In this week’s issue: the Sudanese government set a two month deadline to complete negotiations with Darfuri rebel groups; 2,000 people have been displaced in Burma this week; the FDLR has recovered positions in South Kivu, DRC
Weekly News Brief, January 22 to 29, 2010
Compiled by Joshua Kennedy of GI-NET and the STAND E-Team. To receive news briefs and education newsletters, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Areas of Concern
- On Wednesday (2/3/10), the Appeals Chamber of the ICC will issue its judgment on whether the arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will be amended to include a charge of genocide.
- The Small Arms Survey released a report charging that peace in Darfur has yet to be achieved due to (1) a focus on peacekeeping instead of peacemaking, (2) uncoordinated diplomacy, and (3) limited consultations with civil society. Download the full report here.
- The Sudanese government has set a two month deadline to complete negotiations with Darfuri rebel groups. According to members of the government, mediators have been told that talks should not last beyond late March.
- Former Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi will run for the post of Sudanese president in the upcoming elections. Al-Mahdi was the last elected prime minister and had been deposed by President al-Bashir in 1989.
- At least 1,800 people were killed in Jonglei state between January and August 2009, with much of the violence concentrated in the Akobo, Pibor and Uror regions.
- A recent Free Burma Rangers report states that over 2,000 people have been displaced by army attacks this week, and three people have been killed by the Burmese military.
- The Burmese Minister for Home Affairs Maj-Gen Maung Oo announced that Aung San Suu Kyi will be released from house arrest in November this year, too late for Suu Kyi to participate in the October elections. The announcement is not official and NLD party members doubt that the junta will follow through.
- A number of groups, including rival Karen armies, met yesterday in Thailand to discuss the repatriation of some 2000 Karen refugees back to Burma. The DKBA has promised that they will not be subject to forced labor but there will be few resources to aid the refugees’ resettlement.
- The Secretary of the Mongla-based ceasefire group NDAA-ESS was assassinated on Wednesday morning. His assailants are suspected to be soldiers who oppose the Burmese regime.
Democratic Republic of Congo
- The FDLR has recovered several positions in the Kabare region of South Kivu after the withdrawal of the FARDC. Reprisals against local populations have also been reported.
- It appears that violence against civilians continues in North Kivu, with the village of Atil attacked by armed members of the FDLR-aligned PARECO.
- Global Witness released a report criticizing the UN in failing to adequately address the issue of natural resources in conflict. In relation to the ongoing link between natural resource exploitation and conflict in the DRC, Global witness suggests (1) The establishment of a sanctions monitoring mechanism, (2) the creation of a system to report due diligence for conflict minerals (3) Operational guidelines for peacekeepers on addressing natural resource exploitations and (4) Prioritization of resource governance in peacebuilding operations. Download the full report here.
- Defense Secretary Gates said last week that the United States was willing to accept the Taliban’s presence in Afghanistan as long as it took a legitimate role in government.
- Secretary of State Clinton also announced last week that the United States plans to send more civilian experts to Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of its new long-term, non-military strategy for stabilizing both countries.
- Afghanistan’s election commission voted to postpone parliamentary elections for four months, until the country is more financially and politically stable.
- The London Conference on Afghanistan was held this Friday to discuss prospects for Afghanistan’s future and establishing peace with the Taliban.
- UN Secretary-General also named a new envoy for Afghanistan, Staffan di Mistura, on Wednesday. The envoy will oversee negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban fighters, among other tasks.
- A suicide car bomb outside a U.S. base in Kabul injured 14 people on Tuesday.
- One of Afghanistan’s largest Pashtun tribes has opted to support the administration in Kabul and pledged to fight Taliban insurgents.
- A series of bombings swept Baghdad hotels on Monday and Tuesday, killing at least 36 people and injuring dozens more. On Wednesday, militants linked to al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.
- The Pakistani army announced last week that it would not launch any new offensives against Talibaninsurgents for perhaps a year, despite calls by the United States for a campaign in North Waziristan.
- Suspected Taliban militants blew up a school in northwest Pakistan last Sunday. No one was hurt as the school was closed.
- Air strikes by the Pakistani air force on Monday killed 12 suspected militants. Another 15 militants were killed on Tuesday during a gunfight between Pakistani security forces and Taliban insurgents.
- Gunmen attacked a NATO-convoy heading to Afghanistan, wounding three Pakistani civilian employees, on Thursday. Last Sunday, six men accused by the Taliban of being spies for the United States were shot dead and left in village streets in northwest Pakistan. A note left with the bodies indicates the Taliban meant the executions to come as a warning for other “U.S. spies.”
- Amnesty International issued a report last week calling on international donors to cease sending arm supplies to Somalia, lest the arms end up in the hands of insurgent groups and armed forces perpetrating violence on civilians. The Somali government responded by saying the report was false.
- Al-Shabaab has denied threatening to attack Kenya’s capital after Kenyan authorities cracked down on Somali demonstrators.
- Hisbul Islam took control of Beledwayne last Friday, driving out rival al-Shabaab rebels.
- The European Union has agreed to train the TFG’s armed forces in Uganda, in a mission set to begin this year.
- An explosion rocked the main military base of AMISOM in Mogadishu on Tuesday. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack. More fighting took place in Mogadishu on Friday, when militants attacked Somali government and AMISOM forces.
- Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa was re-elected on Tuesday, defeating his former army commander in a bitterly contested election. Gen. Sarath Fonsenka, Rajapaksa’s opponent, wrote a letter to the Sri Lankan Election Commission accusing the incumbent president of abusing state media and state resources.
- Prior to the polls, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over heightening violence between the two major political parties.
- Displaced Tamils continue to plead for their release and rehabilitation.
Around the World
- Colonel Moussa Keita, a supporter of former junta chief Moussa Camara, was arrested in Guinea. Keita’s arrest comes just five days after Jean-Marie Dore was sworn in as interim prime minister charged with overseeing a democratic transition.