CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
Central African Republic
The latest edition of Crisis Group’s monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in November in nine countries and conflict areas, as well as an improved situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In Kashmir, tensions escalated sharply amid deadly incidents along the Line of Control dividing Pakistani- and Indian-administered Kashmir, resulting in India’s highest monthly military casualty toll since April.
In Mozambique, Islamist militants staged a large-scale offensive in the far north, seizing their second district capital since August and killing scores.
Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire to end six weeks of deadly hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Looking ahead to December, CrisisWatch warns of four conflict risks.
In Yemen, Washington’s likely designation of the Huthis as a terrorist organisation could trigger retaliatory attacks and hamper humanitarian operations as the UN warns of looming famine.
In Western Sahara, the 1991 ceasefire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front collapsed, sparking concerns that the long-frozen conflict could reignite.
Tensions increased in the Central African Republic over former President Bozizé’s presidential candidacy, raising risks of violence around the vote scheduled for 27 December.
A violent conflict that erupted in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, killing thousands and prompting more than 43,000 refugees to flee into eastern Sudan, could continue. Although federal forces captured Tigray’s regional capital and announced an end to military operations, Tigray leaders vowed to continue fighting.
In his introduction to this month’s edition of CrisisWatch, our President Robert Malley reflects on our field analysts’ work, Crisis Group’s mandate, and why we call for inclusive dialogue in Ethiopia.
Police violently repressed anti-govt demonstration. Following calls by main opposition party National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), thousands of youths 11 Nov took to streets in capital Luanda for second time in less than three weeks to protest against rampant poverty and govt corruption, and to call for new date for local elections delayed by COVID-19 pandemic; security forces used teargas and live bullets to disperse crowd, reportedly killing one protester and injuring several others. NGO Human Rights Watch next day deplored “heavy-handed policing and violent repression of peaceful protests”, urged govt to investigate abuses. President Lourenço 26 Nov held talks in Luanda with 17 youth organisations, including UNITA’s youth wing, to appease tensions.
President Kaboré won re-election, and jihadists launched deadly attack on army in north. Presidential and legislative elections held 22 Nov without major security incidents. Opposition parties next day however said electoral process was “riddled with fraud” and threatened “not to accept results”. Electoral commission 26 Nov announced preliminary presidential election results, giving incumbent President Kaboré first-round victory with 57.87% of vote. Prominent opposition candidate Zéphirin Diabré 27 Nov acknowledged Kaboré’s win. Electoral commission overnight 28-29 Nov announced legislative elections results, giving ruling party 56 of 127 seats. Earlier in month, Constitutional Council 1 Nov called off elections in 1,645 sectors or villages, disenfranchising 5.79% of electorate; body cited major risk of jihadist attacks and lack of public services in these areas. Electoral commission 10 Nov called on all candidates to adhere to security protocols, after dividing national territory into three sectors according to jihadist threat levels. Meanwhile, jihadist attacks persisted in northern regions, with Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) gaining ground in several areas. In Sahel region, suspected ISGS combatants 2 Nov stormed artisanal mining site near Madouji town, Soum province, killing eight; 8 Nov killed eight civilians in Diobbou village and legislative elections candidate’s chauffeur near Goudoubo locality, both Seno province. In deadliest attack on army since Aug 2019, jihadists 11 Nov killed 13 soldiers and one gendarme in ambush near Tin-Akoff, Oudalan province. In following days, both al-Qaeda and Islamic State claimed responsibility for attack, highlighting competition between groups’ local franchises. Security forces faced new accusations of abuses of civilians, notably in Oudalan province: soldiers and volunteer fighters 6 Nov raided Kouna and Deibanga towns, reportedly killing several ethnic Fulani; same day reportedly killed ten ethnic Tuareg in Tin-Samane area.
Govt continued crackdown on dissent and ordered UN to close its special envoy’s office in country. Monitoring from human rights groups revealed decrease in cases of arbitrary arrests during month, with ten in Nov compared to 98 in Oct. Ruling party CNDD-FDD’s youth wing Imbonerakure continued to pose threats to civilian population, notably killing child in Mutimbuizi commune, Bubanza province 2 Nov. President Ndayishimiye 16 Nov called on Imbonerakure to step up efforts to track down “enemies” inside country. Residents in Cibitoke province mid-Nov said they had recovered around 20 lifeless bodies near Rusizi river since Oct, accused National Intelligence Service of bearing responsibility. Govt 11-14 Nov auctioned off properties of 30 former govt officials suspected of involvement in 2015 coup attempt against former President Nkurunziza, despite lack of formal judicial investigation; authorities in recent weeks also arrested three current and former intelligence service agents over suspicion of involvement in coup attempt. Govt 26 Oct-6 Nov conducted civil servant census, requiring information about ethnicity. Govt 10 Nov praised “record of repatriation” of Burundian refugees from Tanzania, DRC and Rwanda in recent days. Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie 4 Nov lifted sanctions against Burundi in place since 2015, reinstating country as full member. After UN delegation’s visit to Burundi in Sept concluded rights abuses continued under Ndayishimiye, UN Sec-Gen Guterres 3 Nov recommended mandate extension of Office of Special Envoy for Burundi until end of 2021. Govt 17 Nov however said it will discontinue office’s accreditation 31 Dec 2020, arguing that UN presence seeks to “maintain Burundi in a psychosis of an artificial crisis cunningly orchestrated by foreign actors”.
Anglophone separatists continued to target schools in North West and South West regions, while jihadist violence persisted in Far North. In North West, Anglophone separatists kidnapped dozens, including six teachers and ten students in Bui division’s capital Kumbo 3 Nov, and six students in Boyo division’s capital Fundong next day; most victims were quickly released. Separatists 5 Nov kidnapped prominent Cardinal Tumi and traditional chief of Nso people, alongside 11 others in Bui division, next day released Tumi and 10 Nov released Nso chief. Soldiers 8 Nov killed two civilians in Akum locality near regional capital Bamenda, and two others in Ndu town, Donga-Mantung division. In continued clashes with army, suspected separatists 11 and 18 Nov reportedly killed four soldiers in Bamenda and Mbiame town, Bui division. In South West, suspected separatists 4 Nov assaulted students and teachers in Limbe city, Fako division, later burnt school classroom, and 8 Nov killed traditional chief in regional capital Buea. Separatists 14 Nov killed two soldiers near Mamfe city, Manyu division, and 26 Nov killed three others in Ekondo-Titi commune, Ndian division. Soldiers 25 Nov reportedly killed at least two civilians in Akwaya commune, Manyu division. In Far North region, Boko Haram (BH) 10-25 Nov killed at least 14 civilians and kidnapped several others across region. Army overnight 18-19 Nov clashed with suspected jihadists in Mora town, killing two. Meanwhile, opposition leader Maurice Kamto remained under de facto house arrest in capital Yaoundé after calling for protest against President Biya in Sept. Authorities night of 3-4 Nov detained nine members of Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC), including his spokesperson, for “rebellion” among other charges. Electoral commission started distribution of voter cards to members of electoral college ahead of 6 Dec regional elections, which MRC and other opposition party Social Democratic Front are boycotting.
Tensions increased over former President Bozizé’s presidential candidacy, raising risk of violence around 27 Dec general elections; armed group activity persisted across country. Electoral commission 1-10 Nov registered 22 presidential candidates, including President Touadéra and former President Bozizé. Controversy persisted over latter’s eligibility, as electoral code requires at least one year in-country residency before running for president and exact date of Bozizé’s return from exile remains unclear. Former President Djotodia 8 Nov called on Bozizé to “respect the law” to preserve “stability and peace”. Constitutional Court to release final list of candidates early Dec. Meanwhile, armed group Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) attacks decreased further in north west. 3R combatants 4 Nov, however, detained Fulani herder in Sanguere village, Ouham-Pendé prefecture; 3R reportedly repositioned on strategic axes ahead of transhumance movements, raising risk of further attacks on pastoralists in coming weeks. 3R leader Sidiki Abbas 3 Nov accused govt of failing to honour commitments made during meeting on electoral preparations last month and threatened to disrupt elections. In south east, suspected armed group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO) faction led by James Nando 8 Nov attacked armed group Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) camp in Bambouti town, Haut-Mbomou prefecture, killing two UPC combatants and suffering heavy losses; clashes resumed 15 Nov, killing one civilian. Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration process continued, with over 400 armed group combatants demobilised in Vakaga (north east) and Nana-Grébizi (north) prefectures 16 Oct-3 Nov. UPC leader Ali Darassa 4 Nov said 200 UPC elements were ready to demobilise in Haute-Kotto (east) and Ouaka (centre) prefectures, called on all armed groups in east to follow suit in lead-up to general elections. Community leaders from north east, where intercommunal tensions flared in early 2020, 7-10 Nov met with Touadéra in capital Bangui, signed reconciliation agreement. UN Security Council 12 Nov extended mandate of UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) until 15 Nov 2021.
Violence continued around Lake Chad and political tensions increased as President Déby pressed ahead with constitutional revision ahead of 2021 presidential election. Small-scale jihadist attacks against civilians and military continued in Lake province in west. Boko Haram overnight 3-4 Nov attacked Barkalam village, killing two and abducting another; 11 Nov killed seven in Ngoundadiya village; explosive device overnight 24-25 Nov killed four soldiers and injured dozens between Ngouboua et Litri localities. Farmer-herder violence 23-24 Nov broke out in and around Bélé village, south-western Mayo-Kebbi Est province, reportedly leaving 22 dead and 34 injured; security forces 25 Nov reportedly arrested 66 including local officials on suspicion of involvement in violence. Following Oct uptick in tensions between army and local self-defence militia over gold mining in northern Tibesti province near Libya, several senior military officers including army chief of staff visited region in Nov; military vehicles and equipment arrived in area 27 Nov. Amid persistent concern that Chadian rebels are using neighbouring Libya and Sudan as launching pads for attacks into Chad, Déby 16 Nov met with leader of Chadian rebel group based in Sudan and active in Libya, Abdelwahid Aboud Mackaye, in capital N’Djamena; Aboud Mackaye during and after meeting called on rebels to give up armed combat. Meanwhile, most opposition and civil society groups boycotted National Inclusive Forum on constitutional reform held in N’Djamena 29 Oct-1 Nov. Govt 12 Nov adopted constitutional reform bill; newly created VP will be directly appointed by president, sparking renewed concern that Déby could promote close relatives. Opposition repeatedly said constitutional revision will increase centralisation of power and minimum age requirement purposefully keeps 37-year-old opposition figure Succès Masra out of 11 April 2021 presidential race. Police 5 Nov used tear gas to disperse Masra’s supporters in N’Djamena, reportedly injuring several. Govt 26 Nov banned opposition’s “citizens’ forum” planned for 27-29 Nov, citing COVID-19 concerns. Police 27 Nov arrested about 70 people, mostly journalists, in premises of radio FM Liberté in N’Djamena for allegedly attempting to organise forum.
Electoral commission announced incumbent President Ouattara’s re-election amid deadly post-electoral violence. Violent incidents broke out following 31 Oct presidential election, notably in opposition strongholds in centre. Unidentified gunmen 1-4 Nov attacked several govt and ruling party officials’ convoys near capital Yamoussoukro and in Toumodi department, leaving three dead. Meanwhile, electoral commission 3 Nov declared Ouattara as presidential election winner with 94.27% of votes. Opposition parties under leadership of Henri Konan Bédié and Pascal Affi N’Guessan – both candidates in Oct presidential election – 2 Nov announced creation of National Transitional Council, in charge of forming transitional govt. Security forces next day surrounded Bédié’s house in Cocody neighbourhood of economic capital Abidjan and arrested 21 members of his inner circle. Police 6 Nov arrested Affi N’Guessan in south-eastern Akoupé town over accusations of “attack and conspiracy against the state authority, murder and act of terrorism”. Constitutional Council 9 Nov confirmed Ouattara’s re-election, sparking further deadly violence in centre. In M’Batto town, ethnic Malinké ruling party supporters 9-10 Nov clashed with ethnic Agni opposition protesters, leaving at least five dead and several critically wounded; in Daoukro city, intercommunal clashes 9 Nov reportedly killed six and wounded over 50; in Ellibou village, clashes between security forces and locals 9 Nov reportedly left three dead. UN refugee agency 10 Nov said over 8,000 Ivorians had fled to neighbouring countries since election day. Govt next day said 31 were killed in post-electoral violence 1-10 Nov. Ouattara and Bédié 11 Nov met in Abidjan to “break the ice”; Bédié 20 Nov said release of detained opposition members was prerequisite for any future talks. Meanwhile, West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS 10 Nov and French President Macron 15 Nov congratulated Ouattara on re-election, called for dialogue with opposition.
Armed group attacks continued unabated in eastern provinces, while tensions remained close to breaking point within ruling coalition. In North Kivu province’s Beni territory, suspected armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 7 Nov killed 12 in Kisima and Matadi villages; 9 Nov killed four in Mbujimayi village; 17 Nov reportedly killed six in Kokola village. In South Kivu province, unidentified armed men 3 Nov kidnapped three humanitarian workers from NGO Oxfam on Kundu-Fizi-centre axis, Fizi territory. In Ituri province, Djugu territory registered relative lull in violence, despite clashes between army and CODECO militia faction Alliance for the Liberation of Congo, which left five soldiers dead in Ezekere locality 3 Nov; suspected ADF around 10 Nov killed six civilians in Samboko village, Mambasa territory. Meanwhile, ruling coalition partners, President Tshisekedi and former President Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC), remained at loggerheads. In alleged attempt to drum up support for his plan to break away from FCC, Tshisekedi 1-24 Nov held series of meetings with opposition and religious leaders, as well as some FCC members, to win them over. After social media messages early Nov called on army to revolt against poor working conditions, including wage arrears and lack of equipment, army 12 Nov denied any unrest within army ranks and warned politicians against any attempt to manipulate military. Thousands of Tshisekedi supporters 14 Nov marched in capital Kinshasa to demand end of coalition with FCC; during march, sec gen of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress accused FCC finance minister of freezing funds intended for salaries of civil servants and especially military, in order to turn them against Tshisekedi. Earlier in month, opposition lawmakers 7 Nov started gathering signatures to submit no-confidence motion against pro-Kabila National Assembly President Jeanine Mabunda; over 230 MPs by next day had already supported initiative, surpassing required threshold to put motion to vote. Council of State 23 Nov rejected MP Albert Fabrice Puela’s request that Mabunda and her office resign for not having submitted financial report to plenary on time.
Govt expressed support for Ethiopia’s govt after conflict erupted between Ethiopia’s federal and Tigray regional state forces. As part of Ethiopia’s effort to garner regional support for its military campaign against Tigray, Ethiopian PM Abiy’s national security adviser 16 Nov met with President Guelleh in capital Djibouti City; in follow-up statement, Djibouti’s govt said it recognised Abiy’s govt “as the sole guarantor” of Ethiopia’s unity and territorial integrity.
Conflict between Ethiopia’s federal govt and Tigray regional state spilled over to Eritrea as rockets were fired on country’s capital. Ethiopian federal govt 4 Nov launched military offensive against Tigray which shares border and has long had hostile relationship with Eritrea (see Ethiopia). Tigray President Debretsion Gebremichael 10 Nov accused Eritrea of sending troops into Tigray in support of Addis Ababa; Eritrean FM Osman Saleh same day denied allegation, saying that it “is an internal conflict” of which “we are not part”. Tigray 14 and reportedly 27-28 Nov fired several rockets at Eritrean capital Asmara. As part of regional tour mid-Nov, Eritrean delegation led by Saleh and presidential adviser Yemane Gebreab notably discussed Ethiopia-Tigray conflict with Sudanese PM Hamdok and Sovereign Council head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan 11 Nov and with Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry 18 Nov.
Violent conflict erupted in Tigray region, killing thousands and displacing many more; despite capture by federal forces of Tigray’s capital late month, regional leaders vowed to continue fighting. Following months of tensions between federal and Tigray’s govts, PM Abiy 4 Nov ordered military offensive against Tigray after alleged attack same day by regional forces on federal military in Tigray, which reportedly killed dozens. Federal troops, supported by Amhara regional forces, subsequently launched ground and air operations against Tigray forces; fighting reportedly killed thousands and prompted tens of thousands to flee to neighbouring Sudan. Both sides reportedly committed atrocities including 9-10 Nov massacre by Tigrayan militia of at least 600 civilians in Mai-Kadra town in West Tigray Zone. Tigray 13 Nov fired rockets at Bahir Dar and Gondar airports in neighbouring Amhara region; and 14 Nov and reportedly 27-28 Nov at Eritrea’s capital Asmara, after accusing neighbouring country of supporting federal forces’ offensive (see Eritrea). As federal forces advanced on Tigray’s capital Mekelle, Abiy 22 Nov issued 72-hour ultimatum demanding Tigray regional forces lay down arms; 26 Nov announced he had ordered assault on Mekelle after Tigrayan leadership refused to surrender; 28 Nov said federal forces had taken control of Mekelle and announced end of military operations in Tigray. Tigray President and ruling party Tigray People’s Liberation Front leader Debretsion Gebremichael immediately said its forces would continue “to fight these invaders to the last”. Amid conflict, Abiy 8 Nov replaced army chief, head of intelligence and FM; Ethiopian human rights commission 30 Nov said it received complaints throughout month about ethnic profiling and harassment of ethnic Tigrayans, notably within civil service and federal army. In Oromia region in centre, suspected members of armed group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) 1 Nov reportedly killed tens of ethnic Amhara in Western Wollega zone; following attack, Oromia security forces launched operations reportedly killing over 150 OLA fighters. In Benishangul-Gumuz region in north west, unidentified gunmen 14 Nov killed at least 34 civilians in Metekel Zone. In Southern Nations region in south, unidentified assailants mid-Nov reportedly killed dozens. Tripartite negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam remained stalled (see Nile Waters).
Govt launched wave of arrests as opposition continued to contest President Condé’s re-election. Oct presidential election runner-up Cellou Dalein Diallo and three other opposition candidates 1 Nov appealed against election results before Constitutional Court, citing irregularities including alleged ballot stuffing in Upper and Middle Guinea, harassment of opposition election observers and abuse of proxy voting; court 7 Nov rejected plea over “lack of evidence” and confirmed Condé’s re-election. Condé same day promised to end “disorder in Guinea”. In following days, police launched raids notably in pro-opposition neighbourhoods of capital Conakry, reportedly arresting scores, including Diallo’s Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea VP Ibrahima Chérif Bah and three other party officials 11-12 Nov; Diallo immediately accused Condé of seeking to “behead” his party. Condé 13 Nov denied “witch hunt” against opposition and expressed willingness for dialogue. Govt 22 Nov banned demonstrations, citing COVID-19 concerns. Security forces 25 Nov dispersed hundreds of Diallo supporters in Labé city (centre north), reportedly leaving several injured. Meanwhile, West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS 10 Nov congratulated Condé for his victory, while French President Macron 20 Nov refrained to do so, instead voicing concern over “grave” situation and deploring Condé amended constitution to “stay in power”.
Former PM Aristides Gomes filed human rights complaint against govt. Gomes’ lawyers 19 Nov said they had filed legal complaint to West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS alleging govt’s “forcible confinement” of Gomes at UN mission headquarters in capital Bissau, where he took refuge earlier this year as authorities initiated several investigations against him.
President Kenyatta launched signature campaign to trigger referendum on constitutional reform, tensions rose with Somalia and Al-Shabaab attacks continued in north east. Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga 2 Nov unveiled roadmap for referendum on constitutional reform, at centre of power struggle with VP William Ruto, scheduling it for June 2021; 25 Nov launched signature drive to trigger referendum process. In Mandera county in north east, Al-Shabaab militants 13 Nov reportedly killed security officer near Mandera town; roadside bomb 30 Nov left at least five police officers injured on Jabibar-Rhamu road. Somalia 29 Nov expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own, accusing Nairobi of interfering in its upcoming elections by “placing great political pressure on the regional president of Jubaland” (see Somalia); Kenya next day denied allegations. In Turkana county in north west, attack by suspected ethnic Pokot gunmen 19 Nov left one dead and three others missing in Kapedo village. In Elgeyo-Marakwet county in west, suspected ethnic Pokot militia 6 Nov killed two herders in Kipchumwa locality. In Meru county in centre, assailants reportedly from Turkana county 12 Nov shot and killed herder and next day shot and injured at least nine police officers as well as one civilian in Makinya locality. Kenyatta 16 Nov received Ethiopian FM Demeke Mekonnen in capital Nairobi, called for de-escalation of conflict that erupted in Ethiopia (see Ethiopia). In Marsabit county near Ethiopian border in north, Ethiopian security forces 23 Nov clashed with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebels in Moyale town, toll unknown; Ethiopian security forces next day detained at least nine Kenyans for allegedly sheltering OLA rebels.
Interim authorities faced growing opposition while inter-communal violence and jihadist activity continued in centre. Rifts widened between military junta’s governing body, National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), on one hand, and political parties, civil society and trade unions, on the other, over perceived lack of power sharing. President Bah N’Daw 9 Nov issued decrees on formation of interim legislative body National Transitional Council (CNT), giving VP and CNSP leader Assimi Goïta authority to appoint CNT members and outlining allocation of 121 seats to different forces, among which CNSP will be best represented with 22 seats. Coalition of opposition and civil society groups M5-RFP, which led uprising against former President Keïta, 11 Nov said “unacceptable” decrees revealed transition’s “purely military” nature; former PM Moussa Mara’s Yelema party, along with other political forces, same day said they would boycott CNT. Govt 25 Nov appointed senior military figures as governors of several regions, bringing total of regions governed by military or police officers to 13 of 20. Meanwhile, inter-communal violence erupted in Ségou region in centre after suspected jihadists stormed Farabougou village in Oct. Ethnic Bambara 31 Oct-2 Nov clashed with suspected jihadists and ethnic Fulani in several villages around Farabougou; at least four dead, including one soldier. Jihadist and inter-communal violence continued in neighbouring Mopti region. Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 3 Nov attacked bus on Parou-Songobia axis, Bandiagara district, killing eight. Dogon militiamen 12 Nov killed three Fulani in ambush near Mandio locality, Mopti district. Unidentified assailants 23-24 Nov attacked Minimakanda village, Bankass district, killing at least four in apparent retaliation for jihadist attacks there in Oct. Meanwhile, also in Mopti, French Operation Barkhane reportedly killed 50 Ansarul Islam-affiliated insurgents in Pogol-N’Daki area, Douentza district 30 Oct-1 Nov and 30 other suspected jihadists in Niaki area, Koro district 12 Nov. French govt 13 Nov said ground and air operation 10 Nov killed senior JNIM commander Bah ag Moussa in Ménaka region in east. JNIM 30 Nov claimed series of rocket attacks upon French military outposts in Gao, Kidal (both north) and Ménaka regions same day.
Islamist militants staged large-scale offensive in far north, seizing second district capital since Aug and leaving scores dead; armed dissident faction of opposition Renamo party continued violent attacks in centre. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, Islamist insurgents late Oct to mid-Nov staged offensive in Muidumbe district, capturing district capital Namacande and reportedly killing at least 50 and possibly hundreds more in Muatide area. Police Commander Bernardino Rafael 19 Nov said security forces had retaken control of Namacande, but insurgents reportedly returned to town by month’s end, clashing with security forces 27 Nov. In following days, fighting moved north east toward garrison town of Mueda, with insurgents 29 Nov killing 18 soldiers in Ntushi locality. More than 45,000 fled Muidumbe district 28 Oct-25 Nov. In Palma district, insurgents 2 Nov launched attack on Pundanhar town, kidnapping five civilians; in response, security forces next day reportedly killed at least 33 insurgents. In Macomia district, insurgents 5-6 Nov attacked Nanjaba and Napala villages, killing five civilians and kidnapping six others. Insurgents late Nov captured sailboats off coast of Palma and Mocímboa da Praia districts, marking first instances of sea piracy by insurgents. Mozambique and Tanzania 20 Nov signed agreement to launch joint operations against insurgents and share intelligence after violence spilled over into Tanzania in Oct. Southern Africa regional bloc SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation 27 Nov called for “comprehensive regional response” and urgent support to Mozambique. In centre, suspected members of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), dissident faction of opposition party Renamo, 3 Nov attacked vehicle in area between Gorongosa and Nhamatanda districts in Sofala province, injuring two civilians; Junta leader Mariano Nhongo same day denied responsibility. President Nyusi – whose unilateral ceasefire in Oct failed to kickstart peace talks with JMR – 18 Nov said dissidents had carried out two attacks in Manica province’s Sussundenga district, leaving three civilians injured; same day said “there is no interest [from JMR] to engage in dialogue” and vowed to “take care” of group. Further JMR attack in Sussundenga 25-26 Nov left at least two injured.
Political tensions increased ahead of 27 Dec presidential election and jihadist violence persisted in south west. Tens of thousands of supporters of Hama Amadou, main opposition candidate in forthcoming presidential election, 7 Nov rallied in football stadium in capital Niamey, in show of force to demonstrate candidate’s ability to mobilise voters. Following months of rumors that ruling-party candidate Mohamed Bazoum was born abroad, sparking doubts about his eligibility, opposition members in Diffa region 11 Nov filed complaint challenging legality of his certificate of nationality. Constitutional Court 13 Nov cleared 30 of 41 candidates to run for president, including Bazoum, but disqualified Amadou, citing his 2017 one-year prison sentence. In following days, Amadou’s supporters adopted belligerent tone on social media. Meanwhile, security situation deteriorated in Tillabery region in south west. Suspected jihadists 6 Nov killed civilian and looted shops in Komane village north of Torodi commune; suspected Islamic State in West Africa Province combatants 10-16 Nov kidnapped at least four civilians in Ouallam and Abala communes. Kidnappings decreased in Diffa region in south east; total of two cases reported throughout month.
Jihadist and criminal violence continued in North East and North West, and authorities cracked down on instigators of #EndSARS protest movement. In Borno state in North East, jihadists 1 Nov killed 12 civilians and kidnapped nine others in Chibok town. Landmine laid by jihadists next day killed nine soldiers in Abadam town. Boko Haram (BH) 21 Nov killed seven soldiers and two civilians in attack on Borno state governor’s convoy on Gajiram-Monguno axis. Jihadists 28 Nov killed at least 43 farmers and abducted unconfirmed number of people in Zabarmari village near state capital Maiduguri. Meanwhile, army and vigilantes 2 Nov killed “scores” of BH insurgents in Nganzai town, and airstrikes 8 and 10 Nov targeted Islamic State West Africa Province and BH insurgents in Abadam and Gwoza towns, death toll unknown. In North West, criminal violence continued to take high toll on civilians. In Kaduna state, unidentified gunmen 6-7 Nov abducted 13 in Dande village, Chikun area, and near state capital Kaduna; 15-17 Nov killed at least 16 and abducted many others in several attacks across state. In Katsina state, unidentified gunmen 8 Nov killed three civilians and kidnapped 13 others in Sabuwa area; same day kidnapped six police officers in Dogondaji area. In Zamfara state, unidentified gunmen 11 Nov killed civilian and abducted five others in Anka area; 20 Nov attacked mosque in Dutsen Gari village, reportedly killing five and abducting 18 others, including imam; 30 Nov killed eight civilians and abducted 38 in Talata-Mafara area. In South, clashes between rival cult groups, notably Aye and Eiye, 1-15 Nov killed over 40, mostly around Edo state capital Benin City. After protests against Special Anti-Robbery Unit (SARS) turned deadly last month, govt late Oct-early Nov launched legal action against individuals and organisations affiliated with protest movement, including seizing travel documents and freezing bank accounts.
Tripartite negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) remained stalled. African Union (AU)-sponsored talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on filling and operation of GERD 4 Nov reached stalemate after Egypt objected to Sudan’s proposal to give greater role to AU experts to narrow gaps between parties and propose compromises. Sudan 21 Nov boycotted new round of talks, reiterating call for new method of negotiation. Ethiopian govt 26 Nov announced GERD expected to begin generating power in June 2021.
Appointment of electoral commissions, in charge of overseeing upcoming indirect elections, sparked major dispute; tensions rose with Kenya; and Al-Shabaab continued deadly attacks. Ahead of Dec parliamentary elections and Feb 2021 presidential vote, federal govt early Nov appointed federal electoral commission, dispute resolution commission and regional electoral commission for breakaway Somaliland, sparking strong opposition. Coalition of six opposition parties, Forum for National Parties, 7 Nov rejected federal electoral and dispute resolution commissions, condemning inclusion of intelligence service agents and civil servants; coalition said federal govt has no legal authority to appoint Somaliland representatives and that Somaliland’s commission should be appointed by speaker of federal parliament’s upper house, Abdi Hashi. Hashi 21 Nov appointed parallel electoral body for Somaliland. Fourteen presidential candidates 26 Nov demanded dissolution of all commissions, accusing President Farmajo of stacking electoral bodies with loyalists; candidates threatened to undertake further actions if demands are not met. Jubaland state President Madobe 28 Nov reiterated that parliamentary polls would not take place in disputed Gedo region as long as federal troops remain deployed there; Mogadishu next day expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own, accusing Nairobi of interfering in its internal affairs by prompting Madobe to renege on “election agreement” reached in Sept; Kenya next day denied allegations. In Hirshabelle state, candidate backed by federal govt, Ali Gudlawe, 11 Nov won Hirshabelle’s presidential election; following polls, clan militia mobilised outside Hiraan regional capital Beledweyne against election results, and late Nov reportedly clashed with federal forces. In south and centre, Al-Shabaab killed at least 40 civilians and security personnel throughout month in Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba, Bakool, Mudug and Galguduud regions. In capital Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab attacks left at least 15 dead throughout month. After conflict broke out in Ethiopia between federal govt and Tigray regional state (see Ethiopia), Addis Ababa early Nov reportedly began withdrawal of about 3,000 soldiers unaffiliated with African Union mission (AMISOM) from Gedo region in south; Ethiopia 18 Nov said it had disarmed ethnic Tigrayan officers within its AMISOM contingent.
Somaliland began registering voters for long-delayed elections. Voter registration for parliamentary and local elections, which have been postponed several times since 2019 and are now planned for May 2021, started 29 Nov. In Sool region in east, unidentified gunmen 3 and 17 Nov shot and killed police officer and judge in regional capital Las Anod; landmine 13 Nov killed at least three herders near Dharkeyn-Genyo village. In Togdheer region in centre, roadside bomb 14 Nov killed at least one in Balli-dhiig district. In Sanaag region in east, Somalia’s Puntland forces early Nov reportedly launched operations against Al-Shabaab after group late Oct reportedly captured several villages. After Somaliland suspended all UN programs in late Oct in protest at UN-Somalia cooperation agreement, President Bihi and UN Envoy to Somalia James Swan early Nov reportedly held talks to resolve dispute.
Efforts to form govts at state and local levels continued, and holdout rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS) agreed to join peace agreement’s ceasefire monitoring body. Former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) mid-Nov said it would not submit its nominees for state minister and county commissioner positions until President Salva Kiir appoints Machar’s pick for governor of contested Upper Nile state; late Nov reportedly agreed to formation of state and local governments except in Upper Nile state. Machar continued to face mounting dissent within SPLA-IO, whose Sec Gen Peter Tingo 10 Nov resigned, citing Machar’s poor leadership. South Sudan National Dialogue, launched by Kiir in 2017, mid-Nov recommended to return country to 32 states; measure, if implemented, could derail transition as Kiir’s decision in Feb 2020 to revert country to its original ten states had paved way for formation of unity govt. In Italy’s capital Rome, govt and NAS 9-13 Nov held talks aimed at incorporating NAS into peace agreement’s ceasefire monitoring body (CTSAMVM); after briefly walking out of talks, accusing govt of violating ceasefire in Central Equatoria state in south 10 Nov, NAS agreed to join CTSAMVM in Jan 2021. In Warrap state in centre, intercommunal clashes 8-9 Nov left at least 16 dead and several dozen injured in Tonj East county; UN 17 Nov said more than 1,000 people had died in past six months in intercommunal violence in Warrap state. In Jonglei state in east, intercommunal clashes early to mid-Nov left at least 13 dead in Fangak county. In Upper Nile state in east, unidentified gunmen 4 Nov killed two prominent ethnic Shilluk in state capital Malakal. In Central Equatoria state in south, former SPLA-IO senior commander who in Sept defected to Kiir’s forces late Nov reportedly attacked SPLA-IO base in Kajo-Keji county. UN Security Council 12 Nov extended mandate of peacekeeping force in contested Abyei region until May 2021.
Former rebel leaders returned to country to start implementation of Oct peace agreement; meanwhile, tens of thousands of refugees arrived in east after conflict broke out in Ethiopia’s Tigray. As part of Oct peace agreement, Sovereign Council head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan 12 Nov signed decree granting general amnesty to leaders of rebel coalition Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), Sudan Liberation Movement/Army faction leader Minni Minnawi and military and paramilitary forces involved in fighting rebels. Amid peace celebrations, SRF leaders and Minnawi 15 Nov arrived in capital Khartoum from South Sudan to begin implementation of peace deal, which provides for integration of former rebel leaders into Sovereign Council, cabinet and Transitional Legislative Council. Govt and holdout rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu late Oct-early Nov failed to make progress in talks aimed at clinching distinct peace deal. Sudanese Communist Party 7 Nov announced its withdrawal from governing Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC). FFC 19 Nov announced postponement of formation of Transitional Legislative Council to 31 Dec due to spike in COVID-19 cases and to enable further consultations with returned former rebel leaders on allocation of seats. In Central Darfur state, rival factions of holdout rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement/Army led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur 7-8 Nov clashed in Sabi area, reportedly displacing hundreds. In North Darfur state, attacks by unidentified gunmen 7-30 Nov left at least five civilians dead. UN Security Council 12 Nov extended mandate of peacekeeping force in disputed Abyei region until May 2021. After fighting erupted early Nov between Ethiopia’s federal govt and Tigray regional state (see Ethiopia), more than 43,000 refugees fled from Ethiopia into eastern Sudan’s Al-Qadarif, Kassala and Blue Nile states throughout month. Sudan 21 Nov withdrew from new round of tripartite talks on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, called for new method of negotiation (see Nile Waters).
Several opposition figures sought refuge abroad amid post-election crackdown. Hours before planned opposition protests against President Magufuli’s late-Oct re-election, authorities 2 Nov arrested eight opposition leaders, including Chadema party presidential candidate Tundu Lissu, Chadema chair Freeman Mbowe, and former MP Godbless Lema in capital Dar es Salaam; all eight released without charges later same day. Magufuli 5 Nov was sworn in for second term. Lissu 7 Nov said he had found refuge in German embassy in Dar es Salaam 2 Nov after being briefly detained by police and receiving death threats, and 10 Nov left Tanzania for Belgium. Lema 8 Nov fled to neighbouring Kenya, where he was granted asylum next day after being briefly detained. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 10 Nov urged govt to respect rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and called for investigation into late-Oct killing by suspected police officers of at least ten people on semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago. International Criminal Court 14 Nov confirmed receipt of two formal letters from opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency party and independent human rights activist Maria Sarungi Tsehai, requesting inquiry into alleged human rights violations by govt in recent weeks. Lissu 26 Nov urged international community to impose sanctions on Magufuli’s administration. Tanzania and Mozambique police chiefs 20 Nov agreed to launch joint operations against Islamist insurgents in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province (see Mozambique), after violence spilled over into Tanzania in Oct.
Deadly violence erupted ahead of early 2021 general elections. Clashes between security forces and supporters of opposition National Unity Platform leader and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine 18-20 Nov left over 50 people dead across country, most of them in capital Kampala; crowd was protesting Wine’s 18 Oct arrest, second in two weeks, on grounds of violating COVID-19-related restrictions on in-person campaigning; Wine released on bail 20 Nov. Earlier in month, electoral commission 3 Nov cleared 11 candidates to run for president, including incumbent President Museveni, Wine and Forum for Democratic Change party nominee Patrick Amuriat Oboi. Police same day briefly detained Wine and Amuriat, used teargas and reportedly fired shots to disperse opposition supporters who had gathered around their respective party offices in capital Kampala, leaving seven injured including police officers. Electoral commission 4 Nov said presidential and legislative elections would take place 14 Jan. Police 14 Nov reportedly denied Wine access to Ateker FM radio studios; Wine same day denounced double standards in application of COVID-19 restrictions, saying “our people are brutalized, teargassed and arrested for gathering” while President Museveni “parades [supporters] on streets under police protection.” Police 17-18 Nov briefly detained Amuriat in Kitgum town and Gulu city, Northern region, used teargas to disperse his supporters. Museveni 29 Nov called opposition parties “criminal gangs” to be dealt with.
Authorities continued to harass govt critics through legal means. In capital Harare, police 3 Nov arrested prominent investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on charges of “contempt of court” and “obstruction of justice”; “contempt of court” charges later dropped; move followed Chin’ono’s late Oct corruption allegations against National Prosecution Authority in case of Henrietta Rushwaya, Zimbabwe Mines Federation president, who was caught smuggling 6kg of gold; in following days, Western embassies, rights groups and press freedom watchdogs expressed concern over Chino’no’s arrest; High Court 20 Nov released him on bail, after Harare Magistrate’s Court refused to do so 12 Nov. President Mnangagwa 5 Nov suspended High Court judge Erica Ndewere and appointed tribunal to investigate her for alleged misconduct after she recently granted bail to two prominent politicians accused of inciting violence – including vice chairman of Nelson Chamisa-led faction of main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Job Sikhala. Amid struggle between Chamisa and MDC rival faction leader Thokozani Khupe, ruling party ZANU-PF 17 Nov described Khupe’s faction as “honourable opposition” and Chamisa’s as “treasonous”. Federation of trade unions Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) 2 Nov threatened to launch nationwide strike to demand govt pay public sector wages in U.S. dollars; after several previous rejections, other civil servant representative bodies 16 Nov agreed to govt’s offer to raise civil servants’ salaries by 41%. Amid escalating Islamist insurgency in neighbouring Mozambique (see Mozambique), Mnangagwa 27 Nov attended summit of Southern Africa regional bloc SADC in Botswana’s capital Gaborone; SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation called for “comprehensive regional response” to insurgency and urgent support to Mozambique.
High-intensity hostilities continued as Taliban attacked areas around Kandahar, while U.S. announced troop drawdown and intra-Afghan peace process remained stalled. Taliban activity surged from late-Oct until 3-4 Nov, including series of large-scale attacks and operations in three districts surrounding Kandahar (south), country’s second-largest city; U.S. reportedly stepped up aerial bombardment of Taliban positions, allowing govt forces to re-enter contested districts; assault in Kandahar largely ended by 10 Nov. Elsewhere, Taliban ended self-imposed restrictions on attacking district centres, particularly in north, with attacks in Badghis (north west) and northern Balkh, Kunduz and Jowjzan provinces, including on main highway in latter; operations included Taliban 18 Nov seizing district centre in Badakhshan (north east) in surprise attack on govt forces that caused heavy casualties. However, more mountainous areas during month saw fall in conflict activity with onset of winter weather conditions. Car bomb in Ghazni province (centre) 29 Nov killed at least 30 members of security forces. In major announcement, Washington 17 Nov said it would reduce total number of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-Jan, raising concern over potential surge in Taliban activity thereafter. Islamic State-Khorasan Province 2 Nov killed over 20 people in attack on Kabul University and 21 Nov killed at least eight in rocket attack in capital Kabul. Meanwhile, intra-Afghan talks in Qatar’s capital Doha remained stalled. Taliban and govt representatives 15-18 Nov appeared to agree on compromise over procedure and protocol for negotiations; however, agreement fell apart before being officially confirmed, reportedly under pressure from President Ghani who opposed substance and circumstances of agreement. U.S. Sec State Pompeo 21 Nov travelled to Doha to meet with govt and Taliban negotiators. At conference in Geneva, donors 24 Nov pledged some $12bn in aid for next four years.
Intercommunal unrest broke out with attacks on Hindu minority, while authorities continued crackdown on critics. Tens of thousands 2 Nov joined religious groups in capital Dhaka in protest against French President Macron’s defence of Prophet Muhammad caricatures. Meanwhile, month witnessed numerous attacks against Hindu community: assailants 1 Nov burned five Hindu homes in Comilla district after Hindu was accused of defending French cartoons deemed blasphemous; same day authorities in Noakhali district arrested two Hindus accused of making derogatory remarks about Islam; house of Hindu accused of defaming Islam on social media attacked in Brahmanbaria district 4 Nov; local NGO working on minority rights 3 Nov said sectarian violence had killed at least 17 people since March. Police 12 Nov arrested mosque leader for leading Oct lynching of man in Lamonirhat district following his alleged desecration of Quran in mosque; police also charged 30 people for assaulting police officers and damaging public property. Govt continued to suppress opponents, including through crackdown on Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, country’s largest religious party, and its youth wing Islami Chhatra Shibir: police 10 Nov detained seven Shibir activists in Bogra district on charges of planning anti-state violence; 14 Nov arrested 25 female Jamaat activists in Kushtia district for allegedly planning sabotage acts and further 43 Jamaat and Shibir activists in Feni district on same charges. Following govt use in recent months of controversial Digital Security Act to silence critics and journalists, PM Hasina 2 Nov said “spreading false propaganda” does not count as “freedom of speech”. Violence marred Awami League (AL) win in by-elections in Dhaka and Sirajgang districts 12 Nov, including bomb explosions at Dhaka polling station and arson attacks on AL buses; opposition Bangladesh National Party called for recount, alleging intimidation and electoral irregularities. Operations against suspected militants continued; police 7 Nov detained four suspected New Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh members in Bogra district while paramilitary Rapid Action Batallion arrested four other alleged members, including Rajshahi regional chief, during 20 Nov raid in Sirajganj. FM Momen 14 Nov blamed Myanmar, International agencies and NGOs for hindering efforts to relocate Rohingya refugees.
Tensions continued between Japan and China over contested island chain in East China Sea; meanwhile, Tokyo and Canberra announced landmark military pact. Amid recent tensions over Chinese military activity in Asia-Pacific region, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga 17 Nov met in Japan’s capital Tokyo to discuss recent developments in South and East China Seas; meeting culminated in Reciprocal Access Agreement to bolster defence ties, allowing Japanese and Australian troops to conduct training and joint operations, and permitting rapid deployment of defence forces to each country. Both leaders same day expressed “serious concerns” about situation in East China Sea, vowing “strong opposition to any coercive unilateral actions”. Chinese state media 18 Nov criticised deal that “clearly targets China” and “further accelerates the confrontational atmosphere” in region, while Commander of U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet Vice Admiral William Merz 19 Nov welcomed pact as “encouraging to everybody in the region”. Following incursion of two Chinese coastguard vessels into Japanese territorial waters in mid-Oct, President-elect Joe Biden 12 Nov confirmed during phone conversation with PM Suga his commitment to strengthening U.S.-Japan alliance to achieve free and open Indo-Pacific, and that Article 5 of 1951 Japan-U.S. Security Treaty – specifically U.S. obligation to defend Japan should its territories come under attack – would be applied to Okinawa Prefecture and Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Chinese FM Wang Yi 24 Nov met with Japanese FM Toshimitsu Motegi in Tokyo where both agreed to continue communication on issues regarding East China Sea and to ease restrictions on business travels imposed in wake of COVID-19 by end of month.
Anti-Maoist operations continued throughout month; meanwhile, India and China held disengagement talks amid tensions over disputed border. Isolated anti-Muslim attacks took place throughout month: ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters 11 Nov attacked mosque in Easter Champaran district in Bihar state, injuring at least four; four men 15 Nov also lynched Muslim in Uttar Pradesh. BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh state 22 Nov approved decree criminalising forceful religious conversion through marriage; law seeks to address so-called “love jihad”, conspiracy theory according to which Muslim men marry Hindu women to convert them to Islam in order to alter country’s demographic balance. Meanwhile, anti-Maoist operations and Maoist violence continued. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), security forces 3-26 Nov killed six Maoists in Bijapur and Kanker districts; Maoists 3-28 Nov killed three civilians and one police officer in Dhamtari, Lohardaga and Sukma districts. Also in centre, police 6 and 7 Nov killed Maoist in Balaghat district, Madhya Pradesh state. In east, security forces killed Maoist in Malkangiri district, Odisha state, and night of 21-22 Nov shot and killed three Maoists in Gaya district, Bihar state; Maoists 21 Nov shot and killed civilian in Chatra district, Jharkhand state. In Kerala state (south), security forces 3 Nov shot and killed Maoist in Wayanad district. Internationally, Indian and Chinese military officials 6 Nov held “candid, in-depth and constructive” talks on disengagement of forces along Line of Actual Control and agreed to continue dialogue and ensure that their border troops “exercise restraint and avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation”. After relations between India and Nepal deteriorated following border row in May, India’s army chief 4-6 Nov visited Nepal and held talks with his counterpart and Nepali PM Oli in bid to reset bilateral ties (see Nepal). India, U.S., Japan and Australia held largest annual Malabar military exercises in over a decade in Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, respectively 3-6 Nov and 17-20 Nov.
Cross-border tensions escalated sharply amid deadly incidents along Line of Control (LoC) dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir, while insecurity persisted inside Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Violence along LoC rose between New Delhi and Islamabad, with India suffering highest military casualty toll since April. Pakistan military said Indian fire 13, 22 and 25 Nov killed one soldier and 17 civilians. In turn, Indian officials claimed several attacks: 8 Nov clash with three militants attempting to infiltrate Indian side of LoC in Kupwara district, killing four soldiers; 13 Nov clash along LoC, killing five soldiers and six civilians, and Pakistani shelling same day, injuring 19 civilians; 21 Nov said Pakistani firing killed one soldier, and cross-LoC Pakistani firing injured two civilians; 27 Nov claimed two soldiers killed by Pakistani cross-LoC firing. Meanwhile in J&K, security forces 1 Nov killed leader of Kashmir’s largest militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, on outskirts of regional capital Srinagar. In Pulwama district, militants 5 Nov killed one civilian and injured another in two separate attacks, and security forces next day killed two militants. Security forces 19 Nov killed four alleged Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants on highway leading to Srinagar; New Delhi 21 Nov lodged protest with Pakistan’s top diplomat, alleging four suspected JeM militants had infiltrated from Pakistan intending to carry out major terror attack. India 23 Nov claimed to have killed another intruder along international border, while militants 26 Nov killed two soldiers in Srinagar. Opposition alliance raised clampdown on its leaders and activists as authorities 25 Nov arrested Peoples Democratic Party youth wing leader on alleged terrorism charges. Pakistani FM Qureshi 14 Nov accused India of “financial and material sponsorship” of multiple Pakistani terrorist groups; Delhi next day rejected allegations. India 23 Nov shared file with UN Security Council members, alleging infiltration and attempted attacks by Pakistani militants in J&K; Pakistan’s UN ambassador next day responded by accusing India of sponsoring Pakistani terrorist groups. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation 28 Nov called on India to rescind 5 Aug actions that changed status of J&K; India next day rejected call. First District Development Council local election held 28 Nov.
Suspected jihadist group carried out deadly attack in Central Sulawesi while UN warned of escalating violence in Papua in past months. In Central Sulawesi province, suspected jihadist armed group East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) 27 Nov killed four civilians and burned down six houses, including Christian place of worship, in Lembantongoa village, Sigi regency; around 150 families reportedly fled to neighbouring village amid continued search for perpetrators; President Widodo 30 Nov said killings were “beyond the limits of humanity”. Previously, police 17 Nov announced killing of two suspected jihadists in Parigi Mutong regency, Central Sulawesi. Meanwhile, UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights 30 Nov warned of escalating violence in past weeks and months in Papua and West Papua provinces and risks of renewed tensions, notably ahead of 1 Dec West Papuan independence day; raised case of 22 Nov police shootout which killed one teenager and injured another on Limbaga mountain, Gome district, Papua province; also noted that security forces 17 Nov reportedly detained 84 people in Merauke Regency, Papua province, ahead of public consultation on implementation of Special Autonomy Law.
Regional tensions over alleged arms development continued while international actors maintained pressure on Pyongyang. Following briefing by National Intelligence Service, lawmaker in Seoul 3 Nov claimed Pyongyang is building two new submarines, including one capable of firing ballistic missiles. North Korean State media 4 Nov accused Japan of building missile system, describing developments as “challenge to regional peace and stability”. After Pyongyang revealed previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in Oct, U.S. navy 17 Nov tested for first time intercontinental missile defence system from Kwajalein Atoll in Republic of Marshall Islands, successfully intercepting ICBM. Following International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Austria’s capital Vienna, Director General Rafael Grossi 18 Nov said nuclear “activity is taking place” at Kangson facility near Pyongyang. Meanwhile, police in South Korea’s capital Seoul early Nov sent cases to prosecutors’ office against human rights groups, reportedly for breaking inter-Korean exchange law by sending balloons with anti-Pyongyang leaflets across border. Seoul 4 Nov claimed to have detained citizen from north who had crossed border near Goseong county previous evening; govt did not say whether he was civilian or member of military. UN special rapporteur on North Korea’s human rights situation 19 Nov sent letter to Seoul and Pyongyang requesting information on Sept killing of South Korean official in border incident. South Korean FM 8-11 Nov visited Washington for talks, including with Sec State Pompeo on U.S.-ROK alliance, while U.S. President-elect Biden and South Korean President Moon 12 Nov reaffirmed commitment to alliance and peaceful Korean peninsula during phone call. U.S. 19 Nov announced sanctions on North Korean company operating in Russia and Russian construction company for “exportation of forced labour from North Korea”, accusing companies of using forced labour to “generate revenue” for govt. German officials 17 Nov accused Russia and China of preventing UN Security Council from determining whether Pyongyang had violated fuel sanctions. Chinese FM Wang Yi 26 Nov met South Korean President Moon in Seoul to discuss stalled denuclearisation talks and potential visit of Chinese President Xi to capital.
Ruling party won landslide election victory while fighting eased in Rakhine State. General elections 8 Nov resulted in landslide victory for ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, gaining 99% of elected seats in seven Burman-majority regions and 58% of elected seats in ethnic-majority states, securing 83% of elected seats in Union Parliament overall; Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) won three seats in Burman-majority regions and 16% of seats in ethnic-majority states; ethnic parties for their part won 25% of seats in ethnic-majority states, only giving them 10% of elected seats overall; military gets automatic 25% bloc. USDP 10 Nov alleged in Facebook video “many contentious events during the whole voting process”, urging voters to send evidence of illegal acts, and 11 Nov called on govt to hold another “free, fair, [and] unbiased” vote rerun as soon as possible. Amid govt’s cancellation of vote in most of Arakan National Party (ANP)’s strongholds in Oct, ANP won largest bloc of seats in Rakhine State Parliament; Rakhine parties however remained short of majority. Arakan Army (AA) 12 Nov released statement for first time in support of holding elections, calling on govt and military to ensure that elections could be held by 31 Dec in all cancelled Rakhine State constituencies; within hours of release, military welcomed statement and committed to support holding elections in cancelled areas; election commission had yet to respond on possible polls by end of month. Meanwhile, violence eased in Rakhine State throughout month. In Shan State in north, unidentified assassins 22 Nov shot and killed Htike Zaw, MP-elect for ruling NLD party.
Intra-party dispute between PM KP Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chair of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), threatened to destabilise govt and split party. Dahal 13 Nov presented report at NCP secretariat meeting listing series of decisions made by Oli without proper internal consultation within party; Dahal’s report urged Oli to make “sacrifice” and indirectly called on him to resign. Oli 28 Nov countered with a separate report rejecting Dahal’s allegations and issued thinly veiled threats that Dahal could come under scrutiny via transitional justice processes underway to address abuses committed during ten-year conflict (1996-2006) when he was leading Maoist rebellion. Oli 21 Nov met with opposition Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, fuelling speculation that Oli- and Dahal-led factions may compete to reach an alliance with other major parties to retain parliamentary majority in event of formal NCP split. Meanwhile, bilateral relations with India continued to improve – notwithstanding unresolved border disputes – following 3-6 Nov visit by Indian Army Chief Gen. MM Naravane and 26-27 Nov visit by Indian FM Harsh Vardhan Shringla to capital Kathmandu; Naravane had suggested in May that Nepal was encouraged by China to raise border issue with India. Three Chinese Communist Party officials 24 Nov reportedly arrived to, among other things, voice Beijing’s concerns regarding Sept allegations that Chinese security forces had encroached into northern Nepali district of Humla; Chinese MFA 2 Nov dismissed reports as lacking factual basis. Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe 29 Nov visited Kathmandu to discuss military cooperation.
Political tensions remained elevated, particularly around Gilgit-Baltistan’s election, and deadly militant violence persisted. Political acrimony continued between govt and opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance featuring 11 opposition parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP); PM Khan 6 and 12 Nov accused alliance member and former PML-N PM Sharif of undermining army at “behest of India”; Sharif 13 Nov called Khan “puppet” controlled by undemocratic forces. Govt continued to use anti-corruption cases filed by National Accountability Bureau to suppress opposition: court 11 Nov indicted Sharif, his wife, daughters and son, Hamza, who is opposition leader in Punjab Assembly; court 16 Nov indicted former PML-N PM Abbasi and finance minister Miftah Ismail. Tensions rose further after Khan’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party 15 Nov won 22 of 33 seats in Gilgit-Baltistan’s election, emerging as largest party; PPP and PML-N rejected results, alleging massive irregularities, and organised protests. Following three days of protests, Gilgit-Baltistan’s caretaker govt 18 Nov sought army’s assistance to control security situation. Despite govt’s 18 Nov ban on gatherings due to COVID-19, PDM 22 and 30 Nov held large-scale rally in Peshawar and Multan, respectively; PDM local leaders 30 Nov detained for holding 22 Nov rally. Meanwhile, militant attacks continued. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, gunmen 1 Nov killed Ahmadi man in regional capital Peshawar; militants 18 Nov killed two soldiers in attack on military checkpoint in South Waziristan district; security forces 23 Nov claimed they killed Islamic State operational commander in Bajaur district; four employees of military-run Frontier Works Organization 26 Nov shot dead in North Waziristan district. In Balochistan province, grenade attack in regional capital Quetta 12 Nov injured at least seven, including three police. Counter-terrorism police 24 Nov claimed to have foiled militant suicide attack on police station near Lahore city, Punjab province. Thousands 7 Nov demonstrated against publication of French cartoons deemed blasphemous in Karachi city; some 3,000 protesters 30 Nov clashed with police in capital Islamabad. Internationally, Khan, FM Qureshi and intelligence chief Faiz Hameed 19 Nov visited Afghanistan’s capital Kabul to reiterate support for reducing violence in Afghanistan, sides agreed to re-energise intelligence cooperation.
Clashes in south between militant groups and security forces continued and low-intensity fighting involving communist rebels persisted. In Maguindanao province in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), clan violence and clashes between insurgents and security forces continued at relatively lower levels than Oct. Clan firefight 20 Nov killed two people in Mohammad Ajul, Basilan province. Meanwhile, several elements of Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) surrendered in Basilan and Tawi-Tawi provinces late Oct-early Nov; military 3 Nov intercepted seven ASG members on coast of Parang, Sulu archipelago, killing them in subsequent clashes on seas; security forces 20 Nov clashed with ASG elements in Panamao and Kalingalan Caluang provinces. Implementation of Bangsamoro peace process continued as govt 17 Nov deployed first batch of Joint Peace and Security Team to support decommissioning and disarmament process of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants. Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) also continued parliamentary sessions and 1 Nov passed Administrative Code, which defines governing rules and principles of BARMM governance. Govt efforts to rehabilitate Marawi city remained delayed as govt, BTA and Lanao del Sur continued to fight spread of COVID-19 in region; Task Force Bangon Marawi chair Del Rosario 19 Nov confirmed rehabilitation still on track with third of rehabilitation already completed. Clashes between communist New People’s Army and armed forces continued throughout month in Visayas islands in centre, Mindanao island in south and Luzon island in north, killing at least ten combatants and civilians, and injuring two.
Tensions persisted between China and claimant parties. Filipino National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon 5 Nov said that plan to establish maritime militia forces to help counter China’s own use of maritime militias was yet to be finalised over concerns that it would be “misconstrued”. China’s National People’s Congress 4 Nov posted draft law that would allow Chinese Coast Guard to use weapons against foreign ships involved in illegal activities in Chinese-claimed waters if they fail to obey Chinese orders. At 37th summit of regional organisation ASEAN, Vietnamese PM Phuc 12 Nov opened meeting by affirming bloc’s commitment to maintain South China Sea (SCS) as zone of “peace, stability, and security”; Vietnamese govt 18 Nov released statement as chair of committee noting that they had discussed situation in SCS, “during which concerns were raised by some leaders”. Netherlands MFA 13 Nov issued statement calling on EU to “express itself more often and more strongly on developments in the South China Sea that violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”. U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien 23 Nov reaffirmed U.S. support to Philippines and Vietnam so as to “deter China”; China’s embassy in Manila 24 Nov criticised O’Brien’s remarks as reflecting “Cold War mentality and wantonly [inciting] confrontation”. Indonesia’s navy chief 23 Nov announced move of naval combat force (Guspurla) headquarters to Natuna islands from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta to better protect interests in SCS. Asia Maritime Transparency Institute 25 Nov reported that China Coast Guard ship 5402 19 Nov harassed drilling rig in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone, 44 nautical miles from Malaysia’s Sarawak state; Royal Malaysian Navy ship KD Keris manoeuvred around 5402 near Luconia Shoals for several days.
Unshackled by 20th amendment to constitution, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa installed loyalists in senior judicial and security positions. Following Oct passage of 20th constitutional amendment giving Gotabaya sweeping powers, newly created Parliamentary Council 10 and 23 Nov rubber-stamped Gotabaya’s nominees for senior positions, including six Supreme Court justices, 14 Court of Appeal judges and Inspector General of Police. In address to nation on first anniversary of 2019 presidential election victory, Gotabaya 18 Nov stated that Sinhalese voters voted for him “because they had legitimate fears that the Sinhala race … would be threatened with destruction in the face of various local and foreign forces and ideologies”. Hardline nationalist retired Admiral Sarath Weerasekara, known for past threats against civil society activists and calls for ban of main Tamil political alliance, 26 Nov appointed as minister of public security in charge of police and civil defence force. With arrests and court orders blocking public commemorations, Tamils 27 Nov held small private Maaveerar Naal (Great Heroes Day, or Tamil Remembrance Day) ceremonies to remember family members killed during three-decade civil war. Amid second COVID-19 wave, health ministry committee 22 Nov reaffirmed govt’s policy of mandatory cremation of all COVID-19 victims despite widespread criticism; opposition leader Sajith Premadasa 3 Nov accused govt of violating Muslim rights by cremating their dead; Organisation of Islamic Cooperation 4 Nov called on govt to “fulfil its human rights obligations by protecting and respecting the rights of its Muslim minority to practice their religion free from any discrimination”. In sign of closer relations with China, ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party 4 Nov held virtual “Advanced Seminar on Governance Experience” with senior Chinese Communist Party officials and China’s ambassador to Sri Lanka. India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met Gotabaya and PM during 27-28 Nov visit to capital Colombo. At least eight people were killed and 50 injured from fire and police shooting as inmates in Mahara prison 29 Nov protested risks of rapid COVID-19 spread in prisons across island.
Cross-strait tensions remained high amid intense Chinese and U.S. military activity and Washington’s diplomatic and military support for Taipei. Taiwanese defence ministry claimed series of Chinese military aircrafts entered Taiwanese Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) during month, including: one Y-8 reconnaissance plane 1 Nov; two Y-8 anti-submarine aircrafts, two SU-30s, two J-10s and two J-16s 2 Nov; one Y-8 anti-submarine plane 4, 10, 12, 22 and 23 Nov; one Y-8 plane and one Y-8 anti-submarine plane 11, 16, 17 and 24 Nov. In response, Taiwan scrambled jets, broadcast radio warnings and tracked planes with air defence system on each occasion. Meanwhile, U.S. continued military activity in region as well as support for Taiwan. U.S. State Department 3 Nov cleared potential sale of four aerial drones to Taiwan; Chinese foreign ministry 4 Nov said U.S. had sent wrong and grave signals with deal. Taiwanese Naval Command 9 Nov confirmed that contingent of U.S. Marines arrived to train troops for four weeks at Tsoying Naval Base; Chinese state media 11 Nov said U.S. training would not affect cross-strait military balance. Plane tracker Aircraft Spots 17 Nov claimed two U.S. Air Force B1-B bombers entered China’s ADIZ; Beijing-based Probing Initiative 22 Nov reported five U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft and two aerial tankers flew south of Taiwan’s ADIZ; U.S. Air Force 24 Nov flew two supersonic heavy bombers into East China Sea. U.S. Rear Admiral Michael Studeman 22 Nov made unannounced visit to Taiwan. U.S. also increased diplomatic support for Taiwan: Washington 6 Nov urged World Health Organization (WHO) to invite Taiwan to major meeting focused on COVID-19; WHO member countries 9 Nov rejected request. U.S. Sec State Pompeo 12 Nov said “Taiwan has not been a part of China”; Beijing next day said that U.S. interference “will be met with a resolute counterattack by China”. Beijing 11 Nov urged U.S. to “stop any kind of official exchanges or contacts with Taiwan” ahead of Taiwan-U.S. economic talks held virtually and in-person in Washington 20 Nov; talks concluded with deal to establish “institutionalised dialogue mechanism”.
Mass anti-govt protests continued with dozens injured as parliament rejected proposals for substantive constitutional change. House Speaker Chuan Leekpai 3 Nov said he had approached three former PMs to establish reconciliation committee, protest leaders next day dismissed committee as “farce”. In capital Bangkok, thousands of anti-govt protestors 8-18 Nov gathered in different locations, while hundreds of yellow-shirt royalists throughout month mobilised in demonstrations reportedly organised by interior ministry. As parliament 17 Nov debated seven bills on constitutional amendments, submitted separately by coalition govt, opposition MPs and civic group Internet Law Reform Dialogue, thousands of anti-govt protesters descended on parliament and clashed with police and royalist counter-demonstrators in most violent day of protests since July; dozens injured, including at least six who suffered gunshot wounds. Lawmakers 18 Nov rejected draft amendments favoured by protesters and instead approved two motions paving way for discussions on limited constitutional changes; parliamentary committee due to scrutinise two bills before second reading scheduled for Jan. PM Prayuth 19 Nov said “all laws” would be brought to bear against protesters, raising possibility of activation of dormant lèse-majesté law. Protest 25 Nov originally planned for Crown Property Bureau shifted to Siam Commercial Bank to highlight palace finances; large protests took place 27, 28 and 29 Nov at Lad Phrao, Bangna and 11th Infantry Regiment, respectively. Police 24 Nov summoned 12 protest leaders to face charges under lèse-majesté law. In deep south, gunmen 3 Nov shot and wounded senior navy officer in Bacho district, Narathiwat; suspected insurgents 6 Nov killed Muslim rubber grower in Sri Sakhon district in Narathiwat; IED same day targeting teacher-protection unit exploded in Rangae district in Narathiwat; IED 15 Nov targeted rangers in Reusoh district in Narathiwat; rangers 17 Nov clashed with at least five suspected insurgents in Sai Buri district, Pattani. Motorcycle-borne gunmen 24 Nov shot and wounded man in Sai Buri district, and body of man shot to death discovered in coconut plantation in Nong Chik district, Pattani; motorcycle gunmen same day shot and wounded soldier in Sai Buri.
Violent protests erupted after PM Pashinyan signed Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement to end deadly fighting with Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict zone. After Azerbaijani govt 8 Nov announced capture of Shusha, strategically significant city in NK, PM Pashinyan 10 Nov signed Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement with Russian President Putin and Azerbaijani President Aliyev; deal stipulates that Azerbaijan retain captured territories, including Shusha, while Armenia must hand over control of three adjacent areas – Agdam, Kelbajar and Lachin districts – with Russian peacekeepers being deployed to remaining Armenian-controlled parts of NK. PM Pashinyan 10 Nov publicly announced ceasefire, defending decision by saying army and de facto NK authorities had insisted on signing agreement. Announcement prompted national outcry as public had been largely unaware of dire realities of ongoing conflict: thousands 10-11 Nov gathered in Republican Square in capital Yerevan, with hundreds storming PM’s office, parliament and other buildings, and protesters brutally beating parliament speaker. Scuffles 11 Nov took place between police and protesters in Freedom Square; police arrested six people for alleged illegal organisation of mass protests and attempt to overthrow constitutional order. Representatives of 17 opposition parties called for Pashinyan to step down, accusing him of heavy concessions in ceasefire deal, and 12-18 Nov organised series of demonstrations in Yerevan and other cities; National Security Service (NSS) of Armenia 14 Nov arrested three opposition members, including leader of Homeland opposition party and former NSS director Artur Vanetsian, on grounds of alleged attempt to overthrow Pashinyan and violating martial law rules (in place since late-Sept); both were released from custody day after arrest. In response to protests. Senior govt and party officials resigned, including FM and deputy FM 10 Nov and PM’s special envoy 16 Nov, and five ruling party members left party or gave up parliamentary mandate in same week. President Armen Sarkissian 16 Nov called for Pashinyan to resign and snap elections; Pashinyan, however, 18 Nov refused to step down and responded with six-month action plan designed to ensure country’s stability; based on Pashinyan’s proposal, Sarkissian same day appointed Ara Ayvazyan as FM and 20 Nov Vagharshak Harutyunyan as new defence minister.
Following deadly fighting with Armenia throughout Oct in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict zone, Azerbaijan signed Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement. Govt 8 Nov announced capture of Shusha, strategically significant city in NK. Two days later, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement along with Russian President Putin; President Aliyev 10 Nov called deal “glorious victory” amid celebrations nationwide. Deal stipulates that Azerbaijan retain captured territories, including Shusha, while Armenia must hand over control of three adjacent areas – Agdam, Kelbajar and Lachin districts (see Nagorno-Karabakh). Despite ceasefire deal only stipulating deployment of 2,000 Russian peacekeepers, govt 11 and 16 Nov also called for stationing of Turkish peacekeepers in NK; Turkish parliament 17 Nov overwhelmingly approved bill to deploy peacekeepers to Azerbaijan to monitor ceasefire deal.
Mass protests continued throughout month following disputed Aug presidential elections. Thousands of people throughout month demonstrated in capital Minsk, demanding President Lukashenka’s resignation as police used teargas, water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse protesters; police 8 Nov arrested record 1,000 people who participated in mass demonstrations across country. Opposition supporter and children’s art teacher Raman Bandarenka 12 Nov died in hospital after plain-clothed security forces previous day detained and reportedly beat him at opposition rallying point “Square of Changes” in Minsk; govt 13 Nov denied responsibility for Bandarenka’s death, claiming it was result of street brawl. Thousands 12-15 Nov gathered in Bandarenka’s memory, forming human chains and marching on streets; police 15 Nov used teargas and water cannons to disperse protesters. Hundreds of retirees 23 Nov protested against Lukashenka in Minsk, holding portraits of Bandarenka; more than 1,000 pensioners 30 Nov also gathered in capital as police detained a dozen. Belarus opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya 1 Nov called on EU to step up sanctions against Lukashenka regime. UK FM Dominic Raab 5 Nov called for fresh presidential elections in Belarus, following independent report confirming that Aug election was “falsified” and exposing human rights violations committed by Lukashenka regime; govt 9 Nov expelled from Belarus two British diplomats who observed Sunday street protests in Minsk; UK next day retaliated by expelling two Belarus diplomats. EU 13 Nov warned that it could expand its sanctions on Lukashenka following Bandarenka’s death, describing Belarus authorities’ actions as “outrageous and shameful”. Lukashenka 27 Nov said he will resign when new constitution is adopted.
Ruling parties lost ground in local elections as country marked 25 years since Dayton peace accord. Local elections 15 Nov took place amid low turnout, at around 50 per cent; three ruling parties – Bosnian Serb Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, Bosnjak Party of Democratic Action and Croat Democrat Union – lost some municipalities and key mayoral positions in largest cities while winning majority of municipalities across country. Gunman 9 Nov killed convicted war criminal Marko Radic in southern town of Mostar, suspect same day detained by police; Radic had been released from 21-year prison sentence in Dec 2018, following controversial sentence reduction by Croatian court of initial conviction by Bosnian state court in 2011 for crimes against humanity against Bosniaks in Mostar area. Tensions 25 Nov publicly surfaced between Valentin Inzko, high representative of international body overseeing Dayton peace accord, and Bosnian Serb chair of Bosnian presidency Milorad Dodik during UN roundtable event to mark 25th anniversary of peace accord; Inzko reportedly accused Dodik of abusing accord and denying past war crimes.
UN convened preliminary talks between Cypriot leaders while Turkish drilling activity continued to fuel tensions. Following Oct victory of two-state solution advocate Ersin Tatar in “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC) elections, head of UN mission in Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar 3 Nov organised preliminary meeting between Tatar and Republic of Cyprus President Anastasiades; both sides “expressed their determination to positively respond to the UN Secretary-General’s commitment to explore the possibility to convene an informal five-plus-UN meeting”; five-member format includes Greece, Turkey, UK and both Cypriot communities. During visit to “TRNC” celebrating 37th anniversary of declaration of independence, Turkish President Erdoğan 15 Nov said that “a two-state solution must be discussed and negotiated on the basis of sovereign equality”, as opposed to federal solution; Erdoğan also visited Varosha/Maraş town following partial reopening of its beachfront in Oct, prompting Republic of Cyprus presidency same day to say move could “torpedo the prospects for the creation of the appropriate climate” for UN talks to resume. Amid ongoing tensions related to hydrocarbon exploration in region (see Eastern Mediterranean), Turkey continued survey activity off south-western coast of Cyprus; Ankara 3 Nov extended exploration activities of Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa ship until 16 Feb 2021 and 13 Nov announced drillship Yavuz would resume its operations in contested waters around Cyprus.
Tensions between Greece and Turkey continued amid ongoing Turkish exploration activity. Exchange of conciliatory diplomatic statements between Greek PM Mitsotakis and Turkish President Erdoğan following deadly 30 Oct earthquake off Samos island proved short-lived as Ankara 31 Oct and 11 Nov issued new advisories extending exploration activities of seismic survey vessel Oruç Reis in contested waters. Greek MFA 11 Nov condemned activities, saying they violated “international law of the sea and [are] undermining peace and stability in the region”; Turkish MFA same day responded that Greek statements were “based on Greece’s maximalist maritime boundary claims”. Greece and Republic of Cyprus continued to demand harsh EU sanctions against Turkish actions in eastern Mediterranean ahead of European Council summit scheduled for 10-11 Dec; EU Parliament 26 Nov passed non-binding resolution requesting EU leaders to “take actions and impose tough sanctions” on Ankara; Turkish MFA next day called parliament “disconnected from reality”. Turkey 30 Nov pulled back Oruç Reis after it completed exploration mission in disputed maritime zones south of Kastellorizo off the Turkish coast. Meanwhile, military exercises on both sides continued throughout month. During 11-12 Nov visit to Greece’s capital Athens, Egyptian President Sisi declared Egypt “will stand by Greece and in favour of its rights”. Defence ministers of Greece, Israel and Republic of Cyprus 12 Nov agreed to deepen military and security ties, specifically regarding joint training programs, intelligence sharing and cybersecurity. Greece and United Arab Emirates 23 Nov signed security agreement which includes mutual defence clause, obligating each country to help other if its territorial integrity is threatened. Egypt, Greece and the Republic of Cyprus announced plans to conduct joint military drills in eastern Mediterranean early Dec.
Ruling party won landslide parliamentary election victory, prompting widespread opposition protests. Following first round of parliamentary elections late Oct, results early Nov showed ruling Georgian Dream party won overwhelming majority, gaining 74 seats in new parliament; eight opposition parties collectively won 60 seats, and former ruling United National Movement party received 36 seats. Ahead of official results, all opposition parties 1 Nov declared boycott of parliament, citing issues with ballot count; however, international monitoring mission led by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe same day stated that “fundamental freedoms were respected” in election; several local observers demanded vote recounts, several of which took place, but no results suggested ballot manipulation. As opposition and civil society leaders publicly voiced grave concerns, head of Central Election Commission 3 Nov alleged that most confusion over ballot count came from new regulation allowing COVID-19 patients to vote from places of self-isolation. Opposition 8 Nov held mass protest in Tbilisi’s central avenue, marching toward Election Commission; scuffles between riot police and protesters injured at least 19, mainly police. Amid opposition boycott of second round of parliamentary elections held 21 Nov, ruling Georgian Dream party secured victory in 13 single-seat constituencies, acquiring majority and allowing party to form new govt without alliances with opposition parties. U.S. Sec State Pompeo 18 Nov visited Georgia to meet ruling party officials. In Abkhazia, de facto leader Aslan Bzhania 14 Nov met with Russian President Putin in Sochi, Russia, to discuss plans for economic and pandemic-related cooperation; as of 27 Nov, entity recorded 5,798 cases, at least 79 coronavirus deaths and almost 2,127 active cases.
Opposition parties mobilised to boycott Jan 2021 parliamentary elections. Hundreds of opposition Democratic Party supporters 14 Nov held rally in Almaty city to call for boycott of Jan 2021 parliamentary elections, in second opposition demonstration permitted by authorities since law was amended in May. All-National Social Democratic Party 27 Nov announced boycott of parliamentary vote during party conference, citing continued dominance by “the same political parties”. Meanwhile, govt continued to target opposition and civil society figures. Petropavl City Court in north 2 Nov sentenced opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan activist Nurbol Onerkhan to one year of freedom limitation on charges of involvement in “extremist group”; Court also banned Onerkhan from any social or political activity. In line with Nur-Sultan court order on 19 Nov, police 23 Nov forcibly admitted journalist and govt critic Aigul Otepova to psychiatric clinic, reportedly for involvement in Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan opposition movement, labelled as extremist group by govt; Otepova was under house arrest since Sept. NGO Human Rights Watch 18 Nov said Otepova was “being prosecuted solely for the peaceful expression of her views”, urged govt to release her immediately.
Amid ongoing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, President Thaçi and three other former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) chiefs were indicted for serious international crimes. Hague-based Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office 5 Nov confirmed war crimes and crimes against humanity indictment against Thaçi and three other former KLA chiefs, including current MP and head of opposition parliamentary group Vetevendosje, Rexhep Selimi, former parliament speaker and head of intelligence service, Kadri Veseli, and Social Democratic Initiative (NISMA) party’s national council chairman, Jakup Krasniqi. In response, Thaçi same day announced resignation citing need “to protect the integrity” of presidency, passing position temporarily to Speaker of Assembly Vjosa Osmani in accordance with constitution; Thaçi 9 Nov pleaded “not guilty” to war crimes and crimes against humanity charges. Specialist Prosecutor’s Office 17 Nov released documents accusing those indicted of attempting to interfere with potential prosecution witnesses ahead of trial. Meanwhile, acting President Vjosa Osmani 10 Nov said that dialogue with Serbia should be suspended due to war crime indictment against former KLA chiefs-turned-politicians. PM Hoti 19 Nov met virtually with French President Macron to discuss Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and visa liberalisation. Serbian President Vucic 21 Nov requested to visit Kosovo after 16 Nov discovery of mass grave near Serbian town of Raska next to border with Kosovo; Kosovo FM 25 Nov said Vucic would not be granted entry into country until he apologised for “genocide” against Kosovo citizens; Serbian govt next day said trip had been cancelled. Govt 20 Nov signed contract with EU for €26.5mn in financial support to counter impact of COVID-19.
Govt’s proposed constitutional changes to strengthen presidential powers ahead of presidential election in Jan 2021 sparked political backlash. Acting President and PM Japarov 14 Nov resigned to become eligible in upcoming presidential elections scheduled for 10 Jan 2021; parliament chair Talant Mamytov same day took over as acting president, with Artyom Novikom as PM. Shortly after, govt 17 Nov released constitutional draft widening presidential powers, creating new executive body and congress, and reducing parliament size from 120 to 90 lawmakers. Proposal sparked wave of criticism; notably, former PM Feliks Kulov 18 Nov said changes sought to secure “absolute power for the president” while former President Roza Otunbayeva 20 Nov warned that proposal may violate international law. NGO Human Rights Watch 21 Nov said constitutional changes “significantly erode checks and balances on the executive” and that caretaker parliament did not have proper legitimacy to undertake them. Hundreds 22 Nov marched peacefully in capital Bishkek to protest against proposed constitutional changes. Japarov 24 Nov defended draft constitution and called for national referendum on proposed amendments to take place alongside presidential elections. Meanwhile, preparations continued for presidential and parliamentary elections postponed until 2021. Following approval by lawmakers last month, then PM Japarov 11 Nov signed amendments to electoral law, lowering vote threshold for political parties to enter parliament from 7% to 3% and reducing candidate registration fee. Parliament chair Kanatbek Isaev 4 Nov announced resignation to join presidential race; parliament same day voted in Talant Mamytov to replace Isaev. Constitutional Chamber 2 Nov announced it would reconsider appeal challenging amendment adopted last month that postponed parliamentary elections until 2021.