Anti-government protests underway nationwide
Demonstrations against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announcement to run for a fifth term in office have organised nationwide. Protests have been out on the streets of Algiers, centred mainly outside the Universities of Bejaia and Bouira. Large crowds and limited scenes of unrest and even clashes were also reported in Oran, Constantine, Setif, Tizi Ouzou, and Bouira.
As a result of the widespread protests, there has been significant disruptions to travel and services. In Algiers, public transportation services were suspended and the Algiers Metro was closed. Demonstrations in Algeria are banned. It has been reported that on 1 March, at least 100 people were wounded in clashes between protesters and police across the country. There is a heightened security presence across the country, particularly surrounding demonstrations. The country’s military has also condemned the unrest and called for a halt to the protests.
ADVICE: Demonstrations in Algeria are banned; anticipate a heightened security presence near demonstration sites. Current protests are known to turn violent with little notice; further clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out. Travellers are advised to continue to monitor the political situation. Businesses and travellers should now start looking ahead and considering altering travel arrangements in the build-up to the election should unrest continue.
South Korea: Nationwide
North Korea has condemned the joint US – South Korea military drills in the region
On Thursday, 7 March, North Korea denounced the ongoing joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington as an “all out challenge” to moves towards peace on the Korean peninsula. The US and South Korea had agreed on Sunday to replace two major war games that take place every spring, known as the “Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills”, with a shorter “Dong Maeng” or “Alliance” exercise. The joint drills commenced this week and involve tens of thousands of South Korean soldiers and a large number of the 30,000 US troops posted in South Korea.
ADVICE: Travellers are advised that while the likelihood of a conflict remains remote, international incidents or accidental clashes between the opposing militaries may result in an increase in tensions.
Final stages of election campaigns underway ahead of vote on 10 March
Guinea-Bissau is set to hold legislative elections on 10 March, with the Presidential vote predicted to follow shortly after. As such, election campaigns have begun in the country dubbed as Africa’s first “narco” state.
The upcoming elections are already the subject of international scrutiny, having been postponed from the original date of 18 November 2018 – due to two suspensions to voter registration, following allegations of irregularities. As such, ambassadors from the UN Security Council have met with the incumbent President José Mário Vaz, along with opposition party leaders and the country’s electoral commission, in an effort to promote free and fair elections.
The former Portuguese colony has been in political crisis since August 2015, when President Vaz sacked his then Prime Minister, Domingos Simões Pereira, on corruption charges. This resulted in the dissolution of the government and caused bitter divisions within the main PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) to which they both belong.
Political protests and associated violence have been present ever since, adding to the country’s continuing instability. In October 2018, thousands of people protested in the nation’s capital to denounce a lack of transparency and irregularities surrounding voter registration. October 2018 also saw a nationwide teacher strike paralyse the education sector – in turn triggering counter-demonstrations and protests. It is also important to note that Guinea- Bissau has witnessed nine coups, or attempted coups, since 1980.
ADVICE: Due to the threat of political violence surrounding elections in Guinea-Bissau, travellers are advised to delay all non-essential travel until the elections have passed. If travel is business critical, travellers are advised to consider implementing precautionary security measures. Travellers should also avoid all protests and public gatherings, although they may initially seem peaceful there is the potential for them to turn violent.
To read more please download the report: Solace Global – Global Security Forecast – Week 10