Weekly Round-Up


1. Arrests of former electoral officials continue in Guyana.


Arrests have continued this week in the wake of Guyana’s disputed election process after the country went to the polls in March. Several electoral officials with ties to the previous government, now the official opposition, have faced charges of forgery and conspiracy to defraud related to both the general and regional elections. Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfeld, was charged on three counts of misconduct in public office and released from prison after being granted bail of GUY$300,000. Legal disputes concerning the election are set to go on for some time as the country tries to find a way to heal after it was so sharply divided.



2. Children killed in attack on Cameroon school.


At least eight children have been killed and several more injured after masked attackers stormed a school in southwest Cameroon with firearms and machetes. The group arrived on motorbikes and were dressed in civilian clothes when they attacked the Mother Francisca International Bilingual School in Kumba. As of yet, no group has claimed responsibility for this attack but officials believe it is likely linked to ongoing Anglophone separatist violence in western Cameroon.



3. ISIS ‘franchises’ growing throughout Africa.


A worrying trend has emerged of extremist groups throughout Africa receiving support from the so-called Islamic State even as its influence wains in the Levant. IS has been supplying groups in Mozambique, Nigeria and Cameroon, to name a few, with ideological and operational guidance as well as financial support whilst the groups adopt the IS ‘brand’. Elements of Nigerian group Boko Haram have long referred to themselves as Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP). In Mozambique, some of the insurgents in Cabo Delgado have referred to themselves as ISIS-affiliates. New research by Crisis Group International published this week argues that this is a growing problem particularly in the Lake Chad Region between Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon.



4. Opposition wins election in the Seychelles for the first time.


The Seychelles has elected a new President, the Anglican cleric Wavel Ramkalawan, in the first democratic transition of power to the opposition leader since independence in 1976. Incoming President Mr Ramkalawan defeated predecessor Danny Faure in a 56%-44% split of the vote.


Mr Faure assumed the Presidency from his successor in 2016 and was unable to shake off mounting resentment over evidence of past political murders, torture and corruption when Seychelles was still a one-party state. The new start for the Seychelles offers great hope for the lasting robustness of democratic institutions in the country, a hope served well by the grace in which the outgoing President conceded defeat. As the Seychelles continues to battle the economic consequences of the collapse in international tourism, opportunities also exist for deeper international cooperation in the security field.



5. Australia and Singapore perform joint military exercises.


The Royal Australian Navy and the Republic of Singapore Air Force conducted joint exercises this week aimed at improving their interoperability. Singaporean aircraft such as CH-47 helicopters are now permitted to land on large Australian naval vessels such as HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra. Australian defence secretary Linda Reynolds conducted an official visit to Singapore and noted that such operations were a “force multiplier” for both nations and a “clear demonstration of the closeness of our friendship and our growing interoperability.”


Singapore and Australia are both members of the Five Powers Defence Arrangement alongside Mayalsia, New Zealand, and the UK. The arrangement initially sought to guarantee security on the Malay peninsula now offers a framework and opportunities for far deeper and more varied defence cooperation, particularly as the UK adjusts its defence focus towards the Far East.



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