January 10, Kazakhstan: Despite an election boycott by the only registered political opposition party, Kazakhstan held nationwide elections. The elections have been criticized as uncompetitive. “The campaign was not competitive, and contestants did not substantially challenge their rivals on their political platforms,” the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a statement. The only registered opposition party—the Nationwide Social Democratic Party—pulled out of the election in a form of protest against a rigged election system. According to preliminary data, the current ruling party, Nur Otan, won the election with 71.09% of the vote. In addition to being uncompetitive, the election has been criticized for in person voting in regards to freezing temperatures and the COVID-19 pandemic.
January 12, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: A new lockdown, announced the day before by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, went into effect in eight states and federal territories following a surge in COVID-19 cases. Opposition leaders have criticized the lockdown—which included a shutdown of the national parliament, state legislatures and a delay of elections—as being politically motivated. “Let me assure you, the civilian government will continue to function. The emergency proclaimed by the king is not a military coup and curfew will not be enforced,” Muhyiddin said.
January 13, Sudan: The Sudanese government alleged that an Ethiopian military aircraft entered Sudanese airspace, adding to a recent border dispute. “In a dangerous and unjustified escalation, an Ethiopian military aircraft penetrated the Sudanese-Ethiopian borders,” Sudan’s foreign ministry stated, according to Al Jazeera. The Ethiopian government has denied the allegations. “The claim that our planes crossed the border is fabricated,” said Berhanu Jula, army chief of staff, according to Reuters. The border dispute in the Al-Fashaqa region erupted in violent clashes last November.
January 13, Italy: Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced the resignation of two cabinet ministers and a junior minister from his Italia Viva party which changed the majority in Italy’s coalition-run government. In order to remain in power, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is working to gain support from independent lawmakers to maintain majority power. Renzi and Conte’s disagreements came to a peak when Renzi did not approve of the way Conte planned to spend 200 billion euros of EU funds. “Opening a government crisis was an unprecedented act of irresponsibility,” said Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri, according to Reuters.
January 15, Corinto, Guatemala: According to spokesperson Ruben Tellez, the Guatemalan military detained 600 Honduran migrants at the border crossing point. Approximately 250 people were a part of the migrant caravan when it left Honduras on Jan. 13. According to Reuters, the Red Cross estimates up to 4000 people could join the caravan. In addition, Guatemalan authorities also sent 102 migrants back to Honduras on Jan. 14. “We are leaving because we have lost everything, one because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the other because of the hurricanes Iota and Eta that have passed in November,” said a person from El Cajón, according to Deutsche Welle.