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Factal Forecast: Guatemala faces political crisis, G20 leaders meet in India, and UK launches autumn vaccine programs

While in Bali in 2022, six G20 leaders participate in a ceremony. Indian Prime Minister Modi is one of the six in this photo. Modi and India host this year's summit.

Welcome to Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories from the editors at Factal.

We publish our forward-looking note each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead.

Despite a landslide victory in August, Guatemalan President-elect Bernardo Arévalo’s says he is the victim of an “ongoing coup.” In this week’s Factal Forecast podcast, Senior Editor Jimmy Lovaas and Editor Jeff Landset discuss the legal challenges Arévalo is facing along with the potential public response to efforts to disqualify his center-left Movimiento Semilla. Listen now or download on your favorite platform.

Listen now or download on your favorite platform. 

Week of September 8-15
A Look Ahead

Sept. 9 – G20 Summit  

Leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies will meet in New Delhi on Saturday amid increasing competition for resources and influence in less-developed economies.

What’s happened so far 
This year’s summit comes against the backdrop of a renewed diplomatic dispute between China and India regarding their shared Himalayan border and Russia’s continued war in Ukraine. Chinese President Xi Jinping will miss the gathering for the first time since it was formed in 2008. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is also expected to skip the meeting. U.S. President Joe Biden said he’s “disappointed” he won’t see Xi, though administration officials are talking about a possible meeting around the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco in November.

The impact 
The meeting is a chance for world powers to meet as they continue to face off in military conflicts such as the war in Ukraine, or economic ones such as the ongoing trade battle between China and the United States. Meanwhile, Russia is making a significant push to boost its presence in Africa, promising increased aid and economic cooperation. The European Union is countering that effort with planned meetings with African leaders on the sidelines of the summit.

Sept. 9 – ​​North Korea’s 75th founding anniversary  

North Korea is expected to hold a military parade Saturday to commemorate the anniversary of the country’s founding.

What’s happened so far 
Pyongyang has already held two military parades this year, including one at the end of July featuring delegations from Russia and China — the first from Moscow since the fall of the Soviet Union, and the first from Beijing since the coronavirus pandemic began. There has been a flurry of military activity from North Korea in recent weeks, including a second failed spy satellite launch and simulated nuclear attacks on South Korea as Seoul hosts joint exercises with the United States. 

The impact 
As always, North Korea’s parades are an opportunity to flaunt advances in military technology, but they are also becoming a way to demonstrate growing diplomatic ties, with Russian and Chinese representatives again expected to attend the upcoming parade. Recent reports from Western officials suggest North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may make a rare visit to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin later this month to discuss supplying Moscow with weapons for the war in Ukraine, and Russia’s defense minister floated the possibility of joint military exercises with Pyongyang.

Sept. 10 – Russia-organized elections in annexed portions of Ukraine

Local elections in Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions partially occupied by Russia are set to end Sunday.

What’s happened so far 
After initially conquering wide swaths of Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions during the 2014 invasion, Russia’s forces took additional territory there during full invasion of 2022 while also establishing control over wide portions of Kherson and Zaporizhia. Russia then decided last fall to annex the four regions of Ukraine and hold local elections to grant full terms to the Russian-appointed occupation officials in the territories.

The impact 
The outcome of the elections is all but certain with pro-Kremlin candidates running virtually unopposed, though Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive efforts in the south threaten to derail Russia’s farcical vote. Though progress has been grinding and attritional since Ukraine launched the operation back in June, Kyiv’s forces have made some progress in recent weeks along the main push axis heading south into occupied Zaporizhia. While efforts to sever Russian supply lines in the occupied southern regions continue, Ukraine has also launched a concerted drone war striking targets deep inside of Russia in recent weeks, further threatening to challenge the legitimacy of the elections.

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Sept. 10 – Biden visits Vietnam  

U.S. President Biden will travel to Hanoi on Sunday and meet with General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and other Vietnamese leaders.

What’s happened so far 
The White House said Biden’s visit will give leaders a chance to “explore opportunities to promote the growth of a technology-focused and innovation-driven Vietnamese economy,” as well as look at improving ties through various programs and discuss issues like climate change and regional stability. The visit is set to take place after his planned participation in the G20 Summit in India.

The impact 
While Biden’s trip is part of an effort to improve U.S. relationships in the region, it comes with the risk of angering China. The visit also comes as Vietnam faces accusations that it is backsliding on religious freedoms, Reuters reports.

Sept. 11 – 50th anniversary of Pinochet’s coup in Chile 

On Monday, Chile will commemorate the military coup of General Augusto Pinochet against Salvador Allende’s government in 1973.

What’s happened so far 
Heads of state and government from at least five countries will attend the events organized by President Gabriel Boric as part of an initiative to promote democracy, accountability and to provide public spaces for the victims of crimes against humanity committed during 17 years of military dictatorship in the country. The commemoration has sparked controversy as far-right and conservative sectors rejected a proposal by Boric that all parties sign a joint declaration condemning the coup, over claims that the symbolic gesture will further divide Chilean society. 

The impact 
As part of this effort, the government announced a plan to launch a search for at least 1,500 missing people believed to be victims of enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention or assassination between 1973 and 1990 in order to shed light on the crimes committed in each case and to provide further information and reparations to their relatives. Boric’s government is also considering the closure of the Punta Peuco prison, a special penitentiary center for members of the military sentenced for crimes against humanity during the dictatorship. 

Sept. 11 – U.K. launches autumn vaccination programs 

Britain’s health ministry said it will begin administering flu and coronavirus vaccines on Monday, weeks earlier than previously planned after the identification of a new coronavirus variant. 

What’s happened so far 
The BA.2.86 variant was first detected by U.K. health authorities in mid-August and has a high number of mutations, but is not currently classified as a variant of concern. Adult home care residents and those in vulnerable groups will be among the first to be eligible for the latest vaccine and will be offered a flu shot at the same time “whenever possible.” England lifted its last remaining coronavirus restrictions in February 2022. 

The impact 
Scientists say it’s unlikely the new variant will cause a significant wave of severe disease and death due to prior infections and vaccination efforts, but that surveillance efforts must continue. 

Sept. 11 – Japan PM Kishida likely to reshuffle cabinet  

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida could appoint a new cabinet as soon as Monday, according to local media.

What’s happened so far 
Kishida took over from Yoshihide Suga as prime minister in 2021, continuing the decade-long reign of Japan’s center-right Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that began with Shinzo Abe’s 2012 victory. Since taking power, Kishida has seen his cabinet and the LDP’s approval ratings slowly slide to their lowest point since 2012. Kishida’s government is currently facing backlash for the decision to release treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and for plans to get rid of health insurance cards and integrate them into a national ID system.

The impact 
Japanese outlet Yomiuri Shimbun reports Kishida could begin the negotiations of forming a new cabinet after he returns from the G20 Summit later this week. Japan’s current government is a coalition between LDP and their junior partners from the Komeito party. Kishida will reportedly attempt to bring the country’s fifth biggest party, the Democratic Party for the People, into the coalition as part of his new cabinet, which could delay the reshuffling with several weeks of negotiations. Despite the cabinet’s low approval ratings, LDP is not constitutionally required to call another election until October 2025. 

What Else Matters

Two men shake hands at a table with the Guatemala flag in the background. They have plaques recognizing their current positions.
Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei held a transition meeting with President-elect Bernardo Arévalo on Sept. 4. (Photo: Gobierno de Guatemala / Flickr)

Guatemala political crisis 

Turmoil is continuing in Guatemala even after a decisive victory by anti-corruption candidate Bernardo Arévalo in the presidential runoff race. The loser, former first lady Sandra Torres, filed a complaint alleging voter fraud and Arévalo’s party, Movimiento Semilla, had its legal status suspended just hours before his victory was officially certified. The country’s top court recently revoked that suspension, but only temporarily. Arévalo has called these efforts an “ongoing coup” by powerful groups in the country’s justice system headed by Attorney General Maria Porras. Last year, the United States labeled Porras as being involved in “significant corruption” and banned her from entering the country. Outsiders have not gone so far as to call it a coup but have expressed concern.

Watch for: Thousands gathered in Guatemala City on Saturday to protest the actions of Arévalo’s opponents in the government. If more interference occurs and Arévalo is not allowed to take office, larger protests will likely occur. That could also bring more forceful denouncements from groups like the United Nations and the Organization of American States. While incumbent President Alejandro Giammattei has called for a peaceful transition of power throughout the process, any new response from him could be noteworthy.

Extended Outlook

What’s on our radar in the coming weeks…

Sept. 8-15 

Sept. 8

  • Rugby World Cup in France

Sept. 9

  • Maldives elections
  • Possible military parade in North Korea
  • G20 summit in India

Sept. 10

  • President Biden to visit Vietnam
  • Russia-organized elections in annexed portions of Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions
  • Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia

Sept. 11

  • Norway’s municipal and county council elections
  • EU parliament plenary
  • Japan PM Kishida likely to reshuffle cabinet
  • U.K. launches autumn vaccination programs
  • Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Pinochet’s coup in Chile

Sept. 13

  • EU State of the Union

Sept. 14

  • IMF staff to visit Sri Lanka
  • Taiwan opposition candidate to visit US

Sept. 16-22 

Sept. 18 

  • World Court to hear Russian objections to Ukraine case
  • UN General Assembly begins
  • Saudi Arabia’s Ades International Holding is set to list in Riyadh

Sept. 20

  • Sri Lanka says China’s Sinopec to start operations

Sept. 22

  • Pope Francis visits Marseille, France

Sept. 23-29 

Sept. 23 

  • 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China

Sept. 27

  • Second debate for U.S. Republican presidential candidates

Sept. 30-Oct. 6 

Sept. 30

  • Slovak parliamentary election

Oct. 1 

  • New fiscal year for U.S. government

Oct. 2

  • Start of former U.S. President Trump’s civil trial in Manhattan

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