August 4, 2023
CANVAS is delighted to be returning from our short hiatus to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
Following last week’s coup, France, Italy, and Spain announced evacuations for European citizens and nationals currently in Niger. With the country’s airspace shut down and borders restricted, a French military transport was the first to coordinate a departure. The mutineers who took power received support from the military governments of Burkina Faso and Mali; in a joint statement, the neighbors warned that outside intervention to reinstate democratically-elected President Bazoum would be regarded as a “declaration of war.”
In Senegal, the government has charged opposition leader Ousmane Sonko with insurrection and dissolved his party, the Patriots of Senegal. Citing the recent fatal uprisings and destruction of property, the country’s interior ministry announced the measures were intended to “preserve peace and tranquility.” Two people were killed in the protests that followed. Amid economic hardship, the fierce anti-corruption figure has recently mobilized his supporters to take to the streets and challenge President Macky Sall’s rule, an ally of the west. In the past, Sonko was at the center of a controversial trial in which he was acquitted of rape allegations but convicted of youth corruption. This record may threaten ambitions to run for the presidency in the coming election.
Pro-democracy Russians protested in Serbia on Sunday after Russian anti-war activist Peter Nikitin was detained in the Belgrade airport for two nights and Vladimir Volokhonski was refused an extension of residency by the Serbian police. The activists gathered in the centre of Belgrade holding signs reading “We came to live in peace” and “I love Serbia and I want safe and happy life here”.
Eight hundred and twenty Serbian police have been deployed near the Hungarian border in the wake of dozens of armed confrontations between Afghan, Syrian, and Moroccan smuggling gangs since last summer. In this large scale people-smuggling bust, thirteen suspected criminals have been detained and twenty-seven will be charged with misdemeanors.
Due to “unprecedented heat”, Iranian authorities designated Wednesday and Thursday public holidays, before extending the effective shutdown into the weekend – instructing the elderly and those with health conditions to remain indoors. This comes after southern cities recently reported temperatures as high as 123 degrees Fahrenheit. Some suspect that the underlying causes are an “overstretched electricity grid” and an insufficient supply of natural gas. Iranians are pointing to the government’s inability to pursue investment and technology from the West, given the sanctions targeting its nuclear development.
Additionally, the country’s Revolutionary Guard executed a surprise military drill in the Persian Gulf, landing in disputed islands where the United States has recently increased its presence. In a televised address, the chief, General Hossein Salami, asserted the nation’s vigilance against “threats, complicated seditions and secret scenarios and hostilities.”
Authorities confiscated Voluntad Popular’s presidential candidate Freddy Superlano’s passport as he attempted to cross the border into Columbia with the justification that there are “inconsistencies” in the identification, although there is no reason to believe that is the case and is instead thought to be a measure to prevent him from running for public office against Maduro. Superlano was chosen as the party’s candidate in May, replacing Juan Guaido, who is currently taking refuge in the United States after being forced out of Columbia, where he was attending a conference on the future of Venezuela’s political scene.
Venezuela applied this week to be a member of BRICS, the geopolitical group of member states Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The application follows a meeting in the spring between Lula and Maduro, and represents the continued trend of states normalizing relations with the nation despite the continued political repression and human rights abuses.
On Thursday, Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court cleared 12 candidates from the opposition party, Citizens Coalition for Change, to contest the election later this month. This decision emerged amidst chaos over a High Court ruling that initially stated many of these candidates had registered too late. Tensions continue to rise surrounding the election after an opposition supporter was killed on Thursday while traveling to an election rally. A group of opposition supporters also report being assaulted and stoned on their way to the same rally.
Other developments include the ongoing influence of China on Zimbabwe’s mineral resource market which suplants them as a key player in both the economy and government of the Southern African nation. Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, has pronounced China’s recent influence as an exploitation of the people rather than an investment in the nation, exclaiming that, ““You are getting nothing. The only thing you are getting are cracks in your houses from the dynamite blasts. Our people are still jobless, they still remain poor.”
On Tuesday, Myanmar’s ruling military government granted partial celemency to former democratic ruler Aung San Suu Kyi. The decision to pardon her for 5 of the 19 offenses she was charged with came as a result of the start of Vassa in Myanmar. Despite the pardons, Suu Kyi will remain under house arrest, where she was moved to earlier last week.
On Monday, Myanmar’s government announced that it will be postponing elections and extend the state of emergency in the country due to ongoing violence. The announcement likely demonstrates that the military has failed to subdue widespread opposition to its rule and does not have enough control to hold polls. Originally scheduled for August of 2023, the military government has not provided a new date for the elections.
The upcoming vote for prime minister, originally scheduled for Friday, has been delayed as the Thai parliament waits for the Constitutional Court to review a case on the constitutionality of the legislature’s rejection of the Move Forward Party’s renomination. Move Forward won the most seats in May’s general election and is attempting to form a new coalition government. The party’s prime minister nominee, Pita Limjaroenat, initially lacked conservative support during his first bid because he promised to reform a law banning criticism against the royal family. His second attempt for office, the one under review, was denied after parliament voted that he could not be nominated twice.
The political party Pheu Thai, originally one of Move Forward’s allies, has placed plans in motion to form a new coalition without Move Forward. However, their proposal has been put on hold due to the canceled prime ministerial vote and their leader, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, has canceled his plans to return home.
Georgian citizens protest the growing rise in tourism and immigration from Russia. At the port of Batumi, two protests occurred as the mass of Russian cruise ships arrived. Protestors waved Georgia, Ukrainian and EU flags and chanted anti-Putin slogans. 23 protesters were arrested. These protests reflect the growing threat of Russian migration, as approximately 20% of Georgian territory is under Russian occupation.
Russian affiliated war criminals, like Kadyrovtsy, were seen in Batumi, a popular getaway for the Russian military and financial elite. Meanwhile, as one activist stated, “Putin critics and journalists, including our former journalist from Chechnya, are not allowed to come to Georgia.” Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili stressed that Georgia cannot allow an unmonitored flow of Russiansinto the country, as it is a “very gray zone that can be used by Russia.”