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07 June 22. India: Escalated ethno-religious tensions fuel activity from extremist groups, raising likelihood of attacks. Late on 7 June, Al-Qaeda warned that it will carry out suicide attacks in India in retaliation for allegedly blasphemous remarks made by ex-BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update- 6 June 2022). The group named Mumbai, New Delhi, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh as targets. A pro-Al-Qaeda channel on Telegram also shared a video encouraging followers to take revenge. In April this year, the jihadist group had also spoken against the hijab controversy indicating that the transnational organisation is increasingly monitoring developments in India. In 2014, the group established a separate branch, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQUIS), and Indian police arrested associated operatives in 2021 and 2020. Indian authorities will likely respond to the threat and ramp up intelligence operations in the coming days. However, rising ethno-religious tensions in India will continue to drive greater activity by jihadist groups, increasing the likelihood of terror attacks taking place in the country. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. RoK supplementary budget cuts USD1.2bn from defence. A supplementary budget law approved by the South Korean National Assembly in late May has reduced the country’s defence funding for 2022 by more than KRW1.5 trillion (USD1.2 bn), official documents have revealed. The cut, made as part of an additional funding package intended to alleviate the impact of continuing the Covid-19 pandemic suppression measures on small businesses, brings the country’s annual defence funding down to KRW65.95 trillion. Although still larger than 2021’s spend in nominal terms, taking into account the effects of inflation, this represents a real year-on-year cut of 1.4%. Budget reductions are split across the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), with the former absorbing the bulk of the reductions. The MND’s core budget has dropped to KRW951.9bn since the start of the financial year, taking its ‘core’ funding (excluding special accounts and veterans’ affairs) down to KRW36.97bn. (Source: Janes)
08 June 22. Somalia: Redirection of aid supplies to Ukraine will sustain food insecurity. On 7 June, the United Nations warned that only a third of the USD 250 m needed to save Somalia from catastrophic food insecurity had been raised, following the fourth consecutive failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa. Around half of the population face acute food insecurity and 213,000 Somalis are at risk of starvation, increasing three-fold since levels estimated in April. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated food insecurity, with aid supplies being redirected from Somalia to the country while global food prices have risen. Meteorologists warn of another failed rainy season later this year, worsening food and water insecurity, and cause operational challenges for businesses with local staff at risk. Food insecurity will also likely drive domestic unrest in cities, including in Mogadishu, which is likely to be capitalised on by al-Shabaab, elevating threats to government stability and heightening risks to the safety of businesses’ staff and assets. (Source: Sibylline)
08 June 22. South Africa: Introduction of new monetary policy will support economic growth, although currency volatility is a risk. On 8 June, South Africa’s central bank began shifting to a surplus system from its deficit set-up system, allowing commercial banks to hold and earn interest on excess reserves. The South African Reserve Bank has also begun to implement measures to prevent banks from liquidity hoarding. Although the introduction of these monetary policies elevates the risk of increasing the volatility of the South African Rand (ZAR) by creating wider price swings, the policies have been introduced to control interest rates. The implementation follows Statistics SA’s report that the country’s economy is now the same size as pre-pandemic levels, and was stronger than expected in the first quarter of 2022, with the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growing by 1.9 percent. The new monetary framework is likely to support the growth of the economy, limiting the threat of increasing interest rates for businesses operating in the country. (Source: Sibylline)
08 June 22. Pakistan: Power shortages will likely continue despite government efforts. On 7 June, Pakistan’s Cabinet approved an energy conservation plan to reduce the use of electricity and fuel, to ease the pressure on the country’s energy network. The proposal includes reducing the official work week to five days – just months after new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had increased it to six, alternate days to operate streetlamps, reducing fuel allowance for government officials, and increasing the working from home mandates. These efforts are being made as hours-long power outages are being regularly experienced across the country, while Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves – needed for fuel imports – dwindles. However, given the size of the gap between current demand (25,600MW) and supply (21,000MW), it is unlikely that the announced plan will be enough to reduce demand sufficiently. As a result, power shortages can be expected to continue during the summer months as demand remains elevated. (Source: Sibylline)
08 June 22. China: National security tip-off rewards scheme will bolster public support for government and suspicion of ‘overseas anti-China forces.’ On 6 June, China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) announced the release of new reward measures for citizens tipping-off security authorities over national security threats. People providing previously unknown and valuable information will be eligible for financial rewards up to RMB100,000 (USD15,000) or certificates. Chinese legislation already requires citizens to collaborate with national security organs, and similar measures have been in place for years. The announcement is likely meant to improve human intelligence collection, but also to improve public-state relations possibly to enhance support for President Xi Jinping ahead of the 20th Party Congress in autumn, where he is expected to be confirmed for a record third term. However, the new measures may also reflect government anxieties over domestic stability threatened by, actual or perceived, foreign infiltration ahead of the Congress, possibly increasing policy risks. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. Japan PM vows to strengthen defence ‘fundamentally’ in five years. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday he intended to strengthen his country’s defence capabilities fundamentally over the next five years. Kishida said last month he had told visiting U.S. President Joe Biden he was determined to boost Japan’s defence spending substantially to strengthen its defence. He did not mention a specific time frame then (Source: Google/Reuters)
07 June 22. Middle East: Sanctions threaten to compound geopolitical tensions and prolong stall in Iran nuclear negotiations. On 6 June, the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre (TFTC) sanctioned 16 organisations, individuals and entities believed to be associated with regional terrorist groups. Members of the TFTC, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the United States (US), implemented sanctions on three individuals affiliated with the Quds Force branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC – QF) and two Bahrain-based terrorist groups named Saraya al-Mukhtar and Saraya al-Ashtar, due to their links with the IRGC and Lebanon’s Hizballah. The move is aimed at improving counter-terrorism financing mechanisms in the region and support efforts to reduce cross-sectoral reputational risks, with the United Arab Emirates facing international criticism for underperforming in these areas. However, Washington’s involvement in placing additional sanctions on the IRGC threatens to compound wider tensions between the US and Iran, with the IRGC terrorist designation representing a key sticking point in opposing parties renewing a nuclear deal. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. China-Japan: Chinese underwater survey in Japan’s EEZ underscores tensions around disputed waters. The Japanese Coast Guard reported that a Chinese marine research and survey ship, Dong Fang Hong 3, was spotted operating off the Okinawa Prefecture, in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The survey ship reportedly deployed cables near Ishigaki island on 4 June, and also appeared 90 km off the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, administered by Japan but claimed by China. The longstanding territorial dispute between the two countries makes this area in the East China Sea a major flashpoint for maritime tensions. Another Chinese survey ship operated in Japan’s EEZ off Okinawa in March. It is likely that China is conducting this type of activity to gather sensitive intelligence and topographic information while also assessing and testing Japan’s response. The latest incident and Tokyo’s subsequent diplomatic protest will sustain bilateral tensions. Regular close encounters between Chinese and Japanese coast guard vessels in contested waters will disrupt fishing operations in the area. Further escalations could also affect international shipping, compounding existing supply chain disruptions. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. Chad: Trial of political opposition will drive further anti-French protests. On 6 June, six opposition leaders were arrested and handed a one-year suspended sentence for disturbing public order following their role in leading anti-French protests in N’Djamena on 14 May. The defendants lawyers boycotted the hearing due to a heavy police presence surrounding the court in Moussoro, around 300 kilometres north of N’Djamena. The coalition of opposition leaders and civil society groups have denounced the trial and continue to accuse France of supporting the transitional military government. Sentences will drive civil society groups and opposition leaders to organise further anti-French protests, elevating threats to French business assets and staff in cities across the country and particularly in N’Djamena. Furthermore, the trial is likely to disrupt national dialogue, with the political opposition already withdrawing from the current negotiations, a move that will cause delays to the country’s democratic transition. Such delays are likely to drive further domestic unrest, exacerbating anti-French sentiments across the country. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. Mali: ECOWAS’ failure to lift sanctions will likely undermine domestic support for junta. On 6 June, Mali’s ruling military junta announced that it will take 24 months from March 2022 to transition to democratic rule. The decision follows negotiations between the military junta and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in the hope that the regional body will lift sanctions. During the summit, held in Ghana, the country’s Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister criticised the economic impact of the sanctions on Malians. However, ECOWAS previously rejected the junta’s 24-month transition period proposal in March and continues to call for a 16-18 month transition. ECOWAS has postponed its ruling on the lifting of sanctions until 3 July, with the junta’s failure to secure the removal of sanctions at the Ghana summit likely to compound the economic challenges facing the regime. Rising inflation and unemployment will undermine domestic support for the junta driving nationwide domestic unrest and threatening government stability.
07 June 22. Bangladesh: Cancelling of human rights group’s licence compounds government’s poor human rights record. On 6 June, the Sheikh Hasina government cancelled the licence of the leading human rights group Odhikar prompting condemnation from several activists. The group, which was established in 1994, has recorded thousands of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances allegedly perpetrated by Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) police unit- a group that has also been sanctioned by the United States. The incident adds to the already tarnished reputation of the government of silencing human rights activists, failing to improve labour conditions, cracking down on dissenters and mistreating Rohingya refugees. It raises operational risk concerns, particularly related to licences, for other foreign activist groups working in the region. It will likely also raise reputational concerns for companies working in Bangladesh in key sectors such as textiles and ports and shipping. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. Japan: Limited energy supply capacity will weaken energy security during extreme weather events. On 7 June, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno requested that citizens and companies reduce their energy consumption ahead of summer and winter due to concerns regarding domestic power supply. It will be the first such nationwide request since 2015, and is driven by the country’s limited energy supply capacity, with the majority of nuclear power plants remaining offline and a growing number of thermal power plants being closed due to age concerns. Last week, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings warned that they forecasted power shortages in the event of a very hot summer or very cold winter boosting demand for energy. In such a scenario, firms can expect to experience operational disruptions, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry developing plans for an alert system to warn the public ahead of time. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. Central Asia: Rising food prices and end of grain subsidies increases likelihood of domestic unrest. Reports this week revealed that the price of bread in Uzbekistan, a key staple, increased by 75 percent last week, as the government ceased subsidies for grain purchases. However, with global grain prices continuing to rise and supply shortages already being felt due to the war in Ukraine, the situation threatens to trigger unrest. Tajikistan is also similarly dependent on food imports, with the bulk of its wheat coming from Kazakhstan, which has imposed export restrictions. The combined impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine is forecast to potentially push 70 percent of Kyrgyzstanis into poverty. As such, the growing costs of key staples and diminished domestic living conditions will further strain public finances and drive up the risk of public discontent translating into unrest, with rising food prices likely to be the most immediate trigger in the short term. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. Argentina: Proposed new income tax will significantly impact profits for large companies in food, agriculture and energy sectors. On 6 June, the Argentine government led by President Alberto Fernández proposed applying a new tax on companies that have earned an ‘extraordinary income’ from the war in Ukraine. The development comes as the Fernández government continues to struggle to reduce its fiscal deficit and tackle the country’s rampant inflation which is on track to reach 70 percent this year. The government said the new tax will seek to achieve ‘shared growth’ that reaches the whole of society, as Argentina’s poverty rates have increased due to the rising prices, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. The tax would levy an additional 15 percent on businesses that obtain profits over one bn pesos (approximately USD 8 m) in 2022 and that had a profit margin of over 10 percent in real terms or that were 20 percent higher than in 2021. Just 3.2 percent of companies in Argentina reported net profits higher than this in 2021. However, if approved by Congress, the new tax will impact agricultural exporters, especially those of wheat, sunflower and corn, as well as the energy sector.
07 Jun 22. Mexican president will not attend SOA, reflecting an anti-US regional stance. On 6 June, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that he will not attend the Summit of the Americas (SOA) regional leaders’ meeting after the US refused to invite Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba’s leaders. Several presidents supported the call for all countries in the region to be invited, including Chile’s President Gabriel Boric, Argentina’ President Alberto Fernández, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines PM Ralph Gonsalves, underscoring the emergence of a united front to pressure the US to change its policies towards Latin America. Whilst most regional leaders will attend the summit, their absences will deepen political divides, paving the way for a stronger Chinese presence in strategic industries in Latin America. The lack of a US-led regional economic development plan will also likely fuel divisions as the US pressures the region to avoid relying on China to promote development but fails to offer an alternative. More coordinated responses to US policy will likely increase, straining diplomatic relations and increasing regional tensions. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. Iran: Sanctions threaten to compound geopolitical tensions and prolong stall in Iran nuclear negotiations. On 6 June, the Terrorist Financing Targeting Centre (TFTC) sanctioned 16 organisations, individuals and entities believed to be associated with regional terrorist groups. Members of the TFTC, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the United States (US), implemented sanctions on three individuals affiliated with the Quds Force branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC – QF) and two Bahrain-based terrorist groups named Saraya al-Mukhtar and Saraya al-Ashtar, due to their links with the IRGC and Lebanon’s Hizballah. The move is aimed at improving counter-terrorism financing mechanisms in the region and support efforts to reduce cross-sectoral reputational risks, with the United Arab Emirates facing international criticism for underperforming in these areas. However, Washington’s involvement in placing additional sanctions on the IRGC threatens to compound wider tensions between the US and Iran, with the IRGC terrorist designation representing a key sticking point in opposing parties renewing a nuclear deal. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. Israel-Palestinian Territories: Coalition failure to renew settler law bill increases legal uncertainty for Israeli settler communities. On 6 June, Knesset members (MKs) failed to pass a bill that would uphold the application of Israeli criminal, and some civil law, to Israeli citizens living in the West Bank. Two Arab Ra’am party coalition MKs voted against the renewal of the Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law, supporting the defeat of the bill with a split of 52 for, and 58 against amid Knesset absences. A modified version of the legislation could be reintroduced to the Knesset ahead of the 30 June deadline. However, the bill is likely to face sustained obstruction from right-wing opposition in the coming weeks, who aim to weaken the eight-party coalition government despite ideologically supporting the measure. This will heighten uncertainty surrounding the legal status of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, possibly mitigated by efforts from security authorities to identify alternatives to guarantee legal continuity for Israeli settler communities, including via legally-limited military ordinances. (Source: Sibylline)
07 June 22. Arrest of Canadian teen for threatening a mass shooting in US underscores the sustained risk of violent attacks across the region. On 6 June US law enforcement announced the arrest of a 17-year-old male in Ontario, Canada, after he appeared to threaten to carry out a mass shooting during an upcoming LGBTQI+ event in the US. The ‘Pride on the Block 2022’ event is due to be held in West Palm Beach, Florida, on 12 June. West Palm Beach Police Department (WPBPD) said the suspect was arrested after he appeared on an online video chat site, where he made anti-LGBTQI remarks and threatened to shoot people attending the event whilst waving a firearm. A joint investigation with the Toronto and Peel Regional Police led to the arrest in the Ontario town of Mississauga. WPBPD said the firearm seen in the video was recovered and the suspect has been charged with threatening to commit a mass shooting. The incident underscores the sustained risk of hate driven violent attacks impacting staff as extremist views rise in the US and Canada. (Source: Sibylline)
06 June 22. China secretly building PLA naval facility in Cambodia, Western officials say. China is secretly building a naval facility in Cambodia for the exclusive use of its military, with both countries denying that is the case and taking extraordinary measures to conceal the operation, Western officials said.
The military presence will be on the northern portion of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand, which is slated to be the site of a groundbreaking ceremony this week, according to the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
The establishment of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia — only its second such overseas outpost and its first in the strategically significant Indo-Pacific region — is part of Beijing’s strategy to build a network of military facilities around the world in support of its aspirations to become a true global power, the officials said.
China’s only other foreign military base right now is a naval facility in the East African country of Djibouti. Having a facility capable of hosting large naval vessels to the west of the South China Sea would be an important element of China’s ambition to expand its influence in the region and would strengthen its presence near key Southeast Asian sea lanes, officials and analysts said.
“We assess that the Indo-Pacific is an important piece for China’s leaders, who see the Indo-Pacific as China’s rightful and historic sphere of influence,” one Western official said. “They view China’s rise there as part of a global trend toward a multipolar world where major powers more forcefully assert their interests in their perceived sphere of influence.”
Beijing, the official said, is banking on the region being “unwilling or unable to challenge China’s core interests,” and through a combination of coercion, punishment and inducements in the diplomatic, economic and military realms, believes it can get countries to bend to its interests. “Essentially, China wants to become so powerful that the region will give in to China’s leadership rather than face the consequences [for not doing so],” the official said.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that China had signed a secret agreement to allow its military to use the base, citing U.S. and allied officials familiar with the matter. Beijing and Phnom Penh denied the report, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen denouncing it as “fake news.” A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman at the time also denounced what it called “rumors” and said China had merely been helping with military training and logistical equipment.
Over the weekend, however, a Chinese official in Beijing confirmed to The Washington Post that “a portion of the base” will be used by “the Chinese military.” The official denied it was for “exclusive” use by the military, saying that scientists would also use the facility. The official added that the Chinese are not involved in any activities on the Cambodian portion of the base.
The official said the groundbreaking, scheduled for Thursday, was taking place and that Chinese officials would attend. The Chinese ambassador to Cambodia is expected to be present.
Asked for comment, the Cambodian Embassy in Washington said in a statement that it “strongly disagrees with the content and meaning of the report as it is a baseless accusation motivated to negatively frame Cambodia’s image.” It added that Cambodia “firmly adheres” to the nation’s constitution, which does not permit foreign military bases or presence on Cambodian soil. “The renovation of the base serves solely to strengthen the Cambodian naval capacities to protect its maritime integrity and combat maritime crimes including illegal fishing,” the statement said.
China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry did not reply to a request for comment.
The Chinese military is secretly building a naval facility for its exclusive use on the northern portion of Ream Naval Base in Cambodia, according to Western officials, who say Cambodian and Chinese officials have sought to conceal China’s military presence. (Obtained by The Washington Post)
The Western officials said they expect there will be an acknowledgment at the ceremony of Chinese involvement in financing and construction of the expansion of Ream Naval Base, but not of plans for its use by the People’s Liberation Army. The expansion plans were finalized in 2020, and, significantly, called for the Chinese military to have “exclusive use of the northern portion of the base, while their presence would remain concealed,” a second official said. (Source: Washington Post)
07 June 22. India’s DAC grants $9.83bn for defence procurements.
The AoN of $4.63bn (Rs360bn) has been allocated for the procurement of Next Generation Corvettes (NGC) for the Indian Navy.
India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which is headed by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, has granted $9.83bn (Rs763.9bn) for the armed forces’ capital acquisition proposals.
DAC, the procurement arm of the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD), accorded acceptance of necessity (AoN) during a meeting on 6 June.
The accord falls under the Buy Indian, Buy & Make Indian and Buy Indian Designed, Developed and Manufactured (Indian-IDDM) category.
It is further expected to provide a boost to the India’s Defence Industry and cut down the foreign spending.
The DAC has allocated AoN of $4.63bn (Rs360bn) for the procurement of Next Generation Corvettes (NGC) for the Indian Navy.
NCG will be a multi-mission platform, capable of performing a range of missions including escort operations, surveillance, coastal defence, Surface Action Group (SAG) operations, deterrence and search and attack missions.
The corvettes will be constructed in accordance with the Indian Navy’s in-house design, using the latest shipbuilding technology.
The process will also support the Government of India’s (GOI) initiative of Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR).
For the Indian Army, the DAC accorded fresh AoN for procuring Bridge Laying Tanks (BLTs), Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks (RTFLTs), Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs), Wheeled Armoured Fighting Vehicles (Wh AFVs) and Weapon Locating Radars (WLRs).
The items will be procured through domestic sources to promote indigenous design and development.
Furthermore, India’s DAC accorded AoN for the Indian Air Force (IAF) includes manufacturing of Dornier aircraft and Su-30 MKI aero-engines by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL).
Under the $9.83bn procurement grant, DAC has also approved the Digital Coast Guard project to establish a secure network for digitising several surface and aviation operations, logistics, finance and other processes.
06 June 22. Brazil initiates talks with IAEA on fuel for planned nuclear submarine. Brazil has initiated discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) aimed at eventually allowing it to use nuclear fuel in a submarine for the first time, the U.N. watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi said on Monday. Brazil plans to acquire a nuclear-powered submarine under a contract with French defence company Naval Group. It is under construction and has already been named the Alvaro Alberto.
So far no party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, such as Brazil, has acquired a nuclear submarine, other than the five permanent (P5) members of the U.N. Security Council, also known as nuclear-weapon states: the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain.
Nuclear-powered submarines, which can remain underwater and at sea for far longer than other submarines, pose a particular proliferation challenge because they operate beyond the reach of IAEA inspectors.
“Another important development is that related to Brazil’s formal communication to initiate discussions with the (IAEA)Secretariat on an arrangement for Special Procedures for the use of nuclear material under safeguards in nuclear propulsion and in the operation of submarines and prototypes,” Grossi said in a statement to a quarterly meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors.
The step follows a similar move last year by the United States, Britain and Australia, known as AUKUS, on plans for Australia, which is also a party to the NPT, to acquire nuclear submarines. Neither Australia nor Brazil have nuclear weapons.
The only country outside the so-called P5 to have a nuclear submarine is India. It has nuclear weapons but is not an NPT signatory and is therefore not subject to comprehensive IAEA verification and inspections.
“Further meetings (with AUKUS countries) are scheduled over the coming months and I plan to present a report to the September Board,” Grossi said.
“I would like to express my satisfaction with the engagement and transparency shown by the three countries thus far,” he said, referring to the United States, Britain and Australia. (Source: Google/Reuters)
06 June 22. Yemen: Extension of truce will provide short-term relief, low-level ceasefire violations will persist. On 2 June, warring parties in the Yemen conflict agreed to extend an ongoing ceasefire for an additional two months until the beginning of August. United Nations representatives have since welcomed the extension ratified between the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni Houthi group, particularly after the US ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, noted that the truce was in “trouble” as of 31 May. Yemen-based civil society organisations confirm that civilian deaths have significantly reduced since the beginning of the ceasefire on 2 April, as have cross-border aerial threats towards the Gulf. However, whilst the extension of the truce will mitigate the immediate threat of a return to full-scale conflict in the short term, warring sides continue to disagree over key elements, including the ongoing blockade of Taiz. Therefore, the truce is unlikely to represent a long-term solution and stability, with ceasefire violations continuing to elevate risks for civilians and humanitarian workers. (Source: Sibylline)
06 June 22. Nigeria: Attack on Catholic church elevates threat of further attacks. On 5 June, gunmen opened fire on worshippers and detonated improvised explosive devices at a Catholic church in Owo town, located in the country’s southwestern Ondo state, killing around 50 people. Local sources state that the recent attack was likely perpetrated by Fulani pastoralists, and in retaliation to the state government’s restricting of grazing to improve the security situation by driving out herders from forests where they have previously launched attacks. Conflicts between Fulani herders and sedentary Christian communities have reduced since the anti-open grazing law was implemented in September. However, the recent attack will heighten tensions between Fulani herders and sedentary farmers in the region, and potentially in the northwestern regions where tensions also exist, heightening the threat of retaliatory attacks. The attack has been condemned by groups across the country and will increase pressure on the government to implement heightened security measures in the region, causing disruption to travel and supply chains. (Source: Sibylline)
06 June 22. Democratic Republic of Congo: Anti-corruption efforts will bolster investor confidence. On 4 June, the anti-corruption agency, the Inspectorate General of Finance (IGF), released a report that revealed various irregularities in the management of the state-owned mining company Gécamines. The report included an audit of the company between 2010-2020 during the leadership of Albert Yuma, an associate of former president Joseph Kabila. The IGF was unable to trace USD 400 m of the USD 600 m owed in tax and loans to the state, a revelation that will increase pressure on the government amid rising inflation and other economic challenges. The IGF is now looking into the ‘minerals for infrastructure’ deal signed with China in 2008. The report underlines anti-corruption efforts in the country, following President Félix Tshisekedi’s announcement last year that he would renegotiate mining contracts made under Kabila. Such efforts are likely to improve the confidence of investors, as Western companies shift their sourcing of minerals from Russia, with the DRC being the largest producer of cobalt. (Source: Sibylline)
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