Compass World: Algerian Election Postponed
LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
AMLO Popularity Reaches High
In an opinion poll by Mexican newspaper El Financiero, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly known as AMLO, saw his popularity rise to a new high of 86 percent. The poll comes after AMLO passed his hundredth day of presidency on March 10. The left-of-center candidate won 53 percent of the vote in Mexico’s 2018 presidential election. Observers partially attribute his popularity to his populist appeal, which promises widespread reform of the Mexican government and economy. He also prides himself on transparency, broadcasting a daily question-and-answer session with citizens on topics of their choice.
Kim Jong-nam Murder Suspect Freed
After two years in custody, Malaysian prosecution has unexpectedly dropped its case against Siti Aisyah before trial. The Indonesian woman was accused of killing Kim Jong-un’s half-brother by smearing a toxic chemical on his face when he was in Kuala Lumpur in February 2017. The prosecution has yet to provide any reasons for its decision. Siti and an accused Vietnamese national, who has not been released, claim that they were unaware of the role they had in the murder and had been told that it was part of a reality TV show prank. Siti’s lawyer has stated that they believe they were placed as scapegoats by North Korean conspirators who wanted Kim Jong-nam, who reportedly had tensions with and was exiled by the North Korean regime, dead.
MIDDLE EAST & CENTRAL ASIA
Civil Marriage Debate Reemerges in Lebanon
The issue of legalizing civil marriage in Lebanon has emerged once again following comments from Interior Minister Raya El Hassan, who voiced her support for its recognition. Civil marriage ceremonies are typically secular, with a government official, as opposed to a religious leader, overseeing the union. Leaders within all religious sects of Lebanon oppose its instatement, and Shia and Sunni leaders quickly spoke out against El Hassan’s comments. Despite such opposition from religious leaders, various Lebanese political figures have also declared their support, including Prime Minister Saad Hariri. In Lebanon’s current 128-member parliament, a coalition of about 45 parliamentarians has already vowed their support in passing the legislation.
EASTERN EUROPE & RUSSIA
Estonian PM Courts Far Right Party
Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas invited the right-wing Eurosceptic party EKRE into a government coalition on March 11. Previously, EKRE had never been invited into a coalition by any government. The March 3 elections resulted in a hung parliament. Ratas’ Centre party received the second most seats: 26 of the 101-seat parliament. Ratas’ rival Reform party won a plurality with 34 seats, the conservative Fatherland party 12, and EKRE 19. Ratas is attempting to create a coalition with Fatherland and EKRE with the intention of keeping the Reform party out of power altogether.
Bouteflika Drops Out of Race
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika postponed the April 18 presidential elections and said he will not seek a fifth term in office on March 11. No new date was announced for the presidential elections. In recent weeks, protesters have taken to the streets in opposition of Bouteflika’s candidacy. Bouteflika, who is 82 years old, suffered a stroke in 2013 and has kept out of the public eye since. He has served as president since 1999 and oversaw the end of the Algerian civil war in 2002. In 2008, he supported a controversial constitutional amendment that removed presidential term limits and allowed him to run for a third term. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia announced his resignation and was replaced by Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui.
WESTERN EUROPE & CANADA
German Military Leaders Express Frustration
Addressing German lawmakers, German military officials have expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of combat readiness of German submarines and certain heavy-lift helicopters and Tornado fighter jets. In the military’s 2018 readiness report, Germany’s Tornado fighter jets and Ch-53 heavy lift helicopters reported readiness rates under 50 percent. Some improvement has since been made, however, as now about 70 percent of Germany’s 10,000 weapons systems are considered to be ready, an indication that the country can fulfill its military obligations. This readiness report also included details about Germany’s cyber command and weapons that are essential for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany currently chairs.
Writing contributed by Ben Richmond and Benjamin Barth.