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CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

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 80 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.

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December 2020

Africa

Burkina Faso

Jihadist violence persisted mainly in northern regions, and President Kaboré was sworn in for second term. In Sahel region in north, suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 7 Dec kidnapped resident in Beldiabe town, Oudalan province. Suspected jihadists 15 Dec also ambushed army patrol in Mansila commune, Yagha province, killing soldier; subsequent clashes reportedly left 13 attackers dead. In Centre North region, security forces 15 Dec killed two suspected jihadists in Silmangue village, Namentenga province. Clashes between volunteers fighting alongside security forces (VDPs) and suspected jihadists 19 Dec reportedly left several jihadists dead and one VDP injured near Dablo town, Sanmatenga province. Situation remained fragile in East region: suspected al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) combatants 1 Dec kidnapped municipal councillor in Boula village, Gagna province. Policeman 9 Dec also shot dead farmer at checkpoint near Tanghin-Dassouri city in Centre region’s Kadiogo province; in response, protesters same day took to streets in Tanghin-Dassouri, briefly occupying unmanned police station and blocking road. Meanwhile, independent body National Human Rights Commission 7 Dec reported 647 incidents around 22 Nov general elections, which impeded human rights including freedom of movement, free speech and access to education. Constitutional Council 18 Dec confirmed re-election of President Kaboré, who was sworn in 28 Dec; Kaboré 30 Dec dissolved govt.

Mali

Violence continued unabated in centre, infighting between rival jihadist groups persisted in north, and tensions surrounded formation of interim legislative body. Jihadist and intercommunal violence continued in centre. Jihadist group Katiba Macina 9 Dec attacked Dogon militia Dana Ambassagou in Songho area, Mopti region, killing five militiamen. Explosive device 28 Dec killed three French soldiers in Hombori area, also Mopti region; al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) later claimed responsibility. In neighbouring Ségou region, High Islamic Council early Dec led mediation between jihadists and ethnic Bambara hunters around Farabougou village, which has been under jihadist siege since Oct; jihadists insisted on Bambara hunters’ disarmament and compliance with Sharia law; EU Commission 2 Dec reported conflict around Farabougou had displaced around 17,000 people. In northern Timbuktu region, infighting between JNIM and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) 12 Dec left at least 15 ISGS and five JNIM combatants dead near N’Daki village. Also in north, airstrikes by French Operation Barkhane 1 Dec killed unspecified number of JNIM combatants on Ansongo-Ménaka axis, and 10 Dec reportedly killed six JNIM militants in Diay area, Timbuktu region. Interim govt 3 Dec published list of 121 members of newly formed legislative body National Transitional Council (CNT). Coalition of opposition and civil society groups (M5-RFP) next day announced boycott of CNT over lack of power sharing, said interim govt violated constitution and transition charter by unilaterally appointing members instead of letting political parties and social groupings select their representatives; some actors however supported and joined CNT, including members of M5-RFP and former PM Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga. CNT 5 Dec elected Colonel Malick Diaw, VP of military junta’s governing body, as CNT president. Public prosecutor’s office 31 Dec reportedly charged six public figures, including former PM Boubou Cissé, with “coup attempt” over reported allegations that they plotted to “destabilise” transitional institutions. Main opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé 25 Dec died of COVID-19 in France; Cissé was released in Oct after being held hostage for six months by jihadist militants.

Niger

Ahead of 27 Dec general elections, jihadists launched one of deadliest attacks on civilians in years, leaving dozens killed. In Diffa region (south east), Boko Haram (BH) faction led by Abubakar Shekau (JAS) 12 Dec launched one of deadliest attacks on local population in years in Toumour village, killing at least 27 civilians and wounding dozens more. Earlier in month in Diffa, BH splinter group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) combatants 11 Dec stormed domicile of canton chief in Chetimari village, leaving civilian dead; suspected jihadists same day raided Kindjandi town, leaving civilian dead. Jihadists also maintained attacks against security forces in Tillabery region (south west). Notably, suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) combatants 1 Dec killed soldier near Banizoumbou village, Filingué department; suspected al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) combatants 4 Dec killed two forest guards and wounded three soldiers near La Tapoa town, Say department; clashes between suspected jihadists and security forces 28 Dec left seven soldiers and 11 jihadists dead in Taroun area, Ouallam department. Also in Tillabery, security forces early Dec reportedly killed several Fulani civilians suspected of supporting jihadists in Abala area, Filingué department, and Banibangou area, Ouallam department, while residents in Mogodyougou town, Ouallam department, 8 Dec killed two suspected ISGS combatants. In neighbouring Dosso region, suspected ISGS combatants 3 Dec killed civilian in Rouda Peulh village, Dogon Doutchi department, sparking concerns over ISGS’s expansion southward from Tillabery region. Meanwhile, ahead of 27 Dec general elections, presidential candidates Salou Djibo and Seini Oumarou 16 Dec reiterated doubts over ruling-party candidate Mohamed Bazoum’s nationality, thereby questioning his eligibility. Opposition leader Hama Amadou – barred from running for president by Constitutional Court in Nov – 22 Dec called on supporters to vote for former President Mahamane Ousmane. Vote held 27 Dec without major incidents.

Burundi

Authorities continued to harass opposition while country’s removal from UN Security Council agenda marked major victory for President Ndayishimiye. Unidentified assailants 2 Dec killed two members of opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) in Butaganzwa commune, Ruyigi province. Police 14 Dec arrested six CNL members in Mutimbuzi commune, Bujumbura Rural province on suspicion of supporting rebel group. In joint report on human rights violations, 15 civil society organisations 10 Dec recorded 821 arbitrary arrests, 368 extrajudicial killings, 182 torture cases and 59 enforced disappearances in 2020; report identified CNL members and ethnic Tutsis as main victims, and security forces and ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure as main perpetrators. Ndayishimiye 30 Dec said Burundian Tutsis are over-represented in international organisations, vowed to “purify the dirty water” in Burundi. Meanwhile, govt relations with international community thawed. UN Security Council 4 Dec removed Burundi from its agenda; thousands of ruling-party supporters 12 Dec celebrated move in capital Gitega, economic capital Bujumbura and Ngozi city. Ndayishimiye 7 Dec met EU Ambassador Claude Bochu in Bujumbura; first meeting between EU and Burundian head of state since EU suspended financial cooperation with govt in 2016. FM Albert Shingiro 10-11 Dec also met Bochu alongside Belgian, French, German and Dutch ambassadors in Bujumbura to discuss normalisation of relations with EU. Former President Buyoya 18 Dec died of COVID-19 in France; Buyoya had resigned as African Union High Representative for Mali and the Sahel late Nov after Supreme Court in Oct sentenced him in absentia to life imprisonment for involvement in murder of Hutu President Ndadaye in 1993. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 15 Dec expressed concern about “violation of fundamental rights” of Burundian refugees in Tanzania, including cases of forced eviction.

Cameroon

Separatists disrupted regional elections in Anglophone regions, while jihadists continued to target civilians in Far North. President Biya’s Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) won nine of ten regional councils in 6 Dec elections; CPDM’s ally National Union for Democracy won remaining council; main opposition parties, Maurice Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement and John Fru Ndi’s Social Democratic Front, boycotted vote. Security forces 8 Dec lifted months-long blockade of Kamto’s home in capital Yaoundé. Ahead of vote, Anglophone separatists 4 Dec imposed three-day ghost town in North West and South West regions. On voting day, suspected separatists 6 Dec killed municipal councillor in Alabukam village and wounded two men near Akum village, both North West. Also in North West, suspected separatists 12 Dec kidnapped Kedjom Ketinguh village chief, released him three days later after ransom payment; armed forces 13 Dec reportedly killed community leader in Mukuru village, Wum commune, and 26 Dec reportedly killed two patients in Tubah District Hospital. In South West region, soldiers 12 Dec reportedly killed two civilians in Eyumojock subdivision, and 21 Dec raided two villages in Mbonge commune, killing six. Suspected separatists 13 Dec kidnapped three village chiefs in regional capital Buea, later killed one and released two. Army and separatists 22 Dec exchanged fire in Tombel town, leaving civilian dead. UN Special Envoy for Central Africa Louceny Fall 9 Dec briefed UN Security Council on Anglophone conflict; U.S. called Cameroon greatest concern in region with 6.2mn in need of humanitarian assistance, 2.3mn more than in early 2020. Boko Haram (BH) attacks continued in Far North. In Mayo-Sava division, BH overnight 9-10 Dec attacked Gakara village, injuring two soldiers; night of 15-16 Dec killed two civilians in Gouzoudou locality. In Mayo-Tsanaga division, BH 2 Dec killed three civilians in Mayo-Moskota town; 28 Dec killed civilian and injured several others in Ouzal village. In Logone-et-Chari division, BH overnight 23-24 Dec killed 12 civilians in Darak and Blangoua towns. In Adamawa region in centre, Central African Republic-based armed group Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) 26 Dec reportedly kidnapped three Cameroonian gendarmes.

Central African Republic

Deadly fighting involving armed groups allied to former President Bozizé broke out ahead of 27 Dec general elections; electoral results could spark escalation in Jan. After months of uncertainty over presidential candidacy of former President Bozizé, Constitutional Court 3 Dec rejected his application, citing international arrest warrant and UN sanctions against him; Bozizé’s party same day denounced court ruling. Coalition of six armed groups, all signatories to Feb 2019 peace agreement and including some supporting Bozizé, 15 Dec announced mobilisation against govt and electoral process; 18-19 Dec took over parts of Lobaye, Ouham, Ouham-Pendé, Nana Gribizi and Ombella M’Poko prefectures in west, centre and south, blocking main supply routes to Bangui, and clashing with army and UN peacekeeping force (MINUSCA) notably around cities of Bossombele (Ombella M’Poko), Bossemptele (Ouham-Pendé) and Bambari (Ouaka); death toll unknown; 1,500 civilians reportedly fled to neighbouring Cameroon 18-23 Dec. UN 18 Dec condemned violence and called on “all actors to urgently cease hostile actions”. Govt next day said Bozizé was behind new armed coalition and accused him of “coup attempt”. At govt’s request, Russia and Rwanda 20-21 Dec deployed hundreds of troops notably around Lobaye’s capital Mbaiki. Unidentified assailants 25 Dec killed three MINUSCA troops in Dekoa town, Kémo prefecture (centre). On election day, suspected armed group members set election material on fire in Ouham-Pendé prefecture and fired shots in Ouaka, Haute-Kotto and Nana-Mambéré prefectures; also threatened voters and election officials across country. Unidentified assailants next day attacked public bus in Grimari city, Ouaka prefecture, reportedly killing several civilians including Médecins sans Frontières worker. Electoral commission 28 Dec said over 14% of polling stations were closed due to insecurity across country. Meanwhile, clashes between armed groups erupted in north east: ethnic Goula ex-Seleka group and ethnic Arab Missirias militia from neighbouring Sudan 1 Dec clashed in Boromata town, Vakaga prefecture, leaving 35 Arab Missirias and four Goula dead; army and MINUSCA immediately sent troops to patrol town.

Chad

Intercommunal violence flared up in several regions leaving dozens dead, while govt continued to repress opposition amid COVID-19 restrictions. Farmer-herder clashes 10 Dec killed at least 12 in Doulbarid locality, Ouaddai province (east). Land dispute between ethnic Bulala and Arab communities 12 Dec escalated into brawl in Achiguek village, Batha East province (centre), leaving at least 25 dead. Herder-farmer clashes overnight 13-14 Dec also reportedly left nine dead in Béré town, Tandjilé province (south); angry mob next day ransacked préfet’s residence and vandalised police vehicles in Béré, leaving another two dead. Meanwhile, President Déby’s constitutional revision suffered setback. Parliament 3 Dec adopted constitutional reform bill providing that head of Senate – and not VP, personally appointed by president, as favoured by Déby – would take over as interim president in case of presidential vacancy or inability; Déby 14 Dec passed text into law. Court 11 Dec acquitted and released human rights activist Alain Kemba Didah and two co-defendants of “public order offenses” and “acts of rebellion” including breaching COVID-19-related restrictions; trio was arrested late Nov after organising opposition’s “citizens’ forum” in capital N’Djamena. Govt 11 Dec suspended opposition Parti Réformiste for three months after party chairman Yacine Abdramane Sakine 7 Dec said military was “held hostage by a small minority […] to keep Déby’s corrupt regime in power”. Members of opposition party Les Transformateurs 12 and 23 Dec gathered in N’Djamena to call for greater political freedom; police used tear gas to disperse them, citing COVID-19 regulations, leaving at least three injured. Amid small rise in COVID-19 cases, Déby 31 Dec banned all movement in and out of N’Djamena (including through airport) and all but essential movements within city for one week.

Democratic Republic of Congo

In major show of force and after weeks of political tensions, President Tshisekedi announced end of ruling coalition; meanwhile armed group attacks continued in eastern provinces. President Tshisekedi 6 Dec announced end of ruling coalition with former President Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC), vowed to seek new majority in parliament. Brawl next day erupted in parliament between pro-Tshisekedi and pro-Kabila MPs who rejected move as unconstitutional, leaving three injured, while police used tear gas to disperse Tshisekedi’s supporters gathered outside parliament. MPs 10 Dec voted to remove Kabila’s ally Jeannine Mabunda as head of National Assembly, first indication that Tshisekedi has managed to shift balance of power in his favour in FCC-dominated assembly. Immediately after vote, Industry Minister and FCC member Julien Paluku defected to Tshisekedi, urged fellow FCC member, PM Ilunga Ilunkamba, to resign to avoid no-confidence vote. Tshisekedi 31 Dec tasked Senator and FCC defector Bahati Lukwebo with identifying new majority. Tshisekedi also pursued efforts to reinforce his grip on army and police, meeting with several senior security officials throughout month. Meanwhile, violence continued in east. In North Kivu province’s Beni territory, suspected armed group Allied Democratic Forces 6-22 Dec killed at least 40 civilians in multiple attacks, including at least 21 night of 11-12 Dec in Bolema area, Rwenzori sector. Unidentified gunmen 6 Dec killed eight civilians in North Kivu’s capital Goma. In Ituri province’s Djugu territory, suspected armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) 7 Dec killed five civilians in Baijate village; CODECO 20 Dec clashed with armed forces in Muvramu village, leaving two civilians and one CODECO combatant dead; in joint attack, CODECO and Patriotic and Integrationist Front of Congo (FPIC) overnight 21-22 Dec killed three in Gbalana village. Elsewhere in Ituri, armed forces 16 Dec clashed with FPIC in Komanda town, Irumu territory, leaving eight militiamen and one soldier dead. In Tanganyika province, ethnic Twa militia 21 Dec killed one and injured several civilians in Kintu locality. UN Security Council 18 Dec renewed UN mission (MONUSCO) mandate for one year. 

Eritrea

Reports of Eritrean involvement in fighting in neighbouring Ethiopia’s regional state of Tigray kept emerging. As fighting continued between forces of Ethiopia’s federal govt and Tigray (see Ethiopia), Tigray President Debretsion Gebremichael 4 Dec again accused Asmara of supporting Addis Ababa’s military offensive, saying that “Eritrean soldiers are everywhere”; Eritrean FM Osman Saleh next day denied involvement, denounced “propaganda.” Evidence of Eritrean soldiers’ presence and involvement in hostilities in Tigray, including in state capital Mekelle, also reported by aid workers, UN and EU officials. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi 11 Dec said UN refugee agency had received “an overwhelming number of disturbing reports of Eritrean refugees in Tigray being killed, abducted and forcibly returned to Eritrea”. Eritrean delegation led by Saleh and presidential adviser Yemane Gebreab 8 Dec travelled to Sudan and met with Sovereign Council head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to discuss Ethiopia-Tigray conflict and impact on regional stability. Amid Sudan’s efforts to reclaim territories on border between Sudan’s Al-Qadarif state and Ethiopia’s Amhara region, Eritrea late Dec reportedly moved troops toward its border with Sudan.

Ethiopia

Violence erupted in disputed border area with Sudan, deadly fighting continued in Tigray region and intercommunal clashes killed hundreds in Benishangul-Gumuz region. Sudanese military early Dec reclaimed territory in disputed Al-Fashqa area on border between Ethiopia’s Amhara region and Sudan’s Al-Qadarif state. Ethiopian gunmen 15 Dec killed at least four Sudanese troops in Al-Fashqa. Border demarcation talks between Sudan and Ethiopia 22-23 Dec failed to yield agreement. In following days, Sudan allegedly made further territorial gains in Al-Fashqa and Al-Quraisha border regions, 31 Dec said its forces had taken control over all border territory it accuses Ethiopia of encroaching upon. Ethiopia 29 Dec warned Sudan of counter-offensive if it “does not stop expanding into Ethiopian territories”. Despite PM Abiy declaring victory in Nov, fighting continued between Tigray’s and federal govt’s forces. Tigray President and former ruling party Tigray People’s Liberation Front leader Debretsion Gebremichael 4 Dec again accused neighbouring Eritrea of supporting federal govt’s military offensive in Tigray (see Eritrea). UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 9 Dec expressed concern over “ethnic profiling” and “hate speech” against ethnic Tigrayans in rest of country. Tigray’s transitional govt – established by federal parliament’s upper house in Nov – took office 13 Dec. In Benishangul-Gumuz region in north west, suspected members of armed group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) 8 Dec killed at least ten ethnic Amhara civilians in Metekel zone; attack by suspected ethnic Gumuz gunmen 23 Dec killed at least 207 mostly Amhara and Shinasha civilians and displaced more than 40,000 in Metekel. In Oromia region in centre, suspected OLA combatants mid-Dec killed at least 19 mostly ethnic Amhara civilians in Horo Guduru Wellega and West Wellega zones; local authorities 16 Dec claimed security operations had killed some 400 OLA combatants in recent weeks. Clashes in border area between Afar and Somali regions late Dec reportedly left several dozen dead. Electoral board 25 Dec scheduled legislative and regional elections for 5 June 2021; said it would announce poll date for Tigray later on.

Kenya

Tensions rose with Somalia, with both countries deploying troops to shared border, while Al-Shabaab intensified attacks in north and east. President Kenyatta mid-Dec received President Bihi of Somalia’s breakaway state Somaliland in capital Nairobi; counterparts announced that Kenya would open consulate in Somaliland’s capital and that Somaliland would upgrade its liaison office in Nairobi by March; during Bihi’s visit, Somalia 15 Dec cut diplomatic relations with Kenya for “constantly interfering” in its internal affairs. In following days, both Kenya and Somalia reportedly deployed forces along common border to Mandera county and Gedo region respectively. Somalia 19 Dec accused Kenya of hosting and arming Somali militia to launch cross-border attacks and said it would take “all necessary steps” to protect its “territorial integrity”. Kenyatta and Somalia President Farmajo 20 Dec met during summit of regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Djibouti 25 Dec deployed fact-finding mission to assess situation at Somalia-Kenya border. In Garissa county in east, Al-Shabaab 2 Dec attacked Amuma police station, injuring police officer. In Wajir county in north east, Al-Shabaab 18 Dec abducted local official in Gumarey sub-location and later beheaded him. In Lamu county in east, Al-Shabaab 20 Dec ambushed police escort vehicle on Lamu-Gamba road, no casualties reported; security forces 27 Dec shot and killed seven Al-Shabaab militants in Boni forest. In Mandera county in north east, Al-Shabaab 29 Dec ambushed ambulance, killing civilian. In border area between Garissa and Isiolo counties, clashes between ethnic Borana and Somali 1 Dec left seven dead. In Mombasa county in south, police 1 Dec arrested 91 suspected members of separatist Mombasa Republican Council in Mirironi village. Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s signature campaign to trigger referendum on constitutional reform concluded 4 Dec; electoral commission 30 Dec started to verify signatures.

Somalia

Electoral disputes delayed Dec legislative polls and threatened to derail Feb presidential election; tensions rose with Kenya. Federal electoral commission – whose members opposition considers to be loyalists of President Farmajo – 5 Dec appointed chairperson, prompting opposition bloc of 14 presidential candidates to appoint parallel electoral body. Opposition protests 15 Dec resulted in clashes with security forces, reportedly leaving several injured in capital Mogadishu. After missing 10 Dec deadline for conclusion of federal parliament’s upper house election – due to Jubaland and Puntland’s refusal to appoint regional electoral commissions – federal electoral commission 23 Dec postponed upper house poll to late Dec-early Jan and said selection of delegates tasked with electing lower house would begin 7 Jan; opposition bloc of presidential candidates same day rejected new timetable; federal electoral commission 29 Dec again postponed upper house poll early to mid-Jan. Mandate of federal parliament expired 27 Dec. Somalia 15 Dec cut diplomatic ties with Kenya for “constantly interfering” in its internal affairs; move coincided with Somaliland President Bihi’s visit to Kenya during which he and Kenyan President Kenyatta announced that Kenya would open consulate in Somaliland’s capital and that Somaliland would upgrade its liaison office in Kenya by March. In subsequent days, both Somalia and Kenya reportedly deployed troops to their shared border. Mogadishu 19 Dec accused Kenya of hosting and arming Somali militia to launch cross-border attacks and said it would take “all necessary steps” to protect its “territorial integrity”. Farmajo and Kenyatta 20 Dec met during summit of regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); Mogadishu reportedly asked IGAD to establish commission to look into its complaints, including arming of Somali militia. Djibouti 25 Dec deployed fact-finding mission to assess situation at Somalia-Kenya border. In Hirshabelle state, clan militia opposed to last month’s state presidential election outcome 4 Dec clashed with federal govt forces in Hiraan regional capital Beledweyne, leaving at least two injured. Al-Shabaab continued to launch deadly attacks. Notably, Al-Shabaab suicide bombing 18 Dec killed 21, mostly civilians, in Mudug region’s capital Galkayo. U.S. 4 Dec announced it would “reposition” most of its troops in Somalia to neighbouring countries by early 2021.

Somaliland

Somaliland and Kenya announced they would upgrade diplomatic ties. President Bihi and Kenyan President Kenyatta mid-Dec met in Kenya, announced that Kenya would open consulate in capital Hargeisa and that Somaliland would “upgrade” its liaison office in Kenyan capital Nairobi by March. During Bihi’s visit, Somalia – which considers Somaliland as one of its member states – cut diplomatic relations with Kenya, accusing it of meddling in its internal affairs (see Kenya, Somalia). Bihi 19 Dec received Malawi FM, discussed ways to deepen bilateral relations. Bihi and Djibouti President Guelleh 29 Dec announced reopening of their shared border after six-year closure. Registration of voters for parliamentary and local elections, which have been postponed several times since 2019 and are now planned for May, continued throughout month. In Sanaag region in east, Al-Shabaab militants 10 Dec abducted several people in Milxo village; 21 Dec released them.

South Sudan

Govt and former rebel opposition groups agreed to end stalemate over formation of state and county govts in all but one state; meanwhile intercommunal violence continued. Govt and former rebel opposition groups 9 Dec agreed to move forward with formation of state and county govts, except in contested Upper Nile state, as well as with reconstitution of national legislature; parties agreed to organise peace and reconciliation conference to bring together Upper Nile communities prior to appointment of state governor, over which President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar have been at odds since June; Machar mid-Dec, however, indefinitely postponed conference. Kiir 30 Dec appointed six out of ten deputy state governors. In bid to reassert control over Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), Machar 1-5 Dec organised national party conference; dissent has been mounting in SPLA-IO’s ranks over slow implementation of Sept 2018 peace agreement. Regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development 20 Dec formally confirmed there are no travel restrictions on Machar. Govt and holdout rebel group National Salvation Front early Dec held talks in Italy’s capital Rome but failed to reach breakthrough on draft ten-point Declaration of Principles aimed at guiding future political negotiations. In Central Equatoria state in south, Kiir’s forces and SPLA-IO clashed several times throughout month in Kajo-Keji county. In Western Equatoria state in south, unidentified gunmen 16 Dec reportedly attacked SPLA-IO in Mvolo county. In Upper Nile state in east, unidentified gunmen mid-Dec reportedly attacked SPLA-IO in Maban county. Meanwhile, intercommunal violence persisted across country. In Central Equatoria state, cattle-related violence killed at least 43 throughout month in Terekeka and Lainya counties. In Lakes state in centre, cattle raids and intercommunal violence throughout month killed at least 29 in Yirol east, Cueibet and Awerial counties. In Warrap state, also in centre, intercommunal clashes mid-Dec left seven dead in Tonj North county.

Sudan

Military clashed with Ethiopian forces in disputed border region and reclaimed large swathes of territory. Sudan’s military early Dec reclaimed territory in disputed Al-Fashqa area on border between Sudan’s Al-Qadarif state and Ethiopia’s Amhara region. Ethiopian gunmen 15 Dec killed at least four Sudanese troops and wounded 20 in Al-Fashqa. Sudan subsequently deployed reinforcements and seized more land in area. Following unsuccessful talks 22-23 Dec between Sudan and Ethiopia to demarcate border, Sudan made further territorial gains in Al-Fashqa and Al-Qureisha border regions. Addis Ababa 29 Dec warned Sudan of counter-offensive if it “does not stop expanding into Ethiopian territories”. Khartoum 31 Dec said its forces had taken control over all border territory it accuses Ethiopia of encroaching upon. In Central and South Darfur states, clashes over gold mining territory between rival factions of holdout rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement/Army led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-AW) and fighting with govt troops early Dec displaced over 27,000 and left two children dead. In South Darfur state, intercommunal clashes late Dec killed at least 25 in several areas. UN Security Council 22 Dec voted to end mandate of UN-AU mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on 31 Dec. On second anniversary of uprising that led to ouster of former President Bashir, thousands 19 Dec demonstrated in capital Khartoum and across country, demanding acceleration of democratic reforms. Also in Khartoum, thousands 29 Dec attended funeral of individual reportedly tortured to death mid-Dec while in paramilitary Rapid Support Forces custody. U.S. 14 Dec formally removed Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation. Ethiopia and Sudan 13 Dec agreed to resume negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Russia 1 Dec signed agreement with Sudan to establish naval base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast.

Tanzania

Opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) formed unity govt with ruling party on semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago. President Magufuli, who was re-elected in late Oct, 5 Dec unveiled cabinet consisting of 23 ministers and 23 deputy ministers. On semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, ACT 6 Dec agreed to form unity govt with ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party; Zanzibar’s President Hussein Mwinyi same day appointed ACT’s national chairman Seif Sharif Hamad as Zanzibar’s first VP; Hamad sworn in 8 Dec. ACT and other opposition party Civic United Front 20 Dec accused police of killing ACT official and wounding several other people previous day during security operation in Kibutuka village, Lindi region in south; regional police commander 21 Dec denied allegations. VP Samia Suluhu 14 Dec attended Southern Africa regional bloc SADC Defence and Security Troika in Mozambique’s capital Maputo to discuss Islamist insurgency in neighbouring country; extraordinary summit of SADC heads of state and govt scheduled for Jan (see Mozambique).  

Uganda

Political tensions ran high ahead of 14 Jan general elections, and violent crackdown on opposition could further escalate in coming weeks. Police 1 Dec fired tear gas and rubber bullets at opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) leader and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine and his supporters in Kayunga district, leaving several injured; security forces same day blocked Wine and supporters on their way to campaign venue in neighbouring Jinja district, reportedly firing live bullets at Wine’s car. Ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporters 4 Dec clashed with opposition Democratic Party (DP) supporters in Kyotera district; police reportedly intervened, killing DP supporter and injuring at least two others. Police 4 and 27 Dec arrested Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat Oboi for allegedly disobeying police orders in Bushenyi district and violating COVID-19-related campaign ban in Jinja district, respectively. Security forces 27 Dec clashed with Wine and his supporters in Masaka district, leaving Wine’s bodyguard dead and at least two journalists injured. Police 30 Dec arrested Wine in Kalangala district on grounds of COVID-19-related campaign ban, sparking protests; police reportedly fired tear gas to disperse crowd. Govt early Dec froze bank accounts of at least four NGOs involved in election-monitoring activities; after 9 Dec asked U.S.-based technology company Google to shut down 14 YouTube channels for allegedly inciting riots, Google representative 16 Dec said removal of channels would require court order. Uganda Media Council 10 Dec directed all journalists to reapply for accreditation in order “to sanitise the industry”, prompting outcry from Uganda Editors’ Guild and African Centre for Media Excellence. President Museveni 16 Dec appointed his son Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba to head of Special Forces Command. Police 22 Dec arrested prominent human rights lawyer and activist Nicholas Opiyo in Kampala on suspicions of money laundering along with three other lawyers and NUP official; High Court 30 Dec released Opiyo on bail. UN human rights experts 29 Dec urged govt to curb “election-related violence” and “crackdown” on political opponents and activists.

Mozambique

Islamist insurgents moved closer to liquefied natural gas (LNG) site in far north, forcing international oil company to evacuate staff. In far north Cabo Delgado province, Islamist insurgents increasingly targeted strategic towns, moving toward Afungi peninsula where LNG project is located. In Palma district, Islamist insurgents 7 Dec attacked Mute town, 20km from LNG site, and clashed with security forces, reportedly killing soldier; insurgents next day moved to Ngueo town, 2km north of Mute, forcing unknown number of civilians to flee to Palma town; 29 Dec killed five in Olumbe and Monjane villages few kilometres away from LNG site, and two soldiers in ambush on Monjane-Patacua axis on edge of Afungi peninsula. Following attacks, French oil and gas company Total late Dec started to evacuate staff from LNG facility. In neighbouring Nangade district, insurgents 8 Dec ambushed vehicle near Pundanhar town on Palma-Nangade axis, killing civilian, kidnapping two others and temporarily closing route to Palma; 12 Dec killed at least 14 civilians in several villages. In Macomia district, insurgents 10 Dec kidnapped unspecified number of fishermen in Mucojo town, released them few days later; next day killed at least four in Chai area. Southern African Development Community (SADC) Defence and Security Troika 14 Dec met with President Nyusi and Tanzania’s President Magufuli in capital Maputo to discuss security situation in Cabo Delgado; extraordinary summit of SADC heads of state and govt scheduled for 21 Jan. Meanwhile, number two of opposition Renamo party’s armed dissident faction Renamo Military Junta (JMR), Joao Machava, 6 Dec demobilised in Mabote district, Inhambane province (south). JMR leader Mariano Nhongo 11 Dec accused security forces of kidnapping six of his family members in past few days in Gondola district, Manica province (west); 23 Dec announced unilateral ceasefire, promised to negotiate with govt. Elsewhere in Manica province, armed individuals dressed in police uniforms 13 Dec kidnapped former Renamo party MP Sofrimento Matequenha from his home in provincial capital Chimoio; police same day denied abduction; Matequenha’s body found 24 Dec in Pindanganga village, 60km north east of Chimoio. 

Zimbabwe

Authorities continued to harass govt critics and opposition, and political parties held contested internal elections. Police 4 Dec detained Tendai Biti, VP of Nelson Chamisa’s faction of main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-A), on charges of assault; Biti released on bail next day; opening of trial set for 18 Jan. Authorities 14 Dec arrested mayor of capital Harare and prominent MDC-A official Jacob Mafume on allegations of witness tampering; court 17 Dec denied him bail; Mafume was previously arrested 25 Nov on corruption charges and granted bail 8 Dec. Govt 28 Dec suspended Mafume, deputy mayor Luckson Mukunguma and four other councillors on allegations of incompetence and misconduct of duty. High Court 15 Dec overturned magistrate’s Aug ruling barring prominent human rights lawyer from representing investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono. Security forces 24 Dec arrested National Patriotic Front member and former pro-ruling party ZANU-PF Chipangano gang leader Jim Kunaka in Harare over allegations of inciting violence in run-up to 31 July anti-corruption protests; judge 29 Dec denied him bail. In Thokozani Khupe’s faction of MDC (MDC-T) extraordinary congress in Harare 27 Dec, Douglas Mwonzora was elected MDC-T leader; Khupe immediately alleged fraud,threatening to file Supreme Court application seeking annulment of results. Tensions subsided after Mwonzora 29-30 Dec appointed Khupe and other rival candidates Morgan Komichi and Elias Mudzuri to senior executive positions. ZANU-PF 5-6 Dec held district coordinating committee (DCC) elections in eight provinces; DCCs had been dissolved in 2012. ZANU-PF elections reportedly marred by fraud and violence, prompting several reruns; notably, riots erupted in Mutare city as party members burned ballot boxes amid allegations of vote-rigging and buying. 

Côte d’Ivoire

Amid lull in post-election violence, President Ouattara took oath for controversial third term and opened dialogue with opposition. Opposition Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) leader and de facto opposition spokesperson Henri Konan Bédié 9 Dec dissolved National Transitional Council, created after Oct presidential election with view to forming transitional govt, called for national dialogue. During swearing-in ceremony, Ouattara 14 Dec mandated PM Hamed Bakayoko to resume dialogue with opposition, with stated aim to find consensus on reform of electoral commission ahead of 2021 legislative elections. Ouattara next day appointed PDCI dissident and presidential candidate in Oct election, Kouadio Konan Bertin, as national reconciliation minister. Opposition boycotted and sharply criticised inauguration: Bédié 7 Dec decried it as “non-event”, while exiled opposition figure, former PM Guillaume Soro, 13 Dec denounced “illegal and illegitimate” ceremony. Govt and opposition representatives, including Bédié, 21 Dec met in economic capital Abidjan, 29 Dec agreed to hold legislative elections in March 2021; disagreements persisted, however, on release of detained and return of exiled opposition leaders, and reform of electoral commission; political dialogue set to resume mid-Jan. Authorities 30 Dec released and placed under judicial supervision opposition leader and presidential candidate in Oct election Pascal Affi N’Guessan, in detention since early Nov on terrorism charges. Meanwhile, NGO Human Rights Watch 2 Dec urged authorities to “investigate the killing of more than 50 people” around Oct presidential election and stop “targeting opposition members through a flawed legal process”. Govt 4 Dec handed diplomatic and ordinary passports to former President Gbagbo, currently in Belgium following his 2019 acquittal of crimes against humanity by International Criminal Court (ICC), 9 Dec said Gbagbo should await end of ICC proceedings before returning to Côte d’Ivoire. Gbagbo’s wing of Ivorian Popular Front party 23 Dec announced end of its ten-year boycott of national elections, said party would take part in 2021 legislative elections.

Guinea

President Condé was sworn in for controversial third term, and intercommunal violence erupted in south east. Condé 15 Dec took presidential oath for third term, called for unity and end to violence. Opposition remained divided and continued to lose momentum. Main opposition leader and presidential runner-up Cellou Dalein Diallo boycotted swearing-in ceremony and denounced it as “sham”, while several other opposition figures attended. Coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), at forefront of mobilisation against third term since 2019, same day failed to mobilise supporters for protest in capital Conakry against Condé’s alleged “constitutional coup”. Territorial administration and decentralisation Minister Bouréma Condé 11 Dec warned that govt would not tolerate any “breach of the peace”. Authorities 30 Dec reportedly prevented Diallo from leaving country to attend funeral of late Malian opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé. Meanwhile, international community increased pressure on govt to address human rights violations by security forces and stop muzzling opposition. U.S. embassy in Guinea 11 Dec urged authorities to build “more democratic society”. NGO Human Rights Watch 14 Dec called on govt to stop “relentless crackdown” on opposition, and NGO Amnesty International next day urged govt to investigate killings of opposition protesters and others around Oct presidential election. EU Commission 19 Dec called for independent investigation into 17 Dec death in custody of opposition party Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) youth leader, Roger Bamba, and release of all political prisoners. Intercommunal violence erupted in Macenta city (south east): ethnic Toma and Manian residents 26-27 Dec clashed over control of cheftaincy, reportedly leaving over 20 dead and dozens more wounded.

Guinea-Bissau

Authorities issued international arrest warrant against opposition leader and intercommunal violence broke out near capital Bissau. Attorney General’s Office 18 Dec said it had issued international arrest warrant against runner-up in 2019 presidential election and leader of main opposition African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), Domingos Simões Pereira, without elaborating on charges against him; Pereira, who went into exile in Portugal in early 2020, had early Dec announced his intention to resume political activity in Guinea-Bissau. UN mission Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) ended 31 Dec; UNIOGBIS Head Rosine Sori-Coulibaly mid-Dec said UN would continue to guarantee safety of former PM Aristides Gomes, who took refuge in UN mission headquarters in early 2020. Meanwhile, President Embaló 16 Dec threatened to dissolve National Assembly and call for early legislative elections, due to boycott by PAIGC deputies of parliamentary session on 2021 budget. Intercommunal violence erupted near Bissau: ethnic Yunkun and Thun communities 29 Dec clashed over land dispute in Nhoma town, 25km north of Bissau, leaving at least four dead and several wounded. 

Nigeria

Jihadist and criminal violence continued in north east and north west, while authorities came under international scrutiny. Boko Haram (BH) factions continued to launch attacks in north-eastern Borno state despite ongoing military operations. BH combatants 7-30 Dec killed at least 24 security personnel, one civilian and abducted at least 38 people including two aid workers in Damboa, Konduga, Jakana, Mafa and Jere areas. Army 6-8 Dec killed 13 combatants apparently from BH faction led by Abubakar Shekau (JAS) in Magumeri, Bama and Gwoza areas; airstrikes 11 Dec killed “several” JAS combatants in Gwoza area; army next day repelled attack in Askira-Uba area by same faction, killing over 20 combatants. Suspected JAS suicide attack 19 Dec killed three civilians in Konduga town. BH 24 Dec killed 11 civilians in Pemi village. Armed group violence and abductions continued in north west, particularly Katsina state: gunmen 11 Dec stormed secondary school in Kankara town and abducted over 300 schoolboys; govt and local security officials immediately blamed attack on criminal groups but Shekau 15 Dec claimed responsibility; schoolboys released 17 Oct. Also in Katsina, armed group 17 Dec attacked convoy of traditional and religious ruler from Kaura Namoda town (Zamfara state), in Funtua area, killing eight guards; 19 Dec briefly kidnapped about 80 Islamic school students in Dandume area. In Niger state (Middle Belt), armed groups 8-15 Dec killed four and abducted around 30 civilians, prompting 5,000 others to flee. In Enugu state (south east), unidentified gunmen 26 Dec killed Oruku community’s traditional chief in Nkanu East area. Federal parliament 1 Dec summoned President Buhari over insecurity in north, reflecting rising discontent including within ruling party; Buhari rejected convocation, claiming lawmakers lack power to summon him on security matters. Meanwhile, govt suffered international setbacks. U.S. 7 Dec designated Nigeria as “country of particular concern” with regard to religious freedom, paving way for sanctions. Office of International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor 11 Dec said there is “reasonable basis to believe” that both BH and security forces have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Nigeria, concluded ICC investigation is warranted. 

November 2020

Africa

Nile Waters

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.

Burkina Faso

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.

Mali

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. 

Niger

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. 

Burundi

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”.

Cameroon

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.

Central African Republic

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, Restitution and 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.

Chad

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 suspicions 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 Apr 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. 

Democratic Republic of Congo

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.

Djibouti

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.

Eritrea

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.

Ethiopia

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).

Kenya

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.

Somalia

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

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.

South Sudan

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.

Sudan

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).

Tanzania

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.

Uganda

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.

Angola

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.

Mozambique

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. 

Zimbabwe

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.

Côte d’Ivoire

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. 

Guinea

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”.

Guinea-Bissau

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.

Nigeria

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.

October 2020

Africa

Nile Waters

African Union hosted tripartite meeting to break deadlock on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), while U.S. President Trump’s comment ignited tensions. African Union 27 Oct hosted virtual meeting between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan ministers of foreign affairs and water resources to discuss ways to resume talks over filling and operation of GERD. Earlier in month, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work 5 Oct said dam will begin generating power in next 12 months; Ethiopia’s aviation chief same day said all flights in airspace over GERD had been banned “to secure the dam”. Sudanese PM Hamdok 23 Oct urged for “amicable solution” to dispute while U.S. President Trump same day said Egypt could end up “blowing up that dam”. Ethiopian govt next day accused Trump of trying to incite “war” between GERD parties, and FM Gedu Andargachew same day summoned U.S. ambassador.

Burkina Faso

Suspected jihadists launched major attacks against civilians in northern regions, and preparations for Nov general elections made progress. In north, jihadist combatants killed scores in largest attacks against civilians since early 2020. In Centre-North region, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) 5 Oct kidnapped and killed 25 internally displaced persons near Pissila city, Sanmatenga province. In Sahel region, suspected ISWAP combatants 14 Oct killed between 20 and 40 civilians in two villages of Gorgadji commune, Seno province; next day ambushed civilians in Gorom-Gorom area, Oudalan province, killing two. Meanwhile, security forces 12 Oct reportedly killed nine civilians in Bangao village, also Oudalan province. Security improved in Sahel region’s Soum province, with no major incident reported in Oct; lull in violence follows opening of negotiations in Sept between govt and local branch of Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) there. In East region, suspected jihadists 2 Oct abducted Fulani individual suspected of being member of Koglweogo community defence group in Gourma province’s capital Fada N’Gourma. Overall, violence caused by civilian volunteers fighting jihadists alongside security forces decreased in north and east. In western Boucle du Mouhoun region, suspected jihadists 2 Oct attacked Kona village, Kossi province, killing three civilians. Intercommunal relations improved in Kossi after ethnic Fulani and Dogon communities from Barani and Kombori communes 8 Oct reached peace agreement; local sources reported defence and security forces arrested and killed ethnic Dogon individual involved in communal violence as precondition for peace set by Fulani authorities; exclusion from deal of some armed actors may hinder its implementation. Constitutional Council 22 Oct approved 13 candidacies ahead of presidential election set for 22 Nov, including those of incumbent President Kaboré and opposition leader Zephirin Diabré. Political parties, all 13 presidential candidates, NGOs and media outlets 26 Oct signed code of conduct, committing to “avoid inflammatory rhetoric” and “resolve electoral disputes through legal means”. Campaigning started 31 Oct. World Bank 7 Oct warned COVID-19 outbreak could cause 500,000 people in Burkina Faso to slide into extreme poverty by end of 2020, and a million more by end of 2021.

Mali

Military junta secured international support following conciliatory moves, while jihadist attacks continued unabated in centre and north. Junta’s governing body, National Council for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), 1 Oct published transitional charter with major amendment to prerogatives of VP, junta leader Colonel Assimi Goïta, as required by regional body ECOWAS. Interim President N’Daw 4 Oct appointed 25-member govt, awarding four key portfolios to military officials. Coalition of opposition and civil society groups M5-RFP 6 Oct said it was not represented in govt despite its “key role in toppling former President Keïta”, called on supporters to remain mobilised. Meanwhile, ECOWAS same day lifted post-coup commercial and financial sanctions on Mali, called on interim govt to dissolve CNSP and release 12 individuals arrested during coup; govt 8 Oct announced their release. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell 16 Oct expressed support for transition, and EU same day announced resumption of its training and capacity-building activities in Mali. Interim govt 8 Oct announced release of four hostages detained by jihadist Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM), including opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé; in exchange, govt reportedly released 200 prisoners, including high-profile JNIM figures. Meanwhile, jihadist attacks continued unabated in centre and north. In central Mopti region, suspected jihadists 6 Oct attacked military outpost near Koro town, killing three. JNIM 13 Oct attacked military base in Sokoura town, killing at least nine soldiers; later same day killed at least two soldiers and 12 civilians in two separate attacks on Bandiagara-Bankass axis. Amid counter-insurgency operations in Bankass and Koro areas, local NGO accused army of killing 15 Fulani civilians in Libbé village in Bankass area 22 Oct. In neighbouring Ségou region, suspected jihadists 6 Oct abducted around 20 civilians in Farabougou village, few days later killed five others. In north, suspected jihadists 1 Oct attacked police patrol in Timbuktu city, killing two; MINUSMA vehicle 9 Oct hit explosive device in Kidal region, three peacekeepers injured; JNIM later claimed attack. Ethnic Songhai and Arab communities mid-Oct clashed in Timbuktu city, death toll unknown; clashes erupted after suspected robbers 10 Oct killed Songhai individual.

Niger

Political tensions rose ahead of Dec general elections, while fewer jihadist attacks were reported. Ahead of general elections planned for 27 Dec, controversy emerged over presidential candidates’ eligibility. Ruling party repeatedly claimed opposition candidate and former PM Hama Amadou’s bid was unlawful due to past one-year prison sentence. Meanwhile, rumors spread that ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum was born abroad, sparking doubts over his eligibility. Constitutional Court due to review candidacies and publish final list of candidates by 1 Dec. President Issoufou 14 Oct reiterated his intention not to run for third term and respect peaceful transfer of power. Amid clashes between Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and rival Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau (JAS) near Gadia island in Diffa region (south east) early Oct, fewer jihadist attacks reported. ISWAP 13 Oct however attacked military barracks in Toumour commune, Diffa region; death toll unknown. In Tillabery region (south west), suspected jihadists 12-13 Oct abducted Muslim cleric and his son, whom they accused of collaborating with security forces, in Nassirou village near Burkina Faso border. In Tahoua region (south), unidentified assailants night of 26-27 Oct abducted American missionary in Massalata village; U.S. special forces night of 30-31 Oct freed hostage during operation in neighbouring Nigeria, reportedly killing several of his captors.

Burundi

Authorities continued crackdown on opposition and targeted Kinyarwanda speakers and ethnic Tutsi minority amid tense relations with neighbours. Police early Oct arrested rights activist and former opposition MP Fabien Banciryanino in economic capital Bujumbura on charges of “rebellion” and “threat to national security”; Banciryanino in Feb accused former President Nkurunziza’s govt of extrajudicial killings. Intelligence services 8 Oct reportedly arrested seven individuals, including three members of opposition National Congress for Freedom (CNL), in Mwaro province, on unknown charges. Meanwhile, residents in Kirundo province said authorities 13 Oct distributed arms to ruling party CNDD-FDD youth wing Imbonerakure; inhabitants of Ruyigi province mid-Oct reported paramilitary trainings of Imbonerakure on soccer fields. Govt 8 Oct called on Burundians to report presence of Kinyarwanda speakers (native to Rwanda and DR Congo), saying they posed threat to national security. Police 6-14 Oct reportedly arrested around 130 Congolese nationals from ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge group in operations to track down Kinyarwanda speakers in Gitega, Muyinga and Ngozi provinces. Imbonerakure 11 Oct beat young man to death in Bugabira commune, Kirundo province, reportedly for having Rwandophone accent. Supreme court 19 Oct sentenced in absentia former President Buyoya, current African Union High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, along with 18 political and military figures, mostly Tutsi, to life imprisonment for murder of Hutu President Ndadaye in 1993. After Rwanda 2 Oct announced arrest of 19 members of Burundian armed group RED-Tabara, Burundi requested immediate handover of prisoners; instead, Rwandan Intelligence Services 5 Oct asked International Conference on Great Lakes Region to launch investigation. Repatriation of Burundian refugees from Rwanda continued; FM Albert Shingiro 20 Oct met Rwandan counterpart at Nemba border post to discuss security cooperation. President Ndayishimiye did not attend 7 Oct regional summit on security cooperation hosted by DR Congo (see DR Congo). UN Human Rights Council 6 Oct extended Commission of Inquiry on Burundi for one year. After renewal of EU sanctions against Burundi last month, Shingiro 9 Oct summoned all foreign diplomats and demanded their respective countries suspend sanctions.

Cameroon

Attack killed schoolchildren in Anglophone region and jihadists stepped up offensive in Far North; opposition leader remained under house arrest. Govt 1 Oct deployed additional troops in Anglophone North West and South West regions to prevent separatists’ celebrations of their declared Independence Day; some shooting reported in Bui, Momo and Boyo divisions (North West), death toll unknown. In South West, army 12 Oct killed prominent separatist leader known as General Ayeke in Wabane area, Lebialem division, and released 11 hostages from Ayeke’s camp. After some schools early Oct reopened in both regions despite separatists’ boycott, unidentified armed individuals 24 Oct attacked school in Kumba city, killing at least six children; govt immediately denounced “terrorist act of intolerable cruelty and barbarity”, while separatists denied responsibility, blaming Cameroonian govt. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet 27 Oct condemned attack, called for “inclusive dialogue to carve out a durable resolution” to Anglophone crisis. Army 26 Oct reportedly killed separatist General Mendo Ze during military raid in Fako division. In attempt to unify separatist armed groups, imprisoned separatist leader Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe 15 Oct called on factional leaders to collaborate. In Far North, jihadist groups launched almost daily attacks on civilians and vigilante groups, leading govt to close over 60 schools in region in early Oct. Jihadists overnight 15-16 Oct killed three civilians and kidnapped five others in Oudal village, Mayo-Tsanaga division; 15-28 Oct killed two civilians and abducted nine others in Mayo-Sava division. Meanwhile, opposition leader Maurice Kamto’s lawyers 5 Oct submitted plea for authorities to lift his de facto house arrest, which court in Yaoundé rejected same day; Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement party remained under investigation for attempts to “destabilise state institutions and mount insurrection” following anti-govt protest last month. Geneva-based UN human rights experts 12 Oct called for Kamto’s immediate release and that of 200 others arrested in Sept; govt 14 Oct decried experts’ call as “partial and biased”.

Central African Republic

Armed group violence continued in north west and south east, and preparations for general elections moved forward. Govt representatives, UN Mission (MINUSCA) and peace agreement guarantors 3-5 Oct met armed group Restitution, Reclamation and Rehabilitation (3R) leader, Sidiki Abbas, in Koui town, Ouham-Pendé prefecture, to discuss electoral preparations; Abbas reportedly agreed to stop blocking voter registration process in north west, same day freed three policemen kidnapped last month near Bang town, Ouham-Pendé prefecture. Meanwhile, armed group violence continued in north west. In Ouham prefecture, anti-Balaka rival factions 1 Oct clashed over control of Bowara mining site, leaving four dead; unidentified assailants 10 Oct kidnapped two herders and killed one of them near Batangafo town; NGO Doctors Without Borders 16 Oct suspended its activities in Kabo town amid persistent targeting of humanitarian workers. In south east, violence flared between anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka armed group Unity for Peace in Central Africa (UPC). After UPC 3 Oct arrested anti-Balaka leader in Pombolo village, Mbomou prefecture, groups in following days clashed in Kembé town, Basse-Kotto prefecture, Pombolo and Gambo villages, both Mbomou prefecture; MINUSCA and local authorities 6 Oct intervened to de-escalate tensions. Ahead of Dec general elections, National Electoral Authority 16 Oct completed voter registration, 27 Oct published electoral lists; moves follow Sept National Assembly decisions to extend electoral calendar deadlines but keep 27 Dec as election day. Opposition parties repeatedly denounced “poor electoral preparation” and argued that their key demands could not be met in proposed timeframe, including addressing insecurity across country and enabling refugees to vote. Meanwhile controversy persisted over eligibility of former President Bozizé, who returned to country in late 2019, as electoral code requires presidential candidates to have at least 12-month in-country residence prior to filing for candidacy.

Chad

Clearing of mining sites in north increased tensions and govt announced imminent deployment of troops to fight jihadist groups in Sahel. President Déby 8 Oct ordered immediate clearing of all illegal gold mining sites around Miski in northern Tibesti province; also confirmed plans to withdraw mining rights except for approved companies with experience in mining sector; moves follow Sept withdrawal of Miski self-defence militia from 2019 peace agreement in protest at govt’s proposed plans to change legal framework for gold mining to their detriment. Meanwhile, during G5 Sahel meeting in Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, FM Amine Abba Sidick 5 Oct announced imminent deployment of Chadian battalion to tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to support fight against jihadist groups; Déby, who committed to sending additional troops there in Jan, had delayed deployment, citing need to concentrate military efforts around Lake Chad. In Lake region in west, suspected Boko Haram insurgents 19 Oct ambushed army convoy on Ngouboua-Kaïga axis, leaving four dead and at least ten injured. National inclusive forum on constitutional reform held 29 Oct-1 Nov despite boycott by several opposition parties, which claimed forum would not genuinely address structural issues or army reform; authorities 30 Oct banned opposition gatherings and circled headquarters of several opposition parties in capital N’Djamena, citing need to prevent demonstrations due to COVID-19.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Political tensions reached breaking point, threatening survival of ruling coalition, while deadly violence continued unabated in east. During President Tshisekedi’s visit to North Kivu’s capital Goma, North and South Kivu provincial deputies 7 Oct challenged late-Sept appointment of ethnic Tutsi (Banyamulenge) as mayor of newly created Minembwe commune, South Kivu province; Tshisekedi blamed decision on decentralisation minister and former President Kabila ally Azarias Ruberwa, himself a Banyamulenge, and 9 Oct revoked Minembwe’s status as commune. Ruberwa 19-21 Oct told National Assembly appointment followed direct orders from Tshisekedi himself, revealing major breach within ruling coalition. Meanwhile, Kabila’s Common Front for Congo 21 Oct boycotted swearing-in ceremony of three new Constitutional Court judges, who had been unilaterally appointed by Tshisekedi in July; next day said party will not recognise judges nor feel bound by any of their decisions. In east, armed groups continued to target armed forces and civilians. In North Kivu province, Uganda-born Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) launched several attacks in Beni territory: ADF and Maï-Maï militia Kyandenga 5 Oct killed ten in Mamove locality; suspected ADF 20 Oct attacked Kangbayi prison in Beni town, freeing over 1,300 inmates including ADF and Maï-Maï combatants; ADF 21-31 Oct killed at least 50 civilians across Beni territory. In South Kivu province, clashes between Maï Maï and Banyamulenge militias late Oct left at least 20 dead. Army 25 Oct said troops had taken over stronghold of Burundian armed group National Liberation Forces (FNL) in South Kivu, killing at least 27 over three days of fighting. In Ituri province, armed group Patriotic and Integrationist Front of Congo (FPIC) 16 and 21 Oct killed at least 15 in Irumu territory. Faction of armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) 22 Oct reportedly killed at least five near Ituri’s capital Bunia; in following days, army killed at least 21 militiamen in area. Tshisekedi’s efforts toward regional cooperation suffered setback. Burundi 7 Oct boycotted regional summit on security, health and economic cooperation, hosted by Kinshasa via videoconference, although bilateral meeting between FM Nzeza Ntumba and his Burundian counterpart was held in Burundi’s capital Gitega previous day.

Eritrea

President Afwerki consolidated regional ties as part of effort to play greater role in regional politics. Afwerki 4-5 Oct received Somalia President Farmajo, leaders agreed to upgrade July 2018 agreement that restored diplomatic relations between two countries and to re-double regional integration efforts on basis of Sept 2018 tripartite agreement between Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia. Afwerki 12-14 Oct visited Ethiopia, discussed bilateral and regional issues with Ethiopian PM Abiy, including Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam; visit took place amid harsh dispute between Ethiopian federal govt and Tigray regional state which shares border with Eritrea and has long had hostile relationship with Afwerki. Govt 31 Oct accused Tigray ruling party of obstructing regional peace and stability. UN Human Rights Council 7 Oct appointed Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker as new UN special rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea. European Parliament 8 Oct adopted resolution calling on govt to “put an end to detention of the opposition, journalists, religious leaders and innocent civilians” and condemning “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations”; also expressed concern that “COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the situation of famine and malnutrition that exists in parts of the country”.

Ethiopia

Feud between federal govt and Tigray region reached breaking point, threatening to spark violent escalation in Nov; intercommunal violence left dozens dead in several regions. After Tigray held regional elections in Sept in defiance of federal govt’s COVID-19-related postponement of polls, Tigray’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) 5 Oct recalled its representatives from federal govt and parliament, considering their mandates had expired. Tensions further increased after federal parliament’s upper house 6-7 Oct directed federal govt to cut ties with Tigray’s leadership and approved redirection of federal funding away from Tigray’s executive. Peace Minister Muferiat Kamil 9 Oct called on both sides to engage in dialogue and de-escalate tensions; TPLF 24 Oct however said Addis Ababa “is driving the Tigray region away from the federation” and that withholding of funds, due 4 Nov, would be “tantamount to a declaration of war”. In Benishangul-Gumuz region in north west, unidentified militia 6-7 Oct killed 14 civilians, including some ethnic Amhara, in Metekel zone; security forces reportedly killed 14 assailants. Also in Metekel, at least a dozen ethnic Amhara and Agew civilians 11 Oct were shot dead in unclear circumstances. In Southern Nations region in south, unidentified gunmen 18-21 Oct killed at least 31 civilians, reportedly all ethnic Amhara, prompting reported displacement of thousands of Amhara in Bench Sheko zone. In border area between Afar and Somali regions, clashes between ethnic Afar and Somalis late Oct left at least 27 dead. In Oromia region, regional police chief 1 Oct said more than 500 people had been arrested on suspicion of plotting violence during Oromo festival in late Sept-early Oct; security forces 11 Oct opened fire on protesters demanding release of political prisoners, leaving one dead in Bale zone; unidentified assailants mid-Oct killed two security personnel in East Wellega zone. Federal parliament’s upper house 6 Oct approved request by five zonal administrations and one district of Southern Nations region for referendum on creation of regional state. Tripartite meeting on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam took place 27 Oct (see Nile Waters).

Kenya

Deadly violence erupted amid power struggle between President Kenyatta and VP Ruto and increasing political polarisation; meanwhile Al-Shabaab attacks persisted in north east. After Ruto 1 Oct hosted allied MPs at ruling Jubilee Party (JP) headquarters in capital Nairobi during Kenyatta’s travel abroad, JP Sec Gen Raphael Tuju next day threatened to remove Ruto as party deputy leader. Opposition leader and Kenyatta ally Raila Odinga and Ruto’s campaigns respectively for and against referendum on constitutional reform continued to heighten polarisation between their supporters; ahead of Ruto’s visit to Kenol town, Murang’a county in centre, pro-Ruto youths 4 Oct clashed with Kenyatta and Odinga supporters, leaving two dead and several injured. Police 8 Oct used tear gas to stop fundraising event that Ruto intended to attend in Nyamira county on grounds that authorities had not been notified nor given green light; in following days, police outlawed or blocked several other rallies organised by Ruto’s camp, citing COVID-19 and security-related concerns. Kenyatta 28 Oct signed into law bill giving body of parliament – largely controlled by allies of Kenyatta and Odinga – four seats in seven-member panel tasked with appointing electoral commissioners. Kenyatta 8 Oct signed into law county revenue allocation bill for 2020-2021 largely benefitting his home county of Kiambu. In Mandera county in north east, suspected Al-Shabaab militants 6 Oct ambushed bus between Elwak and Kotulo towns, leaving at least eight injured; 18 Oct attacked police camp along border with Somalia, no injuries. Inter-clan skirmishes 22-23 Oct left three dead in Lafey-El Wak area, also Mandera county. Nairobi court 7 Oct convicted two men and acquitted another for alleged role in 2013 Al-Shabaab deadly attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall; unidentified gunmen next day abducted acquitted individual.

Somalia

Federal govt and member states reached agreement on electoral timetable but Jubaland state objected to holding polls in contested Gedo region; Al-Shabaab attacks continued. Federal govt and member states 1 Oct agreed to hold indirect legislative and presidential elections in Dec 2020 and Feb 2021 respectively; also decided on location of polls and allocation of parliamentary seats, and resolved to form federal and regional electoral commissions and dispute resolution committee. Jubaland President Madobe 6 Oct however said parliamentary elections could not take place in disputed Gedo region as long as Mogadishu’s forces remain present there; following alleged targeting of civilians by Kenyan forces and brief skirmish between Somali and Kenyan forces in Gedo late Sept-early Oct, Mogadishu, Kenya and reportedly also Jubaland early-to-mid-Oct deployed additional troops to Gedo. In south and centre, Al-Shabaab attacks and counter-insurgency operations 2-12 Oct left at least six soldiers and 32 militants dead in Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Gedo, Lower Juba, Bay and Hiraan regions. Clashes between Al-Shabaab and security forces 14-15 Oct reportedly left at least 18 soldiers and 61 militants dead in Lower Shabelle region. Roadside bombings 15-18 Oct killed at least four soldiers and two civilians in Middle Shabelle region. Security forces 16-25 Oct reportedly killed several dozen militants in Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle, Bay and Hiraan regions. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab suicide bombing 1 Oct killed senior intelligence official; Al-Shabaab roadside bomb targeting govt official 20 Oct left at least two civilians dead; suspected Al-Shabaab militants 27 Oct shot and killed two aid workers and detonated car bomb, leaving at least three more dead. President Farmajo and Eritrean President Afwerki early Oct met in Eritrea, agreed to upgrade July 2018 agreement that restored diplomatic relations and to accelerate regional integration efforts on basis of Sept 2018 tripartite agreement between Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Somaliland

President Bihi solidified his control over ruling Kulmiye party ahead of 2021 elections and Al-Shabaab claimed capture of several villages in Sanaag region in east. Ruling Kulmiye party 4-6 Oct held party congress to elect new party leadership; Bihi retained chairmanship and solidified control over party by expelling several prominent rivals from party’s central committee, including Mohamud Hashi, Mohamed Ibrahim Adan “Qabyotire” and Mohamed Eid Dhimbil, who 14 Oct jointly criticised Bihi’s presidency and party leadership. Parliament’s upper house 6 Oct approved electoral law after lower house did so in late Sept, paving way for long-delayed parliamentary and local elections now scheduled for May 2021. In capital Hargeisa, unidentified gunmen 12 Oct shot and killed military official. In Sool region in east, unspecified number of soldiers 13 Oct defected from Somalia’s federal member state Puntland to Somaliland. In Sanaag region in east, Al-Shabaab 24 Oct claimed it had captured several villages. After Somalia and UN 15 Oct signed new cooperation agreement, Somaliland 17 Oct rejected deal as “an infringement upon Somaliland’s sovereign integrity” and 25 Oct suspended all UN programs until further notice. Somaliland and Taiwan – both of which seek international recognition – continued to bolster their nascent diplomatic relations. Taiwanese President Tsai 12 Oct received Somaliland’s representative to Taiwan, said Somaliland and Taiwan “can staunchly support each other in the international arena”; Bihi 26 Oct received Taiwan’s representative to Somaliland, discussed ways to bolster ties between two countries.

South Sudan

Govt and holdout rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS) agreed to three-month ceasefire while govt and former rebel groups made slow progress in local power-sharing negotiations. Negotiations between govt and coalition of non-signatory rebel groups, South Sudan Opposition Movements Alliance (SSOMA), 9-12 Oct resumed in Italy’s capital, Rome; amid internal frictions, SSOMA split into two camps prompting govt to hold separate talks with NAS, during which they agreed on seven of ten principles of draft Declaration of Principles aimed at guiding future political negotiations; NAS 18 Oct said it had agreed to three-month ceasefire and that it would only commit to open-ended cessation of hostilities once parties agreed on all ten principles. Meanwhile, govt and signatory opposition groups 20 Oct broke deadlock over allocation of county commissioner positions and President Kiir next day asked former rebel leader turned VP Riek Machar and other parties to submit nominees for ministerial and county commissioner positions; disagreement persisted over appointment of Upper Nile state governor. In Unity state in north, Paul Malong’s SSOMA faction South Sudan United Front/Army (SSUF/A) early Oct defected to Kiir’s forces and 20 Oct launched attack on Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), killing at least one near state capital Bentiu. In Central Equatoria state in south, former SPLA-IO senior commander who in Sept defected to Kiir’s forces 4 Oct launched attack on SPLA-IO base in Kajo-Keji county, reportedly leaving at least two dead. Unidentified gunmen early Oct killed son of former Central Equatoria governor between Juba and Terekeka counties, reportedly prompting reprisal that 9 Oct killed at least six. In Eastern Equatoria state, cattle raids 3-12 Oct left four dead in Torit and Budi counties. Clashes between South Sudanese and Ugandan soldiers along border 27 Oct reportedly left two dead on each side. In centre, intercommunal clashes 7 Oct killed at least ten in Tonj county, Warrap state. Raiders 17-18 Oct killed five cattle traders in Cueibet county, Lakes state. Unidentified gunmen 5 Oct attacked World Food Programme boat-convoy carrying food assistance from Jonglei state to Upper Nile state (east), one crew member missing.

Sudan

U.S. removed country from State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) list, govt and rebel groups formalised Aug peace deal, and violence erupted in east. U.S. President Trump 23 Oct signed order to remove Sudan’s SST designation after Sudan transferred $335mn to escrow account for victims of al-Qaida’s 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; Trump same day announced Sudan and Israel had agreed to normalise relations. In South Sudanese capital Juba, govt, rebel coalition Sudanese Revolutionary Front and Sudan Liberation Movement/Army faction led by Minni Minnawi 3 Oct formalised Aug peace deal; Sovereign Council and cabinet approved deal 12 Oct and its incorporation into constitutional declaration 18 Oct. Faction of rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu 29 Oct began talks with govt aimed at bringing group into deal. In east, ethnic Beja 3-6 Oct demonstrated in Port Sudan, Suakin and several other towns in Red Sea state against peace agreement’s “eastern track” and called for self-determination for eastern Sudan; protesters 5 Oct killed police officer in Haiya town. PM Hamdok 13 Oct dismissed ethnic Beni Amer governor of Kassala state after months of Beja protests opposing his Aug appointment; in following days violence erupted in Red Sea and Kassala states leaving at least 30 dead by 20 Oct; notably, clashes between Beni Amer and Beja 14 Oct killed six in Suakin; security forces 15 Oct confronted Beni Amer protesters in Kassala city, leaving seven protesters and one soldier dead. In South Darfur state, fighting between factions of holdout rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement/Army led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur displaced more than 4,500 in Sharg al-Jabal area throughout month; clashes between ethnic Fellata and Masalit 20-22 Oct left at least 14 dead in Gireida locality. In capital Khartoum and other cities across country, thousands 21 Oct demonstrated against dire economic situation and poor living conditions; security forces opened fire on demonstrators in Khartoum, reportedly killing two.

Tanzania

Election-related violence flared amid clampdown on opposition and allegations of widespread election fraud. Ahead of 28 Oct general elections, opposition party Chadema few days before vote said local ruling party officials opened fire at campaign rally in Nyamongo town in north east, killing two. On semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) 27 Oct said police previous night shot at least nine people dead as they tried to stop soldiers suspected of distributing pre-marked ballots to polling stations; police same day reportedly used tear gas on citizens who defied order to remain at home and briefly detained ACT presidential candidate in Zanzibar Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad. Widespread disruption of internet and text-messaging services reported across country starting 27 Oct. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet same day expressed concern at “worrying reports of intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrests and physical attacks against political opponents, journalists, women human rights defenders and other activists”. On day of vote, Chadema presidential candidate Tundu Lissu denounced “shameless election fraud” and urged for “mass democratic action.” Seif Sharif Hamad arrested again 29 Oct in Zanzibar’s Mjini Magharibi Region after he called for protests. Electoral commission 30 Oct announced preliminary results, giving President Magufuli as winner of presidential election with 84% of votes, and ruling party winner of 253 parliamentary seats out of 261 announced so far. Group of regional experts Tanzania Elections Watch same day said “vote marked significant backsliding in Tanzania’s democratic credentials.” Earlier in month, electoral commission 2 Oct suspended Lissu’s campaign for seven days for allegedly inciting violence in run-up to vote by “using offensive words which are against election ethics”. Police 6 Oct reportedly arrested unspecified number of Chadema supporters in Coast region near capital Dar es Salaam on allegations of unauthorised campaigning. Meanwhile, Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliated combatants from neighbouring Mozambique 14 Oct reportedly killed at least 22, including three security force members, in Kitaya village, Mtwara region; attack is first claimed by ISIS in Tanzania (see also Mozambique). ISIS 30 Oct claimed attacks on three villages in Michenjele county in past few days.

Uganda

Authorities continued to harass opposition through legal means ahead of early 2021 general elections. Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) 7 Oct criticised electoral commission for lack of prompt reaction to Sept election-related violence, said violence could escalate in run-up to elections. Main opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) 8 Oct endorsed party president Patrick Amuriat Oboi as presidential flag bearer; other opposition party also chose respective presidential candidates throughout month. Police and military 14 Oct raided headquarters of opposition National Unity Party (NUP) in capital Kampala, seized campaign material and arrested party leader and presidential hopeful Bobi Wine along with more than 130 of his supporters for using red berets, which are akin to military uniforms, as campaign symbol; Wine released later that day. Information Minister Judith Nabakooba 18 Oct urged nominated candidates to abide by electoral commission’s ban on in-person campaigning amid COVID-19 pandemic. Opposition throughout month continued to denounce double standard in implementation of directive, saying security forces do not disperse ruling party National Resistance Movement’s rallies. Police 12 Oct resumed enforcing COVID-19 nightly curfew in Kampala. South Sudanese and Ugandan soldiers 27 Oct clashed along common border, reportedly leaving two dead on each side.

Angola

Security forces violently suppressed protests. Around 2,000 people 24 Oct demonstrated in capital Luanda against worsening living conditions and Sept decision to postpone municipal elections amid COVID-19 pandemic, following call by coalition of civil society organisations Angolan Revolutionary Movement (MRA) endorsed by opposition party UNITA; police clashed with protesters, reportedly killing one, injuring over 50 and detaining over 100. In following days, demonstrations erupted in several areas in solidarity with detained protesters; in Huambo city (south of Luanda), police 28 Oct cracked down on protesters, severely injuring nine. UNITA same day decried “terrorism by national police”, while MRA said 387 participants in 24 Oct protest were still missing.

Mozambique

Islamist militants staged deadly attacks in far north, albeit at lower intensity, and across border in Tanzania; President Nyusi’s unilateral, week-long ceasefire with dissident Renamo armed faction failed to kickstart peace talks. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, Islamist insurgents late Sept to mid-Oct killed at least 30 civilians and kidnapped 62 others in several villages in Macomia district. Several attacks also reported throughout month in Quissanga, Palma and Muidumbe districts. Some 300 insurgents 14 Oct crossed border into Tanzania and reportedly killed at least 22, including three Tanzanian security forces personnel; Islamic State (ISIS) next day claimed responsibility, first time ISIS claims direct attack on Tanzanian soil (see Tanzania). Military 21 Oct reportedly killed over 30 insurgents and several civilian hostages in counter-insurgency operation on Matemo island, Ibo district. Police Commander Bernardino Rafael 29 Oct said security forces had killed 108 insurgents in attacks on terrorist “encampments” in Cabo Delgado over three-day period. In centre, suspected members of Renamo Military Junta, dissident faction of opposition party Renamo, 6 Oct attacked vehicles on Muxunguè-Mutindir road in Sofala province, injuring five. Nyusi 24 Oct announced unilateral, week-long ceasefire in Sofala and Manica provinces in attempt to kickstart peace talks with dissidents; Renamo Military Junta leader Mariano Nhongo two days later said he was willing to negotiate with Nyusi but not with Renamo leader Ossufo Momade; Nhongo 31 Oct said attempt to start talks had failed, denounced ceasefire violations and harassment of his combatants by govt forces. Demobilisation and disarmament of Renamo forces continued, with 173 former combatants demobilised 12 Oct. In response to govt’s Sept request for assistance to tackle Cabo Delgado insurgency, EU 9 Oct announced training program, logistical support and medical services for Mozambican forces.

Zimbabwe