1. Key strategic port in Mozambique seized by insurgents.
Mocimboa da Praia, a strategically important port located near the country’s $60 Billion dollar oil and natural gas developments, has been overrun by IS affiliated militants. Local sources say that Mozambique’s security forces fled the port, many by boat, after it was stormed by Islamists. Whilst the insurgency has been ongoing in the Cabo Delgado region since 2017, this is the first time the extremists have tried to hold a major piece of territory. Should they manage to do so, this would represent a large escalation in the capabilities of the insurgency, which has previously bubbled under the surface. The surrounding countries look on to the situation in Mozambique with concern; Tanzania has said it will launch an offensive against the insurgents in the jungles on its border with the country.
2. An oil spill in Mauritius has caused the government to declare a national emergency.
A Japanese owned ship, registered in Panama, the MV Wakashio, ran aground off the coast of Mauritius at Pointe d’Esny on the 25th of July, and has since developed an oil leak, spilling more than 1000 tonnes of fuel into the ocean. Whilst this is smaller than many previous major oil spills, it is likely to have catastrophic environmental consequences as it is near two protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park, and internationally important nature reserve. Mauritius is a hotspot of biodiversity with several species of animals and plants unique to the region. As a result, the government declared a national emergency on Friday the 7th of August. A large clean-up operation has been mounted, with many local people volunteering to help.
3. Incendiary Facebook post leads to riots and three deaths in Indian city of Bengaluru.
At least three people have been killed after police fired on crowds during a protest that was sparked by a Facebook post criticising the Prophet Muhammad. The violence began late on Tuesday night with mobs throwing stones, burning cars and setting a police station on fire and lasted until early Wednesday morning. Dozens of people have been wounded and at least three killed. Police have said that the person responsible for the post, which has since been deleted, has been arrested. Facebook commented by reaffirming their policy of prohibiting hatespeech and incitement to violence. Armed police have been given new powers to patrol the streets to prevent further violence in the southern-Indian tech hub.
4. The Sri Lanka Peoples Front has won a super majority in the country’s parliamentary election.
The Sri Lanka Peoples Front, the political party led by the Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has secured more than two thirds of the parliamentary seats in the country’s election claiming a “super-majority”. Encumbent Gotabaya Rajapaksa will continue with his role as President and his brother Mahinda is likely to be installed as Prime Minister, having held the position as a caretaker since November. The size of their majority places them in a position to be able to make a series of sweeping changes to the country’s constitution, further cementing their power as a political dynasty.
5. Papua New Guinea and Australia sign comprehensive strategic partnership.
During a virtual summit, PNG’s Prime Minister James Marape and Australian counterpart Scott Morrison signed a document outlining a new strategic and economic partnership between the two countries. The agreement will deepen relations between the nations in the fields of security, social and human development and economic cooperation. The partnership will see Australia assist Papua New Guinea in redeveloping its Manus Lombrum naval base, alongside the United States, and will see both Australia and the US using the facility, increasing interoperability between the allied armies. Marape said that the agreement “embodies the mutual values and beliefs that our two nations share", adding that the partnership fell within the framework of PNG's “friends to all and enemies to none” foreign policy approach.