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Weekly News Brief: 01.05-01.12

In this week’s issue: Sudanese government bombs reported over north Darfur, Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement celebrates its fourth birthday, the Burmese junta continues “scorched earth” tactics in the east, and a third round of peace talks are off to a shaky start in DR Congo.

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The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) accused the Sudanese government of bombing their positions across North Darfur between Wednesday and Friday. The reports follow statements from the Khartoum government about an expected attack by JEM on the capital.

Last Monday, President Bush ordered an airlift of 75 tons of Rwandan equipment to UNAMID peacekeepers in Darfur, to be delivered over the next few weeks. The mission will be jointly coordinated by the State Department and the newly-formed US Africa Command, AFRICOM. Check out the STAND Blog for commentary on this decision.

The International Criminal Court is widely expected to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Bashir by the end of this month. If an indictment is issued, Sudanese security chief Salah Gosh warned that foreigners could become targets for outlaws and extremists. Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, a controversial and influential figure in Sudanese politics, urged Bashir to surrender himself to the ICC if he is indicted to save Sudan from sanctions and turmoil.

Representatives from JEM met with US Special Envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson on Friday, part of a weeklong visit to the U.S. Sudan Tribune reports that the discussion focused primarily on the peace process and the humanitarian situation.

January 9 marked the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended Sudan’s 20-year civil war between the north and south. The EU, the UN, and the U.S. all issued statements in support of the CPA, amidst concerns that outstanding issues and continued instability in Sudan could jeopardize the agreement leading up to elections in 2009.


Fighting between the Karen National Liberation Arm (KNLA), the armed wing of the Karen National Union (KNU), and the Burmese military in eastern Burma continued to escalate this week. The KNU has accused government forced of employing “scorched earth” tactics against Karen civilians.

Thailand’s new prime minister, Abhisit, Vejjajiva, called for change in Burma but ruled out the possibility of sanctions. East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta similarly criticized the West’s sanctions policy on Burma in a statement on Sunday.

Burma Campaign UK has criticized the government of Nigeria for a direct $500,000 donation to the Burmese junta. While Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN claims the donation was intended to aid victims of Cyclone Nargis, BCUK argues that it is likely to be pocketed by the junta.

Democratic Republic of Congo

A third round of peace talks began this week in Nairobi between the DRC government and CNDP rebels led by General Laurent Nkunda. Previous talks ended in December with Nkunda’s refusing to sign a declaration ending hostilities with the government. Nkunda recently accused government soldiers and allied militias of deploying in U.N. buffer zones, a charge which MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, has rejected.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced of a power struggle between Nkunda and his depty, General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the ICC for war crimes. While Nkunda appears to have retained control over most of the CNDP’s fighters, it is currently unclear where the group’s senior command stands. A split in the CNDP could seriously complicate the ongoing peace talks.

Raids by Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continued this week in eastern DRC and south Sudan. More than 500 civilians have been killed, over 225 have been reportedly kidnapped, and about 50,000 people in both DRC and southern Sudan have fled their homes since the attacks began on Christmas Day.

The ICC will review evidence this week against former DRC vice-president and rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba. Arrested in Belgium last May, Bemba stands accused of murder, torture, and rape in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003.

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