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Weekly News Briefs – July 7, 2008- July 14, 2008

Darfur: On the largest attack on Peacekeepers in Darfur in the history of the conflict, a convoy of UNAMID soldiers on patrol were ambushed by unidentified and heavily armed militia men mounted on truck and horseback. 7 died and dozens wounded. Although the rebels and the government traded accusations, UN officials have hinted at suspecting the Janjaweed.

The International Criminal Court’s chief Prosecutor, Louis Moreno-Ocampo, will seek an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity. This has sparked an intense debate around the world about the question of peace versus justice: the GoS has warned of “disastrous” consequences for innocent civilians and humanitarian if the indictment goes through, leading to more violence, retaliation against peacekeepers, disrupting the peace process. However, this is a long-awaited victory for justice in Darfur, and has been welcomed by many, including Darfur rebels.

The Sudanese Government has turned to the Arab League for help, and the League will hold crisis talks on the subject of Bashir’s indictment. Thousands of Sudanese living in the capitol Khartoum took to the streets to protest the decision.

Sudan: South Sudan says its army has completed pulled out of the disputed region of Abyei and was “seriously disappointed” that the Sudanese army remained there. .

Chad accuses Sudan of violating its airspace

Burma: Fourteen pro-democracy protesters have gone on trial in Burma for demanding the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on her 63rd birthday.

Suu Kyi won the elections in 1990 by a landslide 90%, but the Burmese military junta recently has said that a law it passed in 2008 invalidated the election results from 1990. Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy, was challenged to contest the junta in he 2010 elections.

John Holmes, the UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, may soon visit Burma to review the humanitarian relief operations there. Meanwhile, the UN has sent out more appeals for relief for Burma

Congo: The ICC Appeals Court decided to suspend the release of former DRC rebel leader and war crimes suspect Thomas Lubanga. Last week, the ICC ordered Lubanga’s release, finding that he would be unable to receive a fair trial because the prosecution failed to turn over all the evidence. The prosecutor immediately appealed the decision. Lubanga will remain in custody in The Hague until a final ruling is issued on Friday.

Rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda agreed to rejoin the peace process agreed upon in a January 2008 agreement, after previously suspending participation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said efforts to bring peace to eastern DRC must be accelerated. In his latest report on MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, Ban said that the success of the January 2008 ceasefire depends on the “sustained political engagement of all parties”.

Former members of Hutu extremist rebel faction FDLR accused MONUC of selling back to them weapons that had been confiscated by the UN during the disarmament process. The former rebels indicated that MONUC handed over the weapons in return for either money or minerals. They also reported on extensive cooperation between FDLR and FARDC, the Congolese national army.

Unidentified gunmen ambushed a vehicle belonging to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in a gorilla reserve in eastern DRC, killing two and injuring three.

MONUC condemned alleged statements made by a former force commander in support of CNDP, an armed militia group lead by General Laurent Nkunda. MONUC reiterated that it is committed to work toward restoration of peace and security, and stated that disciplinary action will be taken against the officer.

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