitional President. It ruled that he would "lead the transition process to its conclusion" due to the "vacancy in the presidency."

On 27 May, Colonel Assimi Goita declared himself the transitional President; he led the military coup in August 2020. According to the BBC, Col Goita said: "President Bah Ndaw and PM Moctar Ouane had failed in their duties and were seeking to sabotage the country's transition." On the same day, soldiers released Ndaw and Ouane from detention.

On 26 May, Goita's aide announced that Ndaw and Ouane had resigned and added that "negotiations are ongoing for their liberation and the formation of a new government." On the same day, the UNSC called on the security forces for a "safe, immediate and unconditional release" of all detained officials. 

On 24 May, the military detained Ndaw and Ouane following a cabinet reshuffle wherein two military leaders who led the August coup, including Goita, were left out. Aljazeera reported that the UN and African Union released a joint statement signed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), US, UK, France, and Germany, calling for the civilian leaders' "immediate and unconditional release." The statement said: "We emphasize that the ill-considered action taken today carries the risk of weakening the mobilization of the international community in support of Mali." BBC quoted the French President terming the development "a coup within a coup."  
What is the background? 
First, the two coups within a year. In early 2020, anti-government protests on the grounds of corruption, crippling economy, pandemic mismanagement, and a deteriorating security situation gathered momentum. The protests were consolidated and led by the 5 June Movement, also known as the M5-RFP. On 19 August 2020, the then President was overthrown by the military. Since September 2020, Mali has been under a transitional government; it is expected to last until the proposed elections in February 2022.  However, the coup garnered criticism from several quarters. The military mitigated the threat of sanctions by appointing a civilian leadership with Ndaw and Ouane as the interim President and Prime Minister in September; they were former Defence and Foreign Minister, respectively. Meanwhile, Goita was appointed as Vice President. Over the months, the M5-RFP expressed its contentions with the military, claiming that it was excluded from talks and called for a cabinet reshuffle and a subsequent "broad-based" cabinet. This led to the latest cabinet reshuffle that triggered the second coup in May 2021. 

Second, the political complexities in Mali. There is growing resentment within Malians regarding the security situation of the country. The August coup was celebrated with hope for improved security conditions, given that there is a growing Islamist militancy in the country and in the neighbouring countries. Over the past few months, militants have targeted several military bases. Though France launched a military intervention in 2013, civilians perceive it to be ineffective, and there is growing anger within the civilians against the French military. 

Third, regional and external reactions. The two coups have resulted in criticism against Mali. Following the August coup, ECOWAS had suspended financial assistance to Mali; the sanctions were lifted only after the transitional leadership was handed over to Ndaw and Ouane. Similarly, following the latest coup, France has threatened Mali with EU sanctions. 

What does it mean?
First, the latest coup demonstrates the fragile leadership within Mali and the lack of political strength among the civilian leadership. It proves that the M5-RFP's criticism regarding the involvement of the military in the civilian-led transition was indeed correct. Further, the constitutional court falling in line with the military also highlights the weakness of democratic institutions. 

Second, no amount of external pressure or troop deployment will solve the political complexities in Mali. Goita taking overpower has led to a renewal of the threat of sanctions, but it is unlikely that the military will yield to pressure this time.

Europe in Africa: France and Germany take responsibility for the past in Rwanda and Namibia
What happened?
On 27 May, French President Macron asked for "the gift of forgiveness" from the people of Rwanda in his speech at Kigali Genocide Memorial while he was visiting Rwanda. He said France bears an "overwhelming responsibility" over the 1994 Rwanda genocide, though it had never been an accomplice. He also said: "France failed to heed the warnings and overestimated its ability to stop something that was underway". Rwandan President Paul Kagame responded: "his (Macron's) words were something valuable than an apology, they were the truth." He called it an "act of tremendous courage".

On 28 May, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas officially recognized the mass killings in Namibia (then German South-West Africa) during 1904-08  as 'Genocide'. He said: "We will now officially call these events what they were from today's perspective: a genocide." Also, Germany has pledged to provide USD 1.3 billion for the reconstruction and development of the communities to recognize the suffering caused. He said: "In the light of the historical and moral responsibility of Germany, we will ask forgiveness from Namibia and the victims." 

The Namibian government officials referred to the recognition as a "first step" towards reconciliation. But on the same day, Herero Paramount's chief, Yekuii Rukoro, replied: "This is a sellout job by the Namibian government. The government has betrayed the cause of people". He also said reparations should be collectively given to descendants of victims rather than as financial programs. Sima Luiper, one among Nama people, said: "Germany must come to Nama people, and Herero people, and ask for forgiveness, and it's up to us to decide if that apology is genuine or not". 

What is the background?
First, the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. In Rwanda, the minority Tutsi community were targeted by the Hutus after the assassination of Hutu President Habriamana in 1994; the violence resulted in the killing of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. France supported the Hutu led government and its policies that suppressed the RPF (Rwandon Patriotic Front) led by the Tutsis. It failed to recognize the warnings of an impending genocide. Operation Turquoise, the French-led military intervention backed by the UN in July 1994, failed to act, giving numerous Hutu perpetrators a chance to escape legal prosecution. 

Second, the genocide in Namibia during 1904-08. Over 100,000 Hereros and 10,000 Namas people were killed as a part of an 'extermination order' in the then German South-West Africa, during the German colonial rule for rebelling. People were driven to the Omaheke desert and abandoned; many died of dehydration and hunger. Thousands were poisoned, persecuted, imprisoned in concentration camps and died of diseases and abuses.

Third, the post-genocide bilateral relations. The RPF government, led by Paul Kagame in 1994, deteriorated the relationship between France and Rwanda. The French President Emmanuel Macron assigned a Commission of French Historians led by Vincent Duclert in 2019 to investigate France's involvement. The report concluded the "overwhelming responsibility" of France on the genocide caused by the policies adopted by President Francois Mitterrand. On 7 April, Macron announced plans to make the Duclert Report public. On 19 May, he spoke at the Paris Summit on Financing Africa, where he announced his decision to visit Rwanda to re-establish the relationship.

Germany, since 2015 has been negotiating with Namibia. The objective was to "find a common path to genuine reconciliation in memory of the victims". However, Namibia rejected the compensation for using the term 'financial aid' instead of 'reparations.' In 2018, Germany returned skulls and other remains of the Namibians, which were taken for scientific racial experiments. Now Germany has officially issued an apology. The government of Namibia has officially accepted the apology, but the descendants of the Herero and Nama people demand direct reparations. They rejected the offer as they say it would not be enough to replace the land and culture once they lost.     

What does it mean?
First, the apology and visit from France and Germany. It signals an effort to correct the past and also a sincere effort to re-establish the relations. This should be welcome. Second, the response from Rwanda and Namibia. Since Rwandan President Paul Kagame has accepted the apology, it would mean an end to the controversies and a turn for new beginnings. But for Germany, even though the Namibian government has accepted the apology, demand for direct reparations from the Nama and the Herero community means more work needs to be done for reconciliation. Since France and Germany have taken the first crucial steps, they should stay the course. 

Belarus: While the West impose bans, Putin supports "Europe's Last Dictator" 
What happened?
On 28 May, President Putin hosted Alexander Lukashenko at a resort in Sochi amid the global outcry over the forced diversion of Ryanair's plane and the arrest of a Belarusian journalist, an outspoken critic of the Lukashenko regime. Putin was seen praising Russia's closer ties with Belarus. He said: "We've been building the Union State" and added, "we are confidently moving in that direction, that work is already bringing concrete results to our citizens." Lukashenko stated the West was "seeking to stir up unrest in Belarus."

During the week, the EU and the US announced sanctions against the forced landing of the plane. On 27 May, the Foreign Ministers of the G7 countries and EU released a joint statement, calling for an "immediate and unconditional release" of the detained Belarusian journalist, Roman Protasevich. His Russian girlfriend was also detained; she admits to being the editor of the social media channel that revealed the personal information of the law enforcement personnel of Belarus. 
24 May also marks one year since the protests against his decision to run for the 2020 Presidential Elections. 

What is the background?
First, Belarus-Russia bonhomie and Moscow's interests. Russia has been steadily increasing its influence over  Belarus. However, the two leaders are described as 'uncomfortable allies,' one that is born out of necessity. Russia has backed Lukashenko's leadership for 27 years and remains Belarus' most powerful political and economic partner. For Russia, Minsk, geographically wedged between the NATO allies and Russia, would be one less neighbour who is influenced by the West. Russian and Belarusian air defence systems are known to be deeply integrated. Though the Kremlin has denied its involvement in the diversion of the plane, the UK Foreign Secretary claimed that it was "very difficult to believe that this kind of action could have been taken without at least the acquiescence of the authorities in Moscow." 

Second, the Western pressure on Belarus through sanctions and beyond. On 28 May, the Biden administration reimposed sanctions against nine state-owned enterprises and is developing additional penalties to further target officials in the Belarusian administration. The EU on the same day pledged a financial package of USD 3.7 billion if Belarus starts a 'peaceful democratic transition.' Previously, on 24 May, the European Union urged all EU-based carriers to avoid flying over Belarus airspace, announced sanctions against all officials linked to the diverted flight, and asked the Civil Aviation Organisation to start an investigation into the forced landing of a passenger plane and demanded the release of the arrested journalist. 

Third, Lukashenko's firm response despite international criticisms. The EU, since the beginning, has refused to accept Lukashenko's victory in the 2020 elections. It has called for new elections, condemned the repression and the violence against the protesters since August 2020. However, Lukashenko has stood his ground and has consistently defended his position. On 26 May, he claimed that he had acted legally and per international norms in the case of the diversion of the passenger plane and stated, "ill-wishers from outside and inside the country have changed their methods to attack the state."

What does it mean?
As someone who has used all means to suppress dissent within the country, the Lukashenko government's decision to divert a plane and arrest two young activists does not come as a surprise. Second, sanctions have failed to impact the government's actions, and it seems like the two sides, the West and Belarus-Russia, have decided to expand their influence and use other tools to engage with each other. 

The question is, how far would Russia be willing to go to defend Lukashenko?

US: Another investigation into COVID origin
What happened?
On 26 May, the US President ordered intelligence agencies to investigate the origin of COVID-19. President Biden said: "I have now asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion and report back to me in 90 days." On the same day, the New York Times reported a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson when asked about the WHO's further investigation in the country. He said: "the authoritative study report with many significant conclusions had already been issued."

On 23 May, Wall Street Journal reported: "Three researchers from Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) became sick enough in November 2019 and they sought hospital care." White House Press Secretary said: "We don't have enough information to draw a conclusion about the origins." She also said: "There is a need to look into a range of options. We need data, we need an independent investigation, and that's exactly what we've been calling for."

What is the background?
First, the US insistence to trace the origin of the virus. The Trump administration blamed China for the pandemic. Trump also referred to COVID-19 as the "China virus" or the "Wuhan virus." The administration also floated the idea without providing evidence that the virus may have accidentally escaped a lab in China. Before leaving office, Mike Pompeo also released a fact sheet over the origin of the virus. The document stated: "The US government had reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illnesses." After the WHO investigation failed to draw definitive insights, earlier this month, health officials in the Biden administration renewed their request for a stringent inquiry. On 13 May, 18 scientists revealed in the 'Science' journal that they didn't have enough evidence to indicate a "natural or accidental laboratory leak" origin. The health experts began suggesting that "accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable theories."

Second, international responses outside the US on the origin question. Amid the pandemic, Australia, the UK, and Japan also have demanded a more transparent and international investigation. These countries expressed concern over the WHO's report and highlighted that the investigation team was not given timely access to relevant data. 

Third, the failure of WHO's China mission to effectively address the origin question. On 30 March, WHO released a joint report with China, which dismissed the lab leak theory, calling it an "extremely unlikely" situation. Later authorities also refused to share raw data on early covid cases to perform analysis. The report was highly criticized for not being transparent. WHO Director-General also said: "I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough" and demanded further investigation for the lab-leak theory. 

Fourth, China's response so far. Since the beginning, Beijing has been dismissive about the lab leak hypothesis and has pushed a theory that the virus was manufactured in an American lab or was brought into Wuhan through cold chain products. China had halted the visit of experts to Wuhan and has demanded investigation outside China. 

Fifth, the research on coronavirus at Wuhan lab. The WIV, a biosafety level 4 lab, had been doing research on bat coronavirus for several years. Wall Street Journal reported, Dr Shi Zhengli, WIV's leading bat coronavirus expert, "has publicly described doing experiments, including in 2018 and 2019, to see if various bat coronaviruses could use a certain spike protein on their surfaces to bind to an enzyme in human cells known as ACE2. That is how both the SARS virus and SARS-CoV-2 infect humans."

What does it mean?
Biden's robust intervention in analyzing the COVID-19 origin, due to an increase in pressure from the civil and political society, is likely to receive support across the political spectrum. China still remains non-transparent over the question of the virus origin, to the dismay of the international community amid rising demand over the issue of origin.

Also, in the news …
By Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok

East and Southeast Asia This Week 
China: Sinovac takes the lead in BRICS vaccine development center
On 29 May, the Global Times reported, Sinvoc will be leading the Chinese branch of the BRICS vaccine research and development center. The center aims to promote joint research, development, and clinical trial for the vaccines through an online and offline approach. This cooperation also entails production licensing for BRICS countries, to locally produce the vaccines.

Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai with nine others sentenced for illegal assembly; Electoral System bill passed with a majority
On 28 May, District Court in Hong Kong sentenced Jimmy Lai Chee-Ying to 14-months in prison for taking part in the illegal assembly of 1 October 2019. Along with Lai, nine others included were sentenced to up to 18 months. Lai was part of three illegal assemblies during the Hong Kong protests and was found using "Next Digital and personal accounts to sponsor riot activities, with suspected funding from foreign forces." According to Reuters, Judge Amanda Woodcock said: "part of the new sentence would be served consecutively, meaning Lai faces a total of 20 months in prison so far." 
On the same day, the Hong Kong legislature approved the "Improving Electoral System bill 2021," with 40-votes in favour, against two. The reforms included a reduction in seats from 35 to 20 for direct elections and an increase in the legislature's size to 90 seats. Reuters reported pro-Beijing lawmaker said: "These 600-or-so pages of the legislation come down to just a few words: patriots ruling Hong Kong." Antony Blinken said the bill "severely constrains people in Hong Kong from meaningfully participating in their own governance and having their voices heard."

Taiwan: Rejected for the fifth consecutive year in WHO meeting
On 24 May, Taiwan criticized the WHO for not inviting it for the 74th World Health Assembly for the fifth consecutive year. According to Reuters, Taiwan's Foreign and Health Minister made a joint statement saying, "it would continue to seek participation". Foreign Minister also said: "As a professional international health body, the World Health Organization should serve the health and welfare of all humanity and not capitulate to the political interests of a certain member." While Nauru and Eswatini spoke in favour of Taiwan, China and Pakistan voiced their clear opposition. China's ambassador to the UN said: "We urge relevant countries to stop politicizing health issues and using Taiwan issues to interfere in China's internal affairs."

Samoa: Deepening political crisis
On 24 May, the leader of the FAST opposition party held a ceremony to form a government outside the locked parliament. FAST deputy leader said: "Democracy must prevail, always." Last week, Samoa's head of state, suspended a parliamentary hearing scheduled for swearing-in the elected members. The government supported the suspension and refused to abide by the ruling of the Supreme Court, that the ceremony should go ahead.

Myanmar: SEA countries call to drop arms embargo 
On 29 May, Reuters reported, nine Southeast Asian countries calling for toning down the UN General Assembly draft resolution on Myanmar, including dropping the push for an arms embargo on Myanmar. The countries also highlighted: the draft "cannot command the widest possible support in its current form, especially from all countries directly affected in the region." They demanded further negotiations "to make the text acceptable, especially to the country's most directly affected and who are now engaged in efforts to resolve the situation." Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also urged UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar.

The Philippines: China's illegal presence in the South China Sea
On 29 May, the Philippines protested China's "Illegal presence and activities" in the South China Sea. This was Manila's 84th diplomatic protest since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016. The protest is over the "incessant deployment, prolonged presence, and illegal activities of Chinese maritime assets and fishing vessels" near the Thitu island. The Philippines continued demand over the withdrawal of vessels has been ignored.
South Asia This Week
India: Social media versus the State
On 25 May, Facebook agreed to make changes to its operational processes to implement the new IT rules put forth by the Indian government. The new IT rules require social media platforms to follow additional diligence and appoint a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer. The platforms which fail to comply with the new rules stand a chance to lose their intermediary status. On 24 May, the Delhi police served a summons to the Twitter Office in New Delhi for the use of 'manipulated media' tag on tweets made by Indian politicians. 

Pakistan: North-South Gas Pipeline agreement signed with Russia
On 28 May, Pakistani and Russian officials officially signed the amended Inter-Governmental Agreement for the North-South Gas Pipeline in Russia. The USD 2.25 billion project has been renamed as Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline after the signing of the deal. Pakistan will have 74 per cent stakes in the pipeline while Russia will hold 26 per cent equity. On 23 May, the National Security Advisor of Pakistan and the US held a meeting in Geneva and discussed bilateral issues, mutual issues and regional issues with each other. 

Pakistan: Foreign Minister denies US use of bases for counter-terrorist activities
On 25 May, Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi announced that Pakistani bases in Afghanistan will not be used by the US for counterterrorism operations. Qureshi made the statements after the US President Joe Biden contemplated using Central Asian countries as bases to reposition its troops to prevent landlocked countries from becoming a breeding ground for terrorism again. On the same day, the Taliban also issued a statement and warned neighbouring countries against hosting the US troops in their armed bases. The Taliban spokesperson warned: "As we have repeatedly assured others that our soil will not be used against the security of others, we are similarly urging others not to use their soil and airspace against our country. If such a step is taken, then the responsibility for all the misfortunes and difficulties lies upon those who commit such mistakes."

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Syria: President Bashar al-Assad extends his rule by seven years; wins the fourth term
On 2y May, the head of the Syrian Parliament announced that the incumbent President Bashar al-Assad had won the fourth term in the election, with 95.1 per cent of people voting in favour of his rule. However, the elections have been marked as fraudulent by the opponents in the country as well as the West. According to the figures provided by the Syrian government, over 14 million Syrians (almost 78 per cent) took part in the election, which has been criticized by France, Germany, Italy, Britain, Turkey, the United Nations and the US. The Assad regime added seven years to the decades' long rule of the Assad family with this win. 

Iran: IAEA warning on Tehran's nuclear capabilities
On 26 May, the Director-General of the IAEA drew attention to the importance of reaching an agreement at the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna as soon as possible with the looming dangers that may be presented if Iran succeeds in creating nuclear weapon heads. He called the uranium enrichment plans of Iran "very concerning" as it is was reaching purity levels that are used for making bombs. He said: "The Iranian programme has grown, become more sophisticated so the linear return to 2015 is no longer possible. What you can do is keep their activities below the parameters of 2015."

Iran: President announces ban on cryptocurrency mining until September
On 26 May, President Hassan Rouhani announced that the country would ban all activities that involve cryptocurrency mining amid a series of blackouts in major cities. There is growing unease in Iran as the summer blackouts cause discomfort and disrupt people's daily lives. The mining of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have high energy usage and hence, have been banned until 22 September. Owing to the increasing focus on climate change, China and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have also spoken against Bitcoin mining and its environmental effects. 

Israel: Global humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza 
On 25 May, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US would provide aid worth USD 75 million to rebuild the Gaza strip. The fund will be used for development projects and providing economic aid to Palestinians. An additional USD 5.5 million will be spent on immediate disaster relief, and USD 32 million will be donated to the UN Palestinian aid agency. On 28 May, the Japanese government also pledged to provide an emergency grant of USD 10 million, which will be used to send food, medical supplies and other kinds of aid to Gaza. On 27 May, China's representative in the UN Human Rights Council announced that the country would be providing USD one million in emergency humanitarian assistance and 2,00,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the UN for Palestinian refugees. 

Ethiopia: US President pushes for a ceasefire and bringing an end to violence in Tigray
On 26 May, US President Joe Biden expressed concerns regarding the escalating violence in the Tigray region and the widening gaps between ethnic and regional communities in the country. He urged Ethiopian leaders to work towards a ceasefire to restore peace and stability in the region. He said: "The large-scale human rights abuses taking place in Tigray, including widespread sexual violence, are unacceptable and must end." On 24 May, the US State Department also announced economic and security curbs on Ethiopia and visa restrictions on officials from Ethiopian and Eritrean governments. 

DR Congo: Volcanic eruption adds to the humanitarian crisis 
On 27 May, the military governor reported that new eruptions from Mount Nyiragongo could take place at any moment in the coming days. More than 6,000 people have evacuated their homes in and around Goma city after the volcanic eruption in the previous week. The people are seeking shelter in neighbouring cities at the moment. However, the volcanic eruption has only added to the number of refugees fleeing the country because of the armed conflict in the region. Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council reports that over 6,000 people fled the region every single day for almost a year now. 

Europe and The Americas This Week
Lithuania: Vilnius walks out of China-led 17+1 group
On 29 May, the Foreign Minister announced that Lithuania was quitting the China-led 17+1 group of Central and East European Nations. He said: "Lithuania no longer considers itself a 17+1 format member and does not participate in this initiative." While announcing Lithuania's departure from the grouping, he also advised the other states from playing into the divisive politics of China and urged the East European countries to pursue "a much more effective 27+1 approach and communication with China." He emphasized that "Europe's strength and impact is in its unity."

Switzerland: Cabinet decides to ditch draft InstA treaty with the EU
On 26 May, the Swiss government announced that Switzerland will break off talks with the European Union which were being discussed for over seven years. The talks eventually fell apart due to the strong opposition from within the country over the pact, which sought to bind the country closer with the EU. The European Commission spokesperson said: "Without this agreement, this modernization of our relationship will not be possible and our bilateral agreements will inevitably age."

The EU: European Commission makes multiple moves against Belarus
On 28 May, the European Commission President pledged to provide Belarus with USD three billion through grants and loans if it implements changes to increase pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko. She said: "Our messages are twofold. To the people of Belarus: we see and hear your desire for change, for democracy, and for a bright future. And to the Belarusian authorities: no amount of repression, brutality or coercion will bring any legitimacy to your authoritarian regime." The European Union has pushed for a transition to democracy in the country. On 25 May, the White House press secretary revealed that: "President Biden will meet with President Putin in Geneva on 16 June. The leaders will discuss the full range of pressing issues, as we seek to restore predictability and stability to the US-Russia relationship." On 27 May, the G7 also released a statement against the forceful landing of a passenger airplane to arrest a journalist. Britain issued a collective statement that read: "This action jeopardized the safety of the passengers and crew of the flight. It was also a serious attack on the rules governing civil aviation."

The US: Senate Republicans reject bill for commission investigation of Capitol riots
On 28 May, the Senate Republicans blocked the bill to form a bipartisan commission into investigating the Capitol insurrection of 6 January. Even though six Republicans joined the Democrats, bringing the total to 54 votes, to create the commission, the initiative failed to receive the required majority of 60 votes. The Republicans rejected the bill as the incident is already being investigated by the congressional panels. 

The US: One year since the murder of George Floyd
On 25 May, the US citizens marked a year since the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who passed away while being taken into custody by the Minneapolis police. In April, Derek Chauvin, the officer-in-charge of arresting George Floyd was convicted for murder. However, Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists and family members of George Floyd have expressed that nothing much has for the African-American community and that more change needs to take place in American society. 

Brazil: Rise in economic hardships as the country faces worst crisis since 1980s
On 28 May, the economist and coordinator of the National Accounts Centre at the Getulio Vargas Foundation referred to the Brazilian economy and said that it was in a state worse than the 1980s. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused 4,50,000 fatalities and rendered millions unemployed. Brazil is facing one of the worst economic crises with rising inflation rates, 8.1 million people losing jobs and an estimated 5.4 million facing hunger. 

Colombia: One month of anti-government protests 
On 28 May, President Ivan Duque said that Colombia would begin deploying maximum military personnel in the western province of Valle del Cauca and it's capital after four people lost their lives in the anti-government protests. On the same day, Colombia marked one month of protests against the tax reforms that soon expanded to cover more demands. Thousands of people took to the streets to mark one month of unrest in the country which has led to the initiation of talks between the government and the protest leaders. However, on 27 May, the protest organizers revealed that there has been no progress in these negotiations and accused the government of stalling. The government has postponed the signing of the deal as they wait for certain leaders to condemn the roadblocks.  

About the Authors
Apoorva Sudhakar, Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok are Research Associates at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Anu Maria is an intern with the Global Politics course at NIAS. Harini Madhusudan is a PhD Scholar in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at NIAS. 

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