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.
Our monthly conflict tracker warns of four conflict risks in October.
Our monthly conflict tracker highlights deteriorations in six countries in September.
We also noted an improvement in Lebanon, where the formation of a new government ended a thirteen-month period with caretaker authorities.
Aside from the 70+ conflict situations we regularly assess, we tracked notable developments in: Brazil, Eswatini, Indonesia and Montenegro.
Our CrisisWatch Digests for Ethiopia, Lebanon and Somalia offer a monthly one-page snapshot of conflict-related country trends in a clear, accessible format, using a map of the region to pinpoint developments:
Military stepped up aerial campaign against jihadists in north, while deadly violence persisted in several regions, including in east and south west.Air Force launched several airstrikes against presumed al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) positions in Sahel region’s Soum province 14-15 Sept, and Centre-North region’s Sanmatenga provinces 18 and 21 Sept; number of casualties unknown. Meanwhile in Sahel region (north), unidentified assailants 3 Sept shot civilian dead near Arbinda town, Soum province. Amid rise in violence in Soum since Aug, absence of direct clashes between army and JNIM in areas covered by 2020 ceasefire agreement may indicate pact still holding. JNIM and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) militants 18 Sept clashed in Soum province’s Koutougou department. In Centre-North region, residents in Foubé locality, Sanmatenga province, 11 Sept called for help, said embargo imposed by armed groups since May will soon lead to starvation. Police 1 Sept fired tear gas against artisanal miners inside dugouts of Bissa gold mine in Bam province, killing eight. In East region, suspected JNIM 12 Sept carried out sophisticated ambush against security forces convoy in border zone between Gourma and Tapoa provinces, leaving six gendarmes and one civilian dead; overnight 15-16 Sept killed soldier in Foutouri department, Komondjari province. In Cascades region (south west), violence in Mangodara commune, Comoé province, starting early Sept reportedly forced thousands to flee; notably, unidentified gunmen 17 Sept reportedly killed six civilians in Noumoukiédougou village. France 16 Sept said French Barkhane forces mid-Aug killed ISGS leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui in strike in tri-border area between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. G5 Sahel force’s member states (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad) 31 Aug-1 Sept met in Niger’s capital Niamey, pledged to develop more multilateral and bilateral operations in tri-border area.
Series of grenade explosions killed several people and wounded scores. Armed group RED-Tabara overnight 18-19 Sept launched mortar attacks on Bujumbura airport, from where President Ndayishimiye was due to fly next day, leaving no casualties; RED-Tabara next day claimed to have killed members of armed forces in ensuing clashes in Rukoko forest. Unidentified assailants 19-20 Sept launched at least four grenade attacks in capital Gitega and economic capital Bujumbura, killing at least five and injuring over a hundred; govt 21 Sept blamed “unidentified terrorists”, and RED-Tabara same day denied involvement. Authorities 22 Sept issued international arrest warrant against exiled opposition leader Alexis Sinduhije on suspicions of leading RED-Tabara. Grenade attack 28 Sept killed at least four in Vugizo village, Bujumbura Rural province. Meanwhile, military, police and ruling-party youth militia Imbonerakure forces deployed 11 Sept in Buganda commune, Citiboke province, near border with DR Congo (DRC), amid alleged imminent risk of attack by DRC-based Burundian rebels. Military 25 Sept reportedly detained 13 Kinyarwanda-speaking individuals in Citiboke province on suspicion of belonging to Rwandan rebel group. Authorities same day arrested 34 youths in Rutegama commune, Muramvya province over suspicion of seeking to join armed groups. UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (CoI) 16 Sept found Ndayishimiye, one year into presidency, has failed to undertake structural reforms to improve human rights record and rule of law. Following Gitega’s late June-early July suspension of foreign mining operations pending renegotiation of contracts with international companies, Council of Ministers 8 Sept held first discussion on reforming national Mining Code; established all minerals belong to Burundi and state must be involved at every stage of exploitation process.
Separatists continued to deal heavy blow to govt forces in Anglophone areas, and violence will likely intensify around 1 Oct self-declared Independence Day. In North West region, Anglophone separatists throughout month launched several explosive attacks, inflicting heavy death toll on govt forces. Notably, after separatists 11 Sept killed two soldiers in Gughe village, Donga-Mantung division, IED attack on incoming reinforcement next day killed seven more in Kikaikelaki village (Kumbo commune), Bui division. Separatists 16 Sept launched combined IED and rocket-propelled grenade attack on army convoy at Bamessing village (Ndop commune), Ngoketunjia division, killing 15 elite army unit soldiers. Meanwhile, govt forces 3 Sept killed three suspected separatists at checkpoint in Kom village, Donga-Mantung division, and 12 Sept killed another four in regional capital Bamenda. Ahead of 1 Oct declared Ambazonia Independence Day, faction of Ambazonia Interim Govt 12 Sept announced three-week lockdown in North West and South West regions until 2 Oct; separatist militias deployed on several roads to enforce lockdown, prompting skirmishes with army which notably killed civilian near Mbalangi village, Meme division (South West region) 14 Sept. Most schools in Anglophone regions 6 Sept reopened; some incidents reported in following days, including abductions of teachers and students by suspected separatists in Bui division. Military court in South West region’s capital Buea 8 Sept sentenced four individuals to death for alleged involvement in Oct 2020 Kumba school massacre which killed seven children. Hundreds 21 Sept marched notably in Francophone towns to call for ceasefire between govt and separatists. In West region, intercommunal violence between Anglophones and Bamileke ethnic group 8 Sept left four dead and about 20 injured in Tonga town, Nde division. In Far North region, Boko Haram continued attacks, notably killing at least ten civilians in several raids in Mayo-Tsanaga division 15-16 Sept. Islamic State in West Africa Province claimed 25 Sept attack on Sagme village, Logone-et-Chari division, which wounded three soldiers. Approximately 100 Boko Haram militants, including women and children, 5-12 Sept defected to authorities in Kolofata town, Mayo-Sava division; another 50 reportedly followed suit 27 Sept.
Govt forces and Russian allies pursued counter-insurgency operations, leaving high civilian toll, and President Touadéra again refused rebels’ participation in national dialogue. Amid ongoing offensive against rebel Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), Russian security personnel and govt forces reportedly killed 15 ethnic Fulani civilians in Ouaka prefecture 4-8 Sept and another 19 in Ouham-Pendé prefecture 11 and 28 Sept. 3R rebel group (a CPC member) 11 Sept accused govt forces and Russian personnel of carrying out “genocide” against Fulanis in west. Opposition party Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People 18 Sept said civilians in north west are caught between Russian mercenaries and CPC in “open-air prison”, accused UN peacekeeping force (MINUSCA) of inaction. Meanwhile, armed encounters between rebels and security forces persisted. In Nana-Mambéré prefecture, CPC 3 Sept ambushed Russian personnel escorting commercial trucks in Beloko town, killing one. In Mambéré-Kadeï prefecture, CPC 20 Sept reportedly retook control of Banga town after army and Russian personnel had seized it mid-Sept. In Ouaka prefecture, CPC 28 Sept reportedly killed two soldiers near Bambari town. CPC also continued to target civilians and NGO staff; notably, suspected CPC explosive devices 9-10 Sept killed one NGO personnel and one civilian in Ouham-Pendé prefecture. Touadéra early Sept installed Republican Dialogue Organizing Committee – tasked with setting up and running long-delayed political dialogue; govt 28-29 Sept reaffirmed refusal to include CPC rebels in dialogue during consultations with political parties, civil society and religious representatives in Italy’s capital Rome. International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) 16 Sept adopted roadmap for peace in Central African Republic; called on govt to accept ceasefire with CPC and revitalise Feb 2019 peace agreement. Authorities 4 Sept arrested former anti-balaka commander and senior figure of former President Bozizé’s presidential guard Eugène Ngaïkosset; Special Criminal Court in capital Bangui, made up of national and international magistrates, 10 Sept charged Ngaïkosset with crimes against humanity. UN 15 Sept ordered immediate withdrawal of Gabonese contingent part of MINUSCA over Gabon’s failure to “conduct timely and effective investigations” into allegations of sexual abuse by contingent members in CAR dating back to 2015.
Uncertainty around national dialogue persisted and transitional authorities formed interim parliament; Libyan forces attacked Chadian rebels and intercommunal violence killed dozens. Amid widespread doubts over Transitional Military Council (CMT) head Mahamat Idriss Déby’s readiness to genuinely engage in dialogue with some armed groups, Déby 3 Sept met with ex-rebels of Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) who indicated willingness to join dialogue; in response, UFR – led by Mahamat Déby’s cousins Timan and Tom Erdimi – said group will not participate in dialogue. Opposition Socialist Party without Borders’ President Yaya Dillo Djérou 5 Sept claimed CMT does not intend to organise sincere national dialogue. Mahamat Déby 24 Sept named 93 members of interim legislative body National Transitional Council, including former parliamentarians, politico-military leaders and civil society representatives. Civil society platform Wakit Tama, which has been at forefront of opposition to CMT since April, increasingly weakened as several core members, including Chadian Convention for the Defence of Human Rights (CTDHH), throughout month left coalition; CTDHH 11 Sept announced it will participate in upcoming national dialogue. Forces loyal to Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar 14 Sept launched air and ground operation against Libya-based Chadian rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) position in Tarbu area along Chadian border, reportedly leaving several dead (see Libya). FACT next day said Chadian, French and Sudanese forces involved; Chadian Defence Minister Daoud Yaya Brahim later denied accusation, claimed “no Chadian soldier intervened on Libyan soil”. Operation comes after Mahamat Déby late-Aug stressed need to reactivate 2018 quadripartite agreement between Chad, Sudan, Libya and Niger providing for establishment of mixed force to secure shared borders. Meanwhile, intercommunal violence 19 Sept left at least 27 dead in Kidji-Mina and Tiyo villages, Ouaddaï region (east). Suspected Boko Haram elements overnight 19-20 Sept attacked Kadjigoroum village in Lake region (west), killing nine. Govt 24 Sept announced plans to increase army size from current 35,000 to 60,000 troops by end of 2022 to cope with security challenges.
Former President Gbagbo moved to create new political party, and authorities stepped up security presence in north to address jihadist threat. In bid to sideline Pascal Affi N’Guessan amid dispute for leadership of Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI), Gbagbo 7 Sept set up committee to prepare constitutive congress of new party due to take place in Oct; committee includes several former ministers who advised Gbagbo not to concede defeat in 2010 presidential vote. Meanwhile, independent MP Antoine Assalé Tiémoko 14 Sept said he would soon propose constitutional amendment to restore age limit of 75 years to run for president, which President Ouattara removed in 2016 Constitution; amendment would prevent Ouattara, Ggagbo and opposition heavyweight Henri Konan Bédié to compete in 2025 presidential election. Authorities early Sept stepped up security presence at northern border with Burkina Faso after reports of imminent risk of jihadist attack there; military helicopter on reconnaissance mission in area overnight 9-10 Sept crashed, reportedly leaving five dead.
ADF rebel group launched increasingly daring attacks in eastern provinces; tensions flared over stalled appointment of electoral commission’s head. In North Kivu province’s Beni territory, suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels 5 Sept reportedly killed four in Kitsimba locality, Beni-Mbau sector, 16 and 22 Sept killed 14, including customary chief, in several villages in Bashu chiefdom. Citywide shutdown observed 13 Sept in Beni town to protest rising insecurity despite state of siege; authorities reportedly arrested dozens. In Ituri province’s Irumu territory, suspected ADF 1 Sept attacked vehicle convoy escorted by armed forces and UN (MONUSCO) peacekeepers on Komanda-Luna axis, killing ten with at least 80 missing; alleged ADF 4 Sept reportedly killed at least 30 in Luna-Samboko area, Walese Vonkutu chiefdom, and 23 Sept killed four in Komanda locality, Basili chiefdom. In Ituri’s Djugu territory, armed forces 6-7 Sept clashed with armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) in Kobu area; 34 CODECO reportedly killed. Parliament 16-17 Sept approved eighth extension of state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri. In response to request from some MPs to assess state of siege prior to each vote, PM Sama Lukonde 17 Sept tasked interior, justice, defence and finance ministries to carry out assessment. Ahead of presidential election scheduled for 2023, tensions between govt and opposition rose over appointment of electoral commission’s head. Opposition coalition Lamuka 3 Sept presented own electoral calendar, including consultations to reach consensus on electoral reforms; also reiterated accusation that President Tshisekedi is seeking to illegitimately extend his tenure. Two influential parties of Tshisekedi’s parliamentary majority Sacred Union, Moïse Katumbi’s Together for the Republic and Vital Kamerhe’s Union for the Congolese Nation expressed support for initiative. Police 15 Sept used teargas to disperse Lamuka protest in capital Kinshasa demanding “depoliticisation” of electoral commission. Authorities overnight 20-21 Sept arrested journalist Sosthène Kambidi in Kinshasa over allegations of terrorism and insurrection, after Kambidi reportedly uncovered video showcasing 2017 killing of two UN experts in Kasaï province. National Assembly’s Bureau d’Etudes 26 Sept declared “inadmissible” controversial nationality bill seeking to limit presidential eligibility.
Govt continued to face accusations of war crimes in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. NGO Human Rights Watch 16 Sept released new findings, accusing Eritrean forces and Tigrayan militias of involvement in “killings, rape and other grave abuses” against Eritrean refugees in Tigray’s Hitsats and Shimelba refugee camps between Nov 2020 and Jan 2021; said attacks amount to “evident war crimes”. U.S. President Biden 17 Sept allowed U.S. govt to sanction certain individuals and entities involved in Tigray conflict, including Eritrean govt. In address to UN General Assembly in New York, FM Osman Salih 27 Sept accused U.S. and its “European allies” of defending Tigray forces and their “illicit and dangerous acts of insurrection and mayhem”.
Authorities blocked small-scale pro-democracy protests and deployed security forces across country to stifle students’ strikes. Army and police week of 6-12 Sept blocked pro-democracy protests across country; week of action coincided with country’s Independence Day 6 Sept; no major security incidents reported. Dozens of pro-democracy demonstrators 10 Sept gathered in front of UN office in executive capital Mbabane to demand end to absolute monarchy while representatives of Political Party Assembly – a coalition of five banned political parties – delivered petition to UN Resident Coordinator Nathalie Ndongo-Seh. Military 19 Sept reportedly cracked down on students striking over unpaid allowances and other grievances at William Pitcher College in Manzini city; troops used teargas, sticks and batons, leaving at least three injured. Communist Party of Swaziland 21 Sept condemned storming of campus as regime’s “desperate attempt to cling to power” and called for “establishment of people’s defence militia”. High school students in several regions late Sept reportedly joined university strikes, boycotting classes to demand political reforms and release of opposition activists, while govt allegedly deployed army and police to schools across country. High Court 14 Sept denied bail to pro-democracy MPs Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, in custody since 25 July on terrorism charges; trial due to start late Nov.
Tigray forces’ advance faced resistance in Amhara and Afar; violence continued in Oromia and federal govt deployed reinforcements to Benishangul-Gumuz. Federal govt 9 Sept said military and Afar forces had compelled Tigray forces to withdraw from Afar region; Tigray forces denied claim, said they redeployed to neighbouring Amhara region. Large parts of Amhara’s North Wollo Zone, including Weldiya and Lalibela cities, still under Tigray forces’ control by month’s end. Amhara officials 8 Sept accused Tigray forces of having killed over 120 civilians in Chenna village near Dabat town (North Gondar Zone) 1-2 Sept – in what would be one of deadliest massacres of ten-month war; Tigray forces rejected “fabricated allegation”, as well as claims they executed dozens of civilians in and around Kobo town in North Wollo Zone starting 9 Sept. Mobilisation continued, with military graduating tens of thousands of new recruits in Sept. UN humanitarian agency 2 Sept reported less than 10% of required aid had entered Tigray region since mid-July, 1.7mn in Afar and Amhara food insecure due to war. U.S. President Biden 17 Sept allowed U.S. govt to sanction individuals and entities involved in conflict. Addis late Sept expelled seven senior UN officials, citing “meddling”. Violence increased in Oromia region following Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)’s Aug alliance with Tigray forces. OLA late Aug-early Sept claimed to have captured localities in East Wollega Zone and parts of Borana Zone from govt forces; around 22 Sept clashed with federal govt and Oromia forces in North Shewa Zone. OLA also continued attacks on civilians, reportedly killing at least 28 in Kiramu district, East Wollega Zone 16-18 Sept. Meanwhile, federal govt deployed troops from four regions to Benishangul-Gumuz region in north west after regional authorities 9 Sept accused ethnic Gumuz rebels of killing five security forces and one Chinese national in Metekel Zone previous day; attacks in Metekel have displaced hundreds of thousands since Sept 2020. Delayed parliamentary elections held 30 Sept in Somali, Harari and Southern Nations (SNNPR) regional states; voters in part of SNNPR same day voted in referendum to decide whether or not to form South Western regional state.
Military coup against President Condé opened period of great uncertainty. Special forces 5 Sept captured Condé after brief skirmishes in capital Conakry’s govt district; fighting reportedly left at least ten killed, mainly Presidential Guard soldiers. In following hours, hundreds gathered in Conakry’s suburbs and Labé city (centre north) to celebrate Condé’s ouster, particularly but not exclusively in strongholds of main opposition party Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG). Coup leader Col Mamady Doumbouya same day announced govt’s dissolution and suspension of country’s constitution, said military junta National Rally and Development Committee (CNRD) now in charge; also called for national unity, reconciliation, good governance and vowed to fight corruption and respect rule of law. Junta next day consolidated takeover by naming military governors, prohibited govt officials from leaving country and reportedly arrested several politicians, said there would be no “witch hunt” against former govt officials. UFDG leader Cellou Dalein Diallo 7 Sept qualified coup as “patriotic act”, said his party was “open to work” with CNRD; CNRD same day took benevolent measures toward opposition, notably releasing around 80 political detainees. CNRD 14 Sept opened four-day series of consultations with political and civil society figures, as well as foreign diplomats, to map out framework for transitional govt. CNRD 27 Sept unveiled “transitional charter”, saying it will return country to civilian rule without clarifying how long transition will last; Doumbouya to run country as transition’s president, along with govt headed by civilian PM and 81-member National Transitional Council to serve as parliament; charter bans all those taking part in transition from running in next national and local elections. Coup drew widespread international condemnation. Notably, Economic Community of West African States 8 Sept suspended Guinea’s membership, demanded return to constitutional order and immediate release of Condé; 16 Sept imposed sanctions on CNRD members, including travel bans and asset freezes, and called for presidential and legislative elections within six months. African Union 10 Sept also suspended Guinea.
Violence flared up in centre, while political jockeying continued ahead of 2022 general elections. Herder-farmer clashes early Sept left at least ten dead in Laikipia county; police 6 Sept launched operation in area, 8 Sept arrested four gunmen and two MPs over allegation of inciting violence. Police 13 Sept said violence had subsided; however, herders and farmers continued to clash notably in Rumuruti town 15 Sept. Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i 14 Sept said authorities would grant amnesty to civilians laying down their weapons before month’s end. In Marsabit county (north), violent incidents related to banditry, inter-clan feuding and political intrigues continued, leaving two dead in Loiyangalani area 26 Sept. Meanwhile, One Kenya Alliance (OKA), coalition formed in March by President Kenyatta with four opposition parties, 22 Sept said it would announce its presidential candidate for 2022 general elections in Oct. Following court rulings in May and Aug that controversial attempt by Kenyatta and his de facto ally, opposition leader Raila Odinga, to amend constitution was illegal, Deputy President William Ruto 17 Sept accused MPs aligned with Kenyatta and Odinga of attempting to push through new constitutional amendments. Authorities 14 Sept said they would next day end fuel subsidies to ease economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic, prompting gasoline price to jump to highest level in a decade; many Kenyans in following days criticised decision on social media, discussed whether they should take to streets. Energy Minister Charles Keter and Petroleum and Mining Minister John Munyes 21 Sept failed to answer summons by Senate’s Energy Committee over price hike, drawing condemnation committee members who proposed to take up matter to Senate plenary.
West Africa regional bloc imposed sanctions to encourage return to civilian rule, but PM said general elections could be delayed; reports of Russian mercenary deal alarmed France, while security situation remained fragile. Economic Community of West African States 7 Sept denounced “lack of concrete actions” to prepare presidential and legislative elections set for Feb 2022 and 16 Sept imposed sanctions on those slowing down transition. PM Choguel Maïga 26 Sept stated potential need to postpone polls to avoid their validity being contested. News agency Reuters 13 Sept revealed authorities close to striking deal with Russian private military company Wagner Group to hire at least 1,000 mercenaries. French govt next day said allowing Russian mercenaries into Mali would be “incompatible” with continued French presence. Thousands 22 Sept reportedly marched in capital Bamako in support of Russia deal. After Maïga 25 Sept accused France of “abandoning” country with its June decision to draw down troops, French govt 27 Sept rejected “indecent” accusations. Security situation remained precarious in centre. In Ségou region, presumed Katiba Macina militants, a sub-group of al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), 12 Sept ambushed army patrol in Macina district, killing at least five soldiers. Truce agreed in April 2021 between Katiba Macina and Bambara communal “Donso” militias in Ségou’s Niono district continued to unravel; clashes 2 Sept left one Donso dead in Molodo village, while Katiba Macina 4 Sept reportedly stormed Songo village, killing two residents. French President Macron 16 Sept said Barkhane mid-Aug had killed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui in tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. In Koulikoro region (west), unidentified gunmen 11 Sept killed two Moroccan nationals in Djidiéni town (Kolokani district). In Sikasso region (south), unidentified gunmen 14 Sept attacked army post in Mahou village (Yorosso district), two soldiers and two assailants killed. Authorities 3 Sept detained Special Forces Commander Oumar Samaké for allegedly repressing protests under former President Keïta; armed police same day protested and obtained release of Samaké, who 6 Sept turned himself in after reportedly obtaining fair trial guarantees.
Amid sustained offensive by govt forces and its allies, Islamist militants launched series of attacks in far north; counter-insurgency efforts reportedly expanded to Niassa province. In far north Cabo Delgado province, Islamist militants 3 Sept reportedly staged multiple attacks on military positions in Mocìmboa da Praia district; death toll unknown. Militants mid-month used IED reportedly containing landmine elements to ambush Rwandan armoured columns on Mbau-Indegue road in southern Mocìmboa da Praia; incident suggests return of landmine use in Mozambique and new insurgent tactic involving IEDs. President Nyusi 7 Sept claimed nearly all towns and villages in Cabo Delgado back in govt hands, while joint Mozambican and Rwandan forces by next day reportedly reached key insurgent base ‘Siri 1’ in southern Mocìmboa da Praia. Southern African regional bloc SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) 14 Sept captured insurgent base south of Messalo river, Macomia district; 25 Sept killed 17 militants and lost Tanzanian soldier in raid on insurgent base near Chitama settlement, Nangade district. Fifteen insurgents mid-month surrendered to authorities near Quiterajo administrative post, Macomia, claimed desertions were high among combatants; govt forces, likely working with SAMIM, 22 Sept struck insurgent camp near Quiterajo, reportedly killing five militants and rescuing 87 civilians held captive. In Quissanga district, militants reportedly moving south away from joint force operations 16-20 Sept killed at least 22 civilians in four villages; 23 Sept reportedly launched series of attacks across Quissanga, killing at least five. After Rwandan President Paul Kagame 5 Sept said Rwandan forces had gathered intelligence of potential militant expansion into Niassa province (which shares border with Cabo Delgado), Mozambican, Rwandan and SAMIM troops reportedly deployed there as of 11 Sept. Meanwhile, NGO Human Rights Watch 7 Sept called on authorities to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of displaced women in exchange for humanitarian aid in Cabo Delgado. In Sofala province in centre, suspected members of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), armed dissident faction of opposition Renamo party, 9 Sept killed one in Chinapanimba village, Muanza district. Meanwhile, JMR leader Mariano Nhongo 8 Sept warned JMR “will never disappear”, called on govt to negotiate.
Govt’s plan to relocate displaced people to violence-ridden south east and south west under strain as jihadist attacks on civilians continued. In Diffa region (south east), jihadists continued to target civilians in alleged bid to sabotage govt’s relocation plan. Suspected militants from Boko Haram’s Bakura faction 4 Sept abducted teacher in Kindjandi village (Diffa department); 13 Sept attacked civilian transport vehicle on Blabrine-N’Guigmi axis, wounding one; 21-23 Sept reportedly abducted village chief and about 20 women and children in N’Guigmi department. Alleged Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) combatants 7 Sept ambushed two civilian vehicles on Ngagam-Ehl Mainari axis, wounding at least four. Local sources 1 Sept accused security forces of having executed 17 fishermen following deadly jihadist attack in Baroua town late Aug. In Tillabery region (south west), suspected Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) combatants 9 Sept killed 11 in Niarbou Kouara village (Ouallam department); suspected al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 22 Sept attacked National Guard position near Tamou village (Say department) killing one guard. President Bazoum 10-11 Sept visited Tillabery region in bid to bolster relocation efforts. NGO Amnesty International 13 Sept warned about increasing number of children killed or recruited by armed groups – notably ISGS and JNIM – in Tillabery this year. France 16 Sept said French Barkhane forces mid-Aug killed ISGS leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui in tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Meanwhile, G5 Sahel force’s member states (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad) 31 Aug-1 Sept met in capital Niamey, agreed on necessity to develop more multilateral and bilateral operations in tri-border area. Authorities 9 Sept charged two local journalists with “defamation” and “disruption of public safety” under controversial 2019 cyber criminality law, after they published international NGO study on drug trafficking in Niger.
Armed group attacks on villages and military left over 100 dead in north west, and jihadist violence persisted in north east. In north west, security operations early Sept killed scores of armed group members in Zamfara and Katsina states’ forests, and angry residents 18 Sept lynched 13 armed group members detained at police facility in Tangaza area of Sokoto state; groups however continued attacks, killing over 100. In Sokoto, gunmen 24 or 25 Sept attacked military base in Sabon Birni area, killing 17 soldiers, police and civil defence corps: military blamed attack on “suspected ISWAP terrorists and bandits”; 28 Sept killed at least 20 people in same area. In Kaduna state, gunmen 26-27 Sept killed at least 51 people in attacks on villages in Kaura and Zangon Kataf areas. In Niger state, gunmen 28 Sept killed over 30 in three villages in Munyan area. Meanwhile in Borno state (north east), troops 1 Sept repelled insurgents’ attack on military base in Rann town; 17 including aid worker reportedly killed. Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) 16 Sept ambushed military convoy in Monguno town, killing unconfirmed number. In neighbouring Yobe state, airstrike on village in Yunusari area 15 Sept killed scores including civilians; ISWAP had reportedly used location as hideout. Militants mostly from embattled Boko Haram (BH) faction of late Abubakar Shekau (JAS) continued to surrender: military 2 Sept said 6,000 combatants had laid down arms in recent weeks. Intelligence agency 14 Sept warned JAS elements were relocating to and setting up camps in Kaduna state. Military 19 Sept reported ISWAP had started mass recruitment drive, apparently in preparation for major offensives in coming months. In Middle Belt, armed group 12-13 Sept stormed prison in Kabba town, Kogi state, freeing about 240 inmates, but state govt 27 Sept said 132 escapees rearrested; attack reportedly meant to free incarcerated BH/ISWAP commander. In south east, violence persisted between security forces and outlawed separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Notably, police blamed IPOB for 19 Sept attack on police post in Idemili North area of Anambra state, which left three dead.
Amid stalled efforts to resolve Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute, UN Security Council urged parties to resume AU-led talks. Egypt’s Water Minister Mohamed Abdel-Ati 6 Sept said diplomatic initiatives other than AU efforts under way. Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry 8 Sept reiterated commitment to talks with view to reaching binding agreement on filling and operating dam, said Cairo wants to avoid military conflict. UN Security Council 15 Sept adopted Tunisia-drafted presidential statement encouraging Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to resume GERD negotiations under AU auspices, and calling on parties to reach “binding” agreement “within a reasonable time frame”. Ethiopia’s foreign ministry same day regretted “that the Council pronounces itself over an issue of water right … that is outside of its mandate”, and condemned “Tunisia’s historic misstep”. In speech delivered to UN General Assembly, Egyptian President Sisi 21 Sept criticised Ethiopia’s “intransigence” and “unjustified refusal to deal positively with the negotiations process”.
Power struggle between President Farmajo and PM Roble escalated, putting at risk electoral progress; dispute could spark violence in capital Mogadishu. After weeks of mounting tensions between Farmajo and Roble, who has been in charge of election preparations since May, Roble 6 Sept suspended Fahad Yasin, head of National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and Farmajo’s close ally, and appointed replacement, citing NISA’s failure to investigate case of missing intelligence officer. Farmajo next day moved Fahad to post of national security adviser and designated Fahad’s confidant Yasin Abdullahi Farey as interim NISA head. Farey 8 Sept moved to take control of NISA headquarters in Mogadishu, immediately prompting face-off between rival NISA units; outnumbered pro-Farmajo forces eventually backed down. Roble later same day replaced security minister – who oversees NISA – signalling further jockeying for control of institution; 12 Sept suspended withdrawal of funds from govt accounts without PM’s consent. Farmajo 16 Sept suspended Roble’s executive powers, accusing him of violating constitution; Roble immediately rejected order. UN Security Council 18 Sept urged feuding leaders to settle dispute and give top priority to holding elections this year. Electoral cycle remained behind schedule with Upper House elections still ongoing by month’s end. Authorities 6 Sept delayed selection of Lower House representatives to Nov without specifying new date for presidential election, which had been scheduled for 10 Oct. Following progress in resolving dispute over Somaliland’s election process between Upper House Speaker Abdi Hashi Abdullahi and Deputy PM Mahdi Guled, delegates from Somaliland 29-30 Sept elected 11 senators to serve in next federal parliament. Deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab continued. In Mogadishu, suicide attack near Halane airport compound 14 Sept killed at least ten, and suicide car bomb near president’s residence 25 Sept killed at least another ten. Group demonstrated its capacity to undertake mortar attacks throughout country, with incidents recorded in Middle Shabelle, Gedo and Bari regions in Sept; also continued to impose blockade on urban centres in Bakool region, notably Huddur and Wajid, causing food shortages. Meanwhile, clashes 30 Sept broke out between Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a (ASWJ) militia and Galmudug state forces in Bohol area (Galgaduud region).
President Bihi conducted major cabinet reshuffle. Following poor showing of ruling party in parliamentary and local council elections held in May, Bihi 2 Sept reshuffled cabinet, sacking several key ministers; also replaced central bank governor and three regional governors; reshuffle likely carried out with an eye toward presidential election scheduled for Nov 2022.
Unravelling of VP Riek Machar’s movement continued, and clashes between armed groups in south continued to prompt mass displacement. New breakaway “Kitgwang” faction from Machar’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) already in disarray: faction’s most powerful warlord, Gen Johnson Olony, 20 Sept expressed readiness to strike limited army integration deal with President Kiir; following Olony’s disavowal, Kitgwang faction indefinitely postponed conference scheduled for late Sept with other opposition leaders to build broader alliance against govt. Meanwhile, heavy fighting reported mid-Sept between SPLM/A-IO forces loyal to Machar and “Kitgwang” faction in Magenis area, Upper Nile state, notably leaving 20 killed 13 Sept. Chair of Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, tasked with tracking implementation of 2018 peace agreement, 23 Sept warned lack of progress on unifying army is worsening insecurity across country. Violent clashes continued to ravage Tambura area of Western Equatoria state (south), reportedly leaving 24 dead 6 Sept; violence, which pits mainly ethnic Balanda forces under Machar’s SPLM/A-IO against ethnic Azande forces of commander James Nando – who defected from Machar to Kiir’s South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) after 2018 peace deal – has displaced 80,000 and killed over 100 since June. Joint Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-UN delegation to area 19 Sept warned of further escalation absent urgent govt action. Insecurity also persisted elsewhere. In Lakes state (centre), armed youth 5 Sept reportedly attacked police station in Rumbek East county; disarmament operation targeting suspected criminals in Cueibet county 8 Sept turned deadly, leaving seven dead. In Jonglei state (east), armed individuals 2 Sept reportedly killed herder in Uror county; 5 Sept reportedly killed two in road ambush in Duk county. In Eastern Equatoria state (south), local officials 12 Sept said unidentified assailants stabbed two SSPDF soldiers to death in Ikotos county. NGO Amnesty International 3 Sept urged authorities to end “new wave of repression against peaceful protests”, including arrests and harassment, since civil society coalition in Aug called for anti-govt protest. UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan 23 Sept accused governing elite of having looted $73mn from public coffers since 2018; govt 27 Sept dismissed claim.
Coup attempt strained relations between civilian and military components of transition; unity of transitional govt at stake in coming weeks. PM Hamdok 21 Sept said authorities had thwarted same day “coup attempt” by remnants of former President Bashir’s regime; 21 officers and unspecified number of soldiers reportedly arrested. Reported coup attempt heightened tensions between transitional authorities’ civilian and military components. PM Hamdok same day said incident confirmed “need to reform the security and military apparatus” and hundreds immediately took to streets in several cities to denounce coup and support civilian-led govt. Sovereign Council head Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti” – who also heads paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – next day accused politicians of creating conditions for coups by seeking personal gains and neglecting citizens; governing coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) 23 Sept said military’s “baseless accusations” posed “direct threat” to democratic transition. Military unit tasked with protecting committee in charge of dismantling Bashir regime’s political and financial apparatus 26 Sept reportedly withdrew from committee’s headquarters; civil society group Sudanese Professionals Association same day called for end to civilian partnership with military. Earlier in month, groups within FFC 8 Sept signed pledge to better cooperate to advance transition’s agenda; rebel groups turned members of transitional govt Justice and Equity Movement and Minni Minnawi’s Sudan Liberation Movement/Army faction refused to sign. Five security forces reportedly killed in raid targeting Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliated cell 28 Sept in capital Khartoum. Amid continued violence in Darfur region, particularly North Darfur state, authorities 14 Sept formed long-delayed Joint Force – comprising police, army, RSF and armed groups signatories to Oct 2020 peace deal – to protect civilians; many fear move could legitimise and empower actors involved in abuses. Meanwhile, tensions persisted with Ethiopia over disputed al-Fashaga border zone. Notably, Sudan 26 Sept said it had previous day thwarted incursion in Umm Barakit district by Ethiopian troops, which latter denied; Ethiopia’s Amhara regional forces and Sudan’s military reportedly clashed in al-Fashaga starting mid-Sept. Govt 26 Sept reached deal with tribal group in east after days of protests against region’s marginalisation, which were threatening energy supplies.
Authorities continued to harass opposition and suspended second newspaper in less than a month. Main opposition party Chadema 4 Sept claimed police same day detained nine party members and raided party offices in northern Musoma city to block planned symposium on constitutional change. In ongoing trial of Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe on terrorism charges, Judge Elinaza Luvanda 6 Sept recused himself amid accusations of lacking impartiality. Govt 5 Sept suspended privately owned newspaper Raia Mwema for allegedly “publishing false information and deliberate incitement” against govt. President Suluhu Hassan 12 Sept replaced four ministers and appointed new attorney general in second cabinet reshuffle since taking office in March. Hassan 15 Sept defended state of democracy under her rule amid opposition’s accusations that she is returning country to oppressive rule despite initial pledges; also suggested she would run for president in 2025. Police 2 Sept said gunman who killed several people in capital Dar es Salaam in Aug was “terrorist” who had accessed extremist content linked to Islamic State and Al-Shabaab on social media; development could illustrate mounting jihadist threat in country.
Govt stepped up efforts to combat insecurity in parts of Central and Northern regions. Minister for Presidency Milly Babirye Babalanda 3 Sept warned wave of machete killings, which has left around 30 dead since July, could spread beyond Central region’s Greater Masaka area; police 13 Sept however said “peace and security has been restored in the Greater Masaka districts of Lwengo and Masaka” with no attack recorded since 2 Sept. Authorities 7 Sept detained two opposition National Unity Platform MPs on charges of murder and attempted murder in relation to recent killings; 15 Sept amended charges to include terrorism; defendants’ lawyer accused govt of “political persecution”. Authorities 20 Sept granted bail to MPs but rearrested them soon after on murder charges; in response, some opposition lawmakers 28 Sept started boycotting parliament’s plenaries. In North region, cattle raiders in Karamoja sub-region displayed unprecedented coordination and daring despite disarmament operation launched mid-July; notably, group of 60 rustlers 12 Sept stole 158 cows in director of public prosecution’s home village in Nabilatuk district. President Museveni mid-month visited area, pledged to increase security forces’ capacity and number of state attorneys; transfer of troops from other regions reported as of 8 Sept. Meanwhile in Western region, unidentified individuals 2 Sept reportedly killed acting chairman of ruling National Resistance Movement in Ntoroko district, after kidnapping him in Fort Portal city.
Ruling-party elections revealed internal rifts and deep-rooted factionalism, and Constitutional Court decision marked win for President Mnangagwa. ZANU-PF district elections 25-26 Sept marred by violent intra-party altercations in several provinces including Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Midlands, as well as in capital Harare’s suburb of Epworth; incidents pitted factions aligned to Mnangagwa against those aligned with his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, as each camp sought to secure key positions likely to determine outcome of ZANU-PF’s provincial elections, now scheduled for early 2022. Meanwhile, Nelson Chamisa-led faction (MDC-A) of main opposition party 4 Sept fired 15 councillors for reportedly attending meeting of rival Douglas Mwonzora-led faction (MDC-T) day before. National Prosecuting Authority 1 Sept announced intention to bar Jacob Mafume, prominent MDC-A official who was in Dec 2020 suspended as mayor of capital Harare, from entering Harare city headquarters, citing risk he could interfere with witnesses as he faces two criminal charges; Local Govt Minister July Moyo 14 Sept suspended Mafume as city councillor. High Court 17 Sept suspended Harare provincial authorities’ July directive requiring NGOs to submit workplans or cease operating; also prohibited authorities from “interfering with, suspending or stopping operations of NGOs” until final ruling on case. Constitutional Court 22 Sept quashed High Court ruling that Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s term extension was unconstitutional; Mnangagwa had extended Malaba’s term by five years in May in move critics decried as attempt to consolidate control over judiciary.
Amid worsening humanitarian crisis and crackdown on protests, Taliban tightened its grip across country, including by gaining control over Panjshir province. After initial negotiation efforts failed, Taliban 2 Sept stepped up efforts to capture last stronghold of Panjshir province (north) as group sent troops, set up blockade and cut off telecommunications, food and other supplies from getting to valley. Taliban 6 Sept gained control of provincial capital, marking first time group controls city; Ahmad Massoud, leader of Northern Resistance Front, same day vowed to resist and called for large-scale protests. Series of anti-Taliban protests took place in early Sept; notably, hundreds of people, including women, 7 Sept protested in capital Kabul chanting anti-Pakistan slogans and “freedom”; amid rising crackdown on demonstrators, Taliban 9 Sept cut off internet and phone services to several suburbs of Kabul to disrupt coordination among protesters. Taliban 7-8 Sept announced new acting govt composed of old guard, including Mohammad Hassan Akhund, group’s founding member, as PM; Abdul Ghani Baradar, lead negotiator in U.S.-Taliban Feb 2020 deal, as deputy PM; Mohammad Yaqub, son of group’s first leader Mohammad Omar, as defence minister; Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of prominent militant Jalaluddin Haqqani, as interior minister; and Amir Khan Muttaqi, veteran Taliban diplomat, as FM. First slate of cabinet appointments excluded women and several ethnic groups (only small minority of appointments are non-Pashtuns); no state had yet recognised new govt by end of month. Following U.S. freeze in mid-Aug over country’s financial assets and aid suspension, concerns rose over economic collapse, humanitarian crisis and potential mass exodus; donors 13 Sept pledged more than $1.1 billion following UN flash appeal for humanitarian assistance. Aside from sporadic violence in Panjshir and Baghlan provinces, violent incidents reportedly six times lower than 2021 average prior to Taliban take-over. There was, however, increasing trend of incidents targeting Taliban’s security forces, with majority being claimed by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K): notably, roadside bombs near daily mid-to-late month targeted Taliban vehicles in Nangarhar province (east); bomb 18 Sept attacked private vehicle leaving two civilians injured.
Authorities targeted members of opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, and arrested dozens of Rohingyas fleeing refugee camp on flood-prone island. Rohingya refugees continued to seek to escape refugee camp on flood-prone Bhasan Char island; notably, police 8-9 Sept arrested 28 Rohingyas who had fled in Chittagong’s Sitakunda sub-district and Mirsarai area. Addressing virtual meeting on Rohingya crisis held under Bangladesh’s auspices and co-sponsored among others by EU and Organisation of Islamic Conference that called for “urgent” global efforts to repatriate Rohingyas from Bangladesh, PM Sheikh Hasina 23 Sept warned that failure to repatriate would “jeopardise our collective security” since alienated refugees are “easy prey to extremist ideologies”. Unknown assailants 29 Sept killed prominent Rohingya Muslim leader Mohib Ullah. Authorities arrested dozens of members of Jamaat-e-Islami, police 6 Sept detained around 12 Jamaat-e-Islami leaders on charges of conspiring to commit sedition in capital Dhaka; 10 Sept arrested ten female Jamaat-e-Islami leaders and activists in Satkhira district; 12 Sept detained three members of group’s student wing in Rajshahi district. Court 12 Sept accepted charges lodged by paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) against cartoonist and six others for anti-govt activities on social media. Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit same day opened investigations into bank accounts of 11 senior journalists; journalist union 17 Sept called investigations “unprecedented and ill-motivated”. Authorities continued to arrest suspected militants: notably, RAB 4 Sept arrested four suspected Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) militants in Mymensingh district; 9 Sept arrested alleged JMB leader in Dhaka. Counter-terrorism police 16 Sept detained two suspected Ansar al-Islam militants in Mymensingh district; and next day claimed to have arrested two Ansar al-Islam members in Mymensingh district. Police 10 Sept arrested around 45 members of Tablighi Jamaat, Sunni Islamic missionary movement, from mosques in Dinajpur district, accusing them of planning to carry out sabotage; denying charge, mosque leaders said that Tablighi Jamaat members had come from Dhaka for religious assembly.
Japan’s calls for resolute defence of disputed islands in East China Sea, China maintained heavy maritime presence in area. Japanese foreign ministry 16 Sept announced it lodged formal protest with China over 30 Aug appearance of seven Chinese coast guard vessels in contiguous zone of disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, with ships approaching five Japanese fishing vessels; Japanese Coast Guard called event “extremely serious”, saying it was largest number of ships in area since 2016; unconfirmed reports indicated Chinese coast guard ship rammed Japanese coast guard vessel. Separately, at least 91 Chinese coast guard vessels entered contiguous zone of disputed islands during month, while four entered territorial waters. Elsewhere, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force 3 Sept observed Chinese naval flotilla in Miyako Strait, which Chinese commentators described as warning to Japan and Taiwan, and Japanese defence ministry 12 Sept reported Chinese submarine in contiguous zones of its southern islands. Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force 15 Sept launched largest military exercise since 1993, with 100,000 personnel simulating defence of south-western Japan. Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi 16 Sept said Japan has to demonstrate its resolute defence of Diaoyu/Senkaku islands with “greater number of Japanese coast guard vessels than that of China”. Joint statement from first in-person summit of “Quad” leaders (U.S., Australia, India and Japan) 24 Sept noted need to “meet challenges to the maritime rules-based order” in East China Sea. Former Japanese FM Fumio Kishida 29 Sept won party leadership election and is set to become next PM; Kishida same day declared intention to pursue “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Military held exercises close to disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, authorities signed agreement with insurgent groups in Assam state, and clashes with Maoists persisted. Army 3 Sept conducted live-fire exercises using tanks and helicopters in eastern Ladakh, close to Line of Actual Control (LAC). FM S. Jaishankar 16 Sept met Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, where Jaishankar noted some progress in resolution of issues related to LAC as well as completion of disengagement in Gogra area since July but said there were still outstanding issues. In Assam state, govt 5 Sept signed peace agreement with provincial govt and with five insurgent groups — the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front, People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri, United People’s Liberation Army, Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers and the Kuki Liberation Front — from tribal region of Karbi Anglong; agreement pledged devolution of power and greater autonomy. Maoist violence continued at lower level in Sept compared to Aug; in Maharashtra state (west), Maoists 19 Sept shot dead villager in Gadchiroli District; exchange of fire between security forces and Maoist militants 21 Sept also occurred in Malkangiri District of Odisha state (east). Hundreds of thousands of farmers 5 Sept rallied in Muzaffarnagar city in Uttar Pradesh state (north) to protest govt-proposed agricultural reforms in largest protest in almost ten months of campaigning. Protesters 27 Sept marked ten months with all-India shutdown rally, blocking roads and railway lines in capital Delhi and calling for national strike. Amid armed clashes in Myanmar, thousands of refugees 10 Sept entered Champhai and Hnahthial districts of Mizoram state, which shares 501km border with country (see Myanmar).
Tensions between India and Pakistan and within Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continued to run high, including over controversial burial of Kashmiri leader. In virtual UN General Assembly, Pakistan PM Khan 24 Sept condemned rights violations in J&K, including forcible burial of prominent Kashmiri leader. In J&K, death of 92-year-old Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani – who had been in prison and under house arrest since 2010 – on 1 Sept sparked tensions after family alleged that Indian police hurriedly buried Geelani in early hours next day, denying him burial in line with his wishes. Fearing protests and clashes, Indian govt 1-3 Sept imposed communications blackout and curfew in Kashmir valley. In Jammu, traders 22 Sept went on strike to protest govt’s “anti-trade” policies. J&K National Conference party leader Omar Abdullah 1 Sept asked Indian govt to clarify whether it still considered Taliban to be terrorist organisation after it contacted Taliban officials in Qatar’s capital Doha day before. Taliban leader Anas Haqqani same day said Kashmir was not part of their jurisdiction; Taliban 3 Sept however said it is group’s right “to raise our voice for Muslims in Kashmir”. J&K Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti 19 Sept accused ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using threats posed by Afghan Taliban and Pakistan to gain votes. Indian Army official 20 Sept said Afghan militants were unlikely to extend operations to Kashmir, said he focused on presence of around 60-70 Pakistani militants seeking to motivate local youth to take up arms in Kashmir. Militant attacks and security operations continued in J&K. Notably, militants 12 Sept killed police officer in regional capital Srinagar; 17 Sept killed police officer and migrant labourer in separate incidents in Kulgam district. Security forces 12 Sept killed militant in Rajouri district. Delhi Police Special Cell 14 Sept arrested six men for allegedly planning terror attacks across country, said preparation for attacks conducted in Pakistan and at least two of those arrested received training by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.
West Papua Liberation Army launched deadliest attack on military this year, while security forces killed East Indonesia Mujahideen militant group leader. In West Papua province, dozens of militants from separatist armed group West Papua Liberation Army 2 Sept attacked military post in Kisor village in Maybrat district, killing four soldiers and injuring two in deadliest attack in region this year; group same day claimed responsibility for attack. Security forces subsequently arrested two suspects and 5 Sept reportedly engaged in gunfight with group in Maybart’s East Aifat sub-district. In Papua province, West Papua National Liberation Army 26 Sept reportedly killed member of Mobile Brigade forces in Kiwirok, Pegunungan Bintang regency, in shootout that injured two others. International rights group TAPOL 16 Sept published report accusing govt of using COVID-19 as pretext to crackdown on Papuan civil society groups and human rights defenders. UN Special Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor 20 Sept urged govt to provide adequate medical care to imprisoned pro-independence Papuan activist Victor Yeimo, who was arrested in May 2021, amid reports of his deteriorating health. Separately, security forces 18 Sept killed leader of Islamic State-affiliated East Indonesia Mujahideen militant group and another militant in shootout on Sulawesi island.
Seoul and Pyongyang conducted high-profile missile tests, overshadowing high-level meetings to reignite diplomatic track. In sign of rising inter-Korean arms race and end of quiet period since so-called “Winter Olympic truce” in 2018, North Korea and South Korea tested missiles. Pyongyang 11 and 12 Sept tested intermediate-range cruise missiles, and 15 Sept fired two railway-mobile ballistic missiles from South Pyongan province toward east coast in violation of UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting ballistic missile tests; North Korea 28 Sept fired missile from central north province of Jagang. South Korea 15 Sept tested submarine-launched ballistic missile, becoming first country without nuclear weapons to do so; South Korean President Moon Jae-in same day said missiles would prove “sufficient deterrence to respond to North Korea’s provocations at any time”; Kim Yo-jong, senior North Korean official and sister of leader Kim Jong-un, same day criticised Moon, warning “slander and detraction” could push bilateral relations “toward a complete destruction”. Tests also coincided with meeting between Chinese FM Wang Yi and South Korean FM Chung Eui-yong in South Korea’s capital Seoul, and came one day after meeting between nuclear envoys of U.S., South Korea and Japan in Japanese capital Tokyo to discuss bringing North Korea back to negotiating table; latter meeting urged North Korea to respond to offers of unconditional dialogue. During his UN General Assembly address, Moon Jae-in 21 Sept proposed formal end to 1950-1953 Korean War; North Korea Vice FM Ri Thae Song 24 Sept rejected proposal, saying nothing will change so long as “U.S. hostile policy is not shifted”. Shortly after missile test, North Korea’s UN Envoy Kim Song 28 Sept said govt would respond to offers of talks if U.S. revised “double standards” and hostile policy; Kim Jong-un 30 Sept announced he had requested communication lines with South Korea be restored to “promote peace”.
While opposition govt declared “people’s defensive war” to depose military dictatorship, announcement failed to lead to sustained escalation in attacks. National Unity Govt (NUG) 7 Sept declared “people’s defensive war” and state of emergency calling on people to rise up against regime. State Administration Council regime 9 Sept accused NUG, Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), People’s Defence Force and some ethnic armed groups of choosing “the terror way” and 12 Sept said NUG declaration aimed “to destabilise the country” to influence 14 Sept UN General Assembly decision on Myanmar’s UN credentials. While declaration did not result in significant escalation, deadly attacks on regime targets have continued. Notably, series of militia ambushes early Sept launched against troops in Magway region’s Gangaw township prompted military to occupy area, which resulted in killing of at least 22 villagers from 9-10 Sept, including teenagers and elderly. Military forces 18-19 Sept clashed with anti-junta militia Chin Defence Force in Thantlang town, Chin State, destroying at least 20 homes and forcing majority of town’s 10,000 residents to flee, including several thousands across border into India; militia reported it had killed 30 govt troops. Throughout Sept, regime also stepped up raids and arrests of people allegedly involved in resistance activity in Yangon and elsewhere. Meanwhile, regime 6 Sept dropped sedition charge against nationalist monk Wirathu, detained for past ten months. SAC 21 Sept tried deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for incitement; Suu Kyi pleaded not guilty, with trial set to continue in Oct. Internationally, Vice Senior General Soe Win 3 Sept held talks with Russian deputy defence minister focused on Russian plans to aid “military technology, education, health and various sectors”. Information Minister Maung Maung Ohn 9 Sept briefed foreign diplomats in Yangon on regime’s narrative of Feb coup, stating Tatmadaw had taken power according to constitution in response to “serious irregularities” in 2020 election. U.S. and China 13 Sept brokered agreement to defer decision on Myanmar’s UN representation until at least Oct-Nov; NUG-affiliated incumbent Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun retained UN credentials on condition he did not speak at high-level General Assembly debate.
Dispute among ruling parties continued to hamper appointment of govt ministers, while opposition Unified Marxist-Leninist party sought to block Nepali Congress-led coalition’s legislative priorities. PM Deuba continued to struggle to balance demands of his ruling partners, with only five ministers appointed since Deuba’s appointment in mid-July. Fearing splits inside Janata Samajbadi party (which is part of Deuba’s ruling coalition), Janata Samajbadi leaders throughout Sept conditioned cabinet expansion on repeal of Deuba’s controversial 18 Aug decree; decree had lowered requirement for members to split from one party and form another, notably allowing Madhav Kumar Nepal’s CPN (Unified Socialist) party to separate from PM KP Oli’s Unified Marxist-Leninist party in Aug. In response to writs filed in Aug, Supreme Court 24 Sept refused to annul Deuba’s Aug decree, potentially clearing path for CPN (Unified Socialist) to join ruling coalition. Meanwhile, parliamentary sessions 8 Sept resumed; Unified Marxist-Leninist party during Sept repeatedly obstructed them in protest against House Speaker Agni Sapkota’s role in party’s breakup, leaving over 50 bills pending approval.
Political tensions persisted amid plans for new govt-controlled central media authority; authorities continued to debate ways to engage with new Afghan govt. Relations between ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and Election Commission deteriorated after commission 7 Sept raised 37 objections to PTI’s proposal to introduce electronic voting machines in next general election, stressed mechanism’s inability to counter all types of fraud; in response, Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry 10 Sept called commission’s logic “strange”, Federal Railways Minister Azam Swati same day accused body of taking bribes to rig election, called for such institutions to be “set on fire”. Journalist unions 11 Sept rejected govt’s proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority, which would be authorised to regulate all media, said it was “unconstitutional”, a step to “muzzle” freedoms. Members of media, lawyers’ groups and human rights activists 13 Sept held protests outside parliament as President Alvi addressed both houses; opposition and independent members boycotted Alvi’s address, vowed to vote against proposed bill; human rights minister next day said law had yet to be given “final shape”, suggesting govt could postpone placing bill before parliament. Regionally, govt had yet to decide if it will recognise newly announced acting Taliban govt (see Afghanistan); FM Qureshi 21 Sept said if Taliban want recognition “they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion and norms”. PM Imran Khan in 24 Sept virtual UN General Assembly address called on international community to “incentivize”, “strengthen and support” current (Taliban) govt and warned unstable Afghanistan “will again become a safe haven for international terrorists”. Earlier, Qureshi 15 Sept said govt would consider giving amnesty to Pakistan’s Taliban members who renounced violence; opposition leader and Pakistan Peoples’ Party chair Bhutto Zardari 17 Sept said that would be “an insult” to victims. Meanwhile, Pakistani Taliban attacks in regions near Afghan border continued; in South Waziristan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistani Taliban attack 15 Sept killed seven Pakistani soldiers. Militant attack 26 Sept killed one paramilitary soldier and injured two others in Mach town, Balochistan province. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 14 Sept said U.S. would reassess its relationship with Pakistan in coming weeks.
Violence persisted at low levels in south, while members of Bangsamoro Transition Authority passed bill to extend transition. In Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in south, communal violence remained low, while some clashes between govt and armed groups continued. Notably, three members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) 14 Sept surrendered to military in Datu Unsay municipality, Maguindanao province. Bomb blast 18 Sept killed one and injured eight civilians in Datu Piang town, Maguindanao; authorities attributed attack to BIFF. In Sulu province, four Abu Sayyaf Group members 7 Sept surrendered to military in Talipao town, followed by another two members next day in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan province. Police supported by military 17 Sept killed alleged Abu Sayyaf financier in firefight during attempted arrest in Luuk town, Sulu province. House of Representatives’ Strategic Intelligence Committee Chairperson Johnny Pimentel 5 Sept announced deployment of additional 4,500 troops to Jolo municipality, Sulu province, to combat armed groups. Bangsamoro Transition Authority Senate 6 Sept and House of Representatives 15 Sept each passed bills extending transition period; both houses 21 Sept convened bicameral conference to reconcile both legislations, with bill submitted to President Duterte for signature on 27 Sept. Security forces continued to clash with communist New People’s Army at similarly lethal levels as Aug in Mindanao island in south, Visayas islands in centre, and Luzon island in north, killing at least 22 and injuring four during month. President Duterte 8 Sept accepted ruling party PDP–Laban’s nomination to run for vice presidency in May 2022 election; Senator Manny Pacquiao 19 Sept accepted nomination from supporters within PDP-Laban to run for presidency and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso 22 Sept also declared candidacy for Aksyon Demokratiko party. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases 11 Sept reached all-time daily high of 26,303.
Australia, UK and U.S. unveiled trilateral defence pact that provoked mixed reactions in region, while Chinese naval forces conducted military exercises. Australia, UK and U.S. 15 Sept announced “enhanced trilateral partnership” dubbed “AUKUS”, which includes key agreement to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines and provisions to cooperate on emerging technologies. Chinese foreign ministry next day said AUKUS would “seriously damage regional peace and stability, exacerbate an arms race and harm international nuclear non-proliferation agreements”. Malaysian PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob in 17 Sept phone call to Australian PM Scott Morrison said agreement could “provoke other powers to act more aggressively, especially within the South China Sea”, while Indonesian foreign ministry same day said it was “deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region”. Filipino FM Teodoro Locsin Jr 19 Sept expressed support, saying the “enhancement of a near abroad ally’s ability to project power should restore and keep the balance rather than destabilise it”. Meanwhile, Chinese state media 8 Sept reported its naval forces same day conducted amphibious landing exercise in SCS, 9-10 Sept conducted live-fire exercises in western area of Leizhou Peninsula, and 18 Sept dispatched Y-20 large transport aircraft from mainland to airfields in Spratly Islands to conduct “amphibious landing drills”, marking first time China dispatched large transport aircraft near reefs according to Chinese media. Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi 11 Sept visited Vietnam, reportedly told Vietnamese Deputy PM Phạm Bình Minh that both countries should refrain from exacerbating maritime disputes. German foreign ministry 15 Sept said China had denied request for Shanghai port visit of its frigate embarking on six-month mission to SCS. U.S. Navy Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group returned to SCS 24 Sept for exercises and training. EU 16 Sept released Indo-Pacific strategy urging “cooperation to maintain and ensure maritime security and freedom of navigation”. Joint statement following first in-person leaders’ summit of “Quad” on 24 Sept noted commitment to “freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes” in Indo-Pacific.
UN Human Rights Council voiced concerns over erosion of rights, while economy continued to face deep strains. UN Human Rights Council 13 Sept began its 48th session where High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet noted “the corrosive impact that militarisation and the lack of accountability continue to have on fundamental rights” in country and urged govt to undertake major reforms, including repealing Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Statement by “Core Group” nations next day said they were “deeply concerned about current human rights developments, in particular increased limitations being put on civic space”. Report to council by special rapporteur on truth and justice debated 16 Sept concluded “the current administration has shown that it is unwilling or unable to make progress in the effective investigation, prosecution, and sanctioning of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law”. In response to criticism, FM G.L. Peiris 14 Sept said govt had made progress in domestic processes for national reconciliation and rejected external initiatives that “will polarize our society”. EU team 27 Sept arrived in capital Colombo for ten-day mission to monitor govt’s compliance with terms of EU’s GSP+ trade concessions; meetings included discussions with govt on recent promises to “review” PTA, as repeal of controversial law was condition for Sri Lanka regaining GSP+ status in 2017. State Minister for Prisons Lohan Ratwatte 15 Sept resigned after news emerged he had threatened to kill Tamil prisoners held under PTA during unplanned and drunken visit to Anuradhapura city on 12 Sept. Country continued to face economic hardship. After President Rajapaksa 31 Aug declared state of emergency in response to food shortages, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa 7 Sept acknowledged “country is facing a serious foreign exchange crisis” as well as growing budget deficits due to huge loss of revenue resulting from COVID-related restrictions. Central Bank Governor W. D. Lakshman 14 Sept resigned and was replaced by Rajapaksa loyalist Ajith Nivard Cabraal, who resigned as state minister of money and capital markets. Govt 17 Sept extended island-wide quarantine and curfew until 1 Oct as numbers of reported cases and deaths remained high during month.
China warned U.S. against official diplomatic interactions with Taiwan, while military activity continued in region. U.S. President Biden in 9 Sept call to Chinese President Xi said U.S. had no intention of changing its one-China policy. Media reports 10 Sept indicated U.S. was considering changing name of Taiwan’s U.S. mission from “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” to “Taiwan Representative Office”. In response, China 13 Sept called on U.S. to stop official interactions, calling Taiwan “the most important and sensitive issue at the core of China-US relations”; should official office name be changed, Beijing may respond by ramping up military activity around Taiwan or flying its planes across de facto sea demarcation known as “median line”. Meanwhile, military activity continued. Number of Chinese military planes that entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone rose, returning to high levels last seen in April; notably, 24 planes entered on 23 Sept. Chinese military 17 Sept conducted exercise off Taiwan’s south-western coast. U.S. warship same day transited through Taiwan Strait in ninth such passage in 2021. Taiwan 13-17 Sept conducted annual Han Kuang military exercise and 16 Sept announced proposal to allocate $8.7 bn in addition to defence budget over next five years to purchase missiles, naval ships and weapons systems for warships. British warship 27 Sept sailed through Taiwan Strait for first time since 2008. European Parliament 16 Sept adopted resolution calling for bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan and European Commission to facilitate Taipei’s full participation as an observer in UN agencies. China 20 Sept began ban on import of Taiwan’s custard and wax apples, 90% of which go to China, citing pests; Taiwan denied charge and warned it would file formal complaint at World Trade Organization.
PM Prayuth Chan-ocha and govt officials saw off no-confidence vote, while series of protests rocked capital Bangkok, leading to hundreds of arrests. In third such move, opposition 31 Aug-4 Sept challenged PM Prayuth Chan-ocha and five cabinet officials in parliamentary censure debate over issues including pandemic mismanagement and alleged corruption; lawmakers 4 Sept voted to reject no-confidence motion. In Bangkok, anti-govt protests continued throughout Sept with more than 600 arrested since July. Members of Red Shirts movement 2 Sept protested at Asoke intersection, calling for Prayuth’s resignation. United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration and Thalufah group 3 Sept held mass demonstration in Rachaprasong area ahead of no-confidence vote, which thousands attended; Free Youth movement 4 Sept led march through commercial centre ending at Pratunam intersection and hanging banner reading “Reform of Monarchy”. Additional rallies 6, 7 Sept held at Asoke; rallies planned on 8 Sept however called off, citing pending arrest warrants for leaders. Thalugas protesters 6 Sept clashed with police in Din Daeng district. Police next day arrested 18 protesters for damaging state property and protests same day continued amid further clashes with police. Also on 7 Sept, Ramkhamhaeng for Democracy demonstrators protested at Government House and Thalufah protesters rallied at Democracy Monument. Anti-govt protesters 19 Sept gathered at Asoke intersection on anniversary of 2006 coup that ousted then-PM Thaksin Shinawatra; protestors later proceeded to Democracy Monument in mobile rally of over 1,500 vehicles. Six police booths in Bangkok were found vandalised 23 Sept, including four torched. Parliament 10 Sept voted to approve constitutional amendment to adopt two-ballot election system, one for constituency candidate and one for the party list. Meanwhile, in deep south, unidentified gunmen 6 Sept killed Muslim man in Cho Airong district, Narathiwat province. Unidentified attackers 15 Sept attacked two Muslim men in Ruesoh district, Narathiwat province, killing one and wounding another. Drive-by grenade attack at security booth in Panare district, Pattani province, killed one ranger; paramilitary ranger died following grenade attack on his post in Pattani’s Panare district 22 Sept. IED attack 28 Sept killed two police officers and wounded four in Chanae district, Narathiwat province.
Armenia and Azerbaijan commenced legal proceedings against each other at International Court of Justice (ICJ), while tensions surfaced with Baku over control of regional highway. Armenia 16 Sept instituted proceedings at ICJ, accusing Azerbaijan of violating International Convention on Racial Discrimination through decades of state-sponsored discrimination; Azerbaijani foreign ministry 23 Sept filed case against Armenia on same grounds. Tensions surfaced with Azerbaijan over control of highway. Azerbaijani police 13 Sept installed checkpoint on main border zone highway connecting Iran to South Caucasus and Armenia with its southern regions in violation of agreements on restrictions of movement following Autumn 2020 war; in response, Armenia next day closed highway for Iranian trucks (see Azerbaijan). After Turkish President Erdoğan late Aug declared readiness for gradual normalisation of ties with Yerevan, PM Pashinyan 8 Sept affirmed Armenian willingness to begin discussions. Erdoğan 19 Sept, however, refused to meet Pashinyan at UN General Assembly, insisting Yerevan must first open corridor between Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave; Yerevan 20 Sept reiterated willingness to start meetings, while stating that corridor was not part of Nov 2020 ceasefire statements. Authorities 29 Sept briefly detained former Defence Minister Davit Tonoyan on charges related to investigation into supply of low-quality weapons and ammunition in 2011, which may have been used in 2020 war with Azerbaijan, and court 30 Sept sentenced him to two months’ pre-trial detention; Tonoyan is first senior official in power late last year to face trial in relation to problems that occurred during 2020 fighting.
Tensions with Armenia continued as both sides initiated legal proceedings at International Court of Justice (ICJ) and disputed control of regional highway. Armenia 16 Sept instituted proceedings at ICJ, accusing Azerbaijan of violating International Convention on Racial Discrimination through decades of state-sponsored discrimination; Azerbaijani foreign ministry 23 Sept filed case against Armenia on same grounds. Tensions surfaced with Armenia over control of highway. After Azerbaijani defence ministry 13 Sept lodged protest with Russian defence ministry and peacekeepers about Iranian trucks entering Nagorno-Karabakh, which Azerbaijan insists requires Azerbaijani authorisation, Azerbaijani police 13 Sept installed checkpoint on main border zone highway connecting Iran to South Caucasus and Armenia with its southern regions in violation of agreements signed with Russia on restrictions of movement following Autumn 2020 war; Iranian media reports 15 Sept claimed Azerbaijani police detained two Iranian truck drivers after they allegedly travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh. In response, Armenia next day closed highway for Iranian trucks. Russian foreign ministry same day discussed border issue with Baku, whose officials also met Iranian ambassador to Baku.
Authorities continued sentencing of opposition figures, while Russia boosted its support for govt. Authorities 6 Sept sentenced leading opposition figures Maryya Kalesnikava and Maksim Znak to 11 and ten years’ imprisonment, respectively; rulings prompted strong condemnation from EU, UK, Germany and U.S.. UN Special Rapporteur 7 Sept described “terrible repression” inside country and crackdown on human rights groups had hindered human rights monitoring. 23 international and Belarusian human rights organisations 17 Sept demanded release of members of Viasna human rights centre. President Lukashenka 1 Sept said country would soon receive large quantity of military hardware from Russia. In fifth face-to-face meeting this year, Lukashenka 9 Sept met Russian President Putin in Russian capital Moscow where pair agreed additional loans for Minsk and announced unified gas market. Russian and Belarus military forces 9-16 Sept held large-scale Zapad 2021 military exercises in multiple locations across country. Polish President Duda 2 Sept announced state of emergency in areas close to Belarussian border amid surge in recent months of migrants and asylum seekers; Poland 20 Sept deployed 500 additional troops to border, citing “well-organised action directed from Minsk and Moscow”. Latvian border authorities 8 Sept said over 1,000 people had illegally entered country in past month. During visit to France, opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya 15 Sept urged President Macron to take “decisive action in solving the Belarus crisis”.
Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders discussed reigniting talks, while tensions persisted over hydrocarbon exploration. UN Sec-Gen Guterres 27 Sept held meeting with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders during which sides discussed how to overcome stalemate in efforts to relaunch formal settlement talks; Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades subsequently announced that Guterres was considering appointment of special envoy who would search for common ground and work on confidence-building measures within pre-existing UN parameters. After Exxon Mobil/Qatar Petroleum consortium late Aug announced plans to begin work late Nov-early Dec in Republic of Cyprus’ offshore block 10, Turkish VP Fuat Oktay 4 Oct said Turkey would also commence hydrocarbon activities if Greek Cypriots commence drilling in eastern Mediterranean. In letter to Cypriot MEP Niyazi Kızılyürek, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen 7 Sept called on Turkey “to reverse the actions undertaken in Varosha since October 2020”, called 20 July statement from Turkish President Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar to reopen section of Varosha/Maraş, area under Turkish military control since 1974, “an unacceptable unilateral decision” to change status of fenced-off area, also reiterated EU’s commitment to solution based on a bi-zonal bi-communal federation with two sides having political equality. Tatar 10 Sept said he continues to work for recognition of “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”) and reiterated on several occasions during month that only viable solution to overcome deadlock on island is two-state formula based on sovereign equality of two political entities on island. In contrast, Republic of Cyprus President Anastasiades 14 Sept said that he would brief UN Sec-Gen Guterres on his proposal on return to 1960 constitution; proposal envisions “Turkish Cypriots returning to the executive, legislative, judicial authority and the other services of the Republic”.
Diplomatic and maritime tensions continued between Greece and Turkey. Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar 9 Sept reiterated that Ankara will never accept any Greek move to extend its territorial waters in Aegean Sea, dismissing any possible effort in this direction by Athens as “empty dreams”; Akar also said Ankara was determined to press ahead with efforts to search for energy in eastern Mediterranean, in areas where it believes Ankara and Turkish Cypriots have rights. Turkish President Erdoğan same day complained of Greece’s “maximalist policies” and intentionally raising tensions in Aegean, which Greek officials same day dismissed by retorting that rhetoric was aimed at exerting pressure on Greece for demilitarisation of eastern Aegean islands. Maritime tensions 15-20 Sept rose amid series of Greek announcements of maritime activity and counter-advisories by Turkey. Tensions likely contributed to cancellation of high-level meetings between Greek and Turkish officials at UN General Assembly in New York, U.S., late Sept.
Acrimony between opposition and ruling Georgian Dream party surfaced ahead of Oct local elections, raising prospect of disputed results. Country prepared for local elections scheduled for 2 Oct, with opposition members throughout month characterising poll as “referendum” to end nine-year-long rule of Georgian Dream party and voicing concerns over possible voting irregularities. Under EU-U.S. brokered agreement signed in April between opposition and govt, local elections should lead to snap parliamentary elections if Georgian Dream fails to obtain 43% of vote share; ruling party withdrew from deal in July. Meanwhile, opposition media 13 Sept leaked thousands of reports and transcripts of conversations allegedly recorded by Georgian security services containing details of personal and professional lives of dozens of Georgian clerics, prompting launch of investigation by Georgian Prosecutor’s Office; Georgian Church claimed leaks are attempt to discredit clerics. Former senior official Megis Kardava, facing charges of torture, rape and murder, 17 Sept arrived for trial in Georgia after his extradition from Ukraine; Kardava is expected to testify against former Georgian leaders, who are now key opposition figures. De facto authorities of breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia facilitated participation of Russian passport holders in Russian parliamentary elections 17-19 Sept by opening polling stations and encouraging voting; Georgia 20 Sept condemned holding of elections in two breakaway regions.