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Democratic Republic of Congo
Five actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and none improved in April 2010, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch, released today.
Soldiers and protesters clashed in Bangkok in the worst violence to hit the Thai capital in almost two decades. At least 26 people, mostly Red Shirt protesters, have so far been killed in the fighting and the city remains tense. The Red Shirts are demanding the immediate dissolution of parliament and swift new elections but Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has refused. CrisisWatch warns that the situation could deteriorate further into an undeclared civil war if tensions are not eased soon.
Turmoil also shook Kyrgyzstan where President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in a violent rebellion. Unrest grew amid weeks of protests against painful utility price increases and popular discontent with the corruption that characterised Bakiyev’s rule. Things came to a head on 7 April when soldiers opened fire on protesters, leaving over 85 dead. An interim government has promised fresh elections and a referendum on a new constitution. But though the situation appeared to stabilise towards the end of the month, events have highlighted the fragility of authoritarian regimes in a region where state theft and repression are common.
April also saw heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula after the sinking of a South Korean ship in late March. 46 people were killed when the ship was hit by what investigators now say was most likely an external explosion. North Korea has denied involvement and South Korea has so far avoided directly blaming its neighbour. But it has warned that talks on the North’s nuclear program will be put in jeopardy if it is found to be responsible.
The security situation also deteriorated in India, where Maoist insurgents killed 76 paramilitary troops in their most deadly attack in decades, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where rebel activity and clashes with government soldiers destablised several provinces across the country’s east and north west.
CrisisWatch identifies a Conflict Risk Alert for Sudan after flawed elections which returned President Omar al-Bashir to power. With opposition parties contesting the results, and signs of increased violence in both the South and Darfur, there is now a heightened risk that the situation could worsen ahead of next year’s planned referendum on the South’s independence.
CrisisWatch also warns that mounting political tensions in Nepal could lead to new confrontation between the Maoists and the government. The Maoists on 1 May gathered over 150,000 supporters to stage the largest anti-government demonstration since leaving a unity government last year, and have called a nation-wide general strike from tomorrow. However an impending deadline of 28 May for the drafting of a new constitution could encourage the parties to reach a last-minute power-sharing deal.
President Nkurunziza 7 Apr fixed dates of communal, presidential, legislative and senatorial elections for 21 May, 28 June, 23 and 28 July respectively. Nkurunziza (ruling CNDD-FDD) designated party’s presidential candidate 24 Apr; 10 small parties 9 Apr formed coalition with CNDD-FDD for elections. EU announced deployment of electoral observers 4 Apr; EU SR for Great Lakes Roeland Van de Geer 22 Apr warned of risks of post-electoral violence. Teachers’ strike entered 7th week: negotiations stalled; govt 29 Apr banned strikes amid reports idle pupils an increasing strain on security. New SRSG and BINUB head Charles Petrie 19 Apr assumed position.
Govt ordered inquiry into 22 Apr death of journalist Bibi Ngota jailed for fraud 10 March; rights groups said Ngota was refused medical care.
President Bozizé 29 Apr announced postponement of elections without naming new date; opposition parties UFVN, MLPC, RDC, CFC 7 Apr had announced boycott unless delay to ensure completion of DDR, revision of voter lists; CFC suggested Jan 2011, said prepared to accept extension of Bozizé’s mandate. Bozizé and predecessor Patassé, currently only presidential candidates, 9 Apr reached “consensus” on elections; Patassé reportedly agreed to mediate with other parties. Electoral commission 14 Apr began revision of electoral lists; access hindered in many regions by armed groups, including APRD rebels. French declarations advising not to delay elections and giving implicit support to Bozizé criticised by local and French opposition parties. CPJP rebels 2-3 Apr occupied Ndélé (N East), demanded negotiations with govt and inquiry into death of leader Charles Massi. OCHA 29 Apr reported 400 fled to DRC after recent LRA attacks.
Govt-rebel negotiations encountered difficulties: govt 2 Apr met UFR rebels via Sudanese intermediaries; President Déby 8 Apr called UFR “mercenaries paid by Sudan”; UFR urged govt to show true commitment to dialogue. Govt 25 Apr launched attack against PFNR rebels near Chad-Sudan border; govt reported 100 rebels, 9 soldiers killed. Border reopened 13 Apr for first time in 7 years; part of 2010 agreement to improve relations. Opposition party CPDC 6 Apr denounced anomalies in voter lists for Nov 2010, Apr 2011 elections. New MINURCAT head Youssef Mahmoud assumed position 1 Apr; UN and Chad 23 Apr agreed on extension of MINURCAT mandate until Oct and reduction of troops to 1,900.
Protestors 9 Apr clashed with security forces in Moheli after parliament last month extended President Sambi’s term until Nov 2011. Opposition alleged recently arrived Libyan troops were mercenaries for Sambi; Sambi 13 Apr said they had come to “train” presidential guard; Govt-opposition talks unsuccessful; govt, opposition supporters have reportedly formed militias.
Following Feb-March electoral crisis, President Gbagbo and PM Soro 11 Apr agreed to install mechanism to establish legitimacy of electoral lists, unify state treasury, disarm ex-rebel Forces Nouvelles (FN) troops; no elections date set. Former PM Affi N’Guessan (ruling FPI) 13 Apr urged Soro to either disarm FN troops or resign; Soro spokesperson 14 Apr reiterated trust in Gbagbo’s commitment to agreement. UN group of experts on Côte d’Ivoire 12 Apr accused both N and S leaders of hindering reunification for economic, political advantages. Senegal President Wade 22-23 Apr visited Abidjan after request by Gbagbo; met all parties but talks produced no clear outcome. 3 killed 30 Apr in inter-FN clashes in Bouaké (North).
Security situation deteriorated in several provinces: Enyele rebels 4-5 Apr occupied Equateur provincial capital Mbandaka; 21 killed in clashes with FARDC and MONUC (3 UN personnel killed); MONUC and FARDC continued joint action against rebels despite MONUC-govt tensions. In Ituri district, Orientale province, FPJC and LRA 3 Apr attacked Komanda and Sambia respectively; Ituri civil society 12 Apr called for longer MONUC presence. 8 ICRC employees abducted 13 Apr by Mai Mai in S Kivu, released 16 Apr. UNSG 13 Apr recommended 2-phase MONUC drawdown: 2,000 troops to withdraw 30 June from west; eastern troops to withdraw after UN/govt periodic review; UN USG for humanitarian affairs 30 Apr warned against rushed MONUC withdrawal. Interior Minister Adolphe Lumanu 12 Apr said elections will be held in 2011; electoral commission announced revision of electoral lists by 19 May. Opposition 22 Apr accused govt of weakening provinces and alleged govt implication in recent wave of governors’ resignations in S Kivu, Maniema and Bandundu. Former PPRD/AMP party secretary general Vital Kamhere and opposition parties UDPS and MLC said opposed to constitutional revision suggested by experts committee in March; 12 Apr UDPS demonstration against revision dispersed by police in Kinshasa.
RSADO rebel group 24 Apr said they had killed 18 soldiers in 22 Apr joint attack with ENSF rebels in Kelay in south. U.S. President Obama 13 Apr announced freeze on assets of presidential advisor Yemane Ghebreab over alleged links with Somali insurgents. Ethiopia 15 Apr announced opening of new camp in Tigray to accommodate increase in Eritrean refugees.
5 reported killed in 24 Apr bomb blast in Adi Haro, near Eritrea border; local govt officials blamed “Eritrean agents” attempting to “sabotage” 23 May elections. Opposition activist beaten to death 7 Apr; opposition said 2nd politically motivated attack in 2 months; dismissed by govt. Ruling EPRDF 28 Apr accused opposition of planning election-related violence, 2 Apr accused Voice of America of trying to destabilise country ahead of vote amid reports broadcast jamming expanded. EU 16 Apr launched electoral observer mission. 3 killed 5 Apr by unidentified gunmen in Ogaden; ONLF rebels denied involvement. Other Ogaden rebel group, UWSLF, 9 Apr announced laying down arms.
Interim President Konaté 21 Apr removed armed forces chief Col. Oumar Sanoh, perceived ally of former junta leader Dadis Camara; 22 Apr removed navy, air force heads. Followed 1 Apr arrest of several soldiers accused of inciting mutiny at army training camp in Kaleya. Interim PM Dore 28 Apr warned Dadis supporters were secretly planning his return to country. Interim govt 29 Apr restored power to Supreme Court. ECOWAS SR for security sector reform (SSR) in Guinea Lamine Cissé 14 Apr said process on track but overall reform would take “at least 2 years”. Govt minister Nawa Damey 12 Apr urged parties to end “unauthorised demonstrations” in Conakry; followed series of opposition protests in capital. Rights groups pushed for 27 June elections to go ahead as planned.
Situation appeared to stabilise after group of soldiers led by deputy army chief Antonio Ndjai 1 Apr briefly detained PM Gomes, arrested army chief Zamora Induta and 40 military officers, and brought former navy chief Bubo Na Tchuto (suspected leader of 2008 failed coup attempt) back into military ranks. President Sanha 1 Apr said situation “calm”, events caused by “confusion between soldiers”. After 2 Apr talks with Sanha, Gomes said he would continue in post. ECOWAS 2 Apr expressed concern but stopped short of describing incident as a “coup”. Joint ECOWAS, EU, UN mission arrived 4 Apr for talks with Sanha, Gomes and Ndjai; called for security sector reform. Reports Induta seriously ill in custody. U.S. 9 Apr imposed sanctions on Na Tchuto and air force head Ibraima Papa Camara for alleged involvement in narcotics trafficking.
Parliament 1 Apr approved draft constitution, key part of 2008 power-sharing deal, to be put to referendum within 90 days; draft provides greater checks on presidential powers and more regional devolution, follows numerous attempts to rewrite constitution over last 2 decades. Chief mediator Kofi Annan 1 Apr welcomed last month ICC approval of formal investigation into 2007-8 post-election violence, urged all parties to cooperate with investigators. Govt 1 Apr said would not accept any more captured Somali pirates to be tried in Kenyan courts.
28-30 Apr talks hosted by South African President Zuma between de facto leader Rajoelina and former President Ravalomanana failed to produce agreement on breaking political deadlock; talks to resume mid May. Former Presidents Ratsiraka, Zafy also attended. Army 12 Apr presented govt with end Apr deadline to produce roadmap for solution to crisis. 17 people accused of fomenting a coup and arrested 18 Apr alleged they had been paid by Ravalomanana; his supporters rejected accusation as attempt derail talks. Armed Forces Minister Gen. Rakotonandrasana sacked early Apr for allegedly planning coup after March meeting with top military officials.
Mali, neighbours 21 Apr opened joint command headquarters in Algeria to coordinate efforts to counter growing al Qaeda threat (see Algeria). Mali authorities mobilised troops after French tourist and Algerian driver kidnapped 20 Apr in Niger; Nigerien authorities suspected hostages moved to Mali; driver released 30 Apr in Mali. Italian couple held in north by AQIM since Dec released 16 Apr.
CSRD junta 7 Apr appointed 131-member National Transitional Council to assist with organisation of elections; Council 24 Apr recommended elections by 26 Dec and transition limited to 12-months; junta 25 Apr reiterated commitment to restore democracy. UN USG for humanitarian affairs John Holmes 27 Apr discussed imminent food crisis with CRSD President Salou Djibo and PM Mahamadou Danda. Junta 2 Apr sacked 20 top officials of state-owned companies and released 14 aides to ousted President Tandja arrested in late March.
Near-daily violence in North after Jan, March religious clashes which left hundreds dead: 3 killed in 5 Apr fighting between Muslims, Christians in Jos; pastor and wife killed 13 Apr in Muslim-majority Bauchi state; several killed in other clashes, attacks. Police 1 Apr charged 20 people in connection to March violence; more than 160 arrested. Acting President Jonathan continued effort to consolidate position: 6 Apr swore in new cabinet after senate 31 March confirmed his 38 nominees; included 13 members of old cabinet dissolved by Jonathan in March. Muslim, Christian leaders granted brief access to ailing President Yar’Adua 2 Apr, 5 Apr in 1st such visits since Feb return from 3-month hospitalisation abroad; critics said visits intended to undermine Jonathan. 19 senior members of ruling PDP party calling for internal reforms suspended late month; PDP chairman Vincent Ogbulafor 26 Apr charged with fraud. Former military leader Ibrahim Babangida announced plans to contest 2011 presidential election. Jonathan 28 Apr sent controversial electoral commission chairman Maurice Iwu on immediate leave. Several kidnappings in Niger Delta during month.
Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire (UDF) arrested 21 Apr, charged with “divisionism” and “terrorism”; released 22 Apr but banned from leaving Kigali. 3 FDLR arrested 24 Apr reportedly admitted plotting against regime with Ingabire; DRC-based FDLR 28 Apr issued statement denying links to Ingabire. Senate 23 Apr called for investigations against Bernard Ntaganda, former president of opposition PS Imberakuri, for inflammatory speech, hate propagation. President Kagame 12 Apr replaced defence minister Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi with army chief Gen. James Kabarebe; 2 RPF veterans arrested 20 Apr: Gen. Emmanuel Karenzi Karake for immoral conduct and Gen. Charles Muhire for corruption and misuse of office. Govt 15 Apr suspended 2 independent newspapers for offending head of state, inciting insubordination, intimidating public; local rights group criticised decision. Govt 12 Apr announced plans to close Gacaca tribunals 30 June; ICTR resumed trial of Callixte Nzabonimana and called for extradition of Felicien Kabuga reportedly in Kenya.
Deadly clashes between govt forces and Islamist militants in Mogadishu continued. Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a (ASWJ) militia said they had fought alongside army in first instance of direct cooperation with govt forces. At least 30 reported killed in 1 May blasts at Mogadishu mosque; no immediate claim of responsibility. UN 13 Apr urged govt forces, AU troops, insurgents not to shell densely populated areas. Al-Shabaab 11 Apr announced it had seized Gal’ad in centre of country after clashes with ASWJ, which last month signed power-sharing deal with govt, left 11 dead. Late month reports al-Shabaab advancing on pirate strongholds in centre, north. Parliamentary crisis continued: MPs tried to force speaker to step down; first parliament session since Dec scheduled for 18 Apr postponed for “technical reasons”. EU 7 Apr launched mission to train 2,000 govt soldiers. EU Naval Force 1 Apr reported recent surge in pirate activity.
National Electoral Commission (NEC) 13 Apr announced presidential elections to be held in June, after 2-year delay, as ruling UDUP party and opposition parties signed electoral code of conduct. NEC 28 Apr said voter list completed. Court 14 Apr sentenced to death 3 people accused of Nov-Jan string of bomb attacks on security forces.
1st multiparty elections since 1986 began 11 Apr amid widespread confusion: SPLM late March, early Apr announced boycott of national presidency race, parliamentary polls in most of North (including Darfur), citing govt campaign restrictions, flawed registration. Many other opposition parties also boycotted. Reports of widespread irregularities, alleged rigging and sporadic violence. National Election Commission (NEC) 13 Apr announced 2-day extension of voting till 15 Apr, said pleased with overall turnout. Presidential results released 26 Apr: President Bashir re-elected with 68% of vote; South Sudan President Kiir re-elected with 93%. Ruling NCP party won gubernatorial seats in all northern states except Blue Nile; SPLM candidates won 9 of 10 gubernatorial seats in South. NCP said results sent message Bashir “legal” and “representative”. SPLM 22 Apr promised to work with Bashir’s govt, despite irregularities, in order to “avoid war”. Carter Center, EU said elections fell short of “international standards” but still a significant step. UNSG Ban 27 Apr noted “reported irregularities”, boycotts but also lack of major violence, welcomed efforts by “ruling parties” to engage opposition. Failed gubernatorial candidate Gen. George Athor denied ordering 30 Apr attack on Jonglei army base that left 8 dead. 58 reported killed in 23 Apr clashes between Darfuri nomads and South Sudan Army. MSDP rebel group 14 Apr claimed responsibility for 11 Apr abduction of 4 UNAMID peacekeepers in Darfur; released late month. UNSC 29 Apr extended UNMIS mandate till Apr 2011, tasked it with “lead role” in assisting 2011 referendum preparations.
LRA political commissar Okello “Mission” arrested 31 March; Okello alleged Sudanese govt supported LRA with food, medicine and passage through Darfur; Okello claimed LRA chief Kony in Eastern DRC, estimated 200 LRA troops remained. Karimojong Jie warriors clashed 8 Apr with army during cattle raid in Kaabong (North); reported casualties vary between 14 and 41.
President Mugabe 17 Apr called for end to political, racial violence as country marked 30 years independence. Calls for new elections increased after “package of measures” announced by South African President Zuma in March failed to break impasse over implementation of Global Political Agreement (GPA). President Mugabe 15 Apr dismissed reports controversial Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act to be suspended after PM Tsvangirai described law as “null and void”; stock market has fallen 10% since law’s introduction. Prosecutors 12 Apr said new grain-hoarding charges against MDC-T Treasurer Roy Bennett announced in March had been dropped. Govt, EU to schedule new talks after Brussels visit by joint MDC/ZANU-PF delegation campaigning for sanctions removal postponed 21 Apr. UNICEF 7 Apr estimated 78% of population “absolutely poor”; 55% living below food poverty line; WHO 16 Apr reported measles outbreak had spread to 48 of country’s 60 districts.
Tensions between President Karzai, West eased after Karzai 17 Apr agreed to appoint new head of Independent Election Commission, 2 foreigners to Electoral Complaints Commission; new UNAMA head Staffan de Mistura 17 Apr said he would now urge international donors fund Sept parliamentary elections. NATO 23 Apr announced plan for conditions-based handing over of security to Afghan forces, no timetable set; govt said 4-5 years needed. U.S. govt report 9 Apr criticised main Afghan corruption oversight body CAO as “inept, inadequate” and subject to executive interference. String of suspected Taliban attacks in Kandahar province ahead of planned ISAF summer offensive; UN 27 Apr closed Kandahar mission, evacuated foreign staff. Govt 21 Apr announced delay of “peace jirga” to discuss possible talk with Taliban until end May.
In first convictions since Feb 2009 BDR border patrol force mutiny, courts sentenced 29 BDR members 7 April, 57 members 18 April to up to 7 seven years prison; some 3,500 members still on trial. Police 20 Apr arrested head of Hizb ut-Tahrir militant group.
Maoists 6 Apr killed 76 paramilitary troops in Danteweda district, Chhattisgarh ambush; worst single attack since Maoist insurgency began, raising concerns about effectiveness of govt’s large scale anti-Maoist “Operation Green Hunt” launched Nov 2009. Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram 7 Apr rejected opposition calls for deploying army against rebels, but did not rule out airstrikes. Maoists 4 Apr killed 10 police in Orissa landmine attack.
India, Pakistan PMs 29 Apr agreed on formal steps towards resuming peace talks after meeting at Bhutan SAARC summit, suspended since Nov 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. At least 4 soldiers, 17 militants killed early month in southern Rajouri district clashes. Police 4 Apr killed 1 militant in Pulwana district following failed assassination attempt of local Congress party leader.
Anti-terror operations continued: 6 arrested 11 Apr in Medan, linked to recent anti-terror actions in Aceh; 4 killed, 4 arrested in 12, 14 Apr raids in Aceh. 3 dead, over 130 injured in 14 Apr clashes in North Jakarta between public order officers (Satpol PP) and protestors trying to prevent alleged attempted demolition of religious site; hundreds of protestors 15 Apr called for review of Satpol PP. In Papua, 2 workers killed 13 Apr in Puncak Jaya, allegedly by Free Papua Movement fighters. 3 police officers injured, 25 civilians detained 15 Apr following tribal clashes in Kwamki Lama, Mimika. Police 22 Apr detained 20 West Papua National Authority demonstrators, protesting against recent Papua-Jakarta dialogue initiative, in Manokwari. Local elections in 32 districts postponed 18 Apr following disputes around Papua Customary Council decision to limit candidacy to indigenous Papuans.
South Korean, international investigators 16 Apr said March sinking of S Korean patrol boat, which killed 46, most likely caused by external explosion; N Korea 17 Apr denied involvement. S Korean FM Yu Myung-hwan 18 Apr said that if NK involved, case would be taken to Security Council and NK nuclear talks would be unlikely to resume. NK 23 Apr seized 5 tourist properties owned by S Koreans in NK Mount Kumgang; followed Seoul suspension of tours to area after NK military 2008 shooting of S Korean tourist. 2 NK alleged spies arrested 20 Apr in S Korea for plotting murder of high-ranking NK defector. U.S. citizen sentenced 7 Apr to 8 years labour for entering NK illegally.
10 reported killed, 94 wounded in 3 Rangoon bomb blasts during 15 Apr New Year celebrations raising fears of election violence; no claims of responsibility. Followed by series of blasts at controversial hydropower project in north 17 Apr; unconfirmed reports 4 workers killed. 1 reported killed in 28 Apr blast in Kayah state. Detained opposition NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi 7 Apr said she was pleased with party’s March decision to boycott elections; poll date not yet set. PM Thein Sein, some 20 other junta figures 26 Apr resigned from army in order to contest election as civilians, 29 Apr applied to register new party with electoral commission.
Tensions rose over formation of new unity govt, constitution: political confrontation likely, but impending 28 May constitution deadline could encourage last-minute power-sharing deal. Ruling CPN-UML party 15 Apr admitted impossible to complete new charter by 28 May deadline; PM Madhav Nepal called for extension of at least 6 months. CPN-UML, NC agree with Maoists on formation of new unity govt; but disagreement on the position of PM: Maoists continued calls for PM Nepal’s resignation and own leader Prachanda to head new govt. Maoists 26 Apr announced “indefinite” nationwide strike from 2 May in protest against govt; 1 May staged 150,000-strong anti-govt demonstration in Kathmandu, largest protests since leaving govt. Controversy over army integration continued: Maoists 16 Apr rejected govt’s offer of reintegrating only 3,000 of total 19,600 ex-Maoist combatants into National Army.
18th Constitutional Amendment passed parliament 8 Apr, senate 15 Apr in unanimous votes: repeals presidential powers accrued under military regimes, including to dismiss elected govts, appoint army chief; strengthens parliament, stabilises federation by devolving power to provinces. At least 5 killed in mid-month ethnic clashes in Hazara region over NWFP being renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as part of constitutional amendment. Scores killed in string of suicide attacks across country, including 43 at Awami National Party rally in Lower Dir district 5 Apr; 8 at U.S. consulate in Peshawar 5 Apr. Thousands displaced by continued army operation against militants in Orakzai, Kurram Agencies; UN estimates some 210,000 displaced from regions since Nov 2009, 10 Apr warned may have to partially end IDP aid due to lack of funds. 15 Apr UN report on ex-PM Bhutto’s Dec 2007 assassination criticised military govt and intelligence agencies for inadequate security, destroying evidence at crime scene, but did not attribute responsibility to any party. Intelligence service (ISI) officials late month reportedly admitted Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud still alive, despite earlier claims he was killed in Jan U.S. drone strike.
MILF, govt continued negotiations 18-21 Apr; joint statement claimed progress on cooperation to return refugees, clear unexploded ordnance. 12 killed, including 3 militants and 3 soldiers, in 13 Apr Abu Sayyaf attack on Isabela City, Basilan. 3 Abu Sayyaf militants killed in 16 Apr skirmish. Fresh troops deployed 22 Apr to Basilan to expand peacekeeping campaign. 7 soldiers wounded in New People’s Army (NPA) ambush 6 Apr; further clashes 10, 11 Apr in Davao City killed 7. Campaigning for 10 May elections continued with several candidates (including frontrunners Aquino, Estrada and Villar) bidding for presidency: election monitors 10 Apr said there had been 1,903 violations of nationwide election gun ban; military 30 April launched “red alert” requiring all personnel to remain on duty for election period. Sarangi governor escaped bomb attack 26 Apr in Santos City. In case of Nov Maguindanao massacre, Justice Secretary Agra 17 Apr dropped charges against Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and Mamasapono Mayor Akwadi Ampatuan; president’s office asked Agra to review decision; 11 suspects 21 Apr pleaded not guilty to 57 counts of murder in court.
Landslide victory for ruling UPFA coalition in 8 Apr parliamentary elections: won 144 of 225 seats, 6 short of two-thirds majority required to amend constitution. Campaign saw widespread govt misuse of state resources and media, but observers said voting generally free and fair; Nawalapitiya, Trincomalee districts revoted 20 Apr due to polling day violence. Main Tamil party TNA won 14 seats despite low turnout in northeast, main bastion of support; rights groups said many IDPs denied right to vote. Ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka, still in military custody following Feb arrest, won seat in Colombo under opposition DNA party; 1 of 2 court martials against Fonseka resumed 19 Apr. Ruling SLFP party veteran D.M. Jayaratne sworn as new PM 21 Apr. UN mid-month reported some 80,000 IDPs remain in camps in north; further 10,000 suspected LTTE supporters detained without access to lawyers or ICRC.
Worst violence in capital in 18 years. 25 killed, hundreds injured during govt attempts to remove opposition “red shirt” protestors (a group of mostly rural and urban poor including many supporters of former PM Thaksin) from central Bangkok 10 Apr. Followed month of protests. PM Abhisit 7 Apr declared state of emergency after “red shirts” briefly stormed parliament. Govt moved hundreds of soldiers into Bangkok business district 19 Apr, 25 Apr threatened to retake “red shirt” areas. 1 killed, 85 wounded in 22 Apr grenade attacks; govt blamed protestors; “red shirts” denied involvement. “Red shirts” 23 Apr called for parliament to be dissolved within 30 days; 25 Apr blocked roads leading to Bangkok. 1 soldier dead, 18 people wounded in 28 Apr clash. Abhisit earlier replaced Deputy PM Suthep with Army Chief Gen Anupong Paojinda as head of security operations after failure to arrest key protest heads. Govt under increased pressure after Election Commission 12 Apr recommended ruling Democrat Party be dissolved over allegations it received illegal donations. Army chief Anupong Paojinda 12 Apr said “red shirt” problem would be resolved when parliament dissolved. Thai, Cambodian troops briefly exchanged fire along border; no casualties reported. 1 policeman killed, dozens injured in 21 Apr attack in Pattani in restive South; 6 killed in separate attacks.
UN 16 Apr handed over former control of policing in Baucau, 2nd largest city and southern Ainaro district on 12 April. Prosecutor-General 9 Apr appealed against March acquittal of Australian Angelita Pires on charges of conspiracy to kill political leaders in 2008.
In 24 Apr statement on anniversary of 1915 Ottoman killings of Armenians, U.S. President Obama avoided term “genocide”, described events using Armenian phrase “Meds Yeghern” meaning “Great Calamity”.
Standoff over Oct 2009 rapprochement protocols between countries worsened. Armenia 22 Apr suspended ratification procedure of protocols. Turkish PM Erdogan over month reiterated ratification by Turkey contingent on Armenia-Azerbaijan agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh (N-K). Turkish FM Davutoglu 19 Apr said border to remain closed until protocols are ratified. Armenian President Sarkisian early month opposed establishment of historical sub-commission envisioned by protocols before Turkey recognises 1915 massacres of Armenians as genocide. Continued stalemate followed 12 Apr meeting between Erdogan and Sarkisian on sidelines of nuclear security summit in Washington, DC; U.S. President Obama talks with Sarkisian 12 Apr, Erdogan 13 Apr. Sarkisian 20 Apr discussed Armenian-Turkish normalisation and N-K in meeting with Russian President Medvedev.
Baku accused U.S. govt of pro-Armenian bias and threatened to reconsider ties in response to U.S. decision not to invite country to 12-13 Apr Washington DC nuclear summit, attended by Turkish and Armenian leaders, especially given talks on normalisation between countries on sidelines; cancelled 19 Apr planned joint command military exercises with U.S. Over month, Azerbaijan, Turkey exchanged high-level visits, including 19 Apr trip to Baku by Turkish FM Davutoglu, to discuss terms of Turkish-Armenian rapprochement. European Court of Human Rights 22 Apr ruled govt should release and pay damages to imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev serving 8+ year sentence for defamation, instigation of terror, and tax evasion.
10 ETA suspects arrested by Spanish police, 1 by French police 14 April; suspects accused of passing information between ETA prisoners and leaders, compiling list of targets including Spanish internal affairs minister Rubalcaba. Protests in San Sebastian, Bilbao 18 April against arrests. ETA blamed French police for shootout that killed French police officer 17 March. 4,500-5,000-strong demonstration in Bayonne 17 Apr to demand information on 2009 disappearance and unexplained death of ETA militant.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka 25 Apr rebuked Russia for not paying for its military bases in country, threatened to boycott 8 May Collective Security Treaty Organisation meeting.
At meeting in Tallinn, Estonia 22-23 Apr, NATO foreign ministers invited Bosnia to join Membership Action Plan, NATO’s pre-accession programme. After 6-7 Apr meetings with Bosnia’s leaders, U.S. Deputy Sec State Steinberg and Spanish FM Moratinos reported “constructive” atmosphere but no tangible results in overcoming political crisis, implementing constitutional reform. Following unprecedented late month trilateral meeting in Istanbul, Bosnian Presidency Chairman Silajdzic and Serbian President Tadic signed declaration pledging to improve relations, settle disputes between countries. In address to Bosnian parliament 14 Apr Croatian President Josipovic apologised for Croatia’s wartime policies, later visited Ahmici village, infamous site of 1993 massacre of over 100 Bosnian Muslims by Croatian forces.
18 Apr Turkish Cypriot presidential elections won by hardline nationalist and current PM Dervis Eroglu with 50.4% of vote, defeating pro-compromise incumbent Talat with 42.9%. Despite Eroglu’s 19 Apr pledge to continue reunification talks with Greek Cypriots, victory of Eroglu, known to oppose talks and favour independence for Turkish Cypriots, described as setback to peace talks by Greek Cypriot and Greek govts. Turkish PM Erdogan called for resolution of Cyprus issue by end 2010; EU also urged both parties to continue talks. Reunification talks set to resume late May between Eroglu and Greek Cypriot President Christofias.
Russia 7 Apr signed 49-year renewable agreement with South Ossetia (SO) on stationing permanent Russian military base in territory; 5 Apr adopted joint border protection agreements with SO, Abkhazia assuming authority to secure their borders. Abkhaz de-facto leader Bagapsh 29 Apr stated international observers will not be allowed in Abkhazia. Campaigning for 30 May Georgian local elections started early Apr. Poll due to elect for 1st time mayor of Tbilisi, previously government appointee.
In 11 Apr meeting with U.S. President Obama on sidelines of nuclear summit in Washington, President Nazarbayev granted U.S. overflight rights for military cargo to troops in Afghanistan; Obama praised country’s leadership on nuclear non-proliferation; raised human rights issues, case of rights activist Yevgeny Zhovtis; did not commit to convening OSCE summit. Kazakh Supreme Court 26 Apr upheld 3 Sept sentence against Zhovtis, said further appeals possible. President Nazarbayev 27 Apr blamed ousting of President Bakiyev in Kyrgyzstan on poverty in country, praised Kazakhstan’s stability, evolutionary democratisation.
UNSG Ban early month expressed concern that strategy by International Civilian Office and Pristina to integrate northern Kosovo under central govt and marginalise Serbian parallel structures could raise ethnic tensions. Govt late month announced Serbian citizens as of next year to cross Kosovo border only with international passports, rather than state ID cards as at present. Kosovo’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority 23-24 Apr disabled over 20 base stations of Serbian telecom operators in central Kosovo causing disruption of phone services, mass protests in Serb enclave of Gracanica; followed by blasts at 2 installations of Kosovo-based mobile operator in north. EULEX 28 Apr raided Ministry of Transportation, all private residences connected to Minister as part of massive anti-corruption investigation related to 2007-2009 road construction tenders. 16 Romanian EULEX gendarmes caught smuggling large quantities of cigarettes and alcohol out of Kosovo dismissed from mission 22 Apr. Swaziland 12 Apr, Vanuatu 28 Apr recognised Kosovo’s independence.
Violent rebellion ousted President Bakiyev from power 7 Apr following escalation of protests against energy utility increases gaining momentum over March. Protesters 6 Apr seized governor’s offices in northwest town of Talas. Security forces in Bishkek 7 Apr opened fire in clashes with opposition leaving over 85 dead, hundreds injured. Protesters same day stormed presidential offices causing President Bakiyev to flee, first to home region in south, then Kazakhstan and finally to exile in Belarus. Widespread looting in central Bishkek followed riots. Interim govt of leading opposition figures promised 27 June national referendum on new constitution, possibly creating parliamentary republic; new presidential, parliamentary elections in Oct; 13 Apr stripped president of immunity, opened criminal cases against Bakiyev and relatives for responsibility in 7 Apr violence. Violent clashes with land grabbers on outskirts of Bishkek 19 Apr left 5 dead. In south, Bakiyev supporters continued agitating for his return. Russian PM Putin contacted new govt in 8 Apr call; later Russian statements suggested scepticism about govt’s viability. U.S. Assistant Sec State Blake 14 Apr visited country to “express support”. Interim govt 13 Apr announced lease of U.S. Manas air base to be automatically extended after July expiration.
Series of trials, arrests over month in connection with Apr 2009 post-election violence resulting in at least 1 killed, hundreds arrested and allegedly abused in detention. Former Interior Minister Papuc and Chisinau’s former Police Commissioner Botnari went on trial 20 Apr on charges of “negligence with serious consequences”. Following 5 Apr release by acting President Ghimpu of video of police abuse of protesters, authorities 15 Apr arrested Chisinau’s former police chief on charges of abuse of power. Low-ranking policeman charged early month with killing 27-year-old demonstrator. Ruling coalition 15 Apr submitted to Constitutional Court proposal for constitutional revision to allow direct election of country’s president.
Minsk group co-chairs visited Armenia, Azerbaijan and N-K over month; visit included talks with former Armenian President Kocharian, featured introduction of new Russian mediator, Igor Popov. Azerbaijani President Aliyev 14 Apr repeated endorsement of Madrid reconciliation framework and accused Armenia of obstructionism. Armenia and Azerbaijan early month submitted to UNSG Ban rival accusations of cease-fire violations on N-K line of contact.
Govt early month announced its upcoming 6-month chairmanship of Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers under name “Macedonian Presidency 2010” prompting new row in Athens-Skopje name dispute over use of adjective “Macedonian”. Greece saw decision as provocation, insisted on provisional use of “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Presidency 2010”. Police 27-28 Apr seized large caches of weapons near border with Kosovo after shootout with men guarding arsenal; latter fled to Kosovo where police 27 Apr uncovered more weapons, arrested 7 for weapons smuggling.
Policing and justice powers 12 Apr devolved to power-sharing govt; David Ford of cross-community Alliance Party appointed justice minister following deal between Sinn Fein and DUP. Explosion on same day outside MI5 Belfast HQ, claimed by Real IRA; none wounded. Bomb defused 13 Apr outside police station in Newtownhamilton, Co. Armagh. Bomb exploded outside same police station 23 Apr; 2 injured. Police confiscated 2 pipe bombs Lurgan 28 Apr; 2 suspected dissidents arrested. Police 30 Apr said stepping up security against dissident republican threat to disrupt 6 May UK election.
President Medvedev 1 Apr visited Dagestan to outline counterterrorism strategy in aftermath of 29 March twin suicide bombings on Moscow metro, 31 March twin suicide bombings in Kizlyar, Dagestan. 12 Apr counterterrorism operation in Karabudakhkent district targeting suspects in metro bombings killed 2 rebels, left 3 interior ministry troops dead, 7 wounded. In Dagestan, 1 policeman killed 3 Apr; 2 bombings on railroad 4 Apr stopped rail traffic through region; 2 suspected militants killed 15 Apr in operation in Babayurtovsky district; 2 policemen killed 20 Apr during road patrol in Makhachkala; 2 policemen killed, 7 injured 29 Apr in suicide attack at security checkpoint. Head of criminal investigation department of Kabardino-Balkaria’s interior ministry killed by car bomb in Nalchik 11 Apr. In Ingushetia, female suicide bomber 9 Apr attacked security forces during counterterrorism raid killing 1; suicide bombing of police headquarters in capital Magas 5 Apr killed 2 policemen; 2 officers killed, 13 injured 5 Apr in 2 explosions outside police station in Karabulak.
Austria’s public prosecutor 27 Apr announced that investigation into 2009 murder of Chechen exile Umar Israilov concluded President Kadyrov ordered botched kidnapping that led to murder. Israilov in 2006 filed complaint to European Court of Human Rights accusing Kadyrov of abductions, torture, murder as part of counterinsurgency effort. President Kadyrov 7 Apr said deployment of police, FSB and other personnel to Chechnya from elsewhere in Russia unnecessary, counterproductive. Govt-sponsored celebrations 16 Apr marked anniversary of lifting of counterterrorism operation regime as violence continued. 1 sergeant of Chechen special task force killed 16 Apr in shoot-out in Urus-Martan district; 3 servicemen killed 15 Apr in explosions in Achkhoi-Martan district; 1 serviceman killed 10 Apr in explosion in Urus-Martan. 1 suspected militant killed 12 Apr in Naursk district.
During 14 Apr visit, Council of Europe SG Jagland praised reforms, announced decision to end post-accession supervision of Serbia. During 7-8 Apr visit to Belgrade U.S. Deputy Sec State Steinberg commended Serbia’s EU progress, cooperation with Hague Tribunal, resolution condemning Srebrenica massacre.
During early month visit, UNSG Ban expressed concern over dispute on construction of Rogun hydropower plant opposed by Uzbekistan for fears of water shortages; urged cooperative use of resources and against unilateral action. Public campaign on buying Rogun shares halted 15 Apr amid pressure from donors, reports of campaign’s negative macroeconomic impact. After 7 Apr violent ousting of President Bakiyev from power in Kyrgyzstan, authorities rejected possibility for similar events at home; said domestic corruption lower than in Kyrgyzstan.
In 2 Apr visit, UNSG Ban raised with Turkmen president human rights issues, sustainable management of natural resources. 12 Apr MSF report on healthcare crisis in country produced severe backlash: Deputy Health Minister dismissed, research institutes on TB, AIDS shut down, individuals suspected of cooperation with MSF interrogated by state security.
Parliament 19 Apr began debating AKP govt’s constitutional amendment package, including greater executive authority over judiciary, limits on courts’ ability to ban parties, allowing trial of military officers in civilian courts. Opposition parties including CHP stayed away from debates, vowed to challenge amendments in Constitutional Court. Chief prosecutor Yalcinkaya 9 Apr criticised proposed amendments as undemocratic, politicising judiciary, but backed away from opening new case to close down AKP. Istanbul head prosecutor 6 Apr dismissed prosecutors responsible for ordering sweeping arrests of military officers accused in anti-govt plot case. Kurdish former MP Leyla Zana 8 Apr sentenced to 3 years for spreading propaganda for militant group PKK. Thousands demonstrated in Istanbul, eastern cities 13 Apr in protest at assault on former leader of banned Kurdish party DTP; clashes with police reported in some cities. PKK attack in Samsun province 17 Apr killed 2 policemen. 2 soldiers killed 29 Apr in clash with PKK, Hakkari province; PKK attack in Tunceli province 30 Apr killed 4 soldiers.
President Yanukovych and Russian President Medvedev 22 Apr signed agreement to extend lease for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet of port of Sevastopol in Crimea by 25 years after its expiration in 2017. Ukraine to get from 30 to 100% discount on natural gas purchases in return. Several thousands rallied 24 Apr in front of parliament in Kyiv against deal, describing it as “destruction of national sovereignty”. Ukrainian, Russian parliaments 27 Apr ratified agreement. At 12-13 Apr Washington DC nuclear summit President Yanukovych committed to completely removing country’s weapons-grade uranium by 2012.
Following ousting of Kyrgyz President Bakiyev in uprising, authorities mid-month tightened security in city of Andijon, site of 2005 massacre of peaceful anti-govt protesters. Andijon court 30 Apr sentenced recently returned former refugee Dilorom Abduqodirova to 10+ years for alleged role in 2005 events. Uzbek media ignored Kyrgyz uprising. President Karimov 20 Apr claimed Kyrgyz events created “illusion” of ease of overthrowing legitimate leadership. U.S. Gen. Petraeus 6 Apr visited country to discuss Northern Distribution Network. UNSG Ban 5 Apr met with President Karimov; pressed human rights issues. 24 men in north-eastern city of Jizak received 2-10 year sentences for religious extremism, attempts to overthrow constitutional order.
President Morales’ MAS party made modest gains in 4 Apr departmental, municipal elections: won 6 of 9 departments, but overall support dropped from Dec 2009 presidential elections. Govt, opposition both made accusations of fraud, but OAS observers said vote free and fair. Interior minister Sacha Llorenti 13 Apr presented evidence linking Santa Cruz right-wing group to Apr 2009 alleged assassination attempt on Morales; opposition rejected evidence as politically motivated.
FARC 5 Apr ruled out further unilateral hostage releases after late March release of 2 soldiers, called for renewed hostages-for-prisoners talks; govt 8 Apr rejected further talks. Opinion polls indicate Juan Manuel Santos (ruling U Party) and Antanas Mockus (Green Party) likely to contest runoff after 30 May presidential election. Venezuela, Ecuador 18 Apr criticised Santos for refusing to rule out further military operations against FARC camps in neighbouring countries. Attorney General 13 Apr charged influential opposition senator Piedad Córdoba with treason, accused her of collaboration with FARC outside role as hostage negotiator; Córdoba rejected. Public hearing began 28 Apr in first ever transitional justice reparation process of victims of paramilitary violence in Bolívar.
President Correa 18 Apr said govt will expropriate foreign oil companies if they refuse to sign new contracts allowing more state control of oil industry. Army 19 Apr killed 2 FARC rebels in Sucumbios province close to Colombian border.
Provision of safe shelter for 1.3m IDPs from Jan earthquake continued to pose major challenges to govt, UN and relief agencies. UN mid-month started moving thousands out of “high risk” camps endangered by approaching rainy season, but response remains uneven. President Préval 13 Apr pledged to hold legislative, presidential elections before end 2010 in line with constitution; UN, OAS to evaluate govt’s capacity to stage elections Apr-May. Parliament approved bill 16 Apr to extend state of emergency, imposed after earthquake, for further 18 months; and to create Interim Haiti Reconstuction Commission (IHRC) to oversee post-quake reconstruction. Opposition criticised: said bill undermines transparency of upcoming elections; IHRC, comprising both nationals and internationals, violates country’s sovereignty. U.S. military 19 Apr confirmed end of formal relief mission to Haiti 1 June, but will leave 500 soldiers for humanitarian assistance. PM Bellerive 28 Apr endorsed UNSG recommendation for 18-24 month “scaling up” of MINUSTAH activities.