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Bank of Zambia Hacked and CNRD Banning Protests Until Election and Embalo Dissolves Parliament

May 12-18, 2022 | Issue 8 - AFRICOM

Ashliyn Burgos, Matthias Conti, Natalie Weidenbach, Isaac Clemons, AFRICOM Team

Carlos Hochberger, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff



Image of a Hacker’s Silhouette [1]



Date: May 13, 2022

Location: Zambia

Parties involved: Government of Zambia; Bank of Zambia; Zambia’s central bank; Zambian citizens; Hive Ransomware Operation; international investors; currency traders

The event: The Bank of Zambia, announced that hackers affiliated with the Hive Ransomware Operation disrupted the Bureau De Change Monitoring System and website. But a bank spokesman said that there was no impact to sensitive data. The attack appears to be a failed ransomware attack. All systems were fully restored in two days.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • This attack is likely to encourage further attacks on critical infrastructure, as although the bank was able to resolve the security breach, it is likely that there are other potential targets with the same or more vulnerabilities that have not yet been exploited. By increasing ransomware attacks on critical infrastructures, attackers are likely to gain internal system knowledge, very likely increasing the efficacy of future attacks. As the hackers attacks become more successful, there is a roughly even chance that hackers will coerce money from the central bank through future ransomware attacks because of the banks cyber defenses improving. If hacked, there is a roughly even chance hackers will exchange high security clearance information to buyers in the cyber world.

  • International investors and currency traders are likely to sell Zambian currency because they will likely develop a distrust of the Bank of Zambia’s ability to withstand cyber attacks. This will almost certainly cause the value of the Zambian Kwacha to fall, which is very likely to increase the price of international goods like medicine and food. Lack of access to those essential goods has a roughly even chance of creating a humanitarian crisis, which has a roughly even chance of inspiring widespread protests and violence.


Date: May 13, 2022

Location: Guinea

Parties involved: Guinea’s military junta, Comité National du Rassemblement et du Développement (CNRD); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); international community; civil society groups; security forces

The event: The CNRD issued a statement announcing the ban of all street protests until elections are scheduled. The notice states that civil society groups who fail to comply will face unspecified legal consequences.[3] The junta had previously reduced the transition time from 39 to 36 months, despite the international community and political opposition expecting a much shorter schedule.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The decision to ban street protests likely signals the junta’s intention to continue with initial deadline and override the pressure from civil society groups that seeks to shorten the transition timeline. The ban is almost certainly an attempt to curb political opposition and reduce displays of anti-government sentiment. The legal consequences mentioned in the statement will almost certainly allow the interim government to take legal action against key political opponents. The ban is unlikely to curb public discontent in the short term and will likely lead to a heightened risk of civil unrest, including demonstrations, which will almost certainly be forcibly repressed by security forces, posing increased risks for the protesters’ safety.

  • Large-scale civil unrest is likely to disrupt business operations and transport in major cities, including the capital Conakry and Camayenne, likely causing delays in the delivery of supply goods. Civil disorder is likely to endanger in-country staff and business travelers due to the risk of incidental violence.

  • The junta’s ban on protests and its authoritarian drift will likely exacerbate friction between Conakry and the international community, and increase the risk of sanctions imposed on Guinea by ECOWAS, which are very likely to isolate the country’s economy and worsen its financial outlook. Sanctions, which are likely to include land border closures and embargoes, will almost certainly disrupt supply chains and increase transportation costs within Guinea. This is likely to cause an increase in the cost of living, which is in turn likely to lead to a heightened risk of civil unrest.


Date: May 16, 2022

Location: Guinea-Bissau

Parties involved: Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo; Guinea-Bissau’s central government; Guinea-Bissau’s parliament; Guinea-Bissau Economics Minister Victor Mandiga

The event: President Embalo dissolved the parliament following a dispute between the two of them in which Embalo described parliament as “a space for guerrilla politics and plotting.” Parliament was accused of protecting legislators involved in corrupt actions along with not complying with account checks. This dissolution came a week after President Embalo removed the Economics Minister. Embalo plans to hold elections earlier in the year, with a set date of December 18.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The dissolution of parliament is likely to divert attention from larger issues in Guinea Bissau such as addressing drug trafficking, human rights, and security issues which can make citizens feel as though their needs are not being met by their government. The president’s decision of holding an earlier vote to elect parliament will likely reinforce the people’s ability to choose elected officials and can improve the public’s perception of their ability to effect change in their government. Holding earlier elections could likely become a point of contention to those who opposed the president's decision. This could include members of Parliament or their constituents, but overall the move seems realistic as of now and it will likely provide support for Embalo in future endeavors such as elections.

  • In fear of being removed from their position, more government officials will likely align with Embalo which can likely have negative impacts on the country’s government type. The power that Embalo has demonstrated by dissolving parliament will likely make other officials start to question the security of their jobs. They are likely to enhance their support for the president and his policies in order to remain in their positions, which could contribute to authoritarian rule. Fear of an authoritarian regime developing could likely also spark more conflict and potential public or intragovernmental disapproval of Embalo’s actions that could likely lead to more attempted coups to remove him.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1] "Image of a Hacker's Silhouette" by Shravankumaruk licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

[2] Bank of Zambia refused to pay ransom to hackers, Lusaka Times, May 2022, https://www.lusakatimes.com/2022/05/19/bank-of-zambia-refused-to-pay-ransom-to-hackers/

[3] Guinea Junta Bans Political Protests, VOA News, May 2022, https://www.voanews.com/a/guinea-junta-bans-political-protests/6571350.html

[4] Guinea announces three-year transition period before restoring civilian, France 24, May 2022, rulehttps://www.france24.com/en/africa/20220511-guinea-announces-three-year-transition-period-before-restoring-civilian-rule

[5] Guinea Bissau president dissolves parliament in new political row, Aljazeera, May 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/17/guinea-bissau-president-dissolves-parliament-in-new-political-row

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