Lebanon gets a new president, Bolivia and Peru discuss a trans-continent railway and Theresa May visits India
Monday, October 31
Malaysia’s PM Razak embarks on seven-day state visit to China
Taiwanese government delegation visits Japan to discuss maritime cooperation
Nigeria’s President Buhari meets Niger Delta representatives at the Pan Niger Delta Forum
Tuesday, November 1
Chinese Premier Wu Yi Wang Yan embarks for visits to Russia, Turkey
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos begins three-day visit to the UK
Deadline for Dutch PM to present proposal on EU-Ukraine association deal to parliament
Australian monetary policy statement and rate decision: unchanged at 1.5% expected
Japanese monetary policy statement and rate decision
Chinese manufacturing data released
Wednesday, November 2
Meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Council of Heads of State in Kyrgyzstan
Pakistan’s opposition holds three-day lockdown protest in Islamabad
US monetary policy statement and rate decision: unchanged at 0.5% expected
South African finance minister appears in court on fraud charges
Thursday, November 3
Anti-government demonstrations planned in Caracas, Venezuela, could lead to violence
Banned Maoist group holds protests in five Indian states after security forces killed 30 members
Friday, November 4
Tunisian lawyers march in Tunis to protest the government’s 2017 budget proposal
Peace talks between Colombian government and National Liberation Army begin in Ecuador
Russia celebrates National Unity day. Nationalist protests planned, scuffles likely
UK monetary policy statement and rate decision: unchanged at 0.25% expected
Saturday, November 5
Meeting of heads of government of Central and Eastern Europe and China in 16+1 format
Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi concludes five-day visit to Japan
Indian and Sri Lankan foreign affairs and fisheries officials to meet in New Delhi
Sunday, November 6
Presidential and parliamentary elections in Nicaragua
Presidential elections in Bulgaria
Protests in Chisinau, Moldova likely after presidential election on Sunday, October 30
Ongoing small-scale protests in Egypt over rising commodity prices and costs of living
LEBANON GETS A NEW PRESIDENT
It his highly likely that Lebanon’s parliament will nominate 81-year-old former general Michel Aoun as the country’s 17th president on Monday. If successful, Aoun’s election will break a political deadlock that has lasted since May 2014.
Mr Aoun founded the Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) in 2005, which is the second largest party in Lebanon’s parliament. The FPM is the main party in the so-called March 8 Alliance, which includes Amal and Hezbollah – the Iranian-backed Shi’a Islamist party and militant group.
While Lebanon is one of the region’s smallest countries, historical grievances among its diverse ethnic and religious communities, as well as its geographic proximity to the conflict in Syria, mean political decisions attract the interest of regional powers. Indeed, Lebanon’s political system is based on confessionals, with different religious groups being afforded different posts – the president is always a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of parliament a Shi’a.
On October 20, the leader of the Sunni Future Movement, Saad Hariri, announced his support for Michel Aoun as president, somewhat of a surprise given their allegiance to opposing coalitions. It is widely believed that Saad Hariri – the billionaire son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005 – will be appointed prime minister in the coming weeks.
FAR-RIGHT DUTCH POLITICIAN FACES COURT
Outspoken Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders will stand trial on Monday for discrimination and inciting racial hatred. The case comes in light of Wilders’ remarks during a televised party rally in 2014, where he led a roomful of people to chant that they wanted fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. He is facing a fine of up to €7400 and a year in jail.
In 2011, Wilders was acquitted of incitement of religious hatred for his calls to ban the Koran and deport ‘criminal’ Moroccans. Legal experts are more optimistic about the present case as his remarks were directed at a specific social group, not a religion.
Opinion polls show Wilders’ far-right PVV party neck-to-neck with the conservative-liberal ruling VVD party. The PVV has seen a drop in popularity since mid-year, polling in the lead with 25 per cent, down to 20 per cent. However, Wilders and his party is eager to use the trial to paint him as a martyr and to confirm supporters’ belief that he is being prosecuted by the elite.
Wilders has refused to attend the trial, which he views as ‘politically-motivated’.
IRELAND HOLDS ALL-ISLAND BREXIT TALKS
On Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny will host business groups, NGOs, trade unions, and many of the island’s top political parties to discuss the implications of Brexit.
Although invited, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Arlene Foster, said she would not attend the summit, saying there was “no need” for it. Indeed, while Mrs Foster is pro-Brexit, some 56 per cent of Northern Ireland’s population voted to remain in the EU.
June’s Brexit decision means that, while the southern Republic of Ireland will remain in the EU, Northern Ireland – which is part of the UK – will leave it. There remains uncertainty as to how this will work on a practical level, as the land border between Northern Ireland and its independent southern neighbour will soon become an external EU border. Local authorities in these border areas will attend Wednesday’s talks.
Both Irish Prime Minister Kenny and Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brockenshire have insisted the island will not be divided by a ‘hard’ border.
Those in attendance will produce recommendations to London on how to handle Brexit vis-à-vis Ireland and Northern Ireland.
PERU AND BOLIVIA DISCUSS TRANS-CONTINENTAL RAILWAY
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski will travel to Bolivia on Friday to meet with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales. The two leaders will focus their discussions on plans to build a cross-continental railway from the Peruvian Port of Ilo to the Brazilian port of Santos, thus linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The 5000-kilometre line will traverse Bolivia, giving the landlocked country ready access to seaports, something the land-locked country has pushed for since losing its only sea access to Chile in the 1879 War of the Pacific.
In May 2015, a Chinese delegation headed by Premier Li Keqiang visited Peru to discuss financing the roughly $20 billion bi-oceanic project. The railway will cut the transport time and cost for shipping goods produced along the Atlantic coast to Asia and vice versa.
Talks between Peruvian and Bolivian leaders this week will focus on signing agreements on the development of roads and infrastructure for the massive project, which is expected to be completed in the early 2020s.
PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT ENTERS INTO FORCE
The Paris Climate Change Agreement will enter into force on November 4. On October 4, the threshold was reached after the European Union ratified the deal, thus satisfying the benchmark of 55 ratifications by countries accountable for over 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The United States and China expedited the effort of bringing the Paris Agreement into force, which took just under a year – substantially quicker than the eight years between adoption and ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Countries will now tackle the challenge of keeping global temperature increases below two degrees Celsius.
The agreement’s entry into force will trigger the authority of the CMA as governing body during the upcoming COP22 UN climate conference in Morocco from November 7 to 18. The national climate action plans submitted by countries before the adoption of the agreement will be finalised into ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’. The agreement’s implementation rule book will also be finalised as soon as possible to provide a global blueprint for reporting and accountability.
Despite broad support for the accord, experts warn that merely restricting emissions will not be enough to contain the effects of global warming. The next necessary step, according to NASA scientist James Hansen, is the extraction of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which will require the development of technology that could cost trillions of dollars.
UK PM VISITS INDIA ON FIRST TRADE MISSION
UK Prime Minister Theresa May will embark on a three-day state visit to India on Sunday in what will be her first bilateral trip outside of the EU and first ever trade mission.
Accompanied by her international trade secretary Liam Fox, May will send a message that the UK is prioritising bilateral trade relationships beyond the EU. A trade delegation of small and medium-sized enterprises from all regions of the UK will accompany the prime minister.
May will meet with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to discuss the possibility of a post-Brexit UK-India free trade deal, encourage further investment in the UK, and export movement into developing markets including India. Mr Fox’s Department for International Trade has already set up working groups in India to lay the foundations for a future free trade deal.
The two leaders are also likely to discuss the strengthening of their strategic partnership established in September 2004, particularly as disputes in and around the Indo-Pacific heat up.