Watchlist: Xi Jinping Ends Presidential Term Limit

Week of March 5th

Xi Jinping may be president beyond his previously expected resignation date (Source: Lintao Zhang/Getty)


Dual Terrorist Attacks Strike Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso was hit by two simultaneous attacks on Friday, on an army headquarters and the French embassy. The attacks killed eight people and left over eighty injured. On Saturday the al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group Jama Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin claimed responsibility for the attacks. They are believed to have been carried out in response to French involvement in battling extremism in the region, and due to the formation of the G5 Sahel force. The force is a mix of troops from multiple West African nations which was formed in order to fight terrorism. Several terrorist groups have announced intentions to launch more attacks in the area in retaliation to the force’s deployment. Government officials have not yet confirmed whether the group was responsible for the attacks. The situation is expected to unravel further throughout the week. MAYA ZREIK


Xi for Life: China's Two-Term Presidential Limit to End

In a stunning move upsetting historical precedent, China will end the two-term presidential limit. Originally put in place in the 1980s by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, term-limits and other structural rules were intended to prevent catastrophic leadership struggles. With the amendment of the constitution, Chinese President Xi Jinping can effectively stay in power past 2023 (his former resignation date). Official ratification will take place through the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC): two rubber-stamp bodies. The former is scheduled to meet on 5 March while the latter has already been in session since March 3rd. If there is any opposition to this move, it is likely to be heavily muted. Xi’s consolidation of power has been ongoing for years now. His anti-corruption campaign, which began in 2012, has successfully purged most of his rivals as well as cowing the rest into submission. A new cult of personality has also formed around Xi; it has deified and placed him on a level comparable to that of Mao Zedong. With the upcoming NPC conference, “Xi Jinping Thought” will also be confirmed as China’s new guiding ideology. This is, in all, a deeply troubling development for China. Does Xi for life promise stability or a return to the volatile party politics that Deng Xiaoping originally feared? WARREN YU


Top Argentine Intelligence Implicated in Brazilian Corruption Scandal

Argentina's intelligence chief, Gustavo Arribas, has been implicated in Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption scandal in Brazil. He has been accused in this massive money-laundering case of receiving about $850,000 USD from a Brazilian front company through a wire transfer from Hong Kong. He has vehemently denied these claims, stating that there was a payment for furniture for one of these properties of about $70,000 USD that could have been what the Brazilian prosecution found. However, he does own properties in various Brazilian cities, as prior to his career as Mauricio Marci’s chief intelligence official, he was an agent for soccer players across South America. There were also accusations in 2017 he also received around $600,000 USD from a Brazilian construction company. Brazilian officials called for him to step down then, but no action has been taken. The anti-corruption office in Argentina has remained silent on this situation, even at a time when the Argentine government has been attempting to uproot corruption. These findings have revealed not only a continuing multinational element to the Car Wash scandal, but also a institutional failure to avoid this sort of corruption in Argentina. ANDREW MITCHEL


SPD Hands Merkel a Fourth Term

Germany's center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) voted Sunday to form a coalition government with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), ending months of uncertainty after an indecisive September election. The decision secures Merkel a fourth term, avoiding the possibility of governing without a majority or facing another election. While pro-European leaders and businesspeople heralded the decision as good for the continent, both voters and party members are unhappy at the loveless Grand Coalition (GroKo). Constituents are disenchanted with the GroKo establishment, particularly their relaxed immigration policies, leading to the rise of the Alternative for Deutschland Party (AfD). The alt-right party picked up 13% of seats last September, entering Parliament for the first time as the largest opposition, while GroKo barely held a majority at 56%. Meanwhile, CDU officials resent that the coalition deal cedes control over important ministries to the SPD, while the SPD, particularly youth, feel that the party is becoming too centrist under the CDU. Indeed, most who approved the partnership felt forced to compromise after an alternate Jamaica Coalition failed. In short, few are happy at the stable, yet stale coalition. MEGHAN ROWLEY

Middle East

Siege of Eastern Ghouta Continues

The bombardment of the Syria’s Eastern Ghouta has continued this week. As one of the last rebel-held strongholds in the nation, the Syrian government has spent the last two weeks shelling the city in an attempt to regain control over it, leaving over 600 people dead, most of them civilians. The siege has attracted international condemnation. Last week, the UN attempted to implement a month-long ceasefire. It was violated immediately. Russia also promised to arrange a ceasefire and provide evacuation channels for civilians to escape, but residents of the city say that such measures have not been implemented. Due to the siege, aid workers have been refused permission to deliver food and medical supplies to the 40,000 residents of Ghouta who are still trapped within the city. International representatives are expected to continue with ceasefire attempts as the week goes on. MAYA ZREIK

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