Military protests continued in cities across Cote d’Ivoire over the weekend as the revolt over bonuses gathered momentum – now entering its fourth day. Tensions began late last week in Bouake, spreading quickly to other cities and towns and mirroring an uprising that occurred back in January, which paralyzed parts of the country. Gunfire was heard in Bouake, Abidjan and in other cities after a national television broadcast ceremony on Thursday 11 May, in which a soldier presented as a spokesman for 8,400 former rebels said that they wished to apologise to President Alassane Ouattara for the mutiny. As well as apologizing the rebel spokesman, named as Sergeant Fofana, stated that they were giving up all their financial demands. However this has been rejected by about half of the mutineers. Tensions are likely to further continue in the coming days as President Ouattara has announced that the country funds are limited.
MS Risk continues to advise anyone currently in the country to avoid military barracks, military installations, large crowds and demonstrations. We advise that you remain vigilant at all times, monitor the local media and follow instructions given by local police and security personnel. In order to prepare for civil disorder in the event that tensions continue, we recommend the following immediate actions:
- Have a weeks supply of life support, including fuel
- Keep vehicles out of site in repair shops and stripped of valuables
- Be prepared to hand over vehicles if forced
- Keep a manifest of all staff members and report daily
- Do not go out before 0900 and be back by 1500 in order to avoid peak traffic and obvious car jacking times.
- Ensure all staff members have emergency numbers and control post numbers to hand
- Establish a Duty Manager roster so that there is always a responder ready
- Email all movements to a central point so that there is a running record
- You should expect to see increased government forces traffic and presence if intensions increase.
MS Risk continues to closely monitor the situation in Cote d’Ivoire and we will issue further bulletins as more information becomes available.
- The northern road corridor is blocked and the Abobo district is very tense as it is a rebel stronghold.
- Sporadic gunfire was heard around 5 AM (0500 GMT) on Monday 15 May at military camps in Abidjan.
- A march against the ongoing army mutiny was held in the Abidjan on Saturday 13 May.
- Gunfire was heard at dawn on Monday 15 May in the city.
- On Sunday 14 May, at least five people were wounded by gunfire during protests against the army mutiny. Heavy gunfire erupted on Sunday as soldiers sought to disperse crowds of residents who were attempting to organize a march against the mutiny.
- On Sunday, mutinous soldiers opened up access to the city, effectively allowing vehicles to move in and out for the first time since Friday 12 May, when they cut off access, defying the army chief who threatened severe punishment if they did not return to barracks.
- Heavy shooting was heard in the city on Monday 15 May.
- A march against the ongoing army muting was held on Saturday 13 May in Daloa.
- A march against the ongoing army mutiny was held in the city of Korhogo on Saturday 13 May.
- On Saturday 13 May, mutinous soldiers shot and wounded two residents. According to witnesses, the two young men, who were travelling on a motorcycle, tired to force their way through a roadblock erected near the city’s main military base when the soldiers opened fire, wounding them in the legs.
- Shooting was heard overnight (12 – 13 May) in the town.
Earlier this month, the head of the World Health Organization disclosed that a new outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus is “inevitable,” noting however that a new vaccine, coupled with rapid-response measures, mean that it will be more effectively contained.
Speaking at an event in the Guinean capital Conakry this month, dedicated to individuals who fought to control the disease in their communities, WHO chief Margaret Chan thanked the Guinean government for its role in developing the vaccine, which was announced in December 2016, but added a note of caution. Speaking to an audience of scientists, Ebola response coordinators and dignitaries, Chad warned that “scientists do not yet know exactly where in nature the Ebola virus hides between outbreaks, but nearly all experts agree that another outbreak is inevitable,” adding that “when this occurred, the world will be far better prepared.”
In a major clinical trial using an innovative “ring,” or group method, nearly 6,000 people in Guinea were given the test vaccine in 2015, during which not one of them contracted the disease. Chan disclosed last week that even with an “initially limited” first batch of the vaccine, health authorities had another option in their arsenal “beyond isolation and quarantine.”
The Ebola virus was first identified in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Since then, it has erupted periodically in outbreaks of up to a couple of hundred cases, mainly across western and eastern Africa. The most deadliest outbreak of the virus occurred in early 2014, when a handful of infections in southern Guinea mushroomed rapidly into an epidemic. Officials have disclosed that that outbreak began with a child in December 2013. It would go on to kill at least 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and left thousands more survivors with long-term health problems. At the time, the WHO was criticized for its slow response and for failing to grasp the gravity of the outbreak.
Chan also emphasized that anther positive outcome of the Ebola crisis was renewed focus and funding for vaccines against other contagious diseases, including the fatal Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) as well as the Lassa and Nipah viruses.
Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won the second round of the presidential election on 7 May. The first official results from the Interior Ministry show that Macron received around 62 percent of the vote, versus 34 percent for nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen. This victory can be seen as a breath of fresh air for Europe, as had Le Pen prevailed in Sunday’s vote, she could have helped set in motion the bloc’s crumbling, even if her most radical proposals, such as holding a referendum on France’s Eurozone membership, would have been difficult to implement.
Le Pen’s performance in the election suggests that although Euroskepticism is strong in France, the prospect of leaving the bloc still frightens more voters in the country than it attracts. Nevertheless, the fact that the National Front secured 34 percent of the vote means that the economic and financial risk will continue to be of primary concerns among the most part of the citizens. Macron has a formidable task ahead of him. His presidency will test whether a centrist, pro-European leader can govern France and whether an inexperienced politician can perform better than the professional politicians his campaign criticized.
As far as domestic reforms are concerned, overhauling France’s economy is vital to the Macron plan. In the next five years he wants to make budget savings of €60bn (£51bn; $65bn), so that France sticks to the EU’s government deficit limit of 3% of GDP (total output). Public servants would be cut in number by 120,000 – through natural wastage. Concerning the Labour market, he would not scrap France’s famed 35-hour work week, but he would try to introduce further flexibility around a basic legal framework of labour rights and rules, allowing firms to negotiate deals with their staff on hours and pay. He would try to introduce further flexibility around a basic legal framework of labour rights and rules, allowing firms to negotiate deals with their staff on hours and pay. On immigration, he aims at creating a 5,000-strong force of EU border guards, make fluency in French the main qualification for obtaining French nationality and give all religious leaders comprehensive training in France’s secular values.
However, some of Macron’s proposals, especially those aimed at further liberalizing France’s economy, reducing the public sector and introducing more flexible labor laws, will meet with resistance from some parts of French society, including unions and student groups. If En Marche! fails to win a majority in the National Assembly in the country’s legislative elections next month, the president will have an even harder time enacting domestic reform. His predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande found it difficult to introduce economic reforms even with control of the legislature because of opposition, not only from the public but also from their own parties at times.
On Europe, preserving France’s alliance with Germany, will be a priority for the next administration in Paris, and for Berlin as well. The two countries will probably be on the same page on the Brexit issue, defending the indivisibility of the European Union’s single market and ensuring that the United Kingdom doesn’t get too favorable a trade deal from the bloc. They will also work together to increase defense and security cooperation across the European Union, focusing on protecting its external borders, Macron is also a critic of Russian policy and backs EU sanctions put in place after the Ukraine crisis.
Still, Germany and France will have plenty of room for disagreement, especially where the Eurozone is concerned. Paris, broadly speaking, is willing to tolerate inflation and a cheap euro to keep Europe’s exports competitive. France also tends to take a flexible stance on deficit and debt targets, while espousing protectionism to defend vulnerable sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, against external competition. Many of these ideas go against Germany’s interests. For example, Macron has already proposed creating a separate budget for the Eurozone, financed by jointly issued debt, to pay for investment programs across the currency area. He also wants more shared responsibility within the eurozone and believes Germany’s big trade surplus has to be rebalanced.
There are many challenges ahead for the new President, and it is going to be a long way to go. Most of his success both nationally and internationally will depend on the French Assembly’s support and on the reestablishment of the traditional strong alliance with Germany.
The so-called Islamic State (IS) group’s leader in Egypt has warned Muslims to stay away from Christian gatherings as well as government, military and police facilities, suggesting that the militant group will keep up attacks on what he referred to as “legitimate targets.”
In an interview published last week in IS’ Al Naba weekly newspaper published on Telegram, the leader, who was not named, stated “we are warning you to stay away from Christian gathering, as well as the gatherings of the army and the police, and the areas that have political government facilities.”
Islamic militants have increasingly targeted religious minorities, a challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s, who has promised to protect them from extremism. Last month, two IS suicide bombers killed at least 45 people at churches in the cities of Alexandria and Tanta, one of the bloodiest attacks the country has experienced in years. IS has also been turning its sights on targets outside its base in the Sinai and has recently been putting more pressure on the Egyptian government and has presented additional challenges for security services.
On 1 May, the United States State Department issued a travel alert for Europe, stating that US citizens should be aware of a continued threat of terrorist attacks across the continent.
In the alert, the US State Department cited recent attacks in France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Russia, stating that the so-called Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda “have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe.” The alert went on to say that malls, government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, airports and other locations are all possible targets for attacks.
On Monday, a State Department official disclosed that the latest alert was not prompted by a specific threat, but rather recognition of the continuing risk of attacks, particularly ahead of the summer holidays.
The State Department’s previous travel alert for Europe, which had been issued ahead of the winter holiday season, expired in February. This latest alert expires on 1 September 2017.