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
Nine actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and one improved in November 2010, according to the latest issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch released today.
BurundiCentral African RepublicMadagascarCôte d’IvoireGuineaKorean PeninsulaHaitiEgyptWestern Sahara
Tensions surged on the Korean peninsula as two South Korean civilians and two marines were killed when North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells at Yeonpyeong Island, where South Korea was conducting military drills. The North Korean attack was condemned by the international community. Seoul announced new rules of engagement with Pyongyang and troop increases on islands close to the North, and began combined military exercises with the U.S. in the Yellow Sea.
Haiti ’s late month presidential elections ended in confusion, as several opposition candidates called for the vote to be annulled amid reports of fraud, and thousands of people took to the streets in protest. International observers from the OAS called the vote valid despite “serious irregularities”, but tensions remain high. Meanwhile, the cholera epidemic continued to worsen and spread to half the country’s districts including the capital Port-au-Prince. There have been almost 2,000 fatal cases since the start of the outbreak in October.
Ivory Coast saw deadly pre-election clashes on the streets of the capital Abidjan between rival supporters of the two presidential candidates, incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. The tightly contested 28 November run-off and delays in announcing the preliminary results has led to heightened tensions between the two camps and fears of further violence.
In Guinea, preliminary results declaring opposition leader Alpha Condé winner of the 7 November second round presidential election sparked three days of violence resulting in at least four deaths and dozens injured. The UN and rights groups expressed concern over security forces’ excessive use of force against civilians.
CrisisWatch also noted deteriorated situations in Burundi, Central African Republic, Madagascar, Egypt and Western Sahara.
In Niger, the situation improved as results from the 31 October referendum showed 90 per cent of voters in favour of the new constitution, paving the way for January 2011 elections and a return to civilian rule.
Once again this month CrisisWatch describes violence against civilians in North and South Kivu provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The military strategy agreed in 2008 by the Congolese and Rwandan presidents Joseph Kabila and Paul Kagame to defeat militias and reclaim land and resources has failed. Two years of military campaigns have seen the humanitarian situation deteriorate and conflicts over land, inter-ethnic clashes and other incidents of extreme violence proliferate. The ongoing crisis in Congo’s eastern provinces risks leading to the disintegration of the Congolese national army and dangerous regional destabilisation (See also Crisis Group Africa Report N°165, Congo: No Stability in Kivu Despite Rapprochement with Rwanda, 16 Nov. 2010).
Concern as govt crackdown on journalists, opposition, civil society continues to increase, rejuvenated National Liberation Forces (FNL) rebellion armed and active in Democratic Republic of Congo. Following Oct reports that former rebel FNL leader Agathon Rwasa rearming in DRC, FNL early Nov engaged in fighting in Congo’s South Kivu province (see DRC). Govt continued to deny reports new rebellion forming. Human Rights Watch 23 Nov released report claiming govt crackdown during and after troubled May-Sept local and national elections including torture, arbitrary arrests. Security forces 22 Nov killed 4 “unidentified” gunmen in 2 separate incidents in south. Gun- men in military uniforms 3 Nov killed FNL local leader Leonard Ndayishimye in Bujumbura Rural province; fourth local opposition leader killed in province since Oct. Parliament 12 Nov approved high-ranking ruling party member Mohamed Rukara as ombudsman with 80% majority, prompting sharp exchange between ruling CNDD-FDD and opposition UPRONA who claim Rukara not qualified for post.
Rebel Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) 24 Nov attacked Birao, key town in NE Vakaga prefecture, forcing govt troops to retreat; at least 4 soldiers, 2 civilians killed. Rebels occupied town as well as nearby airbase formerly controlled by MINURCAT until mission’s 9 Nov withdrawal from area. Supporting CAR govt, Chad 25 Nov conducted airstrikes in area surrounding Birao. Govt 26 Nov claimed army had retaken town, CPJP 30 Nov said Chadian troops forced rebels to evacuate. After election commission (CEI) Oct brought forward to 8 Nov deadline for candidate applications for 23 Jan 2011 presidential election, 4 candidates applied in time, including incumbent President Bozizé and former president Ange-Felix Patassé. After opposition protest, Bozizé asked CEI to reopen process; CEI 18 Nov accepted candidacies of main opposition MLPC leader Martin Ziguélé and RDC’s Raymond Nakombo. International Criminal Court (ICC) 22 Nov commenced trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, former Congolese VP and leader of rebel group turned political party Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes for alleged failure to prevent his forces’ violence against civilians 2002-2003 during Bozizé rebellion against Patassé.
Dismantling of rebel coalition continued as part of Jan agreement between Sudan, Chad govts; authorities 11 Nov arrested 4 former senior rebels on their return from Sudan, including Taher Guinassou, former security adviser to President Deby. MINURCAT 12 Nov handed over base in east ahead of total withdrawal scheduled for Dec. Army reportedly sent military aircraft to CAR following 24 Nov rebel attack on Biaro (see CAR).
Month saw increased localised violence. UN agencies early Nov said over 650 rapes took place on DRC-Angola border since Sept during Angola’s forced expulsion of 7,000 Congolese illegal immigrants, called on both countries to investigate. In North Kivu rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) 16 Nov killed 21 civilians in ambush at Mungazi, Walikale territory. 2,500 displaced in South Kivu as 7 Nov FDLR attack on Kisowa village led to 10 days of fighting against FARDC. Clashes broke out 7 Nov in Fizi territory between FARDC and armed group alliance comprising Force republicaine federaliste (FRF), FDLR and Burundian former rebel National Liberation Forces (FNL). UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO 23 Nov launched operation “protection shield” aiming to neutralise armed groups, reinforce security for population in Fizi, Minembwe, Uvira areas. UN Panel of Experts 29 Nov published report on violations of arms embargo, stated 700 FNL fighters in South Kivu supported by FDLR; alleged top FARDC commanders including General Gabriel Amisi involved in illegal mineral trade. UNSC passed resolution same day renewing sanctions, extending monitoring group until 30 Nov 2011, took unprecedented decision to support new due diligence guidelines for mining sector. Trial commenced 12 Nov of 8 police officers charged with June 2010 killing of prominent rights advocate Floribert Chebeya. International Criminal Court (ICC) trial commenced 22 Nov for former VP, opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba (see CAR); opposition supporters claim trial manipulated for political ends.
Army 18 Nov confirmed ex-army chief of staff Lieutenant-General Faustine Kayumba Nyamwasa and 3 other former high-level officials summoned to appear in military court before 15 Dec on charges of forming terrorist group, ethnic divisionism, spreading harmful propaganda; summons follows Aug release of their report criticising President Kagame.
Recently formed opposition umbrella group Eritrean People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) ejected Eritrean People’s Movement (EPM) from coalition citing political differences.
EU 8 Nov released final election observation report for 23 May parliamentary elections; emphasised “serious flaws” gave unfair advantage to ruling Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front. PM Zenawi dismissed report.
International Criminal Court (ICC) investigations into 2007-2008 post-electoral violence continued; top security officials 23 Nov commenced giving statements. National Cohesion and Integration Commission report released mid month warned against ICC’s Dec plans to name key suspects, claim- ing it could trigger renewed violence. 3 discredited witnesses 11 Nov withdrew statements to Waki Commission and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), claiming KNCHR offered large sums of money, coached them to testify against key ICC suspect former minister William Ruto. KNCHR President Florence Simbiri-Jaoko 9 Nov denied allegations.
Parliament 27 Nov approved full 18-member cabinet, after earlier 22 Nov parliamentary session descended into chaos as MPs, divided over procedures, failed to vote on nominees chosen 12 Nov by new PM Mohamed Abdullahi. More than 20 civilians killed 17 Nov in 2 separate explosions and subsequent gunfire between AU peacekeepers (AMISOM), govt soldiers and al-Shabaab; at least 9 civilians killed 30 Nov in heavy clashes at Bakara market, southern Mogadishu. AMISOM apologised for 2 civilians killed, 7 injured 23 Nov when AMISOM convoy leaving airport accidentally fired on civilian group. Security Council 23 Nov renewed authorisation granted to states and regional organisations co-operating with Somalia’s transitional government to fight piracy off coast.
Month saw progress on preparations for Jan S Sudan self-determination referendum but continued deadlock between North and South over key issues. Voter registration for referendum commenced 15 Nov at 2,700 centres in S Sudan, 165 in N Sudan and 8 diaspora countries. High turnout in South prompted 26 Nov official announcement extending registration process by one week; authorities said extension would not delay referendum. Low turnout in North led ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to accuse Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of campaigning to dissuade pro-unity southerners resident in north from registering; NCP 21 Nov made formal complaint to Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, threatened to reject referendum results if trend continued. In AU-led 13 Nov talks and 23-24 Nov negotiation under Intergovernmental Authority on Development auspices, the two parties failed to reach agreement on key issues including resource-sharing, border demarcation, citizenship and Abyei status. SPLAsaid 10 killed, 6 injured during SAF helicopter gunship attacks 13, 24 Nov on SPLA positions in Northern Bahr al-Ghazal state bordering Darfur; claimed Khartoum strategy to disrupt referendum process. SAF denied intentional targeting of SPLA; claimed “error” during SAF operations against Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels who had withdrawn from Darfur to S Sudan; SAF further alleged JEM receiving SPLA assistance. UNAMID SRSG Ibrahim Gambari warned of increased violence ahead of referendum as reports of major movement of SAF to Darfur region threatened further military offensives.
Campaigning commenced 1 Nov between 8 candidates competing in 18 Feb presidential elections. Human Rights Watch called on govt to ensure non-violent campaign, free media. Nomination of parliamentary candidates underway starting 22 Nov amid allegations of military intimidation of opposition candidates, particularly in Karamoja region. Following May passing of U.S. legislation on LRA, U.S. 24 Nov announced comprehensive strategy supporting multilateral efforts to eliminate LRA threat, improve civilian protection, support recovery of northern Uganda.
Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda- Armed Forces of Cabinda claimed responsibility for 9 Nov attack on military vehicle protecting convoy of Chinese miners in north, killing at least 1 soldier and driver. Over 650 reported raped since Sept as govt expelled thousands of people accused of being illegal immigrants from DR Congo (see DRC).
First round of governor, presidential elections took place 7 Nov; local and international observers praised peaceful conduct. 3 candidates to compete in run-off 26 Dec, including President Sambi’s candidate, VP Ikililou Dhoinine, leading with 27% of votes. Opposition accused authorities of buying votes.
Month saw continued attempts by regime to implement unilateral transition, increasing suppression of opposition and attempted military coup. Ahead of 17 Nov referendum on new constitution, seen as attempt to legitimate current regime, 3 main opposition groups organised rallies protesting vote; 21 demonstrators arrested 10 Nov. Referendum saw strong approval for new constitution with 74% in favour, turnout at 53% despite opposition parties’ call for boycott, but observers noted several irregularities, opposition called for cancellation of vote. Group of some 20 dissident military officers proclaimed coup on day of referendum, surrendered 20 Nov after 3 days of talks and army assault; soldiers behind coup attempt arrested during military operation. SADC reiterated refusal to recog- nise referendum held “unilaterally” by Rajoelina govt outside internationally mediated agreements, sent envoy 26 Nov. U.S. announced before referendum would not recognise result. EU foreign affairs chief Ashton refused to send EU observers, joined calls for resumption of Malagasy dialogue, govt of national unity. International community “interference” rejected by Rajoelina in early Nov speech. Hundreds of protesters 20 Nov demonstrated against 20 Dec municipal elections; govt announced postponement of polls for “political and technical reasons”.
Following finalisation of constitutional outreach meetings in Oct, parliamentary select committee in charge of constitutional process began compiling data ahead of thematic committee discussions, report to constitution drafting committee. ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo declared if new constitution is rejected in 2011 referendum, elections will be held under current constitution. MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa stressed importance of new constitution. Planned SADC summit to discuss political crisis cancelled after Zambian, Mozambique presidents pulled out. South African President Zuma in Harare 26 Nov to meet with Mugabe and Tsvangirai, discuss power-sharing, elections. MDC early Nov accused ZANU-PF of inserting loyal members of Central Intelligence Organization, police and military into electoral commission secretariat. Kimberly process plenary meeting again failed to agree on whether to allow Zimbabwe to sell diamonds from Marange mines. ZimOnline investigation into land seized from white-owned farms since 2000 reported 5mn hectares, almost 40% of total, now controlled by Mugabe and allies.
Aftermath of presidential run-off poll saw clashes and tensions ahead of announcement of preliminary results; both candidates allege fraud, intimidation. 28 Nov second round between incumbent President Gbagbo and former PM Alassane Ouattara after 31 Oct first round poll produced no clear winner; Gbagbo won 38%, Ouattara 32%. Despite peaceful first round, 19 Nov clashes between rival supporters prompted fears run-off could trigger further violence; at least 3 people killed 27 Nov during clashes in Abidjan between riot police and Ouattara supporters. Curfew imposed 27 Nov; army 30 Nov began re-deployment of some 2,000 troops from northern rebel-held areas to Abidjan ahead of announcement of results.
Election-related violence continued, including with active participation of military. After peaceful 7 Nov second round of presidential election, situation deteriorated 15 Nov following election commission (CENI) preliminary results declaring opposition leader Alpha Condé winner with 52.5% of vote; former PM Cellou Diallo took 47.5%. Clashes between security forces and Diallo supporters protesting results in Conakry and elsewhere 15 Nov descended into 3 days of violence, including systematic attacks by security forces on Diallo’s ethnic Peul supporters; at least 4 dead, 300 injured. Army Chief Nouhou Thiam 17 Nov declared 8-day state of emergency; Condé played down fears of ethnic conflict, saying divisions exaggerated. International election observers stated voting process “appeared free and fair”, but Diallo 14 Nov withdrew his Union des Forces Démocratiques de Guinée (UFDG) party officials from vote count, citing electoral fraud, pre-election violence and intimidation. UN OHCHR 19 Nov expressed “deep concern” at excessive use of force by military post-election. PM Doré 27 Nov announced sacking army deputy chief of staff General Aboubakar Sidiki Camara and closure of borders ahead of Supreme Court’s declaration of official results anticipated 2 Dec.
Continued focus on 7 hostages including 5 French nationals captured in Niger Sept by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), held in Mali. France reportedly rejected 17 Nov AQIM demands for immediate withdrawal of French forces from Afghanistan; French defence minister Alain Juppe 23 Nov confirmed govt contact with AQIM kidnappers. Joint military operations launched 8 Nov in Mali-Mauritania border areas to control drug trafficking, increased Islamist activity.
31 Oct referendum saw 90% of voters favour new con- stitution, clearing way for Jan 2011 elections, return to civilian rule, despite Muslim leaders’ 29 Oct calls on Muslims to boycott vote. Main political parties 25 Nov called for correction of contested electoral lists, seen as potentially undermining Jan elections. Head of junta General Salou Djibo 5 Nov extended anti-corruption drive, including wave of sackings, arrests. Authorities 10 Nov rejected ECOWAS court ruling ordering release of ex-president Mamadou Tandja, under house arrest in Niamey since Feb when ousted in military coup after amending constitution to extend stay in power.
2 S Korean civilians and 2 marines killed, 20 injured 23 Nov as N Korea fired dozens of artillery shells at Yeonpyeong Island where S Korea was conducting military drills. Strike followed warning hours earlier by Pyongyang to South to halt drills. China called on both sides “to keep calm and exercise restraint”; Russia, Japan, U.S. and UNSG Ban condemned attack. S Korea 25 Nov announced dramatic troop increase on 5 islands close to N Korea. Pyongyang threatened further military action if Seoul continues on “path of military provocation”. S Korean defence minister resigned same day, Seoul announced new rules of engagement for future incidents with N Korea. S Korea and U.S. 28 Nov began combined military exercises in Yellow Sea with U.S. aircraft carrier, several warships. S Korea same day fired artillery shell towards south side of DMZ, immediately notified North it was “accidental”. China 25 Nov expressed “concern” over combined drills, 28 Nov proposed “emergency consultations” by representatives of 6-party talks. Reports emerged 20 Nov N Korea has built uranium enrichment facility with potential to produce nuclear weapons; N Korea claims facility for civilian nuclear power. Seoul 17 Nov denied N Korea’s late Oct request for food and fertiliser aid. Further inter-Korea talks scheduled for 25 Nov on regularising family reunions cancelled.
Japan recalled ambassador to Russia 1 Nov following same day visit by Russian President Medvedev to disputed Kuril Islands; diplomatic ties resumed 7 Nov.
Independent Election Commission (IEC) 24 Nov announced final results of Sept parliamentary elections: Pashtun candidates lost previously held parliamentary majority; ex-presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah likely to lead anti-govt coalition of some 90 MPs. 24 winning candidates and 1.3mn of 5.6mn votes disqualified due to fraud; hundreds of supporters of disqualified candidates protested decision across country. IEC 1 Dec announced results from disputed Ghazni province: ethnic Hazara won all 11 seats, despite majority Pashtun population. Attorney general 24 Nov threatened to investigate IEC, claimed its members were bribed, 26 Nov arrested state election officials on fraud charges. At 20 Nov Lisbon summit, NATO committed to end combat operations by end 2014, hand over responsibility to Afghan security forces. Taliban attacks increased ahead of summit, including 7 ISAF troops killed 15 Nov, worst daily death toll in 6 months. Taliban 21 Nov killed senior Khost province police chief. NATO Senior Civilian Representative Mark Sedwill criticised for 23 Nov claiming Kabul “safer for children” than major Western cities.
Violent demonstrations erupted across country after govt 13 Nov evicted opposition BNP party leader Khaleda Zia from her home. At least 100 injured as protesters clashed with police; 3 killed in 13 Nov Khustia suicide attack on ruling AL party MP Afaz Uddin’s residence, but Uddin unharmed. BNP 28 Nov claimed govt arrested some 1,100 of its members ahead of BNP-called national strike 30 Nov, which passed without violent incident. 2 small bombs exploded outside residence of Chief Justice A.B.M. Khairul Haq 18 Nov; no injuries.
Maoist violence surrounded final voting phase of Bihar state assembly elections as rebels urged boycott of polls: Maoists damaged local infrastructure in series of bomb attacks, killed 7 civilians in 21 Nov blast, 2 police 8 Nov. Paramilitary troops 23 Nov killed at least 23 Maoists in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh. In formal letter to Kathmandu, govt 6 Nov protested reports of Naxalites – Indian Maoists – receiving training by Nepalese Maoists; Nepalese Maoist party rejected allegations.
Relative calm prevailed with no new deaths from continued protests reported. Minor clashes with police 17 Nov after thousands protested across valley following Muslim festival Eid. Army 3 Nov killed 7 militants in separate gun battles; 4 militants, 1 police killed in 29 Nov Srinagar clash. After 2 visits to Valley during month, govt-appointed negotiation panel 14 Nov said roadmap for Kashmir solution to be completed in “6-9 months”. During early month visit to India, U.S. President Obama said U.S. “happy to play a role” in solving Kashmir dispute, but “cannot impose a solution”.
Political crisis continued as Constitutional Assembly again failed to elect new PM during month. Only remaining candidate Ram Chandra Poudel (Nepali Congress) fell short of required majority in face of continued boycott by Maoists and UML; constitution stipulates votes will continue indefinitely as long as there is a candidate standing. President Yadav 20 Nov passed budget, delayed since July, by decree to stave off financial crisis; all CA parties had early month agreed to pass budget, but Maoists 19 Nov reneged on deal, blocked Finance Minister Pandey from entering parliament. UNMIN 19 Nov objected to members of Maoist army (PLA) attending late month party conference, said PLA’s involvement in political gatherings could harm peace process.
At least 72 killed in 5 Nov suicide attack on Sunni mosque in Darra Adam Khel, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Taliban claimed responsibility. Taliban gunmen killed at least 18 in 11 Nov attack on Karachi office of police anti-terrorism unit CID. Politically motivated violence in Karachi continued; independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan mid-month reported hundreds of targeted political killings so far in 2010. PM Gilani 2 Nov rejected opposition calls to dissolve parliament, call new elections. U.S. continued stepping up drone strikes on suspected militants in N Waziristan: at least 20 killed 16 Nov, 12 killed 3 Nov.
President Rajapaksa sworn in for second term 19 Nov; 23 Nov announced new 90-member cabinet, including members of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, previously in opposition. Govt 9 Nov extended term of own panel investigating civil war by 6 months; panel early Nov submitted “interim report”, urging govt to address some grievances of Tamils; govt 14 Nov removed ban on BBC attending panel’s sessions in Jaffna. Govt 23 Nov announced order forcing ICRC to close offices in north, no firm date announced; 10 Nov announced all foreign and national NGO workers required to register with defence ministry. Rajapaksa 14 Nov said all 70,000 Muslims expelled from north by LTTE in 1990 will be resettled; rights groups raised concerns over reports govt settling ethnic Sinhalese in majority Tamil areas in north.
4 soldiers sentenced 11 Nov to 5-7 months’ prison for “disciplinary breaches” after being found guilty of March torture of Papuan suspect; widespread outrage in Papua over lenient sentence and failure to address more extreme torture case from May. 9 arrested in Jayapura 21 Nov for raising Papuan independence flag. President Yudhoyono met local Papuan officials to discuss improving economy in 11-12 Nov visit, no mention of enhanced political autonomy or human rights issues. Violence against Ahmadiya sect in West Lombok continued: more than 100 displaced 26 Nov. More than 900 killed in tsunami in Mentawai islands and volcanic eruption in Central Java: govt criticised for slow aid response in Mentawai, concerns raised about extremist groups exploiting relief effort. U.S. President Obama visited 9-10 Nov, confirmed strategic partnership.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi released from house arrest 12 Nov: called for unity among pro-democracy groups, said open to talks with junta, willing to moderate her opposition to sanctions. 7 Nov elections criticised as fraudulent amidst widespread reports of manipulation, including advance voting, intimidation, fraud during count. Junta proxy party USDP won 80% of seats in Upper and Lower Houses, but claimed marginally less votes in ethnic regions than in heart- land. Junta 26 Nov introduced laws restricting free speech and banning protest in parliament. 3 killed in 8 Nov post-election clashes between army and Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) around Mywaddy town; more than 20,000 fled across Thai border, but most returned within days. Further 1,000 displaced after renewed fighting 29 Nov.
Concerns Govt-MILF ceasefire could fray as talks still delayed: govt requested Malaysia replace facilitator Othman Razak due to alleged pro-rebel bias; MILF requested Razak continue in role. Mandate of Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team to expire 8 Dec; may not be renewed due to problems over facilitator. Defence Minister Gazmin accused MILF of possible involvement in Oct Mindanao bomb attack killing 11; MILF denied, accused Gazmin of undermining ceasefire. Govt 24 Nov said executive order 546 on private armies could not be repealed. In clashes between army and communist New People’s Army, 1 soldier killed 1 Nov in Camarines Sur province, 3 civilians killed 16 Nov in Leyte province.
Dili district court 23 Nov dismissed corruption charges against FM da Costa, accepted those for vice-PM Gutierres. UNTAS, grouping of former militia and pro-integrationist Timorese now in Indonesia, met in Kupang 28 Nov to discuss future leadership and direction; announced end to policy rejecting Timorese independence.
Impartiality of Constitutional Court questioned after series of videos leaked online late Oct and early Nov alleged nepotism, corruption among judges. Court 29 Nov cleared ruling Democrat Party (DP) of charges of misusing campaign funds; DP could have been dissolved if found guilty. Some 10,000 “red shirt” opposition activists rallied in Bangkok 19 Nov, marking 6-month anniversary of May military crackdown on anti-govt protests, demanded release of “red shirts” arrested May. Thousands of royalist “yellow shirts” 24 Nov rallied in Bangkok denouncing PM Abhisit’s plans to amend constitution without referendum. Violence continued in restive south: 3 Muslims, including 2 local politicians, killed by unidentified gunmen 24 Nov in Narathiwat province. Army previous day announced drawback of troops in south due to reduced violence. 20,000 Burmese refugees fled across Thai border 9 Nov following post-election clashes (see Myanmar/Burma).
Little progress in coalition formation following Oct elections. Homogenisation of Serb and Croat political space as Serb nationalist parties SNSD and SDS made state-level coalition, and the 2 Croat HDZ parties agreed to cooperate on issues of national (ethnic) importance. Social Democratic Party (SDP), leading in Federation, and leading Republika Srpska (RS) party SNSD, met for talks 26 Nov. High Representative Valentin Inzko 3 Nov announced will discontinue vetting of candidates for ministerial posts, in place since 2000, to encourage Bosnian leaders to assume more responsibility; 11 Nov told UNSC Bosnian authorities becoming more divided. Milorad Dodik, outgoing RS PM and new RS President, nominated former finance minister Aleksandat Dzombic new PM. EU progress report cited little progress on reforms and requirements for OHR closure, problems with governance, nationalist rhetoric in elections. EU interior ministers 8 Nov agreed to grant visa-free travel for Bosnian citizens, starting mid-Dec. UNSC 18 Nov approved extension of EUFOR in Bosnia for another year.
Following Oct collapse of coalition govt, parliament 2 Nov passed vote of no confidence in govt, triggering snap elections for 12 Dec. Serbian FM Vuk Jeremic 12 Nov told UNSC Belgrade would not encourage Kosovo Serbs to participate in election; however 8 Serb parties and lists, all from south of Ibar river, registered to run. Jeremic and UN SRSG Lamberto Zannier both warned of rising tensions in North Kosovo ahead of polls. Sporadic but more frequent incidents continuing in North, mostly targeting local Albanian and Serbs cooperating with Pristina-based institutions, including 16 Nov grenade attack on home of Serb candidate in 12 Dec election, and police officer shot dead in Klina 22 Nov. EULEX vehicle attacked in Pristina 23 Nov. Jeremic 18 Nov said Pristina not ready for talks before Dec elections; reiterated Serbia’s refusal to recognise Kosovo independence, emphasized talks should focus on technical issues. EU progress report praised advances on decentralisation, cited concerns on rule of law, corruption.
EU progress report 9 Nov cited “uneven” progress on reforms, concerns over independence of judiciary, slow reform of public administration, media freedom; but maintained recommendation for start of EU accession talks. Opposition accused govt of trying to shut down pro-opposition TV station 25 Nov.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele 24 Nov delivered European Commission questionnaire to Serbia, on basis of which it will assess Serbia’s readiness for candidate status; represents important step forward in country’s EU accession bid. EU progress report criticised lack of reform in judiciary, limits on market economy, called for full cooperation with ICTY; praised improved relations with neighbours.
President Sarkisian boycotted 19-20 Nov NATO summit in Lisbon over anticipated adoption of declaration stressing NATO’s commitment to territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries in South Caucasus; stated Nagorno-Karabakh peace process led by OSCE Minsk group also based on principles of right to self-determination and non-use of force. Growing concern over abuse in army after 2 cases of non-combat shootings mid month left 5 soldiers dead, 4 injured. Followed July shooting spree in another army detachment killing 6.
Ruling party increased parliamentary representation to 74 of 125 seats in 7 Nov elections. Remainder of seats taken by nominally independent candidates and pro-govt parties, with none going to candidates from main opposition block for first time since country’s independence. International observers stated conduct of elections did not constitute meaningful progress in democratic development. In unanticipated move, govt 18, 19 Nov freed 2 youth activists arrested Aug 2009 and sentenced Nov on hooliganism charges; jailing condemned domestically, internationally as politically motivated. Govt 11 Nov revoked some charges against journalist Eynulla Fatullayev serving 8+ years, but despite European Court of Human Rights ruling did not release him.
NATO leaders at summit in Lisbon 19-20 Nov reiterated decision of 2008 Bucharest summit that country will become Alliance member once it meets criteria. U.S. President Obama 20 Nov held first bilateral meeting with President Saakashvili on sidelines of summit; reaffirmed support for country’s territorial integrity, discussed strategic partnership, U.S. “reset” of relations with Russia. Speaking before European Parliament Saakashvili 23 Nov expressed readiness to engage in comprehensive political dialogue with Russian counterpart, committed to non-use of force unless attacked. Govt 5 Nov arrested 13 suspected of spying for Russian military intelligence service; Moscow denied claims, calling them provocation aimed to discredit Russia ahead of summit. 2 blasts in Tbilisi 28 Nov, 1 close to offices of Labour party, left 1 dead. Followed series of explosions in capital in Oct, including near U.S. embassy. Authorities claim no suspects yet.
Further tensions between Armenia, Azerbaijan over NK marked by hostile rhetoric. After observing early month major military drills by NK Armenian forces close to line of contact with Azerbaijan, President Sarkisian 12 Nov stated if attacked Armenia and NK will deliver “final and deadly” blow to Azerbaijan and resolve issue “once and for all”. Followed renewed threats by Azerbaijani President Aliyev during 7 Nov visit to Azerbaijan-controlled frontline districts that military solution to NK, other occupied Azerbaijani territories possible “at any moment”. Armenia, Azerbaijan made several exchanges of prisoners, bodies of those killed in recent clashes following Oct swap agreement achieved with Russian mediation in Astrakhan.
Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev 6 Nov said 454 terrorist and 510 extremist acts registered on Russian territory from Jan to Sept; 18 Nov singled out Kabardino-Balkaria (KB) and Dagestan as republics with highest level of terrorist activity. President Medvedev 18 Nov replaced KB Interior Minister over spike in militant attacks in republic since spring under leadership of new insurgent commander Amir Abdullakh. Dagestan President Magomedov in 2 Nov decree appointed commission to reintegrate Islamic insurgents who renounce violence; legal powers of commission to provide formal guarantees to militants remain unclear. Violence, attempted bombings, clashes between insurgents and police continued throughout Dagestan with several deadly attacks in capital Makhachkala targeting law-enforcement personnel. Sporadic violence continued in KB and Ingushetia.
Several bomb blasts during police reconnaissance operations over month killed 1, injured at least 10 policemen.
OSCE experts 23 Nov backed local authorities’ conclusion that Sept death of opposition journalist Aleh Byabenin was suicide.
3-party coalition Alliance for European Integration won 59 out of 101 parliament seats in 28 Nov election, 2 seats short of majority required to nominate new president. Communist party won 42 seats. Journalist Ernest Vardanean put on trial in Transdniester 3 Nov on charges of spying for Moldova secret services.
EU-Ukraine summit agreed on action plan towards visa-free travel 22 Nov. OSCE FMs 23 Nov announced Ukraine to chair body in 2013. President Yanukovych 30 Nov vetoed tax bill after widespread protests across country.
Banned Batasuna party 27 Nov announced plans for new party rejecting violence. Spanish intelligence service report 2 Nov said ETA continuing to train in France.
Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders met 1, 8 Nov to discuss property before meeting with UNSG Ban 18 Nov. Ban afterwards admitted talks continued “without clear progress or a clear end in sight”, and were “losing momentum”. Leaders agreed to intensify contacts in coming weeks to overcome major remaining points of disagreement. Further meeting with Ban scheduled end Jan, when UN will “determine its own next steps” if no further progress. But Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu earlier said solution in 2011 unlikely. Ban 23 Nov issued report on status of talks, criticising lack of progress, expressing pessimism over possibility of solution ahead of Turkey, Greek Cypriot elections mid-2011, warning talks could “founder fatally” if no agreement by then.
3 Belfast police injured in grenade attack by suspected IRA dissident 6 Nov. Govt announced Independent Monitoring Commission to close.
At NATO summit in Lisbon Turkey 19 Nov endorsed missile shield after alliance met Ankara’s demands by not naming any country as threat. Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), militant offshoot of PKK, 4 Nov claimed responsibility for 31 Oct suicide attack in Istanbul; said actions autonomous of PKK, denounced unilateral ceasefire. PM Erdogan 24-25 Nov visited Lebanon with aim of calming tension surrounding Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigation (see Lebanon); quoted saying Hizbollah not linked to assassination of former PM Hariri. European Commission 9 Nov issued 2010 progress report on Turkey, including praise for Sep constitutional reforms, criticism for lack of media freedom and slow progress in democratic opening with Kurdish community; Turkish chief EU negotiator called it “most positive progress report so far”.
Opposition figure and leader of recently established Long Live Liberty party Zhasaral Quanyshalin 3 Nov announced will run for president in 2012. Reports of more cases of self-mutilation in prisons over conditions. Govt 12 Nov signed agreement with U.S. on use of Kazakh airspace for support of operations in Afghanistan. Astana court 22 Nov sentenced 6 Hizb-ut-Tahrir members to 4-7 years for advocating terrorism, social hatred.
Senior officials claim Islamist militants targeted in late month crackdown: 9 detained 22 Nov in Bishkek and southern city of Osh on accusations of planning terrorist acts; 4 reported killed in 29 Nov firefight in Osh. Govt blamed same group for 30 Nov blast outside trial of former President Bakiyev and 27 others. Defendants accused of giving orders to and/ or opening fire on demonstrators during April overthrow of Bakiyev regime. Bakiyev and 8 others being tried in absentia. Nephew of former President Bakiyev sentenced to 10 years 2 Nov for fomenting May unrest in town of Jalal-Abad. Police temporarily detained 36 after nearly 1,000 ethnic Kyrgyz 7-8 Nov illegally seized land in ethnic Uzbek villages near Osh. U.S. 3 Nov extended contract for fuel supply to Manas air base with long-time private provider despite protest by govt over corruption allegations. Following 10 Oct elections, parliament 10 Nov held opening session as some 300 protested outside against former Bakiyev officials taking up seats. Pro-govt Social Democratic party with mandate from Interim President Otunbayeva 30 Nov formed governing coalition with former affiliate Respublika and pro-govt Ata-Meken. Social Democratic leader Almazbek Atambayev to become PM. OSCE, Ministry of Interior 18 Nov announced planned OSCE police mission to south will be replaced by scaled-down “Kyrgyzstan Community Security Initiative” to be deployed early 2011. 2 sentenced to 20 and 25 years 5 Nov in first court case to convict ethnic Kyrgyz in relation to June violence.
Govt declared campaign against militants in eastern Rasht district almost complete with over 20 killed, 30 arrested or surrendered. Communication blackout of area continued. Govt accused followers of banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) of 3 Sept bombing of police station in northern town of Khujand; claimed IMU targeted in 2 operations in north- ern Isfara district late Oct, reported 5 militants killed, several arrested. Security along border with Afghanistan strengthened after Afghan authorities early month warned against possible Taliban incursions. Govt crackdown on perceived sources of Islamic radicalisation: over 600 students enrolled at religious schools abroad returned home after President Rakhmon claimed they risked indoctrination by radical groups; 28 mosques shut down in eastern Gorno-Badakhshan region 19 Nov for failing to register; opposition Islamic Renaissance Party ordered to shut down prayer house on its premises. 9 Hizb-ut- Tahrir activists arrested 18-22 Nov in north.
Presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran at Caspian summit in Baku 18-20 Nov failed to reach consensus on sea’s legal status, division of its energy resources. First Deputy PM Baymurad Khojamukhamedov 19 Nov announced country ready to provide 40bcm of gas for EU energy project Nabucco.
In 12 Nov speech before parliament President Karimov proposed constitutional changes to transfer responsibility for nominating PM from president to party with most seats in parliament, and empower chairman of Senate to serve as acting president in case of presidential incapacity or death.
UN HCHR Navi Pillay 16 Nov commended controversial new anti-racism law as “landmark development”, cautioned against possible violations of press freedom. U.S. Sec Defence Gates 21 Nov warned of unclear Iranian motives for possible nuclear deal with Bolivia; President Morales accused U.S. of interventionism.
President Santos and Ecuadorean President Correa 26 Nov agreed to re-establish ties (see Ecuador). Constitutional Court 23 Nov overturned law halting prosecution of low-level demobilised paramilitaries and guerrillas; suspension could potentially force attorney general to open tens of thousands of new cases. Govt 29 Nov responded presenting bill to create truth commission. Santos and Venezuelan President Chávez met in Caracas 2 Nov to discuss strengthening economic ties, agreed on closer cooperation in fight against drug-trafficking. Panama 19 Nov granted political asylum to former head of govt intelligence agency DAS implicated in illegal wiretapping scandal; Colombian govt, victims’ organisations criticised. Santos 3 Nov presented new shortlist of attorney general candidates after nearly a year without incumbent; decision applauded by rights advocates, criticised by supporters of his predecessor. Following corruption revelations, Santos 12 Nov ordered takeover of Fondelibertad, govt agency charged with fighting kidnapping and victim support; 3 Nov ordered takeover of National Narcotics Office. Army 15 Nov bombarded FARC camp in Nariño department leaving 14 dead.
President Correa and Colombian President Santos 26 Nov announced reestablishment of diplomatic relations, broken since Colombia’s March 2008 airstrike on Ecuadorean soil; Correa said “ambassadors to be named before Christmas”. Inter-American Press Society 7 Nov criticised govt pressure on media after Sept police uprising; opposition parliamentarians 15 Nov echoed accusations. Army commander 18 Nov denounced cross-border recruitment of minors by FARC.
President Chávez 2 Nov met Colombian President Santos in efforts to further improve relations (see Colombia). Santos 16 Nov controversially confirmed extradition of drug trafficker Walid Makled to Venezuela; Makled believed to have valuable information implicating high ranking Venezuelan officials in drugs trade. Venezuelan govt 24 Nov responded by extraditing 3 suspected ELN and FARC members to Colombia. Chávez 27 Nov announced Russian $4bn credit for military equipment; fulfilled promise to promote alleged drug trafficker General Henry Rangel Silva to country’s highest military rank.
Director of RENAP, body charged with issuing voter registration cards for 2011 general elections, 2 Nov announced 2.8mn cards need to be verified before election; opposition politicians expressed doubts RENAP capable, denounced threat of voter exclusion.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo 18 Nov started preliminary investigation into possible rights abuses surrounding June 2009 civil-military coup to establish whether to open full investigation. Rights groups said govt oppression, harassment of opposition has continued, have claimed 23 politically motivated murders since coup. Army deployed 500 soldiers to north after 5 farmers’ union activists murdered by private security guards in Aguán 15 Nov.
Tensions flared with Costa Rica after govt 14 Nov ignored OAS resolution urging withdrawal of all forces from disputed border island Calero, where Managua sent troops early month; Costa Rica 19 Nov brought case to International Court of Justice.
12 of 18 presidential candidates, all tied to opposition, initially denounced ”massive fraud” on morning of 28 Nov presidential, legislative elections. Of the 12, all but 2 – who exit polls indicated among leading candidates – later filed for annulment of vote; demonstrations across country as undetermined number unable to vote due to organisational problems. Govt claimed vote went ”well”, OAS and Caricom observers 29 Nov said vote valid despite ”serious irregularities”, criticised opposition move; final results expected from 5 Dec. Cholera epidemic worsened: close to 2,000 killed since Oct; 5 of 10 districts affected, first cases confirmed in Port-au-Prince early month. At least 3 civil- ians killed mid-month in violent anti-MINUSTAH demonstrations triggered by widespread rumours that cholera originated with Nepalese peacekeepers; protests started in Cap-Haitien and Hinche, spread to capital 18 Nov; UN denies rumours. UN 12 Nov warned more than 200,000 at risk of contracting disease, epidemic likely to last for months; requested US$164mn in aid over next year.
Army 5 Nov killed Gulf cartel leader Ezequiel Cardenas; govt hailed as ”major victory”, but analysts warned power vacuum could lead to intensified fighting between Gulf and Zetas cartels in Tamaulipas. Gunmen 8 Nov killed mayor-elect of Veracruz town.
U.S. offered incentive package to Israel in return for limited 90-day construction moratorium in hope of reviving Mideast peace talks; details still being discussed. Israeli govt 8 Nov announced plan to build nearly 1,300 apartments in E Jerusalem; U.S. official said construction “counter-productive”. Israel 17 Nov agreed to troop pullout from northern half of disputed border village in Golan Heights fulfilling part of 2006 truce agreement. Israeli parliament 22 Nov approved law requiring two-thirds Knesset majority or national referendum for withdrawal from E Jerusalem or Golan Heights. Palestinian militant killed 3 Nov in targeted Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. In response to rocket fire 19 Nov Israeli warplanes struck 4 targets in Gaza, injuring at least 4. Israel 22 Nov began work on 140km border fence with Egypt to stop Islamic militants and African migrants. UNRWA director in Gaza 11 Nov said “no material change” for people of Gaza since Israel eased blockade. Hamas and Fatah discussed reconciliation in Damascus 10 Nov but talks deadlocked on security issues; sides agreed to meet again.
Increased tensions surrounding Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigation into 2005 murder of former PM Rafiq Hariri. Referring to unconfirmed reports STL would issue indictments against members of Hizbollah before 2011, Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah 11 Nov threatened “hand that attempts to reach [our members] will be cut”. Further attempts to discredit STL; cabinet 10 Nov failed to reach decision on STL witnesses who Hizbollah claims provided false testimonies. Pro-Hizbollah daily Al-Akhbar 1 Nov published story detailing group’s plan to take over “large parts of Lebanon” in case of indictment of its members. Israeli PM Netanyahu 23 Nov expressed concern over possible Hizbollah “takeover”. Turkish PM Erdogan 24 Nov began official visit, called for national unity in Lebanon, warned Israel against involvement and possible new outbreak of war. PM Hariri 17 Nov declared “will not let SLT indictments harm Lebanon”, 27 Nov began 3-day trip to Iran seeking support. Amidst fears over lack of funding for tribunal U.S. 3 Nov pledged $10mn additional support; Congress 12 Nov lifted freeze on $100mn aid to Lebanese army. Clashes between civilians and Common Border Force in Wadi Khalid 5 Nov saw people 4 killed.
IAEA report 23 Nov said Syria refusing UN nuclear inspectors access to multiple sites, provided inconsistent or scant information; Syria said more information needed from IAEA before allowing visit. Officials 23 Nov condemned new Israeli law mandating national referendum on withdrawal from Golan Heights (See Israel/OPT). Israeli FM Lieberman 11 Nov declared peace talks with Syria should not be pursued; FM Moallem 14 Nov said Israel is not partner for peace. U.S. Sec State Clinton 12 Nov addressed reports of arms smuggling from Syria to Hizbollah, said Washington would not accept attempts to jeopardise Lebanon’s security. Saudi Prince Abdel-Aziz bin Abdullah 21 Nov visited Damascus as Saudi-Syrian efforts intensified to defuse tension in Lebanon ahead of Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) decision on former PM Hariri’s murder (See Lebanon).
EU foreign policy chief Ashton 30 Nov said Iran agreed to meet 6-7 Dec in Geneva reopening P5+1 discussion on nuclear program, rejected Tehran’s preferred venue Istanbul. President Ahmedinejad 10 Nov said right to nuclear capabilities non-negotiable; same day accused IAEA of leaking information to U.S., justification for refusal to allow inspectors unannounced access to nuclear facilities. Govt 23 Nov refuted reports uranium enrichment activities halted; nuclear chief 27 Nov said Bushehr nuclear power plant operational by Jan 2011. 2 car bombs 29 Nov in Tehran killed senior nuclear scientist, wounded another; Interior Minister Najjar accused CIA and Mossad of “terrorist act”. U.S. Sec Defence Gates 8 Nov rejected Israeli PM Netanyahu’s demand U.S. mount credible military threat against Iran, said options not limited to military. President Ahmedinejad 9 Nov accused Expediency Council, headed by rival Hashemi Rafsanjani, of acting in violation of constitution.
Negotiations to form govt gained momentum with U.S./ Iran-facilitated agreement reached early Nov on power-sharing between main parties. Council of Representatives 11 Nov elected Sunni Usama al-Nujayfi as speaker, Kurdish Jalal Talabani as president. Talabani 25 Nov officially reappointed PM Nouri al-Maliki, ordered him to form cabinet within 30 days; power-sharing for ministries still unclear. National Strategy Council to be formed, headed by former PM Iyad Allawi, as part of agreement. Attacks against Christian areas in Baghdad continued days after PM Maliki promised greater protection; 4 killed, 16 wounded in 10 Nov attacks. Ongoing insurgent attacks elsewhere: 10 killed, 35 injured in 8 Nov car bombing in Basra, 5 killed 24 Nov in bomb attack in Mosul, high ranking army officer assassinated 24 Nov in Saidiya district.
Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsular (AQAP) 5 Nov claimed responsibility for 29 Oct intercepted parcel bombs, vowed more small-scale attacks against U.S.. Yemeni judge 6 Nov ordered radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to be found “dead or alive” after he failed to appear at trial for role in 6 Oct killing of foreigners. Violent clashes erupted 13 Nov between Houthi rebels and govt forces near Saudi border, at least 20 killed. Al- Qaeda suicide bombing 24 Nov killed over 20 Houthi rebels, injured at least 15 in northeast. Suicide car bombing 26 Nov killed at least 40 tribesmen on way to funeral of Houthi spiritual leader Badr al-Din al-Houthi. Hundreds demonstrated 10 Nov in 2 southern cities protesting 9 Nov arrest of head of separatist Southern Movement Hassan Ba’oum. Low-scale violence continued between armed southern dissidents and govt, particularly in Shebwa and al-Dalia. Govt significantly increased security presence in southern governorates in preparation for late Nov Gulf 20 football tournament. Ruling General People’s Party 1 Nov announced National Dialogue had failed, will proceed with scheduled April 2011 elections with or without opposition; President Salih mid-month urged opposition to continue with dialogue.
Interior Minister Ould Kablia 2 Nov announced plans to arm rural civilians to fight al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). 5 militants linked to AQIM killed mid-Nov by security forces in Boumerdes region. Local businessman killed 14 Nov during kidnapping attempt by AQIM-linked militant group in Freha, Kabylie region; about 2,500 people 22 Nov demonstrated demanding security forces protect them from militants.
28 Nov parliamentary elections marred by irregularities and reports of scattered violence. Ruling National Democratic Party won 209 of 221 seats decided in first round; 287 seats to be contested in 5 Dec run-off. None of 130 candidates affiliated to banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood won seats outright in first round; 26 will contest second round. Movement called vote “rigged and invalid”. Demonstrations, clashes with police during voting, particularly in Nile Delta and the city of Suez; at least 3 people reported killed. U.S. 30 Nov said it was “disappointed” with conduct citing “worrying” problems with restrictions. Ahead of elections, more than 1,300 Muslim Brotherhood supporters detained, about half released by polls. Security forces 11 Nov arrested at least 25 suspected of belonging to radical Islamic group planning to attack Israeli tourists in Sinai Peninsula. Mob torched 10 homes of Christians 16 Nov in al-Nawahid village after rumours of interfaith relationship. One killed, dozens injured, over 150 arrested 24 Nov after Christians clashed with police in Giza over permission to build church.
28 members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) 21 Nov defected from group in northern Mali, surrendered to army under anti-terror amnesty laws passed by parliament in July. President Aziz 15 Nov pardoned 124 prisoners including 17 jihadists for Eid, part of amnesty program. Starting 8 Nov Mauritania and Mali agreed to joint military patrols against AQIM along shared border. President of coalition de l’opposition démocratique (COD) 1 Nov accused govt of “war by proxy” against AQIM on behalf of France, whose soldiers conducted joint operation to rescue kidnapped Frenchman in July.
Govt rejected European Parliament’s 25 Nov resolu- tion supporting UN inquiry into disputed 8 Nov raid on Western Sahara protest camp (See Western Sahara); FM Fassi Fihri 27 Nov also refused any role for MINURSO. Parliament 29 Nov voted to establish commission to investigate events. Hundreds of thousands protested in Casablanca 28 Nov against Spain Popular Party’s accusations of security forces committing rights abuses against Saharawis.
Violence broke out 8 Nov following Moroccan security forces raid on protest camp housing some 15,000 outside main town of Laayoune. Morocco reported 13 killed including 11 members of security forces; Polisario Front 9 Nov said more than 36 Saharawis killed, 723 injured and 159 missing. UNSC 16 Nov condemned clashes but declined to authorise formal probe. Moroccan authorities 13 Nov said over 163 people arrested for inciting violence (See Morocco). Third round of UN-brokered peace talks carried out in New York 8-9 Nov, same time as clashes; both sides agreed to meet again Dec.