Weekly Update from the STAND Education
DRC, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Libya
- Major political parties in DRC are meeting in Ethiopia to chart the course for a peaceful electoral process
- Satellite Sentinel Reports the Sudanese army is gathering troops at the boarder of Blue Nile state
- Continued fighting in Sirte, Libya displaced residents with rebel, loyalist, and NATO forces all battling for control of the city
Be sure to register for the United to End Genocide national conference in Washington D.C. on Oct. 22-24 http://goo.gl/BYJBc
In response to political violence and allegations of voter fraud, major Congolese political parties are participating in talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to chart the path towards a peaceful November 28th election that is not marred by the same clashes that occurred in the run-off election in 2006. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15065935)
In addition to the presidential election on November 28th, there will also be a legislative election. On Friday the DRC’s National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) announced that 19,497 candidates will be running for the November 28 parliamentary elections for only 500 seats. The legislative election is particularly important in the Congo, as the largest coalition in parliament holds the power to name the prime minister and also form a cabinet to deal with the day-to-day business of governing. This legislative election is far more competitive than the 2006 elections as the number of candidates vying for a seat has dramatically increased. (http://congoplanet.com/news/1890/more-than-19000-candidates-to-run-for-parliament-in-november.jsp)
With only 2 months to go before the elections, opposition party members are currently in the midst of negotiations to pick one common candidate to oppose incumbent President Kabila. A likely choice is Etienne Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress. However at 78, the veteran politician is almost twice as old as the 40-year old President Kabila which could deter some voters from supporting him. (http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Congolese-Parties-Near-Deal-on-Choice-To-Oppose-Kabila-130677373.html)
A report has surfaced in Kinshasa suggesting that hundreds of thousands of voters in the official register may be fake. The report was originally commisioned by the government through the Belgian company Zetes, who were contracted to identify the number of doubloons (voters who show up twice in the system) are registered out of the total 32 million. Currently the figure appears high, and could point towards gerrymandering of electoral districts which could over-represent and under-represent districts in parliamentary seats. (http://congosiasa.blogspot.com/)
President Joseph Kabila told the UN General Assembly last week that the country was now at peace. He said that because the country is now at peace, it must focus more on development and reconstruction which meant the role of MONUSCO (the longest peacekeeping mission deployed by the UN) should be advised. He added, “The elections are proof of the return to peace that all Congolese have wanted and have now realized. Today, peace and security prevail throughout the national territory. All state institutions are in place and functioning normally.” The contradictions between his statements at the UN and the reality on the ground are alarming. (http://congoplanet.com/news/1889/dr-congo-has-returned-to-peace-kabila-tells-un-general-assembly.jsp)
Five Democrat congressmen sent a letter to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission encouraging them to immediately release long-awaited new rules on conflict minerals originating from the DRC. Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank law requires companies that use tin, tungsten, tantalum or gold in their manufacturing processes to ensure that they are not sourcing minerals that benefit armed groups operating in the DRC and to publicly report on their supply chains. While Section 1502 has been passed, it is far from being implemented. (http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/1007-other/183935-house-dems-tell-the-sec-to-finish-up-conflict-mineral-rules)
This weekend over 500 people participated in the “Informed Activism: Armed Conflict, Scarce Resources and Congo” international summit at Clark University in Worcester, MA. (http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/09/24/mass_summit_puts_spotlight_on_congos_violence/)
South Sudan launched an official national Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration strategic plan on Wednesday, days after the cabinet passed a resolution allowing the removal of 150,000 combatants from the new country’s rebel group turned national army the SPLA.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) dismissed the head of its delegation to the Doha peace process two months after the signing of a peace agreement between the government and another rebel group, Liberation and Equality Movement (LJM).
Washington-based Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) said that the Sudanese army is massing heavily equipped troops to attack rebel positions in Blue Nile state.
Heavy fighting erupted in Sudan’s border state of South Kordofan after the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) attacked army positions, the latest sign of an escalating conflict.
North and South Sudan agreed to open 10 border crossing points to allow for the movement of people across the border.
Human Rights Watch called on the Sudanese government to end their clampdown on opposition party members and critics of the government.
Syria and Libya
Fierce fighting continued in Libya this week as rebel forces continued their offensive to seize the cities of Bani Walid and Sirte which remain under the control of forces loyal to Col. Muammar Qaddafi. The British Ministry of Defense told BBC news that RAF and NATO have been providing extensive close air support to rebel forces in both cities. The humanitarian situation for civilians in both cities has reportedly been deteriorating with basic services such as clean drinking water becoming scare, and that Qaddafi forces have tried to prevent civilians from fleeing. Col. Qaddafi remains at large, however the National Transitional Council has reported that new intelligence indicates he may have fled into nearby Nigeria.
NYT reports that since the outset of civil conflict in Libya, over 200,000 Nigerian migrant laborers have fled back over the border into their home country in Nigeria. The fleeing laborers face a precarious journey, lacking for food and medical supplies and the Nigerian government and border towns are struggling to adequately address the massive influx.
A UN resolution “demanding an immediate end to all violence" in Syria is scheduled to come to a vote next week. The resolution has been crafted by the United States, UK, France, Portugal and Germany. An earlier provision in the resolution calling for immediate sanctions has been removed however over concerns about the reactions of other security council members, however a provision will remain which "expresses its determination, in the event that Syria has not complied with this resolution, to adopt targeted measures, including sanctions".
Violence continued throughout Syria this week was security forces cracked down on continuing protests and came into conflict with Syrian military who have switched to the side of the protestors. BBC news reports that a prominent Syrian scientist was killed outside his home in Homs on Thursday, one among several recent deaths in the Syrian scientific community. In the city of Rastan, major clashes occurred between Syrian security forces, including armored elements, and defecting forces entrenched within the city.
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