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Commonwealth Security: Weekly Round-Up


1. The announcement of Guyana’s opposition election victory is being called into question after further irregularities discovered in the election process.

Last week Guyana’s opposition party looked poised to assume the government after emerging victorious in a recount of March’s disputed election. However, further irregularities in the election process have now been identified. It seems likely that the entire election will be called into question with Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield noting that the election cannot be considered “credible”. Organisations like CARICOM support the recounted results of the March election and are calling for the Government to begin transitioning power to the Opposition. At this stage, it is very unclear who will rule the country going forward, adding to pre-existing tensions generated by the countries newfound oil wealth and occasional friction between the Afro-Guyanese and Indian populations.

2. Spike in terrorism in Nigeria's north elicits condemnation from UN Security Council.

Nigeria has experienced a spike in terror activity from Islamist insurgents in the country's Borno state. The attacks by Boko Haram insurgents between June 9 and 13 on some communities in Borno, including a UN humanitarian facility, resulted in the killing of at least 120 people and several others injured. In a statement read by UN Security Council President Nicolas de Riviere the council condemned the attacks, expressed the deepest sympathy and condolences to the people and Government of Nigeria, and "commended efforts by countries in the region, including through the Multinational Joint Task Force, to effectively combat terrorism, and encouraged further progress in this regard."

The spike has led to a renewed focus from President Buhari and National Security Advisor (NSA) Babagana Monguno, who have demanded more from security leaders in the region. Speaking of President Buhari, the NSA stated: "He feels that, even though the security agencies are doing their best, their best is not good enough for him and wants an immediate reversal of the current trend."

3. Namibia and other Southern African countries are facing an outbreak of Red Locusts, set to devastate winter crop yields.

Red Locusts are a large grasshopper species with characteristic bright red wings that breed prolifically under drought conditions followed by heavy rain. They cause rapid deterioration of crops. Namibia has detected an outbreak in the central Otjozondjupa region of the country and has sent pest control teams to attempt to mitigate crop damage. The country’s Ministry of Agriculture has said that the insects are flying in from Botswana and Zambia. This outbreak follows a similar incident in February in Africa’s Zambesi region.

4. Violence has broken out along the Sino-Indian border in Ladakh, after both sides had agreed to disengage from the dispute, resulting in at least twenty deaths.

Violent incidents continue between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army resulting in the deaths of twenty Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers. The two forces clashed in the Galwan Valley on 15th June. Seemingly, the confrontation was fought with fists, sticks and stones, rather than modern military equipment. The reasons behind the clash are unclear. Indian press is reporting that discussions between the two armies to arrange withdrawals turned sour, leading to the fighting. This is the first time the two nations have inflicted casualties upon each other since the Border Conflict in 1962.

5. Australia under cyber attack from "sophisticated state-based actor".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on 19th June that a "sophisticated state-based actor" has been attempting to hack a wide range of Australian institutions. The attacks have targeted all levels of the government, political organisations, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure. The Prime Minister said there were not a lot of state actors that could launch this sort of attack, but did not mention the likely originator. He also urged businesses and users to stay alert to the threat and improve their technical defences. The situation is on-going, and it is hoped that by raising the attacks publicly Australians will respond to the cyber threat, the PM stating: "We raised this issue today not to raise concerns in the public's mind, but to raise awareness in the public's mind."


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