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
Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) moved into North Sudan's South Kordofan state capital Kadugli at the start of the month, triggering large-scale fighting with Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) units from the region. The UN reported heavy bombardment of villages by the SAF, widespread civilian casualties and at least 73,000 people forced to flee. It also accused the government of blocking aid deliveries and intimidating peacekeepers.
Violence spilled over into South Sudan, with several villages bombed by the North. On 28 June the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (North) signed an agreement on political and security arrangements for South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
The SAF clashed again with South Sudanese forces around Abyei. According to the UN, nearly 100 civilians have been killed and almost 100,000 displaced in Abyei since early May.
In Afghanistan, a standoff between parliament and President Hamid Karzai threatens to deepen the country's political crisis. On 23 June a controversial special tribunal set up by Karzai ruled that the victories of 62 MPs in last September's parliamentary elections should be reversed due to fraud. Critics see this as a move by Karzai to fill the legislature with his own supporters. Parliament responded with votes of no confidence in several Supreme Court judges and pressed for the Attorney-General's resignation.
In the same month that U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to withdraw 33,000 U.S. troops by September 2012, the Taliban struck in the heart of Kabul with an assault on the Intercontinental Hotel on 29 June that left 19 dead, including eight civilians.
Myanmar/Burma saw its worst clashes since 2009, as fighting broke out between government forces and the Kachin ceasefire group. Tens of thousands have been displaced and some 20 reportedly killed.
In Mexico, a number of incidents highlighted the deterioration in security around Monterrey, the country's second city, industrial hub and capital of Nuevo León state. On a single day, 15 June, some 33 people were killed in drug-related violence, including two bodyguards of Nuevo León's governor Rodrigo Medina. Almost 800 people have been killed in Monterrey this year, already topping the total death toll for 2010: an alarming development given the region was considered just a few years ago a relatively violence-free model for Mexico.
In Venezuela, speculation about President Hugo Chávez's health intensified, leading to infighting within his ruling PSUV party and highlighting the country's lack of alternative leadership. Having been largely absent from the public since a 10 June medical operation in Cuba, Chávez at the end of the month confirmed that he had undergone surgery to remove a cancerous tumour, further adding to uncertainty over the country's political future. A series of prison riots in which at least 20 inmates were killed were the latest manifestation of a chronic problem - conditions in the country's penal system - long neglected by the government.
Proposals by Senegal's ruling party to amend the constitution were condemned by opposition politicians as undemocratic and sparked unprecedented violent protests. President Abdoulaye Wade quickly withdrew the proposals, but criticism continues over his controversial plans to run for a third term in 2012. Further unrest at the end of the month, sparked by prolonged power cuts, saw angry protesters attack government buildings in two cities.
At least 8 killed in series of shootings, grenade attacks: included 1 killed, several injured 16 June in separate attacks in Muyinga, Bujumbura Rural; 5 killed 22 June in Cibitoke, Musaga and Ruvigi; 2 killed 6 June in Kanyosha. Authorities recognise desertions of military personnel, reports suggest attackers may be linked to former rebel National Liberation Forces. Western envoys 3 June voiced concern over apparent tit-for-tat killings, ongoing since disputed June 2010 elections. In Independence Day speech 30 June, President Nkurunziza for first time promised dialogue with opposition leaders, called on those abroad to return, but ruled out discussion of 2010 elections. Nkurunziza 10 June created committee to establish truth and reconciliation commission; UNHRC 20 June agreed to provide funding, expertise.
Frustrations rose ahead of Oct presidential election, with critics of President Biya expressing disappointment with slow pace of reforms. Riot police 31 May dispersed demonstration by farmers against poor roads, low state support; dozens reported arrested. Incident followed May ban on protests in Douala.
11 killed, dozens injured early month in Bangui in continued violence directed at Muslims. LRA fighters 7 June killed doctor, driver in ambush in Haut- Mbomou region; medical workers 10 June staged protest in Bangui demanding greater protection. Govt and rebel Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) 12 June signed ceasefire, agreed to talks on peace deal. President Bozizé 25 June launched operation to disarm 350 former Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy rebels in NW town Bocaranga.
Main opposition parties 21 June announced coalition against President Idriss Déby’s Patriotic Salvation Movement party, following controversial Apr elections. Security forces 8 June arrested former rebel Abderaman Koulamallah, leader of 2008 attempt to overthrow Déby, following his return from exile. Govt 14 June signed peace accord with General Abdel Kader Baba Laddé, leader of rebel group FPR, based since 2008 in Central African Republic.
Parliament 13 June passed electoral law ahead of planned Nov elections; opposition coalition 15 June called for 30-day extension of voter registration period, set to end 30 June, citing delays, technical difficulties. EU and DRC Finance Ministry 24 June signed €47.5mn election funding agreement; govt 26 June transferred $20mn to electoral commission. Military court 23 June sentenced 4 policemen to death, another to life imprisonment for June 2010 murder of rights activist Floribert Chebeya. Estimated 170 women attacked, many raped 10-12 June in attacks by deserting soldiers near Fizi, South Kivu; FARDC 26 June said ex-rebel Colonel Niragire Kifaru responsible. Unidentified men in uniform 21 June assassinated journalist in Kirumba, N Kivu. 5 killed, including 3 civilians, 29 June as police fired on unidentified men attempting to raid military depot in southern town Lubumbashi. Goma court 16 June convicted 4 Mai-Mai militiamen of Aug 2010 murder of 3 UN peacekeep- ers; 1 sentenced to death, others to life imprisonment. At least 6 killed in mid-month LRA attacks in NE Dungu region. At AU meeting 6-8 June, DRC, other LRA-affected countries agreed increased cooperation, combined operations to target militants.
Rwandan police 21 June arrested 5 men suspected of planning terrorist attacks in country; officials alleged men based in North Kivu, DRC, had links to former intelligence chief Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, other exiled opposition figures. Court 20 June postponed until Sept trial of opposition leader Victoire Ingabire to allow more time for defence preparations; followed 18 June denunciation of terror, genocide ideology charges as “politically motivated” by Ingabire’s Unified Democratic Forces party. Amnesty International 3 June called for review of genocide laws, said provisions being used to stifle dissent, free speech. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda 24 June sentenced ex-minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko to life in prison for role in 1994 genocide.
Govt 12 June freed 4 British maritime security contractors detained 5 months on espionage, terrorism charges. Govt 16 June denied involvement in alleged bomb plot against January AU summit in Addis Ababa. Freedom House 1 June released annual report listing Eritrea as one of worst countries for political freedoms.
Court 8 June sentenced 14 alleged Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) members in connection with alleged bomb plot against January AU summit; Eritrean govt accused of involvement. Following 20 June peace deal between N and S Sudan in Addis Ababa, both sides accepted Ethiopian deployment of 4,200 peacekeepers to Sudan’s Abyei region (see N Sudan). Authorities 2 June lifted death sentences of at least 23 former Derg officials.
Following May deadly border clashes between Kenyan Turkana and Ethiopian Merille tribes, Kenya and Ethiopia 2 June agreed steps to ease tensions, improve border security. Reported attack 12 June by Toposa tribes left 11 Kenyan pastoralists dead near Sudan border; 10 killed 25 June in N Kenya during fighting between raiders and cattle herders. ICC 1 June promised to share information with govt to aid investigations of 2007-2008 post-election violence; 29 June confirmed no hearings to be held in Kenya. Govt 6 June appealed against late-May ICC decision rejecting its request to halt ICC trial. Parliament passed 2 crucial reform bills, including electoral and boundaries commission. 10 wounded in 2 June IED attack on army patrol in NE, suspected al-Shabaab involvement.
Following sustained power struggle within Transitional Federal Govt (TFG) over extension of TFG and parliament mandates and election timetable, 9 June Kampala Agreement between President Sheikh Sharif and Parliamentary Speaker Sharif Hassan saw deal on 1-year extension of TFG and Parliament, elections to be held before 20 August 2012. PM Abdullahi Mohamed forced to resign 19 June as part of deal despite popular protests in his support; President Sharif 23 June nominated Abdiweli Mohamed Ali new PM. Most MPs opposed agreement, called for impeachment of Speaker for abuse of power. In Mogadishu, AMISOM troops continued push towards Bakara market. Ugandan AMISOM Commander killed 6 June; Minister for Interior Abdishakur Farah assassinated 10 June in suicide bombing reportedly by niece. Ongoing fighting in Gedo, Hirran regions between Al-Shabaab and pro-TFG militia Ahlu Sunna; govt reported Canadian Al-Shabaab member killed in Juba region. Al-Qaeda leader in E Africa Fazul Mohammed shot dead 8 June at govt checkpoint, in possession of plans to attack Western targets. Al-Shabaab 17 June declared allegiance to new al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri. Airstrike 24 June on training camp near Kismayo reportedly killed 2 senior al-Shabaab officials. In Puntland, inter-clan violence continued with 21 June attack on mosque in Bari region, 4 dead; authorities 22 June arrested 40 clan elders, blamed Al-Shabaab for insecurity.
Authorities 10 June agreed to discuss disputed Sool, Sanaag, Cayn (SSC) regions with Puntland; 24 June met with SSC militia at Widhwidh peace conference. 18 June grenade attack on police station killed 2 soldiers in Los Anod, Sool region.
Continued clashes between N and S Sudan over flashpoint region of Abyei despite mid-June agreement (See N Sudan). In spill-over fighting SAF forces 9-13 June bombed north part of Unity State; numerous casualties. UN warned deteriorating situation creating serious food shortages in Unity State, said more than 200,000 displaced, 1,556 killed in S Sudan this year. Attacks by cattle raiders 9-13 June in Lakes State, and renegade General Peter Gadet 13 June in Warrap State reportedly left further 100 dead. Rebel leader in Jonglei State David Yauyau 15 June signed ceasefire with govt of S Sudan (GoSS). President Bashir 22 June threatened to shut oil pipelines from S Sudan if GoSS does not hand over half of oil revenue or pay for pipeline use; S Sudan in favour of fees. High profile journalist Nhial Bol Aken said received threats from security services after criticising GoSS.
Fighting escalated 5 June in Nuba Mountains, S Kordofan as Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) moved into S Kordofan capital Kadugli, triggering large-scale fighting with Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) units from the region. UN reported heavy bombardment of villages by SAF; SPLM called for immediate ceasefire, accused Khartoum of moving troops towards Blue Nile state. Aid workers accused north of ethnic cleansing. UN said at least 73,000 people fled S Kordofan since 5 June, many civilian casualties, accused govt of blocking aid deliveries, intimidating peacekeepers and aid workers, impersonating Red Cross. Govt and SPLM-North 28 June signed agreement on political, security arrangements in Blue Nile, Kordofan States. Renewed clashes 15-17 June in Abyei between SAF and South Sudanese Army, despite 20 June deal in Addis Ababa on demilitarisation, deployment of Ethiopian peacekeepers, creation of joint administration; UN 24 June approved creation of Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), reported nearly 100 civilians killed, 96,000 displaced since beginning of Abyei crisis in May. In Darfur, SAF deployed extra troops to region ahead of S Sudan independence 9 July. Localised fighting continued; SAF 2-3 June ambushed Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) convoy in W Darfur, clashed with Arab-led United Revolutionary Force Front (URFF) in Kebkabiya region. Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) 15-18 June repelled SAF attacks in Western Jebel Marra. Doha peace process between rebels and govt of Sudan ended 2 June, with progress reported on key issues. Further political process to be continued in Darfur. ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo 9 June said President Bashir continuing campaign of genocide in Darfur despite ICC arrest warrant.
Following May brutal crackdown on protesters, police 10 June disrupted planned rally by opposition coalition Free Uganda Now. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye 13 June said “walk to work” protests against cost of living must continue. EU 19 June called for electoral reform, dialogue between govt and opposition. FM 21 June announced resumption of talks with Kenya over disputed islands in Lake Victoria.
SADC renewed efforts to broker agreement acceptable to all parties including coup leader Andry Rajoelina and ousted president Ravalomanana. Meeting in Gaborone, Botswana 6 June, Madagascar leaders failed to achieve consensus on Rajoelina’s candidature in prospective election and Ravalomanana’s return to country. SADC heads of state 11-12 June issued communiqué effectively endorsing roadmap with proposed amendments, including unconditional right of return for Ravalomanana and other political exiles; in return, SADC to recognize Rajoelina, effectively allowing him to lead transitional govt until polls. But High Authority of the Transition (HAT) and its military support base rejected amended SADC roadmap; Rajoelina said will proceed to elections with or without international recognition. In later permutation, SADC proposed amendment that would place responsibility on HAT to establish favourable political and security conditions for return of exiles.
SADC meeting 11-12 June saw communiqué calling on parties to accelerate GPA implementation, create environment for free and fair elections. MDC and most commentators interpreted communiqué as endorsement of SADC’s March Livingstone communiqué; ZANU-PF and state media insist it is rejection of Livingstone document. Communiqué reinforces Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee through deployment of SADC personnel. Jameson Timba, MDC-T Minister in PM’s office, arrested and detained late June on charges of insulting President Mugabe, after claiming he lied about import of SADC communiqué. Constitution-drafting committee COPAC suspended activities due to funding delays. Late June Kimberley Process (KP) meeting ended with statement by chair approving sale of Marange diamonds, despite objections by some (primarily western) KP members and warning from NGOs that KP had lost all credibility. South African High Court early June rejected motion by Zimbabwe govt to overturn 3 rulings in favour of dispossessed farmers, upholding their right to compensation. Explosive device detonated outside home of Finance Minister Tendai Biti 5 June.
7 killed, 33 injured 3 June as troops forcibly suppressed mutiny in second city Bobo Dioulasso; dead included 6 soldiers. Military officials 10 June said 109 soldiers, civilians arrested in relation to mutiny, looting. Govt 9 June announced replacement of all 13 regional governors in attempt to quell ongoing unrest.
President Ouattara 1 June named cabinet; includes no members of former president Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front. UN HCHR 15 June reported credible evidence of crimes against humanity by supporters of both Ouattara and Gbagbo during 4-month post-election crisis. Human Rights Watch 2 June said killing, torture ongoing throughout country; reported 149 suspected Gbagbo supporters killed by Ouattara forces since mid-Apr. In latest incident, 2 killed, dozens injured in 9 June attack on Becouesin village, north of Abidjan. Following accusations of partiality, govt 15 June announced commission to investigate abuses by both sides; ICC prosecutor 17 June requested authority to begin own investigation. Abidjan prosecutor 26 June announced charges against 15 Gbagbo associates; Gbagbo and others remain under house arrest.
Electoral commission 14 June said parliamentary elections may take place before year-end, pending govt, opposition agreement on voter registration. National Council of Civil Society Organisations 8 June called on govt to tackle corruption, open dialogue with opposition on legislative elections.
Amid continued concerns over mercenary influx from Côte d’Ivoire, police 17 June seized major arms cache near Ivorian border. Presidential candidate Prince Johnson 1 June endorsed recommendations of Truth and Reconciliation Commission; includes recommendation that he be prosecuted for war crimes.
17 killed 24 June as Malian, Mauritanian forces raided al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) camp in Wagadou, near Mauritanian border. Raid followed 13 June announcement of increased cooperation with Mauritania in fight against AQIM.
2 killed, several injured 12 June in clash between security forces, suspected al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb militants near northern town Arlit. EU announced development aid to Niger to be resumed, following Apr end of military rule.
Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility for series of deadly bomb blasts in 3 towns shortly after President Jonathan’s 29 May inauguration; 12 June gave conditions for dialogue with govt, including Sharia law in north, release of all detained members. Group claimed responsibility for 16 June suicide bomb blast at Nigeria Police HQ, Abuja: several killed including police officer, dozens arrested. Blast marks group’s first operation in Abuja, first use of suicide bombing; followed visit by police chief to Maiduguri, where group is based. 7 people killed in 20 June attacks on bank and police station in Kankara, Katsina states. At least 25 killed in 26 June bomb attack on beer garden in Maiduguri and 3 killed in 27 June attack, both blamed on Boko Haram; military took control of city, stepped up patrols in other cities. President Jonathan 7 June promulgated laws on terrorism, money-laundering. Outgoing parliamentary Speaker Dimeji Bankole and deputy Bayero Nafada arraigned before Federal High Court 8 June on graft charges.
Over 100 injured 23 June in clashes with security forces during unprecedented violent demonstrations against proposed constitutional amendments; changes would introduce elected post of VP, lower threshold for outright victory in presidential elections to 25%. President Wade same day withdrew proposal, but criticism continued over Wade’s controversial plan to run for third term in 2012. Protesters 27 June attacked govt buildings and offices of state electricity firm Senelec in Dakar and Mbour following prolonged power cuts. Govt 29 June deployed troops to halt riots, looting.
ROK 15 June established new North West Islands Command to enhance defence capabilities near NLL, announced it will deploy 36 attack helicopters to islands in 2012. Media reported ROK army deployed ballistic missiles near DMZ with ability to strike Pyongyang. DPRK flight-tested surface-to-air missile off west coast early June. North severed military communication lines with South 30 May, announced it would no longer deal with Lee Myung-bak govt. Two days later, DPRK claimed ROK officials tried to bribe DPRK officials during secret inter-Korean meeting in Beijing 9 May, “begged for a summit.” ROK acknowledged meeting, denied other claims. ROK continues to insist on apology for 2010 attacks, but 19 June announced it would no longer make this a prerequisite for restarting 6-Party Talks. ROK nuclear negotiator met with Chinese, Russian, U.S. officials early June, but resumption of talks remains distant. U.S. House of Representatives 15 June voted to bar food aid to North. European Commission officials visited mid June to assess food aid needs. Reports emerged of food shortages within army. Delegations from North and South met 29 June to discuss Mt. Kŭmgang tourism project, but talks broke down. North threatened “sacred war” against South for “hostile slogans” by ROK military near DMZ.
U.S. President Obama 22 June announced withdrawal plan: 10,000 U.S. troops to leave during 2011, further 23,000 by Sept 2012. France 23 June said will withdraw 1,000 of its 4,000 troops by Sept 2012. President Karzai 18 June said U.S. participating in Afghan Peace Council talks with Taliban; U.S. Defence Sec Gates 19 June confirmed. Controversial Karzai-appointed special tribunal 23 June ruled that 62 MPs should have victories in Sept 2010 parliamentary election overturned due to fraud; in response, parliament 25 June passed no-confidence vote in Chief Justice and 5 other Supreme Court members, 29 June gave Attorney-General 4-day deadline to resign. Independent Election Commission 26 June said does not recognise tribunal’s ruling. Wave of Taliban attacks continued: at least 38 killed in 26 June bomb attack on Logar hospital; 19 killed, including 8 civilians, as Taliban gunmen 29 June attacked hotel in central Kabul. 21 June suicide bombing targeting Parwan governor killed 2, governor unharmed. 268 civilians reported killed in May, highest monthly toll since 2007. UNSC 17 June split sanctions list for Taliban and al-Qaeda into 2; U.S. said could induce Taliban towards peace talks.
Parliament 30 June overturned law requiring independent caretaker govt to oversee elections. 5, 12 June general strikes organised by opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party to protest law; at least 50 protesters arrested after clashes with police.
Maoists 10-11 June killed 18 police, paramilitary troops in 3 separate attacks in Chhattisgarh.
India, Pakistan Foreign Secretaries met 23-25 June in Islamabad, first official talks since 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack; agreed to hold further talks, work to increase trade, nuclear confidence-building measures. Paramilitary troops 3 June killed 3 suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in Sopore; 23 June killed 2 suspected militants in Poonch. Indian army 21 June claimed infiltration attempts by militants across border lowest in 20 years.
Fresh doubts over Constituent Assembly’s ability to complete constitution by Aug after parties 20 June failed to meet deadline on plan for integrating former Maoist combatants into National Army. Negotiations stalled and sharp disagreements within Maoist party.
At least 34 killed 11 June in 2 Taliban bomb attacks in Peshawar; coincided with visit of U.S. CIA head Leon Panetta and Afghan President Karzai. Hundreds of militants 1-3 June attacked Upper Dir district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: at least 28 police, 6 civilians killed. Intelligence agency ISI 1 June denied involvement in late May murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, despite Shahzad earlier claiming he had received death threats from ISI. Top army commander 1 June said no immediate plans for offensive against militants in N Waziristan, despite U.S. pressure. Interior Minister Rehman Malik 5 June said “100% certain” Pakistani al-Qaeda leader Ilyas Kashmiri dead; al-Qaeda yet to confirm, U.S. officials expressed doubt. Egyptian militant Ayman al-Zawahiri named new al-Qaeda leader 16 June following May killing of Osama bin Laden. Police 9 June arrested 5 paramilitary troops in Karachi after video of them executing unarmed man made public. Clashes between supporters of ANP and MQM parties in Karachi re-erupted mid-month, at least 20 killed. MQM 28 June withdrew its ministers from national, Sindh provincial govts, said will join opposition in protests against ruling PPP party’s “dictatorial” approach.
14 June documentary on UK Channel 4 contained videos showing alleged war crimes by govt forces during final months of civil war; UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings 30 May confirmed authenticity of parts of footage, said showed “definitive war crimes”. Responding to video, UK 15 June reiterated calls for independent investigation, said expected “progress” on investigations by Sri Lanka by end 2011. Military 16 June forcibly disbanded meeting of Tamil TNA MPs in Jaffna, claimed TNA lacked permission for meeting. Parliament 21 June rejected bill to increase press freedom. Hundreds of factory workers protested 30 May against govt’s proposed private pension law; at least 1 killed as police fired on protesters in Katunayake. Police Inspector General resigned after accepting responsibility for shooting, later nominated ambassador to Brazil.
JAT leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir 16 June sentenced to 15 years in prison on terrorism charges. Police 4 June killed 2 men suspected of 25 May drive-by shooting of police in Central Sulawesi. Police 13 June arrested 6 suspected of plot to poison food at police canteens; among arrested Hari Kuncoro, suspected in 2002 Bali bombing, returned in 2009 after 6 years in Mindanao. Court 9 June jailed 17 for up to 5 months for attack on churches in Temanggung, Central Java following blasphemy verdict against ex-priest. Partai Aceh, controlled by ex-rebels, mid-month issued statement rejecting Constitutional Court (CC) ruling allowing non-party candidates to stand for election in Aceh; opens potential for conflict with govt, since CC rulings legally binding and final. Govt moved closer to establishing new unit to address social, political issues in Papua.
Worst clashes in country since 2009 as govt and Kachin ceasefire group fought from mid-month, with serious chance of escalation. Clashes erupted after Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) rejected govt 11 June deadline to withdraw from strategic base near hydroelectric dams under construction by Chinese firms, followed army’s 9 June alleged torture and execution of KIO official. Fighting later spread to Kachin areas of Shan state; rights groups reported at least 20 killed, tens of thousands displaced. 4 bombs 24 June exploded in Naypyitaw, Mandalay, Pyinoolwin cities, wounding 2; state media accused 3 ethnic Shans. 3 wounded in 11 June Naypyitaw market bomb blast, perpetrators unknown. Govt 11 June eased strict censorship of some media publications, but not news titles. Indian FM Krishna visited Myanmar 20 June, first visit by Indian official since new govt took office.
At 27-28 June talks with MILF in Kuala Lumpur, govt deferred tabling its counter-proposal until next round in Aug; neither side disclosed reason for delay. On eve of talks, MILF accused govt of “scheming” to sideline Malaysian facilitator and International Contact Group in order to pursue direct negotiations. Tensions with China over South China Sea escalated: govt 4 June filed protest with Beijing over at least 7 “aggressive” acts since Feb, denied by China. Philippines 17 June deployed largest warship to area. Joint U.S.-Philippine 11-day naval drills began 28 June near disputed waters. Andal Ampatuan Sr, patriarch of clan suspected of Nov 2009 Mindanao massacre, arraigned 1 June, pled not guilty. String of communist NPA attacks in south 7 June killed 5 security personnel, 1 civilian. 16 June media reports claimed Abu Sayyaf militant group planned bombings in Manila on 12 June Independence Day.
Country’s first ambassador to ASEAN accred- ited 27 June; ASEAN SG Surin Pitsuwan pledged to look for ways to increase cooperation. F-FDTL reportedly dismissed military police officer indicted in May killing in Dili, following internal disciplinary process; 4th dismissal in past 2 months.
Tensions increased ahead of 3 July general election: army chief Gen Prayut Chan-O-Cha criticised for 14 June remarks widely seen as trying to discourage voting for opposition Pheu Thai Party (PTP), raised fears of military intervention in case of PTP victory. At least 4 local vote canvassers killed ahead of election; govt pledged to deploy 100,000 police to polling stations on election day. Ex-PM Thaksin 16 June said he “hopes” to return to Thailand for daughter’s wedding in Dec despite pending arrest warrant. Phnom Penh 11 June complained of “fabricated charges” after Thai police arrested 3, including 1 Cambodian, for spying. In South, suspected Islamic militants 16 June killed 4 soldiers in Pattani; 24 June killed 2, injured 13 in 3 bombings in Narathiwat province.
Dispute over outcome of 8 May Tirana mayoral election continued. Electoral College 3 June rejected second appeal by opposition Socialist Party (SP) against Central Election Commission’s (CEC) controversial recount, which awarded victory to ruling Democratic Party candidate Lulzim Basha; 13 June passed final verdict ordering full recount of contested ballots in Tirana race. CEC 27 June declared Basha winner by 93 votes. SP continued to push for rerun.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele opened EU-Bosnia dialogue on justice sector reform in Banja Luka 6-7 June, involving high level officials from Republika Srpska (RS), state govt and FBiH entity. Almost 9 months after elections, both Houses of BiH Parliament finally constituted early June, however main political parties remain deadlocked regarding formation of state govt, Council of Ministers. BiH Presidency nominated Slavo Kukić, non-partisan Croat close to multi-ethnic SDP, as Chair of the Council of Ministers, but Kukić failed to win parliament support as MPs from RS voted against him. High Representative (HR) Valentin Inzko 10 June lifted suspensions from public office for majority of those banned by previous HRs, also bank account freezes and restrictions on finances of Serbian Democratic Party.
Fifth round of Belgrade-Pristina dialogue talks postponed by Serbia due to “procedural issues”, amid increasing expectations that breakthrough on certain issues is near. Pristina maintains it supports ideas put across by EU mediator Robert Cooper, blames Serbia for delaying tactics; Belgrade maintains it wants to further discuss proposals on freedom of movement, civil registry, electricity and telecommunications. Situation in North remained tense as residents obstructing proposed police rotations. Local Serbs blockaded police station in Zubin Potok several times; bomb placed under police car in Leposavić 21 June. IMF 2 June suspended 2010 stand-by agreement with Kosovo after govt budget violated agreement. Following ongoing pressure from Serbia, EU announced creation of Brussels-based taskforce to investigate allegations of organ trafficking by KLA members.
5 June snap general election passed calmly. Ruling VMRO-DPMNE party gained 39% of vote, losing outright majority with 56 out of 123 parliament seats (down from 63). Opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) second with 33%, won 42 seats, 15 more than previously. In interview with A1 TV channel, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele warned country at risk of losing status as candidate for EU membership if it makes no progress on reforms, continues provoking Greece.
Responding to govt concessions including authorisation of 31 May Liberty Square rally and release from jail of 2 prominent activists, opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) declared its desire for open dialogue with authorities as President Sargsyan’s government had met all their demands. Addressing Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe 22 June, President Sargysyan said committed to elections, reforms. Opposition supporters rallied in Yerevan 30 June calling for early elections.
Country held large military parade 26 June, as President Aliyev pledged to increase military spending, win control of disputed Nagorno Karabakh territory (see N-K).
Rights groups claim dozens still missing in wake of violent late-May protests. Fate of 2 men found dead following protests still unclear: police report accidental electrocution, but protesters claim evidence of possible police involvement in deaths. Subsequent reports indicate riot police and military used excessive force against protesters; rights groups, U.S. govt and OSCE called for investigation. After govt ignored original 31 May deadline by moderate opposition “group of 8” parties to respond to proposals on electoral code, ruling UNM party representative 17 June met with representative of group, vowed to give concrete answers to proposals. At 16th round of internationally-mediated Geneva talks on security issues 7 June, Georgia repeated claims that Russia conducting “bombing campaign” in Georgia; Russia said would study allegations.
At 24-25 June Summit in Russian city Kazan, Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents failed to agree on “basic principles” for resolving N-K conflict, despite prior intense diplomatic activity by OSCE Minsk Group countries including statements by U.S., French, Russian presidents. Both sides blamed other for stalemate.
Former army colonel Yury Budanov, convicted of murdering Chechen teenager in 2000 and freed in 2009, shot dead in Moscow 10 June by unidentified assailant. Continued insurgent violence, with militant, civilian and security forces casualties reported in Dagestan, including Theology Institute rector and nephew killed in Mahachkala 7 June; Imam shot dead 14 June; high-ranking security service officer killed 14 June, at least 5 security personnel killed in battle with militants involving helicopters and tanks 21-23 June. In Kabardino-Balkaria, two high-ranking security personnel, several others killed during month; 6 suspected militants killed and 7 security personnel wounded in special operation in Elbrus 10 June; 5 other suspected militants killed during month. Reports also of violence in Chechnya, with 10 June militant attack on security forces killing 7 soldiers. In Ingushetia, one militant killed in clash between police and rebels. Moscow court 14 June found leader of rights group Memorial Oleg Orlov not guilty in libel case brought against him by Chechen president Kadyrov. Suspected killer of journalist Anna Politkovskaya arrested in Chechnya 31 May.
Amid deepening economic crisis govt applied for IMF rescue loan; IMF 13 June said structural reforms needed. Govt 5 June secured $3bn loan from Russian-led bailout fund Eurasian Economic Community; 14 June secured $1bn in trade credits from China. Scores detained at anti-govt rallies 22, 29 June. EU FMs 20 June further expanded asset freezes and travel bans on individuals, also took measures against companies.
UNSC 13 June extended UNFICYP mandate for another 6 months, urged Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to accelerate pace of talks to reunify island. Ahead of scheduled 7 July tripartite meeting with UNSG Ban, Special Adviser Downer 17 June met with Turkish FM Davutoğlu in Ankara. Reunification talks continued slowly: 2 leaders met 1, 16, 21, 30 June to discuss chapter on governance and power- sharing, Greek Cypriot media reported talks regressing. Turkish Cypriot leader Eroğlu 16 June accused Greek Cypriots of going back on issues where agreement had been reached, said solu- tion difficult to achieve.
In 12 June parliamentary elections governing AKP won 49.9 per cent of vote but its seats in 550-member parliament went down from 341 to 327. Main opposition party CHP and pro-Kurdish BDP increased seats, nationalist MHP also passed 10 % threshold. Election board 21 June cancelled one BDP deputy’s election citing previous conviction on charges of terrorism propaganda; at 28 June opening of parliament 35 BDP deputies began boycott of parliament and 134 CHP deputies refused to take oath of office in protest at bans on elected candidates. Unrest in Syria forced around 12,000 refugees to flee across border; FM Davutoğlu 15 June warned of potential humanitarian crisis. PM Erdoğan 9 June called Syrian forces crackdown on protesters “savagery”. Syrian regime criticised govt for hosting 31 May-2 June meeting of Syrian dissidents in Antalya. 3 PKK militants killed 14 June in clash with security forces in Sivas province; 1 soldier killed 26 June in PKK attack in Van province; 3 PKK militants killed 28 June in clash with security forces in southeast Tunceli province. In ongoing trial of 152 Kurdish officials, Erzurum High Court 16 June sentenced 11 Kurds to total of 91 years in prison for membership in Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), alleged urban arm of PKK.
Citing procedural technicalities, Senate 9 June blocked deployment of 4 military officers to join international forces in Afghanistan; earlier Lower House agreement to deploy- ment in May followed by alleged Taliban warning of negative consequences. Govt 30 May extradited ethnic Uighur journalist to China on terrorism charges; 9 June extradited 28 Uzbeks to Uzbekistan on anti-govt, religion-related charges; prompted criticism from Human Rights Watch. Largest copper mining company Kazakhmys secured $1.5bn loan from China during President Hu Jintao’s visit. Austria 17 June refused govt request to extradite President Nazarbayev’s former son-in-law and rival Rakhat Aliev on charges of kidnap, murder. Strike over pay and conditions in oil and gas industry continues in west.
Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch 8 June accused govt of discriminating against ethnic Uzbeks during June 2010 unrest in Osh and in subsequent investiga- tion. AI alleged police, military units facilitated attacks on Uzbek neighbourhoods, warned failure to deliver justice for killing of civilians may spark further violence. UNHCR 10 June called for confidence-building measures to ensure reconciliation, return of refugees to South. Parliament 16 June unanimously endorsed resolution blaming ethnic Uzbek leaders for violence in Osh, banned prominent Russian news site for alleged pro-Uzbek bias. President Otunbayeva 17 June praised investigation by Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission (KIC) and its chair for first time, both subject to widespread criticism by political elite since early May release of report, spoke against rising nationalism and attempts to build mono-ethnic state. Journalists attacked in Osh 20 June while covering rally in support of nationalist Ata-Jurt party leader Kamchybek Tashiev; despite calls from Otunbayeva local police refused investigation. China provided $208mn loan to upgrade power transmission in south, urged Kyrgyzstan to consider its WTO obligations before joining Russian-led Customs Union. OSCE 21 June called on Parliament to reconsider recent restrictions on media freedom.
Lower Chamber of Parliament increased fines for unsanctioned demonstrations 1 June. Unusual outbreak of demonstrations in Khorog, Gorno-Badakhshan region 10 and 15 June. Possible cause judicial corruption; two judges reported beaten, regional court and prosecutor’s office damaged. Lower House of Parliament 15 June approved bill banning children from attending mosques amid concerns of growing radicalisation of youth; prominent Islamic figure Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda said move “openly against the will of God”. Continued arrests of alleged Islamic radicals, including BBC journalist Urunboy Usmanov, detained 15 June on suspicion of membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir; BBC denied charges, demanded immediate release. Govt 20 June announced 2 suspected Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan members killed during operation in Rasht district. Tajik-Russian talks over new Afghan border cooperation 21 June produced no breakthrough; scheduled visit of Russian defence minister postponed amid growing bilateral tensions.
European Parliament (EP) late May postponed vote on ratification of Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with govt following Apr visit by EP delegation to country, reported lack of progress on rights. UN Committee Against Torture 6 June rebuked govt over widespread rights violations, torture, called for radical reforms. Opposition reported 50 Ashgabat residents 8 June protested against demolition of homes, quickly dispersed by police.
Russian President Medvedev reportedly told President Karimov to leave office voluntarily during Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Astana. U.S. 15 June expressed concern over closure of Human Rights Watch office. Court 23 June jailed 10 suspected members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Ongoing trial of French online publication accused by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva of libel after describing her as “dictator’s daughter” saw disclosure of substantial EU funding to organization run by Karimova.
Pre-candidate registration for Oct judiciary elections ended 12 June, parliament to select final 126 candidates to stand in election; opposition claimed ruling MAS party will use parliamentary majority to ensure selection of its own candidates. Govt 22 June withdrew from UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to protest penalisation of chewing coca leaves.
President Santos 11 June signed Victims Law into effect, providing reparations to some 4mn victims of violence; rights groups warned of increased violence against victims’ rights activists, accused govt of failing to provide adequate protection following 7 June murder of land activist in Medellín. Army 6 June killed “Arnulfo”, bodyguard of FARC commander Alfonso Cano, in Tolima. Violence continued to rise ahead of Oct local elections: local NGO said 14 candidates already killed in 2011. State prosecutor 8 June asked Interpol to arrest María del Pilar Hurtado, former intelligence chief currently seeking asylum in Panama, over involvement in illegal wiretapping scandal. Senate 14 June approved new law to reform intelligence service DAS to protect citizens against wiretapping.
Court 28 June found 6 police guilty of involvement in Sept 2010 uprising, sentences to follow. In joint mission, Ecuadorian and Colombian police 27 June arrested “Danilo”, influential FARC member, in Quito.
Growing uncertainty over President Chávez’s health intensified caused political confusion, highlighted lack of alternative leadership, led to infighting in ruling PSUV party. Chávez largely absent from public following 10 June operation for “pelvic abscess” in Cuba, but in televised speech 30 June admitted he had cancerous tumour removed, said he remains “in control” of govt. Govt throughout month denied speculation his illness was life-threatening. Poor prison conditions highlighted by series of riots; at least 21 inmates killed 21 June in clash between rival gangs. New presidential commission tasked with public policies on disarming, preventing use of arms amid soaring homicide rates held first meeting 6 June; critics said govt’s continued arming of civilian militias damages commission’s credibility. Chavez late May condemned U.S. sanctions against state oil company PDVSA, imposed 24 May due to Venezuela’s support for Iran.
In landmark arrest, police 17 June detained ex- army chief Gen. Hector López on charges including genocide related to mass killings of govt opponents during 1980s; López highest-ranking official to be detained for civil war abuses. Police 9 June arrested ex-police chief suspected of involvement in forced disappearance of student union leader in 1984. President Colom 14 June extended state of siege in Petén department by 1 month. Unidentified gunmen mid-month killed 2 mayoral candidates close to capital; human rights ombudsman said 26 killings linked to Oct 2011 general elections so far. Supreme Electoral Court 30 June rejected candidacy of Sandra Torres due to recent divorce from incumbent President Colom; Torres said she will appeal. Rights groups raised concerns about presidential candidate Otto Pérez Molina’s 14 June proposal to involve military in fighting organised crime, citing violation of 1996 Peace Accords.
Parliament 21 June rejected President Martelly’s PM nominee Daniel-Gerard Rouzier; 42 voted against, most from ex-President Préval’s Inité party.
Several incidents highlighted rising level of violence around Monterrey: drug gangs 15 June killed 33 in Monterrey, including 2 bodyguards of Nuevo León governor. 784 killed in Monterrey during 2011 so far, higher than total 2010 death toll. 21 bodies with signs of torture found in Morelia 9 June. Gang members 27 June killed police chief of Santa Catarina, suburb of Monterrey. Police 4 June arrested Jorge Hank Rhon, ex- mayor of Tijuana and influential member of opposition PRI, for possession of heavy weapons; charges later dropped. Govt 1 June charged 73, including several police officers, over killing of hundreds found Apr in mass graves in Tamaulipas. Police 21 June arrested José de Jesús Méndez Vargas, alleged head of Michoacán-based cartel La Familia. National police 13 June launched major operation attempting to prove local capability to fight organised crime.
At least 10 killed 5 June in clashes between IDF and Palestinian-Syrian protesters along border with Israeli-held Golan Heights; Israel, U.S. accused Syrian govt of using protests as provocation to draw attention from its violent crackdown on anti-regime demonstrators. Israeli parliament 16 June sent letter to Turkish PM Erdoğan congratulating him on election victory, offered to “bury grudges of recent past”. Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) 17 June announced Mavi Mamara – vessel upon which 9 Turks killed last year by Israeli forces – will not join Gaza flotilla expected to sail early July; Netanyahu 26 June warned Israel will not allow ships to breach naval blockade. Talks on formation of Palestinian unity govt postponed 19 June; talks reportedly stalled over issue of head of new transitional govt. PA 26 June formally voted to seek UN recognition of Palestinian state in Sept; Israeli FM Lieberman 17 June warned past agreements with Israel void if Palestinians press ahead with unilateral recognition plans. UN report 8 June said West Bank economy not flourishing, cited accelerating unemployment, lower real wages, deteriorating labour market conditions.
King Abdullah 12 June announced future cabinets to be formed on basis of parliamentary elections, in concession to ongoing protests.
Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) 30 June deliv- ered indictments, arrest warrants for 4 men, reportedly including members of Hizbollah; former PM Saad Hariri called indictments “historic moment in Lebanese politics, justice and security”. PM Mikati 13 May formed new cabinet, ending 5-month stalemate. Hizbollah and its Christian and Druze allies secured 18 posts in 30-member cabinet, including powerful posts of Defence, Justice, Telecommunications. Former-PM Saad Hariri’s March 14 Movement refused to participate, said new govt represents “coup” against democratic system. Troops dispatched 18 June to sectarian districts in northern Tripoli after residents clashed following rally in support of anti-govt protesters in Syria; at least 4 reported killed, 48 injured.
Repression continued. Opposition said some 1,400 people killed since March in ongoing regime crackdown on anti-regime protests, including over 150 in scorched earth campaign in NW province Idlib near Turkish border. Regime claimed “armed thugs”, foreign conspirators behind violence; military spokesman 26 June claimed over 300 members of security forces killed. Over 12,000 civilians fled across border to refugee camps in Turkey. President Assad 20 June, in third speech since uprising began, promised reforms including committee to study constitutional amendments; opponents said reforms too little, too late, too vague. Mass pro-regime demonstrations 21 June in several cities, clashes with anti-regime activists; rival rallies 30 June in Aleppo as unrest spread to Syria’s second city. Govt 27 June invited opposition figures to 10 July talks to set framework for dialogue; opposition dismissed offer, said not credible while mass killings and arrests continue. Tens of thousands protested 24 June in defiance of military crackdown, at least 15 reported killed across country; EU condemned “shocking violence” of regime, extended sanctions against those supporting crackdown. At least 10 killed 5 June in clashes between pro-Palestinian protesters and IDF along border with Israeli-controlled Golan Heights (See Israel/OPT).
Despite 1 June end of state of emergency, court 22 June convicted 21 Shiite opposition activists of “plotting to overthrow” Sunni monarchy during Feb-Mar protests; sentences ranged from 2 years to life. UN HCHR 24 June condemned harsh sentences, “political persecution”, called for release of all civilians arrested during protests. King Hamad 29 June announced formation of independent international commission to investigate alleged abuses during protests. Main opposition bloc al-Wefaq 25 June said it may not attend “national dialogue” talks planned for 1 July, citing continued repression of opposition, appointment of ardent royalist to chair talks. In first major rally since Apr security crackdown, 10,000 demonstrated 11 June in central Manama.
Govt 14 June condemned any foreign action against Syrian govt crackdown on anti-regime protesters. EU 24 June imposed sanctions on 3 Revolutionary Guard commanders for supporting Assad regime’s crackdown. Opposition groups reported security forces 12 June attacked pro-reform demonstrators, arrested hundreds in Tehran marking anniversary of 2009 disputed presidential election. Leader of Iranian dissident group based in Iraq 18 June called on UN to protect group fol- lowing April assault by Iraqi security forces that killed 34. Iranian nuclear chief Abbasi 20 June accused IAEA head Amano of pro-U.S. bias, said agency should focus on nuclear safety rather than “baseless and marginal issues”.
Escalation in violence continued, including at least 34 killed 23 June in triple bombing of SW Baghdad neighbourhood. 5 U.S. soldiers killed 6 June in Shiite militia attack on army base in E Baghdad, deadliest attack on U.S. forces in 2 years; 15 American soldiers killed in month. Leon Panetta, nominee for U.S. Defense Sec, 10 June said about 1,000 al- Qaeda insurgents remain in Iraq, predicted Tehran will ask U.S. troops to stay beyond planned end-2011 withdrawal deadline, though decision is contingent upon PM Maliki’s request. Several demonstrators injured 11 June in clashes between pro- and anti-govt protesters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square; several protest leaders detained, reportedly tortured. Maliki following expiration of 100 day deadline to improve govt performance 23 June said he wanted to shrink govt, promised to fire weak ministers.
President Saleh injured 3 June in attack on mosque inside the presidential palace in Sanaa, transferred 5 June to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment; acting president Abed- Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi 29 June said uncertain when he will return. FM al-Qirbi 27 June relayed message from Saleh on state television, called for dialogue with opposition to implement Gulf-brokered plan for transfer of power. Tenuous ceasefire between anti-govt tribesmen and govt forces in capital since Saleh’s departure. Talks underway between al-Hadi and opposition Joint Meeting Parties; but political impasse remains as regime hardliners refused to discuss power transfer until Saleh returns, youth protesters demanded immediate formation of transitional council. Ongoing fighting in southern Abyan governorate between Islamic militants and govt forces; at least 15,000 displaced. Militants with possible links to al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) 15 June attempted to seize neighbourhoods in Houta, capital of Lahj. 63 AQAP-affiliated inmates 23 June escaped prison in southern al-Makalla. UNSC 25 June expressed “grave concern” with deteriorating security situation.
U.S. official 1 June said no evidence Algeria backing Libya’s Colonel Qaddafi; Libya’s TNC had accused Algeria of sending mercenaries to support dictator, accusations strongly denied by govt. Govt 6 June confirmed freezing of Libyan assets in compliance with UNSC sanctions on Qaddafi regime; reaffirmed support for negotiated settlement in conflict, opposition to military intervention. Foreign Ministry 12 June denied allegations Qaddafi exiled in Algeria, shortly after also denying reports Qaddafi’s daughter in country. Parliament 15 June approved budget law covering raft of subsidies, including 25% increase in public spending, in face of mounting public discontent; vote boycotted by opposition Worker’s Party. In latest in series of major strikes postal workers ended protest 7 June after securing 30% pay rise. 2 month constitution consultation process ended 22 June, no timetable given for implementation; two key opposition parties, Front for Socialist Forces and Rally for Culture and Democracy, boycotted process as sham.
Head of appeals court 1 June announced ousted President Mubarak and 2 sons to stand trial 3 August for killing protesters; Mubarak’s lawyer 20 June confirmed former president has stomach cancer, too ill to transfer from hospital to prison. Former finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali 4 June sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison for profiteering and abusing state and private assets. Over 1,000 injured as protesters, police clashed 28-29 June in central Cairo following confrontations between families of those killed in Jan-Feb uprising. Interim govt 7 June officially recognised Muslim Brotherhood’s new non-theocratic Freedom and Justice Party to participate in Sept parliamentary elections; group 13 June announced will run on one candidate ticket with liberal Wafd party. Ruling military council 12 Jan said it will not field a candidate in forthcoming presidential elections. Supreme Administrative Court 28 June ruled local councils, elected under Mubarak and controlled by disbanded NDP, to be dissolved. Interim govt, Hamas 8 June reached agreement on numbers and opening hours of Rafah border crossing, after Hamas 5 June closed crossing over disagreement over blacklists and delays.
Rebels 26 June began renewed push toward Tripoli amid fierce resistance from Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s forces: heavy fighting reported around Bir al-Ghanam, 50km SW of capital. Govt 26 June proposed national dialogue, referendum on Qaddafi’s continued leadership; reports 27 June suggested negotiations taking place in Tunisia. Several civilians, rebel fighters killed in NATO airstrikes during month; officials ascribed deaths to targeting errors, weapons malfunctions. Italy and Arab League 22 June called for ceasefire to allow delivery of humanitarian aid, negotiations; NATO same day rejected proposal. ICC 27 June issued arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son and intelligence chief for killing civilians. French officials 29 June said France had supplied Berber tribesmen with weapons, ammunition in unilateral airdrops early month; AU, Russia strongly condemned actions. China took steps to improve relationship with rebel Transitional National Council (TNC), holding high-level meetings with rebel representatives; Chinese FM 22 June called TNC “important dialogue partner”.
President Abdel Aziz 6 June dismissed youth calls for an Egyptian-style revolt because country is a democracy that “guaranteed basic freedoms”. Abdel Aziz, head of AU panel on finding negotiated settlement to Libyan conflict, 6 June said Qaddafi can no longer lead Libya, needs to step down. Police 9 June used force to disperse unemployment rally in Nouakchott; several protesters injured.
Thousands in 5 June march to protest 2 June death of member of main opposition Islamist group after being beaten by security forces at 29 May pro-reform rally in southern city Safi. In response to weekly pro-democracy protests King Mohammed VI 17 June announced constitutional changes devolving some of his power to parliament and govt including post of PM, independence of judiciary; proposals put to 1 July national referendum. Thousands 19, 26 June protested constitutional reforms as not enough, called for King to relinquish absolute control over security, army, religion.
Following 6-hour trial in absentia, court 20 June handed down 35-year sentence, $66mn fine to former president Ben Ali and his wife for embezzlement. Ben Ali 21 June denounced trial as “parody of justice”. Interim PM Beji Caid Essebsi 8 June announced constitutional assembly elections to be postponed until 23 Oct in line with electoral commission recommendation, in bid to ensure credibility, transparency. Islamist movement Ennahda 27 June withdrew from national reform commission, citing lack of consensus. Tunisia 24 June joined ICC.
No progress in seventh round of unofficial, UN-brokered talks between Polisario Front and Morocco 7 June in New York; UN Envoy Ross said both sides continued to reject other’s proposal as sole basis of negotiations.