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Watchlist: Bouteflika Will Not Seek A Fifth Term

 

Week of March 18th, 2019

Algerian President Bouteflika, pictured here while casting his ballot in the country's 2012 elections, will not be seeking a fifth term. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) 

 

Africa

Algeria's Bouteflika Will Not Seek a Fifth Term in Office 

 

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the aging Algerian president whose candidacy has provoked weeks of protests, announced that he would not pursue a fifth term in office on Monday. This announcement was an attempt to appease the growing number of protestors who demanded that Bouteflika cease his plans for extending his 20-year rule. However, this also canceled April’s election, and has in turn, called into question how long the president would actually remain in power and how much power he is willing to relinquish. Essentially, the concession implied that even if the April election was canceled, Bouteflika wouldn't be a viable candidate, but he will remain in power until a successor is elected in an election that hasn’t yet been scheduled. This has led to an increasing concern that Bouteflika isn’t intending to cede any power at all, and even if he did, there is no guarantee that the small circle that runs the country will relinquish any of their power or won’t compete to replace him. NESMA DAOUD  

 

 

Asia-Pacific

Tragedy in Christchurch, New Zealand

 

On March 15, during Friday prayers at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, a white supremacist terrorist opened fire, killing fifty worshippers and injuring another fifty. The list of victims includes victims from many countries. One Pakistani victim, Mian Naeem Rashid, rushed the attacker in an attempt to stop the attack, and is being awarded a posthumous National Award by Pakistani PM Imran Khan for his bravery. The attack is by far the deadliest single attack in the history of New Zealand, and numerous countries have already sent their condolences. In response to the attack, New Zealand PM Jacinda Arden has already committed to outlawing semi-automatic rifles and other sweeping changes to prevent another terrible attack from happening again. It is without doubt that this attack will be widely remembered in both New Zealand, as well as the rest of the world, not only for its terrible death toll, but also as a marker of the rise of Islamophobia and far-right extremism that’s been taking place globally over the last few years. You can support the victims and the families affected here. SAM ROSENBLUM

 

Americas

Power Outages in Venezuela

 

As a blackout plunged Venezuela into darkness, the illegitimate Maduro government and interim President Guaidó traded barbs about the sources of the outage. President Maduro made unsubstantiated claims that Guaidó colluded with the U.S. and others to sabotage the Venezuelan electrical grid with “electromagnetic and cyber attacks.” Meanwhile, Guaidó pointed the finger at chronically documented cases of government mismanagement and corruption. While some electricity has returned, power has been intermittent and outages have extended across the whole country. Regardless of culpability, experts believe that the outages will not go away soon as many specialists and technicians have fled the country and there is little equipment to go around. Furthermore, experts predict it will be harder for those left managing the grid to restart the dead power grid as years of neglect have aged it. As rival demonstrations intensify as a result of the power outages and resultantly raises the rate of violent crime, Venezuela seems to be going down a path that gets worse before it gets better. JALEN ZEMAN

 

Europe

Italy Poised to Sign Belt and Road Memorandum of Understanding with China

 

This coming week, from March 22 to 24, Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Italy to iron out the details of a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Italy joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Preliminary negotiation of the MOU began March 6th, and the potential deal would grant China the rights to fund various projects in Italy ranging from pipelines to communication networks. If Italy follows through with the deal, it would become the first G7 country to join China’s modern silk road project, but Italy’s government remains split on the decision. Proponents embrace the potential economic opportunities that could help jumpstart the country’s recent recession, while opponents remain leery of giving China too much of an influence in its infrastructure and future 5G network. Neither the United States nor the EU view the move favorably, though Italy stresses that the agreement would largely be symbolic at this stage of engagement. DANIEL EVANS

 

Middle East

Turkish President Erdogan Prepares for Upcoming Local Elections 

 

On March 31st, 2019, Turks will head to the polls to vote in municipal elections, which will decide crucial local government positions across the nation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and candidates of his AK Party have been vigorously campaigning as they seek to hold onto their municipal positions and maintain their current level of political dominance. Going from city to city, Erdogan has been holding massive rallies with significant turnouts, sometimes holding up to two or three per day. The AKP has been campaigning with a renewed vigor as they seek to overcome and distract from the rising concerns of the Turkish population over Turkey's sinking economy; facing a recession and a significantly devalued lira, prices have skyrocketed and Turks have been struggling to afford simple necessities, such as fruits and vegetables. To combat this situation, the AKP government has been installing special stands where citizens can purchase limited amounts of daily items, such as onions and tomatoes, at extremely low-prices. This has been an effort to woo voters and keep Turks satisfied until the elections. However, not all of Erdogan's attempts to court voters have been so innocent. In the wake of the devastating white supremacist attacks in Christchurch, Erdogan has projected the video footage of the tragic event, which was streamed on Facebook, at his rallies. This has been Erdogan's way of politicizing the event in order to incite fear within his voter base for his own political gain. Instead of mourning the victims and taking actions to properly address the white supremacist and Islamophobic rhetoric behind the tragic attack, Erdogan has shamelessly taken advantage of the event to further his own political gains. SELIN LEVI

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