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Weekly Spotlight: 25th June 2023

1. Sierra Leone General Election

On the 24th of June, approximately 3.4 million registered voters headed to the polls to elect new local councillors, members of parliament, and the President of Sierra Leone. The election pitched incumbent President Julius Maada Bio from the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) against former foreign minister Samura Kamara of the All People’s Congress (APC), and was Sierra Leone’s fifth democratic election since the conclusion of its civil war in 2002. The election takes place against the backdrop of struggling economic conditions, a rapidly rising cost of living, and concerns about national unity. Despite reports of minor clashes, the election appears to have been conducted peacefully. Just weeks after Sierra Leone was admitted as a member of the United Nations Security Council, the election again underlines the immense progress.

2. ADF Attack on Ugandan School Kills 38

A devastating attack on a school in Western Uganda on Friday 16th of June has claimed the lives of at least 38 pupils, 3 members of staff, and resulted in 6 abductions. The attack on Lhubiriha Secondary School, in the town of Mpondwe, was carried out at 2330hrs local time by ISIS-affiliated rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), according to Uganda's information minister. The Islamist group are based in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and have regularly conducted violent raids across the porous border between the DRC and Uganda since the 1990s. In response to the attack, defence spokesperson Felix Kulayigye stated that Ugandan forces were " pursuing the enemy to rescue those abducted and destroy this group”. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has condemned the attack as an "appalling act”, and called for those behind it to be brought to justice.

3. Memorandum of Understanding Reaffirmed at UK-Singapore Cyber Dialogue

The UK-Singapore Cyber Dialogue held in London on the 13th of June marked a significant milestone in enhancing cyber cooperation between the two nations. The dialogue was Co-chaired by David Koh, Chief Executive of Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency, and Will Middleton, British Foreign Office Cyber Director, and brought together high-ranking officials from various government departments and agencies to discuss cyber priorities and deliverables. Specifically, areas such as Internet of Things (IoT) security, app security, international cybersecurity standards, and cyber skills development were discussed in detail. Building upon the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement, the dialogue emphasized the significance of further strengthening the existing close ties in cyber cooperation. One of the key outcomes of the dialogue was the reaffirmation of the UK-Singapore Cybersecurity Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), reflecting the ongoing commitment of both nations to jointly address future cybersecurity challenges.

4. CHOGM Confirmed for Samoa in 2024

The Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, have announced that the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will be held in Apia, Samoa, beginning on 21 October 2024.

The Commonwealth Secretariat issued the following release:

Building on progress since CHOGM 2022, leaders will deliberate on global economic, environmental and security challenges, and discuss how the contemporary Commonwealth can work together to build resilience, boost trade, innovation, growth, and empower the Commonwealth’s 1.5 billion young people to build a more peaceful, sustainable future.

Security will once again be at the forefront of concerns for Commonwealth member states. A reminder of not only the continued and varied challenges states face, but also of the opportunities provided by closer Commonwealth engagement and cooperation.


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