In this week’s issue: Elections concluded in Sudan and results are expected on Tuesday, April 20; the Burmese government rejected the latest proposal by the United Wa State Army on the Border Guard Force, indicating it will not compromise; UN officials are reluctant to comply with the Congolese government’s request for the withdrawal of MONUC
Weekly News Brief, April 9 to 16, 2010, compiled by Joshua Kennedy at GI-Net and the STAND E-team. To sign up to receive news briefs, trivia, and a discussion guide, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Areas of Concern
- The Sudanese election officially ended on Thursday evening, and vote counting has begun at 8:30 on Friday. The electoral results are expected on Tuesday, April 20.
- Sudanese citizens flocked to the polls; however, many officials reported chaos, claiming that very few people who actually registered to vote made it to their designated site. For example, in South Sudan, 1,323 voters were registered for a specific site, but only 29 (or 2%) successfully made it to the poll on the first day.
- While the election was relatively peaceful, on Wednesday, the head of the NCP in Raja, Western Bahr-el-Ghazal province and eight other supporters were shot and killed by a SPLA soldier, reportedly over a personal matter. With polling due to end on Thursday, current Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has extended an offer to other parties to join his ruling National Congress Party.
- A spokesman for the joint UNAMID peacekeeping mission told reporters on Wednesday that the four South African peacekeepers who went missing earlier this week were definitely kidnapped. It is not yet clear who carried out the kidnapping, but added the mission is making all possible efforts to secure their release as early as possible.
- The border between Chad and Sudan reopened Saturday, April 10th, more than seven years after the conflict in Sudan forced it to close.
- For more on the Sudanese elections, please check out our blog at http://www.
genocideintervention.net/blog on Friday and Monday.
- At this year’s annual ASEAN summit, Southeast Asian leaders urged Burma’s military regime to hold “inclusive” elections that will lead to genuine national reconciliation amid growing international controversy over the junta’s planned polls later this year.
- The Obama administration said it will continue its new policy of engaging the Burmese leadership despite the fact that the military junta has ignored, and often directly contradicted, the advice of the international community.
- The Burmese government turned down the United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s latest 8 point counterproposal on the Border Guard Force issue submitted on April 3. The regime indicated that it will not be willing to compromise.
- The United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), a coalition of some of the largest ethnic political parties, announced Wednesday that they won’t contest the elections in light of the regime’s failure to respond positively to their demands.
Democratic Republic of Congo
- Senior diplomats and U.N. officials are reluctant to comply with Congo’s demand that the U.N. withdraw MONUC peacekeepers. French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud emphasized that “all of the members of the Security Council have expressed concerns” about Kabila’s insistence that the U.N. force should leave before September 2011, a month before he is up for re-election, because of the outbursts of horrific violence and sexual abuses continuing in eastern Congo.
- A newly released Oxfam report shows that sexual violence has become increasingly pervasive in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo where civilian rape has risen 17-fold in the past few years. The study found that 38% of rapes were committed by civilians in 2008, compared with less than 1% in 2004.
- NATO troops killed four civilians and wounded 18 others after they opened fire on a bus in the southern province of Kandahar.
- Another woman was gunned down in Kandahar on Tuesday. No group has claimed responsibility, but Taliban militants are suspected of having launched a campaign to intimidate women.
- A roadside bomb killed four people and injured 14 men in Kandahar last Sunday. Five suspected suicide bombers were arrested last week by Afghan police as they tried to enter Kabul. Afghan government officials say 176 people, including 135 Taliban militants and 29 civilians, were killed in Afghanistan last week.
- The number of IEDs – Improvised Explosive Devices – used in Afghanistan has doubled in the past year, U.S. military officials have said.
- As NATO investigates the role U.S. Special Forces played in a botched night raid last month in which five Afghan civilians, including two pregnant women, were killed, a top military commander visited the site of the raid last week and asked for the victims’ family’s forgiveness by sacrificing sheep.
- Romania will increase its troops in Afghanistan to 1,800 from 1,073 by September.
- A suicide bomber killed four people and wounded 37 others in Mosul on Monday. Another four people were killed and dozens injured by a car bomb in Bagdad that day. A liquor store was bombed in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday, killing three civilians.
- Three separate bombings killed six people, including one child, in northern Iraq on Saturday. Three schoolchildren were killed and a fourth injured by a roadside bomb in Baghdad last Sunday.
- Wikileaks, a website that posts classified documents, released a video showing an U.S. airstrike in 2007 in which 12 civilians were killed, including two Reuters reporters, and two children wounded.
- Air raids by the Pakistani military last Saturday in the Orazkai and Khyber regions near the Afghan border killed almost 100 people who the Pakistani military says were militants. A public official and villagers have disputed the figures, saying the raids killed 71 civilians and no militants. Local officials said the government had paid $125,000 in compensation to families of victims.
- The UN has reported that Pakistani offensives in the Orakzai tribal region have displaced 200,000 civilians since last November. UN aid agencies have also warned that humanitarian aid for displaced Pakistanis is running out.
- Six people were killed and more than 100 wounded when riots broke out in the North West Frontier Province over plans in parliament to rename the province.
- A bomb placed on a NATO fuel tanker exploded in northwest Pakistan and killed one boy and wounded four others.
- Militants attacked a military checkpoint in the Taliban-controlled Orakzai tribal region last Friday. The ensuing battle killed 18 militants. Pakistani police also shot two suspected suicide bombers that day in Lakki Marwat. Another nine militants were killed during a sweep in northwest Pakistan. Pakistani army raids near the Afghan border also killed another 12 militants last Sunday.
- Pakistan’s intelligence service has released at least two senior Afghan Taliban militants even as the agency helps the United States capture top Taliban militants.
- President Obama allowed the Treasury Department on Tuesday to sanction or freeze the assets of Somali pirates or militants who threaten the peace, interfere with the delivery of humanitarian aid or violate the UN arms embargo in Somalia. Sanctions were immediately imposed on almost a dozen suspected Islamist militants.
- Al Shabaab seized radio transmitters used by the BBC to broadcast news to the Somali population in Mogadishu last Friday. The rebels accused the BBC of broadcasting anti-Islamic propaganda. The BBC is trying to get back its Somali, Arabic and English broadcasts back on air. Al Shabaab has also ordered all Somali radio stations to stop broadcasting programming from Voice of America and the BBC as well as music.
- Al Shabaab raided a World Food Program base in southern Somalia last week. The WFP says the base was empty and its operations would not be affected.
- The UN refugee agency has reported that many Somalis fleeing fighting in Mogadishu are unable to reach safe havens in Yemen or Kenya due to security concerns. At least 169,000 Somalis have fled Somalia so far this year. In the Middle Shabelle region, floods have displaced hundreds of civilians and destroyed miles of new crops.
- At least five civilians were killed and another nine wounded by heavy shelling in Mogadishu on Monday.