Nigeria: Nationwide – Severe Political Risk
Elections delayed until 23 February after electoral commission unable to get materials to polling stations.
The general elections that were scheduled in Nigeria on 16 February to elect the President and the National Assembly were delayed until the 23 February. The initial vote was, quite dramatically, rescheduled in a dramatic overnight press conference a mere five hours prior to the vote. The last-minute decision surprised the country, many Nigerians had been queuing since the day before or had travelled considerable distances to cast their votes. The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimated that the delay has cost the economy 1.5bn USD.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) gave several reasons for the delay. The main issues being logistical delays, bad weather and difficulty delivering ballot papers and attempted sabotage. Both main parties, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main challenger, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have condemned the delay.
The APC has alleged that the PDP wanted to halt the moment of President Muhammadu Buhari. The PDP has otherwise stated that the Inec had delayed the election to create “the space to perfect their rigging plans”; in favour of the president. The delay is likely to have an impact on voter turnout and will most likely favour the incumbent president due to the increase in voter apathy in most areas except those with historically high turnouts; historic President Muhammadu Buhari strongholds.
Continue to defer all non-essential travel into Nigeria until after the elections due to the threat of protests which could turn violent and uncertainty over the outcome. Travellers already in country should limit non-essential movements and avoid all large gatherings and protests. Be aware that unrest and violence can continue for weeks after the day of the vote; especially should allegations of vote rigging, or fraud, occur
. Adhere to all advice issued by the authorities. Read our latest travel advisory
for further information.
United Kingdom: London – Low Political Risk
Eleven MPs have split from their parties and banded together in a so-called Independent Group.
A number of British parliamentary members have defected from the Labour and Conservative parties. The move has been made as a result of a number of differences; namely alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour party and the handling of Brexit by both parties. The group was founded by Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith and Chuka Umunna, who simultaneously announced their resignations from the Labour Party on 18 February.
The group’s key message is that “Politics is broken. Let’s change it”. They have stated that they aim to pursue evidence-led policies, rather than those led by ideology, with the group being tolerant of differing opinions. Specific values include; a social market economy, freedom of the press, environmentalism, devolution, subsidiarity and, vitally, their opposition to Brexit.
All eleven MPs support a second referendum on the EU. The split has not yet resulted in any changes by the governing Conservatives or Labour party; however, there have been reports of numerous ministers in both parties also considering defecting. On 22 February, Ian Austin announced his decision to quit the party, though he has not joined the Independent group.
The defections demonstrate the political instability facing Britain at the moment in the run-up to Brexit, be aware that protests are likely as the date nears or depending on the decisions made by party leaders. A by those opposed and for Brexit occurred on 14 February resulting in disruption around Westminster.
Haiti: Nationwide – High Civil Unrest Risk
While protests start to halt; food and water shortages remain severe.
Anti-government protests that have taken place nationwide since 7 February, blockading the country and all main urban centres. Several clashes between demonstrator and security forces, as well as widespread crime and looting, have forced all business activities to cease and caused severe disruption in transportation, emergency and medical services and schools. While the protests have halted in most of the country, allowing business to partially reopen, critical shortages in key resources such as water, food and fuel remain severe and could trigger new violent outbursts and crime.
ADVICE: Continue to defer all non-essential travel to country; if in country limit non-essential movements and monitor the latest alerts.
Read our latest travel advisory
for further information.
Venezuela: Nationwide – Sever Political Risk
Maduro orders border closure with Brazil and limits access from Colombia to prevent foreign aid.
The country-wide crisis continues in Venezuela, with contested President Nicholas Maduro ordering the closure of the border with Brazil and reportedly considering the same course of action with Colombia. The decision spanned from the declaration of the interim President and opposition leader Juan Guaido to accept international foreign aid to tackle the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The Brazilian and Colombia are among the countries that recognise Guaido as interim President and are key in the facilitation of international aid, mainly coming from the US, reaching the Venezuelan citizens. Elected President Maduro has already closed maritime borders with all Caribbean countries where international aid was stored, calling the initiative an attempt from Washington to meddle in Venezuelan national affairs in order to gain access to its oil reserves, and denying the existence of a humanitarian crisis in the first place.
ADVICE: Continue to defer all non-essential travel to country; if in country limit non-essential movements and monitor latest alerts.
Read our latest travel advisory
for further information.
Mali: Timbuktu – Severe Military and Terrorism Risk
France says it has killed senior al Qaeda commander in the Sahel.
The French government has announced that it has killed a “senior commander of Al Qaeda” on 22 February. Yahya Abou El Hamame was reportedly killed during an operation in Mali. The Algerian, who was understood to be second in command of Nusrat al-Islam, officially known as Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’ (JNIM), a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was allegedly responsible for kidnapping a number of Westerners in North and West Africa.
El Hamame was part of a younger generation of senior AQIM figures. Unlike many other senior commanders, he was not trained in the Afghan jihadist camps. Despite this, he is understood to have risen rapidly in AQIM’s top ranks. El Hamame was reported to have been an able commander and administrator. He was also believed to have excellent knowledge of the southern stretches of the Sahel around northern Mali – a factor that analysts believe led to his promotion after his predecessor, Abou Zeid, was killed by French forces.
El Hamame is also believed to have carried out the execution of French engineer, Michel Germaneau, who was kidnapped in northern Niger.
Jihadist militancy is common in northern Mali and kidnappings of both locals and westerns often occurs. Travellers are not advised to travel in the region unless adequate security measures are taken; even then, travel should only be conducted in business essential.
Europe: Brussels – Low Political Risk
Talks continue ahead of potential vote in UK parliament on 26-27 February.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is continuing to negotiate with the European Union over the terms of Britain’s departure from the union which is due to occur in a little over a month’s time. Both sides have been positive about the talks despite no tangible evidence of progress being made. An added dimension to the debate is the defection of MPs from both the Conservatives and Labour. Should the defections continue the Conservatives government may lose their ability to pass legislation while the Labour opposition may be forced to change its policy on the country leaving the EU.
In addition to the ongoing talks, Britain has announced that trade deals with Japan and Turkey will not be ready by the time that Britain exits the European Union. Therefore, on 22 February, the country has only been able to finalise “continuity agreements” with seven of the 69 countries and regions with which the EU has trade deals.
Travellers and businesses should continue to monitor the ongoing discussions in Brussels and the debate in the British Parliament. The situation could change rapidly in the coming weeks with the potential of a disruptive no deal exit still a possibility.
Vietnam: Hanoi – Low Political Risk
North Korea-United States Summit to be held on 27 February.
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un are set to meet for a second round of the North Korea-US summits in Hanoi on 27 February. Among the topics to be discussed, are the establishment of a roadmap for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and the signing of an armistice that would put an end to the war between the two nations. A senior American official visited Pyongyang earlier this month to arrange details ahead of the nuclear summit.
During the first historical Summit, held in Singapore in June last year and representing the first ever meeting between leaders of the two states, a joint statement was released agreeing on commitments towards a denuclearised Korean Peninsula and the commitment towards the development of peaceful relations.
Travellers visiting Hanoi should exercise caution and anticipate heightened security around the area hosting the event, possible disruption in main roads and transportation, as well as possible demonstration in support or against the summit.
Algeria: Algiers – High Civil Unrest Risk
Demonstrations planned to denounce President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s candidacy in the upcoming elections.
Demonstrations are being held and are expected to be held in the Algerian capital on 22 and 24 February to denounce the candidacy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the 18 April elections. On 22 February, there was a significant deployment of security personnel across the country; especially in Algiers. On the 22 February protests which are currently underway at the time of writing, the authorities have reportedly fired tear gas outside the presidential palace. There have also been reports of internet outages; however, these have not been confirmed.
The incumbent president has announced, on 10 February, that he would seek a fifth term. The announcement came after four parties announced that they would support him (the National Liberation Front (FLN), the National Rally for Democracy, the Rally for Hope for Algeria and the Algerian Popular Movement). The president has rarely been seen in public since suffering from a stroke in 2013 with critics saying his health limits his ability to carry out his duties.
A large protest also occurred on the outskirts of Khenchela – located some 500km southeast of capital Algiers – on 19 February after the mayor (a member of the president’s ruling FLN) stated that he would bar presidential hopeful Rachid Nekkaz from meeting his supporters outside the town hall.
Travellers in country should avoid all gatherings and vacate any areas that experience unrest. Adhere to the instructions issued by the authorities at all time. Monitor Solace Secure alerts for the latest details regarding unrest in the region.
Guam: Nationwide – Moderate Political Risk
Typhoon Wutip is set to strengthen and may impact Guam, Marina Islands and Palau Islands.
Tropical Storm Wutip has strengthened into a typhoon on 21 February, further strengthening is expected over the next 24 hours. The island of Weno reported nearly 50 mm (2 inches) of rainfall on 20 February as Wutip impacted the region. The islands of eastern Yap State were also impacted on Friday, 22 February, and is expected to continue into Saturday as the storm-system turns northward.
It is unclear exactly where the storm will impact; with two scenarios possible. The first being that Wutip could pass near or over Guam, or the storm could track farther west between Guam and Colonia in Micronesia, with a lesser impact being recorded on both the islands. However, even in the event that no islands were directly impacted, gusty winds and downpours can result in localised flooding and power outages.
Monitor weather and Solace Secure updates for updated information on the storm if in country and be prepared for travel.
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