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Commonwealth Security: Weekly Round-Up


1. Boko Haram has abducted at least 16 villagers in Cameroon’s Northern Region.

On Tuesday 23rd June Boko Haram terrorists attacked the village of Mainankoua in the far North of Cameroon, kidnapping fourteen women and three men, later releasing one of the men. Other neighbouring villages were also attacked, and the Cameroonian army has mounted a search and rescue mission to find the hostages. In addition, the army reported that they had neutralised three Boko Haram insurgents the day before the attack occurred. Whilst Boko Haram largely operate in Nigeria, violence has often spilled across borders, in some instances making official borders meaningless in practice. The cross-border nature of the attacks further emphasises the need for international cooperation in dealing with security threats.

2. Malawi opposition claims victory in Africa’s first ever election re-run.

Malawi’s opposition candidate, Lazarus Chakwera, has claimed victory in a re-run of the 2019 Presidential election, the original having been annulled as a result of fraud. Whilst the original election saw the incumbent President Peter Mutharika victorious, the repeated vote saw a 55% majority for Lazarus Chakwera. Many thought that the re-run of the election could spark instability in Malawi. However, despite a few small outbreaks of violence on polling day, the country has accepted the result peacefully. In what was viewed as a test for the future of democracy in Malawi, the country has passed with flying colours. Lessons learned throughout Malawi's democratic process, and the establishment of security around the re-election should be extended across all corners of the Commonwealth.

3. The African Union has created the ‘African Medical Supplies Platform’, an online marketplace to facilitate the supply of crucial medical supplies to combat Covid-19.

The Africa Medical Supplies Platform will work like eBay or Amazon and will take advantage of economies of scale and group purchasing power to provide cheaper medical supplies across the continent, potentially saving African governments $40 billion. Announced by Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president and current chair of the African Union, the platform “will address shortages and security of supply, ensure price competitiveness and transparency in procurement, reduce logistical delays, simplify payment processes and provide a common platform where governments can access services from quality and certified suppliers”. The project was spearheaded by Zimbabwean philanthropist, Strive Masiyiwa, and will hopefully increase access to Covid-19 treatments for millions in Africa and its neighbourhood, while further demonstrating the value of new technological solutions.

4. A high-tech, transborder drug smuggling ring has been apprehended in Singapore and Malaysia.

Three men have been arrested, two in Singapore and another in Malaysia, for using drones to transport drugs between the two countries. It is expected that the data retrieved from the drone’s flight will lead to more arrests, in what is the first ever documented case of drone-based drug smuggling between the two countries. It is not surprising that drones are being used in this way as the $17 billion consumer market for them continues to grow, it provides opportunities for both legitimate and black markets alike. The upcoming Commonwealth Security Review will have a special focus on this emerging technology.

5. Kiribati’s pro-China President won re-election.

President Taneti Maamau won re-election this Monday in Kiribati’s Presidential election. This comes just two months after ongoing controversy concerning Kirbati’s relationships with China lost him his parliamentary majority. In September, he reversed Kiribati’s long-held policy of recognising Taiwan and instead re-aligned the country with China, cutting official relations with Taipei. Maamau’s opponent, Banuera Berina, had pledged to reinstate the country’s relationship with Taiwan and the issue became the election’s main battleground. The growing assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific calls for continued evaluation of the relative benefits of foreign relations with China. The Commonwealth, comprising of members with varying economic and strategic priorities, as well as traditionally positive Chinese relations, is well placed to support to member states as they engage with their much larger regional partner. This support should focus on ensuring maximum institutional and framework protection for states as they seek to optimise the benefits of Chinese investment.


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