In this week’s issue: an official from Sudan’s National Election Commission recognized cases of vote rigging; 10,000 Karen have fled to Thailand escaping expected clashes; Five people were killed when Mai Mai militia attacked a town in North Kivu
Weekly News Brief, April 30 to May 9, compiled by Joshua Kennedy at GI-Net and the STAND E-team. To receive weekly news briefs, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Two Egyptian UNAMID peacekeepers were killed on Friday when their convoy was ambushed by armed men near Katila village, South Darfur. The Sudanese government has already arrested several of the gunmen suspected of carrying out the attack.
- Fallout over the El Fasher Ponzi scheme continued as at least four people were killed protests that took place last Sunday, May 2, 2010.
- Inter-tribal clashes over livestock continue in South Sudan. In an attack last Wednesday, Nuer and Dinka tribesmen battled in Warrap State’s East Tonj and North Tonj counties.
- The government of Chad says its army killed 105 rebels during two gun battles on the Sudan-Chad border, just days after the UN agreed to reduce the MINURCAT peacekeeping force stationed there.
- The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) accused the Sudanese army of attacking them in the Darfur despite last February’s truce; due to the attacks, JEM have refused to participate in any further peace talks. Sudan reacted to JEM’s decision, stating that it remains committed to February’s framework agreement.
- The SPLA accused a former gubernatorial candidate, George Athor Deng, of ordering a deadly assault on an SPLA Military Barracks at Doleib Hill, Upper Nile State. Sources also allege that another mutiny took place among SPLA forces in northern Bahr el Ghazal under an anonymous Brigadier General, acting in support of General Athor. The SPLA downplayed the allegations. General Athor is reportedly fighting for the removal of the governor of Jonglei, Kuol Manyang.
- The Japanese Self-Defense Force is considering deploying helicopters to the UNMIS mission to help transport ballot materials for the coming independence referendum.
- According to former Sudanese foreign minister Deng Alor, approximately 80% of the North-South border demarcation process is complete. Alor offered no explanations beyond that.
- An official from the National Elections Commission (NEC) acknowledged that there were at least two cases of vote rigging that took place during last months election. The NEC announced plans to prosecute those responsible. The acknowledgement appears to be in response to the YouTube video showing poll workers stuffing ballot boxes in eastern Sudan.
- Fear of conflict between the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Burmese military in southern Shan State have caused hundreds of Shan, Chinese, and Thai businesspeople to move to the Thai-Burma border.
- Observers estimate that over 10,000 Karen are fleeing to Thailand to escape expected clashed between the Burmese Army and factions within the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA).
- The Thai army is readying protection areas near the Burmese border in response to the major military build-up on the Burmese side of the countries’ shared border.
- The PLA has deployed five brigades of troops to the Sino-Burmese border in anticipation of armed conflict between the Burmese government and the UWSA.
- Up to 2,000 DKBA troops are reported to have broken their alliance with the Burma Army and are heading for the Thai border, clashing with the Burmese army as they move east.
- Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein and his colleagues who formed the Union Solidarity and Development Party on Thursday may be in violation of junta election laws stating that persons forming a political party may not hold government positions. Opposition groups are concerned that this will give the army too much influence in the new government.
- The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, said that the military junta has not established the conditions necessary for credible elections later this year.
- As of midnight last Thursday, the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, was disbanded, after deciding to boycott the upcoming elections.
- There were rumors that the Burmese government imported additional weapons from China and North Korea, including mid-range missiles and rocket launchers, during last month’s Burmese New Year. The weapons’ imports may also include nuclear materials.
- The Energy Security Through Transparency Act, a groundbreaking bill before the US Congress that has bi-partisan support could, if passed, compel companies profiting from oil, gas and mining to reveal details of payments to governments of countries they have invested in around the world.
Democratic Republic of Congo
- The UN is investigating another LRA massacre that may have taken place near the Congolese town of Kpanga in February, killing 100 people.
- The FDLR attacked the town of Butare, North Kivu last Thursday, killing one police officer and burning two vehicles.
- Five people were killed on Friday, April 30, when local Mai Mai militia attacked the city of Mubi, North Kivu, one of the major cassiterite trading centers in North Kivu. The target of the attack appeared to be the local credit agency.
- Civilian casualties for the period between March 21 and April 21 showed a 33% increase compared to the same period in 2009, concerning officials about the impact of the coming Kandahar offensive. UNHCR also said security had deteriorated significantly in the last few months.
- A report by the Pentagon details a relatively unchanged situation in Afghanistan for the past six months, save for the spread of insurgent activities to new areas.
- NATO is investigating yet another incident of possible accidental civilian deaths, in which two women and a child traveling in a car were shot at a security checkpoint last weekend.
- A roadside bomb killed eight civilians in eastern Afghanistan last weekend.
- The CIA received approval to widen its range of targets from drone strikes in tribal areas of Pakistan. Several scholars raised questions about the legality of the drone strikes.
- The U.S. estimates about 140,000 Pakistani troops are conducting offensives in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) near the Afghan border. Officials do not expect the offensive to have a major impact in solving Pakistan’s conflict. Meanwhile, the Pakistani military has signaled it might be willing to attack North Waziristan, where militants enjoy strong influence and safe haven.
- A suicide bomber targeted a busy marketplace in the Swat Valley last weekend, killing seven and wounding 10. Pakistani jets killed at least 13 militants last Sunday.
- Two bombings killed three and wounded five last weekend, when buses carrying Christian students exploded in Mosul last Sunday.
- The Iraqi civilian death toll rose significantly in April to 274, demonstrating militants’ resolve to resort to violence to affect change. Despite the increase, levels of violence remain lower than their heights in 2006 and 2007, as well as lower than levels recorded by the Iraq Body Count in 2008 and 2009.
- On Wednesday, the AU warned that al Shabaab was planning a series of coordinated suicide attacks throughout Mogadishu.
- Al Shabaab bombed an AU peacekeeping base on Tuesday, the AMISOM peacekeeping mission said that the bombing had injured two peacekeepers.
- At least ten civilians were killed in clashes between al Shabaab and Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama forces.
- Human rights groups and top UN officials are condemning the increased use of child soldiers by Somali militants.
- At least 45 civilians were killed in mosque bombings across Mogadishu last Saturday. These attacks on religious centers are feared to be the beginning of an insurgency that more closely resembles the violence seen during the Iraq war.
- Hezb al-Islam militia members attacked a Doctors without Borders health center near Mogadishu last Wednesday, killing one security guard and detaining local staff.