Weekly Update from the STAND Education Team 9/2-9/8
Libya, Syria, DRC, Sudan
Libya and Syria
- BBC News reports that some elites who served in the government of Col. Muammar Qaddafi fled into neighboring Niger. Niger’s foreign minister stated that they will allow Qaddafi loyalists to stay in the country or move through and cited the difficultly in adequately controlling their vast border.
- Libyan rebels are continuing negotiations with the remaining pockets of pro-Qaddafi loyalists within Libya. Rebel forces have surrounded loyalist strongholds such as the town Bani Walid, but have largely ceased hostilities in the area in hopes of finding a peaceful solution with the remaining loyalists.
- Conflicting reports have surfaced throughout the week about the whereabouts of Col. Muammar Qaddafi. NYT reports that earlier in the week Libyan rebels claimed to have located and surrounded the dictator, but sparse details and conflicting statements from varying rebel sources indicate the situation remains fluid. Qaddafi released another message on September 8th vowing continued resistance and dismissing claims that he may have fled to Niger.
- Beginning on Wednesday and continuing throughout the week, Syrian security forces conducted sweeps in the city of Homs targeting alleged opposition figures, deserting Syrian military tropps and protestors. NYT reports that 17 civilians were killed during the sweep in Homs. Defection, desertion, and refusal to fire on civilians is allegedly on the rise among Syrian military forces in the past weeks.
- NYT reports United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon called on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to take "bold and decisive measures before it’s too late" and signaled the United Nations desires to take "coherent measures" in regard to the situation in Syria. NYT also reports that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a traditional ally of President Assad,called again on Thursday for the Syrian government to end the violent crackdown and open talks with the opposition.
- The election buildup reached a breaking point this week after political clashes in the capital city of Kinshasa killed at least one civilian and injured several. Opposition party member Etienne Tshisekedi announcement that he is running for the precidency triggered the violence. Supporters of current President Joseph Kabila’s People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) attacked the headquarters of the rival Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP) following an arson attack on the PPRD’s headquarters, resulting in offices and a TV station being burnt to the ground.
- Election violence resulted in a crackdown by the government on political protests for the five days following the shootout. Despite the crackdown, tensions continue to rise as conflict between the two major parties continues to escalate. Today, police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of opposition supports in the capital who were demonstrating against allegations of election fraud.
- Candidates have until Monday September 12th to declare their candidacy for the November 28th election. Yesterday the son of former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and another leading opposition figure, Vital Kamerhe, formally declared their candidacy. President Joseph Kabila is expected to join the race formally by the end of this week.
- Despite the apparent role voter fraud is playing in instigating violence, tension and unrest around the country, little is being done to rectify apparent flaws in the registration process. The International Crisis Group released a new report on the electoral process raising concerns about voter registration, monitoring and fraud. Across the country more than one million more voters registered for the election than originally estimated, and though the last physical census in the country was in 1984, it still raises questions. Allegations include fake voters, children and foreigners registering and citizens registering multiple times. In addition, there is minimal monitoring of the registration process, which means it is extremely vulnerable to fraud. Despite all these factors, the ICG has not called for an audit of voter registration.
- The International Monetary Fund estimated that the DRC could exceed a forecasted growth rate of 6.5% this year. The announcement follows the quarterly report issued by the IMF, who currently has a 3-year $560 million credit arrangement with the country. However transparency in the mining sector remains one of the largest obstacles to economic growth. Robert York, the IMF’s chief of mission to Congo, said in a statement that “making progress in enhancing governance and transparency in extractive industries is essential." The upcoming elections are an opportunity to usher in a new age of transparency, accountability, and democracy in Kinshasa, however escalating political violence and lack of international attention are obstacles to creating social change.
- The United States special envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman expressed concern over the recent upsurge in fighting between government forces and Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
- Sudan’s governing National Congress Party (NCP) vowed to quell the rebellion in the country’s southern state of Blue Nile, saying it is a prerequisite to any dialogue with the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N). A firefight was heard on Tuesday evening in the capital of Sudan’s southern state of Blue Nile prompting the country’s army to downplay the events as accidental.
- Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has declared a state of emergency in the Blue Nile State and dismissed its governor Malik Agar amid reports of aerial bombardments and concomitant displacement in the unrest-hit region.
- International aid agencies have began providing emergency assistance to fleeing Sudanese in Ethiopia as the refugee population that escaped recent conflict from Sudan’s Blue Nile state swells to around 20,000.
- An advance delegation of the former rebel Liberation and Equality Movement (LJM) is expected to arrive in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in accordance to a peace deal they signed in Doha last July. President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir appointed his chief negotiator at the Doha peace process as the head of a new office to follow-up the realization of peace in Darfur, days before the arrival of former rebels to Khartoum.
- Sudanese opposition forces will organise a demonstration on Friday demanding to stop the war in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and to investigate who started the attacks.
- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) released a report saying repeated waves of inter-communal violent conflict and rebel activities in South Sudan have led to the deaths of more than 1,500 people and the displacement of over 73,000 in recent months.
The education update is produced every Thursday to update STAND members and the advocacy community about developments with regards to genocide and crimes against humanity. For more information contact the following:
Education Coordinator: Sean Langberg firstname.lastname@example.org
Sudan Education Coordiator: Emma Smith email@example.com
DRC Education Coordinator: Siobhan Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org
Emerging Crises Education Coordinator: Tom Dolzall email@example.com