Africa and Middle East
Côte d’Ivoire: The UNESCO World Heritage site and city of Grand-Bassam was flooded due to heavy rain, and evacuated. A UN mission is being sent to the former capital of the country, known for its 19th century colonialist architecture, to assess the damage.
Guinea-Bissau: President Jose Mario Vaz dismissed the prime minister, Aristide Gomes; the latter refuses to leave office on the grounds that the President’s term ended in June. Faustino Imbali, who belongs to the same party as Vaz, has been appointed as interim prime minister until the presidential election on the 24th November: the presence of two rivals governments makes preparation for this extremely difficult.
Saudi Arabia Riyadh hosted its first ever female wrestling match between the Canadian ‘Natalya’ and American ‘Crown Jewel’. Activists dismissed it as a crude publicity stunt to distract from the grossly inferior legal and social status of women.
Lebanon A proposed tax on Whatsapp calls struck a nerve in a country which suffers endemic corruption and political gridlock, with protesters formed a human chain stretching 105 miles from the south to the north of the country. A government reshuffle and economic policy changes have done little to placate the protests, which demand what they regard as substantive political and economic reform. Pro-government counter-protesters have since attacked demonstrators, and the prime minister has resigned in the hope of triggering what he calls a ‘positive shock’.
Asia & Oceania
Ongoing stories: Hong Kong: protests continued in the city of Hong Kong, as protesters used Halloween as a pretext to wear masks. Such wearing of facemasks was banned by executive order on the 4th October
India 3 months after stripping the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special privileges, Modi’s government divided the province into Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir and formally took both under direct federal control. The region has been under lockdown to prevent any political backlash in this predominantly Muslim (and separatist) region, with internet and phone access still severely restricted and tens of thousands of Indian soldiers enforcing a curfew. The government affirms that this approach will mean that the long-running insurgency can be quelled; critics are concerned that it will simply add fuel to the flames.
Panama Student protests erupted centred around Panama University against a proposed constitutional reform. While attempting to establish more robust institutions as a way to fight corruption, the protesters objected to an amendment which aims to prevent the future legalisation of gay marriage.
Chile A 3% increase in metro fares triggered nationwide protests across Chile, which in places turned violent. The protests have become a wider criticism of societal inequality in the most unequal country in the OECD, and much of the blame is levelled at Chile’s billionaire president. The government responded by promising increased taxes on the wealthy and a higher minimum wage, but eyebrows have been raised across the world by the introduction of a Pinochet-era state of emergency, where soldiers are placed on the streets and sentences of up to 20 years imposed on anyone causing a menace to public services. The government says the measure is necessary to preserve the rule of law and prevent violence.
UK Boris Johnson’s timetable for parliamentary debate of the latest Brexit deal was blocked by the House of Commons on the grounds that 3 days was far too little time for it. Mr Johnson was trying to avoid the need for an extension to Article 50; the extension has now been granted by the EU. In the meantime, with No Deal off the table, the Labour Party backed a general election, set for Johnson’s preferred date of 12th December.
Georgia Almost 2,000 Georgian websites, including NGOs and media outlets, were hacked, their content replaced by a photo of the former president Mikheil Saakashvili captioned “I’ll be back”. The identity of the culprits is unclear: commentators remain unconvinced that either Saakashvili or the Russian government is behind it.
By Patrick Stephens- World This Week editor.