In postelection DRC, transition looks like restoration
After delaying elections for two years, former DRC President Joseph Kabila hit upon a clever stratagem to resolve his “third-term” problem. Borrowing a page from Vladimir Putin’s book, he appears to have arranged for a stand-in, nominally from the opposition, to win the presidency in a manipulated ballot. Mr. Kabila intends to run the country from a Senate seat or perhaps even as prime minister. The international community seems to be turning a blind eye to these shenanigans because it prefers stability to the prospect of turmoil and civil war.
Russia in Africa: the ‘covert action’ strategy
While China has received much attention for its diplomatic and economic efforts in Africa, Russia has been quietly seeking a foothold in the Central African Republic. Years of chaos and a violent civil war have set the stage for Russia’s entrance in the country, where it is now plying security expertise and pursuing investments in the mining sector. Russia’s discreet, low-stakes approach may help ensure its success.
Peru’s president bets on fighting corruption
Peruvians will vote in a December referendum that could introduce anti-corruption rules giving President Martin Vizcarra a stronger hand as he faces a hostile congress. If the referendum fails, however, the country’s new leader would be weakened, prolonging Peru’s political dysfunction and holding its economy back.
China’s profile is rising in Latin America
As China’s growing economy made it an increasingly important player in Latin America, Beijing kept a low profile. Now, it can no longer avoid the spotlight. In Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and Cuba, its position as a customer, financier and investor is leading to some complicated challenges. The question now is how assertive it will become in imposing its will on these countries – and how they and the U.S. will react.
Liberia and Sierra Leone: post-conflict, focused on growth
Liberia and Sierra Leone went through painstaking a post-conflict restoration process after civil wars that ravaged them in the last decade of the 20th century. In 2018, newly elected leaders in Freetown and Monrovia face the task of restoring growth in the economies badly hindered by 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic and low commodity prices.
Joseph Kabila will not be moved
For long-serving presidents in sub-Saharan Africa, there are few incentives to step down. That applies to President Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has managed to extend his term beyond the constitutional limits. The country has been in a deep crisis since 2015, and conditions are primed to deteriorate in 2018. Even if long-promised elections do take place, they will hardly mark the beginning of a new era.
In Peru, the pace of progress slows
In Peru, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is wrangling with a fractious, majority-opposition congress. Having just narrowly escaped impeachment proceedings, he offered a presidential pardon to the controversial former President Alberto Fujimori. The move could gain him allies in the opposition’s ranks, but has alienated many of his supporters. However, with copper prices predicted to rise – and with them Peru’s economic growth – he may soon get a respite.
Four implications of electric mobility
China is doubly dominant in electric vehicles (EV), as the world’s biggest market and largest battery maker, with 55 percent of global production. EV makers also increasingly depend on critical raw materials from China such as lithium, cobalt, graphite and rare earths. This growing dependency, along with production bottlenecks and the environmental costs of EV production, may limit its impact on the global energy mix.
Peru: PPK makes a strong start
Despite just barely eking out a victory in Peru’s June presidential elections, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has made a fast start, gaining special powers to fight crime and corruption. The opposition has a significant majority in Congress, but PPK, as the president is known, is still likely to implement much of his center-right platform.
Mixed forecast for Latin America’s economies
Latin America has been slower to rebound after the financial crisis than most of the world. Now, however, some countries in the region seem poised to make progress. Their ability to participate in the global economic expansion will vary. Some, such as Argentina, Peru and Mexico are in a position to benefit. Others will struggle to gain traction.