The President's Take
In my second monthly column to accompany CrisisWatch, our unique conflict tracker, I look at how outside actors are now openly fighting not for Syria, but over it. I also note more bad news from Venezuela, and flag our upcoming report on how the outside world and regional governments can avert disaster there. Read more …
President & CEO
Four actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and none improved in June 2010, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch, released today.
In Kyrgyzstan large-scale violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks tore through the south of the country. Over 200 people have been officially reported killed and hundreds of thousands displaced by the fighting, the immediate spark for which is not yet clear. The country’s provisional government was unable to control the situation and failed in its efforts to secure an international military intervention.
An uneasy calm has now descended over the area and the 27 June constitutional referendum was conducted peacefully. However, there remains significant potential for the violence to reignite unless effective security measures and a reconciliation process are promptly put in place.
Turkey’s Kurdish PKK insurgents intensified their attacks in the country after calling off their 14-month unilateral ceasefire in early June. The violence reached its peak in the middle of the month when at least 40 soldiers and militants were killed in clashes in the country’s south-east. The Turkish military responded with a land and air offensive against PKK bases in northern Iraq. The renewed clashes highlight the faltering of Prime Minister Erdogan’s Kurdish “opening” policy and represent a significant deterioration in the government’s relations with the Kurdish population.
In Burundi presidential elections took place amid escalating violence, with several people killed in a series of grenade attacks and shootings over the month. Opposition candidates boycotted the poll and labelled the re-election of President Nkurunziza – with over 90 per cent of the vote – a sham. With the opposition also set to boycott parliamentary polls scheduled for late July, growing tensions risk endangering Burundi’s fragile democracy and undermining progress made since the end of the country’s brutal civil war.
June also saw rising tensions in neighbouring Rwanda ahead of presidential elections planned for August. The government denies involvement in recent attacks on high-profile critics, including the shooting of a former army chief in South Africa and the murder of a journalist in Kigali. But the events point to an atmosphere of repression that appears to have deepened in recent months.
28 June presidential election marred by violence before and after voting day, at least 5 killed in several grenade attacks and shootings across country. President Nkurunziza (CNDD-FDD) won with 91.6%; polls held despite opposition boycott and Nkurunziza being sole candidate. 77% voter turnout reported, EU observers “regretted” absence of multi-party competition but said people able to “exercise their right to vote”. Opposition dismissed vote as “masquerade”, said turnout closer to 30-40%. Opposition condemned police violence and govt banned demonstrations during UNSG Ban’s 9 June visit. Ban urged all parties to find consensus and participate in polls; AU Commission Chair Ping 25 June “concerned” by tensions, called for dialogue. Opposition 1 June formed new coalition (ADC) and called supporters to boycott polls. Govt expressed fear FNL president Rwasa, missing since 23 June, in Eastern Congo planning return to violence. Rwasa 30 June issued message saying he had fled because of “govt threats”. CNDD-FDD-linked Radio Rema allegedly broadcasted names of opposition members accused of “destabilising country”; local media, human rights groups 8 June lodged complaint against Rema with media authority.
Work on construction and rehabilitation of road linking Cameroon and Nigeria launched 17 June, part of effort to strengthen economic ties, improve mutual confidence and implement 2006 Green Tree Accord resolving Bakassi peninsular dispute.
President Bozizé remained in office after late May mandate extension. In 10 June address Bozizé rejected calls for unity govt until polls; said committed to prompt elections, blamed postponements on opposition and international community. Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) 17 June proposed 24 Oct for first round of presidential and legislative elections. Bozizé yet to endorse new date by decree. Opposition leader Ziguélé said ready to participate in Oct vote if major obstacles including rebel disarmament, technical problems overcome. Local firm contracted to review voter roll reportedly held back lists 13 June demanding IEC settle outstanding payments. UNSC 28 June called for realistic elections schedule, stressed importance of DDR process. After early month skirmishes with army, rebel group CPJP 2 June announced intention to negotiate with govt.
8 rebel groups 5 June formed new coalition, MONASAP. Tunisian national Youssef Mahmoud appointed new MINURCAT chief 10 June. France 11 June confirmed €1.2mn support for 2011 polls. Voter registration closed 25 June; electoral commission said 80% of expected voters registered, oppositions claimed fraud and low mobilisation. British aid worker abducted in Abeche 6 June, freed 16 June. President Déby 22 June reiterated opposition to possible partition of Sudan.
Prominent human rights advocate Floribert Chebeya killed 2 June in Kinshasa, after being summoned to meet inspector general of police Gen Numbi. Numbi and several aides suspended amid domestic, international outcry; govt announced inquiry; country-wide marches against Chebeya’s death. Outgoing SRSG Doss 8 June announced strengthening of MONUSCO troops in Ituri (Province Orientale) to dismantle militias. Roger Meece (U.S.) appointed new SRSG 9 June. Defence Minister Nsimba 9 June confirmed rebel alliances between FDLR, FRF and Mai Mai in S Kivu. FARDC 10 June announced Amani Leo operation extended until Aug. PM Muzito 7 June said govt preparing roadmap to implement decentralisation law, 10 June annulled decrees establishing new cities; contentious issue of self-proclaimed provinces still not addressed. Maniema and S Kivu provincial assemblies 12 June elected new governors, both from ruling AMP. 16 reported killed near Uganda border in 28 June attack by suspected Ugandan ADF rebels (see Uganda). Country marked 50 years independence 30 June.
Political tensions intensified ahead of Aug presidential elections. Exiled former army chief Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa shot 19 June in Johannesburg; wife accused govt of assassination attempt over Nyamwasa’s recent criticism of President Kagame; govt denied. 4 suspects appeared in Johannesburg court 29 June. Deputy newspaper editor Jean-Leonard Rugambage shot dead 24 June in Kigali; exiled chief editor accused govt, said Rugambage had evidence implicating govt in attack on Nyamwasa. Police 28 June arrested 2 suspects. Opposition presidential candidate Ntanganda (PS Imberakuni) arrested 24 June, charged with “divisionism” and attempted murder of former party member. Other opposition figure Ingabire (FDU Inkingi) barred from running in presidential elections 24 June due to divisionism charges. Police arrested demonstrators protesting as Kagame registered for elections; police said 20-30 arrested, opposition claimed over 100. U.S. attorney Erlinder, arrested and charged with genocide denial late May, freed on bail 17 June. Genocide suspect Octavien Ngenzi arrested 3 June in Mayotte.
Increased reports of renewed clashes between Afar FRUD rebels and army in north after 3 soldiers killed in rebel ambush late May. Eritrea and Djibouti 6 June signed agreement to resolve border dispute by negotiated settlement (see Eritrea).
Eritrea and Djibouti signed agreement 6 June to resolve border dispute by negotiated settlement, mediated by Qatar. AU and UNSC welcomed deal. Eritrean troops early month reportedly withdrew from Doumeira and Doumeira Island on border. Ethiopia 28 June said Eritrean behaviour in region not reassuring, deal should be treated with skepticism; UNSG Ban same day noted Eritrea’s “constructive engagement” with neighbours, but urged compliance with UNSC resolution 1907 imposing arms embargo and other sanctions on country.
Following AU affirmation and U.S. criticism of May parliamentary elections, National Electoral Board (NEB) 9 June rejected opposition demands for rerun. Supreme Court 18 June dismissed case filed 15 June by Medrek opposition coalition against NEB, which alleged NEB had not properly investigated evidence of electoral fraud. NEB 21 June confirmed EPRDF election victory; ruling coalition won 545 of 547 seats, Medrek 1 seat, independent 1 seat. ONLF rebels 11 June said govt had killed 71 civilians in Somali Region since 18 May; govt rejected. U.S. journalist expelled 17 June for investigating rebel claims. Govt 24 June said faction of ONLF had agreed to make peace; ONLF denied.
Heightened fears of political violence ahead of 6 Aug constitutional referendum after 6 killed, 75 wounded in 13 June bomb blasts at Nairobi rally against new draft constitution. Church groups, critical of constitution’s allowances for abortion, blamed govt for blasts. Police 17 June said they had arrested 3 in connection with blasts. 3 MPs, including Asst Roads Minister Machage, arrested 15 June for hate speech over remarks allegedly made at separate rallies against draft constitution. President Kibaki suspended Machage 17 June. During early month visit U.S. VP Biden met Kibaki and PM Odinga, encouraged govt to continue reforms, expressed support for draft constitution. Odinga recovering after late month brain operation.
Deadly fighting between AU-backed govt soldiers and Islamist militias continued in Mogadishu: at least 17 civilians reportedly killed 3 June; 2 AU peacekeepers killed same day; 12 people killed 18 June. 13 died in clashes between govt soldiers and police in Mogadishu 13 June; details unclear. At least 24 reported killed in early month fighting between al-Shabaab and pro-govt Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a (ASWJ) militia in central Somalia; thousands of civilians reportedly fled. ASWJ 9 June said they recaptured key town of Dhusomareb. Political uncertainty continued as 3 ministers, including defence minister, announced resignations 8 June citing govt’s failure to restore order. President Sheik Sharif 17 June ordered investigation into army’s use of child soldiers after highly critical UN report.
1st presidential election since 2003 held 26 June. Despite some reports of violence in southeast, including killing of 1 electoral commission worker in Sool, international observers said vote free and fair, reported high turnout. Ruling UDUP party 30 June asked electoral commission to delay releasing results, saying vote suffered from “huge irregularities”.
Amid ongoing insecurity in South and Darfur, President Bashir 15 June announced coalition cabinet following Apr elections: SPLM to control 9 of 35 ministries including oil. Bashir 5 June warned southern secession could be “explosive”, stressed would work with SPLM for unity ahead of Jan 2011 independence referendum. UNSC 14 June called for all parties to speed up referendum preparations. NCP, SPLM 23 June signed MoU outlining framework for forthcoming negotiations on post-referendum arrangements; further talks to begin 5 July in Khartoum. Parliament 28 June established referendum commission after several months delay. South Sudan govt 21 June announced new expanded cabinet, including new ministry for CPA implementation. In South, continued reports of clashes between South Sudan army and fighters loyal to mutinous general and failed Jonglei gubernatorial candidate George Athor. Darfur peace talks resumed in Qatar 5 June but without main JEM rebel group amid recent surge in fighting between army and rebels: 50 reported killed in late month fighting. 41 reportedly killed early month, 50 killed 18 June in tribal clashes in South Darfur; UNAMID said rival tribes signed peace deal 28 June. 3 UNAMID peacekeepers killed in western Darfur 21 June.
President Museveni 2 June rejected opposition calls for new electoral commission chief; urged donors to focus on economic aid, not 2011 elections. Opposition 9 June demonstrated in Kampala; president of opposition FDC Kiiza Besigye reportedly severely beaten by police and pro-govt gang Kiboko Squad. Army chief Gen Nyakairima 15 June said police would “crush” violent demonstrations. Voter registration ended 18 June after 4-day extension, 3.5mn registered. Army reportedly on high alert after 16 killed in DRC by suspected Ugandan ADF rebels, inactive since 2008. Army 31 May killed 16 LRA rebels in eastern CAR; CAR media claimed 18 Ugandan soldiers killed 13 June by LRA. Govt 15 June said 10 soldiers ambushed and killed in eastern CAR in May; govt claimed “assailants Sudanese Janjaweed, not LRA”. Govt 18 June announced $100mn compensation fund for LRA victims in Northern Uganda.
Despite ongoing tensions, political leaders 16 June agreed on interim govt and adopted timetable for presidential and gubernatorial elections; first round fixed for 7 Nov, second round for 26 Dec. President Sambi 21 June formed interim govt. Senior army officer Col Ayouba assassinated 13 June; Ayouba’s supporters demonstrated 14 June in Moroni, demanding perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Political deadlock remained as de facto leader Rajoelina continued to pursue own unilateral transition plan. Constitutional referendum scheduled for 12 Aug postponed indefinitely 29 June because new draft constitution not yet finalised. Joaquim Chissano, head of SADC mediation team, 12 June said lack of political will on part of 4 main negotiating parties was hampering attempts to break impasse but insisted regional mediation efforts would continue. EU 7 June announced suspension of political dialogue and non-humanitarian aid for further year citing de facto govt’s failure to restore constitutional order.
President Mugabe, PM Tsvangirai and Deputy PM Mutambara launched 3-month public consultation campaign on new constitution. Launch marred by reports of ZANU-PF intimidation of MDC supporters, logistical problems around consultations in rural areas. Internal MDC-T bickering between Tsvangirai and Finance Minister Biti continued. Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) monitor 8 June said Zimbabwe had met “minimum requirements” to begin exporting diamonds from controversial Marange mines; criticised by rights groups who cite ongoing govt abuses, corruption. KPCS discussions on issue ended in stalemate late month. Rights investigator charged early month with providing false information to KPCS denied bail 21 June. EU-Zimbabwe talks to resume 2 July after FM Mumbengegwi 15 June accused EU of delaying new round of talks on sanctions.
Early month saw continued talks on electoral process between President Gbagbo and PM Soro, and opposition leaders Ouattara (RDR) and Bédié (PDCI). 500 ex-rebel Forces Nouvelles (FN) troops disarmed in Korhogo 15 June, FN said further disarmament dependent on govt funding. Gbagbo 20 June ordered inquiry into Interior Minister Tagro and possibly Soro, both suspected of corruption and embezzlement. Soro 21 June denied charges, opposition 23 June claimed inquiry intended to weaken Soro and sabotage electoral process. UNSC 30 June extended UNOCI mandate till end 2010 and expanded mandate to increase support for peace agreement implementation.
Presidential elections held 27 June after early month registration of 3mn voters and 18 June test votes in Côte d’Ivoire. Polls overall peaceful and turnout high but hampered by logistic problems, delays. Several candidates alleged widespread fraud; rejected by electoral commission. Candidate and former PM Cellou Dalein Diallo 29 June denounced irregularities in Conakry. ECOWAS called for calm after Supreme Court 30 June extended till 2 July deadline for electoral commission to announce provisional results. International observers generally satisfied with conduct of vote. 2nd round scheduled 11 July. 3 killed 24 June in pre-electoral clashes between URF and UDF supporters near Conakry after National Transition Council (NTC) President Serah Diallo 11 June predicted possible electoral violence. About 10 high-ranking army officers released 14 June after 4-day detention under embezzlement charges; detainees included Col Sanoh, former chief of staff and aide of ex-junta chief Camara. Army chief Gen Nouhou Thiam 16 June said army would not have immunity for involvement in Sept 2009 massacre. NTC 21 June launched national reconciliation project.
PM Gomes 16 June denied rumours of imminent resignation, said govt will remain until end of mandate. SRSG Mutaboba 23 June urged govt to show commitment to SSR. President Sanha 25 June appointed Apr 2010 mutiny leader Gen Antonio Indjai as new head of army; decision criticised by U.S.. Sanha 1 June also claimed several high-ranking officials involved in March 2009 double assassination of former President Vieira and army chief Waié.
Preparations for 2011 elections continued though President Jonathan has not yet said whether he will stand. State Council 8 June approved Jonathan’s nominee for electoral commission head, Attahiru Jega; still to be approved by parliament. Ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) early month said it had begun resolving internal tensions, would reinstate 19 pro-reform members suspended in Apr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, former governor of Enugu state, made new PDP chairman 17 June after former chairman Vincent Obgulafor, currently facing corruption charges, resigned. Several MPs fought in parliament after 11 MPs accusing house speaker Oladimeji Bankole of corruption were suspended. Nahu Ribadu, former head of corruption commission, returned to country early month amid speculation he will be made Jonathan’s special adviser on corruption. Niger Delta rebels continued to complain of delays in amnesty program, warned of new violence; rehabilitation program for 1st batch of 20,000 ex-rebels to start early July.
South Korea 15 June referred N Korea to UNSC over March sinking of S Korean ship. NK 16 June said its military would respond if rebuked by UNSC. S Korea 1 July rejected NK proposal for direct military talks on incident. 16 June extended sanctions on NK for further year, citing continued threat of NK nuclear program. China 8 June lodged formal diplomatic protest after NK border guards shot and killed 3 Chinese citizens on border. NK Supreme People’s Assembly held rare 2nd session 7 June; appointed Chang Sŏng-t’aek, brother-in-law of NK leader Kim Jong-il, as vice-chairman of National Defense Commission; govt 27 June announced it will choose new party leaders later in year; both moves seen as clearing path of succession for Kim Jong-il’s son. S Korea 1 July jailed 2 NK spies to 10 years in prison for April plot to kill high-ranking NK defector.
U.S. President Obama 23 June replaced head of ISAF, U.S. forces Gen. Stanley McChrystal, with Gen. David Petraeus after McChrystal made disparaging comments about Obama administration in magazine article. Early month Kabul “Peace Jirga” summit recommended talks between govt, Taliban, and release of suspected militant prisoners. President Karzai 6 June accepted resignations of Interior Minister Hanif Atmar and intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh after Taliban 2 June attacked summit. McChrystal 10 June said planned ISAF summer offensive in Kandahar to roll out slower than first planned, did not specify timeframe. At least 100 ISAF troops killed in June, highest monthly toll since 2001 invasion. Govt mid-month called for foreign investment into “US$1trillion” of mineral resources across country that could “transform Afghan economy”. At least 40 killed in 10 June suicide bombing in Nagahan village, Kandahar.
Main opposition parties BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami 27 June called anti-govt general strike, first since 2007; tens of thousands protested across country, violent clashes with police. BNP mid-month extended boycott of parliament. Media watchdogs, opposition criticised govt 2 June shutting down pro-BNP newspaper, arresting editor on sedition charges. Surprise victory for BNP candidate in 2nd city Chittagong mayoral elections, first key position lost by ruling AL party since entering govt Dec 2008.
Police during month arrested 2 Maoists suspected of May train derailment that killed 148, but Maoists continued to deny involvement. Maoists 29 June killed 26 police in Chhattisgarh; 18 June launched 4-day protest against security forces killing 8 rebels in West Bengal. Police claimed 1 officer, 10 Maoists killed in 24 June Jharkhand gun battle. Home minister Chidambaram 1 June offered Maoists “detailed roadmap” for negotiations; Maoists yet to respond.
During early month visit to Valley, Indian PM Singh repeated offer of talks with separatist groups who shun violence. Indian army 6 June suspended 1 major, dismissed 1 colonel suspected of killing 3 civilians late April. Huge anti-India protests from mid-month over 11 civilians allegedly killed by Indian troops in separate incidents over month; Delhi 29 June imposed curfew. India, Pakistan Foreign Secretaries 24 June held “positive” talks in Islamabad ahead of July meeting of FMs.
PM Madhav Nepal resigned 30 June to “end political stalemate and move peace process forward”; successor unclear, but unity govt including all CA parties likely. Maoists had during month accused PM Nepal of reneging on late May deal to resign; 21 June said will block passing of new budget (16 July deadline) unless he leaves post. PM Nepal accused Maoists of stalling peace process in resignation speech.
Army 1 June claimed victory against Taliban in Orakzai Agency, said militants cleared from all of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa except N Waziristan, but clashes with Taliban continued during month in Orakzai. 10 June Amnesty International report said some 1,300 civilians killed in army-Taliban fighting during 2009, 4million people still under Taliban rule in northwest. Suspected Taliban 9 June killed 7, torched 50 NATO supply trucks outside Islamabad. 13 June report by London School of Economics alleged “official policy” of intelligence agency ISI to fund and train Afghan Taliban; ISI rejected as “spurious”. U.S. 1 June announced death of al-Qaeda number 3 Mustafa Abu al-Yazid in 21 May N Waziristan airstrike. Ex-president Musharraf’s new APML party formally launched 9 June, said Musharraf will return to Pakistan when next elections announced. At least 12 killed in continuing clashes between rival political groups in Karachi during month. Govt 5 June announced 17% defence spending increase from July.
UNSG Ban 22 June appointed 3-member panel to advise him on options for investigating possible human rights abuses during final stages of civil war; govt rejected panel as “unwarranted”, infringement of sovereignty; 24 June said will refuse visas to panel members. Govt 24 June said it will reject EU’s conditions for extending GSP+ trade concession, to expire 15 Aug, including lifting wartime emergency laws, written commitment to improve human rights. Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa 7 June said ex-army chief and current MP Sarath Fonseka could be executed for “treason” if he follows through on alleged threats to testify in international war crimes investigation. Govt 11 June said will ask parliament to vote on constitutional amendment allowing President Rajapaksa to run for 3rd term.
Papuanangerat Jakarta intensified over perceived failures in Papuan Special Autonomy. Papuan legislators demonstrated 1 June outside Jakarta Interior Ministry, after being denied meeting with interior minister Gunawan Fauzi to discuss delay in regional elections due to disagreement over Papuan regional election regulation requiring candidates to be indigenous Papuan. Papuan People’s Council held forum 9-10 June concerning Special Autonomy; culminated in 18 June estimated 2,000-person march to Papuan Legislative Assembly building to demand dialogue with Jakarta over perceived failure of Special Autonomy Law. In restive Puncak Jaya regency, separatists 14 June killed paramilitary policeman; further company of paramilitary police sent to regency next day to quell separatist attacks. 1 killed, 3 arrested in 23 June central Java anti-terror raid. Terror suspects Amir Abdillah and Mohamad Jobril sentenced 14, 29 June to 8, 5 years prison respectively for role in July 2009 hotel bombings. Former Free Aceh Movement leader Hasan di Tiro died of natural causes 3 June.
Election preparations continued despite no announcement of date; election commission issued directive banning marching and chanting during rallies. Reports several registered political parties unable to afford campaign materials seeking allies to meet election costs. U.S. Asst Sec State Schwartz 10 June expressed concern upcoming polls would change little for refugees in camps along Thai border. U.S. Senator Webb 3 June cancelled planned visit after early month reports govt working with N Korea to develop nuclear program; govt 11 June rejected reports as “politically motivated”. Karen National Liberation Army 10 June claimed it had killed at least 12 govt soldiers in Karen state. NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi 19 June celebrated 65th birthday under house arrest.
Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino sworn in as new president 30 June following May election victory. MILF and govt 3 June signed pledge to continue work on peace deal under new president. Military chief Lt. Gen. Bangit, close ally of former President Arroyo, retired 21 June; Major Gen. Ricardo David appointed to replace him. Aquino appointed Teresite “Ging” Deles as Presidential Adviser to Peace Process; Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay announced winner of disputed VP contest. In Maguindanao, powerful provincial clans held peace dialogue 5 June aiming to heal relationships after Nov 2009 massacre and elections. Major witness to massacre killed 24 June. In separate incidents, 3 journalists critical of local politicians killed 14-20 June in Davao Oriental Province; police said 2 politicians are suspects, U.S. 21 June urged govt to move quickly to prosecute killers. Govt clashes with communist New Peoples Army (NPA) continued in Mindanao: over 12 killed during month; military 20 June acknowledged it could not meet 30 June deadline set by Arroyo to eradicate insurgency, though offensives have weakened NPA. Suspected NPA leader killed during 24 June clash with military. In Basilan, Abu Sayyaf 5 June killed 3 kidnapped workers after families failed to pay ransom; suspected Abu Sayyaf militants killed 4 in 25 June attack. Govt troops captured Abu Sayyaf deputy 16 June.
Angelita Pires, former partner of late rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, cleared 16 June by appeals court of plotting to assassinate political leaders in Feb 2008; appeals court 14 June reduced some sentences of 24 others jailed in connection with 2008 attack. Govt 11 June took delivery of 2 new Chinese-built patrol boats, doubling size of navy; planned operations include joint police-army patrols.
Following May crackdown on “red shirt” protesters, govt department of special investigation (DSI) 21 June identified 83 individuals and companies accused of funding movement. Police 25 June arrested 2 linked to “red shirt” movement over late month bomb attempt at ruling party headquarters. Govt 22 June deployed 800 police in Bangkok ahead of cremation ceremony of “red shirt” general Khattiya Sawasdipol killed in May. Thousands of mourners attended; state of emergency remains in place in Bangkok and 23 provinces. PM Abhisit 6 June appointed new cabinet members in wake of May failed no-confidence vote. In restive South, at least 5 killed, 17 injured in series of shootings and grenade attacks in Yala and Pattani districts; Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center 11 June stated 9,417 militants in South. Thai, Cambodian soldiers clashed briefly at border 8 June; no fatalities.
Several suspected Wahhabi followers arrested for 27 June bomb attack on police station in Bugojno killing 1, injuring 5 policemen. In further sign distancing his govt from Republika Srpska’s (RS) separatist rhetoric, Serbian President Tadic during Serbia-RS Co-operation Council in Banja Luka 8 June stressed support for BiH’s territorial integrity. European Parliament 17 June adopted resolution denouncing nationalistic rhetoric between BiH’s entities, welcoming progress towards visa-free regime with EU.
EULEX in 4 June report found Kosovo’s judiciary weak, reform capabilities fragile. EU Council of Ministers 8 June extended EULEX mandate until 2012. NATO Sec Gen Rasmussen 10 June announced Alliance will not start planned second phase downsizing KFOR troops for security reasons. Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe 22 June and European Parliament 23 June adopted resolutions stressing need for progress in rule of law. 2 Macedonian, 2 Albanian citizens killed in shootout 40km from border with Macedonia 21 June by unidentified suspects. 12 June arrest of pro-independence Vetevendosje movement leader Albin Kurti, sought for role in Feb 2007 deadly protests in Pristina, triggered violent protests injuring 12 policemen, 3 activists. President Sejdiu hosted country’s first regional presidential summit 26 June, focusing on visa-free travel, with Macedonian, Albanian, Montenegrin counterparts.
Meeting on sidelines of 17 June EU Summit, PM Gruevski and Greek PM Papandreou restated commitment to resolve longstanding name dispute. Several thousand opposition supporters protested in Skopje 27 June against govt economic policy, inability to advance NATO, EU bids.
After receiving positive report by UN Tribunal Chief Prosecutor on Serbia’s cooperation 14 June, EU Council of Ministers opened ratification process for country’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement. Govt reiterated commitment to bring former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic to justice despite 16 June motion by family to declare him dead, citing serious illness, lack of indications he is alive.
Armenian parliament 10 June passed controversial amendments to law on television and radio regulating mandatory transition to digital broadcasting. Media watchdogs, OSCE, U.S., rights groups denounced measure, claiming it allowed govt to reduce plurality of media, prevent emergence of independent broadcasters.
In visit to Washington D.C., lawmakers from Turkey’s ruling AK party 18 June continued to stress link between Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Turkey-Armenia normalisation. Armenian FM mid-month underlined Armenian approach fully aligned with international position on ratification of Oct 2009 rapprochement protocols without preconditions and within reasonable timeframe.
Parliament 18 June adopted controversial amendments to national laws: law requiring it to coordinate legislative agenda with presidential administration in joint annual plan; amendment to election code shortening election and campaign periods. In run-up to Nov parliamentary elections, major opposition parties 12, 19 June held separate protests in central Baku despite govt ban. Police violently suppressed actions, detained scores.
Abkhaz de facto authorities 23 June announced temporary withdrawal from international talks in Geneva citing lack of tangible progress. 11th round of talks since August 2008 war held 8 June, reached agreement only on date of next round. Reports early June of EU High Rep Ashton’s plans to abolish post of EU Special Representative for South Caucasus triggered protest by officials in region fearing downgrading of EU engagement.
No breakthrough on stalled N-K talks after first direct negotiations since Jan between Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Russia acting as mediator, on sidelines of St. Petersburg economic forum 17 June. Azerbaijani President Aliyev early month threatened to pull out from talks if Armenia continues “gaining time tactics”, 24 June reiterated intention to retake Armenian occupied territories by force failing agreement. Growing tension on N-K line of contact. 1 Azerbaijani soldier killed 17 June; 4 Armenian, 1 Azerbaijani soldiers killed, 4 Armenian soldiers wounded 18-19 June in worst ceasefire violation in over 2 years. Armenia claimed incident result of Azerbaijani reconnaissance mission entering Armenian positions. Event triggered international condemnation, statements by OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, EU High Rep. 1 Azerbaijani soldier reportedly killed in Armenian retaliatory attack 20-21 June.
Russian security services 9 June announced capture of Ali Taziyev, alias Magas, second in command guerilla leader after Doku Umarov. Magas thought commander of 2004 deadly attack on Nazran, alleged participant in 2004 Beslan hostage-taking, responsible for 2009 attack on Ingush President Yevkurov. Growing violence in Kabardino-Balkaria: police claimed defused 6 bombs planted by insurgents early month. 3 bombs went off in Nalchik 4, 14 June. Up to 2,000 troops reportedly deployed in town early month. In Dagestan: head of military unit killed, 3 servicemen injured in fire on security vehicle 18 June; 10 suspected militants, 5 policemen reported killed 16 June in 3 separate incidents; 1 policeman killed reportedly in sniper attack 15 June; 3 policemen killed, 1 wounded 13 June in separate firing incidents. In Ingushetia, bomb killed 1 policeman, wounded over 10 people 4 June. Karachayevo-Cherkessia Republic parliament 3 June approved Cherkess Muradin Kemov as PM, restoring unwritten rule for ethnic rotation in Republic leadership after 2008 appointment of a Greek as PM.
In 14 June unannounced visit to republic, Russian President Medvedev urged greater focus on socio-economic development in addition to counterinsurgency. Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe 23 June passed resolution denouncing rights violations in North Caucasus, personality cult surrounding President Kadyrov, alleged enforced disappearances, murder of his critics.
Gas deliveries from Russia resumed 24 June after govt paid outstanding debt. Followed 21 June order by Russian President Medvedev to cut supplies due to $192m in unpaid bills. Move prompted Belarusian retaliation 22 June halting all gas transit deliveries to Europe, claiming unpaid transit fees by Russia. U.S. 8 June extended targeted sanctions against govt officials for 1 year.
Moldovan PM welcomed 5 June memorandum between German Chancellor Merkel and Russian President Medvedev proposing creation of EU-Russia security forum to tackle frozen conflicts, with Transdniestria as first issue on agenda. In unprecedented move, Interim President Mihai Ghimpu 25 June issued decree demanding Moscow withdraw troops from Transdniestria. Govt 3 June announced will hold referendum in Sept on constitutional changes to allow direct election of country’s president, following prolonged stalemate with election of president by parliament. Reports early June of EU High Rep Ashton’s plans to abolish post of EU Special Representative to country triggered protest by officials fearing downgrading of EU engagement.
Parliament 4 June passed first draft of bill affirming Ukraine’s neutrality; if adopted, law will prevent country’s NATO accession.
Banned political wing of ETA, Batasuna, 20 June signed “strategic agreement” with Basque nationalist party Eusko Alkartasuna ahead of 2011 regional elections. ETA member wanted for 4 car bombings arrested 24 June in Belfast. 3 members of ETA-linked youth group Segi arrested 10 June in Rome during visit by Spanish PM Zapatero. Northern Irish police 24 June arrested suspected ETA member wanted for 2001 Madrid car bomb that killed 1 police officer.
UNSG Ban appointed Lisa Buttenheim (U.S.) new head of UN peacekeeping mission (UNFICYP) 2 June, while UNSC 15 June extended UNFICYP mandate for 6 months; only Turkey voted against. UNSC resolution expressed hope for a solution in 2010. Greek Cypriot president Christofias met Turkish Cypriot counterpart Eroglu 3, 15, 23 June to discuss property issue. Greek Cypriot leaders used 4-6 June visit by Pope Benedict XVI to criticise Turkey. Turkish President Gul 18 June urged Cypriot leaders to find a settlement this year.
Govt’s Saville report into 1972 “Bloody Sunday” killings by UK soldiers of 13 Catholic protesters in Londonderry published 15 June. Inquiry called actions of British paratroopers “unjustified”, said unarmed protestors posed no threat; PM Cameron apologised for killings. Security services 18 June detonated 136kg bomb outside County Tyrone police border post after warning from dissident Republicans.
Deadly PKK attacks escalated after group 3 June announced end to unilateral 14-month ceasefire, citing continued attacks on PKK targets by security forces. Violence peaked 19-21 June as 13 soldiers and at least 17 militants killed in clashes in south-east; 19 June single bloodiest day for army since 2008. Two further clashes 30 June killed 2 soldiers, 3 village guards and 12 PKK militants. Bombings by militants in Istanbul 8, 22 June killed 6, injured 28. PM Erdogan 20 June vowed to annihilate PKK, criticised EU 24 June for “turning a blind eye” to PKK. U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey 21 June pledged active support to defeat organisation. Military 20 June launched land, air offensive against PKK bases in Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq; Iraqi FM Zebari 20 June criticised “unilateral” Turkish action. Trial of 30 PKK supporters began 17 June; group returned from exile Oct 2009 without threat of trial as part of govt reconciliation effort. Police 9 June arrested 17 people suspected of ties to al-Qaeda in simultaneous raids in 4 cities. Debate about Turkey’s foreign policy direction fuelled by Turkey’s strong anti-Israeli rhetoric after Israel’s raid 31 May on Gaza-bound aid ship (see Israel-OPT), and Turkey’s 9 June “no” vote on UNSC resolution mandating new round of sanctions on Iran; U.S. expressed disappointment, Turkey said vote was ethical given ongoing diplomatic efforts to solve nuclear dispute.
Govt, currently chair of OSCE and member of CSTO, 14 June said no need for international intervention amid deadly violence in Kyrgyzstan; 17 June denied reports of entry ban for ethnic Uzbeks fleeing fighting. During 12 June visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao, countries signed deal to build and finance Kazakh section of gas pipeline network between Turkmenistan and China. Almaty court 16 June ruled accusations of embezzlement made by fugitive businessman Ablyazov against President Nazarbayev’s son-in-law unfounded. Activist Yermek Narymbayev sentenced to 4 years jail 23 June for anti-Nazarbayev slogans at May Day demonstration.
Large scale violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in south early month; but despite fears of fresh hostilities, peaceful conduct of 27 June constitutional referendum raised hopes for political stability and reconciliation. Reported fighting 10 June between ethnic groups in Osh turned into widespread armed clashes, spread to Jalal-Abad and other neighbouring areas in following days. Cause of unrest not yet clear. Govt acknowledged lost control of situation, unable to enforce curfew announced 11 June. Reports emerged Kyrgyz security forces did not act to stop attacks, may have participated in violence against ethnic Uzbeks. Both sides reportedly seized large quantities of weapons from warehouses and security personnel. Russia 12 June, CSTO 14 June declined govt requests for military intervention. Relative calm restored 16 June with official estimates of over 200 dead; Acting President Roza Otunbayeva 18 June said actual death toll likely closer to 2,000. UNHCR 17 June estimated 300,000 displaced internally, 100,000-120,000 ethnic Uzbeks fled to Uzbekistan. Govt 25 June said all but 100 refugees returned voluntarily from Uzbekistan; some international bodies claimed returns forced by Uzbek govt. Govt pressed ahead with 27 June referendum on new constitution amid security concerns, easing voting requirements and lifting state of emergency in south. Preliminary results put turnout at nearly 70% with over 90% of votes cast in favour of new constitution. OSCE, EU, U.S. commended legitimate, peaceful conduct of referendum; called on provisional govt to seize opportunity to advance reconciliation.
Govt held UN-sponsored international water conference 8 June in Dushanbe, discussed water security, energy with Iranian President Ahmadinejad on sidelines. Iran 17 June threatened to halt Uzbek rail traffic through its territory unless latter stops blocking transit of cargo to Tajikistan. Continued standoff on railroad traffic seen as Uzbek response to controversial Tajik hydropower projects. Uzbekistan 15 June notified Tajikistan of intentions to close 1 of 3 railroad connections between countries allegedly due to economic unviability. Supreme Court 24 June sentenced 4 alleged members of banned Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir to 18 years’ prison. Govt began investigation into 2 explosions in Dushanbe 24 June.
U.S. high-level delegation, accompanied by U.S. energy, manufacturing firms visited country mid-June for talks on energy reserves and war in Afghanistan. U.S. Asst Sec State Blake cited some signs of progress in rights situation.
Govt 14 June closed border with Kyrgyzstan citing inability to cope with refugee influx, demanded international assistance. UNHCR mid-month estimated 100,000-120,000 ethnic Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan, mostly women and children, fled to Uzbekistan. UNHCR pledged to send humanitarian aid sufficient for 75,000. International bodies, rights groups late month claimed govt forced refugees to return to Kyrgyzstan.
Congress mid-month passed law giving indigenous communities right to administer own justice systems; opposition protested that law could lead to mob rule, highlighted by series of recent lynchings by indigenous communities, including of 4 police late May in Potosí department. Congress 12 June passed law giving president power to appoint members of departmental courts; opposition said infringes on regional autonomy.
Juan Manual Santos (ruling U Party) won 20 June presidential runoff election with 69% of vote; Santos said will work to improve relations with neighbours; Ecuador, Venezuela cautiously welcomed result. 10 soldiers killed in FARC, ELN attacks on election day. Army 13 June rescued 4 high-profile FARC hostages; FARC still holds 19 members of security forces for hostages-for-prisoners swap. At least 9 killed in 9 June clash between FARC and ELN rebel groups in Arauca department, fracturing alliance between groups announced Dec 2009. UNODC 20 June reported Colombian coca cultivation decreased 16% in 2009. Bogotá court 9 June sentenced ex-army colonel to 30 years’ in prison for forced disappearances of 11 civilians in 1985; rights groups hailed “historic sentencing”, but Ministry of Defence condemned conviction. In first jail sentences under Justice and Peace Law, 2 ex-paramilitary leaders sentenced 29 June to 8 years’ prison. DAS (secret police) denied 28 June media reports it has tapped Ecuador President Correa’s phone since 2008.
President Correa 12 June said foreign oil companies have until Dec to renegotiate contracts before govt seizes their assets. U.S. Sec State Clinton 8 June visited Correa in Quito, both said they expected relations to continue to improve.
Govt 18 June asked Interpol to arrest Guillermo Zuloaga, head of anti-govt TV station Globovision, after he fled the country following mid-month arrest warrant by Venezuelan court for business irregularities. Top govt anti-corruption official early month barred 7 opposition candidates suspected of graft from standing in Sept parliamentary elections; opposition claimed politically motivated. President Chávez 10 June suspended electricity rationing, in effect since Jan.
Carlos Castresana, head of UN-sanctioned commission against impunity (CICIG), resigned 8 June over slow govt progress on justice reform and appointment of new attorney general Conrado Reyes, who Castresana accused of ties to organised crime. Constitutional court 11 June annulled Reyes’ appointment. UN 1 July appointed Costa Rica attorney general Francisco Dall’Anese Ruiz as new CICIG head.
Aid agencies warned vast majority of camps holding some 1.5m displaced by Jan earthquake still not prepared for ongoing hurricane season. UN, national police 18 June arrested 30 in Port-au-Prince camp amidst reports of heightened insecurity, sexual violence within camps. UNSC 4 June agreed to temporarily increase police contingent by 680 officers. Amid international pressure President Préval 30 June scheduled presidential, parliamentary elections for 28 Nov, but did not restructure Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) despite opposition calls for dismissal of its members. Late month U.S. Senate report expressed concern with slow pace of rebuilding effort, called on President Préval to be more actively involved.
Paraguayan People’s Army 18 june killed 2 police in northern Concepción department; army said will step up operations against rebels.
Israel faced widespread international criticism following 31 May death of 9 Turkish activists during Israeli raid on aid shipment to Gaza; tenth died later. Turkish President Gul 17 June threatened to freeze relations, impose sanctions. Turkey 27 June barred Israeli military flight from Turkish airspace, future military flights to be considered on case-by-case basis. Israeli cabinet 14 June approved commission for inquiry into raid, including 2 foreign observers; UNSG Ban 18 June criticised panel as lacking international credibility. PM Netanyahu 20 June announced easing of Gaza blockade to let in “civilian goods” but requiring monitoring for dual-use materials; described by U.S. as “welcome step”. Palestinian gunmen 14 June killed 1 police officer, wounded 2 near Hebron, W Bank. Israeli Navy 7 June killed 6 members of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade off Gazan coast. 3 Hamas supporters killed in airstrike 1 June in Beit Lahiya, suspected of firing 2 rockets into Ashkelon area. 17 July W Bank elections postponed 19 June because of Fatah failure to agree on election lists. U.S. envoy Mitchell conducted 2 rounds of proximity talks during month with Israel, PLO.
PM Hariri 1 June discussed improving bilateral relations with Iranian ambassador. Lebanon abstained from 9 June UNSC vote on expanding Iran sanctions due to divided cabinet; Hizbollah said UNSC decision “unfair”. Hizbollah 18 June denied link to new aid flotilla planned from Lebanon to Gaza; Israel same day asked govt to prevent flotilla from leaving Lebanon, threatened to use “any means necessary” to stop boats. Govt 21 June authorised flotilla to sail to Cyprus, 22 June said Israel “fully responsible” for any attack on Lebanon. National dialogue talks on national defence strategy postponed 17 June until 19 Aug. Maronite Patriarch Sfeir 2 June said Lebanon needed “single recognised army”, 17 June claimed Iran, Syria providing Hizbollah with money, weapons. Bomb 21 June, reportedly meant for Sfeir, killed 1.
In 15 June Damascus meeting President Assad and Lebanon President Sleiman called for firm Arab stance to break Gaza blockade, agreed to start demarcating their shared land and maritime borders, strengthen bilateral ties. Human rights activist jailed 23 June for 3 years for “weakening national sentiment”; U.S. 24 June called for his release. Ali Al-`Abdallah, journalist arrested Dec 2007 on same charges, faced new charges following 17 June scheduled release.
UNSC 9 June approved 4th round of sanctions on Iran; Turkey and Brazil voted against, Lebanon abstained. Sanctions include tougher arms embargo, increased rules on financial transactions, travel bans, asset freezes. Iran same day said uranium enrichment to continue; President Ahmadinejad 15 June said fuel swap deal still possible, 16 June said country to expand nuclear programme, 28 June said no talks on nuclear programme until late Aug and only on certain conditions to “punish” West for sanctions. U.S., EU approved new sanctions implementing and building on UNSC measures. Iran 21 June banned 2 UN nuclear inspectors from country over “untruthful” report, 23 June said it had enriched 17kg uranium to 20%. Opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karrubi called off protest plans for 12 June anniversary of 2009 disputed election in face of govt warnings. Sporadic demonstrations 12 June reported across country, but generally calm amid large security presence in Tehran and other cities. State media reported 13 members of terrorist group arrested 13 June. Abdulmalik Rigi, alleged leader of Sunni insurgent group Jundallah, executed 20 June. Govt launched air and artillery attacks on Iraqi Kurdistan May-June including alleged 3 June Iranian troop incursion (see Iraq). State newspaper 10 June claimed 3 policemen killed in PJAK bomb attack, western Iran.
Deadlock over formation of govt continued. 1st session of new parliament met 14 June; adjourned same day to allow discussions between blocs on govt formation to continue. PM Maliki’s State of Law, and Iraqi National Alliance, main Shiite blocs, 10 June announced merger into new bloc 4 seats short of parliamentary majority, but no agreement on candidate for PM. Ayatollah al-Sistani 18 June denied role in Shiite mega-bloc merger, said he would intervene if govt not formed soon. U.S. Asst Sec State Feltman 15-17 June met all main leaders, but still no agreement between former PM Allawi and Maliki, both claiming right to form govt. Faras al-Jubouri, candidate for Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, assassinated near Mosul 5 June. Up to 26 killed in 13 June coordinated bombings and storming of Iraq central bank; al-Qaeda group 17 June claimed responsibility. 2 senior members of govt-backed Sunni militia among dead following series of bombs across country 22 June. Scores killed in other bombings, gun attacks over month, targeting police, soldiers, politicians, former insurgents. At least 1 reported killed in Iranian air and artillery attacks on Kurdish region May-June; Iraqi-Kurdish security forces claimed Iranian soldiers chasing PJAK Kurdish rebels entered and established position in country 3 June; U.S. military 10 June said no evidence. Increased violence between PKK and Turkish military (see Turkey); Iraqi-Kurdish President Barzani visiting Turkey gave support to Turkish efforts against PKK 3 June; Turkish FM declared wish for greater economic integration between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.
UNOCHA 2 June warned fragile ceasefire between Houthi rebels, Yemeni forces could break without formal peace agreement. Abdulmalik al-Houthi, leader of northern Shia rebels, 24 June accused President Saleh of reneging on 22 May amnesty promises by failing to release prisoners. Inter-tribal clashes 3 June saw 9 Houthi rebels killed by govt-allied tribes. Southern separatists continued to attack army, killing several soldiers and a senior security official over month. 6 killed, 17 injured by army shelling in southern Dhal’e during clashes with separatist rebels. 19 June attack on Aden security complex by 4 gunmen saw 11 killed including 7 security officers, officials said attack linked to al-Qaeda; security forces 20 June arrested suspected mastermind, 30 suspects arrested 26 June, 9 charged with al-Qaeda links, rest with participating in rioting. Senior army officer killed 5 June in suspected al-Qaeda ambush in eastern Marib province; army 12 June raided home of local Aida tribal chief suspected of sheltering al-Qaeda members; tribesmen responded 14 June bombing oil pipeline. 33 journalists accused of disseminating false information and harming national unity granted amnesty 8 June under presidential pardon.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) senior leader Abou El-Abbes 25 May surrendered in Eastern Algeria, latest in series of defections. 11 terrorists killed 11-12 June in security forces raids, including 7 in Tizi-Ouzou. Police 12 June killed 4 terrorists in Bourmerdes region. Suicide bombing 10 June killed 4 gendarmes, injured at least 17 in Tizimar; 2 terrorists also killed. Security operation in Petite Kabylie region ended 19 June with 3 terrorists dead. 11 gendarmes killed 30 June by AQIM-linked militants near southern border with Mali, deadliest Islamist attack this year. Army chief Salah 29 June said armed groups could surrender under terms of 2005 peace accord or await “certain death”.
Scores of people arrested in Cairo, Alexandria as security forces clashed with protesters following 6 June death of activist Khaled Said, with rights groups blaming death on police. U.S. expressed concern over case, urged Egypt “hold accountable whoever is responsible”. Independent monitors reported 1 June polls for upper house of parliament marred by violence, voter intimidation; supporters of Muslim Brotherhood injured by rubber bullets and one by live fire; and voters, journalists barred from polling stations by police. Candidates from or affiliated with President Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party won all but four seats. Egyptian authorities 7 June announced Rafah crossing with Gaza would remain open indefinitely, but only those seeking medical treatment or study in Egypt can cross, goods limited to mostly medicine, food; over 16,500 Palestinians reported to have crossed since 1 June.
Defence Minister 9 June ruled out releasing al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) prisoners in exchange for foreign hostages: AQIM continues to hold 2 Spanish hostages kidnapped late 2009, 1 Frenchman kidnapped in Niger Apr. European commission 23 June resumed talks with govt stalled since 2008 coup.
State media 21 June said security forces had broken up Islamist cell planning terror attacks on Jewish sites, nightclubs. Trial of 38 al-Qaeda-linked terror suspects opened 10 June, delayed until 16 Sept.