Self-proclaimed Venezuelan leader Juan Guaido calls for protests and military uprising
News outlets reported that self-proclaimed leader, Juan Guaido, called for an uprising in a push to take control of Venezuela and inviting the army to join the opposition. Prominent opposition activist, Leopoldo Lopez, also joined in the plea for a general uprising after being released from house arrest on 30 April, allegedly by military personnel. Lopez uploaded a statement on social media stating ‘the definitive phase has begun for the cessation of the usurpation, Operation Libertad. I have been released by the military to the order of the Constitution and President Guaido. I’m at La Carlota Base. Everyone to mobilize. It’s time to conquer Freedom.’ Juan Guaido urged his supporters to continue to protest and he announced that the Armed Forces are ‘clearly on the side of the people, loyal to the constitution’.
Following Guaido’s statement, violent protests broke out across Venezuela, notably in the vicinity of the Generalísmo Francisco de Miranda Air Base in Caracas. The latest reports suggest that at least four people were killed in the clashes with security forces, and more than 100 protesters were injured. While the unrest has calmed somewhat, there is a possibility that this latest wave of unrest could escalate further after the Venezuelan government denounced the movement as a coup d’état and promptly attempted to put down the demonstrations; exacerbating the widespread disruption to travel and services across the country. The security situation remains fragile and a heightened military presence is to be expected, notably in Caracas.
Advice: Travellers are advised to defer all but non-essential travel to Venezuela due to the recent developments. Travellers in country are advised to shelter in place and to monitor local news outlets for any further details, make contingency plans to evacuate should the security situation deteriorate further.
Nigeria: Adamawa state
26 killed in Boko Haram attack in north-eastern Nigeria
Local media reporting indicates that suspected Boko Haram militants have attacked the Kuda Kaya community in Madagali, Adamawa State and killed 26 people. Eyewitness reports indicate that the militants arrived on motorcycles late afternoon on 29 April. Upon arrival, the militants fired indiscriminately at civilians and burned a significant number of buildings. The attack occurred in the vicinity of the Sambisa Forest, a stronghold of the Boko Haram militant group. Boko Haram were also responsible for similar attacks in the area in April.
Advice: There is a high risk of terror attack in north-eastern Nigeria. Local security forces have limited capabilities in countering this threat in the region. Travel to this area should only be undertaken if business essential and with heightened security risk mitigation measures.
United States: North Carolina
Fatalities reported following a shooting incident at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC)
According to local reports, two people were killed and four were wounded in a shooting incident at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) in Charlotte on 30 April. The suspect, armed with a pistol, opened fire near the Kennedy Hall on the university campus. Officers were able to quickly respond to the incident, ordering a lockdown of the building and establishing a cordon around the university campus. A former student with no criminal background was later identified as the gunmen and there was no reason to believe anyone else was involved in the shooting. At present, three of the four people wounded remain in the hospital in critical condition.
India: Odisha State
Cyclone Fani makes landfall in Puri, 3 April
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Tropical Cyclone Fani, after spending days gaining strength over the Bay of Bengal, made landfall near Puri, Odisha State, at approximately 08:00 local time on 3 April. Authorities have evacuated more than a million people from coastal communities and low-lying areas of the state in the past 24 hours. Current reports indicate that at least six people have been killed while heavy rains and strong winds will continue throughout the day. Major disruptions and damage have already been reported. The authorities have also suspended 200 coastal trains, causing additional strain on the relief operations. Adverse weather has also affected the areas of Barsana and Mathura in Uttar Pradesh as well as Bharatpur in eastern Rajasthan.
Evacuation orders were given in neighbouring West Bengal and the decision to close the airport in Kolkata was made as a precaution. Updated reports suggest that Tropical Cyclone Fani will reach Bangladesh on 4 April and gradually weaken; though further rainfall and strong winds are expected in the region.
Advice: According to disaster management authorities, Tropical Cyclone Fani is the strongest storm to hit India since 2014. The state government has set up a 24/7 monitoring committee to manage all cyclone-related emergencies. All non-critical travel to the affected areas should be avoided. If currently in-country, visitors should adhere to all instructions issued by the authorities and comply with all evacuation orders. Due to the collapse of functioning infrastructure, extensive disruption is likely. Electricity outages are highly likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Food and water shortages are also possible.
Controversial election sparks unrest in Cotonou
Tensions are mounting as anti-government protests continue in the country, this has led to violent clashes between protestors and law enforcement in the capital Cotonou. On 2 May, one person was reportedly killed, while several others were injured after security forces opened fire on individuals that had gathered outside the presidential palace, demanding the resignation of President Talon. The military has also deployed armoured vehicles in response to protestors erecting roadblocks.
The demonstrations were triggered when opposition parties were prevented from running in the recent elections on 28 April, due to changes to the electoral code introduced in 2018 that set higher qualifying criteria for their participation in the election. The ruling was backed up by the Supreme Court who said the results of the election were binding. While the electoral code introduced by the National Assembly had the aim of addressing the extreme political fragmentation that characterises the multiparty system, it had the effect of excluding all parties except for two, the Bloc Républicain and the Union Progressiste, both of whom back the sitting President.
While President Talon denied any wrongdoing or intention to suppress opposition, protesters led by former President Thomas Boni Yayi demanded his resignation and started what has been defined as the worst political crisis in Benin since the end of the dictatorship in 1990. Several reports suggest that protestors in Kandi set fire to a factory and attacked firefighters as they responded. The unrest is set to continue with protestors declaring their intent to take to the streets over the weekend particularly in the capital, Cotonou. There is a heightened security presence surrounding key areas of Cotonou including but not limited to the Presidential residence and the airport. Flight providers have warned that if the violence escalates risking the security of the airport then flights will be cancelled.
Advice: Non-essential travel should be deferred at this time, continue to monitor the latest developments surrounding the unrest and consider deferring even essential travel should the situation continue to deteriorate.
5 May – 4 June
The Islamic month of Ramadan is expected to begin on 6 May and end on the evening of 4 June 2019; during this month, the Muslim population worldwide is expected to fast during the daylight hours as well act in a charitable manner.
For more information, read our full report here: https://www.solaceglobal.com/report/ramadan-2019/
Thai King coronation, 4 May
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, commonly known as Rama X, will be officially crowned nearly two years after he ascended the throne on 4 May in Bangkok. The official ceremonies will last for three days from 4 to 6 May. They are a mix of different Buddhist religious ceremonies and Hindu Brahmin rituals, symbolically marking the king’s consecration as a Devaraja, a “God-king” and the upholder of Buddhism in Thailand. King Maha Vajiralongkorn inherited the throne upon the death of his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016 and after a long mourning period. Bangkok will be highly congested during the ceremony, as all civil servants have been ordered to attend and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to walk the streets wearing royal symbols. A heightened security presence is expected across the city, specifically surrounding any public appearances and the procession. Travel disruptions are also highly probable due to associated road closures and traffic restrictions.
South Africa: Cape Town
2019 South African general elections
The population of South Africa will go to the polls on 8 May to select the new members of its National Assembly and provincial legislatures. This will be the sixth election since the end of apartheid and will determine the next South African president and the future of one of the biggest economies in the continent. In fact, this marks the first vote since Jacob Zuma, in power since 2009, was ousted from office in February 2018 after a series of corruption scandals.
This election represents a decisive moment for the political future of South Africa: while the sitting President Cyril Ramaphosa is attempting to legitimise his power after having replaced Zuma, a rising radical opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), is gaining significant support among the populous. While the ANC, historically known as the “freedom party”, still enjoys a sizable majority, internal fractures and turmoil have put a strain on the party’s cohesion. According to polls, however, the most notable shift shows positive gains by the EEZ, which doubled its approval from 7 percent during the 2014 elections to a sizable 14 percent. Their belligerent approach to the political debate is likely to produce some level of unrest in the run-up and aftermath of the elections, particularly in connection to the widespread economic grievances.
On 3 April, the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg experienced protests and demonstrations against the living conditions of the poor and the inefficiency of the government’s service delivery. Protesters also expressed disillusionment regarding the impact of the May elections on the day-to-day life and priorities of the South African population.
The year 2018 saw serious unrest which caused disruption nationwide, this is also likely to occur in the election period. During the 2014 general election, South Africa experienced severe electoral violence, including episodes of political murder and intimidation, which is likely to occur again during the 2019 election.
SIGNIFICANT DATES & EVENTS
|Date||Country||Event||Potential for Unrest|
|4 May||Japan||Emperor Abdication Holiday (Public holiday)||LOW|
|4 May||Namibia||Cassinga Day (National holiday)||MODERATE|
|4-6 May||Thailand||Coronation of King Vajiralongkorn||MODERATE|
|5 May||Ethiopia||Patriots’ Victory Day||MODERATE|
|5 May||Japan||Constitution Memorial Day||LOW|
|5 May||Kyrgyzstan||Constitution Day||LOW|
|5 May||Netherlands||Liberation Day||LOW|
|5 May||Panama||General Elections||LOW|
|5 May||South Korea||Public Holiday||LOW|
|6 May||Australia||Labour Day (Northern Territory)||LOW|
|6 May||Bulgaria||St. George’s Day||LOW|
|6 May||Lebanon||Martyrs’ Day||LOW|
|6 May||Syria||Martyrs’ Day||HIGH|
|6 May||United Kingdom||Bank Holiday||LOW|
|7 May||Belarus||Radonitsa (Commemoration Day)||LOW|
|7 May||France||Cannes Film Festival||LOW|
|7 May||Israel||Memorial Day||MODERATE|
|7 May||Kazakhstan||Defender of the Fatherland Day||LOW|
|8 May||Czech Republic / France / Slovakia||Victory in Europe Day||LOW|
|8 May||South Africa||National Assembly and Provincial Legislature Elections||MODERATE|
|8 May||South Africa||National Elections||MODERATE|
|8 May||Turkmenistan||National Heroes Commemoration Day||LOW|