Tensions have escalated around anticipations that the ICC will issue its indictment of Bashir soon. The Sudanese government denies reports it will impose emergency law in the case of an indictment; however, Sudan has been observed increasing security across Sudan and showing off its military might recently.
In the first week of the new year, UNAMID has marked its 1 year anniversary and still only has half the equipment and 58% of the troops it needs to fulfill its mission. The security situation continues to worsen and a UN Peacekeeper in Darfur was wounded in a car-jacking and later died from his wounds.
Talks on the peace process in Darfur that were supposed to be held in Qatar were delayed to due to discussions on the situation in Gaza. Former Darfur rebels the SLM-MM have requested to join the future talks but have not yet been invited, highlighting another complication of the rebels in the peace talks.
Burma observers speculate that the recent spike in the imprisonment of political activists by the military regime in the run-up to elections in 2010 is intended to prevent a repeat of 1990, when Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy won an election in a landslide. The junta subsequently canceled the results.
The junta governing Burma is bracing for a more turbulent relationship with Thailand as a more human rights-oriented government is taking over. For the last decade, various Thai administrations have been more receptive of the brutal regime in Burma for the sake of business ties. However, the new foreign minister has claimed that Thailand will not be "blackmailed by economic interests.” Thailand is Burma’s largest trade partner.
Burmese authorities have released 19 North Korean refugees into Thailand. The refugees were caught by the military as they tried to cross from Burma into Thailand and were detained in Burma for a month before their release. Now they will be send to South Korea.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Tutsi rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda have threatened to walk away from peace talks with the Congolese government, claiming that government forces have been redeploying in breach of a truce. MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, dismissed the accusations and urged Nkunda to participate in talks, which are set to resume January 7 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Ugandan LRA rebels led by Joseph Kony clashed with DRC government forces on Saturday in a national park in northeastern DRC. The LRA has killed more than 400 people in eastern DRC since late December. The massacres follow the launch of a joint military offensive by Uganda, southern Sudan, and DRC intended to eliminate the LRA.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, reports that recruitment of child soldiers is on the rise in eastern DRC as a result of the escalating violence.
In a televised address on New Year’s Day, DRC President Joseph Kabila vowed to bring peace to the country before the end of 2009.