The President's Take
In my second monthly column to accompany CrisisWatch, our unique conflict tracker, I look at how outside actors are now openly fighting not for Syria, but over it. I also note more bad news from Venezuela, and flag our upcoming report on how the outside world and regional governments can avert disaster there. Read more …
President & CEO
On 12 April soldiers deposed the government in Guinea-Bissau, marking another coup in a country in which no leader since independence has completed a full term. Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Júnior, widely expected to win the presidential run-off election scheduled for 29 April, and interim President Raimundo Pereira were detained by the military junta for two weeks, before their release to Côte d’Ivoire. The coup was swiftly condemned by the international community, with ECOWAS imposing sanctions and threatening force to restore civilian rule. After the breakdown of talks between ECOWAS and the junta, Crisis Group identifies a conflict risk for Guinea Bissau.
Democratic Republic of CongoEritreaSouth SudanSudanGuinea-BissauMaliKorean PeninsulaPakistanMacedoniaBahrainEgypt
In Mali, despite an agreement by the military to hand over power to a civilian government, confusion still persists after the arrest of several high-profile politicians by the military junta and a counter-coup attempt by soldiers loyal to deposed President Touré. In the north, MNLA Tuareg rebels proclaimed an independent “Azawad” state, while Islamist group Ansar Dine, with the reported help of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, overran Timbuktu. The deteriorating situation and the failure of negotiations with coup leaders prompted ECOWAS to threaten the deployment of troops. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for immediate international action to address the “cascading crisis in the Sahel”.
Relations between South Sudan and Sudan remain tense. Still stalled negotiations on oil and security push both countries towards financial ruin. Juba and Khartoum accuse each other of supporting rebels, and despite South Sudan’s withdrawal from Helgig oil fields, continued cross-border attacks and violence spark fears of a return to outright war. The African Union has given Sudan and South Sudan three months to reach a deal and end the fighting, or face “appropriate measures”. For the fifth month in six, Crisis Group identifies a deterioration in the situation between the Sudans.
In Eritrea the absence of President Afewerki from public view prompted speculation over the president’s health, not least in light of long-term rumours he suffers a terminal illness; rumours a late-month televised appearance did little to dispel. The president’s reported ill-health raises the spectre of an internal power struggle in a country with no vice-president and no institutional mechanisms in place for succession.
The security situation continued to deteriorate in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Former CNDP leader Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by the ICC on war crimes charges, launched a failed mutiny, prompting President Kabila to openly call for his arrest. Fierce fighting between the army and rebels has displaced thousands in the region.
In Pakistan, the Supreme Court’s conviction of Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani for contempt of court, and Gilani’s subsequent refusal to stand down, plunged the executive and judicial branches into direct confrontation and prompted accusations of partisan judicial interference in politics. Meanwhile, two of Pakistan’s largest cities, Karachi and Quetta, both witnessed spates of political and sectarian killings that together claimed over 30 lives.
North Korea’s war rhetoric has grown increasingly shrill and belligerent this month, with the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army ominously threatening to destroy the Republic of Korea, its president and its mass media. This comes amidst international condemnation of a failed North Korean missile launch coinciding with the hundredth birthday of Kim Il-sung.
Authorities in Bahrain continued to violently disperse daily anti-government and pro-reform protests against this month’s Formula One race and in support of detained activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja – who has now spent more than 70 days on hunger strike. Inter-communal tensions have also increased following two explosions reportedly targeting policemen, and retaliatory attacks by pro-government Sunnis on a Shiite store.
Egypt saw increasing constitutional and electoral turmoil ahead of the first round of presidential elections, scheduled for 23-24 May. The disqualification of 10 out of 23 presidential candidates led to the renewal of mass protests in Tahrir Square, and the Muslim Brotherhood has warned of a second revolution. An administrative court suspended the constitution-writing process following a boycott by secular and minority groups.
Violence continued to wrack Syria despite the acceptance of the UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan by authorities and the ongoing deployment of UN observers to monitor a fragile ceasefire. Security forces have yet to withdraw from population centres or end their attacks against opposition strongholds. UN Secretary-General Ban has said that authorities are “failing to keep the truce”, voicing his alarm at the upsurge in regime violence in towns visited by UN observers and continued attacks against anti-government demonstrations.
Ethnic tension intensified again in Macedonia after five Macedonians were found murdered, potentially in retaliation for the March killing by an off-duty policeman of two ethnic Albanians. The probable and imminent rejection of the country’s NATO membership is likely to further rock its already shaky stability.
In Nepal, the integration of Maoist combatants progressed smoothly, marking a step forward in the peace process. Cantonments were transferred to Nepalese army control and a majority of fighters retired voluntarily in the second phase of combatant regrouping. Further progress was made on the long-stalled constitution negotiation process, with a resolution appearing likely in the near term.
National Assembly 2 April postponed legislative elections scheduled for July 2012. Police 16 April arrested former PM Inoni Ephraim and ex-Minister for Territorial Administration Hamidou Yaya on charges of corruption sparking fears of unrest as Yaya seen as potential successor to President Biya. Govt 13 April adopted new electoral code in vote boycotted by opposition, criticised by civil society groups. Fears regional insecurity spilling into north Cameroon as 10 April attack by Boko Haram in border town Banki left 11 dead, including 3 Cameroonians; govt deployed additional forces on border.
Jean-Jacques Demafouth, rebel People’s Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) leader and DDR steering committee VP, and 2 Union for Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) opposition leaders freed 11 April following 3-month detention. 11 CAR soldiers, part of CAR-Chad-Sudan border guard, killed 17 April in border region raid by S Sudan.
President Deby 10 April met Niger counterpart, announced combined efforts to fight insecurity in Sahel, threat from Boko Haram, 24 April met SRSG Abou Moussa and AU Special Envoy on LRA Francisco Madeira to discuss LRA threat. Deby 30 April called for creation of regional force to fight Boko Haram.
April saw further deterioration in security situation in Eastern DRC. Attempted mutiny by former CNDP leader Bosco Ntaganda, wanted by ICC, failed early April; President Kabila 11 April reportedly called for his arrest, domestic trial; clashes throughout month between army and rebels in Kivus displaced thousands. Doctors early April began strike protesting low pay, collapsing infrastructure. CENI 20 April announced provincial elections for Jan 2013, released report blaming international assistance for problems in presidential elections. SRSG Abou Moussa and AU Special Envoy on LRA Francisco Madeira 10-15 April visited DRC, discussed LRA threat with authorities, regional and international partners. PM late April appointed new govt, no opposition politicians included.
Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire 18 April withdrew from trial for genocide denial, terrorism citing lack of judicial independence, intimidation of defence witnesses. Court 27 April rejected appeal by Bernard Ntaganda, former leader of opposition PS-Imberakuri, upheld 4-year jail sentence. Supreme Court 5 April reduced sentences of 2 journalists amid continuing media reforms, clearing one of divisionism, genocide denial.
President Afewerki 28 April appeared on TV dispelling rumours of death, amid reports of fatal illness; govt claimed rumours originate with CIA; rumours raised tensions and prospect of internal instability. Tensions with Ethiopia continued: govt 18 April denied abducting over 100 Ethiopian miners (see Ethiopia). Small Arms Survey report released 17 April said Eritrea supplying S Sudan rebels with weapons.
PM Meles 17 April accused Eritrea of abducting over 100 Ethiopian gold miners from NW Tigray region; Eritrean govt denied accusations. Terrorism trial of Abdirahman Hassan, UN security officer stationed in Ogaden region and arrested July 2011 for alleged links to rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), began 9 April. PM Meles 17 April announced imminent withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia.
U.S. embassy 23 April warned of planned terrorist attack on Nairobi hotels, govt buildings. 1 killed, 15 wounded 29 April in grenade attack on Nairobi church. Director of Public Prosecutions 9 April announced investigation into alleged plot to assassinate PM Odinga. 1 killed 24 April as police dispersed demonstration by banned secessionist Mombasa Republican Council; President Kibaki 24 April emphasised secession will not happen. Muslim Human Rights forum late-month accused police of abducting, illegally executing terror suspect Samir Khan, abducting one other; police denied allegations, said investigation underway. 4 top judges declared unfit for office 24 April by committee investigating judicial impartiality.
Suicide bomb attack targeting PM at National Theatre reopening ceremony 4 April killed 6, wounded dozens including govt minister, sparking suspicion of inside involvement, concern over security lapse. AMISOM 5 April deployed troops in Baidoa marking first time forces dispatched outside Mogadishu; at least 12 civilians killed 9 April in al-Shabaab bomb targeting troops. AU 20 April reportedly took control of al-Shabaab bases on out- skirts of Mogadishu including Deynile airstrip. Journalist killed 5 April in Beletwein, Hiran region. Interim President Sharif 24 April announced intention to run for presidential office at end of transitional period in August 2012; TFG 25 April announced govt in final stages of adopting new constitution. Al-Shabaab 27 April threatened attack on 135 Somali traditional clan elders, gathered late April in Mogadishu to select Constituent Assembly delegates before formation of new parliament. Puntland President Farole 11 April said al-Shabaab militants have moved into semi-autonomous region. Representatives at Puntland’s Constitutional Convention 18 April voted to adopt new draft constitution.
At least 15 reportedly killed, dozens injured 1 April in clash between Somaliland forces and local militia in newly- declared breakaway Khatumo region; President Silanyo 2 April called for peace in region; FM Mohamed Abdullahi Omar 21 April said govt would not hold talks with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Govt (TFG) following inclusion of 2 Puntland ministers on dialogue committee appointed by TFG President Sharif.
President Kiir 24 April said Sudan had “declared war” following continued airstrikes; AU 24 April gave Sudan and S Sudan 3 months to reach deal, end fighting, or face “appropriate measures” following continued deterioration in relations throughout April (see Sudan). S Sudan 4 April claimed forces shot down Sudanese jet over Unity State. Govt 25 April released 14 Sudanese soldiers in move hoped to ease tensions, soldier alleged beatings, mistreatment; govt same day accused Khartoum of bombing Unity State. Govt 28 April said attack by Khartoum-backed rebels in Upper Nile state repulsed, 21 killed; 29 April said committed to an “immediate cessation of all hostilities” with Sudan, would withdraw all police from Abyei, in letter to UN.
Tensions with S Sudan continued: in blow to economy, SPLA 10 April took over Helgig oil fields, 12 April shut down production, 20 April ordered pull-out; late April denied damaging Helgig oil infrastructure. Govt agencies ordered to cut petrol use, civil servants to donate 2 days pay to support army. Khartoum 30 April declared state of emergency in border regions. AU 24 April gave Sudan, S Sudan 3 months to reach deal, end fighting, or face “appropriate measures”; UNSC called for halt to airstrikes. Khartoum 2 April reopened negotiations with Juba in Addis Ababa, 3 April failed to sign security deal despite reaching understandings on cessation of hostilities and campaigns. Military operations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile escalated throughout month, prompting Khartoum to again accuse Juba of providing support to rebels; Small Arms Survey report published 17 April suggested close ties between Juba and SPLM-N. 4 UN peacekeepers injured in ambush 21 April, Darfur. SAF 22 April reported over 50 SPLM- N killed, 17 arrested in Blue Nile, refuted SPLM-N claims 79 SAF soldiers killed.
Govt 4 April banned opposition Activists for Change (A4C) pressure group, accused leaders of promoting political violence. Opposition Forum for Democratic Change leader Ingrid Turinawe sexually assaulted, arrested 19 April attending A4C rally in Kampala; police officer suspended 24 April. Army late-April reportedly accused Sudan’s govt of supporting LRA.
Transitional parliament 13 April adopted 2 amnesty laws, provisions exclude former President Ravalomanana due to Aug 2010 conviction for deaths in Feb 2009 violence. Ravalo- manana’s supporters boycotted vote, sent letter of complaint to SADC Troika; 28 April protested law, demonstrations violently dispersed by police. Former president Zafy accused transitional President Rajoelina of involvement in “Rosewood” illegal logging scandal, called for his resignation following 13 April sacking of Environment and Forestry Minister Randriamiarisoa over reported “mishandling” of affair, no replacement yet named for ministry. Close confidante to President Zafy, Mamy Ravatomanga, sued Randriamiarisoa for alleging Ravatomanga’s involvement in illegal logging.
President Mutharika 5 April died from heart attack; VP Joyce Banda sworn in 7 April following constitutional process, despite alleged coup plot to install Peter Mutharika, brother of President Mutharika, as successor; Malawi Law Society 17 April called for prosecution of alleged coup conspirators. Banda 27 April announced new “reconciliation” cabinet, fired 10 senior ministers, including Peter Mutharika, 6 others reportedly involved in con- spiracy. Banda 10 April announced desire to normalise relations with donor countries; UK 24 April announced resumption of diplomatic relations.
PM Tsvangirai 2 April demanded Mugabe stick to election roadmap, wait for completion of new constitution and reforms before elections; President Mugabe 18 April called for violence- free, open polls, expedition of constitution writing process prior to elections. Govt 10 April rejected rumours Mugabe gravely ill following visit to Singapore; signs of succession power struggle emerging. Political violence on rise since Feb, MDC-T rallies repeatedly shut down; 15 MDC activists, including 3 councillors arrested 23 April for meeting without authorisation, released 24 April without charge. New Zealand journalist arrested 20 April, reportedly on spying allegations.
President Ouattara 21-24 April visited towns in west for first time since 2010/2011 post-electoral conflict, called for national reconciliation, said will seek solution to conflicts over land tenure. Police early April arrested Rodrigue Dadjé, lawyer of ex- first lady Simone Gbagbo, charged him with threatening national security, intention to start rebellion. Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) Secretary General Laurent Akoun early April said FPI ready for dialogue with govt.
Future ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda 5 April visited Conakry, said ICC will prosecute those responsible for Sept 2009 massacre if govt fails. Opposition leader Cellou Diallo 2-8 April visited Paris, said Guinea not ready for 8 July elections. Major civil society coalition 13 April called for removal of controversial CENI president. Govt repression of opposition protests at controversial preparations for legislative elections continued; police 19 April fired tear gas at women demonstrating outside CENI HQ, 20 injured. President Condé 27 April announced postponement of elections.
Soldiers 12 April staged military coup, detained for over 2 weeks interim President Pereira and PM Gomes Júnior, widely expected to win presidential run-off originally scheduled 29 April; said acted to avert “Angolan aggression” by MISSANG forces stationed in Bissau. ECOWAS 27 April gave junta 72-hour ultimatum to accept 600-strong force, 12-month transition to civilian rule. CPLP 14 April demanded international intervention; Brazil said willing to lead stabilisation force. Following failure of negotiations with Chief of Staff António Indjai, ECOWAS 30 April imposed sanctions, threatened use of force to restore civilian rule. Portugal 15 April sent 2 navy ships, military plane to Cape Verde in preparation to evacuate nationals. Junta 16 April announced creation of transitional institutions to carry out 2-year roadmap to elections, proposed Parliament Speaker Serifo Nhamadjo as president; Nhamadjo rejected offer.
Special Court for Sierra Leone 26 April found former President Taylor guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, provoking mixed reactions in Monrovia as many still loyal to Taylor, others still awaiting justice for Liberia civil war crimes. Robert Sirleaf, son of President Sirleaf, 2 April filed $11 mn libel suit against daily The Independent following accusations of nepotism over appointment as chairman of national oil company NOCAL by President Sirleaf late March.
Following widespread condemnation of March military coup, military junta 7 April transferred power to civilian govt headed by Parliament Speaker Traoré in exchange for amnesty for mutineers; confusion over who is in charge as junta mid-April arrested several high-level political figures, continued to exercise control over state media. Soldiers loyal to deposed President Touré 30 April attempted counter-coup, foiled by junta soldiers; several dead. ECOWAS 27 April announced deployment of 3,000 troops, one-year transition instead of 40 days initially agreed with junta; Captain Sanogo 29 April said violation of agreement; fears of further unrest at Kati military garrison. National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) 5 April announced end of military operations, 6 April proclaimed liberation of Azawad state; AU rejected declaration of independence; Traoré 12 April threatened to launch “total war” on Tuareg rebels and Islamist militias in North, hundreds of northern youths gathered in Bamako 6 April to demand weapons to fight rebellion; UNSG Ban 16 April said urgent action needed to address “cascading crisis in Sahel”. Fol- lowing fall of Timbuktu to Islamist militia Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) early April, newly-formed National Front for the Liberation of Azawad (FLNA) Arab militia 27 April said it took Timbuktu but 29 April exited city following threat of “bloodbath” by AQIM. Algerian army 29 April launched airstrike against AQIM splinter group Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) responsible for 5 April abduction of Algerian diplomats in Gao, 20 dead.
President Mahamadou Issoufou 10 April visited Chad to strengthen joint efforts against threats in the Sahel, Sahara and Boko Haram. Minister of Communication Salifou Bouché 19 April asked Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to assist Muslim populations in Sahel, invest in peace.
Boko Haram attacks continued: 7 killed in 4 April attack on market, Maiduguri; 38 killed 7 April in suicide car bomb attack, Kaduna; 7 killed 18 April in spate of attacks across north; suicide bomb attacks on This Day newspaper offices in Abuja, Kaduna 26 April left 9 dead; suspected Boko Haram attacks at Kano University, Maiduguri church 29 April left at least 21 dead. Boko Haram 12 April released video threatening to topple President Jonathan within 3 months. Intercommunal tensions in Plateau state continued; 2 attacks near Jos 24 April left 5 dead, 10 injured; 30 April attack by ethnic Fulani herdsmen on ethnic Christian Berom left 2 dead, several wounded. U.S. 18 April warned Boko Haram planning attacks on Abuja, including major hotels. Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility for 13 April attack on Italian ENI oil installations in Bayelsa State, 14 April threatened to attack South African investments in Niger Delta, sparking fears of group’s resurgence.
President Macky Sall 5 April named new cabinet following 2 April swearing-in ceremony, 15 April visited Gambia to seek President Jammeh’s assistance in finding peaceful solution to Casamance conflict; Sall 18 April signed new defence agreement reducing French troops in Dakar from 1,200 to 300, agreed €130 mn financial deal with France.
Amid signs of increasing belligerence, DPRK 13 April attempted but failed to launch Unha-3 rocket to coincide with 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung; UNSC condemned attempt, warned of further action if nuclear test carried out; U.S. cancelled planned food aid and 20 April revealed suspicions China sold missile launcher technology to DPRK; DPRK 17 April announced it is no longer bound by U.S. “leap day” agreement. Kim Jong-un 15 April gave first public speech, reaffirmed military priorities; KPA Supreme Command 23 April announced intentions to initiate “special actions” to destroy ROK, president, mass media firms. KWP 21 April held talks with Chinese Communist Party international department chief, President Hu. China State Councillor Dai Bingguo praised Kim Jong-un, vowed to deepen ties with DPRK. Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun 18 April reported that China had ceased deportations of DPRK defectors.
Suicide bomber 3 April killed 12, including 2 ISAF soldiers, in Maymana, Faryab Province where oil and gas recently discovered. Govt 3 April announced opening of Qatari embassy in Kabul following tension surrounding Taliban’s opening of office in Qatar early 2012. Govt 8 April signed agreement with U.S. giving Kabul veto power and control over prisoners taken in controversial night raids; U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership deal agreed 22 April. 16 killed 10 April in near simultaneous suicide bomb attacks in Herat and Lashkar Gah; Taliban 15 April launched multi-city “spring offensive” in Kabul, Nangahar, Logar and Paktika provinces; 4 killed, 16 abducted 26 April in Taliban attack on police post, NE. Photos published 18 April, showing U.S. soldiers posing with Taliban fighter corpses, prompted U.S. condemnation, sparked fears of widespread Afghan reaction. Govt 26 April announced prisoner swap agreement with Iran. Pakistan, Afghanistan and U.S. representatives at meeting to discuss reviving peace talks said safe passage arrangements to allow Taliban to attend talks would be explored.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called for series of strikes following 17 April disappearance of regional leader Ilyas Ali. 2 killed, at least 100 injured 23 April in clashes with police during protest in Sylhet over disappearance. Several bombs exploded 29 April in Dhaka following death of opposition supporter in riots, police charged 44 opposition officials including senior BNP leaders. Labour organiser Aminul Islam found murdered 5 April amid allegations of govt or police involvement.
Maoist rebels 21 April abducted senior Indian Administrative Service official, demanded release of top cadres from prison, withdrawal of security forces from Bastar region of Chhattisgarh; abducted legislator Jhina Hikaka released 26 April after promising to resign; Italian hostage freed 12 April after month of captivity. 2 leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) killed 20 April in Bijapur landmine blast. 1 soldier, unconfirmed number of rebels killed 5 April in Latehar district. India 19 April successfully test-fired nuclear-capable long-range missile.
5 killed, 50 injured 4 April in grenade attack on Sunni rally in Gilgit Baltistan. 5 separatist guerillas killed 5 April in Kupwara district. Indian policeman killed 20 April in Srinagar. Indian police 21 April arrested alleged mastermind of Bijbehara car blast.
Special Committee for Supervision Integration and Rehabilitation of Maoist combatants 11 April handed command of cantonments holding 9,700 former Maoist combatants over to Nepalese Army; 14 April endorsed 7-point agreement outlining formation of integration selection committees, training period, bridge course and directorates. Second phase of combatant regrouping concluded 20 April: over 6,500 retired voluntarily, 3,100 to join Nepalese Army. Leaders from major parties continued negotiations on constitutional issues including forms of governance and state restructuring, increasing hopes for broad political agreement. Rift within Maoist party continued: anti-establishment faction led by Mohan Baidya ‘Kiran’ formed parallel structures, 24 April reestablished People’s Volunteer’s Bureau, meant to replicate Young Communist League and accommodate former fighters. Both federalists and anti-federalists organised several rallies and strikes across country to pressure major parties during negotiations. 4 killed, 18 wounded 30 April in bomb blast in Janakpur. Bombs planted by disillusioned Maoist cadres found, defused 4 April in buses, bus parks around Kathmandu.
Supreme Court 26 April convicted PM Gilani of contempt of court, PM refused to step down, govt said will file appeal. Lahore station bomb blast 24 April killed 4; 8 Hazara Shias killed 15 April in sectarian attacks, Quetta. Following spate of politically and ethnically motivated targeted killings in Karachi, that claimed over 25 lives early April, Interior Minister Rehman Malik 23 April alleged Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) activists involved in corruption, extortion. Parliament early April unanimously approved non-binding resolution to end drone strikes, ban U.S. intelligence operations and unilateral U.S. military operations; first U.S. drone strike in a month killed 4 al-Qaeda linked fighters in N Waziristan 29 April, attack condemned by govt. High-level talks between U.S. and Pakistan 27 April failed to repair ties, reach agreement on re-opening NATO supply routes. Govt 25 April tested ballistic missile following 19 April long-range missile launch by India.
Govt 22 April ordered removal of mosque in Dambulla following 19 April firebombing, 20 April protest led by Buddhist monks alleging mosque illegally built in area sacred to Buddhists; umbrella Muslim group said attack attempt to damage peaceful co- existence. “White van” abductions continued: 2 lead JVP-splinter group activists kidnapped 6 April, 3 days before launch of their new Frontline Socialist Party, released after 4 days, one deported to Australia. Indian parliamentary delegation visited 16-21 April, met with broad range of govt, party, civil society members, toured N and E, called for rapid progress on political settlement with Tamil parties, improved conditions for resettled population and return to civilian rule in N; govt rejected call to withdraw troops from N. Govt early April rejected calls for implementation of March’s HRC resolution, LLRC recommendations. Reported UN discovery of cluster bombs in N appeared to confirm use during civil war.
Bitterly contested local Aceh elections 9 April saw Zaini Abdullah, Partai Aceh (PA) candidate and former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) leader, elected governor, defeating incumbent Irwandi Yusuf by 56% to 29% following sporadic violence and intimidation by PA in lead-up to poll. PA member Ayah Banta arrested 14 April, accused of heading hit squad responsible for Dec, Jan election-related killings. Parliament 10 April passed controversial social conflict management bill allowing provincial, district level officials to impose limited emergency rule. 2012 legislative elections bill passed 12 April establishing 3.5% national vote threshold for parliamentary seats. Flights to Puncak Jaya, Papua, suspended after sniper 8 April fired on small aircraft killing 1 journalist, injuring 4 others. Mob 20 April attacked, vandalised minority Ahmadiyah Muslim sect mosque in West Java. 2 terror suspects 13 April arrested in Bima, 4 further arrests 17 April in West Java. Former Democrat Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin convicted of corruption 20 April, jailed for 5 years.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD opposition party, won 43 of 45 available seats in 1 April by-elections; NLD temporarily boycotted resumption of parliament in dispute over language in swearing-in oath. During 3 day visit UNSG Ban 30 April addressed parliament, praised reforms. Diplomatic visits continued throughout month including by UK PM Cameron, Italian FM Terzi, EU High Representative Ashton. Western govts announced easing of sanctions, arms embargoes to remain; Karen National Union (KNU) 8 April cautioned against lifting sanctions too quickly. Japanese govt pledged to cancel $3.72bn debt, resume aid, loans during President Thein Sein’s 20-25 April Tokyo visit. KNU, govt 6 April signed 13-point agreement on peace process; KNU 7 April met with Thein Sein, 8 April with Suu Kyi; no progress on Kachin Independence Organisation talks, Thein Sein 30 April named new negotiating team; armed clashes continued.
MILF and govt signed document outlining 10 principles for negotiations at 23-24 April peace talks, includes provision for secular ministerial govt in new Muslim autonomous region. On Basilan, violence continued: Long Malat, commander with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) ties, killed in clan conflict 1 April; ASG ambush at rubber plantation killed 3 govt militia, 1 ASG member 5 April; 22 soldiers injured in suspected IED attack near captured ASG camp 10 April. Clashes between govt forces and communist New People’s Army (NPA) continued: NPA ambush 25 April killed 11 police, 2 civilians in Ifugao, northern Luzon. Standoff over disputed Scarborough Shoal began 10 April when Philippine military tried to detain Chinese fishermen; diplomats attempting to resolve crisis. Annual joint U.S.-Philippine military exercises conducted 16-27 April; foreign affairs and defence secretaries from both countries 30 April met in Washington, agreed to boost Philippines defences.
In largely peaceful presidential run-off, former rebel and defence force chief Taur Matan Ruak 17 April defeated Fretilin party president Lu Olo, winning 61.2% of votes; inauguration set for 20 May. Parliamentary polls set for 7 July.
Month saw deadly series of attacks in southern provinces blamed on militant separatists. In response to 31 March Yala bombings, govt 3 April pledged new safety zones, checkpoints for Songkhla, Yala provinces; victims to receive compensation; 3 bombing suspects arrested 4-5 April, believed to be members of extremist separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) Coordinate. PM Yingluck Shinawatra reiterated policy of no negotiation with southern militants, announced new committee to handle southern security issues. Thailand, Cambodia pledged to remove land mines at disputed Preah Vihear temple during 3-5 April summit, but agreed troops would remain. Ruling party Pheu Thai 20 April announced public hearings for reconciliation, amnesty plans, contrary to previous unilateral approach; change may affect former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s plans to return to Thailand. Govt and opposition MPs, including opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, 20 April cleared of constitutional violations, corruption relating to 2011 floods.
Council of Ministers 18 April approved 2012 budget; EU delegation in Sarajevo welcomed move as “setting up new institutions required for EU-related commitments”. FM Lagumdzija 16 April expressed hopes for NATO accession by 2014; Republika Srpska spokesman said Lagumdžija advocating own views in contravention of Dayton Peace Agreement; NATO 10 April said BiH on track for Membership Action Plan.
After weeks of wrangling, political hostilities, Kosovo, Serbia and EU 30 April agreed OSCE to organise Serbian parliamentary, presidential elections in N Kosovo for eligible voters; Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dačić same day claimed to have intelligence Priština planning to attack, sabotage polling stations. EU High Representative Ashton 14 April called on Serbs and Kosovo Albanians to refrain from “selective use of the law” to justify inflammatory arrests following 31 March arrest of 2 Kosovo Police officers on Serbia-Kosovo border by Serbian paramilitary police; arrest allegedly took place inside Kosovo; Kosovo police 23 April arrested 2 Kosovo Serbs, including Serbia’s district chief for Kosovo, for alleged intimidation of Kosovo Serbs regarding 6 May election. Ethnic Albanian 8 April killed in bomb blast outside Mitrovica home. Kosovo police 20 April probed allegations of armed ethnic Albanian militias on patrol in N Kosovo.
Tensions rose dangerously as 5 Macedonians found murdered 12 April outside Skopje; President Ivanov 15 April urged “restraint by all”; Kosovo PM Thaçi 18 April stressed need to avoid regional destabilisation; hundreds of nationalist Macedonian youths 16 April clashed with police in Skopje demonstration outside Parliament against murders.
Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović 15 April stated in U-turn that Serbia would not hold 6 May local elections in N Kosovo but appoint local officials instead (see Kosovo). Bogdanović 20 April claimed ethnic Albanian militias in N Kosovo a result of “Priština’s aspirations, through violence and unilateral action” to control N Kosovo (see Kosovo). Serbian authorities 23 April released Kosovo trade union leader Hasan Abazi, detained last month in series of tit-for-tat arrests on both sides of Kosovo- Serbia border.
Registration for participation in 6 May parliamentary elections closed 1 April: 8 parties, 1 bloc registered including ruling Republican Party (HHK), leading opposition parties Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage). Independent candidate Meruzhan announced withdrawal from polls following 6 April abduction, beating by unknown assailants; supporters blamed violence on HHK rival Aleksan Petrosyan. 3 HAK activists reportedly assaulted 15 April by govt loyalists while campaigning in Yerevan; authorities denied role in attack.
At least 1 officer, 1 militant killed 6 April in security forces operation against suspected Islamic militants in Ganja. Authorities 7 April began mass arrest of suspected radical Islamists. Ministry of National Security 18 April announced large scale special operations conducted in Baku, Sumgayit, northern border regions; Vugar Padarov, leader of al-Qaeda linked group, reportedly killed, 19 others arrested across country. Officials 25 April announced joint Azeri-Russian operations targeting suspected terrorists, organised crime. Several hundred opposition supporters 8, 22 April protested in Baku demanding reforms, freedom for political prisoners, resignation of President Aliyev. Prominent journalist Idrak Abbasov 18 April severely beaten by oil company workers while covering house demolition in long-running land dispute with residents in Sulutepe. Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman 23-24 April visited Baku, discussed bilateral cooperation.
Ministry of Justice 4 April rejected request to reinstate citizenship of billionaire opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili through naturalisation, said only dual citizenship possible; opposition Christian-Democrats announced plans to initiate constitutional changes allowing Georgian-born EU citizens to run for office; ruling party voiced support for motion. President Saakashvili 10 April unveiled 1st domestically produced spy drone; 19 April announced plans for armed drones, 150,000 strong volunteer reserve force. NATO SG Rasmussen 3 April called Georgia “model partner”, reiterated NATO support for future Georgian membership. President Saakashvili 26 April said ready to resign if Russia withdraws from S Ossetia, Abkhazia. In S Ossetia, former KGB head Leonid Tibilov 19 April sworn in as new President after winning 54% in 8 April polls. In Abkhazia, authorities 12 April arrested 4 in connection with Feb assassination of President Ankvab; former Interior Minister Kchach 16 April committed suicide in Sukhumi, reportedly to avoid arrest over assassination attempt; another suspect 17 April reportedly attempted suicide before police arrest; further suspect Timur Khutaba 18 April found hanged in prison cell.
Azerbaijan 25 April fired on Armenian village of Dovegh, near Line of Contact (LoC) for 1st time since 1994. Gunmen 27 April reportedly killed 3 Armenian soldiers along Azerbaijan border. Russian FM Lavrov 2-3 April held talks in Armenia, Azerbaijan over region; Armenian FM Nalbandian said country had rejected 4 suggestions of OSCE Minsk Group, no further details.
Security situation in Dagestan remained tense with 27 suspected militants reportedly killed during month: high ranking FSB officer 16 April injured in car bombing, wife killed. In Makhachkala: assistant attorney of Leninsky district 12 April killed by unknown assailants; attack on house of Khasavyurt city court head 10 April wounded 2. 5 militants killed 23 April after attack on police station near Kakamakhi (Karabudakhkent district). In Khasavyurt region: Khasavyurt group leader 24 April killed; policeman wounded 20 April; 5 suspected militants killed, 1 injured. In Ingushetia: police 3 April killed 5, including 3 civilians; 2 policemen killed in 28 April bomb blast in Malgobek district. Ingushetia leader 17 April acknowledged involvement of security forces in abductions during meeting with President Medvedev.
2 jailed ex-opposition presidential candidates pardoned 17 April by authorities, prisoners credited EU sanctions for release; President Lukashenko 21 April said any increase in international “pressure” would result in renewed imprisonment. EU ambassadors 25 April began return to Minsk, after last month withdrawal in tit-for-tat over EU sanctions.
Talks between Moldova and breakaway Transdniester region ended 18 April with agreement on future negotiating principles, procedures; OSCE mediators same day welcomed outcome. Russian Deputy PM and Envoy to Transdniester 18 April denied rumours Russia deploying radar station; Transdniestrian news agency 17 April reported Moscow sending new weapons to Russian troops within country.
Jailed former PM Tymoshenko 24 April went on hunger strike to protest alleged beating by prison guards; Tymoshenko 19 April appeared in court on additional corruption charges, possible 12 year sentence. Deputy PM Khoroshkovskiy said Parliament could pass “extraordinary” legislation to free Tymoshenko if all other hurdles in Ukraine-EU relations resolved. European Court of Human Rights 17 April began hearings on whether former imprisonment of Interior Minister Lutsenko politically motivated.
UNSG Ban 22 April announced decision not to call international conference, citing “insufficient progress on core issues” in reunification talks; UNSG’s Special Adviser Downer 27 April said UN will host no more “unproductive” high-level meetings, “no more business as usual”. Turkish Cypriot leader Eroğlu had called on UN to open 5-party conference with guarantor countries (UK, Greece, Turkey); Greek Cypriot President Christofias said Eroğlu backtracking, called for continued negotiations. Turkish media 16 April quoted anonymous Turkish official saying if no solution reached by 1 July, Turkey will unilaterally call for international recognition of Turkish Cypriot state, or annex north if recognition not forthcoming. Turkish Deputy PM Arınç 16 April denied existence of ‘Plan B’, said eventual status would be decided by Turkish Cypriots.
PM Erdoğan 20 April declared Turkish military would “completely halt” operations against PKK if group laid down arms; declaration made at meeting with Iraqi Kurdistan President Bar- zani, who also called on PKK to disarm, rejected group’s presence in N Iraq. 3 soldiers killed, 3 wounded 4,12 April in clashes with PKK near Iraqi border; 2 Turkish soldiers, 1 guard, 4 PKK militants killed in clashes 24 April in SE. Security forces 18 April detained 22 villagers in Hakkâri province on suspicion of aiding PKK, further 7 detained 23 April for alleged PKK youth branch membership; 15 Kurds suspected of Kurdish Communities Union involvement released 10 April pending trial. Trial of 1980 military coup leaders Kenan Evren, Tahsin Şahinkaya started 4 April; 35 more officers detained 12, 19 April in separate probe into 1997 unarmed coup. Syrian regime forces 9 April fired across border at refugee camp, prompting Turkish outrage (see Syria).
Court 9 April jailed 5 in Taraz in connection with Nov suicide blast; 42 jailed 19 April in Atyrau on terrorism charges. Following torture claims, Human Rights Watch 23 April called for suspension of trial of 37 accused of involvement in Dec 2011 violence in Janaozen; hundreds demonstrated 28 April in Almaty against govt, trial. 2 prominent reform activists 17 April barred from travelling abroad, attending meeting with European Parliament. Defence Ministry 16 April announced plans to launch first domestically produced navy vessel.
Estimated 5,000 opposition Ata-Jurt supporters 10 April rallied in southern city of Jalal-Abad demanding govt resignation. Russian FM Lavrov 4-5 April visited Bishkek to discuss bilateral ties; Russia, Kyrgyzstan 24 April announced agreement on Russian compensation for use of Kant airbase. Authorities early month reportedly requested U.S. supply drone aircraft following 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Court in northern city of Khujand 19 April jailed 34 suspected Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) members on terrorism-related charges. President Rahmon 17 April said country rejected foreign request to use military bases as Russia “only strategic partner”, but warned Moscow should respect Tajikistan; 20 April said NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan will affect regional security.
Govt 4 April rejected Tajik accusations country imposing economic blockade; 16 April resumed gas supplies to Tajikistan. Human rights activist Alisher Karomatov released from prison after serving 6 years of 9-year sentence.
Tensions over construction of national highway through TIPNIS national park continued; President Morales 10 April cancelled contract with Brazilian company Constructora-OAS because company suspended road construction; march opposing construction resumed 27 April; UN called on authorities and indigenous leaders to maintain climate of tolerance and peace. Miners protesting over pay 24 April clashed with police; public health workers, medical students also clashed with police during separate rally opposing presidential decree extending working hours.
FARC 2 April released last 10 military/police hostages, held captive for over 12 years, fuelling hopes for peace; President Santos said release important but FARC needs to free all remaining civilian hostages. FARC leader “Timochenko” 19 April reiterated willingness to discuss peace but refused to surrender; FARC Secretariat member Ivan Marquez warned group not weakened, remains “ready to fight”. Some 1,500 social, political groups 21 April founded new left-wing National Patriotic Council (NPC), supported by prominent leaders including Piedad Córdoba, Iván Cepeda; NPC celebrated by some as opportunity for peace, stigmatised by others as infiltrated by FARC. FARC 27 April killed 8, including 5 soldiers, in 2 attacks in SW; 29 April killed 4 during raid on army patrol, “abducted” France 24 journalist Romeo Langlois.
President Correa 23 April appointed 6 new ministers, including new Defence Minister Miguel Carvajal, 24 April said organised crime top priority following report by military that it could soon “overwhelm country”.
President Chávez’s 4 radiotherapy cycles in Cuba meant further absences, prevented his attendance at 6th Summit of the Americas; following week-long silence Chávez 24 April announcing return to Caracas in televised address. Former Supreme Court judge Eladio Aponte, dismissed because of alleged ties to drug kingpin Walid Makled, agreed to provide U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency with information on drug trade activities involving high- ranking members of govt.
President Pérez Molina 14-15 April attended 6th Summit of the Americas, insisted on need to consider “innovative strategies” such as legalisation as alternative to war on drugs. Defence Ministry late March announced creation of U.S.-backed anti-drug task force to police trafficking corridors in W. Former national police chief Marlene Blanco Lapola arrested 23 March for alleged involvement in extrajudicial killing of at least 3 alleged extortionists. Forensic experts 18 April said remains of 99 people buried inside military post in Cobán during civil war unearthed.
Senate 10 April confirmed FM Laurent Lamothe new PM; Lower House vote awaited. Following 17 April occupation of Lower House by ad-hoc military groups, State Secretary for Public Security Reginald Delva 23 April announced solution to occupations imminent. Defence Minister Thierry Mayard-Paul 25 April announced military compensation plan; groups declared intention to continue occupation of public spaces until joint staff formed. Following killings of 3 police officers in 48 hours, including 1 killed following arrest of driver of MP Rodriguez Séjour, Haitian National Police threatened nationwide strike; 3 persons close to Séjour held by authorities. Haitian and Dominican Republic authorities launched investigations into alleged plot to destabilise Martelly govt
Gunmen 20 April killed 15 in Chihuahua, including 2 journalists; police 17 April found dismembered remains of 14 men in Nuevo Laredo, near U.S. border. At economic summit held 2 April in Washington DC, President Calderon asked U.S. govt to reinstate ban on assault weapons, arguing gun violence surged in Mexico when prohibition lifted in 2004, said 90% of assault weapons confiscated in Mexico come from U.S. . Proceso magazine journalist Regina Martinez found dead 28 April following article investigating arrests of police officers suspected of drug ties.
Israel 23 April decided to legalise 3 West Bank outposts, if implemented first new de-jure West Bank settlements in 15 years. Palestinian chief negotiator Erekat 17 April delivered letter from PA President Abbas to Israeli PM Netanyahu detailing Palestinian demands for return to negotiations. Former Shin Bet chief Diskin 27 April said current govt not interested in peace with Palestinians, misleading public on Iran. Mideast Quartet 11 April expressed concern over Israeli settler violence, pressed both sides for confidence-building measures. 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israel 17 April began hunger strike to protest conditions of imprisonment, ‘administrative detention’ policy. Gaza PM Ismail Haniyeh 24 April reportedly won secret April elections for leadership of Gaza Hamas political bureau. Fatah, Hamas 2 April reached deal allowing fuel transfers through Israel into Gaza Strip. Egypt 22 April cancelled gas delivery contract to Israel (see Egypt).
PM Al-Khasawneh 26 April resigned, replaced by former PM al-Tarawneh. Reform legislation introduced to Parliament mid-month amending voting system, banning religious political parties. Journalist arrested 23 April for promoting “anti-regime sentiment”, after alleging corruption in Royal Court.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea 4 April escaped assassination attempt, implicitly blamed Hizbollah. Cameraman killed 9 April on Syrian border, triggering accusations between pro-, anti-Syrian regime camps. Bomb attack on Tyre restaurant 23 April injured 7.
Early-month saw upsurge in violence despite acceptance of Annan peace plan by Syrian regime, opposition. Security forces 9 April opened fire on Turkish refugee camp in Kilis, 2 killed. Following UN pressure, regime 12 April agreed to ceasefire with opposition; UNSG 24 April expressed alarm at surge in regime violence, 26 April said regime in contravention of peace plan; France 25 April said UNSC should consider use of force; U.S. 27 April said “patience exhausted”. Renewed anti-regime demonstrations took place mid-month despite continued regime targeting. UNSC 14 April unanimously approved deployment of 30 UN observers, 21 April voted to increase number to 300. Activists 23 April claimed Hama shelled by regime as punishment for UN visit, dozens reported killed, 26 April reported up to 70 killed in explosion in Hama. Regime 27 April said 10 killed in “suicide bombing” in Damascus. At least 9 killed in 30 April blasts in Idlib reportedly targeting security buildings. Opposition fighters 28 April reportedly launched sea raid in Latakia province. 2nd Friends of Syria Summit held 1 April in Istanbul, opposition group SNC said rebel fighters to receive salaries. EU 23 April agreed new round of sanctions against Syria.
Month saw daily anti-govt and pro-reform protests against 22 April Formula 1 race, in support of detained activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja; govt 8 April rejected Danish govt demand to transfer al-Khawaja to Denmark; Court of Cassation 30 April ordered retrial in civil court of 21 pro-democracy activists, including al-Khawaja; leading activist Zainab al-Khawaja detained several times for allegedly insulting police while trying to access father. Explosion 9 April wounded 7 policemen; pro-govt Sunnis 10 April retaliated against Shiite store. Anti-riot police 13 April fired on funeral for activist killed in March. Activists claimed man found dead 21 April killed by police. Explosion 25 April wounded 4 policemen in Diraz. Amnesty International 17 April reported continuing govt violations, inadequate response to Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).
P5+1 negotiations resumed 14 April in Istanbul after 15-month freeze; U.S. said talks positive. Ayatollah Khamenei 2 April reiterated fatwa against production, use of nuclear weapons; U.S. Secretary of State Clinton reacted positively, requested Tehran take practical steps as proof; Israeli army chief Lt Gen Gantz 25 April said Iran not building nuclear bomb, international pressure working. Nuclear chief Abbasi 10 April signalled Iran’s willingness to revive version of 2009/2010 uranium enrichment deal; FM Salehi 16 April expressed willingness to resolve all nuclear issues in next round of talks if West lifted sanctions. Tension with UAE increased following 17 March visit by President Ahmadinejad to disputed islands of Abu Musa; GCC described move as provocation, violation of UAE sovereignty. Parliament started discussions on amending internal rules of procedure to ease process of impeaching president, 17 April cancelled televised speech by President Ahmadinejad.
Country-wide bombings 19 April killed 35; Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility. 21 April bombings in Baghdad killed 3; Diyala province Governor al-Hiyali’s convoy bombed same day; 2 explosions 26 April in Diyala province killed 10. Electoral commission head al-Haidari briefly detained 15 April on suspicion of corruption. Qatar 3 April refused Iraqi request to hand over VP al-Hashemi; al-Hashemi 19 April warned of Iraq “break up” over sectarian polarisation by PM al-Maliki; 30 April charged with several murders, including those of 6 judges. Kurdistan regional President Barzani 1 April declared suspension of oil exports to Baghdad. New Kurdistan Regional Govt sworn in 6 April, headed by PM Nechirvan Barzani; Turkish PM Erdoğan 19 April criticised PM al-Maliki’s treatment of minority coalition partners; al-Maliki denounced Turkish “illusion of regional hegemony”, “stoking of sectarian tensions”.
Early-month saw protests by female students in Medina, Tabuk Universities against outdated educational system. Anti-govt protest in Qatif 6 April called for release of political prisoners. Court 17 April jailed co-founder of Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association Mohamad al-Bajadi for 4 years; authorities denied reports al-Bajadi on hunger strike since 11 March. Trial of 50 suspected of involvement in 2003 al-Muhaya compound bombing began 7 April in Riyadh.
President Hadi 6 April announced dismissal of 4 governors, rotation/reassignment of 20 military officers, including former President Saleh’s half-brother General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar; Saleh loyalists 7-8 April closed Sanaa international airport in response; General Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmar eventually stepped down 24 April. Former President Saleh’s nephew, General Abdullah Saleh, 27 April agreed to stand down as Presidential Guard chief. President Hadi 7 April deployed combined military force including Saleh, Mohsin loyalists to secure capital. Govt 12 April announced formation of preparatory committee for national dialogue. In South, month saw intensification in battle with al-Qaeda militants, deployment of counter-terrorism units from Republican Guards, Central Security Forces: militants 2 April reportedly blew-up pipeline in retaliation for killing of 5 al-Qaeda members in 31 March U.S. drone strike. Army 3 April said airstrikes against al-Qaeda in al-Rahha Mountains killed 43; al-Qaeda 9-14 April clashed with army, tribally-led popular committees outside Lowdar killing over 200, mostly militants. Army 13 April said 28 al-Qaeda fighters killed, 2 senior al-Qaeda leaders arrested during offensive in Abyan province, 18 April announced capture of al-Qaeda stronghold in Zinjibar. Gunmen 22 April kidnapped ICRC official near Hudaida. U.S. 26 April announced easing of restrictions on drone strikes.
Month saw reported attempt to oust National Liberation Front (FLN) SG Belkhadem as part of power struggle to succeed President Bouteflika. EU 17 April launched electoral observation mission ahead of 10 May legislative elections. Diplomats abducted 5 April in Gao (see Mali). Security forces 29 April reportedly killed 20 Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) fighters on Malian border in Tessalit region. 4 policemen killed 30 April in Kabylie by suspected Islamists.
April saw increasing constitutional and electoral turmoil ahead of 23-24 May presidential elections, mass demonstrations against Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Former spy chief and VP Suleiman 6 April announced presidential candidacy, sparking mass demonstration primarily by Islamists; Muslim Brotherhood (MB) warned of second revolution should former regime sympathisers return to power. Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) 15 April disqualified 10 of 23 candidates, including the MB’s al-Shatir, Suleiman, Salafist Abu Ismail; MB said Freedom and Justice Party Chairman Mursi to run instead; tens of thousands of protesters from wide range of groups 20-21 April returned to Tahrir Square demanding handover of power to civilian rule. Salafist al-Nour Party 23 April suffered high-profile resignations over party’s perceived failure to endorse Abu Ismail’s presidential bid. Abu Ismail supporters organised sit-in opposite Ministry of Defence, violently attacked by unidentified assailants. Administrative court 10 April suspended Constituent Assembly following mass boycott by secular, minority groups; Advisory Council called on SCAF to issue complementary constitutional declaration setting criteria for equal representation. MB 18 April warned of “fierce war” to keep Islamists out of executive branch, said democracy in danger. Mohamed ElBaradei 28 April launched new Constitution Party. Protests 17 April disrupted start of trial of suspects in Feb Port Said football violence. Interpol 23 April refused Egyptian request to issue international wanted persons alerts for 15 foreigners linked to U.S.-based NGOs. Egypt state-owned gas company EGAS 23 April announced cancellation of gas deal with Israel over unpaid fees.
Communal clashes continued in South: PM el-Keib 1 April attempted to resolve protracted fighting in Sebha that has killed at least 150. 6 April fighting between pro-Qadhafi Tuaregs, Zintani militiamen on Algerian border left around 12 dead. Clashes early-month between rival Zuwara, Ragdalein militias following detention by Ragdalein militia of 24 Zuwara militiamen accused of abusing residents. Mid-month clashes between soldiers, tribes-men after army sent to quell fighting in Kufra. Bomb 10 April targeted convoy of UN head of mission Ian Martin in Benghazi. Govt 20 April took over Tripoli international airport from militia. Cabinet 7 April stopped cash payout program to former rebels over corruption. ICC 4 April requested authorities hand over Saif al-Islam Qadhafi; Justice Minister Ashour declined; Saif al-Islam defence team 12 April requested judges reject Libyan appeal for additional time, report Libya to UNSC over non-compliance; Moreno-Ocampo 18 April arrived in Tripoli as part of investigation. NTC 25 April issued new law banning parties based on religious principles. Body of former oil minister Shukri Ghanem 30 April found in Danube.
Thousands demonstrated 29 April following burn- ing of Islamic Maliki legal texts legitimising slavery by head of Initiative for Abolitionist Resurgence (IRA), Biram Ould Abeid; Ould Abeid, 4 followers arrested. Coordination for Democratic Opposition (COD) leaders 8 April reiterated call for President Abdel Aziz to step down, organised massive demonstrations in Nouakchott 3, 22 April. Authorities 17 April arrested 36 Youth Movement for Mauritania (MJM) activists following clashes with police in Nouakchott. Former third-in-command of al-Qaeda, Mahfouz Ould al-Walid (alias Abu Hafs al-Mauritani) 11 April extradited from Iran.
PM Benkirane 22 April criticised King Mohammed entourage, warned Arab Spring not over. Outspoken rapper Mouad Belghouat to be tried for insulting public employees following 29 March arrest. Human rights organisations 10 April said 27 prisoners currently on hunger strike, many in protest against political nature of convictions. Interior Ministry 9 April said terror cell in Agourai disrupted, members allegedly preparing to attack govt facilities, banks.
Polarisation between pro- and anti-Ennahda forces continued with violent repression by security forces of 9 April “Martyr’s Day” demonstration. Security forces, pro-ruling coalition “militias” violently dispersed protest by unemployed youths in Rades. Islamist, left-wing student organisations 6 April clashed at Manar University. New centre-right Republican Party created 7 April following fusion of 7 parties, including Progressive Democratic Party.
UNSC late-month renewed MINURSO peacekeeping mandate for 1 year; South Africa criticised UNSC for “conveniently ignoring” human rights abuses. Leaked report by UNSG Ban on last round of failed negotiations implied Morocco spying on MINURSO, said UN interaction with local population hindered by authorities.