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Daily Brief: Voters Deliver Rebuke to South Africa's Ruling Party

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August 5, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Voters Deliver Rebuke to South Africa's Ruling Party

The African National Congress party suffered its worst election results (FT) since it came to power after the end of apartheid. With most of the results in from local elections, the party's share of the vote sank to 55 percent or below, threatening its rule of several major cities. The elections come amid slow economic growth (WSJ) and corruption allegations against President Jacob Zuma. Neither the ANC nor the opposition party appeared headed for a majority in the capital Pretoria or Johannesburg, raising the possibility of coalition governments (AP).


"[The] vote sent a clear message that the years when South Africa effectively operated as a one-party system are over, or drawing towards a close. A record number of voters, over 26 million, registered for the election, with rival parties apparently mobilising supporters to sign up and then attend polling stations far more effectively than the ANC," writes Emma Graham-Harrison in the Guardian.

"All of this is good news for South African democracy. Jacob Zuma, the unpopular president, has been dogged by corruption allegations and scandals for nearly his entire time in office. According to a recent Ipsos survey, 57% of South Africans believe the ANC has 'lost its moral compass'. As the ANC counts its losses, Mr Zuma is likely to face mounting pressure to step down ahead of his party's leadership conference next year," writes the Economist.

"The discrepancy between the country's remarkable democratic evolution since the end of apartheid and the parallel but slower rate of economic and social change is a source of growing discontent, particularly in the largely black, lower-income townships," writes CFR Fellow John Campbell.


Thailand to Vote on New Constitution

Thailand will vote in a referendum (AP) Sunday's on whether to enact a new constitution that would keep the military government in control and give more power to appointed rather than elected officials. The junta has reportedly jailed more than one hundred people who campaigned against the referendum.

Thailand could face political chaos whatever the outcome of the referendum, writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick.

INDONESIA: Police arrested six people (Reuters) suspected of plotting a rocket attack on Singapore. Authorities said the men may have links to the self-proclaimed Islamic State.


New Afghan Taliban Leader Moves to Unify Group

The leader of the Afghan Taliban is reaching out to figures (WSJ) sidelined by his predecessor as the group wages a new offensive in Helmand Province. The strategy aims to undermine U.S. and Afghan attempts to splinter the group.

This CFR InfoGuide looks at the Taliban's history in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

INDIA: Attackers in military uniform opened fire (Reuters) in a market in India's northeastern state of Assam, killing twelve and wounding fifteen. Authorities blamed the attack on a regional separatist group.


Egypt Claims to Kill Leader of Islamic State Group in Sinai

Egypt's military said it killed (AFP) the head of the Sinai branch of the Islamic State along with top aids and dozens of others. The group has waged a deadly insurgency, killing hundreds of police and soldiers and claiming to have brought down a Russian airliner in Sinai last year.

SYRIA: The United Nations is considering (Guardian) taking part in a Russian proposal to create humanitarian corridors for civilians looking to leave besieged Aleppo. Aid agencies call the plan "deeply flawed," saying Syrian government forces could use the flight of civilians to justify an indiscriminate campaign against rebel-held eastern Aleppo.


South Sudan Forces Accused of Atrocities

Government forces committed widespread killings and rapes amid violence that broke out in the capital last month, the top UN human rights official said (NYT).

UGANDA: Police broke up a gay pride event (AP) and arrested and briefly detained around twenty people. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and gays face severe challenges.


Erdogan Vows to Cut Off Revenue to Gulen-Linked Businesses

Erdogan Vows to Cut Off Revenue to Gulen-Linked Businesses

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would cut off revenue (Reuters) to businesses linked to Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric he blames for last month's failed coup.

CFR's Steven A. Cook writes in the Atlantic on Erdogan's veer toward authoritarianism.

GERMANY: Chancellor Angela Merkel's approval rating plunged (Bloomberg) following a series of attacks in Germany, a new poll shows. Many have criticized Merkel for allowing around a million refugees and migrants into the country last year.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at Europe's Migrant Crisis.


Brazil Committee Votes to Move Forward With Rousseff's Impeachment

A Senate impeachment panel voted (Reuters) to put suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on trial in the full chamber for allegedly breaking budget laws. The Senate will vote Tuesday whether to accept the charges and begin the trial that could remove Rousseff from office.

CFR's Matt Taylor writes on Brazil's political and economic crisis at the onset of the Olympic Games in this blog post.

ARGENTINA: Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday he would deliver (Buenos Aires Herald) the first batch of declassified documents on Argentina's 1976­–83 military dictatorship. The United States which initially backed the dictatorship, had promised to release relevant records, mostly from law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

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