Watchlist: The Best of a Bad Bunch

Week of October 1

Protestors of Jair Bolsonaro wore pins at demonstrations against his presidential candidacy last year. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Sunken Ferry on Lake Victoria

Last week an overloaded Tanzanian ferry, the MV Nyerere, capsized and sank on Lake Victoria killing over 200 people. The captain of the ferry was not onboard at the time, and had left control of the ship in the hands of someone not properly trained. The captain has since been arrested for allegedly carrying around 400 passengers in a ship with a capacity of 100. The MV Nyerere was traveling between Ukara and Ukerewe, two islands on the southern part of the lake. It was only 100 or 200 meters away from shore when it began to sink. This is also not the first time that an overloaded Tanzanian ferry has sunk. A major incident occurred in 1996 with the sinking of the MV Bukoba. Deputy secretary general John Mnyika argues that this accident is an example of negligence by the government of poor ferry conditions. He blamed failure of authorities to enforce ship capacities and provide adequate relief efforts for the incident. LAUREN CAMP


An Embarrassing Diplomatic Incident Puts Pakistan in the Hot Seat

The government of Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, was handed a severe embarrassment when reports came that a senior civil servant stole the wallet of a Kuwaiti delegate in the capital, Islamabad. Only after being confronted with CCTV footage of the theft did the official reportedly return the wallet before being suspended from his position. For a Prime Minister who has vowed to fight corruption, this is a serious test of the credibility of his claims. Also, India’s foreign minister made fierce accusations at the United Nations General Assembly that Pakistan harbors terrorists. These claims follow the killing of an Indian border guard on the India-Pakistan Line of Control in Kashmir earlier this week, leading to a planned meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers being called off. With trouble growing from within and without, the government of Imran Khan is now under even more pressure this week to show its strength in the face of heavy scrutiny. SAMUEL ROSENBLUM


The Best of a Bad Bunch for Brazil

Brazil’s presidential elections are occurring on October 7. Protests occurred this week as far-right candidate and frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party arrived home from the hospital. He was stabbed during campaigning at a rally in early September. This is a messy election, as former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva currently sits in prison for a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering. Much of the Workers’ Party continues to support him as a candidate despite his incarcerated state. Fernando Haddad, the Workers’ Party’s replacement candidate and Lula’s former running mate, has also been accused of corruption for allegedly taking money from a construction company for his campaign for mayor of Sao Paulo in 2012. The people of Brazil feel as though they are electing the best of the worst. Bolsonaro and Haddad, the leading candidates, have low approval rates. The various other candidates, such as Ciro Gomes of the Democratic Labour Party or Geraldo Alckmin of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, struggle to gain enough support to earn more than even eleven percent of the vote. This election is certainly one to watch and the implications for the future of Brazil will be significant when the results come in next week. LAUREN CAMP


New Hopes and Old Fears in the Macedonian Referendum

Sunday’s referendum in Macedonia passed with overwhelming support after 91.3 percent of voters supporting the proposal to change the country’s official name to North Macedonia. This proposal comes after decades of political conflict with neighboring Greece, who has long viewed Macedonia’s name as an attempt to control the Greek territory of the same name. Since the late 1990s, Greece has blocked Macedonia’s bids for membership to both the EU and NATO. However, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev staunchly promoted the issue after his election in 2017, emphasizing the importance of EU and NATO membership to Macedonia’s continued development. While the referendum results appear promising, voter turnout was a mere 36.8 percent of the voting age population due to mass boycotts of the referendum by opposition groups. By the end of October, a deeply divided Macedonian parliament will vote on whether to incorporate the proposal into the country’s constitution—a move President Gjorge Ivanov promises to oppose. ANNA HAYNES

Middle East

Social Media Influencer's Death Spurs Investigation

Social media influencer Tara Fares was shot and killed in Baghdad on Thursday at the age of twenty-two. She had nearly 3 million followers on Instagram and was one of Iraq’s most followed influencers. Her death tragically comes after those of a few other prominent young Iraqi women, such as women’s rights activist Suad al-Ali. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered an investigation into potential links between these recent murders, and stated that the series of deaths of outspoken women appears to be an intentional act of violence. LAUREN CAMP

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