CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, a tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace.
Democratic Republic of Congo
In October, Turkey launched a major offensive against Kurdish-led forces in Syria’s north east and, though fighting eased mid-month, it could escalate again in coming weeks. In Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar stepped up airstrikes on forces allied to the UN-backed government and civilian targets. The Yemeni government and southern separatists have a precious opportunity in November to strike a deal and stem hostilities in the south. Political protests paralysed Lebanon and led to deadly violence in Iraq, Ethiopia and Guinea, as well as in the Andes region in Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador. Mexico’s government faced a political crisis following a series of high-profile violent incidents. The European Council’s widely-criticised decision not to open formal accession talks was a setback for North Macedonia. Sudan’s government and armed groups made headway in talks. In contrast, South Sudan’s peace deal could collapse and violence resume if President Salva Kiir makes good on his pledge to form a government by 12 November despite objections by rebel leader Riek Machar. Tensions rose in Mozambique as the opposition rejected election results and fighting intensified in the north. Security in both northern Burkina Faso and western Burundi deteriorated, and violence could escalate in eastern DR Congo as the army ramps up its new offensive against armed groups. Guinea-Bissau faced new instability as President José Mário Vaz dissolved the government, raising the risk of protests and violent repression by security forces around November’s presidential polls.
In his introduction to this month's edition of CrisisWatch, Crisis Group's conflict tracker, our President Robert Malley reflects on the diverse protests taking place in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Attacks against civilians and security forces – most attributed to jihadists – intensified in Centre-North region and continued in Sahel and North regions. In Centre-North region, jihadist Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) allegedly staged more than ten attacks against civilians in several villages in Bam province in late Sept-early Oct, killing about twenty; notably, unidentified gunmen 1 Oct attacked Kargo village, Zimtanga commune, killing at least six. Unidentified gunmen 12 Oct killed two civilians in Zandraogo, Sanmatenga province; 22 Oct ambushed two military patrols in Barsalogho, Sanmatenga province, killing six soldiers; 20 Oct attacked Zoura, Bam province, reportedly killing eight. Residents of Bam province 5 Oct attempted to form coalition of self-defence groups. In Sahel region, jihadists continued to target strategic transport routes and infrastructure in alleged attempt to limit traffic in and out. In Soum province, military patrol 3 Oct detonated explosive on Djibo-Bourzanga axis, one soldier killed; suspected JNIM militants 4 Oct shot dead at least twenty artisanal gold miners in Dolmane near Madoudji village; suspected jihadists 28 Oct killed sixteen civilians in Pobé-Mengao. Security forces reportedly killed 39 assailants who ambushed gendarmerie patrol 7 Oct in Gorgadji area, Seno province. Suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 11 Oct attacked mosque in Salmossi, Oudalan province, killing sixteen. Police of Markoye commune 17 Oct said they were relocating to provincial capital Gorom-Gorom due to insecurity. In North region, suspected jihadist militants 19 Oct attacked military outposts in Bahn, Loroum province and Yensé, Yatenga province, killing five soldiers; explosive device 23 Oct killed two soldiers in Banh. In Loroum province, unidentified gunmen 12 Oct killed four civilians in Samboulga; 7 Oct killed eight in Bouna. Authorities heightened security measures in all three regions mid-Oct: governors introduced 45-day nightly curfew in all four of Sahel region’s provinces and North region’s Loroum province, all under state of emergency. In East region, suspected jihadists 11 Oct attacked police station in Yamba, Gourma province and 17 Oct attacked police in Nadiagou, Kompienga province.
Security forces clashed with armed militants in west near border with DR Congo (DRC), and authorities and ruling party continued to repress main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL). In west, RED-TABARA rebels clashed with security forces in Musigati, Bubanza province 22 Oct, fighting reportedly left at least a dozen dead on each side; group same day temporarily abducted twenty civilians from Mpanda. Authorities 22 Oct arrested four journalists and their driver en route to report on clashes. Unidentified militants clashed with security forces and Imbonerakure, youth members of ruling party CNDD-FDD, night of 25-26 Oct in Bubanza and neighbouring Cibitoke province; four militants, three security force members and six Imbonerakure reportedly killed. Imbonerakure 4 Oct detained and handed over to police five CNL members in Rumonge, Rumonge province. Authorities arrested fourteen CNL activists in Busiga, Ngozi province 5 Oct after discovery of body of Imbonerakure. Court 8 Oct sentenced to life four Imbonerakure for Aug killing of CNL member. Police 9-17 Oct arrested five CNL members in several provinces. Clashes between Imbonerakure and CNL in Kirundo 10-16 Oct left four CNL and two Imbonerakure injured. CNL member 23 Oct found dead after Imbonerakure allegedly kidnapped him. Unidentified gunman late Oct attempted to kill local official prompting authorities to arrest at least 23 CNL in Bujumbura province. Executive secretary of coalition of opposition parties in exile CNARED-Giriteka visited country 5-11 Oct, met interior minister 7 Oct to prepare return of opposition politicians in exile. Burundi and Tanzania began to repatriate Burundian refugees from Tanzania despite rights groups’ claims that conditions not safe for return; some 600 refugees arrived in Gisuru, Ruyigi province 3 Oct. Burundi and Tanzania 12 Oct signed agreement allowing their police forces to conduct cross-border operations, including in refugee camps in Tanzania. Unidentified assailants 19 Oct kidnapped four Burundian refugees from Nduta camp; camp residents blamed Burundian police.
National dialogue on conflict in Anglophone areas failed to stem violence, Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks in Far North and intercommunal violence flared in south. Anglophone separatists boycotted national dialogue on Anglophone crisis in capital Yaoundé 30 Sept-4 Oct; amid calls by some Anglophone activists for return to federal state structure, resulting “conclusions” recommended special status for Anglophone regions under current decentralisation process. President Biya 3 Oct ordered release of 333 Anglophones, but not separatist leaders. Violence continued in Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions: as Anglophones celebrated what they claim as their independence day 1 Oct, clashes between armed forces and separatists reportedly left at least nine dead. In Northwest, rival separatist groups clashed in Guzang 11 Oct leaving two dead. In regional capital Bamenda, suspected separatists 16-19 Oct killed two vigilantes and two security force members. In Southwest, separatists 14 Oct abducted four in Tiko. Army raid in Bombe Bakundu 18 Oct left seven dead. Army raids 22-26 Oct left at least six civilians and several separatists dead. In Far North, BH attacks 2-27 Oct left at least fourteen civilians and one soldier dead. In South region, killing of ethnic Bulu taxi driver 9 Oct by alleged ethnic Bamoun in Sangmelima triggered violence. Hundreds of ethnic Bulu, blaming other ethnic groups for insecurity, 9-10 Oct attacked shops owned by ethnic Bamouns and Bamilekes injuring about 100. In Garoua Boulaï in East region, security forces 24 Oct freed 22 people abducted by rebels from CAR and killed five abductors. Authorities 5 Oct released leader of opposition party Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC) Maurice Kamto (arrested in Jan) and some 100 party members. During visit to country 23-25 Oct French FM Le Drian announced France would contribute some $70mn for implementation of national dialogue’s recommendations and $50mn to fight against BH.
Violence between armed groups continued in north east, centre and south east, as President Touadéra sought to strengthen relations with Rwanda and Russia. In north east, clashes between armed groups Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ) and Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) in Am-Dafock, Vakaga prefecture 14 Oct left 21 FPRC and three MLCJ dead. In centre, anti-balaka militants and armed group Union for Peace in Central African Republic (UPC) clashed in Tagbara, Ouaka prefecture 3 Oct leaving six combatants dead. Raids by unidentified gunmen in Basse-Kotto and Ouaka prefectures 8 and 10 Oct left at least a dozen civilians dead. In far south east in Haut-Mbomou prefecture near border with South Sudan, UPC 15 Oct invaded Bambouti; night of 25-26 Oct attacked NGO vehicle leaving at least four people missing; 27 Oct reportedly clashed with Fulani herders leaving seven UPC fighters and unknown number of Fulani dead. UN mission (MINUSCA) 16 Oct announced conclusion of first phase of operation against armed group Return, Restitution and Rehabilitation (3R) in west to force it to comply with Feb peace deal. Hundreds protested in capital Bangui 29 Oct calling for arrest of former National Assembly President Karim Meckassoua accusing him of involvement in armed group violence in PK5 district. Over 1,300 army recruits graduated from basic training 16-17 Oct; 1,023 trained by army and EU training mission, 343 by army and Russian trainers. In Bouar in west, President Touadéra 16 Oct launched training of over 500 future members of special mixed security units to comprise soldiers and former armed group members. Touadéra 15 Oct received Rwandan President Kagame and signed agreements aimed at strengthening military and economic cooperation. Touadéra 23-24 Oct attended Africa-Russia summit in Sochi, Russia and asked Russian President Putin to increase his military support to CAR; 25 Oct said he would consider establishment of Russian military base in CAR.
In Tibesti region in north, fighting between govt forces and self-defence militia reportedly resumed and insecurity persisted in east. In Tibesti region, where clashes between armed forces and self-defence militia last flared Nov 2018, fighting allegedly re-erupted 3 Oct when army reportedly launched offensive on Arkinia village near Miski prompting counter-attack, authorities denied launching offensive. Clashes reportedly escalated mid-Oct near Yebbibou, number of casualties unknown. Defence minister and army chief 16-20 Oct met provincial authorities and traditional leaders in Borkou and Tibesti provinces and called on them to support govt. Former rebel group Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad (MDJT) 16 Oct rescinded 2010 agreement it signed with govt denouncing “the massacre of civilians in the locality of Miski”. Several opposition parties called for ceasefire and dialogue. Self-defence militia 25 Oct claimed govt was preparing large-scale offensive. In east, prison uprising in Abéché, Ouaddaï province 7 Oct left at least two prisoners dead after security forces intervened. Gunmen night of 12-13 Oct entered prison in Guéréda, Wadi Fira province and shot dead two inmates. Unidentified gunman 27 Oct killed at least three in Djabalène, Dar Sila Province. Unidentified gunman 28 Oct killed soldier in Abéché, Ouaddaï province. In Lake Chad province in west, Boko Haram 30 Oct abducted three. Electoral commission president 3 Oct said elections would be held during first trimester of 2020. Déby 14 Oct signed decree suspending head of national television for broadcasting speech by founder of opposition movement-turned-party Les Transformateurs.
Ahead of late 2020 presidential elections, former rebel leader and former national assembly speaker Guillaume Soro 14 Oct announced candidacy and govt continued to intimidate opponents through legal system. Electoral commission (appointed late Sept) 1 Oct chose Constitutional Council’s General Secretary Ibrahim Coulibaly Kuibiert as president, as opposition continued to criticise body for pro-govt bias; opposition coalition Together for Democracy and Sovereignty said eleven out of fifteen commission members favoured ruling party. No member of main opposition party Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), which rejects new structure, is included in opposition’s quota. President Ouattara 10 Oct announced state visit to Soro’s stronghold Hambol region 27-30 Nov. Govt continued to pursue strategy of intimidation against opponents. Court in Bouaké (centre) 3 Oct sentenced PDCI’s vice-president Jacques Mangoua, arrested late Sept, to five years in prison for “possession of weapons of war without authorisation”; Mangoua’s supporters protested his incarceration in Bouaké 2 Oct. Soro’s diplomatic visa was cancelled before expiration date of 31 Oct. Soro said govt tried to arrest him in Valence, Spain early Oct; govt denied.
Violence persisted in Ituri in north east and North Kivu province in east, where fighting could escalate in coming weeks as army ramps up major offensive against armed group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). In Ituri province, following late Sept announcement by leader of armed group Cooperative for Development of Congo (CODECO) that he was willing to lay down arms, he and some 500 CODECO fighters 6 Oct left their base and moved to near Jiba in Djugu territory with view to disarm. Despite ongoing peace talks with provincial authorities, CODECO continued to commit violent acts in Djugu territory: 13 Oct attacked armed forces leaving four dead; 25 Oct attacked two boats on Lake Albert leaving four dead. Security forces 26 Oct launched offensive against CODECO along Lake Albert. Clashes between Maï-Maï militia and armed forces 11 and 28 Oct left seventeen militiamen and three soldiers dead in Mambasa. In North Kivu province, armed groups Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS) and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) 1-2 Oct attacked Nduma Defence of Congo-Renovated (NDC-R) militia in Rutshuru territory leaving three NDC-R and four civilians dead in several villages. ADF attacks in Beni territory 13 and 27 Oct left five civilians dead. Army 31 Oct said it had launched previous day major offensive against armed groups in Beni territory primarily ADF. In Lumumbashi in far south east, suspected Bakata Katanga militiamen and security forces clashed 11 Oct leaving at least five militiamen dead. Army chiefs of DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania 24-25 Oct met in Goma to discuss potential joint military operations against armed groups in east. Plane carrying presidential staff 10 Oct crashed in Sankuru province killing all passengers; supporters of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party demonstrated in several cities and held party of former President Kabila responsible.
President Afwerki 2 Oct held talks with South Sudan delegation in Adi Halo, near capital Asmara, reiterating his support for govt of President Kiir.
Security forces continued to clash with protesting civil servants. Civil servants protesting over salaries 2 Oct clashed with police in Manzini; clashes reportedly left over ten people injured including one trade union leader. Govt 2 Oct applied to industrial court in attempt to ban further strike action by National Public Service, Allied Workers Union and Swaziland National Association of Teachers, application pending end-month.
Protests against PM Abiy sparked violence that left over 70 dead, intercommunal attacks continued in several places, and tensions persisted between Ethiopia and Egypt over former’s construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Blue Nile. In Oromia region, after ethnic Oromo activist recently critical of Abiy, Jawar Mohammed, accused security forces of trying to remove his security detail, hundreds of his supporters protested against Abiy in capital Addis Ababa and several other places. Security forces sought to disperse protesters and protests sparked inter-ethnic attacks, mostly by informal groups of Oromo; violence left at least 78 dead. In Afar region in east, ethnic Somali raiders 11-12 Oct reportedly killed sixteen ethnic Afar in Afambo woreda. In dispute over Ethiopia’s construction of GERD, both Ethiopia and Egypt increased hostile rhetoric; countries’ leaders met in Sochi, Russia during Russia-Africa summit 23-24 Oct and reiterated commitment to dialogue. U.S. invited Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to talks in Washington 6 Nov. Following two-day visit of Sudanese delegation, Abiy and Sudanese PM Hamdok 11 Oct agreed on joint cross-border pipeline project. Abiy 11 Oct won Nobel Peace Prize in particular for his efforts to resolve his country’s conflict with Eritrea.
Special adviser to President Barrow, Mai Ahmad Fatty, resigned 11 Oct amid tug of war between those who want Barrow to serve five-year mandate as stipulated in constitution and those who demand that he respect his election promise to step aside after three years.
Security forces’ violent repression of protests against President Condé’s plan to run for third term left at least nine dead. Thousands demonstrated 14 Oct in capital Conakry and regional capitals Boké (west), Labé (centre) and Mamou (centre) against Condé’s alleged intention to change constitution so that he can seek third term in power; thousands demonstrated again in Conakry 24 Oct. Security forces tried forcibly to disperse demonstrators in Conakry, including with live ammunition, and protesters also clashed with security forces in opposition stronghold of Mamou. Govt 16 Oct said nine protesters killed since 14 Oct including eight in Conakry, while coalition of opposition groups National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) 16 Oct said police had killed ten, wounded 70 and arrested 200 since 14 Oct. Security forces 14 Oct blocked access to houses of Sidya Touré, president of opposition party Union of Republican Forces, and Cellou Dalein Diallo, leader of largest opposition party Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea. Court in Kankan 18 Oct acquitted six FNDC figures arrested 14 Oct. Court in Conakry 22 Oct gave eight FNDC figures arrested 12 Oct jail terms ranging from six months to one year for inciting civil disobedience. Electoral commission president 14 Oct said legislative elections, originally scheduled for 2018, would take place 28 Dec; electoral commission 22 Oct postponed elections sine die, citing technical reasons. Security forces over several days arrested several hundred alleged West African migrants across country.
Ahead of 24 Nov presidential election, tensions mounted as President Vaz dissolved govt and tried to replace PM Gomes raising risk of protests and violent repression by security forces in coming weeks. Supreme Court 16 Oct approved twelve of nineteen would-be presidential candidates, including incumbent President Vaz and representatives of main political parties. Parliament 15 Oct approved PM Gomes’s program by narrow margin, but vote divided ruling coalition: notably Nuno Gomes Nabiam, presidential candidate and leader of Assembly of the People United (APU), voted against program. Tension rose over updating of electoral rolls. Nabiam 14 Oct said ruling party African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) used money earmarked for updating electoral rolls to finance its activities. Mission including representatives of African Union (AU), UN and regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) visited capital Bissau 7 Oct, insisted on adherence to electoral schedule and said that previous rolls should be used in absence of agreement on revisions. PM Gomes 22 Oct said his former ally and opposition leader Umaru Sissoco Embalo, also presidential candidate, was preparing coup; recording of conversation between Sissoco and unidentified man about fomenting trouble circulated on social networks. Sissoco denied accusations. Police 26 Oct cracked down on opposition protest in Bissau calling for revision of electoral rolls and delay of presidential election, one person reportedly killed. President Vaz 28 Oct dissolved govt saying political situation was undermining normal functioning of state institutions and 29 Oct named Faustino Fudut Imbali (PM from 2000 to 2003) as PM, but incumbent PM Gomes refused to step down. ECOWAS same day rejected Vaz’s decision and insisted Gomes was still PM; UN, AU and Angola supported ECOWAS position.
Al-Shabaab threat persisted and relations between Kenya and Somalia remained tense. Police 1 Oct killed three and arrested seven Al-Shabaab militants in Mombasa suspected of planning attacks on 20 Oct national holiday celebrations. Suspected Al-Shabaab militants 12 Oct killed eleven police officers near Liboi, Garissa county near Somalia border. Police 26 Oct arrested two suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Liboi. Al-Shabaab 29 Oct launched attack on police station in Dadajabula, Wajir county which left two militants dead. Somalia 7 Oct filed complaint against Kenya at UN aviation agency after Kenyan-chartered aeroplane flew from capital Nairobi to Somali federal member state Jubaland without touching down in Somali capital Mogadishu, violating Somalia federal govt directive; Somalia 10 Oct accused Kenya of violating its sovereignty. International Court of Justice (ICJ) 17 Oct said postponed hearing of maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia would take place June 2020, three months earlier than Kenya requested, and that there would be no further delays.
Police 10 Oct closed radio station critical of President Weah, Roots FM, accusing it of inciting violence, and used tear gas to disperse people protesting against move in capital Monrovia, reportedly arresting four. Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray resigned 24 Oct amid investigations over his alleged role in misallocation of state funds. Hundreds of students 15 Oct protested in capital Monrovia to demand govt pay teachers’ salary arrears; protest turned violent, several students reportedly injured.
Protesters challenging President Mutharika’s May election win took to streets again and continued to clash with security forces and govt supporters. Following two-week ban on protests in Sept, demonstrations organised by NGO Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) continued in capital Lilongwe 1-4 Oct against electoral commission chairperson Jane Ansah, whom protesters hold responsible for alleged electoral fraud. Police 2 Oct handed over security during demonstrations to army. Mutharika 8 Oct held first rally in capital since disputed victory; rally sparked further violence between govt supporters and anti-govt protesters during which protesters stoned to death a police officer. Human rights campaigners 25 Oct staged demonstrations in Lilongwe demanding govt investigate allegations that police committed sexual violence against female protesters earlier in month. Following televised plea for peace by preacher Prophet Shephard Bushiri, opposition parties Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Transformation Movement (UTM) 3 Oct promised to respect constitutional court ruling on whether or not to uphold presidential results; govt refused to comment. High court registrar 19 Oct said constitutional court would hear case by 6 Dec and issue ruling by 20 Jan 2020. On his return from Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia, Mutharika 26 Oct for first time called for opposition leaders and rights activists to engage in talks with govt to resolve crisis, warning that instability was keeping investors at bay.
Protests against govt and international forces erupted in several cities, while suspected jihadist attacks continued in north and centre and intercommunal violence persisted in centre. Suspected jihadists 30 Sept struck bases of regional military force G5 Sahel in Mondoro and Boulikessi, Mopti region in centre; govt said 38 soldiers killed and dozens missing, and fifteen assailants killed. G5 Sahel 30 Sept blamed jihadist group Ansarul Islam, but jihadist coalition Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 6 Oct claimed attacks, saying it had killed 85 soldiers and abducted others. In early Oct, protesters demonstrated in capital Bamako, Sévaré in Mopti region, and Kayes in west, denouncing military’s lack of equipment and poor living conditions and demanding departure of foreign forces, in particular French and UN mission (MINUSMA). Protesters 12 Oct looted MINUSMA warehouse in Sévaré. Suspected jihadists continued attacks in north and centre. In Kidal region in north, MINUSMA vehicle 6 Oct detonated explosives near Aguelhoc, UN peacekeeper killed, and unidentified assailants 18 Oct attacked pro-govt armed groups in Aguelhok, killing six. In Gao region in north, suspected jihadists 23 Oct killed five members of Ganda Izo militia in Tassiga; unidentified gunmen 22 Oct clashed with pro-govt armed groups in Doro, at least fifteen killed including four civilians. In Mopti region in centre, unidentified gunmen 6 Oct attacked UN peacekeepers near Bandiagara, wounding one; 23 Oct killed gendarme in Douentza. French forces 17 Oct killed eight suspected members of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara in Liptako area in south east. Unidentified gunmen killed police officer and civilian in Ménaka city in east 24 Oct. Communal violence continued in centre. Suspected members of Dogon militia Dan Na Ambassagou 7 Oct attacked Fulani civilians near Petaka in Douentza circle, Mopti region, killing three. Suspected Fulani gunmen 6 Oct attacked Sogou and Berda in Koro circle, Mopti region, one Dogon killed.
Tensions rose as opposition party Renamo rejected victories of President Nyusi and ruling Frelimo party in 15 Oct presidential and parliamentary polls, and fighting intensified in north between militants and govt forces backed by Russian private security company. Violent incidents marred lead-up to polls: in Sofala province in centre unidentified assailants 3 Oct bus killed three bus passengers and same day killed one person at River Pungué. In Gaza province in south, five assailants, including four suspected police officers, 7 Oct killed local electoral observer; govt next day launched investigation. Polling 15 Oct took place relatively peacefully, but in Cabo Delgado province in north seven polling stations did not open due to risk of attack by militants. Renamo 19 Oct rejected preliminary results that indicated clear Frelimo victory and called for rerun; 29 Oct appealed Constitutional Council to annul results. EU election observers and U.S. embassy 19 Oct denounced irregularities in process and questioned validity of results. In Nhamatanda, Sofala province, gunmen 29 Oct shot dead two police officers and kidnapped two Frelimo zone secretaries. In Cabo Delgado province, militants 2 Oct kidnapped twenty in Nantodola village. Personnel of Russian private security company Wagner Group reportedly arrived in Cabo Delgado province 2 Oct with materiel including three attack helicopters; govt 3 Oct acknowledged Russia was providing military support, Russia 8 Oct denied presence of its soldiers in country. In first official confirmation of govt attack on militants, govt said soldiers 5 Oct killed nine militants some 30km from Mocimboa da Praia. Clashes between militants and govt forces alongside Russians in Mocimboa da Praia district 7 Oct left over 30 militants and two Russians dead. Militants’ ambush in Muidumbe district 27 Oct reportedly left twenty Mozambican soldiers and five Russians dead. Militants 31 Oct killed ten civilians near Mbau village.
Jihadist groups continued to attack civilians in south east near Nigeria and security forces in west near Mali. In south east, suspected members of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province carried out several attacks in Diffa region: militants killed one civilian in Biri Boula 1 Oct; one civilian in Kaoure and two others in Kindjandi 6 Oct; killed fisherman near Koulgouliram 8 Oct. Suspected Boko Haram combatants 30 Oct attacked Blabrine military base in Diffa region, killing at least ten. In Tillabéri region’s Filingué department bordering Mali in west, suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 8 Oct ambushed army patrol around Ekrafane, one soldier wounded and four militants reportedly killed; suspected jihadists 12 Oct ambushed gendarmerie patrol at Abarey market, five gendarmes killed. In Tillabéri region’s Say department near border with Burkina Faso, suspected jihadist militants 7 Oct killed gendarme in Bankata. In Dosso region in south west, suspected ISGS militants 6 Oct attacked military in Dogondoutchi department, killing two soldiers. Parliament 11 Oct extended state of emergency in Diffa region and parts of Tillabéri and Tahoua regions. Cabinet 4 Oct adopted new border control policy for 2019-2035 amid rising concerns over insecurity and irregular migration on southern border with Nigeria. EU mission (EUCAP) and International Organization for Migration 10 Oct launched construction of new centre in Birni N’Konni, Tahoua region near border with Nigeria to host permanent 250-strong border force. President Issoufou early Oct reiterated that he will not seek third term.
Boko Haram (BH) factions maintained insurgency in north east despite military operations, and in north west banditry and other violence continued at lower intensity following peace efforts by state govts. In Borno state in north east, BH insurgents belonging both to Islamic State-allied faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Abubakar Shekau-led faction kept up attacks on military and civilians. Notably, insurgents 3 Oct ambushed military convoy in Mauli-Borgozo area killing eleven soldiers. Next day insurgents stormed Milwa village, Chibok area killing two. Troops clashed with ISWAP 19 Oct near Jakana, about 40km from state capital Maiduguri; army said it killed seven fighters, Islamic State (ISIS) said insurgents killed ten soldiers. Shekau 13 Oct released video dismissing govt claim that some BH fighters had grown tired of fighting. In north west, state govts reported progress on peace efforts, but banditry and other violence continued albeit at lower intensity. In Zamfara state, bandits attacked communities in Anka, Maru, Gummi and Gusau areas throughout month, notably dozens of gunmen 3 Oct stormed Sunke village in Anka area killing nine soldiers. In Niger state, gunmen 9 Oct attacked three communities in Shiroro area, displacing over 1,200 residents. In Kaduna state, bandits 20 Oct attacked about seventeen villages in Igabi area killing at least three vigilantes; air force 4 Oct said it killed ten bandits in Birnin Gwari area. Islamic State (ISIS) 24 Oct said ISWAP fighters from neighbouring Niger killed several soldiers in 1 Oct attack in Sokoto state, but neither army nor any other source confirmed incident.
Violence briefly flared in north near DR Congo border leaving 33 dead. Armed assailants coming from strongholds of armed group Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) night of 4-5 Oct attacked Kinigi village in Musanze district in north leaving fourteen dead; security forces who pursued assailants killed nineteen attackers and captured five. Police arrested head of unregistered opposition party FDU-Inkingi, Victoire Ingabire, on suspicion of involvement in Kinigi attacks. Army chiefs of Rwanda, DR Congo (DRC), Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania 24-25 Oct met in DRC to discuss potential joint military operations against armed groups in eastern DRC. In Central African Republic (CAR), President Kagame and CAR President Touadéra 15 Oct signed agreements aimed at strengthening military and economic ties.
Al-Shabaab maintained its insurgency, tensions persisted between federal govt and federal member states Jubaland and Galmudug, and between Somalia and Kenya. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab militants 13 Oct launched mortars at compounds of UN and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM); suspected Al-Shabaab 16 Oct killed three people; bombing 28 Oct killed at least two civilians. In south and centre, Al-Shabaab kept up attacks in Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Bay and Hiraan regions, killing at least sixteen Somali and international soldiers and three civilians. Security forces 15-19 Oct reportedly killed several dozen Al-Shabaab militants in Gedo and Hiraan regions. Somali airstrikes 20 Oct left unknown number of militants dead in Lower Juba. U.S. airstrike 25 Oct killed three Islamic State (ISIS) militants; at least three civilians reported missing. Federal govt 7 Oct filed complaint against Kenya at UN aviation agency after Kenyan-chartered aeroplane few from Nairobi to Jubaland state capital Kismayo without touching down in Mogadishu, violating govt directive; federal govt 10 Oct accused Kenya of violating its sovereignty. Federal govt 11 Oct renewed ban on direct flights to Kismayo. Madobe 12 Oct called for dialogue with federal govt. After federal govt announced in Sept that it would form committee to oversee formation of Galmudug state administration and presidential election guidelines, Galmudug chief minister and head of Sufi paramilitary group Ahlu Sunnah Waa-Jama’a (ASWJ) 22 Oct announced parallel committee. ASWJ late Oct reportedly deployed fighters in and around Galmudug capital Dhusamareb, but returned to bases following 28 Oct meeting between Galmudug chief minister and interior minister. Following Kenya’s second request for delay, International Court of Justice 17 Oct postponed hearing of Kenya-Somalia maritime border dispute from 4-8 Nov to June 2020. U.S. 2 Oct announced re-establishment of its embassy in Somalia.
Dispute over composition of electoral commission (NEC) continued to block organisation of legislative and municipal elections. President Bihi, parliament’s upper house and all three political parties 13 Oct submitted for approval to parliament’s lower house their nominees for NEC. Opposition parties Waddani and Justice and Welfare Party 13 Oct suspended their participation in NEC in protest against Bihi’s choice of nominees. Head of EU delegation and Swedish ambassador to Somalia met Bihi and both opposition parties in bid to break deadlock 20-22 Oct, but failed to broker agreement. Bihi 6 Oct reportedly agreed to stop hostilities in Sanaag region against rebel soldiers loyal to Colonel Arre, who defected from Somaliland to Puntland in 2018. Unidentified assailants 22 Oct opened fire on govt vehicle in Awdal region. Police 7 Oct arrested head of private television station in capital Hargeisa. Armed group led by Suldaan Wabar 28 Oct attacked police station in Borama , no casualties reported.
Following Aug-Sept xenophobic violence, foreign nationals 8 Oct began sit-in protest near office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town demanding relocation out of South Africa; refugees and asylum seekers 20 Oct also protested outside UNHCR offices in Pretoria and Johannesburg. In Cape Town, police 30 Oct forcibly tried to disperse sit-in protest near UNHCR office, arresting about 100. Ramaphosa attended first Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia 23-24 Oct; for first time two Russian nuclear-ready bombers on training mission landed in South Africa 23 Oct, left 28 Oct.
If President Kiir follows through on pledge to form transitional govt at end of pre-transitional period 12 Nov despite objections by main rebel leader Riek Machar peace agreement could collapse and violence resume. Kiir and Machar met in capital Juba 20 Oct but failed to resolve outstanding issue of security arrangements. High-level UN Security Council delegation 20 Oct urged Kiir and Machar to speed up implementation of agreement and meet 12 Nov deadline to form govt. Kiir said govt would be formed by deadline, but Machar said he would not join govt in current conditions and demanded second extension of pre-transitional period citing failure to implement peace agreement, in particular reunification of security forces. Machar said that if parties form govt mid-Nov, “the ceasefire that we have been enjoying will be in jeopardy”. UN Security Council delegation later that day said there should be no further extension of pre-transitional period. Machar 21 Oct returned to Sudanese capital Khartoum; 30 Oct called for six-month extension of pre-transitional period. Unidentified assailants 13 Oct killed police officer in Jonglei state. Machar’s rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) 14 Oct reportedly killed trader in Southern Liech state. Unidentified gunmen 22 Oct ambushed police convoy in Southern Liech state, at least two assailants killed. In south west, clashes between govt forces and non-signatory rebel group National Salvation Front in Isebi, Yei River state left at least three aid workers and unknown number of soldiers and rebels dead. Panaguong clan attacked Panawur clan in Abieicok, Gok state 28 Oct leaving at least two dead. Kiir 14-21 Oct facilitated peace talks in Juba between Sudanese govt and Sudanese armed opposition groups; parties agreed to resume talks in Juba 21 Nov. UN Security Council 15 Oct extended mandate of UN peacekeeping mission in disputed Abyei region (UNISFA) on Sudan-South Sudan border until 15 Nov.
Govt and armed opposition groups made some progress in peace talks, notably increasing humanitarian access in south, and agreed to reconvene late Nov. Tens of thousands demonstrated in capital Khartoum and other cities 21 Oct calling for dissolution of former ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and accountability for perpetrators of deadly 3 June attack on protesters; Hamdok same day appointed investigative committee. Govt and rebel groups opened peace talks in South Sudan’s capital Juba 14 Oct brokered by South Sudan’s President Kiir. Talks stumbled when rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu 16 Oct withdrew, accusing govt of violating ceasefire by bombing several areas in Khor Waral, South Kordofan state. Sovereign Council head General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan same day decreed nationwide ceasefire. SPLM-N rejoined talks 18 Oct and same day agreed with govt outline agenda. As part of confidence-building measures agreed in Sept, govt 18 Oct released 26 prisoners of war. Govt and rebel coalition 21 Oct agreed outline agenda for negotiations and agreed to allow humanitarians access to rebel-held areas. Parties 22 Oct agreed to resume talks in Juba 21 Nov. PM Hamdok early Oct called on UN to align withdrawal of UN-AU mission in Darfur (UNAMID) with peace talks citing Darfuri armed groups’ concerns that UNAMID’s withdrawal would leave civilians exposed to attack by militias; Hamdok 22 Oct requested UN extend UNAMID’s mandate by one year. Council of ministers 23 Oct granted World Food Programme access to hitherto off-limits areas of South Kordofan. Govt 10 Oct extended state of emergency by three months. Head of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” 28 Oct said some 10,000 RSF soldiers who took part in Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen had returned. UN Security Council 15 Oct extended mandate of UN peacekeeping mission in disputed Abyei region (UNISFA) on Sudan-South Sudan border until 15 Nov; 31 Oct renewed UNAMID’s mandate for one year. Sudan and South Sudan 22 Oct signed agreement demarcating shared border.
Govt and Burundi began to repatriate Burundian refugees from Tanzania in spite of opposition from rights groups contending that conditions not safe for their return; some 600 refugees arrived in Gisuru in Burundi’s Ruyigi province 3 Oct. President Magufuli 11 Oct told Burundian refugees to return home and not to expect Tanzanian citizenship. Tanzania and Burundi 12 Oct signed agreement allowing their police forces to conduct cross-border operations, including in refugee camps in Tanzania. Unidentified assailants 19 Oct kidnapped four Burundian refugees from Nduta camp; camp residents blamed Burundian police.
Authorities continued to repress opposition. In capital Kampala, authorities 2 Oct cancelled concert by musician-turned-opposition leader Bobi Wine to mark 9 Oct Independence Day claiming it was unable to provide security; 3 Oct arrested six Bobi Wine supporters; 8 Oct placed Bobi Wine under house arrest to prevent him from performing and surrounded venue preventing concert. Bobi Wine next day slipped past security forces surrounding his residence and travelled to Kampala, where he evaded arrest. Police dispersed gatherings of opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), using live ammunition and tear gas in Butaleja and Busia 26 and 27 Oct. In north in Kotido district, raids by ethnic Turkana herders on ethnic Karamajong herders late Oct left unknown numbers dead. Army chiefs of
Uganda, DR Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania 24-25 Oct met in DRC to discuss potential joint military operations against armed groups in eastern DRC. President Museveni 14 Oct attended peace talks between Sudanese govt and Sudanese rebels in South Sudanese capital Juba; 23 Oct met Russian President Putin at Africa-Russia summit in Sochi, Russia and signed deal for Russia to maintain and upgrade Uganda’s military hardware.
Police clamped down on main opposition party and teachers joined doctors in strike over public-sector wages. Doctors in state hospitals continued their strike begun early Sept despite govt’s 18 Oct offer of 100% raise in allowances; health officials demanded that govt peg their on-call allowances to intermarket bank rate of $1 to fourteen RTGS Zimbabwe dollars. Members of teachers’ union Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe 21 Oct began working two days a week as part of strike action demanding wages also be pegged to U.S. dollar interbank rates. Civil service union 31 Oct reported civil service was incapacitated and called on civil servants to prepare for protest march 6 Nov.
Amid stalled formal peace process, violence remained at high levels while electoral commission delayed results of Sept presidential elections. In continued fighting, Taliban 4 Oct attacked Kunduz City, killing at least ten soldiers and capturing outpost later re-taken by govt forces; The New York Times counted at least 383 pro-govt forces killed 20 Sep-24 Oct. High level of civilian casualties continued including govt airstrike 12 Oct killing at least eight civilians in Wardoj District, Badakhshan Province. Suicide bomber 18 Oct detonated during Friday prayers at mosque in Nangarhar Province, killing some 73 people, in attack Taliban blamed on Islamic State Khorasan Province. UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan 17 Oct reported 1,174 civilian deaths 1 July-30 Sept, highest quarterly number since UN began documentation in 2009, saying numbers driven by increased attacks by “anti-govt elements” as well as “aerial and search operations” by pro-govt forces. Formal peace process remained stalled following U.S. President Trump’s Sept decision to pause negotiations with Taliban, though informal efforts continued; Taliban delegation led by deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar 3 Oct met Pakistani FM Qureshi in Islamabad; U.S. Special Envoy Khalilzad was present in Islamabad at same time, with unconfirmed reports he met with delegation. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper 19 Oct travelled to Afghanistan to meet President Ghani and other govt officials, remarking “political agreement” remained “best way forward”. Khalilzad 22 Oct began trip to Brussels, Paris and Moscow to discuss peace process; in Moscow meeting with Russia, China and Pakistan 25 Oct, participants expressed support for “earliest resumption of negotiation process”. China reportedly offered to hold intra-Afghan talks in Beijing. Taliban reportedly reiterated willingness to resume formal negotiations while govt continued to express scepticism over Khalilzad’s efforts. Announcement of results from 28 Sept presidential elections, originally scheduled for 19 Oct, hampered by technical issues with new biometric voter system; electoral commission announced low preliminary turnout of 1.93mn, 27 Oct said preliminary results will be announced 14 Nov.
Security forces continued to arrest alleged members of banned militant groups, while relations with India fed domestic tensions, and govt maintained hardline stance toward Rohingya refugees. In anti-militancy operations, police arrested three alleged Harakatul Jihad Bangladesh and four suspected Ansar-al-Islam (also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team) in Dhaka early Oct, and seven more in Narayanjang and Pabna districts 12 Oct; security forces arrested two alleged Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh militants. Following arrest of Hindu man in Bhola Island 19 Oct on charges of inciting religious hatred in social media post, thousands protested demanding his execution; police fired on demonstrators, killing four and injuring dozens, claiming crowd threw rocks at them. Bangladesh and India 5 Oct signed seven bilateral agreements during PM Hasina’s visit to New Delhi, including allowing India to use Chittagong and Mongla ports and withdraw water from Feni river; Hasina also raised concerns over situation of Bengalis in Indian state Assam, after Indian govt in Aug excluded almost 2mn people from National Register of citizens. Sec Gen of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called for Hasina to resign for “anti-state” agreements; police 12 Oct arrested 100 BNP leaders and activists protesting agreements. Border guards 17 Oct killed Indian soldier following disagreement over three Indian fishermen detained for allegedly entering Bangladeshi waters. Court 30 Oct jailed in absentia for three years BNP vice chair Giasudddin Quader Chowdhury for statements “conducive to public mischief” and “criminal conspiracy”, over 2018 speech where he said Hasina’s fate would be “worse” than her father, former President Mujib, assassinated in 1975. Hardline stance against Rohingya refugees from Myanmar continued; security forces 2 Oct arrested 45 Rohingyas for intruding into Bangladesh, first arrest of Rohingyas for infiltration, and 12 Oct killed refugee during alleged gunfight, accusing him of drug-trafficking; foreign ministry 15 Oct provided list of 50,000 refugees to Myanmar’s ambassador for verification and repatriation. Myanmar official 3 Oct confirmed govt rejected Chinese proposal to facilitate “go and see” visit for Rohingya refugees to Rakhine state ahead of potential repatriation.
Speaking at Xiangshan security forum in Beijing 21 Oct, Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe stated that disputed Diaoyu islands, which Japan also claims, are “inalienable parts of China’s territory”. Japan released its 2019 Defence White Papers late Sept, describing China as “strategic threat” ahead of North Korea, and accusing China of claiming seas and islands controlled by Japan; said China’s navy and air force had “expanded and intensified their activities in the surrounding sea areas and airspace of Japan, including the area surrounding the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu)”. Japanese PM Abe 23 Oct called for Beijing to take “positive action” on Japanese national detained in China in Sept, believed to have been accused of spying.
Clashes between security forces and Maoists continued. Militants 4 Oct killed two members of Jharkhand Jaguar security forces – special task force established in 2008 to tackle Maoist insurgency – during gunfight on border of Ranchi and Khunti districts, Jharkhand state (east); police 7 Oct arrested three suspected Maoists in Tilma village, Ranchi. In Chhattisgarh state (east), security forces claimed to have killed Maoist in clash in Dantewada district 8 Oct and another in Sukma district 15 Oct. In Kerala (south), police 28-29 Oct killed four suspected Maoists during clashes in Palakkad district.
Tensions remained high between India and Pakistan over former’s revoking of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) special constitutional status, and continued clashes across Line of Control (LoC, dividing Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir). New Delhi 31 Oct formally divided state into two federally-administered “union territories”, J&K and Ladakh. In continued clashes across LoC, Pakistani military sources claimed Indian fire killed soldier 10 Oct and three civilians 15 Oct. Spike in cross-LoC attacks 20 Oct with India claiming to have targeted three militant camps allegedly used for infiltration into India-administered Kashmir, reporting two soldiers killed by Pakistani fire, and claiming to have killed five Pakistani soldiers in retaliation; Pakistan claimed to have killed nine Indian soldiers. Pakistani PM Khan 8 Oct met with Chinese President Xi in Beijing in bid to gain support over Kashmir; joint statement declared China’s opposition to “any unilateral action that complicates the situation”, which should be resolved based on UN Charter, “relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements”. India criticised China for commenting on “internal affairs”; Xi and Indian PM Modi did not mention Kashmir during meeting in India 12 Oct. Within J&K, clashes continued including police claiming to have killed three militants in south 16 Oct. New Delhi began easing some restrictions including 10 Oct releasing three mid-level politicians and 14 Oct restoring some mobile phone connections, though other connections and internet services remained blocked. Govt re-blocked text messaging services hours later after militants killed truck driver in Shopian district; militants 29 Oct killed five migrant labourers in Kulgam district. National Conference party delegation 6 Oct met detained leaders Farooq Abdullah and son Omar; party’s provincial head said “mainstream leaders have to be released” to start political process with New Delhi. Delegation of 23 largely far-right European parliamentarians visited Kashmir in “private capacity” late Oct. In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, hundreds of supporters of pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front marched toward LoC intending to cross it, but were barred by govt; Khan stated anyone crossing LoC “will play into the Indian narrative” of terrorism.
Tensions continued in Papua region following Sept unrest in which dozens of people were reported killed in clashes. Military 7 Oct reported more than 16,000 people had fled Wamena, where most deaths occurred, including some 11,4000 evacuated by military. National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas) 18 Oct called for investigation into deaths, and said number of killed higher than previously reported, including 43 in Wamena; Human Rights Watch early Oct called for govt to allow UN human rights officials access to region, and called for inquiry led by Komnas. Media 1 Oct reported that President Widodo said he was ready to meet with Papuan activists demanding independence referendum; one Papuan leader told Reuters talks would need international mediation. Police 11 Oct said they would investigate discovery of bodies of five villagers – three women and a teenage boy and girl – with bullet wounds in Nduga area, site of clashes between military and separatists since late 2018. Military reported three civilians killed by separatists in Hitadipa 18 Oct; West Papua National Liberation Army claimed victims were military personnel. Widodo visited Papua late Oct, opening new bridge in provincial capital Jayapura. At national level, Widodo’s appointment as defence minister of former general Prabowo Subianto, his rival during April presidential election, prompted concern over past accusations of human rights abuses against Subianto. Suspected ISIS supporter stabbed chief security minister Wiranto in Banten province, west of capital Jakarta 10 Oct; Wiranto operated on for his wounds; husband and wife arrested in connection with attack.
Amid North Korean missile launches and continued inter-Korean tensions, U.S.-North Korean denuclearisation negotiations remained stalled with Pyongyang criticising U.S.’ approach to bilateral talks. U.S. and North Korea 5 Oct held working-level discussions in Swedish capital Stockholm, but Pyongyang broke off dialogue after a few hours claiming U.S.’ approach had not changed; North Korea’s chief negotiator Kim Myong-gil said U.S. would not “give up their old viewpoint and attitude” and negotiations had “not fulfilled our expectation”; U.S. reportedly also noted North Korean intransigence. Following speech by North Korea’s UN ambassador Kim Song at UN General Assembly 30 Sept, during which he accused U.S. of failing to attempt to implement June 2018 Joint Declaration issued by U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, North Korean criticism of U.S. policy continued; ruling party Central Committee vice-chair Kim Yong-chol 26 Oct warned that only Trump-Kim relationship stopped two countries returning to hostile relations, while govt reiterated U.S. has until end of 2019 to change “hostile policy”. In continued inter-Korean tensions, Kim Jong-un 23 Oct demanded South Korea remove its facilities in Mount Kumgang tourist zone – not in use since 2008 killing of South Korean tourist by North Korean guard – during visit to site; South Korea 28 Oct offered talks to resolve issue, but next day reported that North Korea had rejected proposal, preferring to reach agreement by “means of exchanging documents”. North Korea 2 Oct tested what is thought to be new ballistic missile capable of being launched from a submarine, while South Korea 31 Oct said Pyongyang that day had fired two unidentified “projectiles” into East Sea/Sea of Japan.
Insecurity continued in northern Shan state and Rakhine state in west, while govt held talks with ethnic armed groups based along Thai border. In Shan state, following end of military’s unilateral ceasefire in Sept, clashes continued between Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and military including TNLA 9 Oct ambush of convoy army trucks passing through Hseni town, killing three soldiers, injuring three others and seven civilians. In Rakhine State military and Arakan Army (AA) clashed regularly, with military deploying air and naval assets. Navy 1 Oct shelled village on Kaladan River in Kyauktaw township claiming AA fighters were taking refuge there; hit monastic school, injuring five. AA 26 Oct attacked ferry in northern Rakhine, abducting some 50 police, military and govt officials; several reported killed in military operation to release them; military 28 Oct reported fourteen rescued. Mandalay court 8 Oct charged six alleged AA members and supporters with terrorism offences following Sept police raid that uncovered explosives, detonators and communications equipment. Govt continued informal talks with Restoration Council of Shan State and Karen National Union, two largest ethnic armed groups along Thai border, with hopes it could lead to them resuming full participation in formal negotiations. Govt also held separate discussions with Kachin Independence Organisation, AA, TNLA and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, aiming to establish bilateral ceasefires. Court in Ngapudaw township, Ayeyarwady Region (south of Rakhine state), 4 Oct sentenced 21 Rohingya to two years imprisonment for attempting to travel from Rakhine to Yangon without permission, following single hearing and without legal representation for defendants; rights groups condemned trial as evidence of continued discrimination faced by Rohingya and lack of conditions for safe repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh. UN Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee 22 Oct reported it remains “unsafe for [Rohingya refugees] to return to Myanmar”, and called on UN Security Council to refer Myanmar to International Criminal Court. Bangladeshi govt maintained hardline stance against Rohingya refugees (see Bangladesh).
Following period of relative inactivity, govt security forces mounted pressure on Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) with 16 Oct arrest of 21 district-level leaders in Dang district following biggest Nepal Police raid on CPN to date. Security officials claimed CPN – led by hardline Maoist leader Netra Bikram Chand – planning to conduct attacks in leadup to 30 Nov local-level by-elections. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) investigation concluded June death of CPN’s Sarlahi district-in-charge Kumar Paudel – described by security officials as being killed in police action – was extrajudicial in nature as it occurred after Paudel was taken into custody; NHRC recommended suspensions and filing of criminal charges against three police officials and urged investigations into govt officials including local mayor. Chinese President Xi’s 12-13 Oct state visit to Kathmandu included meeting with PM KP Oli and signing of over twenty agreements mostly related to infrastructure, development and trade; senior U.S. official expressed concern about Chinese influence in Nepal at 22 Oct Congressional hearing. Fears of Nepal Communist Party-led govt’s suppression of civil liberties grew with two musicians taken into custody for supposedly violating social norms.
Political tensions remained high, amid govt’s push for criminal prosecution of opposition, and concerns over terrorism financing. Authorities continued corruption probes into opposition leadership: National Accountability Bureau 11 Oct remanded former PM Sharif in custody on corruption charges. Jamaat Uleme-e-Islam (JUI) 27-31 Oct held protest “Azadi [Freedom] March” from Karachi to Islamabad, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) participated, demanding PM’s resignation and new elections; position supported by other opposition parties including Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party and Baloch nationalist National Party. Amid concerns over terrorism financing, govt 10 Oct arrested four Laskhar-e-Tayyaba (renamed Jamaat-ud-Dawa) leaders on terrorism financing charges; however Financial Action Task Force 18 Oct declared govt had still taken insufficient steps to curb terrorism financing and money laundering, warning govt would be put on blacklist if sufficient progress not made by Feb 2020. Insecurity continued particularly in Balochistan province, including 15 Oct bomb in provincial capital Quetta that killed one and injured five police officers. Peshawar High Court 17 Oct declared law related to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) region – “Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Ordinance” which authorised military force and gave legal protection to military interment centres in KPK – and two similar 2011 regulations as unconstitutional, directing KPK’s police chief to take control of all internment centres within three days. Govt lodged appeal against rulings in Supreme Court. FM Qureshi 3 Oct met delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of Taliban’s political office, in Islamabad, saying govt wanted U.S.-Taliban negotiations to resume; U.S. Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in Islamabad at same time, with unconfirmed reports he met with delegation.
Preparations underway for referendum in autonomous region Bougainville scheduled for 23 Nov-7 Dec, when some 300,000 voters will choose between greater autonomy and independence. Vote, outcome of which will need to be ratified in national parliament, is part of 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement which ended decade of conflict on island over revenues from mining and its environmental impact. Referendum delayed twice in 2019 due to lack of funding.
Clashes continued between armed forces and militants, including Islamic State (ISIS)-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Abu Sayyaf group in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in south, and communist rebels in several regions. In BARMM’s Maguindanao province, encounter between govt-aligned Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and BIFF faction under Abu Toraify reportedly killed seven MILF and four BIFF in Shariff Saidona town 4 Oct. Armed forces 6 Oct killed suspected BIFF member believed to be involved in 4 Oct clash at checkpoint in Pandag, Maguindanao. Armed forces and MILF 19 Oct launched operation to dislodge Toraify Group from Maguindanao-North Cotabato border; following operation, roadside bombing 24 Oct injured seven MILF members; ISIS claimed attack, announced three deaths. In BARMM’s Sulu province, armed forces killed suspected member of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and captured another after intense firefight 6 Oct in Sitio Kan Pataw, Talipao municipality. MILF reportedly continued to talk to two BIFF factions (under Kagi Karialan and Commander Bungos) but groups apparently remain unwilling to return to MILF or disband. Security on periphery of BARMM remained volatile; British national and his wife were kidnapped in Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur province 4 Oct; ransom demand raised later in month, although no group claimed responsibility. Implementation of Bangsamoro peace process continued with meeting of peace implementing panels involving govt and MILF in Davao 19-20 Oct, while President Duterte mid-Oct named govt delegates to Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA)’s Intergovernmental-Relations body, expected to settle disputes between national and Bangsamoro govts; MILF appointed members months earlier. Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) reported it had decommissioned over 2,000 MILF combatants since early Sept. Clashes between govt and communist New People’s Army (NPA) occurred in several areas, including Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Quezon (centre), Sarangani (south), Isabela (north), and Las Navas, Samar island, as govt continued counter-insurgency efforts despite local peace dialogues; several NPA and govt forces reported killed.
Tensions over South China Sea (SCS) continued between China and Vietnam, and China and Philippines. Amid stand-off between Vietnam and China over oil exploration and fishing rights in disputed areas of SCS, Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong 15 Oct called for restraint. Chinese energy survey vessel and three escorting ships again spotted in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) same day, despite Vietnam’s previous calls for China to remove ship from area. Chinese Foreign Ministry 16 Oct called for dialogue to resolve “differences”; the Chinese vessels left Vietnamese waters 24 Oct. Earlier in month, Vietnam again accused China of preventing Vietnamese boat from fishing in its EEZ on 5 Oct, calling incident a violation of its sovereignty and jurisdiction. Philippines’ Foreign minister 2 Oct announced diplomatic protest after Chinese coast guard ships were seen near disputed island occupied by Philippines navy in South China Sea. Philippines early Oct reportedly invited Russian oil company Rosneft to explore for oil and gas in waters also claimed by Beijing. Speaking at Xiangshan security forum in Beijing 21 Oct, Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe stated that SCS islands are “inalienable parts of China’s territory”. U.S., Philippine, and Japanese forces conducted military drills in Philippines; U.S. and Brunei militaries also held joint exercises.
As campaigning began for 16 Nov presidential elections, parliamentary committee 23 Oct released report on investigation into April ISIS-inspired bombings that criticised govt and security services. Report placed “greatest responsibility” for failure to stop attack on State Intelligence Service chief and criticising other top security officials, president and PM for “fail[ing] in their duties”; called for investigations into “whether those with vested interests did not act on intelligence so as to create chaos and instil fear” ahead of presidential election. Former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, candidate for Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and widely assumed to be front-runner, 15 Oct rejected claims that hundreds of Tamils disappeared after surrendering during civil war in May 2009 while he was defence secretary, and announced his govt would not honour commitments on reconciliation and accountability made by current govt at UN Human Rights Council; earlier, Gotabaya declared he would acquit and release all “war heroes” held on “baseless” charges during 9 Oct campaign rally. Amid concerns over increased political repression under a Gotabaya govt, several prominent NGOs and activist groups working on minority and human rights issues reported increased police surveillance and harassment. Sajith Premadasa, candidate for ruling United National Party, took increasingly nationalist position, called for death penalty for terrorists, 10 Oct vowed to appoint controversial former army commander Sarath Fonseka as defence minister and 27 Oct promised to protect army commander Shavendra Silva with his life. U.S. State Department officials told Congress 22 Oct that “serious and credible” allegations of war crimes by unit under Silva’s command in 2009 meant his Aug appointment “will significantly curtail bilateral cooperation”.
During 10 Oct speech marking National Day, President Tsai denounced “one country, two systems” formula proposed by Beijing for reunification, saying it has put Hong Kong on “brink of disorder” and represents threat to Taiwan. Foreign minister earlier described China as practicing “authoritarian expansionism” in the Pacific, citing planned Chinese military presence in two Pacific countries (Kiribati and Solomon Islands) that switched diplomatic allegiance to Beijing in Sept. Speaking at Xiangshan security forum in Beijing 21 Oct, Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe stated that reunification with Taiwan is China’s “greatest national interest”.
Deep south largely quiet in terms of insurgency-related violence and official peace-dialogue process between govt and MARA Patani (Patani Consultative Council), while febrile political environment continued at national level. Apparent suicide attempt 4 Oct by judge in Yala courtroom focused public attention on long-standing misgivings about impartiality of justice system in southernmost provinces; judge shot himself after delivering verdict acquitting five Malay-Muslim defendants of murder and “illegal association”, alleging political interference in case by his superiors. Four rangers suffered light injuries in roadside IED attack in Bannang Sata district, Yala 26 Oct. At national level, royal powers continued to increase, and pro-military govt continued efforts to paint opponents as disloyal to monarchy. Army general 3 Oct brought sedition charges against academic and seven opposition party leaders for discussing constitutional amendments at seminar in Pattani late Sept; 51 MPs of governing Phalang Pracharat Party 9 Oct filed complaints over opposition MPs’ “treasonous” acts, and demanded they be banned from parliament. PM Prayuth Chan-ocha used emergency powers to transfer command of two army regiments to King’s Guard, which reports directly to King Maha Vajiralongkorn; Future Forward Party noted objection to PM’s bypassing parliamentary approval for move. Palace 21 Oct announced that king stripped Royal Noble Consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi of military rank and royal titles for “disloyalty”. King subsequently purged at least six other palace officials. Digital Economy and Society Minister early Oct announced that police were on verge of “purging” anti-monarchy figures on social media, and ordered all internet cafes to track customer use of computers for 90 days.
Armenia’s year-long chairmanship of Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union ended with summit in Yerevan early Oct where member states, plus observers Iran and Singapore, finalised treaties on closer economic cooperation. PM Pashinyan welcomed resolution passed in U.S. House of Representatives 30 Oct recognising mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Empire in early twentieth century as genocide.