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This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Sophie Perryer, Awais Ahmad, Jimmy Lovaas, Ahmed Namatalla and Jeff Landset. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
JIMMY LOVAAS, HOST:
Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.
Today is October 21st.
In this week’s forecast we've got Libya’s liberation anniversary, a presidential election in Uzbekistan, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reshuffling his cabinet, Iran hosting a conference on Afghanistan and an update on Haiti kidnappings.
You can read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.
10th anniversary of Libyan liberation
Information compiled by Sophie Perryer
JIMMY: Saturday marks a decade since Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebel groups in the culmination of an uprising. And while the country is in a state of ceasefire, a presidential election scheduled for December threatens to disrupt the fragile peace.
As you may recall, following the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, conflict broke out in Libya in February 2011. That conflict was between Gaddafi and a coalition of pro-democracy militias.
The resulting eight-month civil war ended shortly after Gaddafi’s death at the hands of these militias on Oct. 20, 2011, but the country rapidly descended into a second conflict in 2014 due to deepening ideological divisions.
A UN-brokered ceasefire between the internationally-backed GNA and Colonel Haftar’s LNA came into force in October of last year. Since then, an interim government led by Prime Minister Dbeibah has been preparing for presidential elections scheduled for Dec. 24.
Now, recent wrangling over the legal mechanisms to support elections has thrown the elections into doubt.
Analysts are concerned that electing a polarising figure, such as Colonel Haftar or Gaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, could deepen societal divisions and lead to the country once again being ruled by warring governments -- both claiming legitimacy.
Meanwhile voters are increasingly viewing Gaddafi’s reign as a time of fewer freedoms but increased prosperity. A decade of war severely damaged the country’s infrastructure and led to frequent power cuts -- all while foreign powers grappled over control of Libya’s oil wealth.
Uzbekistan presidential elections
Information compiled by Awais Ahmad
JIMMY: Voters in Uzbekistan will head to the polls Saturday to vote for a president in the country’s first election since incumbent President Shavkat Mirziyoyev came to power in September of 2016.
All five political parties approved in the country have registered candidates for the election, but incumbent Mirziyoyev of the Liberal Democratic Party is expected to win in a landslide.
Uzbekistan has received international recognition for improvements in its authoritative governments since the 2016 death of former President Islam Karimov, who ruled the nation and its predecessor state since 1989.
There is little room, however, for any meaningful political opposition in the country. Virtually no new political parties were registered in the polls during the 2019 parliamentary elections despite the government’s tagline of “New Uzbekistan-New Elections.”
Also, despite claims of commitment to a pro-democracy election, the Uzbek government prevented two candidates from running through independent, unregistered parties.
Russia, meanwhile, recently praised President Mirziyoyev for development of Russian-Uzbek relations, including the strengthening of the Russian language in the country.
Canada’s Trudeau shuffles cabinet
Information compiled by Jimmy Lovaas
JIMMY: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to reshuffle his cabinet Tuesday following last month’s snap election.
While Trudeau won, his party failed to secure an outright majority. Still, Trudeau said voters gave his party a “clear mandate to get Canada through this pandemic.”
Now Trudeau, who vowed to keep his cabinet gender balanced, is expected to make significant changes in order to keep that promise.
Three female ministers lost in the recent election and a fourth didn’t seek re-election.
Finally, Trudeau said Parliament will return on Nov. 22, more than two months after his re-election. And that gap has led some critics to argue that time is being wasted amid a fourth wave of coronavirus.
Canadian health officials worry that while coronavirus cases are trending down and vaccinations are up, a bad flu season could place additional pressure on the health care system.
Canada’s vaccine mandate for federally regulated transportation employees and travelers goes into effect Oct. 30.
Information compiled by Ahmed Namatalla
JIMMY: Iran is set to host a meeting Wednesday of foreign ministers representing the six countries that border Afghanistan, plus Russia. It’s an effort to stabilize Afghanistan after the Taliban’s seizure of power from the U.S.-backed government in July.
Afghanistan’s been battered by decades of war and isolated by international sanctions and now its economy is in the midst of a downward spiral marked by high inflation and shortages of foreign currency and basic goods.
That’s got the Taliban reaching out to countries such as Turkey, Iran, Russia and China to boost investment and humanitarian aid, though inflows haven’t been enough to meet demand.
Wednesday’s one-day conference will bring together top diplomats of Iran, Russia, China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. All are countries vying for influence and protection of their respective interests while negotiating with a Taliban side that has yet to prove it’s capable of building consensus or even governing the country of 39 million people.
Iran’s foreign ministry said participants will discuss the formation of an “inclusive” government in Afghanistan “that will involve all ethnicities.”
Information compiled by Jeff Landset
JIMMY: Our last item for this forecast is on the recent kidnappings in Haiti. For more on that I spoke with Factal editor Jeff Landset.
JIMMY: Hi, Jeff.
JEFF: Hi, Jimmy, how are you?
JIMMY: I'm well. Hey, ya know, over the last few months it seems like every story out of Haiti was on natural disasters and politics, but here we are talking about kidnappings. What's going on?
JEFF: Yeah, so it seems it's kind of the natural progression of things. Brazen crimes have kind of increased throughout the country after these months of political instability and civil unrest and natural disasters. It kind of came to a head on Saturday when the "400 Mawozo" gang kidnapped 17 North American missionaries -- five of them are children under the age of 16 -- outside of the city of Port-au-Prince, and gang members have demanded $1 million for each person's return.
JIMMY: Incredible. What do we know about the folks involved? Who are these missionaries that got kidnapped? And, you know, what is this "400 Mawozo gang"?
JEFF: Sure, yeah, so it seems that they are from the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. The victims, it sounds like, are five men, seven women and the five children. 16 of them are citizens from the US and one of them is from Canada. The ministry says the missionaries were on their way home from building an orphanage in Haiti. At the moment, Haitian police and the FBI are helping with negotiations for the safe release of these 17 people. As for the gang, it's been growing in strength over the past three years. It has essentially taken over the Port-au-Prince suburb of Croix des Bouquets. It has certainly increased its presence over the past three years.
JIMMY: Has this gang been linked to any other kidnappings?
JEFF: Sure, yeah. So actually, they were once notorious for stealing cattle in the area and then they graduated to stealing cars. And now at this point, they are believed to be responsible for many of the more than 600 kidnappings that have been recorded in Haiti since the beginning of this year. And those kidnappings have actually increased significantly since the summer following the assassination of the President Jovenel Moïse and that deadly earthquake, if you remember that.
JIMMY: Well, you know, in addition to just watching and hoping that these missionaries are released, what else should folks be keeping an eye out for?
JEFF: Yeah, if the country's instability continues to worsen, and these kidnappings continue to pay off, more gangs may try to replicate the practice.
JIMMY: It's a concerning situation, no doubt. Thank you for the update, Jeff. Always appreciate your insight on the region.
JEFF: No problem.
JIMMY: Take care
JIMMY: Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Sophie Perryer, Awais Ahmad, myself - Jimmy Lovaas and Ahmed Namatalla. Our interview featured editor Jeff Landset and our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.
Until next time, thanks for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. You can, of course, subscribe for free. And if you have feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed.
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