Tag Archives: elections

Israel’s March 23rd election results likely to prolong political stagnation; may pose challenges to strategic business operations – Israel Analysis

Executive Summary:

  • On March 23, Israel held its fourth round of parliamentary elections in the past two years, which produced another stalemate. Rather than the left and right, the political fault lines in Israel are currently divided along the pro-Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu bloc and the anti-Netanyahu bloc. At present, neither has been able to form a viable coalition.
  • Even if either bloc succeeds in forming a coalition through complex political maneuvering, any potential government’s longevity will likely be limited in time. Therefore, the years-long period of political deadlock in Israel is likely to persist due to the lack of a conclusive outcome.
  • The political stagnation will hinder the implementation of a long-term budget and comprehensive government planning, which will disrupt proper governance, cause some economic damage, limit the ability for strategic long-term security planning, and hamper Israel’s foreign relations with key allies.
  • This is liable to pose challenges for long-term strategic business operations in Israel, especially those requiring high-level government collaboration. However, regardless of the political situation, essential services and infrastructure remain operational and the country is largely functioning as normal. The highly successful COVID-19 vaccine campaign has significantly reduced restrictions on business and commercial activities, with domestic and foreign companies and organizations able to operate without major hindrance.
  • Those operating or residing in Israel are advised to remain abreast of the ongoing political situation, which is liable to result in some challenges to long-term business operations requiring state collaboration. Consult with us at [email protected] or +44-20-3540-0434 for more information.

Result of Israel's general elections (seats)

Intel Portal Demo - Try our intelligence package

Implications of the political deadlock

As well as leading to an unprecedented situation in which four elections have been held in the past two years, the political stalemate has had, and will continue to have, an impact on the functioning and governance of Israel in various fields. These range from budgetary and economic issues to foreign relations and long-term security doctrines. Below are the primary areas in which the political deadlock is liable to impact until a conclusive outcome is reached and a stable government is formed.

Economy, budget, and domestic governance

  1. The political situation in Israel has had an impact on the country’s economic functioning and ability to strategically plan ahead. As a result of the political stalemate, the Knesset has not passed an annual budget or comprehensive spending plans since March 2018, which has hindered the capacity of ministries and other government-funded organizations to operate effectively. This concern has been shared by Israel’s economic leadership, as evidenced by comments on April 9 by Bank of Israel Governor, Amir Yaron, who reiterated that “without a stable government that operates long-term” Israel will not be able to implement a multi-year economic plan to effectively emerge from the COVID-19 health and economic crises. This view highlights the importance of both the formation of a stable and cohesive government as well as its longevity for proper governance and economic growth. This is particularly in light of the pandemic, which had a severe impact on the Israeli workforce, with unemployment reaching a high of 27 percent early on in the health crisis and falling to 9.8 percent by March amid the opening up of the economy. Prior to the pandemic, unemployment had reached a record low of 3.8 percent.
  2. FORECAST: Payments to furloughed workers in Israel are set to expire at the end of June. Many furloughed workers have preferred to continue receiving state payments instead of returning to the workforce and will thus likely be compelled to return to part-time unemployment when these payments end in June. That said, parts of the population will likely remain indefinitely unemployed. This will require government-funded training programs and investment, potentially in cooperation with the private sector, to assist these individuals to reenter the workforce. This is especially because several sectors, particularly those depending on tourism, continue to operate at lower than pre-pandemic capacity and there are therefore fewer jobs in these fields. In the absence of a stable government able to strategically implement such initiatives, hundreds of thousands of people are liable to be in a precarious final situation, which will place strain on the government and the wider economy as their consumption will be reduced.
  3. The political situation has partly impaired Israel’s ability to respond to pressing needs in a timely manner. This is most saliently evidenced by a reported delay in Israeli payments to vaccine production companies as the Israeli cabinet has not convened to pass this budget due to political infighting in the current Likud-Blue & White caretaker coalition. This is due to the cancellation of a cabinet meeting by Defense Minister Gantz as a result of Netanyahu’s alleged refusal to permit the appointment of a Justice Minister, which also hinders the Knesset’s ability to pass key legislation. The void in the Justice Ministry is one of multiple senior roles, including in the security and defense sectors, that have not been filled due to government infighting. The fact that this led to Gantz’s cancellation of the cabinet meeting underscores the potential for multiple other issues of an important and strategic nature to be hindered or delayed due to political stagnation. The ministers were slated to vote on a 2.1 billion USD procurement of new vaccine doses, which is essential for Israel to sustainably combat the COVID-19 pandemic over the long-term and keep the economy open and thus provide crucial income for individuals and revenue for the state. FORECAST: Although the government will likely find a solution to this specific issue, the development highlights multiple aspects of the current political impasse on proper governance.
  4. The failure to pass a budget has impacted the government’s capacity to fund infrastructure projects and major national initiatives. This has affected multiple sectors and fields. For instance, the lack of a budget hindered the start of the academic year as the Knesset was forced to pass a special budget in order for schools to open while other state-funded educational services were impacted. More generally, the lack of a long-term budget poses challenges in terms of structural economic reforms and for ministries to provide essential services, including physical and mental healthcare, social provision, and education, which require increased investment in order to meet rising inflation and demand.
  5. FORECAST: Although the government has managed to pass a series of short-term spending plans and special budgets to cover specific needs, the longer the political deadlock continues, the more that certain services and infrastructure plans will be impacted. Furthermore, even if a coalition is formed, if its primary components lack a shared vision beyond replacing the current Netanyahu-led government, this will also hinder state funding and the passing of a viable long-term budget due to disagreement over policy and economic priorities. Taken as a whole, the political situation will continue to have a relative impact on the functioning of the state over the coming months at least. It may also reduce the desire of international firms to commit to invest and set up offices in Israel until a stable government is in place that can facilitate such operations and work in collaboration. This is also evidenced by a warning by an international credit ratings agency from March 31 indicating that while the present situation does not pose immediate risks to Israel’s economic rating, shown by the fact it kept Israel’s credit rating at AA-, if the political situation persists, it will elevate the fiscal risks due to the difficulty in reducing the deficit. Bank of Israel governor Yaron reinforced this concern, stating that “credit ratings companies are worried by the government’s instability and the failure to pass a budget.”
  6. Regardless of the political situation, essential services and infrastructure remain operational and the country is largely functioning as normal. The highly successful COVID-19 vaccine campaign has significantly reduced restrictions on business and commercial activities, with domestic and foreign companies and organizations able to operate without a major hindrance. FORECAST: The political stagnation in the country is more likely to pose a challenge to foreign companies potentially seeking to initiate major investments or launch large-scale projects within Israel. This is because government ministries face both budgetary issues and obstacles in the decision-making process. This may also affect collaboration with ministries or state-funded organizations, but routine operations of existing companies within Israel will continue regardless, albeit delays can be expected when receiving permits, regulatory approvals, or other activities that depend on legislation.

Foreign Relations

  1. The political situation is also somewhat affecting Israel’s ability to forge relations and gain international influence. As a result of political infighting, the current caretaker government, even when it managed to convene on a fairly regular basis, struggled to project a united message to the international community regarding Israel’s policies as senior members of the Likud and Blue and White parties frequently undermined each other. This is particularly the case in sensitive issues of foreign and defense policy, with the latter portfolios being held by Blue and White’s Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz, respectively, but many diplomatic and security matters being directed by Netanyahu. These competing points of authority have likely posed problems for various states when dealing with Israel. FORECAST: The failure to establish a viable and stable government led by ministers appointed for the long-term will likely pose a challenge for Israel’s efforts to forge relations in essential sectors such as trade and commerce. Foreign governments may be reluctant to commit to such agreements with caretaker officials, while the latter may be restricted by legal obstacles placed upon an interim government.
  2. The current impasse has resulted in a situation wherein 36 new ambassadorial appointees, which have been approved by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) appointments committee are not yet fulfilling their roles. This situation has been ongoing since November 2020 and many of the ambassadors are reportedly ready and set to be posted on diplomatic missions on an immediate basis. Reports state that this delay is due to a refusal by Netanyahu to bring their approval to the cabinet for its consent. The absence of new ambassadors is a significant issue that is liable to harm Israel’s diplomatic, trade, and security interests. This situation can hinder Israel’s ability to conduct diplomatic campaigns and strategic discourse with other international actors as well as to advance visits of economic delegations to other countries.
  3. Most importantly for Israel, the lack of government can undermine the country’s relations with key strategic allies such as the US. Continued political paralysis within Israel has likely somewhat hindered its ability to build strategies and coordinate with its allies on matters of essential policy and national security. This is because these allies may be reluctant to engage in long-term planning in the absence of a stable government, especially one that may be perceived as volatile and potentially liable to fall as soon as a political crisis emerges. This may impact Israel’s positions on the Iranian nuclear agreement, especially amid international efforts to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); and any US engagement with the Palestinians.
  4. Another area that the political situation can impact in terms of foreign policy is the pre-election, US-brokered normalization trend that was recorded, consisting of diplomatic agreements between Israel and four Arab states (the UAEBahrain, Sudan, and Morocco). These deals are extremely important and strategic for Israel’s diplomatic, security, and economic interests as they enable Jerusalem to garner additional international support against its adversaries and forge trade and investment relations. FORECAST: This trend is likely to slow down or be suspended altogether in the absence of a stable Israel government that other potential Arab states perceive to be a long-term partner. The regional actors that are most likely to reach a normalization agreement with Israel tend to be relatively risk-averse and attach great importance to stability. Thus, if the political deadlock continues or an unstable government is formed, further normalization agreements are unlikely.


  1. In terms of security, the political deadlock will have an impact on the procurement of military hardware and weaponry. It may also impact the development of advanced security doctrines based on these weapon systems and long-term, large-scale organizational planning. This is due to various budgetary obstacles and challenges posed to the decision-making process. However, over the past two years, despite the political stalemate, Israel has continued to act to safeguard its security interests across multiple arenas. Military activity, both overt and covert, has been reported in various theaters of operation throughout the Middle East region. That said, although these operations are informed by a guiding strategy that has been formulated by previous governments and continues to be updated by Israel’s security agencies, especially vis-a-vis the regional threat posed by Iran and its proxies, the lack of a cohesive government is liable to affect proper governance and the decision-making process. This is shown for instance by the Israeli government’s apparent lack of strategy regarding the best way to manage the threat of militant groups based in the Gaza Strip, which is an issue that periodically emerges with a potentially decisive operation indefinitely put on hold until a stable government is formed. Taken as a whole, despite the political situation dictate, Israel can continue to respond to any threats to its national security and continue to formulate a military strategy to defend these interests.
  2. FORECAST: This situation will impact Israel’s security in the strategic realm and possibly lead to long-term damage as Israel’s adversaries can gain an edge on delays to procure and develop weaponry due to budgetary and decision-making challenges. However, the ability of Israel’s security apparatus to mitigate and thwart security within Israel itself will remain intact over the coming period. The Israeli security agencies have proven during this period of relative political instability and throughout periods of far greater security volatility that the vast majority of local and regional threats, namely along its northern borders and vis-a-vis Palestinian militants in the West Bank and Gaza, are manageable. Thus, the political situation will not lead to a fundamental destabilizing of the security environment within Israel over the coming period.

Election Results and Political Blocs

  • On March 23, Israel held its fourth round of elections for its parliament (the Knesset) in the past two years.
  • During this two-year political deadlock, a government was formed in May 2020, which was led by Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party alongside Benny Gantz, his political rival from the“Blue and White” party. The government’s functioning was hindered by in-fighting and discord between the rival political factions, which eventually led to the dispersal of the Knesset in December 2020, resulting in the March election.
  • The results of the election can be seen below. The political fault lines within Israel since the first election in March 2019 have revolved around the parties’ willingness to join or rejection of a government led by PM Netanyahu, who is on trial having been officially indicted in November 2019 for breach of trust, bribery, and fraud.
  • The debate on Netanyahu’s political and legal status has transcended the traditional left-right discourse within the Israeli political landscape. In this context, parties that are part of the right-wing political camp in Israel, such as former Likud member Gidon Saar’s “New Hope”, have formally declared themselves to be part of the “anti-Netanyahu” or “change” bloc. Other parties, such as Naftali Bennett’s right-wing “Yamina” and Mansour Abbas’ Islamist “Raam”, remain unaffiliated with either of the pro- or anti-Netanyahu blocs.
  • This has resulted in a situation that neither the pro-Netanyahu bloc, primarily made up of right-wing and religious/ultra-Orthodox parties nor the ideologically diverse anti-Netanyahu bloc has been able to form a coalition, which requires a 61-seat majority in the Knesset.
  • On April 6, Netanyahu was given a four-week mandate to form a government by President Reuven Rivlin. He has until May 4 to try to assemble a viable coalition and can thereafter request a 14-day extension at the discretion of the president. If he fails, Rivlin can ask a second person or return the mandate to the Knesset. If these alternatives fail to yield a government, the Knesset will automatically dissolve and another election will be held.

Affiliations of political parties

These are the various political parties and their affiliations and policies.

Pro-Netanyahu blog: Parties, leaders, policies

Anti-Netanyahu bloc: Parties, leaders, policies

Unaffiliated Parties: Leaders, policies

Main options for government coalitions – likelihood and longevity

Option 1: Pro-Netanyahu bloc & Yamina government plus Raam external support in Knesset

  • Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Coalition Components: Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, “Religious Zionism”, and Yamina (59 seats)
  • External support for government votes: Raam (4 seats)

Netanyahu-Led government, Raam supporting from outside


This option is somewhat feasible as it includes various political parties with broadly similar ideological agendas and worldviews in government. Although the Raam party would likely not be a formal part of the government, but an external support bloc, its inclusion poses the greatest challenge to the formation of the government. The “Religious Zionism” party has explicitly stated and reiterated that it will not be part of a government that depends on Raam’s support and this is likely to hinder any progress on this option. This is compounded by major concessions that Netanyahu may have to make to Bennett for the latter to join a government led by the former. In terms of longevity, the Raam party’s leadership is able to cooperate with the religious factions in this potential government, particularly over social policy and support for religious institutions. However, its overall Islamist agenda and links to the Palestinian cause are liable to create complications for the government’s functioning, which would be exacerbated during periods of escalation or religious sensitivities.

Option 2: Pro-Netanyahu bloc & Yamina government plus defectors from the anti-Netanyahu bloc

  • Prime Minister: Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Coalition Components: Likud, United Torah Judaism, Shas, “Religious Zionism”, Yamina + 2 members of anti-Netanyahu bloc shift allegiances (61 seats)

Pro-Netanyahu bloc, Yamina, Defectors from anti-Netanyahu bloc


This government is unlikely due to the reluctance of members of the center or center-right parties to renege on their pledges not to join a government led by Netanyahu amid his indictment on corruption charges. The “Blue and White” party has insisted it will not join a Netanyahu-led government following its previous power-sharing experience with the incumbent prime minister while “New Hope” members, more likely to defect, have so far insisted they will not join the pro-Netanyahu bloc. Although individual members of these parties may choose to join Netanyahu under the pretext of preventing another round of elections, the parties themselves are unlikely to do so due to the potential for a fifth vote and the impact this would have on voters who will perceive this as the violation of election pledges. In terms of longevity, a government made up of the Netanyahu bloc, Yamina, and two defectors from the anti-Netanyahu bloc would likely be more stable on key policies than a Raam-backed coalition. However, with legislation pertaining to Netanyahu’s legal complications, this government would likely face substantial hurdles as several members of Yamina and most potential defectors are unlikely to support any perceived efforts by Netanyahu or his supporters to release him from or evade the legal process.

Option 3: Anti-Netanyahu bloc plus external support from Raam

  • Prime Minister: Naftali Bennett/Yair Lapid (Rotation)
  • Coalition Components: Yesh Atid, Blue & White, Yisrael Beitenu, Labor, Meretz, Yamina, New Hope (58 seats)
  • External support for government votes: Raam (4 seats)

Anti-Netanyahu bloc with support from Raam


In terms of the likelihood of formation, this government faces multiple challenges due to the ideological diversity of the parties it would include and the pressure within both the left-leaning (Yesh Atid, Labor, Meretz) and right-leaning factions of the potential coalition (Yamina, New Hope) to extract concessions from the other. The former parties seek to ensure Yesh Atid’s Labor is the prime minister (PM) or first in any rotation, while the latter right-leaning bloc insists on Bennett as PM and first in the rotation. The right-leaning parties will also aim to block the left-leaning parties from holding key cabinet posts and thus advancing a left-wing agenda as well as blocking their entry to the security cabinet. Even if this government does materialize, it would likely be hindered by major in-fighting and its longevity is thus very low.

Option 4: Netanyahu chooses/forced to sit aside; right-wing government formed

  • Prime Minister: Consensus among right-wing parties
  • Coalition components: Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Yamina, New Hope, Religious Zionism (65 seats)

Right-wing government without Netanyahu


This option is extremely unlikely due to Netanyahu’s widespread popularity among the Likud party and the Ultra-Orthodox parties that support the Likud. Members and voters of these parties would consider any attempt to coerce Netanyahu to step down as anti-democratic, which would create major tensions within Israeli society. Netanyahu also continues to hold significant support among parliamentarians in his and other supporting parties, while even some of his detractors may oppose legislation that prevents him from being prime minister due to its targeted nature. This is evidenced by the failure of anti-Netanyahu parties to pass such legislation over the past years despite their overall opposition to his continued premiership. Taken as a whole, this option is highly unlikely and its longevity is thus negligible.


Overall, given that all of the above-mentioned options pose considerable challenges to political actors in terms of both the formation of a viable coalition and the longevity of any government, the most likely scenario is either a fifth election with a similar outcome along pro- and anti-Netanyahu lines or an unstable government that fails to complete its term and thus elections are again called.


In light of the current situation:

  1. Those operating or residing in Israel, or seeking to do so, are advised to remain abreast of the ongoing political situation, which is liable to have an impact on business continuity.
  2. It is advised to allot for obstacles to cooperation with public sector bodies and ministries as well as other state-funded organizations.
  3. Allot for disruptions to processes that require government permits, regulatory approvals, or other activities that are liable to depend on legislation.
  4. More generally, allot for continued restrictions on entry to Israel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consult with us at [email protected] or +44-20-3540-0434 for guidance on entry to Israel amid the current limitations.

General Recommendations:

  1. Travel to Israel may continue at this time while adhering to security precautions regarding militant attacks, while avoiding the immediate vicinity of the Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian borders, due to the persistent risk for cross-border violence.
  2. Those traveling in the 40 km area surrounding the Gaza Strip should continue adhering to all safety precautions regarding early warning sirens for incoming rockets. Remain cognizant of the situation along with the Lebanese and Syrian border areas, as minor hostilities between various groups can escalate into a broader conflict. In case you hear a siren, seek shelter in a protected area and remain inside for at least 10 minutes.
  3. In major Israeli cities, remain vigilant in crowded commercial areas or public transport hubs, as these locations have been targeted by militant groups in the past. Alert authorities to suspicious, unattended packages in these areas.
  4. As a general precaution, avoid nonessential travel to the vicinity of Jerusalem’s Old City, particularly in the vicinity of Damascus Gate, due to the increased potential for acts of militancy and civil unrest. For those seeking to travel to the Old City, it is advised to contact us for a security-oriented travel guide.

Upcoming legislative elections on June 12 to perpetuate political instability, trigger further nationwide anti-government protests in coming weeks, months Algeria Analysis | MAX Blog

Executive Summary

  • On February 18, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune dissolved the People’s National Assembly (APN) and called for early legislative elections, slated for June 12. The announcement came ahead of the two-year anniversary of the anti-government protest movement on February 22.
  • This measure was aimed at appeasing the public’s anti-government sentiments. However, protesters will perceive the upcoming elections as a means for former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s allies to remain in power, which will therefore result in a low voter turnout.
  • While interdependent “Hirak” candidates are participating in the elections, as the movement lacks clear organization or leadership, it will only divide the votes of the public, preventing one group or individual from earning a significant majority and result in a polarized parliament. This will challenge the legislative process following the elections and negatively impact the economy. The ensuing political instability will undermine public confidence in the government.
  • Overall, nationwide “Hirak” demonstrations will persist in the weeks leading up to and following the elections. In major cities, including in Algiers, these will generally garner turnouts in the mid- to high-thousands. A significant security deployment will thus be recorded at key focal points in Algiers in the coming weeks to prevent the mobilization of protesters.
  • Travel to Algiers may continue while adhering to security precautions regarding civil unrest. It is advised to maintain heightened vigilance in the vicinity of the Grand Post Office, Martyrs’ Square, Place Maurice Audin, and Didouche Mourad Street as these locales serve as focal points for anti-government protests.

Intel Portal Demo - Try our intelligence package

Assessments & Forecast

Legislative elections unlikely to alleviate widespread anti-government sentiments, low voter turnout likely

  1. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s decision on February 18 to dissolve the People’s National Assembly (APN) and hold early legislative elections on June 12 instead of in 2022 came ahead of the two-year anniversary of the “Hirak” movement on February 22. It was aimed at appeasing the public’s grievances with the political system, which had persisted despite the election of a new president in December 2019 and the revision of the constitution after the national referendum in November 2020. This is because large segments of the local population continue to perceive these measures as symbolic rather than effective political reform. This is evidenced by the relatively low participation rates in both the presidential elections (39.93 percent) and the national constitutional referendum (23.7 percent) as well as the large-scale nationwide anti-government protests and instances of unrest recorded in the weeks leading up to and following these events. While the momentum of these anti-government protests had subsided in the year prior to the two-year anniversary of the “Hirak” movement, this was primarily due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic rather than a decrease in anti-government sentiments.
  2. By holding early legislative elections, Tebboune likely seeks to project a meaningful change in the current political hierarchy. This is because in the previous legislative elections in 2017, the National Liberation Front (FLN), the Democratic National Rally (RND), and the Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP) together won a plurality of seats at 25.99 percent, 14.91 percent, and 6.09 percent, respectively. These parties formed the “Presidential Alliance”, a three party political alliance that was created in 2005 and was close to former President Bouteflika. Hence, by calling for early legislative elections, Tebboune aims to showcase his willingness to implement mechanisms for change and the overhaul of the previous hierarchy. This is further evidenced by the fact that he announced that two civil society blocks will prepare the electoral lists for the upcoming elections as part of an effort to open up the legislative elections to the public.
  3. An electoral law was included in the revised constitution of 2020 for the first time. This law includes stipulations for candidates’ finances, such as the possibility of state reimbursement for part of the expenses of the electoral campaigns. This would allow independent, particularly younger, candidates with fewer financial resources to also take part in the elections. In line with this, Tebboune has reduced the number of parliamentary seats from 462 to 407 to reduce public spending. The reduced number of parliamentarians could also potentially allow for larger reimbursement for successful candidates. The law further stipulates that any donations greater than 1,000 Algerian Dinar (DZD) must be made by cheque, bank transfer, or debit or credit cards, ensuring greater transparency of campaign funding. These measures overall show Tebboune’s efforts to project that money is not a determining factor for entering politics and that he is responsive to the protesters’ demands for a change in the political status quo in Algeria.
  4. However, anti-government protests have persisted since February 22, gradually becoming more unruly over recent weeks. Thousands of protesters have also rejected the upcoming legislative elections as they perceive that political parties, such as the FLN and the RND, which were strong supporters of former President Bouteflika, will continue to retain influence within the political system. FORECAST: Hence, protesters will continue to regard the upcoming election process as a means for former President Bouteflika’s allies to remain in power. This is further given that President Tebboune has himself been denounced by large segments of the public for his ties to the former administration, despite his efforts to distance himself from the ruling political parties in Algeria. Against this backdrop, the turnout in the upcoming elections will likely be low, which will undermine the legitimacy of the electoral process, regardless of which party receives the majority of votes.


Lack of organization, clear objectives of ‘Hirak’ protesters to undermine role of independent political candidates in electoral process, potentially result in polarized parliament

  1. There are segments of the public that have indicated their support for the election process due to the perception that it can be a means for change. This is evidenced by reports that dozens of independent candidates have submitted their lists to participate in the elections in every province. These include young individuals, academics, and professionals that have little to no experience in politics. They have sought to capitalize on the changing political environment by projecting themselves as apolitical and therefore different from the status quo in order to garner support. Moreover, over the past several months, the formation of new political entities seeking to participate in the elections has been recorded. These primarily entail al-Massar al-Jadid, Nida el-Watan, and el-Hisn el-Matine. These groups have portrayed themselves as coalitions of civil society elements and other “Hirak” activists. Al-Massar al-Jadid group, for example, is headed by Moundir Boudene, former Secretary General of the Algerian Students’ Union, who has previously indicated his support for students’ right to participate in the political arena through the anti-government protest movement.

  1. FORECAST: While this indicates an increased participation of wide segments of society within the electoral process, it could result in a polarized parliament and undermine its stability. This is because the variation of candidates could divide the votes of the public, as no one group or individual may be able to earn a significant majority to become the ruling political party. This challenge can be attributed to the fact that while the “Hirak” movement has persisted over the past two years with relative consistency, the movement has not organized itself into one main group with a clear leader or group of leaders. Moreover, while the movement has persistently called for a political overhaul of the system, it has not put forth any alternatives or ideas of what this reform may entail. The candidates are thus unlikely to have a coherent platform that can meet the demands of the “Hirak” movement. Therefore, none of the independent candidates or new political parties running will receive a clear majority of votes. Moreover, the ruling party, FLN, has witnessed a steady decline amid the changing political scene. This, combined with the lack of strong support for any one “Hirak” political candidate, may result in a hung parliament.
  2. FORECAST: While it is unclear whether the FLN and the RND will win a plurality of seats, they are unlikely to win enough seats to form a clear majority coalition. Moreover, other political parties, particularly Islamist groups such as the MSP and the National “Binaa” Movement, have recently been attempting to capitalize upon the decline of the FLN and the RND to garner local support. Given that these Islamist groups have a more defined and established voter base due to their ideological clarity and traditional affiliations, they are more likely to win a significant number of votes in the upcoming elections. This is particularly given the anticipated low voter turnout, wherein voters are more likely to have strong affiliations with the more established candidates rather than independent members of the anti-government movement.
  3. On the other hand, the new political parties that have formed are largely composed of those already in positions of power, political or otherwise, despite their effort to project themselves as “Hirak” political parties. Nida el-Watan, for example, was formed under the chairmanship of Nazih Berramdane, an advisor to President Tebboune. While he has indicated his support for the role of students and the youth in facing the current political challenges in Algeria, the group has nonetheless been perceived by some political activists as a continuation of the ruling political parties seeking to capitalize on the “Hirak” movement to win the legislative elections. El-Hisn el-Matine is headed by Yacine Merzougui, who was an advisor to a former CEO of Algeria’s state-owned oil company and an executive in a senior management team of the organization, whereas Moundir Boudene of the al-Massar al-Jadid group was previously a member of the RND and supported former President Bouteflika’s mandates on several occasions. FORECAST: This will therefore reinforce the perception among significant segments of the population that the new, “independent” political parties are simply a continuation of the old political system. This may further deter support for the electoral process and undermine its legitimacy, even if these parties get some seats in the parliament.

Upcoming elections to challenge legislative process, negatively impact economy; political instability to undermine public confidence in government

  1. FORECAST: The upcoming elections will therefore bring significant challenges to the legislative process. Political parties will likely have to form alliances in order to form a coalition government. However, as discussed above, the “Hirak” movement does not have any clear organization and lacks ideological compatibility beyond calling for political reform. Meanwhile, the previously ruling parties, such as the FLN, may face significant opposition even if they are reelected to parliament with a plurality of votes. This opposition will come from both the “independent” political candidates as well as the Islamist parties that are seeking to make headway in the upcoming elections. This increasing partisanship within the parliament could in turn hinder the legislation and implementation of political and economic reforms in the country, which will elevate socio-economic grievances among large segments of the populace.
  2. FORECAST: This anticipated political instability will also adversely impact Algeria’s economic growth. This is because while Algeria has largely had a state-run economy thus far, the government has been seeking to attract foreign private investment over the past year to boost the economy. In August 2020, Algeria amended a law to allow foreign investors to own 100 percent of companies set up in the country with certain exceptions as opposed to only 29 percent, as per previous legislation. This was part of Tebboune’s economic recovery plan, part of which involved economic diversification. Moreover, the state-owned oil company has been signing several contracts with foreign energy companies in order to strengthen the oil-dependent economy. On March 25, for example, the Algerian state-owned oil company and an Italian oil and gas company signed several agreements with regards to the exploration and production of crude oil as well as  cooperation on technological research and development. Algeria has also signed similar agreements with American and French oil and gas conglomerates.
  3. However, political instability serves as a deterrent to foreign investment. For example, it may deter international oil and gas conglomerates from signing further agreements with Algeria’s state-run oil company or potentially hinder the implementation of the agreements that have already been signed. Algeria’s economy has been in significant decline over recent years, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the global decrease of oil prices. Moreover, Algeria’s oil and gas production has overall declined, with a decrease of eight percent recorded in 2020 as compared to 2019. FORECAST: Against this backdrop, the ensuing political instability in Algeria will likely hinder Tebboune’s economic recovery plan over the coming year. This will further undermine the confidence of the public in the government.


Anti-government protests, civil unrest to persist in lead up to, following June 12 elections

  1. FORECAST: As evidenced by the nationwide protests recorded following the announcement of the election date to denounce the legislative elections, nationwide “Hirak” demonstrations will persist over the weeks leading up to the elections. This is particularly given precedent of similar developments around the presidential elections in December 2019 and the constitutional referendum in November 2020. These protests will likely gather further traction in light of the unrest recorded during the recent demonstrations. Security forces have attempted to block and disperse anti-government protesters on several occasions in Algiers over recent weeks.
  2. On May 2, security forces used tear gas to disperse a protest held by firefighters in Algiers to demand an increase in wages and the payment of COVID-19 bonuses. While this was not directly part of the “Hirak” protest movement, it nonetheless showcases the authorities’ growing intolerance towards perceived anti-government activity. On May 3, 230 firefighters were subsequently dismissed for participating in the demonstrations. The authorities have also arrested several prominent activists in the movement, including Karim Tabbou, on April 28. On May 5, the Minister of Justice, Belkacem Zeghmati, submitted a draft bill to criminalize any obstructions to the legislative elections, which could consist of prison sentences of up to 20 years. The Justice Minister’s draft bill to penalize obstructions to the legislative elections with up to 20 years in prison, which could be applicable to those who seek to damage ballot boxes as well as those who seek to “undermine” the proper conduct of the elections, has also prompted protests.
  3. FORECAST: These measures will elevate the anti-government sentiments of “Hirak” activists and further diminish support for the electoral process. In Algiers, as well as in other major cities, such protests generally garner turnouts in the mid- to high-thousands. This is particularly on Tuesdays and Fridays, which have become symbolic days for the anti-government protesters. In Algiers, Martyrs’ Square usually serves as the starting point for protests on Tuesdays. The Grand Post Office, Place Maurice Audin, Didouche Mourad Street, and 1st of May Square are also key focal points for anti-government protests. In the days leading up to and on the election date, protesters are likely to gather around ballot boxes and other government buildings where the electoral process is being organized. Given the authorities’ heightened sensitivities, a security deployment can be expected at focal points across major cities of Algeria in order to prevent the materialization of large gatherings. There may also be an increase in the arrests of activists under the guise of “undermining national security” in order to demoralize activists and reduce the momentum of the protest movement. However, such measures will instead bolster the “Hirak” movement, which will continue to persist in the weeks and months following the elections.

  1. On the other hand, in the days leading up to the 2019 presidential elections, some protests were also recorded in outlying areas of Algeria calling on locals to cast their vote. This can be attributed to the fact that locals in these areas prioritize economic reform over political ones due to the overall deterioration of socio-economic conditions in the outlying parts of the country. FORECAST: It is also possible that similar protests will be held in support of these elections. This is particularly given that, as discussed above, a low voter turnout could overall undermine the legislative process and result in a polarized parliament, with fewer and more divided votes. The ensuing legislative challenges will more adversely impact those in outlying areas of the country. However, in the weeks and months following the elections, these communities will resume anti-government protests as their economic hardships persist.


  1. Travel to Algiers may continue while adhering to security precautions regarding civil unrest. Contact us at [email protected] or +44 20-3540-0434 for itinerary and contingency support options.
  2. In Algiers, it is advised to maintain heightened vigilance in the vicinity of the Grand Post Office, Martyrs’ Square, Place Maurice Audin, and Didouche Mourad Street as these locales serve as focal points for anti-government protests.
  3. It is further advised to maintain vigilance in the vicinity of public squares, government buildings, judicial courts, and police stations in other cities of Algeria as these serve as focal points for anti-government protests.
  4. Avoid discussing anti-government discourse in public spaces, including on social media, particularly pertaining to the anti-government protest movement and the upcoming June 12 legislative elections due to the risk of detention by the authorities.

Tatmadaw pledges to hold elections in one year as NLD calls on supporters to protest coup; avoid all travel – Myanmar Situation Update

Please be advised:

  • The Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) said it would hold elections at the end of the one-year state of emergency, which was imposed on February 1 after it seized power in a coup during the pre-dawn hours (local time) on the same day.
  • In a statement on behalf of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy (NLD) called on the public not to accept the February 1 coup and protest against the military’s actions.
  • Internet and TV channels continue to remain largely suspended, excluding the military-run Myawady TV, while some service providers have reportedly been able to continue some wireless connection services.
  • The Yangon Youth Network (YYN), Generation Wave, Students and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB), Youth Response (YR), and other student unions condemned the military action, vowing that young people will stand against it.
  • Bangladesh called for peace and stability in Myanmar, further adding that it expects to move forward with the process of voluntary repatriation of Rohingya Muslim refugees, which officials in Dhaka expect to resume in June.
  • China’s Foreign Ministry stated that it has “noticed” the situation and that it “hopes the various parties in Myanmar will appropriately resolve their differences.”
  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) called for dialogue among the parties involved and the “return to normalcy.”
  • Large-scale protests against the Tatmadaw’s actions were recorded on February 1 in Bangkok, Thailand and Tokyo, Japan.

Assessments & Forecast:

Military’s call for elections unlikely to lead to reversion of civilian control    

  1. The recent comments by Suu Kyi and the NLD calling on citizens not to accept the current situation are likely to prolong ongoing military restrictions in the coming term. This is especially given the military’s concerns that protest calls and youth groups organizing online will spark widespread demonstrations. However, the military has seemingly refrained from deploying large numbers of soldiers in public areas, opting for control over communication channels and the defense of primary government installations rather than an on-ground show of force. FORECAST: That said, the Tatmadaw will be on high alert over the coming days and weeks until the situation stabilizes. It will likely continue to preemptively arrest youth leaders, civil society elements, NLD members, journalists, and ethnic group representatives in a bid to head-off nascent signs of unrest. Any large-scale rallies will likely be met with arrest sweeps and, to some extent, a violent crackdown.
  2. FORECAST: While the Tatmadaw has stated its intention to hold elections at the end of the one-year state of emergency, military officials are likely to use the coming period to reinforce its control over the country and its major government institutions. As such, while elections in some form may take place within the stated time frame, the country is unlikely to witness a return to high levels of civil control as has been the case since 2015. The return to military rule may also jeopardize the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), signed between the civilian government and ten ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in 2015. While this agreement has been largely ineffective in constraining kinetic Tatmadaw-EAO conflicts in the country’s periphery, it was still a symbolic achievement. As such, the developments will exacerbate long-simmering tensions between the Tatmadaw and various EAOs, including the Arakan Army (AA), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and other members of the Northern Alliance.
  3. The status of Rohingya Muslim refugees in neighboring Bangladesh is also likely to impact the geopolitical landscape in the aftermath of the events. This is especially relevant given the uncertainties surrounding the UN-backed repatriation process, which is unlikely to witness progress given past military policies towards the group. As such, the developments may dissuade large swaths of already-wary Rohingya from returning to Myanmar. FORECAST: The repatriation issue is expected to be at the forefront of regional and international discussions once the domestic situation becomes clear in the coming days and weeks. However, international pressure is unlikely to dissuade continued military action against the minority group.

Potential Hotspots in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) - Myanmar Situation Update

Potential Hotspots in Naypyidaw, Myanmar (Burma) - Myanmar Situation Update

China’s relatively neutral response reflects desire for stability to protect its investments, prevent cross-border refugee flows 

  1. Parts of the international community have been quick to condemn the coup, including the US, the UK, and the EU. The developments present a test to these and other countries and multilateral institutions that previously championed Suu Kyi and the country’s democratic transition beginning in 2008. This is especially the case for the Biden administration in Washington, which issued a statement that the US stands “with the people of Myanmar in their aspirations for freedom, democracy, and development.”
  2. FORECAST: The events will test US President Joe Biden’s ability to rally a unified stand against democratic backsliding, which is a central plank of his foreign policy. Over the coming days and weeks, should the Tatmadaw refuse to relent, Washington may impose additional targeted sanctions against top military figures and their business assets. It is also likely to lobby its partners that have vocally decried the events to follow suit. However, the US has already sanctioned top Tatmadaw figures for past actions against the Rohingya, including chief Min Aung Hlaing, who is now effectively the country’s leader. Thus, it is unclear what punitive actions it has at its disposal.
  3. Conversely, China has taken a different tack and is instead calling for a return to stability. This is likely because Beijing’s primary interests lie in a number of economic and infrastructure projects in Myanmar, rather than the make-up of the government. Any immediate pause in these entities is unlikely to concern China, given the deep impact COVID-19 has had on cross-border trade and other facets of the economy. Further, over recent years, China has formed warm relations with both the civilian government and the Tatmadaw, which also informs its relatively neutral stance regarding the developments.
  4. FORECAST: China will continue monitoring the events closely, with its primary focus being on a possible influx of refugees crossing the more than 2,000 km-long border between the two countries. It will also seek to ensure stability in the country to protect its investments, most of which fall under the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). Should Washington and other Western countries sanction the military, China will likely be eager to deepen ties with Naypyidaw to capitalize on the country’s waning favor with those calling for a restoration of the democratically-elected NLD to power.


  1. Avoid all travel to Myanmar over the coming days due to the extreme risk of civil unrest and political instability.
  2. Those currently residing in Myanmar are advised to shelter-in-place, stock up on adequate supplies of food, water, medicine, and any other essential goods for at least a week, and immediately prepare evacuation procedures to leave the country, given the growing threat of violent civil unrest.
  3. Those operating in Myanmar are advised to consult with us at [email protected]
  4. Avoid all government buildings and protests due to the risks of violence by both anti-government protesters and security forces.

New unified interim government to face challenges, security situation in country to remain largely static over coming months – Libya Analysis

Executive Summary

  • A new unified interim government for Libya, known as the Government of National Unity (GNU), was voted in on February 5, approved by the House of Representatives (HoR) on March 10, and officially sworn in on March 16. The GNU’s main prerogative is the organization of national elections in Libya on December 24. Its mandate will end on this date.
  • This development is a strategic gamechanger for the political landscape of Libya as this is the first time that the country has had a unified government since 2014. It represents a major breakthrough in the political deadlock that has characterized Libya over recent years.
  • However, there are several challenges that lie ahead for the GNU, which will hinder its ability to effectively dispense its duties over the coming months. This includes challenges arising from local skepticism surrounding the GNU’s legitimacy, political infighting within and between various state institutions, and the proliferation of local militias across the country.
  • Therefore, while the formation of the GNU will at least partly stabilize the country in the coming months, the security situation of Libya will remain largely static due to the prevalence of militant groups and militias as well as the lack of a unified security apparatus under the GNU’s command.
  • It is advised to defer all travel to Tripoli at this time due to the current political instability and the risk of a broad deterioration of security conditions. Travel to Benghazi, Misrata, and Tobruk should be for essential purposes only, while adhering to all security precautions. Contact us at [email protected] or +44 20-3540-0434 for itinerary and contingency support plans.

Read more about the on-ground implications of this development for Libya

Download full report - New unified interim government to face challenges, security situation in country to remain largely static over coming months - Libya Analysis

Intel Portal Demo - Try our intelligence package

President Alassane Ouattara likely to win third term amid intensified political tensions, unrest ahead of October 31 presidential elections – Ivory Coast Analysis

Executive Summary

President Alassane Ouattara’s recent decision to run for a controversial third term in the October 31 presidential elections following the death of former Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly has seriously altered the country’s political outlook.

Ouattara’s latest decisions may seriously discredit the Constitution and his democratic credentials, as he is using the recent enactment of the 2016 Constitution to justify bypassing the two-term limit. However, his decision has not elicited international condemnation, which likely stems from the international stakeholders’ prioritizing stability over democratic principles.

Former President Henri Konan Bedie is Ouattara’s primary contender following the disqualification of both former PM Guillaume Soro and former President Laurent Gbagbo due to active indictments. Bedie may benefit from the support of Gbagbo and Soro, though his chances of defeating Ouattara currently appear limited.

Unrest and protests have been witnessed throughout Ivory Coast in the aftermath of Ouattara’s announcement of his intent to run for a third mandate, with at least six killed. With opposition leaders calling for street protests to destabilize Ouattara, unrest is poised to persist, especially in opposition strongholds, ahead of the election.

The potential for opposition sympathizers within the military to mount mutinies remains, though Ouattara’s administration has gradually increased its control over the security apparatus over the past several years. Similarly, militant cells operating in the border area between northern Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso may exploit the political instability to carry out attacks, though the possibility remains low.

Maintain heightened vigilance in the vicinity of gatherings due to the possibility of spontaneous protests and their associated risk of eliciting a harsh security response.

Please be advised

On August 6, President Alassane Ouattara officially announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for October 31.

The announcement followed the death of former Prime Minister and ruling Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) presidential candidate Amadou Gon Coulibaly on July 8, and several weeks of calls from senior RHDP officials requesting his candidacy.

In March, Ouattara initially announced his intent to renounce a third consecutive mandate. Ouattara portrayed his controversial decision to run for a third term as a “sacrifice” for his country as he had already planned his life after the Presidency.

Opposition parties have been criticizing the move as being “unconstitutional”. According to the 2016 Constitution, a president may be re-elected only once. RHDP members and Ouattara have argued that the Constitution is only valid from the time it was enacted in 2016.

Former President Henri Konan Bedie, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI), officially submitted his presidential candidacy to the Independent Electoral Committee (CEI) on August 27 along with over 43 others, including the leaders of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), former President Laurent Gbagbo and Pascal Affi N’Guessan, as well as the leader of Generations and People in Solidarity (GPS) party, former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.

Both Soro and Gbagbo are in exile and have been formally disqualified from the race by the CEI due to their active legal conviction within Ivorian courts.

Separately, sources indicate that French President Emmanuel Macron privately asked Ouattara to withdraw his candidacy in a meeting in France on September 4, which Ouattara declined.

Meanwhile, over six individuals were killed and dozens of others injured in protests against Ouattara’s candidacy on August 12-13.  These protests mostly took place in opposition strongholds in Ivory Coast’s outlying regions, notably in Comoe District’s Bonoua and Lacs District’s Daoukro, which is also Bedie’s birthplace.

Additional protests have been recorded across Abidjan, but have been mostly contained by the security forces that have been widely deployed in the city following Ouattara’s announcement.

Assessments & Forecast

President Ouattara’s candidacy likely to damage his credibility, undermine Constitution as well as affect oversight on democratic transitions throughout West Africa

President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term has seriously altered Ivory Coast’s political outlook as well as the president’s legacy as a strong defender of democratic transitions in West Africa. Ouattara likely initially intended to remain involved in politics by having former PM Coulibaly, a close ally, as the president. This would have led the country to its first peaceful political transition in its recent history, where the previous transition in 2010-2011 between Ouattara and former President Laurent Gbagbo led to a peak in the civil war conflict. Coulibaly’s sudden death drastically altered Ouattara’s post-presidency plans and led him to maintain his direct involvement as the head of the country. The lack of perceived strong alternatives within the RHDP combined with the presence of a political veteran, Henri Konan Bedie, in the presidential race likely partly motivated his decision.

To this point, Ouattara likely strongly believes that he is the most qualified leader and the only person capable of continuing to stabilize the country. His presidency since 2011 has been marked by exceptional economic growth, although this has partially slowed over the past few years, as well as many reforms within several sectors. Ouattara has seemingly strengthened and stabilized the military, notably since the onset of mutinies in 2014 and 2017, together with the current Prime Minister and former Defense Minister, Hamed Bakayoko. This overall stability contrasted with the turmoil observed in the period that followed the death of former President Felix Houphouet Boigny marked by a coup in 1999 and civil war in the 2000s under Gbagbo. In this context, Ouattara likely perceives that exiting office would be too much of a risk, with Coulibaly being the only trustworthy alternative in his view.

In order to minimize the fallout from his candidacy, Ouattara likely voluntarily took some time, close to two weeks, to accept the RHDP’s nomination and, thus, appear hesitant, and portrayed the decision as a sacrifice for his country. He referred to the death of Coulibaly as “force majeure” that imposed him to step up for the best interest of the state. Ouattara understood that his decision would stir controversy and tarnish his reputation, which explains his attempt to label the decision as unpremeditated and exceptional.

Nonetheless, Ouattara’s possible third term may have long-term implications on the Ivorian and West African political landscape. The 2016 Constitution was designed to cement Ivory Coast’s democracy, imposing a two-term limit on the president and banning other autocratic practices such as forced political exiles. However, Ouattara has used loopholes to maintain a tight grip on power without, to his view, violating the text. The exile of two of Ouattara’s main political opponents, Laurent Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro, were enabled by convictions in Ivorian courts. Soro’s conviction for embezzlement on April 28 and an earlier arrest warrant for “preparing a military and civil insurrection” to seize power were likely carefully timed as Soro was preparing a promising bid for the presidential election.

FORECAST: As a result, Ouattara’s latest decisions may seriously discredit the Constitution and the path towards entrenched democratic institutions he seemingly attempted to set at the start of his presidency. More importantly, it may have repercussions in neighboring countries, notably within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), where he has held an important role over the past years. ECOWAS’s ability to credibly intervene to settle crises will be damaged as Ivory Coast is likely to continue to hold a significant position within the organization. This takes place as another member, Guinea, faces similar issues with President Alpha Conde attempting to seek a third term in office after having changed the constitution for this purpose. The actions of both Ouattara and Conde may provide incentives for other democratically elected leaders to extend their stay in power.

While Ouattara has been praised by the international community for initially renouncing a third mandate in March, most countries have refrained from vocally criticizing his recent retraction. The US notably stated that they respect the Ivorians’ right to self-determination and that the Constitutional Court must settle the issue. ECOWAS and France have remained discreet and mostly condemned the violence observed over the recent weeks. French President Emmanuel Macron met with Ouattara in France on September 4 without subsequently formally addressing Ouattara’s decision. According to recent reports, Macron may have privately tried to convince Ouattara against running, though it is unlikely that he will publicly condemn the decision. These reactions indirectly portray tolerance for Ouattara’s candidacy. They likely stem from a desire to prioritize stability over democratic principles while attempting to avoid further antagonizing leaders that have been prominent partners over recent years. FORECAST: In light of these reactions, the relations between Ivory Coast and its historic partners, notably France, are set to continue unabated. The international community and ECOWAS are only likely to intervene in case of prolonged unrest, which may trigger an overall crisis.

President Ouattara likely to win third term despite increased challenges posed by enhanced unification within opposition

Following the disqualification of former President Laurent Gbagbo and former PM Guillaume Soro from the presidential race by the CEI, PDCI leader Henri Konan Bedie emerged as the sole major opposition candidate able to run against Ouattara. Bedie is a prominent political figure within Ivory Coast as a former president and close collaborator of the founder of the country, Felix Houphouet Boigny. Both Ouattara and Bedie have claimed Boigny’s heritage while their fight over his succession led to an entrenched political crisis in the 1990s during Bedie’s presidency. The alliance brokered during the 2010 presidential election that formed the RHDP coalition as a common ‘Houphouetist’ front against Gbagbo slowly disintegrated over the years, with the PDCI entirely withdrawing in 2018. Therefore, the upcoming election will witness a confrontation between two leaders with extensive political experience coming from the same political family.

Bedie benefits from an organized, large, and popular political structure via the PDCI. Furthermore, the PDCI struck an alliance with Laurent Gbagbo’s FPI, designed to enable the two opposition parties to campaign together to win the presidency. According to the agreement, the best performing candidate between Gbagbo and Bedie in the elections would join the other in a prospective second round. The potential of the FPI-PDCI alliance was notably witnessed in a meeting that drew ten of thousands of supporters in Abidjan’s Treichville in late 2019. FORECAST: Since Gbagbo is unable to participate in the election, Bedie will likely benefit from Gbagbo’s support from the first round. This would seriously boost Bedie’s chances, possibly enabling him to confront Ouattara in a second round.

Similarly, former PM Guillaume Soro has been disqualified from the electoral race, though he has continuously attempted to appeal the verdict to enable him to run. At this stage, it is highly unlikely that Soro will be able to return from his exile in Paris given the authorities’ well-established unwillingness to withdraw the arrest warrant as well as other criminal convictions against him. In this context, Soro may eventually grant his support to Bedie from the first round. Although Soro has been associated with the agreement between Gbagbo’s FPI and Bedie, he has refrained from granting his direct support to any other candidate as yet, likely in a final attempt to put forward his legitimacy as a candidate. However, Soro may strike a deal with Bedie to have him vacate all charges pronounced against him in case of an electoral victory.

Altogether, 43 individuals have presented their candidacy to the CEI. In addition to Bedie, Soro, and Gbagbo, the other notable candidate is Pascal Affi N’Guessan, currently the president of the FPI, who previously competed in the 2015 elections. Ouattara won the 2015 elections in a landslide, with over 83 percent of the vote while N’Guessan received less than ten percent. During this election, Gbagbo’s party had boycotted and Bedie and Soro were still part of the RHDP coalition with Ouattara. In those circumstances, N’Guessan likely benefited from being the only credible opposition candidate at the time. FORECAST: With other figures like Bedie on the ballot during this election, it is unlikely that N’Guessan will surpass his previous results. Furthermore, the continued divisions within the FPI between his faction and Gbagbo’s supporters will likely further decrease his backers, as Gbagbo’s supporters are likely to favor Bedie’s candidacy.

FORECAST: The Constitutional Court is set to review the 44 candidates over the coming weeks, and many candidates are poised to be disqualified. Although Bedie’s candidacy has not been contested as yet and the PDCI leader does not face any known legal issues within the country, it cannot be entirely ruled that the Constitutional Court will reject his candidacy in light of precedent. This would likely create a situation in which the elections would be entirely boycotted by the opposition. However, this possibility remains distant.

FORECAST: Despite Bedie’s popularity and possible support from other candidates, his chances to defeat Ouattara appear to be rather slim, with his advanced age and arguably poor record during his presidency in the 1990s likely to act against him. In fact, Ouattara’s success in partially reshaping the country will likely appeal to many who voted for the larger RHDP coalition in the 2010 and 2015 elections. Additionally, Ouattara’s tight grip on the country’s electoral structures may play to his advantage, though no accusations of fraud have been verified in the past ballot and independent observers gave Ivory Coast a clean bill of health in 2015. Ultimately, President Ouattara appears to have the highest chances to win the ballot and carry on with a third term.

Unrest to persist, intensify throughout Ivory Coast, notably in opposition strongholds while risks of mutinies, militancy remain

Unrest and protests have been witnessed throughout Ivory Coast in the aftermath of Ouattara’s announcement of his intent to run for a third term. Such protests mostly transpired in opposition strongholds in Ivory Coast’s outlying regions, notably in Comoe District’s Bonoua, Lac District’s Daoukro, and Goh-Djiboua District’s Gagnoua. Bonoua and Daoukro are notably the respective birthplaces of former First Lady Simone Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bedie. The elevated anti-Ouattara sentiment existing in these localities led to intense confrontations with the security forces dispatched to disperse the protesters, with at least six killed. Besides, several Guinean nationals were allegedly targeted due to perceptions of “foreigners” supporting the current President. This is particularly reminiscent of the nationalistic and anti-foreigner stances observed during the civil war in the 2000s, notably due to Ouattara’s alleged Burkinabe descent.

Despite several instances of protest witnessed in several neighborhoods of Abidjan, the heavy deployment of the security forces around Abidjan mostly contained the unrest and prevented further escalation in the economic hub. Protests were mostly witnessed in the vicinity of government institutions, notably the CEI, with Soro and Gbagbo’s protesters denouncing their candidate’s disqualifications.

FORECAST: In light of the opposition’s limited chances of winning the elections via the ballot, calls for protests will likely continue to be used as a way to discredit Ouattara’s presidency and display the popular resistance to a potential third mandate. Hence, anti-Ouattara protests are anticipated to recur throughout Ivory Coast in the weeks leading to the elections on October 31, with unrest particularly likely in opposition strongholds that have already seen turmoil such as Gagnoua, Daoukro, and Bonoua. Additional opposition PDCI strongholds like Bouake, the second-largest city in the country, may witness unrest. Furthermore, Soro’s birthplace in the northern Savanes District, Ferkessedougou, may also witness protests denouncing the GPS leader’s disqualification. Abidjan’s wider area remains a focal point for unrest, with spontaneous as well as organized protests likely in the vicinity of governmental institutions. Security forces are poised to forcibly disperse any unauthorized protests, while Ouattara may extend the ongoing ban on street protests over the COVID-19 pandemic beyond September 15 to avoid large demonstrations.

The recent increased political instability in the country and the arrest warrant launched against Guillaume Soro have brought back fears of potential mutinies that greatly destabilized the country in 2017. Soro and many of his associates were notably accused of treason and attempting a coup. There has long been fear of Soro using his influence within the army as the former leader of the Forces Nouvelles ex-rebel group during the civil war in the 2000s. In the aftermath of the conflict, the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) process integrated the ex-rebel Forces Nouvelles and the Defense and Security Forces of Ivory Coast (FDS), loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo, into the Armed Forces of Ivory Coast. As part of the RHDP coalition, Soro was a key component of the DDR process. Although Soro allegedly still has many supporters within the ranks of the army, the ex-rebel leader’s influence has slowly waned over the past years as Ouattara and PM Hamed Bakayoko gained the support of many generals by promoting them.

FORECAST: Given the authorities’ reinforced control over the security apparatus, the potential for a large mutiny that would greatly destabilize the country and the electoral process appears to be limited. However, this cannot be entirely ruled out given precedent. Besides, certain elements or commanders sympathizing with opposition figures may attempt to launch insurgencies, which would create confrontations with other units of the military, notably the Presidential Guard.

Meanwhile, the attack that killed 12 soldiers on Kafolo military base in Savanes District near the Burkina Faso border on June 11 further highlighted the risk of militant spillover into the Ivory Coast. Militant groups established in neighboring Burkina Faso have increasingly been active along the border since late 2019, while local cells have likely been established within the Ivorian territory. Following the Kafolo attack, the military responded immediately by conducting operations against suspected militant hideouts in forested areas in northern Ivory Coast. Although many cells have been reportedly dismantled and the mastermind of the attack has been neutralized, dormant militant cells likely remain present in the region. FORECAST: Therefore, such cells may attempt to exploit the potential instability linked to the elections to conduct further attacks. At this stage, this possibility also remains limited, and this prospect is unlikely to particularly impact the electoral outcome.


Those operating or residing in Ivory Coast are advised to maintain heightened vigilance in the vicinity of gatherings due to the possibility of spontaneous protests and their associated risk of eliciting a harsh security response.

Travel to Abidjan may continue while adhering to stringent security protocols due to high levels of crime, particularly in the Youpougon, Adjame, Abobo, and Koumassi areas.

Avoid all travel to the immediate border area with Burkina Faso due to the possible presence of militants.

Protesters to remain steadfast on remaining demands, will influence November’s District Council elections – Hong Kong Analysis

Executive Summary

Chief Executive Carrie Lam invoked emergency legislation on October 4 to ban the use of masks during all protests in the city, a month after she formally announced the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill.

The significant escalation in protest tactics and forceful dispersal methods has resulted in a deterioration in all-around security in Hong Kong, while the protest lobby will continue to pressure the government to address all five of their demands.

The discovery of an IED in Mong Kok on October 13 for the first time during the ongoing wave of protests is highly notable. Despite its isolated nature, the incident is likely to be used by authorities to further justify a more heavy-handed crackdown on protesters, including mass arrests, over the coming weeks.

The anti-government campaign is liable to impact the upcoming District Council polls, slated for November, with election-related violence anticipated in the coming weeks.

Travel to Hong Kong can continue while adhering to security precautions regarding civil unrest, and avoiding the vicinity of all protests.

Current Situation

Hong Kong authorities officially withdrew the contentious extradition bill, via a statement by Secretary for Security John Lee at the Legislative Council (LegCo) on October 23. The move follows Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s announcement of the bill’s complete withdrawal on September 4 after it sparked anti-government protests since March. CE Lam also announced a ban on the use of masks in all protests by invoking emergency legislation on October 4.

Notable recent developments have included a significant uptick in protest tactics as well as police dispersal methods in the months of September and October. The most recent was a low-level IED explosion in Mong Kok during a protest in the area, during which demonstrators also threw at least 20 petrol bombs at the Mong Kok Police Station. Further, October 1 and 4 saw two separate instances of young protesters being shot by police personnel.

The US House of Representatives passed three pieces of legislation in support of Hong Kong on October 15. These include the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which seeks an annual review of Hong Kong’s autonomy and the city’s special treatment as a separate trade entity if it becomes law. The second measure, the Protect Hong Kong Act, seeks to ban the commercial exports of military and crowd-control equipment that the police could use against protesters. The third measure passed by the House is a non-binding resolution recognizing Hong Kong’s relationship with the US, supporting the residents’ right to vote, and condemning China’s alleged interference in their domestic affairs.

Key Events in Anti-government Protests in Hong Kong

Assessments and Forecast

Escalation in violence, increased confrontations despite bill’s withdrawal signals entrenched position of protesters 

Recent tactics adopted by both the security forces and anti-government protesters, mainly consisting of Hong Kong’s youth, represent notable escalations. The first instances of protesters being shot by police forces have thus far aggravated radical groups and have sustained their use of more violent means of protests in recent weeks. FORECAST: The continuation of demonstrations despite CE Lam’s announcement of the formal withdrawal of the bill shows how the movement has evolved into a larger anti-government campaign, and as such, shows no signs of quelling in the near term.

Status if Demands by Anti-government Protesters

The introduction of the anti-mask law by emergency legislation served to further antagonize protesters against CE Lam. It also raised concerns about further restrictions on freedoms and the potential implementation of a full emergency in the city.  While this latter measure is less likely in the immediate term, sustained protest violence may be used to justify the usage of increased emergency measures in the long term, as was witnessed with the anti-mask regulation. Calls for CE Lam’s resignation are expected to continue gaining traction in the near term, evidenced by pan-democrats’ heckling of CE Lam during her policy address on October 16.

Vandalism, arson, and the use of petrol bombs can be expected with continued frequency by radical anti-government groups. The slightly diminished participation in protests may be attributed to various reasons. This may include the disengagement of more moderate groups who have now been placated by the withdrawal of the extradition bill or those driven away by the increase in violent protest tactics. Despite these factors, local solidarity with the anti-government campaign as a whole appears unlikely to abate, signaled by moderate groups dubbing their radical counterparts as “the braves” for continuing the movement. Specific incidents of escalation, such as the alleged police excesses or the use of live rounds to disperse protesters, may prompt a sudden spike in turnouts at rallies, especially on the weekends.

Authorities likely expected the extradition bill’s complete withdrawal to placate the protest movement. Instead, the withdrawal emboldened participating groups to continue pushing for their four remaining demands, likely due to perceptions that the withdrawal of the bill was a result of the pressure they put on the government. This continuation of protests has likely informed the increased intensity of forceful dispersal measures witnessed in the aftermath of the bill’s withdrawal. FORECAST: Police are liable to continue with this approach, using tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, and bean bag rounds, with the latent risk of isolated incidents involving live ammunition usage in the near term. The increasing frequency of MTR cancellations ahead of protests appear to have also created perceptions among protesters that the MTR corporation is siding with the police by restricting protesters’ movement. As such, MTR stations are likely to continue to remain hotspots, especially for acts of arson and vandalism.

The discovery of an IED in Mong Kok on October 13 for the first time during the ongoing wave of protests is highly notable, although it appears to have been crudely constructed and caused limited damage with no injuries. FORECAST: Nevertheless, the incident is likely to be used by authorities to further justify a more heavy-handed crackdown on protesters, including mass arrests, over the coming weeks. An increase in the deployment of riot police is also expected city-wide. However, it is unlikely that IED attacks will become commonplace in Hong Kong, as the aforementioned instance appears to have been an isolated event.

Anti-government campaign liable to inform trends in upcoming election

The protesters’ recent targeting of Chinese-owned banks and businesses in the city further highlights heightened anti-Beijing sentiments, which has largely energized the clashes between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing individuals in Hong Kong. FORECAST: This may further deepen social polarization within the city, especially ahead of the November District Council elections. Pro-democracy lawmakers may attempt to capitalize on current sentiments to gain visibility for their campaigns, potentially by staging election rallies during or close to predetermined anti-government events.

Voter turnout and support for these groups may see an uptick as smaller pro-democracy parties draw support by association with the protests. Turnouts in the election are liable to be high, based on the record number of citizens enrolled to vote. Incidents of election-related violence are also likely, potentially targeting pro-government lawmakers and their offices. This risk pertains to pan-democrat candidates as well, evidenced thus far in the October 16 attack on CHRF convenor and Lek Yuen constituency candidate Jimmy Sham.

FORECAST: Precedence suggests that the government will enforce stringent electoral rules to exclude pan-democrat candidates. This was witnessed in the barring of pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong, per an October 29 announcement. Authorities may also attempt to disqualify elected pro-democracy representatives following the polls. Such moves will exacerbate anti-government sentiment, potentially spurring a new wave of rallies or violence in the aftermath of the elections. Another trigger that could instigate such unrest is the cancellation of polls in specific areas due to security concerns. This is likely as such a move would be perceived as a rejection of protesters’ demand for universal suffrage.

FORECAST: Though the District Council polls are not expected to significantly impact the shaping of the Legislative Council, they will inform representation in the committee that selects the city’s chief executive. This is significant considering protesters’ calls for incumbent CE Lam’s resignation. While such a result is less likely at present, pan-democrats will seek to maximize poll participation in order to ultimately bolster their committee representation. In this light, Beijing will monitor the elections closely and may push to escalate the local government’s crackdown on pan-democrat candidates or their camp as a whole in the months that follow. This is especially likely in preparation for the Legislative Council elections set to occur in 2020.

Assult Incidents on Pro-democracy Activist

China may use punitive trade measures to discourage international support, risk of direct military intervention still low

The month of October saw China exerting its influence on US-based businesses that were perceived as supporting the protest movement in Hong Kong. The developments underscore China’s economic influence on US-based businesses by virtue of its large market access, especially those perceived to take an anti-China stance. This is bolstered by multiple Chinese businesses dropping sponsorship deals with a large US-based sporting franchise over perceived support for the protests.

FORECAST: The US House of Representatives’ votes in favor of several pieces of legislation to support Hong Kong on October 15 are likely to embolden pro-democracy demonstrators, especially as the votes coincided with a mass protest in Hong Kong in support of the legislation. The passage of these bills may be raised at ongoing trade talks between the US and China, as Beijing condemns Washington for interfering in affairs it views as domestic.  CE Lam’s recent statements that the administration will not hesitate to take Beijing’s assistance in quelling protests is likely a form of signaling; as such, direct intervention by the Chinese government or security forces still remains less likely in the immediate term. However, the level of security cooperation between Beijing’s security establishment and the Hong Kong police is expected to increase as protests sustain for the foreseeable future.

US Legislation in Support of Hong Kong


Travel to Hong Kong can continue while adhering to security precautions regarding civil unrest, crime, and protests.

Those operating or residing in Hong Kong are advised to avoid all travel near protests and further maintain heightened vigilance throughout the city due to the potential for continued demonstrations and the unrest. This may include the use of teargas and rubber bullets by police, incendiary objects such as petrol bombs, or the throwing of bricks and projectiles by protesters.

Avoid the vicinity of police stations, checkpoints, or other security installations as they are being increasingly targeted with arson attacks or vandalism in the latest wave of protests. This is particularly likely after multiple arrests occur at protest rallies.

Maintain particular vigilance around government buildings on Hong Kong Island, which are often used as protest sites, such as the LegCo Building, Central Government Complex, Hong Kong Police Headquarters, and Chief Executive’s Office.

Minimize nonessential travel to sensitive areas where the propensity for violence is greater at present. These primarily include Tin Shui Wai, Ma On Shan, Sha Tin, and Sheung Shui in the New Territories; Tsim Sha Tsui, Sham Shui Po, and the West Kowloon Train Station in Kowloon; and North Point in the Eastern District of Hong Kong Island.

Allot for disruptions if taking the MRT service given that authorities are known to close off specific lines to prevent protesters’ movements, especially during multiple simultaneous demonstrations across the city.

Avoid carrying any sensitive material either on electronic devices or clothing that puts forward controversial political opinions, particularly anti-Beijing stances, when crossing over by land due to the heightened security checks.

MAX Security has strong on-ground capabilities for executive protection and facilitating business travel to Hong Kong. For contingency plans and on-ground operational support, contact us at [email protected] or +44 20-3540-0434.

BJP, PM Modi elected back to power after May 23 vote count; no imminent threat to political stability – India Analysis

Executive Summary

The National Democratic Alliance returned to power for a second consecutive term after the Bharatiya Janata Party secured the single-party majority.

The conflicting opposition strategies on political alliances appear to have weakened the challenge posed to the BJP-led NDA.

The largely personality-driven political campaigning by the ruling alliance also appears to have played a significant role in shaping voting patterns.

The election results are reflective of a consolidation of the national mandate when compared to the 2014 elections, and is unlikely to result in a significant, negative shift as far as the business and security environments are concerned in the immediate term.

Travel to Delhi and other major Indian cities can continue, while travelers are advised to maintain vigilance for security risks associated with frequent, large demonstrations as well as potential militant threats targeting government buildings, security installations, large crowded public places, or religious sites.

Current Situation

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was voted back into power for a second consecutive five-year term following the announcement of the 2019 general assembly elections held across 543 constituencies across 29 states. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), the BJP won 303 seats while the NDA secured a total of 353 seats.

The NDA won all seats it contested in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan, while also securing the majority of seats in Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. The BJP also secured a landslide win in the southern state of Karnataka where it secured 25 out of a total of 28 seats. The center-ruling party also made considerable inroads into West Bengal and Odisha, while nevertheless ending up in second place in both states.

The Mahagathbandhan (MGB), or Grand Alliance, formed by the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), failed to defeat the BJP in the electorally significant state of Uttar Pradesh. The BJP appears to have won in 62 constituencies out of a total of 80 in the state.

The Indian National Congress (INC)-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won a total of 90 seats.


Conflicting opposition strategies on political alliances weakened challenge to BJP-led NDA

As previously assessed, the BJP victory was a result of a lack of cohesion among the opposition parties, thus splitting anti-government votes in key states. The INC’s failure to unequivocally take on the leadership of an opposition front, such as the Mahagathbandhan, was due to prevailing considerations within the party leadership that it could capitalize on short-term anti-BJP sentiment to take the elections on its own merit. However, the final results indicate that the INC-led UPA has only gained 24 seats in comparison with 2014, which is a less-than-expected tally. Further, it continued to work with traditional regional allies, many of whom did not necessarily have adequate momentum going into these elections.

This is in contrast with the BJP – the party retained key allies in states where disaffection against them was building, such as in Maharashtra, where it restored ties with the Shiv Sena. Similar overtures were made to parties such as the Janata Dal-United (JDU), and coordination of strategy in terms of candidate allocation and seat sharing was also observed. On the other hand, the party retained strategic allies in states where it has not been conventionally strong. This includes the northeastern states, where the BJP-led Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) weathered unrest over the Citizenship Amendment Bill to lead in states like Assam.

Policy issues overtaken by personality-driven campaigns, focus placed on national narratives

Despite the initial traction that policy issues such as demonetization, unemployment, and security gained during the pre-election discourse, the focus of campaigns by both the ruling and opposition sides have been personality-driven. This is not necessarily a novel concept, given that regional politics has long been dominated by strong figures, around whom campaigns are structured. However, the BJP’s utilization of this strategy at the national level, combining social media and targeted campaigns with demographics-rooted nuance, is highly notable and builds on early versions of such an approach from 2014. Given the large numbers of first-time voters, pegged at close to 15 million in the 18-19 age group, the use of candidates with targeted appeal and closely-managed social media campaigns likely factored in voting trends. In many cases, the families of career-politicians were passed over in favor of newer candidates. This was witnessed in Bangalore, where 28-year-old Tejaswi Surya was chosen instead of five-time MP Ananth Kumar’s wife, while actor Sunny Deol was favored over the wife of actor Rajesh Khanna.

Another notable trend that has strengthened since 2014 is the distinction that the electorate had made between national politics and state parties with regard to policy. While the BJP was voted out in legislative elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh in late 2018, the party won with a resounding margin in these states during the current parliamentary elections. Voters increasingly isolated factors such as unemployment and agrarian discontent to the perceived incompetence of state BJP governments, while preferring that the party nevertheless hold power at the center. Public sentiment surrounding PM Modi’s administration in these states appears to have concluded that poorly performing BJP state governments did not detract from the ruling party’s broader intent.

Platforms such as national security, which have emerged as a key factor since the Pulwama attack and skirmishes with Pakistan in February, have likely buttressed this trend. Further, opposition parties including the INC were positioned to the electorate as primarily anti-incumbent, but not necessarily presenting a clear policy platform of their own. INC tactics focussed on recent scandals such as the Rafale deal were seen as an extension of this campaign orientation. In contrast, INC policy platforms such as the Nyunatam Aay Yojana (Nyay) scheme, a minimum income guarantee scheme, were late inclusions in the campaigns and thus, did not pay significant electoral dividends.

Immediate-term impact on business interests, security to remain unchanged

In the immediate term, a BJP-led NDA victory will be seen as a generally positive development, given the government’s overall perceived business-friendly image.  This has been indicated by the recent rallying of stock market indices in the weeks prior to the elections, as exit polls indicated a BJP win. The rally was marked by notable but short-term gains on May 23, and the subsequent drops may be reflective of long-term structural economic concerns. However, the continuity associated with the BJP’s win will be seen as providing greater levels of stability in the immediate term. Coordination between the central and state governments, especially in the states where the BJP has significant political sway or a party-led government, can be expected on policy issues. Finally, the BJP’s majority position in the Lok Sabha will also reduce its reliance on coalition partners, granting greater stability to the incoming national government. Overall, the NDA’s return to power is unlikely to result in a significant, negative shift as far as the immediate business and security environment is concerned at the national level.

FORECAST: An examination of the overall vote share of the BJP shows a rise since 2014, as the party is pegged to gain close to 40 percent of the total vote share alone, as opposed to the 31 percent share in 2014. This may be indicative of a more consolidated national mandate when compared to the last elections. However, as witnessed after the 2014 elections, continued polarization within the electorate is liable to manifest in localized socio-political and religious tensions, especially between the BJP and minority communities. Caste and inter-religious conflict may see a rise over the long term, based on the extent to which right-wing groups affiliated with the BJP are emboldened post elections. However, these conflicts will largely be localized, and are not expected to destabilize security at the broader national level. States where the BJP has seen increased vote share gains, such as West Bengal and some constituencies of Kerala, will be particular flashpoints of conflict. The party will seek to displace volatile INC-led state coalition governments, such as in Karnataka. In the immediate term, the BJP win is liable to have an impact on local disaffection in Kashmir, ahead of state elections in Jammu and Kashmir. There is a potential for an increase in militancy and separatist unrest, in reaction to the key gains the BJP made in the state during the general elections.


Travel to Delhi and other major Indian cities can continue, while travelers are advised to maintain vigilance for security risks associated with frequent, large demonstrations as well as potential militant threats targeting government buildings, security installations, large crowded public places, or religious sites.

Those operating or residing in India are advised to maintain general vigilance due to the risk of localized and isolated incidents of unrest in the aftermath of the election results.

Avoid discussing controversial issues regarding the elections with unfamiliar individuals, especially topics related to caste or religion due to the risk of eliciting confrontational behavior.

Avoid the vicinity of party offices and celebratory rallies due to the latent risk of violence. Allot for temporary disruptions to travel during these rallies, especially in major cities.

Remain cognizant of local laws and post-electoral sensitivities especially when posting on social media, due to the risk of legal action or state prosecution as a response to controversial content.

Presidential primary to be held amid heightened polarization; Macri likely to win re-election in second round – Argentina Analysis

Written by Federico Sujarchuk 

Executive Summary

The Presidential primary will be held on August 11 prior to the general election for the president, vice-president, National Congress, and the governors of several provinces.

President Mauricio Macri and former President Cristina Kirchner’s choice of running mates reflect the decline of the moderate Peronist opposition, the third largest political force in the country.

Macri’s decision to pick Peronist Senator Pichetto as running mate is likely to bolster his electoral chances and ability to govern.

Kirchner’s decision to run for the vice-presidency and choose Alberto Fernandez as her presidential candidate is unlikely to bolster her chances of winning.

Mandatory primary election likely to soften the expected lead of the Fernandez-Kirchner presidential ticket in the first round of the elections.

FORECAST: Macri likely to win re-election in second round, though Kirchner camp may regain control of most populous Buenos Aires province.

2019 General Elections

Mandatory primary elections are slated to take place on August 11. In this system, which is known as Primarias Abiertas Simultaneas y Obligatorias (PASO), all coalitions run primary elections in the same general polls. All coalitions must take part, both the coalitions with internal factions and coalitions with a single candidacy list.

On October 27, general elections will be held to elect the country’s president, vice-president, members of the National Congress, and the governors of several provinces.

The election of the presidential ticket will be conducted under the ballotage system, a modified version of the two-round system. A candidate can win the presidency in a single round by either winning 45% of the vote, or if they win 40% of the vote while finishing 10 percentage points ahead of the second-place candidate. If no candidate meets either threshold, a runoff on November 24 will take place between the top two candidates.

The candidates and parties taking part in the primaries are as follows:

Argentina Elections Grid


The announcement of the main presidential tickets comes amid a marked deterioration in the economic situation in Argentina over the last year, partly due to a costly drought in the country’s farm belt during 2018 and a sharp increase in the price of financing for emerging countries whose economies have some characteristics of a developed economy but do not satisfy all of the standards. This situation has fostered a significant devaluation of the Argentinian Peso, which was one of the world’s worst-performing currencies in 2018 and lost 37 percent of its value in relation to the US dollar over the last 12 months. This situation, in turn, exacerbated the country’s inflation, which is expected to reach a rate of 39 percent in 2019. This financial situation prompted President Macri to request a 57 billion USD standby loan from the IMF on September 2018 and accept the fund’s required cuts to public spending.

Since then, President Macri’s approval rating fell significantly and has been largely tied to the value of the Argentine Peso in relation to the US dollar. This is due to the close relationship between this particular macroeconomic factor and the country’s inflation problem, which has consistently ranked in recent years as the most pressing issue for the majority of the electorate, higher in the list than other notable concerns such as security and public corruption. Meanwhile, former President Cristina Kirchner has been slowly but consistently rising in the polls in spite of her alleged involvement in a number of high-profile corruption cases.

Marci Popularity VS Peso Stability

Assessments & Forecast

Macri and Kirchner’s choice of running mates reflect the sizeable decline of moderate Peronist opposition

It is notable that both Kichner’s presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez and Macri’s vice presidential candidate Miguel Angel Pichetto, while not particularly well-known, are prominent political figures among the traditional Peronist movement. This movement is largely made up of provincial governors and senators, mayors of the municipalities of Buenos Aires Province, and union figures. It should be noted that in Argentina, provincial governors play a key role in nominating congressional candidates and thus are crucial to lawmaking, and, therefore, to governability. As such, Kirchner and Macri’s choices of running mates were both likely envisioned as attempts to lure as many of the aforementioned actors as possible, who had until recently been the main backers of the moderate Peronist opposition, and are now starting to back either the Kirchner or Macri camps. This is because the governors and mayors fear that the weakening of the moderate Peronist camp could threaten their own chances of re-election.

Moreover, that a prominent figure of the Peronist camp, Sergio Massa, who finished third with 21.4 percent of the vote in the 2015 general elections, announced that he was joining the Kirchner camp as the first candidate for their coalition in the Lower House further supports this assessment. That said, that Massa’s base has traditionally been more anti-Kirchner than anti-Macri and thus his return to the Kirchner camp, having been Kirchner’s Cabinet Chief, is unlikely to prompt a significant portion of his base to vote for the Fernandez-Kirchner ticket.

FORECAST: The moderate Peronist opposition is likely to see the biggest losses of the 2019 general elections, with recent polls indicating they will receive less than half of the votes that Massa gained in 2015. That said, this heightened polarization is unlikely to affect other candidates’ polling, at least until the August 11 primary election.

Ideological Position of Canidates

President Macri’s decision to pick Senator Pichetto as running mate is likely to bolster his electoral chances and governability in a potential second term

Macri’s decision is advantageous not because Pichetto is a particularly popular or well-known figure but rather because of his close relationship with Peronist governors from swing provinces such as Cordoba and Santa Fe, who are likely to discreetly campaign for the Macri camp. This will help boost support among governors, which was already fostered by the federal government upholding financial commitments to the provinces under Macri regardless of their political leanings, a policy which was not sustained under the Kirchner administrations.

Moreover, Pichetto’s influence in the Upper House could offer Macri the ability to pass substantial economic reforms in a second term. This situation, coupled with Pichetto’s reputation as pro-market, evidenced by the fact that he was a key player in allowing Macri to secure a deal with holders of Argentine sovereign bonds in 2016, has had a positive effect on the country’s financial sector and the international markets in recent weeks. This, in turn, is aiding Macri’s anti-inflationary program, which means that the main macroeconomic variables are more likely to remain stable or even slightly improve in the run-up to the elections. Furthermore, since the announcement of the Macri-Pichetto ticket the Argentine Peso gained ten percent of its value in relation to the US Dollar, its largest appreciation since 2002.

Cristina Kirchner’s decision to pick Alberto Fernandez as presidential candidate and run for vice-president unlikely to bolster chances

There are two main reasons that Kirchner taking the vice-president position is unlikely to significantly bolster her chances. Firstly, there are perceptions that Kirchner hinted towards a centrist turn in previous electoral campaigns that never materialized when it came to policy. For example, in the 2007 electoral campaign, she chose a Union Civica Radical (UCR) party member as her running mate and repeatedly claimed her intentions to improve relations with the US, policies which many believe were never enacted. As such, undecided voters are likely to be wary of this new, allegedly more moderate version of Cristina Kirchner. Furthermore, various comments from influential supporters of Kirchner indicating support for modifying the constitution, abolishing the current structure of the judiciary, and freeing politicians jailed in recent corruption cases, could give further weight to these concerns. That said, as previously assessed, Kirchner’s decision to nominate a more moderate Peronist will help boost support of some actors of the traditional Peronist movement, who may bring votes with them. In this regard, the same day the Fernandez-Kirchner ticket was announced eight provincial governors pledged their support.

Secondly, Cristina Kirchner’s decision to run for vice president may end up playing in Macri’s favor. This is because her decision to run for the vice-presidency, rather than the presidency, as well as her overtures to the political center, has eased concerns over the potential impact on the economy. This, in turn, has helped stabilize the economy somewhat, improving Macri’s position, as he typically does better in polls when the economy improves.

Mandatory primary election likely to soften Fernandez-Kirchner’s expected lead in first round

FORECAST: Going forward the Fernandez-Kirchner ticket is likely to sustain a lead over President Macri in the primary and first round, due to the decline of the economy, the ideological closeness of the majority of the smaller leading candidates to the ruling Cambiemos coalition, and their potential to shift votes away from Macri. That said, if Kirchner gains a significant advantage over Macri in the primary, it is likely that some voters who were considering other candidates with a comparable platform to Cambiemos will end up voting for Macri in the first round, fearing that the Fernandez-Kirchner ticket could win outright in a single election.

Average Polling of Canidates (%)

Kirchner camp likely to regain control over Buenos Aires Province

FORECAST: A victory for the Kirchner camp in the Buenos Aires Province, the most populated in the country, seems more plausible, as there is no second round, making Kirchner’s larger support base in the region potentially enough to see Kirchner’s gubernatorial candidate, Axel Kicillof, succeed. Furthermore, the declining economic situation, which has been particularly severe in the province, suggests that the Kirchner camp will regain control. That said, the popularity of the current Buenos Aires provincial governor, Maria Eugenia Vidal, who belongs to Macri’s Propuesta Republicana (PRO), may see her return for a second term. However, should the Kirchner camp regain the province, it could become a base to challenge Macri’s economic reforms, as well as a stepping stone from which to launch another run in the 2023 Presidential election.

Elections to take place on February 16 amid violence in several regions – Nigeria Analysis

Executive Summary

General elections will be held in Nigeria on February 16, in order to elect the president as well as the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will seek re-election, with his main challenger being Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The main issues of the election are the state of the economy, endemic corruption, and the wide range of security threats across the country. These security issues may make it difficult to organize polls in some areas, particularly in the northeast where Boko Haram and the Islamic State have caused large-scale displacement.

The culture of patronage and role of local figures in mobilizing support for national races has led to Buhari and Abubakar making key connections to political leaders across the country, contributing to national tensions on a local level.

The risk of political violence will rise significantly after the election when the results are released and could translate to clashes between party cadres as well as violence directed toward state authorities. This is most likely in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, and Adamawa states. Reported or perceived irregularities in the presidential election would likely result in unrest in Lagos and Abuja as well.

Those operating or residing in Nigeria on February 16 are advised to avoid nonessential travel to the vicinity of election-related facilities as well as any political gatherings due to the possibility of unrest.

Current Situation

In July and August 2018, more than 30 senators and 90 representatives defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), mostly to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), including Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Vice President and current PDP flag-bearer, Atiku Abubakar.

President Muhammadu Buhari was elected as the APC presidential candidate for re-election amid the party convention held in Abuja in October. Likewise, Atiku Abubakar was chosen as the PDP presidential candidate in a primary election.

On January 3, Amina Zakari was appointed as INEC’s head of the collation center of the elections, triggering allegations of misconduct by the PDP given that she is related to President Buhari.

On January 25, Buhari announced the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen over corruption allegations, sparking the PDP’s condemnation over what they claimed was the APC’s attempt to “influence” the judiciary before the election. This led to PDP demonstrations and a 72-hour suspension of the campaign in solidarity with Onnoghen.

Reports indicate that over 120 people were killed during the month of January 2019 due to banditry and subsequent security operations in Zamfara, Katsina, and Sokoto states.


Assessments & Forecast

Core issues and challenges affecting Nigeria ahead of tense electoral process

Political tensions and violence have always been a common feature of Nigerian electoral processes, both at the national and regional level. In fact, Buhari’s ascension to power in 2015 represented the first peaceful transition of power between the ruling party and the opposition in the country’s history. Nonetheless, political unrest did take place during the campaign period as well as in the aftermath of the elections. In the current campaign, these tensions were evidenced relatively early on by the brief siege of the National Assembly by security forces in August 2018 in order to allegedly allow the impeachment of Senate President Bukola Saraki following his defection to the PDP. Additionally, there was high-level unrest during the Osun gubernatorial election between APC and PDP cadres in September 2018. This not only illustrates the deep-rooted volatility of Nigerian electoral periods but also sets the precedent for a highly contentious election on February 16.

There is a range of issues concerning Nigerians ahead of the polls, primarily the economy and security of the country. This includes the general stagnation of the economy and how it is intertwined with endemic corruption. Despite being the largest economy in Africa as well as an oil producer, Nigeria is believed to be the country that is home to the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, at 87 million. This is coupled with high levels of unemployment at more than 23 percent in 2018. This is exacerbated by corruption at all levels of government, including the federal government, judiciary, and local institutions nationwide. These have been widely debated on the campaign trail.

In addition, the multifaceted security threats are a core issue. This includes widespread criminality and kidnappings-for-ransom nationwide, cultism in the south, intercommunal violence between farmers and herders in the Middle Belt Region, and conflicts between bandits and vigilante groups in Zamfara and northern Kaduna states. Finally, there is the consistent threat posed by Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the northeast, particularly as ISWAP has shown increased capabilities in recent months, with attacks in December and January that have left thousands displaced.
FORECAST: The northeast in particular faces not only the threat of attacks during the polls but also the logistical challenge of holding the elections in areas dealing with the displacement of people, which will likely impact electoral turnout. While militant groups have not issued any specific threats associated with the elections, many of the areas’ 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) will be voting inside of IDP camps across Borno State, some of which are areas that are heavily targeted by militants.

Culture of patronage, regional politics to influence election

With corruption as a major issue of the election, President Buhari has attempted to capitalize on his reputation of being “incorruptible” during the campaign. His image as a watchdog and the active anti-corruption practices instituted during his tenure have been key to this. Buhari is also assisted by his popularity among peasants in northern Nigeria, who play a key role in the electorate, as a result of his origins in Katsina State. In tandem, his running mate Vice President Osinbajo’s popularity among ethnic Yoruba and others in the southwest region help to bolster this support. On the other hand, one of Buhari’s primary challenges are the doubts regarding his fitness in office given that he is already 75-years-old and has spent prolonged medical leaves abroad. Finally, the state of the economy is likely to affect his support nationwide, while rising insecurity may undermine him in states that he won in 2015, such as Borno, Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, and Zamfara.

Atiku Abubakar as centered his campaign on his ability to revitalize the economy due to his experience as a successful businessman. He has also pointed to his political experience, as he served as Vice President under Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999-2007. He has sought to contrast his approach to security with Buhari, promising extensive reforms within the security sector to combat criminality, banditry, and militancy. In this context, he received the public support of several prominent generals who had supported Buhari in the 2015 election. Abubakar’s choice of running mate, Peter Obi, an ethnic Igbo, was likely a strategic effort to mobilize voters in the southeast, as seen when influence Igbo sociopolitical group Ohaneze Ndigbo called upon Igbomen to support Abubakar. However, Abubakar has already faced allegations of corruption and questions over the source of his enormous wealth during his vice presidency. Another concern for his campaign will be his poor electoral history, as despite his victory in the PDP primary election, he failed in his attempts to run for president in 2007 and 2011 as well as in the 2015 APC primaries.

The regional and ethnic connections already made by Buhari and Abubakar point to a key dynamic in Nigerian politics. Given the country’s size, federal structure, and entrenched corruption, there is a dominant culture of patronage where the support of local figures plays an essential role in gaining support in important areas. Part of the presidential campaigns’ efforts has been to find local figures capable of mobilizing voters. Kano State exemplifies this dynamic as it has the largest number of voters alongside Lagos State, making it an important battleground. Buhari won Kano with 90 percent in 2015 and counts on the state governor, Umar Ganduje, who vowed to deliver “at least five million votes”. However, Abubakar has gained the support of a former Kano governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who is still regarded as an extremely influential figure and holds the potential to significantly reduce the margin of victory compared to 2015.

President Buhari also has a solid level of support in the North West and, to some extent, in the South West, though the North Central region has always been regarded as a “swing” zone that often decides the elections. Buhari won this area in 2015 with 56.2 percent, but North Central encompasses the states most affected by intercommunal violence between farmers and Fulani herders, especially Benue, Nasarawa, and Plateau. With Buhari widely criticized for what those in the region perceive to be a soft stance against Fulani herders, he has the potential to lose a considerable number of votes.
FORECAST: This is further exacerbated by the defection of Senate President and former Kwara governor Bukola Saraki, as well as current Benue governor Samuel Ortom, from the Buhari’s APC to Abubakar’s PDP. Both of these figures, highly influential in their respective states, have actively campaigned in favor of Abubakar, and this is likely to turn both states to the PDP in the upcoming electionץ

FORECAST: As the elections draw nearer, and given the culture of patronage and political clientelism across the country, tensions are expected to rise ahead, during, and especially after the polls. While there are some instances of conflict, such as the alleged inability of Rabiu Kwankwaso to hold PDP rallies in Kano due to pressure by the APC-supporting state government, this is likely to worsen. Although there have largely be isolated cases of unrest thus far, the risk of violence will rise significantly in the days after the election when the results of both the presidential and local polls have been released. This unrest is expected to translate to scuffles between party cadres, as well as violence directed at state authorities by the losing party and their supporters. This is most likely in states with a long history of political violence, such as Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, and Adamawa states.

These tensions have been fueled by both parties, as the APC have alleged that the PDP is mobilizing armed groups to influence the vote while the PDP have raised questions regarding the independence of the electoral commission as its president, Amina Zakari, is a relative of President Buhari. Moreover, the suspension of Chief Justice Onnoghen close to the polls raised further suspicion by the PDP. These suspicions of vote-rigging, intimidation, and the widespread practice of political clientelism illustrate the overall political climate in the country. FORECAST: In the event of contentious results on a local or national level, demonstrations and unrest are likely in the above states as well as in Lagos. If there are reported or perceived irregularities in the context of the presidential election, protests with a strong potential for unrest are liable in Abuja, particularly in the vicinity of the Supreme Court, electoral commission, and other central locations.


Travel to Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt can continue while exercising increased vigilance and adhering to stringent security precautions regarding criminal and security threats.
Those operating or residing in Nigeria on February 16 are advised to avoid nonessential travel to the vicinity of polling stations, tallying centers, and other election-related facilities due to the possibility of unrest.
We further advise to maintain heightened vigilance in the week following the polls and avoid nonessential travel to the vicinity of any demonstration that may arise due to the risk of unrest.


The 2019 Geopolitical Predictive Analysis is now available:




Potential for militancy, protest activity heightened during March 26-28 elections; major instability as seen in past years unlikely – Egypt Analysis

Current Situation

On March 26-28, Egypt will hold Presidential elections. Current President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi will be running for reelection against El-Ghad Party leader Moussa Mostafa Moussa.

Moussa has stated that he supports al-Sisi for president, despite his own candidacy. Numerous political opposition leaders declared a boycott of the elections, in protest of the current administration’s detention and alleged pressure on previous candidates to withdraw.

The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood political organization and other anti-government groups have yet to release official calls for protests during the elections. In recent weeks, authorities announced arrests of Muslim Brotherhood elements “seeking to interrupt the elections and endanger public safety.” On less frequent occasions in past weeks, security forces apprehended militants belonging to the Hasam Movement, a militant group comprised of pro-Muslim Brotherhood elements, who were “planning to carry out attacks during the elections”.

The Islamic State (IS)-affiliated Wilayat Sinai released media on February 11 in which it threatens to attack polling stations across the country during the elections, and warned “the Muslim public” to avoid voting sites and other locales associated with the elections in view of attack operations. The Sunni jihadist group stated the Presidential elections are “the greatest form of polytheism.”

In IS’s official literature on February 15, the group encouraged attacks by its militants and supporters, stating that “attacks will show al-Sisi’s allies that he is incapable of controlling security in the main areas under his rule, let alone distant regions like Sinai, the Western Desert, and areas in Aswan and Upper Egypt.”

Assessments & Forecast

Al-Sisi likely to be reelected

Considering al-Sisi’s current competition in the election, the result is likely predetermined, and al-Sisi will be reelected for another term. Moussa’s candidacy is likely meant to provide the elections with an appearance of being democratic and to lend credibility to al-Sisi’s mandate as head of state upon his reelection. The successful removal of all serious candidates is indicative of the support al-Sisi maintains among Egypt’s military and security elites, who trust that he will protect their interests, especially their financial stakes and Egypt’s overall stability. The detention of two former high-ranking figures of the armed forces demonstrated this, namely former Prime Minister and Egyptian Air Force (EAF) Commander in Chief Ahmed Shafiq, and former Chief of Staff of Egyptian Armed Forces (EAAF) Sami Hafez Anan, who both subsequently left the Presidential race. Al-Sisi could not have placed these long-serving, well-connected military rivals into custody if he did not have the backing of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the heads of Egypt’s intelligence service. In light of this, al-Sisi will likely retain this support in the coming years, rendering a change in the country’s leadership improbable.

Protests likely in lead-up, during elections, but government likely to effectively contain

Though calls for holding anti-government protests during the elections have yet to be issued, they will likely be released in the coming days, given widely held sentiments against the current leadership, and a view of the elections as undemocratic prevailing among the public. Muslim Brotherhood activists release calls for nationwide protests on a weekly basis, and the theme of their anti-government protest activity in the coming week is liable to focus on denouncing the al-Sisi Presidency and elections as illegitimate. Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups will likely stage protests in conjunction with the elections.

FORECAST: The rate of protest activity will likely rise over this period relative to recent months. Some of these will be planned, and others will occur on a sporadic, spontaneous basis, likely near polling stations. The protests may devolve into civil unrest, featuring scuffles and localized clashes between participants and security personnel. This would stem from the anti-government nature of the demonstrations and heightened sensitivity over the elections. Events of this volatile nature would likely be forcibly scattered by security forces, including through the firing of tear gas and rubber bullets.

However, this period is unlikely to witness the type of destabilizing unrest seen during Egypt’s revolution and subsequent political upheaval of 2011-2013. In more recent years, the rate of anti-government protest activity and unrest has declined significantly. This is due to various government measures, including the arrests of thousands of anti-government activists and their leaders. This has left such groups without much of its capable leadership who organized political operations and demonstrations, and deprived of a large share of their membership. Citizens’ political will to engage in major protest campaigns has also likely markedly diminished, given protesters’ general lack of success in achieving their goals, and the human toll taken over the course of their pursuits.

Moreover, in advance of recent sensitive political dates and events, authorities have also closed off symbolic places previously used as protest sites, including Cairo’s Tahrir Square, as well as main thoroughfares. This has prevented protests from materializing, thus averting large-scale violent incidents as seen in 2001-2013, and stopping protest movements from gaining traction and momentum overall. Authorities will once again implement this security strategy from May 26-28, which will likely be effective overall in containing and preventing anti-government demonstrations.

Militancy threats from jihadist, disenfranchised Muslim Brotherhood groups heightened during election period

The rate of militancy-related events in mainland Egypt, including attacks and arrests of militants, has declined in recent years, and more so over past months. However, the potential for militant attacks on March 26-28 will be relatively heightened, as militant groups seek to damage al-Sisi’s reputation for tackling militancy, presenting him as unable to secure the country. A successful attack during the period of the Presidential elections would attract wide media attention for the militant group responsible, given the public and symbolic nature of this period. This would bolster the militant group’s profile, including by its members and supporters, possibly motivating further attacks and drawing recruits to its ranks. This is underscored by an IED attack targeting Alexandria’s chief of police on March 24 which authorities have stated was carried out by the Hasam Movement. A further example of such an event is the most recent attack in mainland Egypt claimed by IS, namely the operation targeting a Coptic Church in Helwan during the holiday season, on December 29, 2017.

As to the statements released by IS and its Sinai-affiliate threatening and calling for attacking polling stations and associated installations, these were likely aimed to deter Egyptians from voting, thus lowering the participation rate in the elections. This would further undermine al-Sisi’s mandate in the view of the Egyptian public, and diminish the reputation of the country’s authorities. This corresponds to IS’s overall strategy in Egypt, which is to weaken Egypt’s leadership, damage the State, in turn replacing it with an Islamic State in the future. Another Sunni jihadist group posing potential dangers during the election period, is the relatively new Jamaat Ansar al-Islam, which was responsible for the large-scale October 20, 2017 Bahariya Oasis attack. According to reports, Jamaat Ansar al-Islam has gained dozens of new members in recent months, including Islamist former members of the security forces, and an attack during the elections would greatly publicize the group’s existence and present it as especially capable.

The Hasam Movement, and similar militant groups consisting of pro-Muslim Brotherhood elements such as Liwaa al-Thawra, likely see the election period as a particularly attractive time to launch attacks. This is in response to the Muslim Brotherhood political organization’s continued banned status and removal from the sanctioned political landscape, and in response to authorities’ ongoing crackdown on the group’s members. These groups target security personnel, government officials, and those aligned with authorities. That said, bystanders face a threat of collateral damage in the event of the attacks. Overall, these groups have not been especially active of late, and the last claimed attack claimed was for an IED detonation at the Myanmar Embassy in Cairo on September 30, 2017, which Hasam claimed to have executed. However, the groups remain in operation, as indicated by periodically recorded arrests of their members over past months, and thus, they pose a persisting threat, especially during the symbolic election period.

FORECAST: Over the coming days, authorities will implement bolstered security protocols around the country, including posting additional security personnel, especially near polling stations and potential protest sites on May 26-28. Security forces will likely carry out raids targeting both militant elements and anti-government activists, to mitigate the potential for militant activity and larger-scale civil unrest to unfold. However, comparatively large gatherings of security personnel present attractive targets for militant groups, which may draw the attention of such elements during the elections. Citizens may view additional security personnel at protest sites as oppressive, exacerbating tensions between the sides, and fomenting localized unrest.


On March 26-28 avoid nonessential travel to the vicinity of polling stations, given the heightened threat of militancy and protests posed to these locations during this time period.

Allot for disruptions and plan alternative routes for travel due to the likely closures of main roads and thoroughfares concurrent with the elections.

Travel to Cairo and Alexandria may continue while adhering to all security precautions regarding militancy and civil unrest. Consult with us for itinerary-based travel recommendations.

Avoid all travel to the North Sinai Governorate and border areas with Libya, Sudan, and Israel due to the persistent risk for militant attacks, kidnappings, and general lawlessness.

Avoid nonessential travel to the Southern Sinai Peninsula, while maintaining heightened vigilance in the Suez Canal Zone, the Upper Nile area, and the Nile Delta region due to an increased risk of unrest and the heightened risk of militant attacks. Before traveling to Sharm al-Sheikh, confirm that flight operations are continuing and have not been impacted by recent militant threats.

In Cairo, maintain heightened vigilance and continue to allot extra time for travel due to possible delays emanating from increased security deployments, checkpoints, and closures throughout the capital.

Remain vigilant in areas surrounding and avoid the immediate vicinity of government installations, police stations, and religious centers, particularly churches, as these locations remain under elevated threat of militant attacks. When traveling in central squares, or in areas with persistent police deployments, avoid the immediate vicinity of security forces, particularly fixed traffic booths, as such personnel and facilities have increasingly come under attack by militant elements.