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Commonwealth Security: Weekly Round-Up


1. Recount continues in disputed Guyanese Election

The national recount for Guyana's disputed 2nd March election continues following a decision by the Guyana Elections Commission to revisit all the ballots cast. Guyana's election produced a narrow win for the governing 'A Partnership for National Unity' (APNU) alliance. The recount follows independent concern over the tabulation process, including international observers from the Commonwealth Observer Group.

CSG Comment: Political stability is vital for Guyana to effectively benefit from its significant recent oil discoveries. At the end of 2019 the IMF fancied Guyana to have the fastest growing economy in the world. Given the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consequent crash in oil prices, and political instability in neighbouring Venezuela, it is important that Guyana's political class avoid sustained uncertainty and the risk of associated insecurity.

2. Tech Company delivers medical supplies via drone to rural communities in Ghana and Rwanda.

Drone company Zipline have applied new technology to the problem of bringing vital medical supplies to isolated areas. With governments across the world focused on the COVID-19 pandemic new health solutions are emerging. Through use of an app doctors in remote regions can order in supplies by pre-programmed drone delivery. Routes which would otherwise take hours overland are now reached in minutes.

CSG Comment: Emerging technology has the potential to solve ancient security challenges, logistics and drones are just one example. Governments should be prepared to embrace these new technologies and identify how they can best suit their country, while ensuring the necessary regulatory environment exists for emerging technology to be used in a secure way. The wider Commonwealth community has a huge potential to improve both the regulatory and operational capability of its member states.

The challenges and opportunities presented by UAS and drones will be explored in depth in the forthcoming Commonwealth Security Review 2020, and you can read our interview with Rwanda's leading drone company - Charis UAS - in our Emerging Technology section.

3. Cameroonian mayor killed in Ambush by separatist gunmen

Ashu Prisley Ojong, mayor of Mamfe, a city in the Southwest of Cameroon, was killed by gunfire when his convoy came under attack from a militia group. He is one of the first senior elected officials to be killed by ongoing violence in Cameroon. The violence started in 2017 when anglophone militias took up arms against the government amidst claims that they were being persecuted, simultaneously declaring the independent state of Ambazonia.

4. Mozambique Army takes fight to Jihadists in Cabo Delgado

In response to a further spate of insurgent attacks in the oil rich Cabo Delgado region of northern Mozambique, the Army there has announced the killing of 50 suspected jihadists. The insurgency in the northern region, known as Ansar Al-Sunnah and with associations to the Islamic State, has bedeviled the local community and wider region, killing over one thousand people. The Mozambique Interior Ministry reported 20 attacks between 3rd and 12th of May.

CSG Comment: The scourge of violent extremism continues across the globe. The Commonwealth community should continue to work together to defeat the international criminal networks that help finance these organisations, and the trans-national nature of both the fighters and the ideologies. Activities undertaken by initiatives such as the CVE Unit at the Commonwealth Secretariat have a significant impact on denting the growth of violent extremism. Awareness of and engagement with such initiatives is vital to their continued success.

5. Tensions mount between Commonwealth members and China over COVID-19

Australia and New Zealand have both seen a frosting of relations with China due to growing criticism over China's perceived opacity in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. China has reacted with fury at suggestions that it advised New Zealand not to closer her borders, and over New Zealand's support of Taiwan at the World Health Organisation. Turning its ire across the Tasman Sea, China has threatened punitive tariffs on Australian beef and barley imports over Prime Minister Scott Morrison's insistence on an independent inquiry into the origins and initial spread of the COVID-19 virus.

CSG Comment: While much of the world continues to grapple with their domestic responses to the coronavirus pandemic, the early successes of the Australian and New Zealand governments have allowed them the opportunity to focus internationally and ask how and why the world has been plunged into this crisis. Their steadfast resolution should be commended, and any efforts focused on ensuring such a pandemic cannot occur again should be widely cheered across the entire planet.


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