CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations ("standbys") to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.
The year opened with a worsening of the ongoing conflicts in Yemen, Nigeria and Ukraine, each with potentially major regional implications. Violence escalated in Sudan, as well as in Lebanon's Tripoli and along its southern border with Israel, and a deadly clash between police and militants in the southern Philippines threatened to derail the peace process there. In South Asia, both Bangladesh and Nepal saw political tensions intensify. On a positive note, the Sri Lanka elections resulted in a peaceful transition of power from long-time President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Maithripala Sirisena, despite initial fears of election-related violence.
Yemen’s downward spiral took yet another dramatic turn. President Hadi and the government resigned on 22 January after Huthi rebels consolidated control over Sanaa and put Hadi under virtual house arrest. The entire political process established with the signing of a UN-backed peace and power-sharing agreement in September has been thrown into question, raising the prospect of territorial fragmentation, economic meltdown and widespread violence – as outlined in our Conflict Alert. There is little external actors can do at this point, except possibly Saudi Arabia and Iran, to influence Yemen’s internal political dynamics. The Huthis have set a 4 February deadline for all parties to reach a power-sharing agreement or they will assume control of the state through a “revolutionary leadership”. Yemen again made international headlines for its connection with global terrorism as al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Yemen’s local branch, claimed responsibility for the 7 January Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.
The significant increase in Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria’s north throughout 2014 was compounded by what may have been the insurgent group’s deadliest attack yet. Reports suggest that in early January they killed anywhere between 150 and 2,500 civilians in Borno state. As the February elections loom, there is a danger that ongoing insecurity in the north could worsen potential political violence and undermine the credibility of the polls, as discussed in our recent report on violence and the elections.
The most intense fighting for many months in eastern Ukraine resulted in heavy civilian and military casualties and a significant increase in internally displaced civilians, and further undermined peace talks. It also led to heightened concern in Western capitals that Russia has not abandoned the idea of open military intervention. The stated aim of the separatists is to seize the totality of Donetsk oblast, but there is so far no conclusive change in the balance of military power in the east. The possibility of a resumption of full-fledged hostilities, and the risk of a humanitarian crisis during winter, were discussed in our recent report. Without immediate and forceful international intervention to end the fighting, the current offensive could herald the beginning of a new and very costly military conflict.
As anticipated last month, violence once again increased in Sudan following the collapse of peace talks between the government and rebel groups in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, as both sides launched major offensives in the disputed areas. (See our new report). In late January, a Hizbollah attack on an Israeli military convoy along Lebanon’s southern border – retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that killed six of its fighters in the Golan Heights – caused fears of an impending all-out confrontation, although both parties said they wanted to avoid a costly escalation. Earlier in January, a deadly suicide attack in Tripoli shook the relative calm that had prevailed in the city for months. In the southern Philippines, 44 police and at least seven civilians were killed in a clash between police and MILF militants, undermining support for last year’s historical peace agreement between the government and the longstanding rebel group at a critical time in its implementation.
In South Asia, the first anniversary of Bangladesh’s disputed January 2014 elections saw dozens killed in clashes between government and opposition groups, and marked the start of a new phase of the political deadlock between the ruling Awami League and opposition Bangladesh National Party. Tensions between Nepal’s political parties worsened when they failed to reach consensus on a draft constitution before a self-imposed 22 January deadline. Sri Lanka’s long-time President Mahinda Rajapaksa surprised many observers when he conceded defeat to opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in the 8 January presidential election, following a largely peaceful election day. Sirisena has promised reform, including more meaningful devolution of power and accountability. However, international pressure and support will be needed for those promises to be met and the political transition to succeed (as discussed in our recent briefing).
President Kafando 22 Jan announced presidential and legislative elections will take place 11 Oct following early-Jan discussion over election dates, composition of electoral commission; also announced diaspora not eligible to vote. UN mission 12-23 Jan assessed electoral needs, cost estimated at 50bn FCFA. New party Patriotic Governance for Revival-Patriotic Movement (COR/MP) 17 Jan named Jean-Baptiste Natama as candidate. Former ruling party Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) resumed operations following President Kafando’s 31 Dec lifting of its suspension.
Ahead of May/June elections opposition to President Nkurunziza’s potential third term intensified: former ruling CNDD-FDD Senator Richard Nimbesha 12 Jan said party gave Nkurunziza only two mandates. Opposition Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD) 11 Jan appointed Alexis Sinduhije as presidential candidate. Govt and National Electoral Commission 12 Jan boycotted official launch of UN Electoral Mission (MENUB) amid ongoing discussions over MENUB’s role and activities. CNDD-FDD spokesperson 29 Jan announced party open to compromise, seeking free and fair polls. Prominent radio journalist Bob Rugurika arrested 20 Jan after broadcasting investigative reports on Sept murder of Italian nuns.
Boko Haram (BH) stepped up attacks in north but suffered several setbacks: BH fighters 12 Jan attacked military camp in Kolofata, 50 BH reportedly killed; BH 18 Jan kidnapped 80 civilians in Mayo Sava province, 24 freed next day by army. BH leader Shekau 5 Jan released video threatening large-scale attacks in Cameroon. President Biya early Jan asked for international support: Russia promised logistic assistance, U.S. promised to train troops.
Formerly secret negotiations between anti-balaka factions led by Kokate and Seleka faction led by Nourredine Adam and Michel Djotodia continued in Nairobi; led to signing 26 Jan of agreement on DDRR, amnesty for all perpetrators of violence, removal of current transitional authorities. Exclusion of CAR transitional authorities and international stakeholders caused resentment; UN, AU refuse to validate deal. In bid to obtain release of leader Andilo, anti-balaka 19 Jan kidnapped French humanitarian and CAR citizen for three days, 20 Jan kidnapped UN staffer, 25 Jan reportedly kidnapped youth and sport minister and leader of “Revolution and Justice” armed group Armel Sayo. New EU one-year military advisory mission (EUMAM RCA) established 19 Jan. In 16 Jan govt reshuffle four ministers left govt, close allies of President Samba-Panza awarded defence, justice portfolios.
President Déby 14 Jan discussed Boko Haram (BH) threat with Cameroonian defence minister; Chad 17 Jan sent 2,500 troops, 400 military vehicles and combat helicopters to Cameroon’s Far North province. Regional meeting 20 Jan called for UNSC to mandate regional force to combat BH; AU Commission President Dlamini-Zuma backed call, asked UN to establish fund to finance force, provide logistics.
Divisions within ruling Popular Ivoirian Front (FPI) and opposition Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI) persisted. Former President Gbagbo’s lawyers said they would appeal late-Dec invalidation of his FPI candidacy, further postponing FPI congress. Hearings began 6 Jan in trial of former First Lady Simone Gbagbo and 81 co-accused charged with crimes related to 2010-2011 post-election violence. Security forces attacked by fifteen assailants in Grabo town in SW 9-10 Jan, two soldiers killed.
Violent protests in several cities 19-21 Jan followed National Assembly’s 17 Jan adoption of controversial draft electoral bill linking national census to presidential elections, raising potential delay; at least fourteen reportedly killed in clashes in capital. Senate 23 Jan adopted amended version of bill passed by Assembly, omitting census-elections link. Joint ICGLR-SADC summit on military option against FDLR scheduled for 15 Jan cancelled by Angola on basis that agreement already exists, DRC govt said military action “inevitable”. UNSC 8 Jan urged swift military action; FARDC 29 Jan announced launch of offensive without MONUSCO. Military operations against armed groups in eastern provinces ongoing: MONUSCO troops 5 Jan attacked FNL bases in Uvira, S Kivu; several clashes between FRPI militia and FARDC south of Bunia, Ituri.
Two UK citizens, one Somali jailed 4-7 years for reportedly attempting to establish Islamic state in Ethiopia, plotting attacks in conjunction with separatist Oromo Liberation Front. Opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice MP 9 Jan accused electoral board of blocking party’s registration ahead of May elections; party later cleared to enter elections.
Security clampdown and govt reshuffle followed late-Dec reported coup attempt. FM Neneh Macdouall-Gaye 7 Jan named nine men responsible, including former Presidential Guard Chief Lamin Sanneh. U.S. federal prosecutors 5 Jan charged former U.S. Army Sergeant Papa Faal and Gambian-American businessman Cherno Njie, 30 Jan charged Alagie Barrow with planning coup following FBI report detailing plan to overthrow govt, shipment of firearms purchased in U.S.. President Jammeh reportedly unilaterally suspended Trans-Gambian Bridge project 18 Jan, claiming bridge connecting to Senegal could facilitate cross-border insurrection.
Dispute over electoral preparations intensified, dialogue with opposition stalled. Opposition early-Jan accused President Condé of unlawfully modifying law regulating National Institution for the Defense of Human Rights (INIDH) to his advantage; local rights NGO 6 Jan withdrew representation from INIDH. Opposition held anti-Condé rallies 7 and 22 Jan, restated demands for electoral commission reform.
Tensions between President Vaz and PM Pereira persisted. Natural Resource Minister Daniel Gomes said nothing known about $13mn paid by Angola for bauxite mine, perceived as attack on Vaz, finance minister at time.
High Court 2 Jan temporarily dismissed eight clauses of controversial Security Act, passed 18 Dec, following petition by opposition coalition and civil society. Christian priest shot dead 11 Jan by unknown gunmen in Mombasa. Army 14 Jan announced five suspected Al-Shabaab militants and one soldier killed when militants attacked army truck in Lamu county. Suspect linked to Dec Mandera quarry attack arrested late Jan. Tensions over county borders continued, one killed 9 Jan in clash between Maasai and Kisii along Kisii-Narok border.
Govt and PM Kolo’s long-expected 13 Jan resignation catalysed by deadly protests over power shortages; President Rajaonarimampianina 15 Jan named former air force commander Jean Ravelonarivo new PM. Former coup leader Rajoelina 16 Jan issued court challenge, alleging appointment anti-constitutional. Second reconciliation meeting between current President and former presidents Zafy, Ratsiraka, Ravalomana and Rajoelina held 13 Jan, little progress.
Attacks in north continued to threaten Algiers peace process. Heavy fighting resumed 16-18 Jan between pro-govt and pro-Azawad groups in Tilemsi valley near Tabankort; clashes 27-28 Jan left 10 dead in Tabankort region; clashes 31 Jan in Kano village, near Timbuktu left one dead, twenty kidnapped. PM Moussa Mara 8 Jan resigned, replaced by former PM and high representative for inter-Malian inclusive dialogue Modibo Keita; new govt includes former presidential candidates Dramane Dembélé, Shoguel Kokal Maiga. MINUSMA forces 20 Jan fired on northern rebel groups near Tabankort; UN forces alleged rebels shot first, MNLA claimed MINUSMA initiated clash. Tuareg rebels 23 Jan suspended coordination with UN mission. Anti-MINUSMA demonstrations erupted in Gao 6 Jan after agreement between MINUSMA, rebels leaked online; clashes 27 Jan between anti-MINUSMA protesters and UN peacekeepers left 3 dead; UNSG said will launch inquiry, President Keita (IBK) 29 Jan visited Gao in bid to reduce tensions. Rebel attacks on MINUSMA continued with several wounded and one killed during month. Malian army also suffered attacks including 5 Jan attack by AQIM in Nampala city, near border with Mauritania, that left eight dead.
President Filipe Nyusi inaugurated 15 Jan, appointed cabinet 17 Jan. Opposition Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama continued to reject Oct election results, reiterated threat to establish secessionist “Republic of Central and Northern Mozambique”. Parliamentary session opened 12 Jan, boycotted by Dhlakama and 89 Renamo representatives. Govt-Renamo dialogue on disarmament stalled: Renamo 5 Jan refused to submit list of soldiers for integration into armed forces as required in Sept agreement.
Large demonstrations in Niamey, Agadez, Zinder 16-17 Jan over President Issoufou’s participation in 11 Jan Paris march against Charlie Hebdo attack; bars, churches, offices of ruling Nigerien Party for Socialism and Democracy (PSDN) burned, dozens arrested. Interior ministry 18 Jan banned opposition march; PM Brigi Rafini same day urged calm. Govt 22 Jan blocked social networking sites throughout country, interior minister same day noted move was to avoid disturbances before 23 Jan day of prayer; connections reopened same day. President Issoufou 27 Jan announced increased cooperation with Algerian President Bouteflika to stem jihadi threat in Sahel. Diffa Mayor expressed concerns about Boko Haram (BH) popularity among youth. Humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate in Diffa region, host to some 150,000 Nigerian refugees; govt 27 Jan lifted 2013 ban on refugee camps in south. Chadian troops early-Jan present in eastern Niger for offensive against BH; 8 Jan entered northern Nigeria and took over Malam Fatori occupied by BH since Oct. Court 30 Jan dropped baby trafficking case against former National Assembly head Hama Amadou.
Boko Haram (BH) insurgency continued in north with perhaps most deadly attack yet. BH 3 Jan launched attack on Baga, Borno state in Lake Chad region, seizing town and nearby Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) base, reportedly killing hundreds, possibly thousands; seen as major defeat for govt, strategic victory for insurgents. Other BH attacks include: 25 Jan attack on Borno state capital Maiduguri reportedly repelled by army, some 200 insurgents killed, but BH took military base north of city; 1 Feb attack on Borno state capital Maiduguri repelled by govt forces, some 80 insurgents killed. BH continued suicide bombings in Gombe, Borno, Yobe states, some 50 killed throughout Jan. AU 29 Jan agreed to deploy 7,500-strong multinational force to fight BH, plans to lobby UNSC to finance operation. Independent National Electoral Commission 14 Jan indicated Feb elections will not be held in “high risk” areas of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe states. Pre-election violence continued despite 14 Jan pledge by presidential candidates, including People’s Democratic Party (PDP) incumbent President Jonathan, opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Gen Buhari, not to incite violence: APC and PDP supporters clashed in several states, offices and vehicles burnt; seven APC members shot 6 Jan by opposition thugs in Rivers state; APC secretariats in Okrika and Ngo communities of Rivers state bombed 11, 16 Jan. National Conscience Party (NCP) parliamentary candidate abducted 12 Jan in Bayelsa state. National security adviser 22 Jan urged electoral commission to delay Feb elections; opposition rejected call, commission 23 Jan confirmed elections will be held 14 Feb. Nineteen vigilantes killed by bandits in Zamfara State 14 Jan; 14 killed as suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked two villages in Taraba state 17, 20 Jan; 17 killed when Fulani gunmen attacked Nwuko village in Taraba state 30 Jan.
Following visit by Belgian FM and cooperation minister, FM Louise Mushikiwabo 8 Jan announced “permanent political dialogue” between Kigali and Brussels. President Kagame 15 Jan criticised MONUSCO and DRC govt for not tackling FDLR rebels (see DRC).
New PM Omar Abdirashidi Ali Shamarke 27 Jan announced his new cabinet list; withdrew previous proposed list following opposition by parliament ahead of scheduled vote. Al-Shabaab attacks continued: two killed in 10 Jan IED attack in Kismayo, Lower Juba; one killed 14 Jan in explosion targeting soldiers in Bossaso, Bari; five killed 22 Jan in bomb attack outside Mogadishu hotel hosting meeting of Turkish officials, day ahead of visit by Turkish PM Erdoğan. Al-Shabaab blockade of towns in south and central Somalia previously liberated in 2014 AMISOM-Somali National Army (SNA) offensive continued. AMISOM-SNA 23 Jan captured Bulo Jadid, Bulo Yusuf and El Jarmed villages in Bakol region. Five killed 27 Jan in clash between Kenyan forces and Al-Shabaab in Yontoy, Lower Juba region. Over twenty killed in clan clashes 21 Jan in Burdhinle and Hada-Ogle, Hiraan region. Several militants and four civilians reportedly killed 31 Jan in airstrike targeting Al-Shabaab in Dinsoor town, Bay region.
Puntland govt 22 Jan condemned Somaliland President Silanyo’s 21 Jan surprise visit to Lasanod, Sool region capital. Somaliland govt reportedly refused to allow UN monitors access to ship at Berbera port suspected of carrying weapons.
Multiple mediation processes ongoing, leading to multiple, uncoordinated agreements and processes. Three SPLM factions (govt, SPLM-IO, and separate negotiating group “SPLM 7”) 21 Jan signed symbolic agreement to “reunify” following talks mediated by Tanzania; China held talks between govt and SPLM-IO in Khartoum 12 Jan. Delayed IGAD summit postponed to 31 Jan; President Kiir and former VP and SPLM-IO leader Machar 29 Jan met in Addis Ababa to discuss terms of possible agreement. Fighting continued in Unity, Upper Nile states. SPLM-IO accused govt troops, police, pro-govt militia of series of attacks; govt counter-claimed, IGAD investigating. Warring parties clashed in Unity oil fields 5 Jan. Clashes continued in Lakes state, including attempt on life of caretaker governor; casualties now higher in Lakes conflict than in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity.
Renewed clashes between army and rebels in Darfur and S Kordofan following Dec suspension of AUHIP talks between govt and Sudan Revolutionary Front member organisations, including reported aerial bombardment 27 Jan which destroyed several villages in Golo, Central Darfur. UN report released late Jan said over 3,000 villages destroyed in targeted attacks on civilians in Darfur in last year. Parliament 4 Jan approved eighteen amendments to 2005 interim constitution including presidential appointment and dismissal of state governors, expanded role for intelligence services, and inclusion of 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). Latter amendment seen as reinforcing govt’s demand that DDPD serve as framework for talks with Darfur rebels. Preparations for April presidential and legislative elections ongoing: electoral body 15 Jan extended deadline for applications to 22 Jan; Democratic Unionist Party announced participation; President Bashir 11 Jan officially submitted candidacy on ruling National Congress Party platform.
Following late Dec killings of two Muslim clerics, third cleric survived assassination attempt 3 Jan near Kampala; police claimed killings reprisals by rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) against former supporters; eighteen charged late Jan.
Tensions persisted following President Mugabe’s early-Dec purges in ZANU-PF party, with rumours of assassination plots and attempts against senior party figures. Deputy Minister Simon Musanhu, ally of former VP Joyce Mujuru, died in mysterious circumstances 15 Jan. Didymus Mutasa, powerful figure in ZANU-PF removed in purge, returned early-Jan, issued statement declaring early Dec party congress unconstitutional; alleged Mugabe and First Lady intimidated members ahead of congress, preventing them from freely choosing their preferred party leaders. Confusion over land rights contributed to instability: heavily armed police and Central Intelligence Organisation agents 8 Jan evicted some 200 families from Arnold Farm in Mazowe, burning down houses, crops; rumours First Lady involved in “land grab” process. President Mugabe appointed AU chair 30 Jan.
Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) 1 Jan assumed formal responsibility for all combat missions following conclusion of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and its transition into follow-up mission “Resolute Support”. President Ghani 12 Jan announced cabinet nominees after months of delay; proposed cabinet seen as implying reduced influence of former mujahidin figures, increasing influence of former members of Soviet-backed govt. Several candidates mid-month withdrew nominations, some claimed parliamentarians demanded bribes or jobs for constituents in exchange for approval. Eight nominees approved by parliament late Jan including for interior, foreign affairs and finance ministries; approval process expected to continue into Feb. Violence continued across country including Taliban deputy shadow governor for Kapisa province reported killed 15 Jan. Army commander 18 Jan confirmed some insurgent factions swore allegiance to jihadi group Islamic State; observers estimated factions only loosely affiliated with militants in Iraq and Syria, play limited role in insurgency.
Month saw escalating political crisis, violent clashes between opposition and govt supporters around first anniversary of disputed Jan 2014 elections boycotted by opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP); at least 36 killed. Escalation raised fears about possible military intervention or exploitation of crisis by extremist and criminal networks; ruling Awami League (AL) denied country faces crisis, called BNP actions terrorism. Govt 3 Jan confined BNP leader Khaleda Zia to Dhaka BNP office in anticipation of BNP-led protests around 5 Jan election anniversary; move triggered deadly clashes between BNP and AL activists, at least four BNP workers killed, including two reportedly by security forces, leading Zia to call for indefinite countrywide strike, transport blockade. Zia released 19 Jan; said blockade would continue until govt agreed to dialogue, announced 48-hour strike in Dhaka, Sylhet and Khulna. Zia implicated for instigating two cases of arson during blockade; her son Tarique Rahman charged with treason 8 Jan.
Local media reported Xinjiang police shot dead six people allegedly trying to detonate bomb in Shule, Kashgar prefecture. State media reported police shot dead two ethnic Uighurs trying to cross border into Vietnam 18 Jan; govt said hundreds crossing border each year to join terrorist training camps. Five dead following clash at checkpoint in Hotan prefecture, Xinjiang late Jan. Govt extended anti-terrorism campaign introduced May 2014 to end of year.
Japanese PM Abe 25 Jan said remorseful statement forthcoming for 15 Aug, 70th anniversary of WWII end; but also indicated he would not follow original wording of 1995 Murayama Statement apologising for suffering caused by Japan during war. Chinese foreign ministry 26 Jan warned Abe not to “play down history of aggression”. Japanese FM Kishida and Chinese ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua 9 Jan held first official meeting since Abe’s Dec 2013 visit to Yasukuni Shrine: reportedly agreed to increased cooperation; Kishida also protested entrance same day of three Chinese patrol ships into waters around disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. Chinese and Japanese defence ministries 12 Jan reached common understanding to launch maritime and air crisis management mechanism to avert unwanted clashes. Chinese aviation authorities late Dec removed warning that “defensive emergency measures” could be taken against aircraft failing to comply with regulations inside China’s East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), which caused protests from neighbours when introduced late 2013. China’s National Marine Data and Information Service 30 Dec launched website asserting indisputable sovereignty over Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. Japan’s cabinet 14 Jan approved record defence budget of 4.98 trillion yen (US$42 bn), 2% increase on previous year.
Scores of Bodo militants arrested in NE following late Dec Bodo attacks on Adivasi villagers in Assam state; one reported killed by police on border with Bhutan 9 Jan. Several Maoist militants killed in Odisha state, including five in joint police-paramilitary operation 5 Jan; several Maoist attacks in Chhattigarh state including two police killed mid-month.
Firing across Line of Control and India-Pakistan working boundary continued: fifteen soldiers and civilians reported killed late Dec/early Jan. Governor’s rule imposed on Jammu and Kashmir 9 Jan after caretaker chief minister resigned following failure of parties to establish coalition govt after Nov-Dec state elections. Several militants reported killed by police, including five in Shopian district 15 Jan; army officer, policeman killed by militants in Pulwama district 27 Jan.
Two police and one security officer found dead at Freeport mine in Papua 1 Jan, with machete and bullet wounds; police said 13 people arrested. Freeport mining company 22 Jan committed to build copper smelter in East Java; Papua governor said facilities should instead be built in Papua, where ore is mined.
ROK Ministry of National Defence 6 Jan issued biennial Defence White Paper asserting that DPRK nuclear threat is increasing. ROK 19 Jan announced plan to develop advanced weapons and reconnaissance satellites to enhance defence capabilities and counter evolving DPRK security threats. Defence officials from U.S., Japan and ROK late Dec signed military agreement to share intelligence on DPRK nuclear and missile threats. Cyber security threats and countermeasures fallout continued. New York Times reported that U.S. National Security Agency penetrated DPRK computer networks, has had access to them since 2010. Nov attacks on Sony Pictures attributed to Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) and Bureau 121, said to have about 6,000 hackers; many attacks said to originate in China. U.S. 2 Jan imposed additional economic sanctions against RGB for cyber operations, also two other DPRK entities, Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation and Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, and ten DPRK individuals, sanctioned for illicit arms sales and procurement activities. North Korean army deserter crossed Chinese border and killed four people in Yanbian prefecture 27 Dec before being shot dead by Chinese police. ROK’s Joongang Ilbo 8 Jan reported KPA has developed seven-day war plan.
At Independence Day celebrations 4 Jan President Thein Sein presided over large military parade in Naypyitaw, first time civilian has presided over military parade since 1962. President invited leaders of sixteen main armed groups to attend celebrations. Despite late Dec round of peace talks between ethnic groups and govt, distrust remains high. President called on groups to sign Nationwide Ceasefire Accord 12 Feb, but agreement unlikely. Several days of serious armed clashes near Hpakant, Kachin state from 15 Jan between KIO and military, most serious fighting for at least a year, 1,000 civilians displaced. President 12 Jan convened meeting of 48 political stakeholders in Naypyitaw, including 29 ethnic affairs ministers; meeting reaffirmed his authority to determine participation, also attempt to show priority he is giving to ethnic issue. National Human Rights Commission 14 Jan issued statement criticising police for 22 Dec fatal shooting of protester at site of controversial Chinese-run copper mine in Letpadaung. Eleven sentenced 29 Dec for involvement in July 2014 communal violence in Mandalay. Annual UNGA resolution on human rights in Myanmar 29 Dec welcomed reforms, expressed concern about situation of Rohingya, calling on govt to protect their rights, ensure humanitarian access. UN Special Rapporteur for human rights returned for second visit: met by demonstrators in Rakhine state angry at her perceived pro-Rohingya stance; in 16 Jan statement urged focus of discussions on Rohingya be their actual situation and rights, not terminology. 2nd U.S.-Myanmar Human Rights Dialogue in Naypyitaw 14-15 Jan; followed visit by senior U.S. delegation. Yangon held first municipal elections in 60 years 27 Dec.
Political parties failed to reach consensus on constitution draft before 22 Jan deadline despite reportedly reaching agreement on several core issues 19 Jan. Scuffles broke out in parliament during Constituent Assembly sessions around deadline as ruling parties tried to push vote on draft; Maoist opposition organised general strike, rallies. Ruling parties 25 Jan tasked committee with resolving contentious issues before vote; Maoists vowed one-month boycott of committee and more protests, insisted on consensus decision.
Govt and parliamentary opposition continued to cede control over national security policy to military following deadly mid-Dec Peshawar school attack by Pakistani Taliban (TTP); 6 Jan passed 21st constitutional amendment and Pakistan Army Act (amendment) bill 2015, overriding many fundamental rights and allowing military courts to try civilian terrorism suspects. Supreme Court 22 Jan decided to consider petitions against 21st amendment after Lahore High Court Bar Association 2 Jan passed resolution against military courts, Sindh High Court Bar Association 14 Jan challenged amendment through constitutional petition; outcome of consideration seen as defining test of court’s willingness to uphold judicial independence, fundamental rights. Govt closed 40 printing presses and stores, reportedly arrested 157 for hate speech or publishing hate material following late Dec adoption of counter-terrorism “National Action Plan”; 20 prisoners executed by mid-Jan following lifting of moratorium on death penalty. Jamaat-ud-Dawa (formerly Lashkar-e-Tayyaba) and other jihadi groups continued to operate freely despite govt pledges to end distinction between “good” and “bad” militants, latter targeting Pakistani state, former neighbouring countries. At least 60 killed in bombing of Shiite mosque in Sindh province’s Shikarpur district 30 Jan. Dozens of militants reported killed in U.S. drone strikes including six in N Waziristan 19 Jan. Military operation continued in NW; army claimed 92 militants killed in airstrikes 27 Jan.
44 police commandos killed in clash with MILF militants in Tukanalipao village, Maguindanao province 25 Jan, at least seven civilians also killed; clash followed police operation to capture internationally wanted Malaysian terrorist suspect Zulkifli bin Hir aka Marwan. Govt said it believed Marwan to have been killed in operation. MILF blamed police for failing to notify them of presence in area in accordance with March 2014 ceasefire. Interior Minister said clash a “misencounter”, both govt and MILF expressed hope it would not derail peace talks. Incident prompted lawmakers to suspend parliamentary hearings related to passage of proposed Bangasamoro Basic Law (BBL); two senators withdrew support for bill. Amid public outrage and calls for retribution against militants, President Aquino in televised national address 28 Jan urged legislators and public not to abandon peace process. During national day of mourning 30 Jan Aquino pledged justice for those killed. Govt and MILF peace negotiators 30 Jan signed protocol for decommissioning of rebels. At least two killed, dozens wounded in explosion in Zamboanga City, Mindanao 24 Jan; authorities said Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) responsible. Followed killings of several ASG militants by army in earlier incidents.
China 6 Jan announced it has established four armed police departments in Sansha City on Woody Island, part of Paracel/Hoang Sa Islands, over which Vietnam also claims sovereignty. China says Sansha City municipal govt, which it created in 2012, administers islands. Vo Cong Chanh, chairman of Hoang Sa District People’s Committee, said China’s actions illegal and threaten security, safety, freedom of aviation and navigation, put regional peace and Sino-Vietnamese relationship at risk. Vietnamese foreign ministry 8 Jan said China’s construction of military base on Fiery Cross Reef in Spratlys is violation of Declaration on Conduct of Parties in SCS.
Long-time President Rajapaksa conceded defeat to joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in 8 Jan presidential election; polling day largely peaceful despite widespread violence during campaign. Sirisena gained overwhelming support from Tamil and Muslim voters, about 45% of Sinhala votes. Senior members of new govt alleged Rajapaksa early morning 9 Jan attempted to declare state of emergency, called on army to stop vote-count and annul vote; move reportedly blocked by attorney general, head of police and army commander. Police subsequently launched investigations into incident and other alleged abuses of power by Rajapaksa, members of former administration. Sirisena 14 Jan announced new cabinet, dominated by United National Party, with members from all other joint opposition parties and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members who backed him during election. Rajapaksa 16 Jan ceded leadership of SLFP and United People’s Freedom Alliance (UFPA) to Sirisena, formerly Rajapaksa’s health minister. Sirisena 15 Jan removed northern governor with history of obstructing work of Tamil National Alliance (TNA)-led provincial council; new PM Ranil Wickremasinghe said govt will allow council to exercise full powers under thirteenth amendment although appearing to rule out fuller devolution of power demanded by Tamil parties. Wickremasinghe and FM Mangala Samaraweera confirmed govt will establish domestic investigation into alleged war crimes during civil war, expressed willingness to engage with UN HRC; govt 16 Jan lifted restrictions on foreigners traveling to north, 28 Jan reinstated chief justice impeached by former govt in 2013; justice resigned next day, Tamil candidate sworn in 30 Jan.
Appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) 23 Jan voted to impeach former PM Yingluck Shinawatra for negligence in failing to curb corruption in her govt’s rice-pledging scheme. Yingluck appeared before NLA 9 Jan to deliver statement defending herself against impeachment bid; failed to attend second hearing 16 Jan. Office of attorney general 23 Jan announced filing of criminal negligence charge against Yingluck for alleged corruption. Assistant U.S. Sec State Daniel Russel visited 26 Jan, said impeachment “politically driven”, called for lifting of martial law. National Council for Peace and Order 13 Jan appointed Defence Minister and Deputy PM General Prawit Wongsuwan head of new task force to enforce implementation of junta policies. Internal Security Operations Command reported violent incidents and casualties in south declined in fourth quarter of 2014. In ongoing insurgent attacks and clashes, school security guard shot dead in Cho Airong district, Narathiwat 2 Jan; two suspected militants killed in clash with rangers in Cho Airong 6 Jan; three insurgents killed in clash with security forces 9 Jan in Mayo district, Pattani; teacher injured in bomb attack 19 Jan in Narathiwat’s Bacho district.
Thousands protested outside Russian embassy and in country’s second city Gyumri mid-Jan after Russian deserter, Valery Permyakov, allegedly killed family near Russian military base in Gyumri. Soldier captured by Russian troops, Moscow announced he would be tried in close coordination with Armenian authorities, but protesters demanded he be tried in an Armenian court. At least fifteen reportedly injured as protesters clashed with police, over twenty detained. Some demonstrators reportedly called for Russian base to be closed. Six days after Permyakov’s arrest President Putin phoned Armenian counterpart to express condolences.
Armenian President Sargsyan 26 Jan noted uptick in N-K violence, warned Armenia reserves right to use “preventative strikes” if threat perceived along its borders; also said Armenia open to negotiations, building trust. N-K authorities 29 Jan denied Azerbaijan claim that its forces shot down Armenian drone near region. Azerbaijan Defence Ministry 26 Jan said seventeen Armenian and three Azerbaijani soldiers killed in clashes in Jan, said Armenian troops violated ceasefire 124 times in previous 24 hours. N-K authorities 3 Jan accused Azerbaijan of killing two ethnic Armenian soldiers, 24 Jan said Azerbaijan violated ceasefire 1,800 times 17-24 Jan, fourteen Azerbaijani soldiers killed.
Authorities 7 Jan announced ten arrested on suspicion of fighting in Syria, taking part in other militant activities. President Aliyev 21 Jan met with German Chancellor Merkel, dismissed criticism of human rights record. Court 27 extended pretrial detention of RFE/RL journalist Khadija Ismayilova, detained 5 Dec on charges of inciting attempted suicide, by further two months. Journalist Seymur Hezi sentenced 29 Jan to five years’ prison for hooliganism. Man self-immolated 8 Jan in Baku, authorities denied rumours death linked to demolition of homes.
In seven-hour press conference 29 Jan President Lukashenka said Belarus would never be part of the Russian world, also said would not tolerate Western pressure; said he would run for another term in office in Nov election.
Tripartite state presidency 29 Jan signed revised joint declaration confirming commitment to reforms, part of new initiative to revive Bosnia’s EU accession bid. Initial declaration of 31 Dec revised after president of Republika Srpska entity Milorad Dodik 2 Jan refused to back it, calling it attempt to further centralise country; said new statement, which refers to constitution, 1995 peace accord and entities, acceptable.
Reunification talks remain stalled. Anka