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A liberal opponent of the premier within the ruling party stepped down as a legislator. He will retain editorial control of a mouthpiece.
LOCAL COLOUR: A journalist association in the capital hailed the state supreme leader as a "beacon of stability". londonpressclub.co.uk/2017/04/27/que…
The premier railed against foreign interference by western governments in elections widely expected to rubber-stamp her hold on power.
Regime rhetoric - allegedly crafted by a western PR firm - has been promoting a personality cult around the "strong and stable" premier.
Analysts say this latest heightening of tensions has come after regional leaders called on the country to honour its financial obligations.
The English People's Congress re-absorbed backers of a breakaway faction in local polls that extended its grip over all levels of the state.
American 'disaster tourists' are being attracted to visiting the country amid its crisis. nytimes.com/times-journeys…
ELSEWHERE: Turmoil in the country's ally, after its eccentric strongman purged an anti-corruption police chief. slate.com/blogs/the_slat…
The English People's Congress said "we will need a state that is strong and strategic" in an ideological communique issued ahead of polls.
"Under the strong and stable leadership of [Premier] May, there will be no ideological crusades," the ruling party added.
The EPC also announced a "shared prosperity fund" in a bid to bribe restive regions of the country away from seceding.
Alarms were raised over rumours the premier is about to purge the finance minister over a factional dispute. ft.com/content/226f68…
As tensions mount ahead of a crunch election, I've flown in to report from the country's muggy riverside capital.
An example of slogans used by the beleaguered urban opposition.
In the tense hours before polls close, voting has been peaceful here in Poole, a beachfront township in a rural province near the capital.
THIS JUST IN: exit polls predicted the country was on a course for another of its occasional unstable coalition governments.
Would northern separatists work with the opposition Workers Representation Committee to unseat the English People's Congress ruling party?
Alternatively (if polls are correct) the EPC may have to work with pro-federal groups in the restive northwest to maintain its rule.
Even a slim majority could re-ignite factional chaos within the EPC despite politburo purges by Premier May.
Continued political chaos could be expected as the country tends to hold elections or plebiscites at a rate of one a year.
Analysts said the EPC may yet eke out a 30-100 (out of 650 seats) majority, reflecting how little is truly known about hinterland voters.
SWEEP PARA: With days to go before threatened conflict with 27 of its near neighbours, political instability again swept the country of--
An attempt to overthrow Premier May showed signs of already beginning in the notoriously factional English People's Congress.
In a sign of a robust democratic culture, voters had little patience for the premier's 'every vote makes me stronger' strongwoman politics.
An update from our correspondent. medium.com/@jsphctrl/in-a…
"What the country needs is certainty," the premier said, relying on a few religious rightists outside the ruling party to maintain her grip.
Factions in the English People's Congress have brutally reasserted themselves after last week's polls shook the party's claim to rule.
A rare window on the self-criticism sessions enforced by the ruling party's commissariat.
There are concerns the ruling party's attempt to govern with the People's Elect of God Faction could interfere with a local peace process.
Western diplomats are conspicuously silent on the matter.
As the days tick by with no sign of an effective central government, all eyes are on today's sermon to legislators by the supreme leader.
But analysts are increasingly confident the troubled Atlantic seaboard state has avoided a government takeover by religious radicals.
The legislature's speaker told state media they were not being patriotic enough about the country's confrontation with the region.
Correction: the politician in question is the legislature's 'leader', a kind of commissar, not its speaker.
The ruling party promised $1.2bn to radicals to keep its grip on power, reflecting how patronage politics has captured the weakened state.
A newly-created power structure known as the 'Co-ordination Committee' will effectively helm the regime. gov.uk/government/upl…
Whispers in elite forums that the country's basic representative institutions are "no longer fit for purpose":
A glimpse at the shifting factions that are fracturing the English People's Congress.
“The bunker seems almost empty,” an eyewitness said of the beleaguered premier's locked-down leadership compound. ft.com/content/02f159…
Despite the ruling party's disintegration, one of its number said that "if we screw this up, a Marxist government steps into the breach."
(It's like they make these quotes knowing this thread is out there or something.)
A sign of how the ruling party's resort to patronage politics is eating away at its aura of authority:
I'd do something about the exiled party boss wanting his opponents chopped up in bags in the freezer; bit on the nose though.
The foreign minister - a sinecure aimed at dissuading him from a palace coup - accused protesters of "split allegiances".
The comments may be a sign that the regime - paralysed by its own factional infighting - fears an 'Arab Spring'-style revolt.
Barely over a year since the last devaluation, the elite braces for another if the Workers Party seizes power. ft.com/content/909488…
ANALYSIS: As factional rifts widen in the English People's Congress, could its 150th annual plenary session be its last as a united party?
Chinese naval vessels docked in the country's riverside capital, in a sign of Beijing's growing clout locally. ft.com/content/6993d5…
Kremlinologists were also mystified by signals in the premier's behaviour during a speech closing the ruling party's 150th plenary session.
There were calls to charge the finance minister, a moderate, with treason, and come on guys you’re making this thread too easy
'Citizens of Somewhere: The Politics of Revolution in Atlantic Europe's Exotic Dark Heart' (coming June 2018)
In another chipping away of independent institutions, a contender to lead the ruling party called the central bank governor “an enemy”.
Hardliners accused the nation's universities of lacking revolutionary fervour, and demanded ideological self-correction.
Dissenters are increasingly tarred as 'Remainers', for wishing to 'remain' as radicals pursue millenarian destruction of the old order.
How ancient religious hatreds explain the country's modern political divide. (Er, are you sure is this right? -ed.) theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
A ruling-party commissar feared as a 'chop-your-head-off type of man' now controls the armed forces. theguardian.com/politics/2017/…
Meanwhile, at the politically embattled central bank:
As central authority collapses in the ruling party, factions effectively run their own foreign policy. gov.uk/government/new…
A scandal grew over an apparently untouchable party boss seeking to divert western aid to military uses.
This Priti Patel story tho
Evidence of so-called 'state capture' mounted over a minister's mysterious visit to the Middle East to discuss access to government contracts, with the country's scandal-prone premier allegedly complicit.
A revolutionary vanguard element in the otherwise moribund regime raised tensions in a border dispute, apparently part of bid to ward off regional trade sanctions.
There were also more claims of so-called 'state capture' by a Dubai-based billionaire in order to rewrite regulatory policy.
[Yes yes, I'm late to adding Legatum to this thread]
Hi, is that the desk? Yeah so the way they've solved the border dispute has huge implications for the workings of this post-colonial multi-national state. Could be a constitutional crisis. You mean do I know what the implications are? Umm.... no.
Border tensions were reignited after religious radicals allied to the ruling party rejected a 'One Country, Two Systems' plan for their restive home province.
In a test of legislators’ independence from the fractured ruling party, rebels joined with the opposition to deny more powers to the executive.
So divided is the English People’s Congress that it is unclear a deal for regional governments to monitor a local peace agreement, and oversee a ‘One Country, Two Interpretations’ economic transition for a troubled province, will hold.
Underlining the superficiality of nation-building, the state security ministry - one of the country's most feared and arbitrary bureaucracies - said an administrative change in personal papers marked a major shift in 'national identity'.
As is tradition the ruling party's chairman was included in a reshuffle of government ministers - reflecting the fusion of party structures with the state.
There was speculation that a 'G40' faction of younger advisers has been controlling the ailing leadership of Premier May behind the scenes, in order to secure the succession in a badly divided ruling party.
More plotting in the ruling party to unseat the premier's moribund leadership, factionalised attacks on the finance ministry... the usual really.
More on the alleged ‘state capture’ by ruling-party mediocrities aimed at subordinating the central bank, finance ministry, and broader civil service, all long prized for their independence. ft.com/content/68f02d…
This month, regime-linked media accused George Soros of plotting to undermine the country.
They also accused the country’s main opposition leader of treasonous activities, a claim echoed by some ruling party members.
Elsewhere, a faction in the English People’s Congress again cast doubt over a longstanding peace agreement that ended a long civil conflict. Analysts said the move was to grab attention in a faltering standoff with neighbours in the region.
(Does that catch us up?)
It's a day ending in Y, so there was another crisis about the country's creaking multinational constitutional order.
"As the usually-teeming riverside capital shivered under a blanket of snow, temperatures also reached subzero in a standoff with the regi--" hi, is that the desk, have a great colour lede, will file shortly
There were questions over whether the country’s independent election commission has the capacity to investigate claims that a shadowy western PR firm manipulated recent polls.
The late-night removal of the state security minister - a ploy to quell popular discontent over a policy to disenfranchise citizens from ethnic minorities - hints at the growing instability within the regime.
I am here, once again, in the country's sleepy riverine capital in the tense aftermath of municipal elections and where at the border, propaganda extols the regime's fiercest security agents.
The capital was on high alert amid rumours of strife in the so-called 'Strategy and Negotiations Committee', one of several, overlapping regime structures through which the state premier is believed to divide internal opponents and shore up control.
Heartwarming story of how a western investment bank is working with traditional religious leaders to bring mobile connectivity to some of the country’s most isolated provinces. ft.com/content/7ebabc…
As it ramps up hostile rhetoric targeting western companies, signs that the regime is more focused on the factionalism that is its lifeblood than external investment that could maintain its grip on power.
While analysts were mystified by the choice of ordnance versus the more usual tanks, the deployment - near the Politburo leadership compound - sent an unmistakable signal amid tensions in the ruling party.
BREAKING - Reports that Politburo members have barricaded themselves into a rural stronghold, part of an apparent ‘last stand’ as the crisis in the regime mounts.
“As US Marine Corps helicopters clattered above the sweltering capital’s tropical heat, the regime at last began to crumble as...” No, this lede needs more work.
“In a country where international footballing prowess hides ramshackle institutions at home, political instability again returned to...” No, try again.
Let’s just play it straight. “With an eye to this week’s rare US visit, the premier purged hardliners opposed to a historic bid to defuse regional tensions.”
Western powers began to detail contingency plans for looming institutional collapse in the country.
Local extremists, recently emboldened by the disarray in the ruling party, could bring chaos on March 29, 2019 - a holy day in their calendar as they believe it portends millenarian transformation of the social order.
A ruling-party official said that the regime "will make sure there's adequate food supplies" in an autarky drive.
During a three-day tour of a far-off northern province, an official of the ruling party said that the locals seemed "braver" than the fragile central state institutions based in the southern capital. ft.com/content/d6a7de…
The reappointment of the central bank governor was trailed in the mouthpiece of a former finance minister, who became a bitter enemy of the regime following one of the ruling party's periodic purges.
The 151st plenary session of the English People’s Congress began with an ideological repudiation of the Soviet Union - believed to be a coded criticism of the ruling party’s own failure to learn the lessons of the USSR’s collapse and tackle a looming break-up of the state.
As regional tensions build - the international media is catching on to reports of food stockpiling, even in remote provinces, over an anticipated collapse of the currency and flight by western investors. nytimes.com/2018/10/16/wor…
Britain's electoral commission referred Arron Banks to the national crime agency over suspected offences involving campaign funding in the 2016 Brexit referendum. electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journal…
(I didn't really see the need to put that one in emerging-marketese; it would be superfluous.)
[BREAK] The embattled ruling-party politburo capitulated on converting the troubled northwest region into a special economic zone, as it tries to avert an even worse break-up of the state.
The EU will also offer flexible access for the country’s goods in a treaty - part of an effort to tackle the root causes of local political instability, resembling the bloc’s ‘partnership’ approach to other fragile states.
Once seen as a rubber stamp - or the home of opposition ‘saboteurs’ - the People’s Consultative Congress has become newly assertive as the regime’s crisis deepens.
BREAK Reports of an emergency meeting of the Politburo as tensions with the opposition-controlled legislature rise. More as we get it.
No reports yet of the capital’s citizenry sounding their car horns in celebration as the regime shudders on the precipice. (No doubt they’ll come soon.)
Someone Grabbed The Supreme Leader's Bludgeon In This Broken Country And That's A Really Big Deal [CLICK]
On the eve of another factional confrontation, a glimpse at the patronage politics in the English People’s Congress. Many ruling-party figures have artificial tribal titles conferred on them.
Note: many refer to members of the English People’s Congress as ‘Tories’. This is incorrect, and an offensive phrase drawn from the country’s history of religious/ethnic strife. I know these things because I am a foreign correspondent.
There’s also misinformation about the opposition. They are:
- FBPE, Front (Broad) for Popular Emancipation: main opposition
- The Committee to Achieve Proletarian Momentum (wear red berets??? Check)
- Provincial separatist parties I don’t know as I never leave the capital
In Room 14 of the ruling party’s Committee for Ideological Discipline Inspection, the fate of a once-feared securocrat - and a country - was decided today as… no, this lede won’t work.
Hi, is that the desk? Yeah the premier survived. Could kind of tell when the state broadcaster didn’t abruptly cut to classical music.
At a tense time of the year, with many travelling ahead of a religious festival, I’ve made it through the country’s forbidding Border Force. I decided to ‘embed’ with this local news operation based in a grim building on the capital’s seedy riverfront.
Hello, desk? Yeah they claimed it was a drone attack, and the US does have bases in the region, but I’m just saying - military hardware positioned around key airfields due to some nebulous threat? Seems like a pretty obvious coup in the works.
As the regime's authority crumbles, a report that the premier has a jet on standby to flee the country if the opposition-controlled legislature seizes power. airlive.net/theresa-may-ai…
(If you're coming to this thread for the first time, look out for my forthcoming book, 'The Minister Who Bought All The Refrigerators: Reporting from the Atlantic's Hermit Kingdom', June 2019.)
Amid the din of protest in this restive country, legislators gathered in a former warlord's crumbling palace to... no, this lede won't work.
BREAKING-We’re about to go live to the regime’s leadership compound, where in a late-night address the embattled head of the ruling party may dramatically agree to power-sharing talks with the opposition. Or possibly just ignore them.
Kremlinologists believe that the insignia on a lectern in the compound does NOT portend elections, though these and/or plebiscites tend to be a yearly occurrence.
Please hold on for my forthcoming book, ‘Nothing Has Changed: Crisis in the English People’s Congress, 2016-2019’ (June).
The address to a bemused populace began promptly at 22.03 local time, illustrating the former security chief’s insistence on punctuality even as most state institutions collapse around her. (CAN WE GET THIS COLOUR HIGH UP THE STORY, THANKS)
My thanks to the @FinancialTimes for hosting me on the incipient ‘Daffodil Spring’ amid a crisis of representative institutions. I was hoping for Foreign Policy or one of the Beltway publications, but I suppose it will have to do. ft.com/content/9e8f6b…
Ruling-party figures tested the waters for another double-digit devaluation of the currency. These tend to occur every three years.
Well Sithembiso, the regime is looking relatively stable for once as its main opposition is repeating a pattern of division going back to its old 1980s struggle days. Thanks and back to you in the Joburg studio.
As an incipient 'Daffodil Spring' gathers pace, the regime looked set for another humiliation by the legislature - which was emboldened by a state legal advisor's display of independence. [Haven't we been here before? Could convert to a sweepy Thurs4Fri take? Thanks - Ed.]
Although the regime sought to co-opt restive legislators with a vote of disapproval of looming shortages of food and medicine, it was quickly and brutally turned into another assault on its very legitimacy.
Ruling-party apparatchiks wandered bereft through the crumbling Palace of the People's Congress etc etc - more colour like that, insert small note at the end that shortages loom nevertheless and STILL the African Union says nothing. File piece
With a swish of his traditional robes and citing ancient precedent, the stentorian speaker of the *checks notes* majlis, Erskine May, deepened its momentous shift away from being a rubber stamp for the regime.
Regional leaders expressed concern for stability as the opposition-controlled legislature defies an increasingly erratic regime.
Increasingly out of touch and seemingly speaking from inside a regime bunker, the dark-suited former securocrat railed against the concept of elections and an independent legislature.
Yes it’s a full-blown coup. Street protests and everything. No I haven’t seen any tanks yet. No they don’t technically have any power to remove her. Yes it could probably hold Mon4Tues.
The daffodils are flowering at last in this benighted nation—and so, it seems, is democracy, as the opposition-held majlis dealt a [continues for 700 words]
Ah yes, the old ‘make a vague reference to one day relinquishing your grip on the security apparatus in order to draw out rivals’ trick.
Kremlinologists will, of course, know whether elections are on the way from which kind of lectern is used when the premier makes the usual defiant speech from the leadership compound later.
Breaking the fourth wall for a few tweets. Actually, for all the talk of CRISIS at home, it’s just as common to hear views in these distant parts that UK institutions are holding up pretty well in the circumstances.
People can understand for example that recent developments show the gears of legislative accountability starting to grind away - a little late, and a little messily, but not exactly unrecognisable.
The Politburo has been meeting for seven hours, while outside the walls of its Zhongnanhai-like compound, the opposition desperately seeks to avert imposition of trade sanctions on the country. By itself.
Subdued, abandoning the hardline attacks on legislators of only a few days earlier yet still defiantly refusing to countenance elections, the ex-security chief gambled on the opposition agreeing to talks.
For more on the context to this shift, do watch out for my upcoming book, ‘A Meaningful Vote: Performing Democracy and Resistance in the Daffodil Spring’ (June 2019).
Opposition talks collapse, ruling-party factions clash, beleaguered strongwoman clings on, defence minister already liquidated so the coup risk's gone. 🎤 We didn't start the fi--
Technical note: with notably rare exceptions, coups are not usually aimed at the position of supreme leader. Indeed the current, nonagenarian defender of the faith will be used to legitimise whichever apparatchik manages to topple the premier.
Yes, I have a small tweak to the top line on the story about that coup. Yes. Well it was slightly more of an election it turns out.
In a final indignity, the politburo will prop up the leader it once feared as a ruthless securocrat just long enough to present a veneer of stability to the world when the US president jets in.
So... you're telling me a former provincial governor with rumoured ties to the state security apparatus and some 'whiff of opium' colour is vying for control of the ruling party. Thanks but I can see when someone is pulling my leg with the 'tropical' reporting clichés.
Apologies. I have been busy checking galley proofs of my latest book, 'After the Party: The Drug Trade and the Decline of the English People's Congress' (September 2019). '
The candidates are declared. Slick video messages are across social media. The state broadcaster is preparing a presidential-style debate.

Yet there is no popular vote. It is all a sham, as the ruling party suspends genuine elections that would destroy its--(continues for 700w)
The party is now treading the well-worn path of many hollowed-out liberation movements. Its fate - and that of the country - will be decided by a tiny selectorate, who are demanding vague promises of radical economic transformation in order to anoint a leader.
A side-effect of the breakdown in discipline in the factionalised Politburo: the regime is increasingly unable to maintain plausible deniability about its rumoured nuclear weapons programme.
Ah yes, the classic Beltway op-ed promoting a would-be strongman’s credentials to the US security establishment. washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/…
Eccentric former provincial governor - GONE
Interior minister said to refer to himself in the third person - GONE
Time to sharpen up those 'scandal-plagued strongman with a taste for grandiose infrastructure projects' references in copy.
Looking for a Northwest Atlantic Archipelago bureau chief. Cover a wide terrain from the sweltering riverine capital to the craggy wastes of the north. Cover a once-promising democracy in decline, but also delight readers with tales of fusty traditions.
Secessionist groups are once again considered a “significant and urgent political challenge” to the ramshackle post-colonial state. ft.com/content/2d8d3a…
The authorities believe that insurgents in the most restive province are using nefarious new tactics, such as (check notes) a tourism promotion campaign.
Hold on for my next 5,000-word thumbsucker piece, "The Wacky Ambassador," a tale of infighting in the regime's politicised security apparatus, institutional rot, and ties to the Trump administration.
A stirring sign the spirit of the Daffodil Spring lives on, as lawmakers defy the regime's bid to paper over its fractures with repression. (Note to self, check how much hard currency I'll need before I'm there next week.)
Once again I have braved the fearsome Border Force to bring you the *truth* about this enigmatic archipelago. At a grand station in the riverine capital, the rolling stock revealed faded glories.
The ‘Blond Beast’. A Duterte-like former maverick mayor. Yet after years of turmoil in the ruling party, and as economic sanctions loom, there was no celebratory firing of AK-47s in the air in this torpid, sun-bleached capital today to mark the ascension of-(goes on for 700w)
The blood barely having dried since his liquidation of the Politburo, the country's unelected strongman looks set to tough out impeachment [check this is the term??? Google translate on local press not working] by lawmakers.
Sounds like this ‘Hammond-Bercow alliance’ must have quite a few AK-47 caches buried in the jungle if the regime’s mouthpiece is this worried about them.
Growing speculation that the Supreme Leader and her Guardian Council might be about to order suspension of the legislature, as they meet in a mountain stronghold.
While the suspension may not be ordered just yet - it's clearly a febrile atmosphere, since the main opposition grouping seems to be sending coded messages to the outside world.
Yeah I've tried putting it through Google Translate but it's coming out all weird like this?? Anything on the wires? I'll keep checking if state TV has switched to patriotic music and get you 500w ASAP, thanks
"It is wrong, and hysterical, to speak of a coup," one of the regime's more obsequious mouthpieces declared, therefore alerting Kremlinologists that despite contrary indications, it might be a coup after all.
My thanks to the forward-looking folks at @FTAlphaville for ‘live-boggling’ the TRUTH about the political situation in the North Atlantic Archipelago. ftalphaville.ft.com/2019/08/30/156…
CORRECTION: Previous posts in this feed may have given the impression that Boris Johnson is an unelected, out-of-control strongman.

In fact this position is held by Dominic Cummings.

We regret the error.
"A dog's obeyed in office," sang one of this nation's traditional griots, and as state media fawned over the strongman's poodle, it was hard to--you know what, I should find another colour intro.
And we go live as a spokesperson for the Cummings regime appears in the party leadership compound amid the din of street protests just outside. Stand by.
The ‘people’s agenda’ does not include elections, the regime’s spokesperson said, continuing a Politburo tradition of dull speeches enlivened only by bizarre attacks on the outside world. Kremlinologists are of course taking it as a signal that elections are imminent.
A regime defector exposed the “political manipulation, bullying and lies” of what are believed to be the last days of the Cummings regime, which has ruled with an iron grip since like a fortnight ago or something.
Some sort of transitional legislative council is now believed to be making a bid for power, amid confused reports of mounting Politburo liquidations in what is left of the English People’s Congress. Might work as a Sun4Mon story?
'Crisis-torn'. Please. It's 'crisis-ravaged.'
Amid a breakdown in the rule of law and the silencing of the opposition-controlled legislature, the--[WE INTERRUPT THIS FEED FOR A SPONSORED MESSAGE] In recent days, you have read a lot, seen a lot, heard a lot about events in the North Atlantic Archipelago.
[SPONSORED] But what you ‘share’ on social media is a complex jigsaw puzzle. It is a puzzle that we in the English People’s Congress (Leninist) will solve on our own.
[SPONSORED] We place our faith in the rule of law that has served us so well—sorry, start that one again. We place our faith in our unwritten traditional codes of governance that have served us so well for whole days and must be read in line with ‘Cummings Thought’.
[SPONSORED] Despite recent disruptions and what western media foolishly glamorise as the ‘rebel alliance’ - we remain resolutely committed to the 'One Plebiscite, One Time, Many Interpretations' model of governance.
[SPONSORED] Please note, the Palace of the People’s Congress is closed to allow comrades to attend rallies. Do not believe western media fake news. Believe whatever morally elastic western PR firm we have hired instead. [SPONSORED MESSAGE ENDS]
So… reinforce interior lines of communication between two provinces that may have a future mutual interest in secession? channel4.com/news/exclusive…
...judges, one of few institutions to have escaped the rot, called the suspension "an egregious case of a clear failure" to uphold the rule of law. Get in reference to breakaway province, quote analyst on whether the regime will now attack the judiciary, file piece
I reiterate my plea to the British government not to mine this thread for ideas.
Since you've already been there for a whole two hours could I put you down for a 2,000-word sweepy state of the nation piece? References to the crumbling infrastructure would be a plus.
BREAK Striking a blow for judicial independence against
the predations of the ruling party, the constitutional--er or supreme? one of them--court threw out a ban on the opposition-controlled legislature. "The effect on the fundamentals of our democracy was extreme," it said.
Reports that the beleaguered revolutionary regime is preparing for a last stand in its walled leadership compound. But note that military units in the capital are considered loyal to the Supreme Leader.
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