the brief: issue twenty-two


From an icon’s son to exile in shame: former Botswana president faced with serious charges

by Harvey Young

image credit: davidaime (Flickr)

On 21 April Ian Khama, the previous Botswana president, was charged with 14 counts of illegal possession of firearms. This has caused concern as charges against a former president are completely unprecedented in Botswana. 

Khama is currently in exile in neighbouring South Africa after falling out with his own party and his successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi. Khama has previously claimed to be a target of a plot by Masisi to crack down on opposition and therefore appears unlikely to appear in court or carry out any sentence.

Former president and Ian Khama’s father, Setetse Khama, is seen as responsible for helping the country to avoid the instability, destitution and authoritarianism that has plagued most other sub-Saharan African countries. As a result, he has become regarded very highly by many Botswanans. However, these recent developments have brought the future of this African success story into question.


Nobel Peace Prize laureate elected as president

by Neo Allert

image credit: MapGrid (Wikimedia Commons)

East Timor’s modern history has been marked by wars, violence and brutality. The Indonesian occupation from 1975-1999 proved especially brutal and violent. International action, involving the UN and a multi-national peacekeeping force, finally managed to bring some peace and stability to East Timor.

In 2002 it became the first new independent, democratic state of the 21st century. Since then elections have been taking place on a regular basis, with the most recent being the second round of the presidential elections on 19 March. With 62.09 percent, José Ramos-Horta beat the incumbent president. Ramon-Horta, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had served as president before.

Claiming the incumbent president had violated the constitution, he decided to enter politics once again. With high poverty rates, the impact of COVID-19 and political instability, Ramos-Horta has a lot to do.


A tale of two political foes

by Rachael Ward

image credit: Lorie Shaull (Flickr)

As the French political face-off continues between Macron and Le Pen, it becomes increasingly likely that votes will be cast not for but against each candidate. This is Marine Le Pen’s third pop at the presidency, with sitting President Emmanuel Macron showing signs of wear and tear after five years in office.

As of yet, it’s unclear which way the vote will swing., with widespread abstentions expected. Though French voters are unsure as to how they will use their vote, opinion is a lot stronger in Europe’s highest political circles. Le Pen lacks the European passion Macron possesses and thus poses a threat to the stability of an already shaky European Union.

Le Pen has pronounced her political commitment to the EU, but her proposal to roll back France’s contributions to the EU budget inspires fear in her European counterparts. As the face-off continues, France’s future is all but certain.

What will it cost Cyprus to sanction Russia: A quarter of investments and half the island?

by Dylan Nykamp

image credit: Mike Finn

In 2020 a quarter of Cyprus’ foreign investments came from Russia, totalling over €100 billion. The island has a history of providing a no-questions-asked banking home for the assets of Russian oligarchs, as well as being a popular destination for Russian tourists. Sanctions on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine have put an abrupt stop to this relationship.

Cypriots fear the political consequences of this breakdown in cooperation. It’s thought that a divided Cyprus aids Russian interests as the impasse between Cyprus and Turkey prevents more formal cooperation between the EU and NATO. It’s also thought that a peace agreement would have the potential to ease Europe’s reliance on Russian gas. 

Despite Moscow denying plans for an embassy, speculation continues to mount over potential Russian recognition of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which is currently only recognised by Turkey. This follows Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov’s comparison of the TRNC and the recently-Russian recognised Donetsk and Luhansk.


Red states remove firearm permits as youth firearm homicides reach record high

by Max Bedford

image credit: Samantha Sophia

Data released by the CDC has shown that firearms were the largest killer of under-19s in 2020, largely homicides resulting in over 4,300 youth deaths, reflecting the 33.4 percent rise in firearm homicides seen nation-wide. While the cause for the rise is uncertain, the pandemic saw an excess of 7.5 million Americans become first-time gun owners, exposing millions more youths to firearms in the home.,

Despite the rise in firearm related homicides, red states continue to push for ‘Constitutional Carry’ Laws that remove the fines for firearm permits despite criticisms from local law enforcement. Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, claims that “Government is coming to take your guns… Texas will not let that happen.”. A further 25 states ready themselves to pass similar laws, reigniting debates over the 2nd Amendment as midterm campaigning begins.


Scott Morrison in trouble?

by Connor Crout

image credit: SymeonHellas (Wikimedia Commons)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been criticised by opposition MPs for a debate response where, after being questioned about a disability support scheme, he said he was “blessed” that his children ‘don’t… go through that’.

His comment has also not gone down well with the Australian public. An opinion poll conducted by Essential Research on 19 and 20 April for the upcoming 2022 Australian federal election revealed that Morrison’s party (the Liberal-National Coalition) got 46 percent of the two-party-preferred vote, losing to the Labor Party (47 percent of the vote).

With the 2022 Australian federal election coming up on 21 May, Prime Minister Morrison might have reason to be worried about these opinion poll results, but as the 2019 Australian federal election showed, opinion polls can be unreliable (the Labor Party won the two-party-preferred vote polls but Morrison won the election).


Extinct plant rediscovered

by Eleanor Austin

image credit: Riley Fortier

The Gasteranthus Extinctus flower, thought to be extinct, has been found once more in Ecuador. A study released in the past week, presents how last year a team of scientists discovered the plant in the Centinela Ridge, within hours of searching the rainforest. The wildflower was presumed to be extinct by scientists in 2000, due to its last known sighting in the 1980s and extensive deforestation in the 1990s.

The Centinela Ridge, in the north-west of Ecuador, is home to an abundance of tropical species, but also substantial destruction. Around 95 percent of forests in western Ecuador have been destroyed and cleared for farmland, significantly damaging the nation’s biodiversity.  As the Gasteranthus Extinctus is still highly endangered, the discovery has renewed calls for preventing extinction and ending deforestation. Many hope that plants previously classified as extinct, or currently endangered plants may be able to recover and thrive once more.


Special thanks from Outgoing Director of Journals, Connor Crout

I would like to thank all of the writers and YGA committee members who have helped me to make this journal a success in its inaugural year. I am confident that next year YGA, and the Brief, will go on to do even greater things!

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