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Weekly News Brief: November 10-17, 2008

This week: a false ceasefire in Darfur, a journalist jailed in Burma for her coverage of Cyclone Nargis, and the UN considers sending reinforcements to a struggling peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo.


Sudanese Government announced on Wednesday an immediate ceasefire in Darfur and called for a campaign to disarm the Janjaweed. It took this step based on recommendations from a conference it convened last week. However, Darfur rebels dismissed the announcement as a “PR exercise” and said they would continue to fight until a true ceasefire was signed.  The Sudanese Government thought that this move would persuade Western countries to postpone the potential indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.  The ceasefire lasted only 72 hours after rebels alleged that the Sudanese government attacked an area in northern Darfur. The United Nations is going to probe the accusations.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, said he would seek arrest warrants for Darfur rebels for the attacks on African Union Peacekeepers in 2007.

Meanwhile, another UNAMID patrol was ambushed this week, and a Nigerian peacekeeper was wounded.

This week Russia was noted to have sold Sudan several MiG-29 fighter jets.


A female journalist in Burma has been jailed for 2 years for covering Cyclone victims.  Burma is continuing to tighten its grip over journalists and political activists and even poets in fears that the regime’s reputation will come under fire if they are allowed to be active.  This jailing is just one is a slew of dozens that have been happening recently in preparation for the 2010 elections the junta is planning. 

Michael Green has been chosen by President Bush to be the Special Envoy and Policy Chief for Burma.  Experts speculate on what kind of substantive response Mr. Green could have in terms of US policy toward Burma.  


Fighting continued this week between Congolese government forces and Tutsi rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda. As Nkunda’s forces gain territory in North Kivu, they have reportedly begun a systematic campaign to kidnap and recruit young men and boys to join their fight.

After initial hesitation, the UN Security Council appears to be more seriously considering sending reinforcements to bolster MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, in light of recent violence. The European Union is continuing discussions about sending a humanitarian logistics mission to the area in the more immediate term.

This weekend, UN Special Envoy to DRC, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obsanjo, traveled to the area for emergency talks with President Kabila, General Laurent Nkunda, and the governments of Rwanda and Angola to discuss the current crisis.

According to Obsanjo, Nkunda has agreed to take part in UN-brokered peace talks in Nairobi.


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