CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations ("standby monitoring") to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.
Anglophone regions observed general strike on self-proclaimed independence anniversary, as separatists redoubled efforts to reduce internal wrangling and come closer to Nigerian separatists.
Anglophone conflict continued. Anglophone regions 1 Oct went silent on anniversaries of British Southern Cameroons’ 1961 reunification with Francophone Republic of Cameroon and 2017 unilateral declaration of independence by now-detained Anglophone leader Sisiku Ayuk Tabe. Most residents 30 Sept-2 Oct stayed indoors as businesses closed and transportation halted. Some administrators in South West regional capital Buea sanctioned businesses observing general strike. Low-level violence persisted: Ambazonia Defence Forces 4 Oct killed two men they accused of spying for govt forces in Batibo town (North West region), and govt forces 12 Oct killed six suspected separatist rebels in Akwaya subdivision (South West). Meanwhile, Anglophone separatist groups 5-8 Oct met in Canada to draw up plans to reduce internal wrangling and splintering of movement. Ayaba Cho Lucas’ Ambazonia Governing Council and Nigerian separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) factional leader Simon Ekpa 21 Oct signed cooperation agreement in Finland’s capital Helsinki, pledging mutual assistance in their respective separatist struggles. Following petition by 30 U.S. Congress members, U.S. President Biden 6 Oct extended Temporary Protected Status for Cameroonians for additional 18 months on account of thousands of people fleeing Anglophone conflict.
Jihadist and intercommunal violence persisted in Far North region. Authorities in Mayo-Sava division 3 Oct enforced night curfew in Mora and Kolofata towns in response to increasing jihadist violence. Boko Haram militants 4 Oct killed two vigilante members in Grea village, Mayo-Sava. Unidentified jihadist group same day kidnapped local chief and two staff members from multinational company in Bargaram locality, Logone-et-Chari division. Meanwhile, Kotoko farmers and Choa Arab herders 6 Oct clashed in Makary, Logone-et-Chari, with one killed and four injured.
Unknown assailants launched rare mass kidnappings in North region. Unidentified gunmen 21 and 23 Oct kidnapped at least 50 people near Touboro town in North region.
Rebel groups continued low-intensity attacks in hinterland amid military operations by govt forces and allies.
Rebel activity persisted across country despite operations by govt forces and allies. In Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture, alliance of major rebel groups Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) 2 Oct attacked gold mine near Birbatouma village, prompting riposte from military, with fighting reported next day near Ndélé town; govt forces and Russian paramilitary Wagner Group 30 Oct launched search operation in same area. In Haute-Kotto prefecture, reinforced presence of UN mission (MINUSCA) peacekeepers around Ouadda town in Oct led elements of Gen Mohamed Moussa’s Party of the Rally of the Central African Nation and other CPC-affiliated groups to leave Ouadda and relocate further north to Sam-Ouandja area in Vakaga prefecture, while other fighters returned to Bria-Yalinga-Nzacko triangle in southern Haute-Kotto. Meanwhile, as influx of Sudanese refugees toward Am Dafok and Birao towns in Vakaga prefecture continued, armed elements allegedly belonging to paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of Gen Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo reportedly engaged in opportunistic crimes around Birao.
Agropastoral conflicts continued to claim lives. After herder-farmer violence in Sept affected Miamani area in Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture, several similar incidents reported in Oct in Ouham-Pendé prefecture. Notably, armed Fulani herders 10 Oct clashed with group of armed individuals in Bossemptélé sub-prefecture, and violence 12 Oct broke out between armed herders and residents in Bézéré village, leading to deaths of three soldiers who had been deployed to area; armed elements of CPC-affiliated 3R rebel group late Oct abducted a dozen individuals near Bohong village over accusations of cattle theft. In Lobaye prefecture, transhumant herders armed with assault rifles 22 Oct shot one farmer dead and wounded another.
UN urged Bangui to launch inclusive dialogue ahead of 2024 local elections. Valentine Rugwabiza, UN Special Representative and head of MINUSCA, 26 Oct presented Sec Gen’s report on Central African Republic to UN Security Council ahead of vote on mandate renewal expected in Nov. Rugwabiza highlighted govt’s progress in advancing peace process, and urged Bangui to engage in inclusive dialogue with political opposition and armed groups ahead of local elections scheduled for Oct 2024.
Authorities arrested dozens after opposition leader announced imminent return from exile.
Interim President Déby strengthened grip on security apparatus. Déby 21 Sept and 9 Oct conducted two important army reshuffles, with 66 new generals appointed, majority of them from ruling clan. Meanwhile, online media Tchad One 7-8 Oct reported elements of elite force that includes presidential guard attempted to overthrow Déby; govt did not react to claim.
Opposition leader delayed return from exile amid crackdown on supporters. Succès Masra, exiled president of Les Transformateurs party, 5 Oct informed public security ministry of his return to Chad on 18 Oct. In response, police 8 Oct arrested over 70 party supporters, citing risk to public order. Govt 14 Oct said negotiations for Masra’s return were continuing under Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) auspices, and Masra next day announced postponing return until early Nov at request of ECCAS facilitator, Congolese President Tshisekedi. Security forces 20 Oct deployed to N’Djamena in anticipation of unrest on one-year anniversary of deadly crackdown on opposition protests. Kinshasa 31 Oct announced agreement between Chad’s govt and Masra for latter’s return.
Herder-farmer conflict flared up in Moyen-Chari province. After apparent lull in herder-farmer violence in Moyen-Chari province since Dec 2022, conflict between herders and farmers late Sept escalated in Korbol department, near Lake Iro, resulting in around ten people killed as rebel group Movement for Peace, Reconstruction and Development entered fray.
In other important developments. Amid growing hostility to French presence, over 20 leaders of political parties and civil society organisations, both in Chad and among diaspora, 10 Oct sent letter to Déby to request withdrawal of French troops from Chad.
Coup leader visited several Central African countries to press for reintegration into regional organisations.
Junta leader, Gen Brice Oligui Nguema, in late Sept embarked on regional tour in bid to get Gabon’s suspension from Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and African Union reversed. Nguema notably met with presidents of Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda, but has yet to secure meeting with Cameroon’s head of state, Paul Biya. Meanwhile, U.S. President Biden 30 Oct announced plans to expel Gabon and three other African countries from special U.S.-Africa trade program on grounds of “gross violations” of human rights or absence of progress toward democratic rule.
Islamic State staged deadly attacks in north and capital Kabul, defying Taliban crackdown, while earthquakes in west compounded suffering and Taliban wrestled for control of embassies.
Islamic State’s local branch conducted attacks despite ongoing Taliban raids. After Taliban security forces early Sept dismantled Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) cell, Taliban-affiliated media Al Mirsad 3 Oct published confessions from the cell, which is purportedly responsible for some of largest attacks in Badakhshan province (north). Dismantling this network will likely represent blow to ISKP’s strong presence in Badakhshan, although group remains active and capable of attacks. Notably, in one of its largest attacks in months, ISKP 13 Oct assaulted mosque in Baghlan province (north), killing around seventeen Shia worshippers. ISKP claimed bomb attack 26 Oct in Kabul that killed at least four in sports club in Shia area.
Earthquakes and aftershocks in west aggravated humanitarian crisis. Powerful earthquake 7 Oct struck Herat province (west), levelling entire villages before series of shallow earthquakes and aftershocks in subsequent weeks hit region, killing over 2,000 people and destroying 2,500 homes. While humanitarian actors quickly provided $18mn in assistance, many affected communities are likely to remain in desperate need as winter fast approaches.
Taliban reportedly clamped down on anti-Pakistan militants and rival group. Following deadly militant attacks in Pakistan in Sept, reports emerged that Afghan security forces arrested hundreds of Pakistani militants and Afghan nationals involved in activities against Pakistan. Taliban forces reportedly also began clampdown on rival group Hizb ut-Tahrir countrywide, arresting dozens of members in multiple provinces.
Taliban intensified efforts to rein in Afghan embassies abroad. Afghan embassy in India 1 Oct stated it would be shutting down operations amid reports of infighting among embassy staff, pressure from Indian govt, and attempts by Taliban to takeover. In subsequent days, Afghan embassies in Netherlands and Spain announced their cooperation with de facto govt. Taliban-run foreign ministry 8 Oct issued notice advising services by Afghan embassies in London and Vienna were invalid; both posts have been most critical of Taliban govt; London embassy rejected notice.
Govt intensified repression ahead of Jan 2024 elections as opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) held large rally in capital Dhaka, leading to clashes that killed several civilians and police officer.
BNP held large-scale rally in defiance of govt crackdown. As party sought to mobilise supporters ahead of Jan 2024 elections, BNP 28 Oct held “grand rally” in Dhaka to build momentum for demanding caretaker govt ahead of Jan 2024 polls, with estimated 200,000 BNP supporters in attendance despite efforts to stop them gathering. Sporadic clashes, mainly between BNP supporters and police, prompted police to break up rally, firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Street fighting subsequently erupted across city, leaving one police officer and one civilian dead, and hundreds more injured. Violence was also reported in other major cities, with several civilians killed and scores injured. Awami League govt 29 Oct arrested de facto BNP leader and around 100 others, including senior officials, charging them with police officer’s murder; BNP claimed nearly 3,000 party officials were arrested 21-29 Oct. BNP and other opposition forces announced nationwide “hartal”, shutting down streets across Dhaka on 29 Oct, and three-day shutdown 31 Oct-2 Nov, making further clashes likely.
Financial strains persisted. Media 18 Oct reported Central Bank’s net foreign exchange reserves fell to below $17bn, equivalent to around three months of imports, and are declining by as much as $1bn per month. Govt 19 Oct reached staff-level agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) to proceed with disbursement of additional $681mn (still subject to IMF board approval).
Violence continued in Rohingya refugee camps. Paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion 2 Oct detained “financial coordinator and personal assistant” of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) chief. Gunfight with armed group 4 Oct killed member of ARSA. Suspected member of rival Rohingya Solidarity Organisation 9 Oct killed two ARSA members. Paramilitary forces 5 Oct arrested local council member in Cox’s Bazar for allegedly trafficking drugs from Myanmar and 15 Oct arrested alleged ARSA member for suspected murder of Rohingya leader in Sept 2021. Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Refugees 17 Oct requested more funding for Rohingya response to avert looming disaster.
China’s maritime presence in waters around Japan remained source of tension, Canada and Beijing blamed each other for aerial incident, and U.S. spotlighted China’s “risky” military encounters.
Japan protested China’s regional maritime presence. As of 29 Oct, Japan spotted 100 Chinese vessels in Japan’s contiguous zone, while it detected eight vessels within Japan’s territorial sea over three days. Japanese Coast Guard 16 Oct said two Chinese ships entered Japan’s territorial waters off disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, south of Minamikojima Island; Japanese Coast Guard warned Chinese vessels to leave waters. Chinese and Japanese coast guards 17 Oct confirmed that their ships faced off in waters around islands. Tokyo next day lodged protest with Beijing after Chinese research vessel “Xiangyanghong 18” was suspected of conducting unauthorised marine survey about 129km north east of Japan-controlled Taisho Island. Two Russian Tu-95 bombers accompanied by two fighter aircraft 17 Oct flew over Sea of Japan, prompting Japan to scramble its fighter jets.
Canada and China traded barbs over mid-air incident. Canada 16 Oct claimed that Chinese military plane intercepted its aircraft in “aggressive manner” in international airspace off Chinese coast; China claimed that Canadian plane was flying over Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which violated China’s sovereignty and compelled China to take necessary measures.
U.S. highlighted trend of increasing Chinese coercive action in air. U.S. Defense Department 17 Oct released collection of declassified images and videos depicting fifteen recent cases of “coercive and risky operational behavior” by China’s military against U.S. aircraft in East and South China Sea regions; U.S. claimed that it has recorded more than 180 such incidents since Autumn 2021. Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force 9-10 Oct held joint exercise with U.S. and South Korean navies in East China Sea. Japan and Australia 19 Oct agreed to include Australian troops in large-scale joint command post drills with U.S. for first time.
Ethnic conflict in Manipur continued to simmer, diplomatic row with Canada escalated further and talks with China on disputed border ended without progress; bombing targeted Christians in south.
Instability and attacks plagued Manipur state in north east. Death toll of conflict that erupted in May reached at least 176 with 67,000 displaced, as sporadic violence continued. Central Bureau of Investigation 1 Oct arrested four for alleged role in abduction and killing of two Meitei students. Video 8 Oct circulated on social media, showing tribal Kuki man lying in trench with face bludgeoned and body set on fire. Armed assailants and security forces 7 Oct exchanged fire and suspected insurgents 8 Oct hurled grenade at state minister’s house, injuring security forces member. Ten opposition parties 13 Oct submitted memorandum to governor expressing concern over lack of initiative to facilitate peace talks, criticising state and central govt for “path of non-intervention”.
Diplomatic spat with Canada deepened. After Canada in Sept alleged India had a hand in killing Sikh separatist leader, Canada 20 Oct announced withdrawal of 41 diplomats for being “in danger of having immunity stripped on an arbitrary date” by govt, which would risk their personal safety; Canadian PM Justin Trudeau same day blamed India for “making it unbelievably difficult for life as usual to continue”. U.S. and UK 21 Oct expressed concern at India’s decision to reduce staff and urged New Delhi to engage with Canadian investigation.
Talks with China ended without breakthrough. India and China 9-10 Oct held 20th round of corps commander-level talks at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on Indian side but failed to make progress on stand-off along Line of Actual Control (LAC); both sides agreed to continue dialogue. U.S. Pentagon 19 Oct released report assessing negotiations had “made minimal progress” and noting China’s ongoing efforts to “develop military infrastructure” along LAC.
Deadly explosion targeted Christians in south. Suspected improvised explosive device 29 Oct targeted prayer meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Ernakulam district, Kerala state (south), killing at least three and injuring dozens.
Opposition parties won first local election in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) since 2019, while India and Pakistan exchanged fire amid ongoing anti-militant security operations.
Kargil region of Ladakh Union Territory held council elections for first time since 2019. Coalition of Kashmir-based National Conference and national opposition Congress party 8 Oct won 22 seats on 26-member Kargil hill development council, while ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured only two seats; election was first to be held since BJP reorganised J&K into two union territories in 2019. National Conference claimed victory sent verdict that people remain opposed to reorganisation, while party leader Omar Abdullah questioned why regional elections had not been held in J&K, accusing Election Commission of “taking decision at the behest of the BJP”.
India and Pakistan traded fire as security operations continued. In ceasefire violation on 17 Oct, Pakistani and Indian border troops exchanged fire at Arnia sector of Jammu region, injuring two Pakistani guards; gunfire 27 Oct wounded four Pakistani civilians. Meanwhile, security forces 4 Oct killed two Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Kulgam district. Militant group The Resistance Front in Anantnag district same day fatally wounded teenager. Security forces 10 Oct killed two suspected Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) militants, who allegedly killed Kashmiri pandit recently in Shopian district. Security forces 26 Oct killed five LeT militants in Kupwara district.
Authorities sought to prevent rallies to support Palestinians. Following outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas (see Israel-Palestine), authorities 13 Oct closed largest mosque in J&K summer capital Srinagar to prevent pro-Palestine protests; citing security concerns, authorities also placed Kashmir’s chief cleric and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest after releasing him in Sept. Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti 21 Oct led protest in Srinagar against Israel’s offensive in Gaza. The Resistance Front 18 Oct vowed to attack Israeli interests.
In another important development. Govt 5 Oct banned pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom (JKDF) party for five years under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, citing its “anti-India” and “pro-Pakistan” activities; govt statement alleged JKDF was involved in terror activities with intention of creating “reign of terror”.
U.S. accused North Korea of supplying munitions to Russia, raising concern over pair’s military cooperation, while U.S., South Korea and Japan held first ever trilateral aerial military drills.
U.S. unveiled evidence pointing to North Korean weapons supplies to Russia. After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Russia’s Far East in Sept to meet Russian President Putin, fuelling speculation that Pyongyang was planning to supply munitions to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, U.S. intelligence 13 Oct revealed it had observed between 300 and 1,000 shipping containers travelling by boat from North Korean port Rajin to Russian military port Dunay before containers were transported to ammunition depot closer to Russia-Ukraine border. After visiting North Korea for talks with Kim Jong Un, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 20 Oct denied U.S. allegations, saying he “does not comment on rumours”. North Korean ambassador to Russia next day criticised U.S. deliveries of ATACMS ground-to-ground missiles to Ukraine. Concerns mounted regarding how Russia may compensate Pyongyang, as Kim Jong Un is likely seeking modern fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and assistance with satellite launch technologies banned under UN Security Council resolutions; military cooperation is likely to deepen Western antipathy toward dialogue and further sour relations on peninsula.
U.S., Japan and South Korea conducted military exercises. In their first ever trilateral aerial exercises, U.S., Japan and South Korea 22 Oct staged drill that involved U.S. strategic bombers and fighter aircraft from Japan and South Korea; exercises followed historic Aug summit between three allies where they agreed to deepen defence cooperation. U.S. and South Korea 25-27 Oct staged exercise to counter “Hamas-style” artillery attack on Seoul from North (see Israel-Palestine).
No diplomacy after release of U.S. private. After North Korea late Sept expelled U.S. military deserter Travis King, who returned to U.S. to face range of charges, U.S. State Dept 20 Oct said King’s release “will not lead” to any diplomatic engagement with North Korea.
Former PMs Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif sought to overturn disqualifications ahead of elections, sectarian clashes roiled Khyber Paktunkhwa, and govt sought forced returns of Afghan refugees.
Political parties intensified jockeying ahead of elections. Parties prepared for Jan 2024 elections, set to be one of most contested polls in Pakistan’s history; participation of two of main contenders – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif – depends on series of cases before courts. Khan, who is serving three-year prison sentence, 5 Oct approached Islamabad High Court to overturn his conviction in “Toshakhana” case for false statements and incorrect declarations on gifts received during his premiership, which disqualified him from contested elections; Islamabad High Court 27 Oct rejected Khan’s 11 Oct appeal against special court’s indictment in cipher case, relating to alleged unauthorised disclosure and illegal retention of diplomatic cable, as well as his bail plea. Caretaker provincial govts, particularly in Khan strongholds of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, placed curbs on PTI from holding public rallies. Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif 21 Oct returned to Pakistan after four-year exile in London in hope of becoming party’s candidate should he overcome legal hurdles, which include appeals against his corruption convictions in 2018. Islamabad High Court, which had given Nawaz protective bail, 26 Oct restored pending appeals.
Sectarian violence erupted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Shia-Sunni clashes 24-29 Oct involving heavy weaponry roiled Khyber Pakthunkhwa’s Kurram district, killing at least twenty, before trial elders reportedly struck ceasefire. Meanwhile, amid counter-insurgency operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, clashes 8-9 Oct killed two soldiers in Zhob district, 16 Oct killed two soldiers in North and South Waziristan district and 18-19 Oct killed three soldiers in two districts.
Govt announced plan to forcibly deport “illegal immigrants”. Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti 3 Oct set 1 Nov deadline for all illegal immigrants to leave Pakistan or face forcible deportation, with clear signals policy was aimed at Afghans. As thousands headed to Afghan border, Amnesty International 31 Oct warned 1.4m Afghan refugees at risk of “being uprooted” ahead of harsh winter months, putting women and girls in particular “in grave danger”.
China maintained military activity around Taiwan, while Taiwan President Tsai struck conciliatory tone as she entered final months of presidency.
Chinese jets and navy vessels continued operations around island. As of 29 Oct, Taiwan spotted 299 Chinese military aircraft around Taiwan, of which at least 100 either crossed unofficial “median line” or were detected in Taiwan’s de facto air defence identification zone; 23 aircraft 26 Oct crossed median line while China aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through Bashi Channel into Western Pacific. Taiwan reported 152 sightings of Chinese navy vessels in surrounding waters. U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon 12 Oct transited Taiwan Strait in international airspace.
Tsai urged “peaceful coexistence”, Beijing reiterated preconditions for talks. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen 10 Oct urged “peaceful coexistence” with island and called on Beijing to develop a “mutually acceptable foundation” for interactions; she stressed that her administration had maintained cross-strait status quo since 2016, which was critical to ensuring peace. In response, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that acceptance of the “1992 consensus” is precondition for both sides to engage in political dialogue. After opposition party Kuomintang (KMT)’s vice chairman Andrew Hsia late Sept said that KMT should not be labelled as “pro-China party” nor “unification party”, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office 11 Oct responded that remarks “undermine mutual trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait”.
In other important developments. Speaking in New York city during his U.S. visit, former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou 16 Oct said that U.S. should play role of peacemaker and broker talks between Taiwan and China; in response, Taiwan’s FM Joseph Wu slammed comments as having undermined Taiwan’s diplomacy. Former Australian PM Scott Morrison 11-12 Oct visited Taiwan to participate in govt-sponsored Yushan forum, in which he expressed his personal support for Taiwan to participate in international organisations, including “Quad” grouping of U.S., India, Japan and Australia, and called for “modernisation” of Australia’s “one China” policy.
Govt struck ceasefire agreement with FARC dissidents, marking further progress for President Petro’s “total peace” policy; armed and criminal violence persisted.
Govt secured ceasefire with FARC dissident faction. Petro administration 16 Oct agreed to three-month bilateral ceasefire with dissident Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) faction known as FARC-EP Estado Mayor Central (FARC-EMC), marking significant political win for govt. Agreement, which went into effect 17 Oct, included specific protocols protecting civilians and ensuring free conduct of local elections on 29 Oct; FARC-EMC had previously said it would not allow unfriendly candidates to run in its territory. While deal is national, sides agreed to define regions where FARC-EMC is present and concentrate implementation and monitoring there. Agreement also officially opened talks between govt and dissidents; negotiations aim to reach partial deals that can be implemented as political talks continue; sides agreed, for example, to undertake “transformation” projects aimed at improving conditions in priority areas, starting with Caño de Micay, Cauca department (south west), where some 1,800 civilians were recently displaced in confrontations between FARC-EMC and military. Meanwhile, govt-ELN negotiating table as of 10 Oct will function permanently in capital Bogotá to maintain progress on implementing agreements on participation, bilateral ceasefire and humanitarian relief.
Violence persisted in several regions. Despite diplomatic advances, clashes between armed and criminal groups continued. Notably, Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces clashed with ELN in attempt to dislodge guerrillas from gold mining areas in eastern Antioquia and southern Bolívar (north). FARC-EMC fought separate dissident faction Segunda Marquetalia in Telembí triangle area in Nariño department (Pacific Coast), displacing almost 500, according to early Oct UN report. Comandos de la Frontera criminal group 6-8 Oct held armed strike in Caquetá and Putumayo departments (south).
Governing party suffered setback at ballot box. Local elections 29 Oct dealt blow to Petro govt, with opposition candidates winning number of key seats, including in major cities and governorships. Authorities reported several incidents of vandalism and clashes between voters at polling centres, while eight candidates were murdered in months leading up to polls.
In another important development. Petro 31 Oct recalled ambassador to Israel over “massacre of the Palestinian people”.
Santo Domingo partially reopened border with Haiti, though tensions persisted.
Tensions with Haiti ran high after govt 15 Sept shut shared border, citing construction of canal by farmers on Haitian side of Massacre river (see Haiti). Santo Domingo 5 Oct said it was ready to restart decommissioned canal to collect water from Massacre River before it enters Haiti; Port-au-Prince 9 Oct denounced attempts to divert water as “unacceptable and hostile” and called for dialogue. Govt 11 Oct partially reopened border, including key Dajabón border crossing, to allow trade of essential products, but maintained ban on entry of Haitians. Haiti 12 Oct declined to follow Santo Domingo’s lead and reopen Dajabón, though it did open border gates at Elias Pina and Independencia, allowing some trade to resume. FM Roberto Alvarez same day attended Organisation of American States (OAS) extraordinary session, where he denounced “illegal construction” of Haiti’s canal.
Centre-right businessman Daniel Noboa defeated left-leaning rival in presidential election mired by escalating criminal violence.
Ecuadorians elected new president in run-off overshadowed by security crisis. Centre-right businessman and son of former presidential candidate Daniel Noboa 15 Oct won presidential election, defeating left-leaning rival Luisa González with around 52% of vote. Noboa has promised to “restore peace” by strengthening police force, deploying military to safeguard key infrastructure, beefing up community-based prevention and addressing socioeconomic drivers of violence.
Insecurity persisted at high levels. Violence against public officials continued ahead of election. Notably, armed assailants 5 Oct murdered prosecutor Genaro Oswaldo Reascos Bolaños in Jujan canton (Guayas province); unknown assailants 24 Oct shot and killed councillor from Citizen’s Revolution Movement party in Yaguachi canton, Guayas province; and unidentified assailants 28 Oct attacked former mayor of Duran city, killing his bodyguard. Meanwhile, authorities 6 Oct found six suspects in murder of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio dead in their prison cells in Litoral Penitentiary, Guayaquil city; police next day found seventh suspect dead in prison near Quito. President Lasso 7 Oct announced investigation into officer in charge of Litoral prison and removed several top security officials. Lasso 8 Oct extended state of emergency by one month.
Concerns about human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, under state of exception persisted.
Govt denied allegations of rights violations under state of exception. Legislative Assembly 12 Oct extended state of exception for 19th time, with VP of assembly claiming that human rights violations committed during measure were isolated incidents. Despite claims, civil society organisations and journalists continued to document cases of arbitrary arrests and torture, and shed light on conditions within prisons. Notably, coalition of human rights organisations 18 Oct estimated inmate population of 1,620 people per 100,000, translating into 148% overcrowding rate. Meanwhile, military 11 Oct sent 3,500 soldiers into Apopa municipality, San Salvador department (centre), amid ongoing efforts to root out gangs.
Women’s groups spotlighted sexual violence at hands of military and police. Following late Sept charges brought against six soldiers involved in rape of minor, military and police came under scrutiny for abuse of power and allegations of rape from within their ranks. Notably, several feminist groups 18 Oct protested in front of army headquarters, accusing military and police of using state of exception to act with impunity; they reported, for example, that one soldier had raped an eight-year-old girl in Bajo Lempa area, Usulutan department (south east).
In other important developments. Govt and opposition 3 Oct began campaigns for Feb 2024 general elections, which President Bukele is expected to win; Bukele 26 Oct officially registered as candidate despite constitutional ban on consecutive presidential re-election.
Violence against protesters opposing electoral interference after Bernardo Arévalo’s surprise victory left one dead.
Protests against judicial interference in electoral transition paralysed country. Amid continued efforts by Attorney General Consuelo Porras and Public Prosecutor’s Office to derail electoral transition, indigenous leaders, civil society and student organisations 2 Oct began protesting, establishing roadblocks throughout country and calling for resignation of Porras and other judicial officials; indigenous leaders called for nationwide strike. Blockages led to food and fuel shortages. Porras 9 Oct urged govt to act against “illegal” demonstrations and to clear roadblocks using force if necessary, while outgoing President Giammattei same day suggested protest leaders were receiving foreign funding. Riot police next day began clearing roadblocks and using tear gas. Interior Minister Napoleón Barrientos 16 Oct resigned after Porras requested his dismissal for not forcefully dispersing protests.
Unrest left one dead. In first casualty since protests began, unidentified gunmen 16 Oct killed one person and wounded two other protestors in Malacatan town, San Marcos department (west); videos on social media same day showed machete-carrying assailants attacking protesters in El Asintal township, Retalhuleu municipality (south west), allegedly in concert with police; Arévalo condemned violence.
International community reiterated its support for Arévalo. Arévalo 4 Oct restarted transition process, next day asked govt and demonstrators to engage in dialogue. Meanwhile, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 2 Oct called for “peaceful political transition”, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan 3 Oct promised to ensure accountability for “those who are trying to suffocate democracy”. Organization of American States head Luis Almagro 10 Oct described election interference as “shameful”. U.S. official 24 Oct said Washington could apply sectoral sanctions to “support democratic process”. U.S. and EU same day issued joint statement, expressing concern about “flagrant attempts to undermine” elections.
UN Security Council approved Kenya-led security mission to Haiti, assassination of gang leader sparked inter-gang fighting, and tensions with Dominican Republic remained elevated.
UN approved Kenyan-led multinational mission. UN Security Council 2 Oct authorised one-year Multinational Security Support mission to Haiti, to be reviewed after nine months; force will support Haitian police, including by planning and conducting joint operations, restoring security and creating conditions for free and fair elections. Kenya, who is leading mission, 7 Oct began selecting officers for mission; first group of 200 police officers 10 Oct started pre-mission training in Kenya. High Court of Kenya 9 Oct temporarily blocked deployment amid opposition pressure, 24 Oct extended ban for two weeks.
Assassination of gang leader triggered new waves of violence. Late Sept killing of gang leader from G9 coalition known as Tyson, allegedly by other members of coalition, sparked clashes in following weeks between gangs from G9 and Gpèp coalitions in capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. Notably, clashes 13-14 Oct erupted in La Saline district between at least three G9 gangs, trapping around 400 children and teachers in school. Members of 400 Mawozo gang operating in Croix-des-Bouquets 4 Oct set fire to Thomazeau police station, third such attack in two weeks. Attackers reportedly from Village-de-Dieu gang 18 Oct kidnapped High Council for Transition Sec Gen Antony Virginy Saint Pierre. Meanwhile, UNICEF 3 Oct warned of intensifying violence in Artibonite department, known as Haiti’s breadbasket; UN envoy 23 Oct warned “major crimes” had reached “record highs”.
Spat with Dominican Republic over canal construction continued. After Dominican Republic mid Sept shut border with Haiti over dispute about construction of canal by farmers on Haitian side of Massacre River, Dominican Republic 11 Oct partially reopened border to some commercial activity (see Dominican Republic).
In other important developments. Former senator 10 Oct pleaded guilty to role in 2021 assassination of President Moïse, while authorities 19 Oct arrested key suspect in Port-au-Prince and U.S. court 27 Oct sentenced retired Colombian army officer to life in prison. UN Security Council 19 Oct renewed sanctions regime on Haiti for one year.
Institutional crisis over Attorney General’s appointment continued, and govt extended state of exception for seventh time.
Congress remained paralysed over selection of new Attorney General. Ruling Libre Party and opposition National Party continued to disagree on candidate for Attorney General, prolonging legislative paralysis. Opposition, who have blocked govt’s choice for new Attorney General in response to amnesty law they claim benefits Libre party, 12 Oct accused Castro administration of using justice system to harass opposition and manipulate selection process; accusation came after anti-corruption unit 11 Oct indicted former presidents Juan Orlando Hernández and Porfirio Lobo (both from National Party) on fraud charges. Crisis hindered progress on creation of UN-led anti-corruption commission.
Stringent security measures remained in place as authorities lauded impact. Govt 6 Oct announced extension of state of exception until 17 Nov, with authorities claiming period Jan-Oct saw 2,306 homicides, down from 2,761 in same period in 2022. Military police commander Ramiro Fernando Muñoz 11 Oct announced that after three months of special measures, prisons (where criminal groups often coordinate their activities) were “no longer a problem”; experts said strategy of splitting gangs into different prisons appeared effective. Concerns about criminality and violence continued, however. Notably, Human Rights Commission report 8 Oct decried high levels of violence and impunity against women and environmental activists, while UN rapporteur on freedom of expression 27 Oct warned that violence and judicial harassment against activists and journalists is “alarmingly high”.
Criminal violence remained rampant, govt and security forces faced more backlash for high number of disappearances, and Hurricane Otis wrought destruction in Acapulco city.
Criminal violence, some of it politically motivated, remained high. Bodies of two pollsters from ruling MORENA party were found dead in Tabasco state 1 Oct, alongside message from Jalisco Cartel accusing MORENA and army of protecting rival Sinaloa Cartel in Chiapas. Guerrero state (south west) witnessed several high-profile attacks. Notably, unidentified gunmen 17 Oct killed prominent self-defence group leader Bruno Plácido and his driver in state capital Chilpancingo; and armed men 18 Oct attacked priest and victims’ rights activist Filiberto Velázquez in Tixtla town. Attacks came after 1,500 members of 66 communities from San Miguel Totolapan and Heliodoro Castillo municipalities 3 Oct announced creation of armed self-defence group amid state inertia. Three separate attacks in Coyuca de Benitez municipality (Guerrero), Tacámbaro town (Michoacán state) and San Miguel Cano (Puebla state) 23 Oct left at least 24 dead, including 13 police officers.
State faced more criticism for high number of disappearances. UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances 3 Oct lamented “alarming” number of disappearances in Mexico and “almost absolute impunity”. Group of experts investigating 2014 disappearance of students from Ayotzinapa teacher’s college 17 Oct released documents allegedly showing military had knowledge of crime as it unfolded; govt continued to deny military’s involvement or collusion. Meanwhile, search collective 2 Oct said clandestine burial site found in Tacámbaro likely contains more than the 51 bodies already found, largest identified in state in recent years; another collective 15 Oct reported discovery of clandestine human incineration site containing human remains in Tlaquepaque city, Jalisco state (centre).
In other important developments. Govt and U.S. officials 5 Oct held high-level security talks in Mexico City about fentanyl trafficking, migration and arms trafficking, and agreed to collaborate closely. Acapulco city (along Pacific Coast) was among areas worst hit by Hurricane Otis late Oct, raising fears that organised crime could capitalise on destruction and insufficient govt response to strengthen foothold in area.
Govt continued to crackdown on opposition and Catholic Church despite sustained international condemnation.
Repression of opposition and Catholic church continued. Following late Sept arrest of Brooklyn Rivera, only indigenous parliament representative, Rivera’s YATAMA party 1 Oct denounced detention and that of fellow politician Nancy Rodriquez. Authorities 3 Oct rescinded YATAMA’s legal status and closed two YATAMA-run radio stations. Govt 12 Oct allocated Rivera’s seat to ruling party politician. Despite Vatican’s late Sept call for diplomatic dialogue, attacks on Catholic church continued. Notably, police and paramilitary groups 1-9 Oct detained six Catholic priests. Govt 18 Oct freed six priests and exiled them to Rome following deal with Vatican. Authorities 24 Oct cancelled legal status of local chapter of Franciscan order and 16 NGOs, many of whom have ties to Catholic Church.
International community kept up pressure on Managua. EU Council 9 Oct extended measures including asset freeze and travel bans on 21 individuals and three entities until Oct 2024. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 10 Oct briefed Organization of American States (OAS) permanent council about situation in country, saying govt’s actions part of repressive strategy to consolidate power and silence critics. OAS next day condemned situation and called on govt to respect and protect human rights.
In another important development. Nicaraguan Central Bank 17 Oct announced reduction in imports and exports in first eight months of 2023 compared to same period in 2022.
In crucial step toward competitive presidential poll, govt and opposition reached deal to improve electoral conditions, leading to substantial U.S. sanctions relief.
Govt and opposition struck deal to improve electoral conditions. Maduro govt and group of opposition parties known as Unitary Platform reached agreement in Barbados on minimum conditions for 2024 presidential poll. Notably, agreement fixes vote for unspecified date in second half of 2024, includes update of electoral registry and commits govt-controlled National Electoral Council (CNE) to invite international ‘technical’ observation missions including from EU, UN and AU. Text says parties will promote “authorisation” of all candidates and political parties as long as they “meet requirements to participate in the presidential elections”; govt’s chief negotiator Jorge Rodríguez immediately interpreted clause as stating banned candidates cannot run, which would rule out opposition candidate (see below).
Washington provided ample sanctions relief. Welcoming agreement, U.S. 18 Oct issued broad authorisation of transactions involving Venezuela’s oil, gas and gold sectors, and removed ban on secondary trading of certain Venezuelan sovereign bonds, as well as debt and equity issued by state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela oil company. License lifting sanctions on oil and gas sector issued for six months, with Washington promising to renew it if Caracas complies with electoral agreement and releases U.S. and Venezuelan prisoners. Govt same day released five political prisoners.
María Corina Machado won opposition primary, govt later suspended results. Opposition 22 Oct held primary to select candidate for presidential election. Hardline politician María Corina Machado, currently banned from running for office, won overwhelmingly with 93% of vote after several prominent candidates pulled out of race in weeks before. Turnout was greater than expected, lending legitimacy to Machado’s candidacy for presidential election. Govt officials, however, alleged primary had been fraudulent and 24 Oct said opposition had inflated voter turnout; Attorney General Tarek William Saab next day announced criminal investigation into primary’s organisers. Govt-controlled Supreme Court 30 Oct suspended results of primary and ordered organisers to hand over all materials related to process; U.S. same day warned it would take action if govt fails to uphold commitments under electoral roadmap.
Authorities allowed gatherings in support of Gaza in first exemption to protest ban in place since 2021, while cracking down on dissolved Islamist party.
Israel-Hamas war triggered show of solidarity with Palestinians. Hours after Hamas launched attack against Israel (see Israel/Palestine), foreign ministry 7 Oct denounced Israeli violence against Gaza Strip, indirectly supporting Hamas offensive. Few hundred people 13 Oct took to the streets of capital Algiers to express solidarity with Palestinians; security forces dispersed crowds, citing ban on protest in place since 2021. Under popular pressure to review stance, govt in following days authorised demonstrations in support of Palestinians, and thousands 19 Oct gathered in several cities; marches took place under strict police surveillance as Algiers fears Islamists and 2019-2021 Hirak protest movement leaders could take advantage of pro-Palestinian sentiment to make political comeback.
Authorities cracked down on leaders of dissolved Islamist party. Security services early Oct arrested several senior officials of dissolved Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) party, including founder Ali Benhadjar after they criticised govt, thereby contravening provisions of Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation of 2006, under which former FIS members are required to refrain from making political statements; FIS notably said ruling elite’s “unlimited greed” and “incorrect policies” had led to “political deadlock” and “increasing levels of poverty”. Authorities around 12 Oct charged 16 FIS members with “subversion and undermining state institutions”.
Algeria’s mediation initiative in coup-hit Niger faced setback. Foreign ministry 2 Oct announced Niger coup leaders accepted Algerian mediation to resolve “political, institutional and constitutional crisis”, which promotes six-month transition back to constitutional order. Niamey next day denied claim, emphasised transition duration could only be decided by “inclusive national forum”, thereby asserting desire to maintain control over process. Algiers 9 Oct announced postponing preparatory discussions on mediation until “necessary clarifications have been obtained”.
Cairo engaged in mediation efforts to stop escalation of violence in Gaza Strip; President Sisi announced re-election bid.
Authorities took steps to stem fallout from Israel-Hamas war. Egyptian policeman 8 Oct killed two Israeli tourists and their Egyptian guide in Alexandria city one day after Hamas launched attack against Israel (see Israel/Palestine), fuelling fears in Cairo of possible “imitation effect”. As Israel in following days laid siege to Gaza Strip and launched airstrikes on enclave ahead of ground offensive, Sisi engaged in diplomatic efforts to pre-empt potential repercussions of Israel-Hamas war for Egypt, including mass influx of refugees from Gaza into Sinai Peninsula and reactivation of jihadist networks. Cairo 19 Oct announced agreement with Israel for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza Strip through Rafah border crossing, and some aid 21 Oct started flowing. Cairo 21 Oct also hosted peace summit to push for ceasefire, but conference ended without breakthrough.
Presidential hopeful forced to withdraw amid harassment by authorities. Sisi 2 Oct confirmed third term bid. Authorities continued to press ahead with organisation of presidential election in December, making it virtually impossible for opposition candidates to challenge incumbent. Prominent presidential hopeful, Ahmed Tantawi, 13 Oct said he had not reached 25,000 individual endorsements required to stand in election, after authorities deployed series of measures to block his supporters, including intimidation, arrests and hacking of phones. Tantawi’s withdrawal leaves only four candidates in presidential race, including Sisi.
Authorities displayed confidence that they can extract concessions from IMF. After authorities late Sept announced that International Monetary Fund (IMF) had accepted to merge first and second review of Egypt’s economic reform program, Bloomberg 13 Oct reported that Egypt is seeking to boost IMF loan from current $3bn to $5bn. Meanwhile, anti-govt demonstrations 3 Oct broke out in Marsa Matrouh town on Mediterranean coast amid deteriorating socio-economic conditions; police reportedly detained dozens of protesters.
Parliament passed election laws, but major obstacles to holding votes remained; deadly clashes erupted between rival forces in eastern city of Benghazi and western city of Gharyan.
Election laws continued to spark controversy. Eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR) early Oct approved revised versions of presidential and parliamentary election laws and referred them to High Electoral Commission for implementation. Mohamed Tekala, new head of rival Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC), in following days rejected laws and scrapped cooperation with HoR; some HSC members contended that move did not reflect HSC’s stance, but just that of Tekala-aligned members. In briefing to UN Security Council, UN Special Representative for Libya Abdoulaye Bathily 16 Oct welcomed “some progress” in electoral process, but noted most politically contentious issues remained unresolved, with mandatory second round of presidential election and linkage between presidential and parliamentary elections putting electoral process at “high risk of disruption”; Bathily also noted negotiations between rival authorities required to form new govt ahead of elections remain elusive.
Rival forces engaged in deadly clashes. Former Tripoli-based Defence Minister al-Mahdi al-Barghathi early Oct travelled to his home city of Benghazi, allegedly alongside 40 of his followers. Claiming that Barghathi’s return had not been pre-approved and could be first step in plot to mobilise anti-Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar forces in Benghazi, forces aligned with Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) 6 Oct attempted to arrest him in Salmani district, sparking firefight that allegedly left at least 17 people dead, including one of Barghathi’s sons; LNA also cut off all communication in Benghazi for over a week. Meanwhile, clashes 29 Oct erupted in western city of Gharyan between Tripoli-based govt-affiliated militia and forces loyal to militia leader Adel Daab (who was expelled from Gharyan in 2019 by forces affiliated to former Tripoli-based govt after he handed control of city to Haftar’s forces); local sources reported eight people killed and 27 injured.
In other important developments. After flooding in Sept devastated eastern city of Derna, anger continued to simmer among locals who blame disaster on poor governance. Total death toll still uncertain: local authorities confirmed retrieving over 4,000 bodies, but number of missing is unclear.
Rare prison break prompted govt to dismiss top intelligence officials; crowd torched Jewish mausoleum amid escalation of violence in Gaza Strip.
Five Islamist convicts broke out of prison. Five Islamist prisoners convicted of killing policemen and two secular politicians 31 Oct escaped from Mornaguia prison near capital Tunis. Interior ministry announced dismissing two top officials in intelligence services, while justice ministry sacked director of Mornaguia prison.
Crowd rampaged through Jewish site. As violence escalated in Gaza amid Israel-Hamas war (see Israel/Palestine), thousands 17 Oct gathered in centre of Tunis to condemn Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip and denounce bias of French and other Western media in favour of Israel, demanding departure of French ambassador; rioters same day burned down 16th century El Hamma Jewish mausoleum near Gabès city (south). President Saïed hours later summoned National Security Council, said “the battle today is against international Zionism”, not Jewish people. As protests continued, parliamentary committee 24 Oct approved draft law criminalising normalisation of relations with Israel.
Repression of dissent continued with detention of prominent opposition leader. Presidential guard and police 3 Oct arrested Abir Moussi, president of Free Patriotic Union opposition party, in front of presidential palace as she tried to file appeal against recent presidential decree related to local elections; judge 5 Oct ordered her imprisonment on suspicion of “assault intended to cause chaos”. Around 1,500 supporters of Moussi 15 Oct took to streets of Tunis to demand her immediate release.
Tunis handed back EU money, dealing a blow to controversial migration pact. After European Commission late Sept announced €127mn for Tunisia in support of implementation of “strategic partnership” on economy and migration signed in July, Saïed 2 Oct rejected funds, dismissing “derisory” amount running counter to July agreement. Commission 12 Oct confirmed that Tunis had returned €60mn in budget support. Meanwhile, 2024 draft budget released 16 Oct made no mention of International Monetary Fund deal, and Saïed 17 Oct dismissed economy minister.
UN Security Council renewed MINURSO mandate.
UN Sec Gen António Guterres’ annual report on Western Sahara 3 Oct highlighted UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s continuing efforts to relaunch UN-led peace process. UN Security Council 30 Oct voted to extend mandate of UN mission (MINURSO) for another year until 31 Oct 2024; resolution won support of 13 of 15 Security Council members, with Russia and Mozambique abstaining, as council remains divided on Western Sahara crisis.
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