Watchlist: A Gambian Nightmare

Week of January 23rd

United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May.


Jammeh in Exile

Former leader of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, left the country Saturday night, headed for Equatorial Guinea where he will live in exile. This comes after Jammeh refused to leave office when he was defeated by Adama Barrow in elections held in December. This was an issue that has evolved significantly since the election, beginning with Jammeh announcing that he accepted the results of the election that quickly developed into a situation in which Jammeh called the election rigged and decided he would not step down. After the threat of military intervention from neighbor Senegal and other West African nations if Jammeh were not to step down, leading to 2 days of intense negotiations, Jammeh left the country (but not without taking millions of state funds with him). Barrow has announced that he does not wish to prosecute Jammeh, but does want a “truth and reconciliation commission.” Barrow’s actions surrounding the transition of power crisis and his new role as the President of Gambia should be followed closely as more events unfold.



Head Petrobras Judge Dies In Plane Crash

On Thursday, Brazilian Supreme Court Judge Teori Zavascki, who was in charge of overseeing the corruption investigation against state-run oil giant Petrobras, died in a plane crash off the coast of Partay where he was vacationing. Prosecutors involved in the case previously stated that politicians were handsomely bribed to award government contracts to private companies while overcharging Petrobras. The plane crash comes as Zavascki was set to analyze the plea bargains of 77 Odebrecht executives, a construction firm that has admitted to paying over $1 billion in bribes to obtain contracts. The testimony was expected to be especially revealing for over 100 top politicians. However, it still has yet to be accepted by the Supreme Court, and without Zavascki, many are left wondering who will take over the investigation and whether that will mean a new direction for questioning. The air force sent a team to the site to determine the source immediately following the crash while Interim President Michel Temer declared a 3-day state of mourning.



Melbourne’s Bail Law Changes

Last Friday, 5 people were pronounced deceased after a car intentionally drove into the crowd in the Bourke St. Mall. The perpetrator of the crash was bailed out against the wishes of the police about five days earlier. As a result, the Australian state of Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews claimed that a new Night Court would be responsible for hearing bail requests. Among the victims were a 3-month-old boy and a 10-year-old girl as well as 3 other adults. This new after-hours court will deal with bail applications for people facing violent crime charges. Moreover, the former Supreme Court of Victoria judge Paul Coghlan will be conducting a thorough review of the Bail Act. Mr. Andrews requires that the administration look over each element of the current bail system in order to make profound changes for the safety of Victoria. The victims will be honored with a candlelight vigil in central Melbourne Monday night, so stay tuned to hear about the new legislation that will emerge from this tragedy. SANURI GUNAWARDENA


UK will Leave EU’s Single Internal Market

Last Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May reaffirmed that moving forward with Brexit will mean that the United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the European Union’s single internal market. Following this announcement, banks and financial services companies began preparing to move thousands of jobs out of the UK and into other cities across the European Union. Citing revenue resulting from EU-legislated activities and a desire to continue to do business across the EU’s member countries, several banks announced that they will either be cutting London-based jobs and opening positions elsewhere, or moving London-based employees abroad. Financial services account for roughly 12% of British GDP, and over 2 million people are employed in the sector. Analysts predict that Brexit and the banks’ subsequent moves abroad will seriously harm British economic growth long-term.


Middle East

Yemeni Conflict Escalates

The Saudi-led conflict in Yemen, which is entering its 2nd year, intensified on Sunday when Yemeni forces launched a surprise attack against several Saudi military bases, killing dozens of Saudi troops and seizing weapons. Meanwhile, forces loyal to Riyadh-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi have become involved in a major battle over control of the Bab al-Mandab strait, a strategic maritime route that connects the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, which is currently controlled by Houthi rebels. Also on Sunday, Egypt announced that it would be extending its pro-Hadi military participation, though it did not specify for how long. A statement by the Egyptian National Defense Council read that the extension was necessary to “defend Egyptian and Arab national security in the Gulf, Red Sea, and Bab al-Mandab areas.” On the same day, United Nations peace envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in Sana’a to carry out peace talks in order to formulate a ceasefire and plan a political transition for Yemen’s government. The plan would significantly reduce President Hadi’s power.


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