Compass World: Sudanese coup d'état
LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
Referendum in Belize Postponed
The Supreme Court of Belize postponed a referendum scheduled to be held on April 10 in a decision confirmed on April 8 by the Court of Appeals. The referendum asked Belizean voters whether or not to take Guatemala’s claim on Belize’s territory to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for final settlement. Prime Minister Dean Barrow issued a statement saying the referendum was postponed until further notice. Guatemalan citizens voted in favor of taking the dispute to the ICJ in a April 2018 referendum. Both countries believe the only way to solve the dispute is by having an independent third party, in this case the ICJ, determine who rightfully claims the territory in question.
Controversy in the Thai Election
Thailand’s election panel asked a court on April 11 to decide if a contested formula used to allocate 150 seats in the House of Representative was valid and lawful, almost three weeks after a poll whose results it plans to announce on May 9. Among the 500 seats in the House of Representatives, 350 seats were up for election in 350 different geographic constituencies, and the remaining 150 seats will be determined through a party-list voting system. Under the party-list voting system, a certain number of the 150 seats are allotted to each party based on the percentage of the overall vote the party received. Critics feel that the complicated electoral system was designed to favor the ruling military junta and shut out opposition parties from securing seats. The election panel wants to round up decimals in allocating seats, a procedure that would give seats to 11 small parties whose popular vote fell short of the threshold required, but which large political parties say breaches the constitution.
MIDDLE EAST & CENTRAL ASIA
Netanyahu Likely to Form Coalition
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be headed towards reelection after his chief opponent, Benny Gantz, conceded on April 10. Although both Netanyahu’s Likud party and Gantz’s Blue and White party almost won the same number of votes, Likud’s right-wing coalition could form a 65-seat majority in the 120-seat Israeli parliament known as the Knesset. If he forms a new governing coalition, Mr Netanyahu would be on course to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister, overtaking the country's founding father David Ben-Gurion. Netanyahu, however, also faces upcoming court cases where could be indicted for corruption.
EASTERN EUROPE & RUSSIA
Ukraine Launches Anti-Corruption Court
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko announced the commencement of a Ukrainian anti-corruption court as part of the loan program established with the IMF. Across a half-year long process, 38 judges were appointed to the court. Poroshenko has previously established the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and an anti-corruption prosecutor’s office, but results have been lacking in part because of the absence of any sort of anti-corruption court. The court is being established a week before Ukraine’s presidential election runoff, which polls suggest Poroshenko will lose.
Coup d'etat in Sudan
On April 10, the Sudanese Armed Forces deposed and arrested longtime president Omar al-Bashir and took over in the country’s capital of Khartoum. Military leaders dissolved the constitution, cabinet, and national legislature while declaring a three-month state of emergency. Since 2018, protesters in Khartoum have called for widespread economic reform and al-Bashir’s resignation. al-Bashir began his presidential term in June 1989 and had been in office ever since. Defence minister and vice president Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf declared himself the de facto head of state, and issued a curfew from 10pm to 4am. Observers believe the decision to be an attempt by the military to suppress any further protests. Demonstrators believe the military council to be a part of the al-Bashir regime and organized a mass sit-in outside of the military’s headquarters.
WESTERN EUROPE & CANADA
Assange Arrested by UK Authorities
UK authorities arrested Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange after the Ecuadorian government withdrew support for the man took asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy beginning in 2012. While he first sought asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden for rape charges which have since been dropped, he was sentenced this week for his refusal to turn himself into authorities in 2012. Assange also faces potential extradition to the United States on charges of conspiracy with Chelsea Manning in 2011 to leak highly classified government files that detailed the staggering collateral damage inflicted upon civilians in the name of the War on Terror. Ardent supporters of free speech and journalism have rallied around Assange, warning that his prosecution would set a “dangerous precedent” that could prevent investigative journalism from shedding light on the truth.
Writing contributed by Stephen Cho and Benjamin Barth.