The National League for Democracy (NLD) has confirmed it will contest the upcoming elections despite their leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, remaining banned from becoming President. Suu Kyi said they have a plan to deal with the problem, and the NLD has said it will select an NLD member to run for President. Majority leader of the US Senate Mitch McConnell has criticized Burma’s government for keeping the Constitutional provision barring Suu Kyi from becoming President, and has said that Burma should not receive trade benefits until after the election.
Religious freedom in Burma may take a blow if the President signs a bill on interfaith marriage into law. Parliament passed a bill that would require Buddhist women to get approval from local authorities to marry a man of another faith. The bill is strongly back by the Buddhist nationalist organization Ma Ba Tha. In Rakhine State, few Rohingya have taken the new green cards on offer by the Burmese government, as they must identify themselves as Bengali in order to get the card. Only 1,600 Rohingya have applied for green cards, which replace the 400,000 white cards that the government revoked earlier this year.
Rebels from the Democratic Karen Benevolence Army (DKBA) continues to fight the Burmese military in a battle over the Asia Highway in Karen State. At least four DKBA soldiers and seven Burmese army soldiers have been killed in the clashes. There was also shelling in Shan State, where fighting between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese Army killed one person and hundreds of civilians were forced to flee.
Central African Republic (CAR)
The Central African transition government has controversially decided to exclude refugees from the upcoming election. More than 460,000 people who fled to neighboring countries will be unable to vote. As refugees are disproportionately Muslim, Muslims will have less influence in the election. Various UN agencies have expressed their concern about the decision.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius visited CAR this week. His visit was designed to show support for transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza and an eight million euro budgetary aid agreement, much of which will go to support the upcoming elections. However, it also drew a great deal of attention to the alleged child sexual abuse committed by French peacekeepers in CAR.
MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic, will receive 750 new troops after the Republic of the Congo sent the soldiers to replace soldiers that had served for over a year. However, in an unrelated situation, 20 peacekeepers will be sent home for excessive use of force in an incident that killed two people.
In Bangui, unidentified gunmen attacked Central African police, wounding two officers. The attack came several days after unidentified gunmen attacked the state radio station.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
The DRC is stepping up the process of decoupage, which will separate the country’s 11 provinces into 26 provinces. Nine new provinces were implemented in the last week. The DRC’s government has announced that gubernatorial elections for the new provinces will take place between July 27th and 31st.
Six people were abducted in Orientale Province in an attack believed to be committed by the LRA. Also, in Walikale territory in North Kivu, the APCLS kidnapped ten people. In response to this type of attack, citizens in Walikale have organized self-defense militias, citing lack of protection from police and military. In Ituri, the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Force attacked a camp for displaced people. One rebel leader seems unlikely to lead further attacks. Jamil Mukulu of the Ugandan Islamist group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) was extradited to Uganda from Tanzania to face trial.
The European Union has pressured the Congolese government to release two civil society activists who have been held since their arrest in March. Government spokesman Lambert Mende rejected the EU’s recommendation as meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.
The South Sudanese government has made clear its displeasure with the UN’s recent actions. In response to the UN’s report that found the South Sudanese army guilty of human rights abuses, South Sudan has expelled one UN official and may expel another. President Kiir also criticized the imposition of sanctions on three South Sudanese commanders. UN secretary-General has continued his efforts, however, and called on South Sudanese leaders to find a political solution and stop the violence. The executive director of the South Sudan Human Right Society for Advocacy has also called on President Kiir to stop the violence.
Local violence has continued at a large scale in Lakes state. Nine people were killed in clashes between the Panyon and Dhiei clans. Then, 27 people were killed in a raid on Pappul cattle camp, including a number of civilians.
The rising price of water is putting more people at risk of cholera as people will have less access to clean water. Since June, there have been 790 cases of cholera and 33 people have died in the cholera outbreak that originated in a displaced person’s camp in Juba.
Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), said that he was confident that Sudan’s Islamists would reunite within the next year. It seems unlikely Sudan’s Islamists all agree, but Turabi did meet with President Omar al-Bashir this week. The two had considered the other an enemy since Turabi split from the National Congress Party in 1999 to form the PCP, but relations between the two have thawed in the last year.
Opposition parties in the national dialogue have held talks with opposition parties that have not yet joined the dialogue in an attempt to convince them to join. However, talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N are not going well, and the Sudanese government has accused the SPLM-N of having unrealistic demands and being at fault for the failure of peace talks.
President Omar al-Bashir visited Saudi Arabia to discuss building closer ties between the countries with the Saudi King. This marks a shift in Sudan’s alliances after Sudan distanced itself from Iran earlier this year. President al-Bashir also completed the umrah while on the trip.
Twelve Sudanese women in Khartoum faced 40 lashes after they were arrested for wearing trousers. The women were Christian and originally from the Nuba Mountains, and while three were not sentenced to flogging, the possibility remains for the nine other women.
ISIS and the Syrian military engaged in heavy fighting around the city of Palmyra. Syrian forces closed in on the city and killed over 30 ISIS fighters, but ISIS then captured over 100 Syrian soldiers in an ambush. The Assad regime did have a victory in Zabadani, where Hezbollah and Syrian army forces took the main entrance to the city, which is close to the border to Lebanon.
The US has continued launching heavy airstrikes against ISIS, with 16 in Syria this past weekend. Two senior leaders of ISIS were killed in the attacks.
The conflict continues to have huge costs on Syrian civilians. In Aleppo, a drought is causing a water shortage for civilians, who also struggle to access water due to restricted movement caused by fighting and attacks on water sources. Meanwhile, in response to the shortage of funds for Syrian refugees, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has called world leaders “quite stingy.”
Emerging Conflicts: Burundi
Burundi remains on the brink as controversy over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s run for a third term continues. Nkurunziza decided to run despite strong opposition and doubts over the constitutionality of his decision. In light of the ongoing unrest, presidential elections have been pushed back from their originally scheduled date of July 15th to July 21st. Parliamentary elections recently took place and were won by Nkurunziza’s CNDD-FDD party, but the elections were marred by an opposition boycott and strong doubts over their legitimacy. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been called in to mediate between the CNDD-FDD and the opposition.
There also seems to have been an upsurge in violence. Burundi’s military announced that it had killed 31 opposition rebels and captured 170 in the country’s north. The exact allegiances and identity of the rebels remains unconfirmed. There have also been a number of grenade attacks in the capital city, Bujumbura. However, there may be hope in the disarmament of the CNDD-FDD’s youth wing, the Imbonerakure. The group has long been considered a dangerous potential source of violence, but Ugandan President Museveni said that they had been disarmed. This would be welcome news, but it does confirm that the Imbonerakure were armed and doubts remain about the extent of their disarmament.