the brief: issue five


Doumbouya becomes Guinea’s interim president

by Frank Roberts

image credit: papusjunior (Pixabay)

Mamady Doumbouya has become the interim president of Guinea, following the military coup that occurred in September. Doumbouya, who served in the French military, has promised he will not seek to run in forthcoming elections, but neglected to announce a timetable for electing a government emphasising the need for a new constitution.

Guinea has been suspended from ECOWAS, the regional bloc that covers much of West Africa, owing to their failure to release former President Condé. Similarly, the US and China have both signalled opposition to the coup. Condé had sought a third term in 2020, provoking protests in the country with an August budget increasing funding towards the presidential office and slashing military spending further weakening his domestic position.


Tajikistan and Taliban square off

by Joe Mawer

image credit: Makalu (Pixabay)

Whilst much of Central Asia has tried to work with the Taliban, Tajikistan has been a bastion of resistance against them. This has been exemplified with much of the fallen Afghan government escaping Tajikistan and Tajikistan arming the ethnic Tajik rebels in the Panjshir valley. In return the Taliban have requested that Tajikistan stop interfering in their internal affairs.

At the UN, the Tajik leader, Emomali Rahmon stated that Afghanistan was once again becoming a breeding ground for international terrorism.  This promises to be an interesting area of global diplomacy as Russia and China both have good relations with Tajikistan and the Taliban.


Sapri’s new statue at the centre of political showdown

by Rachael Ward

image credit: Ivan Romano/Getty Images

Statue politics are at play in Italy as a female figure in a transparent dress is accused of sexualising women rather than celebrating their history and heroism. The statue, now a source of political friction, was intended to pay tribute to the poetic verses of Luigi Mercantini in 1857. However, it has been attacked for subtracting from the tribute and perpetuating sexualisation.

Women in the Democratic Party’s Palermo unit detest this spurious depiction of women and called for its demolition. For such critics, the statue signifies little history and much humiliation. Yet the mayor of Sapri, where the statue is situated, has defended its artistic edge and denied its sexist undertones.


Biden’s struggles to get infrastructure bill passed

by Connor Crout

image credit: Bokmanrocks01 (Wikimedia Commons)

On 1 October, Joe Biden paid a surprise visit to Congress to pitch his $1 trillion infrastructure bill and said that “it doesn’t matter whether it’s in six minutes, six days, or six weeks, we’re going to get it done.”

Biden is facing difficulties getting this bill passed due to some Democrats refusing to back his plan until another $3.5 trillion budget resolution is voted on, with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitting that there might need to be more time to find a compromise.

The vote for the infrastructure bill was scheduled for 30 September, but has been delayed – it is unclear when another vote will take place. This shows the divides within the Democratic party, which may prove harmful due to their small majority in the House of Representatives and reliance on Harris’ tie-breaking vote in the Senate.


Ownership of Australian Daintree Rainforest given back to Aboriginal population

by Jessica Pender

image credit: pen_ash (Pixabay)

A ceremony was held on the 29 September to hand the land back to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. The forest consists of 160,000 hectares and is believed to be one of the oldest lowland tropical rainforests in the world. It has been considered part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988.

Daintree has been the birthplace of generations of Aboriginal Australians, but the handover is the result of four years of negotiations between the Kuku Yalanji committee and the Australian government. The deal also includes lands such as Cedar Bay (Ngalba Bulal), Black Mountain (Kalkajaka) and Hope Islands. The committee’s long-term goal is to manage the region separate from the national government.


3-in-4 Venezuelans live in extreme poverty, study suggests

by Toby Gill

image credit: OpenClipart-Vectors (Pixabay)

The 2020-2021 National Survey of Living Conditions (ENCOVI) has recently reported that, of Venezuela’s 28 million residents, 76.6 percent live in extreme poverty. This is a sharp increase from the reported 67.7 percent in 2020. 

The country has been grappling with a devastating economic collapse for seven years, and the lockdown measures, designed to curb the spread of Covid, have only exacerbated the situation. Venezuela was already facing crippling fuel shortages and political instability, following the dubious 2018 election, and the pandemic has only sped up the breakdown of the country’s social and economic infrastructure.  

The study estimates that Venezuela’s economy shrank by 74 percent between 2014 and 2020, and states that 94.5 percent of the country lives in some form of poverty. The Maduro government frequently blames US sanctions but offers no real solutions to the problem, leading observers to question how long this situation will last.

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