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Tracking Conflict Worldwide

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.

Entries: Horn of Africa

February 2019

Africa

Eritrea

Following reopening of Eritrea-Ethiopia border in Sept 2018, President Afwerki and FM Osman Saleh 22 Feb met Ethiopian PM Abiy in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to assess Oct-Jan trial period for trade and transport relations and work toward deeper cooperation. Ethiopian ambassador in Eritrea 19 Feb said two countries were close to signing comprehensive cooperation agreement to institutionalise trade, immigration and transport links. EU 8 Feb announced €20mn program to build roads linking Eritrean ports and Ethiopian border.

Ethiopia

Fighting eased between govt forces and rebel group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in Oromia region; state media 14 Feb reported 1,000 former OLF rebels gave up their arms and entered rehabilitation camps. Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), armed group fighting for secession of Somali region in east which declared unilateral ceasefire in Aug 2018, 8 Feb signed agreement with Somali region to disarm and reintegrate ONLF members into security forces and civil service; PM Abiy 19 Feb held first official meeting with ONLF leadership in capital Addis Ababa. PM Abiy 22 Feb met Eritrean President Afwerki and FM Osman Saleh in Addis Ababa to discuss planned cooperation agreement to institutionalise trade, immigration and transport links.

Kenya

Maritime border dispute between Kenya and Somalia flared and intercommunal violence continued in northern Rift Valley province. Kenya 16 Feb claimed Somalia had auctioned offshore oil blocks in disputed maritime area at 7 Feb London conference, summoned its envoy to Somalia back to Kenya and expelled Somali ambassador; Somalia denied accusation and said it would not offer any blocks in disputed area for exploration until International Court of Justice had ruled on border dispute. In north west in northern part of Rift Valley province, intercommunal violence continued. Gunfight between Turkana and Pokot communities near Kainuk 17 Feb left at least six dead, calm returned after security forces deployed on border between Turkana and West Pokot counties. In Baringo South sub-county, suspected Pokot raiders 21 Feb attacked ethnic Ilchamus inhabitants of Kapindasum village, killing five.

Somalia

Al-Shabaab stepped up attacks in capital Mogadishu and rural areas, President Farmajo lobbied regional leaders to delay withdrawal of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as Burundi refused to withdraw troops as planned, and maritime border dispute with Kenya flared. In Mogadishu, suspected Al-Shabaab detonated car bomb 4 Feb killing nine; killed Deputy Attorney General 20 Feb; opened fire on street cleaners 25 Feb killing nine; and 28 Feb launched suicide bomb and gun attack near hotel and judge’s residence, killing at least 29, militants continued to exchange fire with security forces 1 March. In Middle Shabelle region in south, roadside bomb targeting AMISOM convoy in Balcad 16 Feb reportedly killed two soldiers. Al-Shabaab 20 Feb attacked Balcad, heavy casualties reported. Al-Shabaab 17 Feb attacked bases of Djibouti AMISOM troops in Jalalaqsi in Lower Shabelle, Djibouti forces 18 Feb retaliated, casualties undisclosed. In Jubaland state in south, roadside bombs 20 Feb targeted Ethiopian AMISOM convoy in Baardheere, no casualties reported. U.S. conducted at least five airstrikes on Al-Shabaab in Lower Shabelle and Hiran regions, killing over 90 militants. Farmajo met Burundian President Nkurunziza in Burundian capital Bujumbura 19 Feb to discuss planned withdrawal of 1,000 of some 5,400 Burundian troops from AMISOM by end-Feb. Farmajo and Nkurunziza, both opposed to withdrawal, 19 Feb called for summit of leaders of AMISOM troop contributing countries to revisit security transition plan. Burundi withdrew some 400 soldiers 21-23 Feb but refused to repatriate more, denouncing “injustice” of withdrawing only Burundian soldiers, claiming withdrawal would endanger remaining troops and threatening to withdraw all its troops. Farmajo visited Djibouti 19 Feb to ask for delay in withdrawal of Djibouti troops. Maritime border dispute with Kenya flared: Kenya 16 Feb claimed Somalia had auctioned offshore oil blocks in disputed maritime area at 7 Feb London conference, summoned its envoy to Somalia back to Kenya and expelled Somali ambassador; Somalia denied accusation and said it would not offer any blocks in disputed area for exploration until International Court of Justice had ruled on border dispute.

Somaliland

Somaliland President Bihi 20 Feb met Ethiopian PM Abiy in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss status of Somalia/Somaliland talks; Somali President Farmajo unable to attend, but welcomed meeting.

South Sudan

Amid overall continued de-escalation, govt forces pursued offensive against rebels in south, raising risk of more intense fighting in March. Govt forces continued offensive launched mid-Jan in Yei River and Amadi states, Equatoria region against rebel group National Salvation Front (NAS) led by Thomas Cirillo, which did not sign Sept 2018 peace deal. Fighting reported to have displaced thousands and govt forces accused of brutality against civilians. EU 18 Feb condemned violation of Dec 2017 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) and of Sept 2018 peace deal, and called on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and step up efforts to come to political solution. IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais 25 Feb met NAS leader Thomas Cirillo and 26 Feb met leader of non-signatory opposition group People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) Hakim Dario in bid to halt violence. Acts of intercommunal violence and banditry continued across rural areas: armed group in Lon Mawei area of Tonj state in centre-west 7 Feb reportedly killed four herders, cattle raids in Eastern Lakes state in centre 8 Feb left eight people dead and raids 10-11 Feb in Padiek county, Bieh state in north east killed two. Pilot project to canton govt forces and rebels and train 3,000-strong joint unit in Yei River state in south agreed in Jan stalled for lack of funding.

Sudan

In response to continued protests that began mid-Dec, President Bashir declared state of emergency giving freer rein to security forces and raising risk of more violent crackdown against protesters in March. Bashir 22 Feb declared state of emergency, dissolved cabinet and sacked all eighteen provincial governors to replace them with army and intelligence officials. Bashir’s announcement differed considerably from what intelligence chief Salah Gosh hours before said Bashir would say, namely that he would step down as head of ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and cease attempts to change constitution so that he could run for president again in 2020. Security forces 23 Feb stormed doctors’ complex, fired tear gas and detained several; dozens of other protest and opposition leaders detained 22-23 Feb. Authorities 25 Feb banned unlicensed gatherings and protests, 26 Feb established emergency prosecutors and courts across country; over 800 reportedly put on trial 28 Feb. Bashir 1 March handed leadership of ruling NCP to deputy head, Ahmed Mohamed Haroun, until party’s next general conference. U.S. Sec State Pompeo 14 Feb told media that, if there was a transition, U.S. hoped Sudanese people and not outsiders would lead it. Special Assistant to U.S. President Cyril Sartor 18 Feb met Sudanese officials as part of discussions on U.S.-Sudan dialogue and reportedly told officials that U.S. could propose resolution to UN Security Council to defer Bashir’s case at International Criminal Court, if he agreed to step down.

Tanzania

Parliament 29 Jan voted for amendment of law regulating political parties, granting new powers to govt-appointed registrar including enabling him to de-register parties and impose jail sentences of up to one year for unauthorised civic activities. Opposition leaders said new legislation prevented future challenges to President Magufuli and ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). Following 21 Feb arrest of Joseph Mbilinyi, leader of main opposition party Chadema, authorities 23 Feb detained MP Halima Mdee; authorities released both opposition members one day after their arrests. Chadema party accused govt of crackdown against critics.

Uganda

Tensions rose in Apaa region in north over boundary dispute between Amuru and Adjumani districts; after late Jan attacks between Acholi and Madi communities, security forces 9 Feb arrested several Acholi MPs during their peaceful protest in Gulu calling for resolution of conflict. Central Executive Committee of ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) 19 Feb endorsed President Museveni – in power for 33 years – as party’s candidate in next presidential elections in 2021; choice to be confirmed at party’s National Delegates’ Conference in Nov. Relations between Uganda and Rwanda deteriorated further: after govt deported Rwandan senior employee of telecoms company MTN in Jan, countries continued to exchange mutual accusations of spying. Rwanda 27 Feb closed Katuna border crossing for cargo trucks, and 28 Feb for private individuals in both directions; Rwanda’s Revenue Authority 28 Feb said closure due to upgrading of border post, but govt questioned Rwandan motive and called on authorities to allow people to cross border. Govt 26 Feb repatriated 70 former members of Congolese rebel group M23 to DR Congo under voluntary repatriation program.

January 2019

Africa

Eritrea

President Afwerki and Ethiopian PM Abiy 7 Jan reopened border crossing between Humera in Ethiopia and Oum Hajer in Eritrea as part of ongoing reconciliation. Kenyan President Kenyatta 24 Jan visited Eritrea for first time since 1999. Sudan 31 Jan reopened border with Eritrea, shut for a year to combat trafficking of weapons and foodstuffs.

Ethiopia

Govt airstrikes against Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebels marked escalation in intra-Oromo power struggle. Military 12-13 Jan carried out airstrikes in western Oromia region targeting members of rebel group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), reportedly killing seven civilians. Govt denied airstrikes but said security forces conducted “stabilising operation” following request from Oromia regional govt. Despite ceasefire agreement 24 Jan between Oromia regional govt and OLF, with OLF fighters agreeing to encamp, disarm, demobilise and reintegrate, OLF gunmen 28 Jan killed two farmers in Amaro district. In north east, after clashes between ethnic Afars and Issa Somali left a dozen dead in Dec, demonstrators 13-18 Jan blocked main road to Djibouti to protest surging ethnic violence. President Afwerki and Ethiopian PM Abiy 7 Jan reopened border crossing between Humera in Ethiopia and Oum Hajer in Eritrea as part of ongoing reconciliation.

Kenya

Al-Shabaab carried out terror attacks in capital Nairobi. Six Al-Shabaab gunmen (at least three of Kenyan origin) 15 Jan attacked hotel and office complex in Westlands area of Nairobi, detonating suicide bomb in hotel foyer and holding civilians captive inside. Seventeen-hour siege ended with security forces killing remaining assailants. 21 civilians killed and at least 30 injured during attack. Suspected Al-Shabaab bombing in central Nairobi 26 Jan also injured two people. Police removed box left at same location 28 Jan. In Garissa county in north, six unidentified armed men attacked road construction site in Shimbirey along Garissa-Madogashe road, police repelled assailants, guard and wife sustained gunshot wounds.

Somalia

Federal govt expelled UN envoy to Somalia and Al-Shabaab continued attacks on Somali and international forces. Govt 2 Jan expelled UN Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Haysom accusing him of undermining Somalia’s sovereignty; Haysom had publicly questioned legal basis for arrest of South West state’s presidential candidate and former Al-Shabaab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow in Dec. UN said it would replace Haysom. Al-Shabaab 15 Jan attacked Ethiopian forces in African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) near Bur Hakaba in Bay region of South West state; casualties undisclosed. Al-Shaabab 19 Jan overran Somali army base in Sanjuni village, near port city Kismayo in south east, later claiming it killed 40 Somali forces; in response U.S. same day carried out airstrike on Al-Shabaab militants, killing 52. U.S. 23 Jan carried out two more airstrikes near Jilib, Middle Juba region in south east, casualties undisclosed. Suspected Al-Shabaab car bombing near petroleum ministry in capital Mogadishu 29 Jan killed at least two. U.S. airstrike near Shebeeley, Hiraan region 30 Jan killed 24 militants. Al-Shabaab militants 15 Jan launched terror attack in Kenyan capital Nairobi (see Kenya). Former federal planning minister Said Abdullahi Deni elected president of semi-autonomous Puntland 8 Jan.

South Sudan

Fighting between main parties reduced as they began to implement Sept 2018 peace deal, but clashes rose in south west between signatories on one side and non-signatory armed group on other, raising risk of escalation in Feb. Peace monitors reported reduction in violence between main signatories of Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan – govt forces and main rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) – including in former hotspots, Wau in north west and Bentiu in north. But monitors 22 Jan said they were still barred access to some areas including Luri training site near Yei in south west, where security forces detained and beat monitors in Dec; govt has not yet held anyone responsible. Amid delays in reaching Pre-Transitional Period security benchmarks, parties 13 Jan agreed to launch pilot project to canton and train 3,000-strong joint unit in Kajo-Keji county, Yei River state in south, but plan faces opposition from local authorities and parties did not agree on unit’s mandate or funding source. Fighting erupted 9 Jan between SPLA-IO and non-signatory armed group National Salvation Front (NAS) led by Thomas Cirillo in Kozi county, Maridi state in south west. Further clashes broke out between army and NAS near Yei 19-20 Jan, leaving three soldiers dead. NAS 21 Jan said it had lost control of positions in stronghold Mukaya, north of Yei. Ugandan forces briefly deployed to Yei 17 Jan in violation of UN Security Council arms embargo; Ugandan deployment appeared linked to govt offensives against NAS. Intercommunal violence and banditry continued: cattle raid in Padiek county, Bieh state in north east 7 Jan left one dead and 105 people reportedly killed in cattle raids in Tonj state, centre-west 14 Jan. Ambush in Jonglei state in centre 8 Jan left five people dead and another in Duachan area, Akobo state 19 Jan killed at least four people. In support of Sudan, govt 7 Jan ordered Al Watan newspaper to stop publishing articles on protests in Sudan.

Sudan

Security services responded with greater brutality to continued protests across country calling for President Bashir to step down. Security services 6 Jan arrested a number of prominent academics from Khartoum University. Despite Bashir’s 9 Jan speech blaming rebels from Darfur and outside powers for unrest, further protests reported 13 Jan in Khartoum North, Wad Medani, capital of Gezira state and Nyala, main city in South Darfur and 22 Jan in Khartoum and Omdurman. Security forces reportedly used live rounds and tear gas to disperse protests and targeted medical practitioners providing care to injured protesters. Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors 20 Jan called for general strike after security forces killed one doctor 17 Jan and carried out repeated attacks on hospitals. Authorities 25, 26 and 28 Jan arrested six journalists covering protests. After intelligence chief 29 Jan ordered release all detained in recent incidents, authorities released 186 protestors. Army 30 Jan said it would not let state collapse. Human rights groups claim at least 40 killed and 2,000 detained. Govt 31 Jan reopened border with Eritrea, shut for a year to combat trafficking of weapons and foodstuffs.

Uganda

Riots erupted late Dec in Bidi Bidi refugee camp in West Nile region after Word Food Programme (WFP) decided to change location of food distribution points increasing their distance from camp residents; army deployed to contain unrest, WFP 3 Jan reverted its decision. After armed South Sudanese men suspected to be army soldiers hoisted South Sudan flag 6km south of Uganda-South Sudan border, Ugandan govt 14 Jan reportedly issued them 72-hour ultimatum threatening military intervention. Mediation initiated between Lamwo district local govt and South Sudan counterpart to resolve persistent disputes over border demarcation. Police 6 Jan blocked annual concert of singer-turned-opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine.

December 2018

Africa

Djibouti

French jihadist suspected of helping brothers who carried out killings at Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris in 2015 arrested in Djibouti 16 Dec.

Eritrea

Govt 26 Dec reportedly restricted Ethiopians’ passage into Eritrea at Zalambessa-Serha and Rama-Kisad Adi-Quala border crossings, opened in Sept, without giving reasons. Unidentified assailant unsuccessfully tried to kill mining minister and former defence minister, General Sebhat Efrem, at his home in capital Asmara 19 Dec; attacker reportedly arrested. President Afwerki 13 Dec visited Somali capital Mogadishu for first time, as part of ongoing tripartite summits between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia; leaders discussed how to advance bilateral and regional cooperation.

Ethiopia

In south, clashes between ethnic Oromo and Somali 13-14 Dec near Moyale on border with Kenya left at least 21 people dead and forced hundreds to flee into Kenya. Another faction of former rebel group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) returned to Ethiopia from exile 29 Dec. Military court 15 Dec jailed 66 of 200 soldiers who marched on PM Abiy’s palace in Oct for between five and fourteen years, ruling they had broken military ethics. Parliament 25 Dec approved creation of reconciliation commission to counter intercommunal ethnic violence. Eritrea 26 Dec reportedly restricted Ethiopians’ passage into Eritrea at Zalambessa-Serha and Rama-Kisad Adi-Quala border crossings, opened in Sept, without giving reasons.

Kenya

In north, Samburu and Turkana communities made retaliatory raids on each other 2-3 Dec in Baragoi, Samburu county. In north east, suspected Al-Shabaab member 25 Dec threw hand grenade at police officers manning Border Point 4, Mandera county, injuring four police officers. Chinese FM 29 Dec dismissed reports that China could seize Mombasa port over debt owed by govt.

Somalia

Arrest of former Al-Shabaab leader and candidate in 19 Dec South West State presidential elections sparked deadly clashes between police and his supporters, and parliament speaker tried unsuccessfully to impeach President Farmajo. Somali police reportedly backed by Ethiopian forces in African Union mission (AMISOM) 13 Dec arrested popular former Al-Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow; AMISOM 15 Dec denied involvement of its Ethiopian troops. Arrest led to clashes between Robow supporters and police in South West state capital, Baidoa 14-15 Dec, at least eleven protesters killed; tensions diminished by end month. Candidate backed by federal govt Abdiaziz Laftagareen won South West state’s presidential elections 19 Dec. Speaker of parliament Mohamed Mursal and opposition MPs 12 Dec introduced motion to impeach President Farmajo, motion dismissed as it failed to garner required 92 MPs’ signatures; fourteen MPs 13 Dec accused Mursal of forging their signatures. PM Khayre brokered agreement between pro-Farmajo camp and Mursal, who withdrew motion 20 Dec. In capital Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab attacked checkpoints near president’s residence Villa Somalia with twin car bombs 21 Dec killing twenty civilians including veteran and renowned journalist Awil Salaad. In Bay region, Al-Shabaab raid on military base 29 Dec triggered heavy fighting with regional troops, fourteen militants and eight soldiers reportedly killed. In middle Juba region, U.S.-backed Jubaland forces 30 Dec reportedly carried out series of operations against Al-Shabaab militants and training camp. U.S. airstrikes on Al-Shabaab strongholds continued; airstrikes in Gandarashe area 15-16 Dec killed 62 militants; airstrikes near Beled Amin South 19 Dec killed eleven militants. Eritrean President Afwerki 13 Dec visited Mogadishu for first time, as part of ongoing tripartite summits between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia; leaders discussed how to advance bilateral and regional cooperation.

South Sudan

Attacks on international observers mid-month violated Sept peace deal and new clashes between govt forces and rebel groups erupted in south. In violation of peace deal, Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), and Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, international observer team Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM) reported attacks and detention of personnel from its Monitoring and Verification Team 18 Dec in govt forces’ Luri Training Centre. In south, clashes broke out 16 Dec in Central Equatoria between govt forces and armed opposition group National Salvation Front (NAS), which did not sign R-ARCSS; first major clashes between NAS and govt forces. Alleged former South Sudan National Movement for Change (SSNMC) members in presumed collaboration with South Sudan National Democratic Alliance (SSNDA) – non-signatory of R-ARCSS – 20 Dec carried out attacks in Yei River state, looting and abducting several civilians; NAS 26 Dec denied responsibility. More than twenty officers of main rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), which signed R-ARCSS, 17 Dec flew to Juba to take part in pre-transitional committees and prepare formation of transitional govt. However, underlining delay in implementation of R-ARCSS, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix 18 Dec echoed R-ARCSS Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee’s concerns over failure to establish Independent Boundaries Commission and National Pre-Transitional Committee’s failure to reach quorum. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton 13 Dec announced U.S. would review its aid programs to South Sudan, as leadership “morally bankrupt”.

Sudan

Amid mounting anger over economic crisis, protests broke out in north east and swiftly spread to 28 cities and towns across country; security forces’ brutal response reportedly left up to 37 people dead. Protests began 19 Dec in town of Atbara in north east and quickly spread. Protesters called for President Bashir (in power since 1989) to step down and in several places set fire to local headquarters of ruling party. Intelligence services ordered internet shutdown and closed down a number of newspapers. Authorities from 22 Dec arrested two dozen opposition leaders, closed schools and universities to prevent students taking part. U.S., UK and Norway 24 Dec expressed concern over govt’s excessive use of force against demonstrators and UN Secretary-General Guterres 28 Dec called on govt to investigate deaths of protesters. Parliament 4 Dec backed constitutional amendment to extend presidential term limits, allowing President Bashir to run again in elections planned for 2020. Armed opposition groups Justice and Equality Movement and Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi 10 Dec signed pre-negotiation agreement with govt to resume talks in Jan on basis of Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (led by former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki) 9-12 Dec convened in Addis Ababa to start consultation with Sudanese parties on revision of roadmap on adopting new constitution and on national elections scheduled for 2020; consultations suspended as they excluded political opposition groups, including Sudanese Congress Party. Senior security personnel met U.S. counterparts to increase cooperation, discussions included those on potential “five-point plan +1” to improve adherence to human rights. Bashir 16 Dec visited Syria for first time since March 2011. Bashir 18 Dec received Saudi delegation in Khartoum and pledged continued support to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Tanzania

After European Parliament’s 12 Dec resolution against govt’s democratic backsliding and continued crackdown on opposition figures, human rights defenders and gay people, EU late Dec announced freeze of €88mn annual aid to Tanzania. Decision followed World Bank’s suspension in Nov of €265mn loan for girls’ education after govt banned pregnant girls from attending school and from continuing education after they gave birth.

Uganda

Interparty dialogue summit held 12 Dec produced no tangible results, with opposition parties boycotting event and President Museveni dismissing calls for talks about political transition. Popular musician-turned-opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, 15 Dec evaded arrest when police entered hotel where he was staying; police 26 Dec prevented one of his concerts taking place.

November 2018

Africa

Djibouti

Emirati port operator DP World, from which govt seized control of Doraleh port in Feb and ownership of Doraleh Container Terminal in Sept, 6 Nov filed lawsuit with High Court of Hong Kong accusing China of building free zone in disputed port and pressuring govt into cancelling agreement with DP World; govt denied Chinese firm induced it to breach agreements with DP World. President Guelleh met Ethiopian PM Abiy in Addis Ababa 17 Nov; expressed readiness to take part in regional integration and support for UN’s 14 Nov lifting of sanctions against Eritrea. UN had placed sanctions on Eritrea partly because latter had not withdrawn its forces from disputed area on border with Djibouti following clashes with Djibouti in June 2008.

Eritrea

UN Security Council 14 Nov lifted sanctions it imposed on Eritrea in 2009 because latter had not withdrawn troops from disputed area on border with Djibouti and for alleged funding of armed groups in Somalia. President Afwerki met Ethiopian PM Abiy and Somali President Farmajo in Ethiopia 9 Nov; all agreed to strengthen tripartite cooperation. Sudanese President Bashir 28 Oct expressed willingness to normalise relations with Eritrea.

Ethiopia

Govt launched crackdown on corruption in govt and military and continued to foster cooperation with neighbours, but ethnic violence and criminality continued. In crackdown against corrupt officials, govt 10-11 Nov arrested 79 people, including senior military officials and head of military-run Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC); company accused of mismanaging mega-projects including Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Tigray regional state President Debretsion Gebremichael 19 Nov said crackdown discriminated against ethnic Tigrayans, who dominated in govt before PM Abiy’s election. Ethnic Oromo militias 14 Nov reportedly killed at least ten Somalis in Moyale, on border with Kenya. Ethnic Oromo armed groups 29 Nov reportedly attacked civilians and Oromia state police in East Wollega zone and areas adjacent to Benishangul Regional State killing dozens of civilians and seventeen police officers. Armed group Oromo Liberation Front 14 Nov reached cooperation agreement with political party Oromo Democratic Party, urging supporters to refrain from violence and abide by rule of law. Former opposition figure Birtukan Mideska named head of electoral board 22 Nov. PM Abiy 9 Nov received Somali President Farmajo and Eritrean President Afwerki to discuss how to develop ties, 17 Nov addressed African Union at 11th extraordinary session in Addis Ababa, highlighting need to reform and strengthen union.

Kenya

Al-Shabaab continued attacks in east, as intercommunal clashes persisted in north. In east, Al-Shabaab militants 10 Nov shot at international NGO vehicle on Masalani-Ijara road, Garissa county, wounding one female staff-member. Unidentified gunmen 20 Nov attacked orphanage at Chakama village, 60km west of Malindi on coast, wounding five people and kidnapping Italian volunteer; no group claimed responsibility. In north, intercommunal clashes persisted in several counties. In Marsabit county, tit-for-tat attacks between ethnic Borana and Gabra over disputed boundaries continued, killing three. In protracted feud over border between Garissa and Isiolo counties, Borana and Somali communities clashed 6 Nov, leaving three dead in Modogashe area. In Wajir county, attack by Gelible sub-clan and reprisal by Matan sub-clan 7-8 Nov left four dead.

Somalia

Al-Shabaab stepped up attacks in capital Mogadishu and elsewhere and militia fighting broke out in Galmudug state. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab car bomb attack 8 Nov killed Hirshabelle regional state MP Abdiwali Mohamed and two others; militants 9 Nov carried out three car bomb attacks: two targeted Sahafi hotel, killing around 52 civilians, five Al-Shabaab militants killed in ensuing gunfight. U.S. airstrikes on Al-Shabaab strongholds continued; airstrikes near Debatscile 19 Nov killed 37 militants; airstrike in Quy Cad Mudug region 20 Nov killed seven militants; airstrike near Lebede, Bay region 30 Nov killed nine militants. Al-Shabaab 16 Nov launched assault against Sufi paramilitary group Ahlul Sunnah Waa-Jama’a (ASWJ) in Guriceel district in Galgaduud province, ASWJ retained control of district. In Galkayo in north, Al-Shabaab 26 Nov attacked compound of Sufi cleric killing him and at least seventeen of his followers. Fighting erupted in Galmudug 19 Nov between two militias from Marehan and Ceyr clans; federal and regional govts sent military to stop fighting. Islamic State (ISIS) intensified operations in Mogadishu and southern Somalia; extorted business leaders in Mogadishu, killed those who refused to pay taxes to ISIS. Al-Shabaab 13 Nov executed six of its members in Sakow, Middle Juba region in south for pledging support to ISIS leader Abdulqadir Mumin. Regional elections postponed to 5 Dec. President Farmajo met Ethiopian PM Abiy and Eritrean President Afwerki in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia 9 Nov, all agreed to strengthen tripartite cooperation.

Somaliland

Somalia’s semi-autonomous region Puntland and Somaliland forces 4 Nov clashed in Tukaraq, reigniting conflict over disputed territories of Sool and Sanaag.

South Sudan

UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, 16 Nov reportedly said UN might support deployment of forces from regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries to support implementation of peace plan, but suggested extra troops would need to join UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Troika on South Sudan – U.S., UK and Norway – 16 Nov offered cautious support for deployment, but said UN Security Council would need to approve any additional troops. IGAD 16 Nov urged govt to devote more resources to implement peace deal and directed its special envoy to reach out to warring groups who have not signed agreement. South Sudan National Dialogue, unilaterally launched by Kiir in 2017, late Oct put forward proposal to revert to colonial three-province system that would decentralise power. NGO Doctors Without Borders reported that gunmen 19-29 Nov raped 125 women in Bentiu, Northern Liech state; govt denied report. UN “extremely concerned” about dramatic increase of conflict-related sexual violence, despite peace deal signed in Sept.

Sudan

U.S. media mid-Nov reported that U.S. State Department had signalled to Sudanese officials that U.S. was open to dropping Sudan’s designation as “state sponsor of terrorism” if latter made progress in six areas, including expanding counter-terrorism efforts, ceasing fighting with rebels and working toward peace talks, and severing ties with North Korea. In south Darfur, fighting renewed between paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and rebels of Sudanese Liberation Army faction led by Abdel Wahid (SLA-AW) in Jebel Marra region; several civilians reportedly killed 13 Nov in RSF attacks in Deribat area, SLM-AW 25 Nov claimed that it killed eighteen RSF troops when it repelled attack led by govt forces in Feina area. Sudan and Egypt 25 Nov agreed to set up joint military patrols on their borders with Libya.

Uganda

Following international criticism of govt for arrest of popular politician and singer Robert Kyagulanyi, crackdown on protesters, political opposition and journalists continued at lower levels. President Museveni 7 Nov ordered deployment of army across capital Kampala to patrol streets and set up roadblocks. Museveni 15 Nov said military and police would deploy to guard Chinese investors, following spate of attacks and robberies. Police 26 Nov arrested fifteen opposition supporters at gathering of opposition party Forum for Democratic Change in south-western Rukungiri, home of party leader, Kizza Besigye. Amid rising tensions on Lake Albert that straddles DR Congo-Uganda border, Congolese militiamen 18 Nov shot dead seven Ugandan fishermen. Increased cross-border attacks by Ugandan rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) based in DRC 18 Nov prompted army to deploy more troops along Uganda-DRC border.

October 2018

Africa

Eritrea

President Afwerki 13-14 Oct visited Ethiopia, including opening of sugar factory. Human rights groups criticised UN General Assembly’s 12 Oct election of Eritrea to UN Human Rights Council for 2019-2021 alongside seventeen other countries on grounds that govt is “unqualified” due to its rights violations.

Ethiopia

Govt and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), group fighting for secession of Somali region which declared unilateral ceasefire in Aug, signed framework agreement in Eritrean capital Asmara 21 Oct and agreed to set up joint committee to continue to address root causes of conflict. About 300 soldiers 10 Oct held protest march through capital Addis Ababa to PM Abiy’s office and demanded to speak to him; once disarmed and admitted, they expressed grievances relating to salary and other benefits. Army chief of staff 14 Oct said high-ranking officers behind protest had been arrested. Abiy 18 Oct described march as attempt to derail reforms. Govt 10 Oct demanded remaining armed fighters of rebel group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which signed reconciliation agreement with govt in Aug, to hand over weapons; 1,300 fighters have reportedly already disarmed. OLF fighters reportedly clashed with security forces in Qelem district of Wolega 28-29 Oct. In ethnic Tigray region in north, Raya people protested, demanding that they be recognised as belonging to wider Amhara community; security forces 21 Oct forcibly dispersed crowds, killing at least three. During congress of ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), PM Abiy and Deputy PM Demeke Mekonnen elected as Chairman and Vice-Chairman 3 Oct until next congress. Govt 16 Oct announced new cabinet of twenty ministers (down from 28), including ten women. Parliament 25 Oct approved Sahle-Work Zewde as country’s first female president, replacing Mulatu Teshome, who resigned unexpectedly previous day.

Kenya

In north east, Al-Shabaab fighters attacked school in Mandera East constituency about 1km from Somalia border, killing two Christian non-local teachers. Military vehicle 16 Oct detonated mine in Kamor Bahawa, Mandera East; security forces responded with search operation, reportedly torching houses nearby. In north, intercommunal attacks rose in Marsabit county. In longstanding conflict between ethnic Borana and Gabra over disputed boundaries, attackers killed four people in Shurr 12 Oct and ethnic militia attacked village in Jaldesa area 17 Oct killing two. Police 22 Oct arrested two MPs from Marsabit for incitement.

Somalia

Galmudug state’s political crisis continued, regional state leaders remained at loggerheads with federal govt and Al-Shabaab maintained attacks. Galmudug MPs in Cadaado city 20 Oct elected new state president, claiming to have overthrown state President Ahmed Geele “Xaaf”; Xaaf rejected vote and said “Mogadishu will not be safe if Galmudug is destabilised”. Presidents of regional states that severed ties with federal govt in Sept met in Garowe, Puntland 20-23 Oct, discussed relations with federal govt and affirmed support for President Xaaf. U.S. airstrike in village near Haradheere, Galmudug state 12 Oct killed 60 Al-Shabaab militants; deadliest U.S. airstrike in 2018. Al-Shabaab militants near Balcad, Middle Shabelle region 1 Oct killed prominent leader of Ma’awisley civilian movement resisting Al-Shabaab in Hiraan and Middle Shabelle regions. Clashes between rival clan militias in Dhumay village, near Somaliland-controlled Las Canod in Sool region (claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland) erupted 22 Oct. Fighting continued at lower intensity end Oct, as elders called for ceasefire; close to 100 people killed.

Somaliland

In Sool region, claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland, deadly clashes between rival clan militias in Dhumay village, near Somaliland-controlled Las Canod erupted 22 Oct. Fighting continued at lower intensity end Oct, with elders calling for ceasefire; close to 100 people killed.

South Sudan

Rebel leader Riek Machar and Sudanese President Bashir were among high-profile delegates who visited capital Juba 31 Oct for “peace celebration” following signing in Sept of Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). Some rebel and opposition groups continued to reject new peace agreement. Clashes broke out in Yei River state in south between rebel groups National Salvation Front, which did not sign R-ARCSS, and Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO), which did sign; both groups accused each other of launching initial attacks. Despite cessation of hostilities, ceasefire monitors also identified hotspots for conflict at frontlines south west of Wau in west and in former Unity state in north. UN Security Council 11 Oct extended mandate of UN peacekeeping mission in disputed Abyei region (UNISFA) on Sudan-South Sudan border until 15 April 2019 and conditioned extension beyond that date on neighbours making progress on border demarcation among other measures.

Sudan

Following meeting between Presidential Assistant Faisal Ibrahim and Thabo Mbeki, head of African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, govt 17 Oct expressed readiness to resume repeatedly stalled negotiations with political opposition and armed rebels.

Tanzania

As part of govt’s “continuous operation” in Mtwara region in south east bordering Mozambique, police late Oct said it had arrested 104 alleged Islamist militants, whom it claims were planning to set up bases in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, site of Islamist insurgency since Oct 2017; Mozambique police 23 Oct said number arrested had risen to 132.

September 2018

Africa

Djibouti

Djibouti and Eritrea agreed to work toward normalising relations 6 Sept during visit of Eritrean FM Osman Saleh to Djibouti. President Guelleh met Eritrean President Afwerki in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 17 Sept to discuss decade-old border dispute and Eritrea’s alleged detention of Djiboutian war prisoners; Somalian President Farmajo also attended. In case pitting govt against Emirati port operator DP World, from which govt seized control of Doraleh port in Feb, High Court of England and Wales 5 Sept ruled in favour of DP World. Nevertheless, govt 10 Sept nationalised shares of state-owned company Port de Djibouti effectively taking ownership of Doraleh container terminal. High Court in London 14 Sept extended 31 Aug injunction against govt stating that actions regarding terminal must be taken with DP World’s consent.

Eritrea

Eritrea and Djibouti agreed to start dialogue to normalise relations 6 Sept during visit of Eritrean FM Osman Saleh in Djibouti. In further steps toward restoring relations, Ethiopia reopened its embassy in Eritrean capital Asmara 6 Sept and President Afwerki and Ethiopian PM Abiy celebrated opening of border crossing at Serha-Zalambesa 11 Sept, Ethiopian New Year. In tripartite summit in Saudi city of Jeddah 17 Sept between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, Afwerki and Abiy signed final peace agreement ending twenty years of conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia

Ethnic violence rose in and around capital Addis Ababa in days around return of exiled members of rebel group Oromo Liberation Front (OLF); group fought for self-determination of ethnic Oromo people but signed reconciliation agreement with govt in Aug. Supporters of former rebels held mass rally in Addis Ababa to mark their return 15 Sept, some attacked non-Oromo residents, in particular ethnic Guraghe and Gamo in Burayu district. Violence 12-16 Sept affected Addis neighbourhoods of Piassa, Merkato, Sheromeda, Ashawa Meda, Kataa, Fili Doro and Petros; at least 28 people killed. Security services 17 Sept forcibly dispersed crowds in Addis Ababa protesting against govt’s failure to prevent or stem violence, killing five people. Police 24 Sept said it had arrested over 1,200 people on suspicion of holding “illegal rallies”, burglaries and other crimes. Violence between ethnic Gumuz and Oromos in Kamash zone of Benishangul-Gumuz region in west late Sept reportedly left five people dead. In further steps toward restoring relations, Ethiopia reopened its embassy in Eritrean capital Asmara 6 Sept and PM Abiy and Eritrean President Afwerki celebrated opening of border crossing at Serha-Zalambesa 11 Sept, Ethiopian New Year. In tripartite summit in Saudi city of Jeddah 17 Sept between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Saudi Arabia, Abiy and Afwerki signed final peace agreement ending twenty years of conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Kenya

In Rift Valley, longstanding tensions between ethnic Maasai and Kipsigis (sub-group of Kalenjin) over land ownership erupted into clashes early Sept in at least four villages in Narok county and later in Njoro area of neighbouring Nakuru county, hundreds of police deployed to quell violence; almost three weeks of fighting left at least ten people dead. Govt 25 Sept imposed dusk-to-dawn curfew in Olposimoru, Narok North constituency. Military killed ten Al-Shabaab fighters in Pandanguo, Lamu county 25 Sept.

Somalia

Regional states severed ties with federal govt and Al-Shabaab stepped up attacks in capital Mogadishu, raising risk that political and security situation deteriorates further in Oct and in particular that clan tensions escalate in Galmudug regional state. Leaders of five regional states – Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubaland, Puntland and South West – met in Kismayo, Jubaland 8 Sept and suspended relations with federal govt citing its lack of cooperation with regions, corruption and growing insecurity. Federal govt called for talks with regional leaders. Following talks with federal govt 18 Sept, Hirshabelle’s President Mohamed Abdi Ware said he would cooperate with federal govt. Galmudug regional state ran into political deadlock after MPs from Cadaado aligned with house speaker tried to unseat state president, Ahmed Geele “Xaaf”, with no-confidence vote. 140 MPs loyal to President “Xaaf” 18 Sept passed no-confidence motion in VP, speaker’s ally. State President “Xaaf” 23 Sept rejected President Farmajo’s attempt to mediate standoff and told him to “stop interfering”. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab carried out two suicide bombings on offices of district commissioners: first on office of Howl-wadag district commissioner 2 Sept killed five civilians, second in Hodan district 10 Sept killed six people. Militants bombed vehicle of MP Mohamed Mursal 15 Sept leaving him in critical condition. Attacks in capital 21 Sept left at least three people dead. Al-Shabaab bombed two cars in Mogadishu 22 Sept killing one person. In response to Al-Shabaab attack, U.S. airstrike on Mubaraak village, west of Mogadishu 11 Sept killed two militants. Ethiopian contingent of African Union mission (AMISOM) said its airstrike on undisclosed Al-Shabaab stronghold 15 Sept killed estimated 70 militants. Govt said its airstrike on Al-Shabaab-controlled Saakow town in Jubaland 19 Sept killed several commanders; Al-Shabaab said attacks killed three schoolchildren. Al-Shabaab attacked Somali and U.S. forces 21 Sept about 50km north west of Kismayo, Jubaland; in retaliation U.S. airstrike killed estimated eighteen militants and Somali forces killed two. Security forces protecting senior official 19 Sept, in apparent attempt to clear path for vehicle, opened fire on traffic in Mogadishu, killing one girl; authorities arrested four people.

South Sudan

Warring leaders signed further peace deal, but fighting continued in several areas. President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed another peace agreement in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa 12 Sept brokered by Sudanese President Bashir; Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) reinstates Machar as VP among other changes to executive. In line with agreement, Kiir 27 Sept ordered govt to release of all prisoners of war. Rebels of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) led by Machar 14 Sept accused govt forces of attacking their base in Lasu, near Yei in south west. SPLM-IO rebels 24 Sept reportedly attacked govt forces escorting displaced people in Wau state in west. UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, 18 Sept said fighting between govt forces and armed opposition had continued in former Central Equatoria state in south, former Unity state in north and in Kopera area, Yei River state in south. Govt forces and SPLM-IO accused each other of launching attacks against them in Liech state, formerly part of Unity state in north 24 Sept. Govt soldier opened fire on UN convoy in Yei in south west 15 Sept, wounding one peacekeeper.

Sudan

To alleviate economic crisis, President Bashir 9 Sept dissolved govt and appointed new PM, Motazz Moussa, formerly minister of irrigation and electricity; ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said number of ministries would be reduced from 31 to 21. Although constitution allows maximum of two presidential terms, NCP 21 Sept said it had chosen Bashir as its presidential candidate to run for third elected term in 2020 elections. Govt 27 Sept agreed to UN proposal to deliver aid to conflict affected Two Areas (Blue Nile and South Kordofan states). Bashir brokered new peace deal between South Sudanese President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa 12 Sept (see South Sudan).

Uganda

Popular musician-turned-opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, went to U.S. for medical treatment 1-20 Sept following his detention and alleged torture in Aug. On arrival in Uganda, police took Kyagulanyi to police station and from there to his home in capital Kampala. Security forces continued to crack down on Kyagulanyi’s supporters.

August 2018

Africa

Djibouti

Somalian President Farmajo met President Guelleh in Djibouti 16 Aug; Somalia’s support for lifting UN sanctions on Eritrea imposed in 2009 has soured Somalia’s relations with Djibouti; UN placed sanctions on Eritrea partly because latter had not withdrawn its forces from disputed border area following clashes with Djibouti in June 2008.

Eritrea

Following Somalian President Farmajo’s visit to Eritrea in July, Eritrean foreign minister 13 Aug visited Mogadishu to strengthen ties; Somalia’s support for lifting UN sanctions on Eritrea imposed in 2009 has soured Somalia’s relations with Djibouti; UN placed sanctions on Eritrea partly because latter had not withdrawn its forces from disputed border area following clashes with Djibouti in June 2008.

Ethiopia

Ethno-religious tensions and mob violence rose in several areas, especially in Somali region in east. In east, after federal govt forces tried to dismantle Somali region’s Liyu police and remove regional President Abdi Mohamoud Omer (known as Abdi Illey), both accused of human rights violations, youth and Liyu police attacked non-ethnic Somalis, looted and burned their property and burned Ethiopian Orthodox churches in regional capital Jijiga 4-5 Aug. Govt soldiers reportedly exchanged fire with local Liyu police. Liyu police cracked down on residents protesting attacks 6 Aug, killing four. Violence spread to at least four other towns. Attacks in Dire Dawa, about 150km west of Jijiga, 2 Aug left at least nine people dead, including six Djiboutian citizens; some 2,700 Djiboutians evacuated to Djibouti. Abdi Illey resigned 6 Aug without giving reason, replaced by region’s Finance Minister Ahmed Abdi Mohamed. Oromia region official said Liyu police carried out cross-border attacks in East Hararghe district of Oromia region 11-12 Aug, killing at least 40 ethnic Oromos. Unidentified assailants reportedly killed at least thirteen ethnic Somalis in same district 28 Aug. Following parliament’s removal of three rebel groups from list of terrorist organisations in July, govt 7 Aug signed reconciliation agreement with one, Oromo Liberation Front, fighting for self-determination of Oromia region; another, Ogaden National Liberation Front, fighting for secession of Somali region, 12 Aug declared unilateral ceasefire. Exiled leadership of third, Patriotic Ginbot 7, early Aug said it would return home and launch political activities. Amhara region authorities 16 Aug signed reconciliation agreement with rebel group Amhara Democratic Forces Movement exiled in Eritrea. Govt 10 Aug said United Arab Emirates was exploring investment opportunities there, including building oil pipeline between Addis Ababa and Eritrea’s Assab port.

Kenya

Al-Shabaab continued attacks on security forces and civilians in south east near coast and in north east. In coastal Lamu county, five soldiers killed 8 Aug when their vehicle triggered explosive device claimed by Al-Shabaab between Majengo and Bodhei areas; five more soldiers killed when their vehicle hit explosive device suspected to have been laid by Al-Shabaab on Sankuri-Kiunga road 29 Aug. In north east, three people killed when their vehicle detonated explosive device suspected to have been laid by Al-Shabaab in Wantey area, near Elwak in Mandera county 13 Aug; large number of militants 20 Aug attacked police station and communications mast in Ijara, south of Garissa county, repelled by security forces.

Somalia

Al-Shabaab maintained attacks, but at lower rate. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab militants 2 Aug killed prominent businessman and activist Mohamed Sheikh Ali, sparking protests across country and in diaspora; and 3 Aug attacked restaurant killing three civilians. In Lower Shabelle region, Al-Shabaab car bombing on military base at Afgoye, 30km north west of Mogadishu 5 Aug killed two soldiers. Govt forces foiled car bombing outside Mogadishu 14 Aug having received information from civilians, arrested five Al-Shabaab militants. Govt forces recaptured from Al-Shabaab Marka city in Lower Shabelle, on coast about 100km south west of Mogadishu 20 Aug. Puntland forces 17 Aug said they had retaken from Al-Shabaab Af Urur town without a fight. U.S. airstrikes continued: first 120km north west of Mogadishu 2 Aug killed four militants, second 46km north east of Kismayo in south 21 Aug killed two militants; third about 40km south west of Mogadishu 27 Aug killed three militants. Puntland region maintained military standoff with Somaliland over disputed territory. Following President Farmajo’s visit to Eritrea in July, Eritrean foreign minister 13 Aug visited Mogadishu to strengthen ties. Farmajo met Djiboutian President Guelleh in Djibouti 16 Aug; Somalia’s support for lifting UN sanctions on Eritrea imposed in 2009 has soured Somalia’s relations with Djibouti; UN placed sanctions on Eritrea partly because latter had not withdrawn its forces from disputed border area following clashes with Djibouti in June 2008.

Somaliland

Govt maintained military standoff with Somalia’s Puntland region over disputed territory. Puntland interior minister 20 Aug threatened war with Somaliland.

South Sudan

President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, having signed security and power-sharing agreements in July, signed further power-sharing agreement in Khartoum 5 Aug. Talks continued on outstanding issues including number of states and their boundaries. Machar initially rejected draft agreement including six-month roadmap for conclusion of final deal put forward 28 Aug, but signed it 30 Aug. Kiir granted general amnesty to rebels including Machar 8 Aug. U.S., UK and Norway 10 Aug expressed concern that arrangements agreed so far were “not realistic or sustainable” and called on parties to “bring in a wider range of stakeholders, and develop clear plans for the transition period”. Kiir 15 Aug told state governors that under deal opposition would take over fourteen of 32 governorships. Mediators from regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development chaired by Sudan 26 Aug proposed compromise on number and boundaries of states but parties remained divided on matter. Army accused Machar’s rebels, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition, of violating ceasefire signed in June by attacking them 21 Aug in two areas of Northern Liech state in north, saying four soldiers and nine rebels killed. Former Botswanan president, Festus Mogae, resigned from position as Chairperson of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission 20 Aug.

Sudan

Three rebel groups in Darfur (Sudan Liberation Movement faction led by Minni Minnawi, Justice and Equality Movement and Sudan Liberation Movement-Transitional Council) extended for three months unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur region 8 Aug. Sudan and Ethiopia 16 Aug agreed to withdraw their troops from each other’s territory and deploy joint forces to combat terrorism and human trafficking. Govt early Aug handed over to U.S. embassy in Khartoum second batch of proposals on normalisation of relations with U.S. and its removal from list of states sponsoring terrorism.

Uganda

Popular musician-turned-opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, arrested and reportedly beaten in detention, sparking protests which security forces dispersed forcibly. During campaign for parliamentary by-election in Arua in north where Kyagulanyi had been campaigning for independent candidate, opposition supporters threw stones at President Museveni’s motorcade 13 Aug; Kyagulanyi and four other opposition MPs arrested same day for suspected involvement. Kyagulanyi’s driver shot dead, allegedly by security forces, in Arua 13 Aug. Kyagulanyi charged 16 Aug with unlawful possession of weapons, three other MPs and dozens of other people charged with treason. Security forces 19-20 Aug forcibly dispersed opposition protests in capital Kampala and elsewhere, at least one person killed and 68 reportedly arrested. Kyagulanyi appeared at military court hearing in Gulu in north 23 Aug, court dropped charges of unlawful weapons possession, but local magistrate charged him with treason over alleged role in stoning of motorcade. Court 27 Aug released on bail 33 people accused of treason, including Kyagulanyi. Authorities at Entebbe airport 30 Aug prevented Kyagulanyi and another MP, Francis Zaake, from travelling abroad to seek medical treatment, triggering more protests in Kampala 31 Aug. Police 23 Aug arrested opposition politicians Kizza Besigye and Kato Lubwama for defying house arrest. Military court 24 Aug charged General Kale Kayihura, inspector general of police from 2005 till March and arrested in June, on three counts including aiding and abetting kidnapping, and remanded him in custody until 28 Aug.

July 2018

Africa

Djibouti

Govt mid-July asked UN Sec-Gen Guterres to work with Security Council to mediate peaceful settlement of border dispute with Eritrea, said Eritrean troops still occupy Djiboutian territory.

Eritrea

Govt took further steps to make peace with Ethiopia paving way for further consolidation in Aug. During visit of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy to Eritrean capital, Asmara 9 July, he and President Afwerki agreed to end “state of war” between countries. Afwerki visited Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa 14-16 July and reopened Eritrean embassy. Countries restored telephone connections and Ethiopian Airlines 18 July resumed flights to Eritrea. Afwerki 23 July met Saudi King Salman in Jeddah. Next day Afwerki and Abiy in United Arab Emirates thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan for role in fostering peace between two countries; Prince Mohammed awarded both leaders highest civilian honour for ending war. Somali President Farmajo met Afwerki in Asmara 28 July; presidents said in joint statement that two countries would establish diplomatic relations and promote bilateral trade and investment. Djibouti mid-July asked UN Sec-Gen Guterres to work with Security Council to mediate peaceful settlement of its border dispute with Eritrea, said Eritrean troops still occupy Djiboutian territory.

Ethiopia

PM Abiy took further steps to make peace with Eritrea paving way for further consolidation in Aug, and made progress in combatting repression and abuses by state forces domestically. During Abiy’s landmark visit to Eritrean capital, Asmara 9 July, he and Eritrean President Afwerki agreed to end “state of war” between countries. Afwerki visited Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa 14-16 July and reopened Eritrean embassy. Countries restored telephone connections and Ethiopian Airlines 18 July resumed flights to Eritrea. Abiy and Afwerki in United Arab Emirates 24 July thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan for role in fostering peace between two countries; Prince Mohammed awarded both leaders highest civilian honour for ending war. Govt 5 July removed from list of terrorist organisations three rebel groups (Oromo Liberation Front, Ogaden National Liberation Front and Ginbot 7) and opened access to over 200 previously banned websites. Same day senior prison officials were fired for failing to protect prisoners’ rights. Authorities 11 July released political prisoners from Jijiga prison in Somali region in east after Somali regional state President Abdi Iley admitted his forces had committed abuses. Parliament 20 July passed law granting amnesty to former political prisoners. Project manager of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam being built on Nile, Simegnew Bekele, found shot dead in his car in centre of Addis Ababa 26 July, hundreds immediately protested in Addis and his hometown Gondar in north west demanding justice.

Kenya

As dry season sets in, rate of armed conflicts over natural resources, especially pasture and water, picked up in north. Armed ethnic Turkana herders clashed with security forces in Isiolo county; Turkana herders exchanged fire with police trying to recover stolen livestock near Isiolo-Marsabit road 14 July. Local residents in Turkana county in north blockaded camp of oil company Tullow Oil from 27 June demanding deployment of more security forces in area to combat cattle poaching and citing grievances over jobs, blockade interrupted Tullow’s trucking of oil to coast. Al-Shabaab militants 10 July attacked police station at Hamey, Garissa county near border with Somalia, reportedly injuring four officers, and damaged nearby telecommunications mast. Security forces continued operations against Al-Shabaab in Boni forest, Lamu county. Al-Shabaab ambushed police vehicle on Lamu-Mombasa road in Milihoi, Lamu county 26 July, killing one police officer, another three went missing.

Somalia

Al-Shabaab escalated attacks and resumed bombings in capital Mogadishu after more than month-long lull. In Mogadishu, roadside bombing injured seven people 2 July; car bombings and gunfire at interior ministry 7 July and at hotel 14 July killed nine and three civilians respectively; over fourteen security officials arrested 9 July in connection with first attack. In Galmudug region in centre, local clan militias fought Al-Shabaab militants trying to forcibly recruit their children in Caad town, near Haradheere 4 July, at least seventeen people killed; in retribution Al-Shabaab 19 July stole herders’ livestock. In Puntland region in north, Al-Shabaab captured Af Urur town 20 July meeting little resistance from Puntland forces. In Lower Shabelle region in south, Al-Shabaab claimed roadside bombing that killed former district commissioner 7 July. Also in south, Al-Shabaab 23 July attacked army base at Baar Sanguni, about 50km from Kismayo, Jubaland region killing at least six soldiers. Fighting between semi-autonomous Puntland region in north and neighbouring Somaliland over disputed territories abated, but confrontation continued; elders from Somaliland 16 July visited Garowe in Puntland to discuss ceasefire options, but Puntland rejected elders’ conditions. Joint peace mission from regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and UN met with Puntland President Abdiweli Gaas in Garowe and Somaliland President Muse Bihi in Hargeisa 28-30 July, both sides agreed to work toward peaceful solution. Authorities of Jubaland federal state prevented newly appointed general from landing at Kismayo airport 12 July, accusing federal govt of breaching security pact by appointing general without consulting federal state leader. At second Somalia Partnership Forum, organised by EU, Sweden and Somalia govt in Brussels 16-17 July, donors pledged €1.2bn for country’s recovery to be channelled through federal budget. President Farmajo met Eritrean President Afwerki in Eritrean capital Asmara 28 July; presidents said in joint statement that two countries would establish diplomatic relations and promote bilateral trade and investment.

Somaliland

Fighting between Somaliland forces and Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region over disputed territories abated, but confrontation continued; elders from Somaliland 16 July visited Garowe in Puntland to discuss ceasefire options, but Puntland rejected elders’ conditions. Somaliland govt 17 July said elders did not represent govt and that it was committed to protecting its borders. Joint peace mission from regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and UN met with Puntland President Abdiweli Gaas in Garowe and Somaliland President Muse Bihi in Hargeisa 28-30 July, both sides agreed to work toward peaceful solution.

South Sudan

Following signing of framework agreement in June, govt and main rebel group signed further security and power-sharing agreements, creating opportunity for leaders to reduce fighting in Aug; other rebel groups raised objections to political deal and violence continued despite ceasefire. Govt and rebel representatives in Sudanese capital, Khartoum 6 July signed agreement on security arrangements that aimed at moving forces out of population centres, unifying and reorganising military, setting up joint security committee, and deciding where to base forces. Presidency said President Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar had agreed on peace plan 8 July in Entebbe, Uganda that would see Machar reinstated as first vice president (VP), alongside three other VPs, but faction of rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) allied to Machar 9 July rejected plan, saying rebels should hold two VP positions. Govt and SPLM-IO signed power-sharing agreement in Khartoum 25 July that envisages Machar as VP alongside four others and 35-member govt; twenty ministers from current govt, nine from SPLM-IO and six from other opposition groups. Other opposition groups said deal had shortfalls and lacked clarity on future of legislature. Parliament 12 July passed govt-proposed bill to extend Kiir’s term until 2021, SPLM-IO had called move illegal. UN Security Council 13 July passed U.S.-drafted resolution imposing arms embargo on S Sudan. Govt and rebel forces accused each other of violating ceasefire that came into effect 30 June: fighting 2 July at Maban in former Upper Nile state in far north east reportedly left eighteen civilians dead; fighting also erupted near Wau, former Western Bahr al-Ghazal state in west 20 July. Unidentified gunmen 4 July attacked humanitarian convoy near Mangalla, north of capital Juba, killing one man.

Sudan

Govt 12 July said it had extended unilateral ceasefire with rebels in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states until end of year. Egyptian President Sisi visited Khartoum 19-20 July in bid to strengthen bilateral relations. Opposition National Umma Party 1 July said Egyptian authorities had denied its leader Sadiq al-Mahdi re-entry into Egypt, where he had been living in self-imposed exile.

Uganda

Navies of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo exchanged fire on Lake Edward, which straddles disputed border, 7 July leaving one Ugandan soldier dead. DR Congo 11 July accused Ugandan military of that day shooting dead twelve Congolese fishermen and arresting about 100 others; Congolese delegation visited Uganda late month reportedly to discuss issues over lake. Uganda 28 July said it had sentenced 35 Congolese to up to three years for illegal fishing.

June 2018

Africa

Djibouti

Ethiopian govt 14 June said Djibouti had pardoned 45 Ethiopian prisoners as good-will gesture. Following reports that Dubai-based port operator DP World would seek out-of-court settlement with Djibouti govt, which it accuses of illegally taking back control of Doraleh port in Feb, DP World 16 June said it was committed to legal process via International Court of Arbitration.

Eritrea

Initial steps toward rapprochement with Ethiopia opened opportunity to advance talks in July. Ethiopian PM Abiy 5 June said his govt would accept 2002 ruling of Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission that sought to end 1998-2000 war and concede to Eritrea Badme town and other small territories on border held up till present by Ethiopian troops. Announcement met international approval, but local communities in border areas and Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), ethnic Tigrayan party in Ethiopian ruling coalition, criticised move. Eritrean President Afwerki 20 June said he would send delegation to Addis Ababa and Eritrean FM Osman Saleh held talks with Abiy 26 June.

Ethiopia

Talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea over contested border opened opportunity to advance rapprochement, as ethnic violence continued in several areas. PM Abiy 5 June said govt would accept 2002 ruling of Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission that sought to end 1998-2000 war and concede to Eritrea Badme town and other small territories on border held up till present by Ethiopian troops. Announcement met international approval, but local communities in border areas and Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), ethnic Tigrayan party in ruling coalition, criticised move. Eritrean President Afwerki 20 June said he would send delegation to Addis Ababa and Eritrean FM Osman Saleh held talks with Abiy 26 June. Govt 30 June said it had submitted to parliament proposal to remove from list of terrorist organisations three rebel groups: Oromo Liberation Front, Ogaden National Liberation Front and Ginbot 7. Ethnic violence continued in several areas. In Hawassa, capital of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regional state, violence sparked by ethnic Sidama demands for their own state left at least ten people dead. Ethnic Guji and Gedeo early June clashed on border between SNNP and Oromia regional states reportedly leaving several dead. In Somali regional state, local state paramilitaries known as Liyu police clashed with residents protesting against rule of state president Abdi Iley. Tens of thousands gathered in central Addis Ababa in support of Abiy 23 June, but grenade attack at rally left two people dead and scores wounded; 30 people detained over suspected links to attack. Abiy met Egyptian President Sisi in Cairo 10 June; both expressed commitment to resolving dispute over potential impact of Ethiopia’s dam on Egypt’s Nile waters. Egypt next day released 32 Ethiopian prisoners. Following Abiy’s visit to United Arab Emirates (UAE) in May, UAE delegation in Addis 16 June pledged $3bn to govt in direct aid and investments.

Kenya

Al-Shabaab maintained insurgency in east and north east. Six officers of special police unit General Service Unit killed 8 June when their vehicle detonated land mine at Liboi, Garissa county in east next to Somalia border. Eight security personnel killed 18 June when their vehicle hit explosive device in Bojigaras area of Wajir county in north east.

Somalia

Fighting between semi-autonomous Puntland region in north and neighbouring Somaliland over disputed territories spread and risk remains high of further escalation in July; elsewhere Al-Shabaab continued attacks on national and international forces and govt officials. Following clashes at Tukaraq town in contested Sool region in May, both Puntland and Somaliland continued to mass forces near town. Tempo of artillery and mortar shelling around town appeared to increase from 22 June. Puntland forces reportedly attacked police stations run by Somaliland soldiers in Las Anod, capital of Sool region some 50km west of Tukaraq 24 June triggering heavy fighting. Leaders on both sides stepped up inflammatory rhetoric. Confrontations also escalated in Las Anod between Somaliland forces and anti-Somaliland protesters, military reportedly injured two unarmed women 14 June. Al-Shabaab militants 9 June launched mortars and shot at U.S. Special Forces near Jamaame, Jubaland region in south, killing one. In ambush near Mogadishu 5 June, Al-Shabaab killed two MPs from semi-autonomous Hirshabelle state and several bodyguards. Two Burundian soldiers in AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) killed 26 June when their convoy hit explosive device on outskirts of Balad city, about 30km north of Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab reportedly forced govt troops out of Muqokori, 300km north of Mogadishu, and retook town 2 June; Al-Shabaab claimed it killed 47 soldiers. Army radio 27 June reported that Al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Ahmed Diriye had died from illness; Al-Shabaab denied death. National Security Council chaired by president and PM and bringing together all federal member states met in Baidoa 4-5 June and agreed on transitional plan following AMISOM’s planned exit by Dec 2020, electoral system for 2020 vote and revenue sharing. Ethiopian PM Abiy visited Mogadishu 16 June; both govts agreed to deepen cooperation on security and development, including investing jointly in four of Somalia’s ports.

Somaliland

Fighting between Somaliland and neighbouring Puntland, semi-autonomous region of Somalia, over disputed territories spread and risk remains high of further escalation in July. Following clashes at Tukaraq town in contested Sool region in May, both Puntland and Somaliland continued to mass forces near town. Tempo of artillery and mortar shelling around town appeared to increase from 22 June. Puntland forces reportedly attacked police stations run by Somaliland soldiers in Las Anod, capital of Sool region some 50km west of Tukaraq 24 June triggering heavy fighting. Leaders on both sides stepped up inflammatory rhetoric. Confrontations also escalated in Las Anod between Somaliland forces and anti-Somaliland protesters, military reportedly injured two unarmed women 14 June.

South Sudan

President Kiir and former first VP turned rebel leader Riek Machar signed framework agreement in Sudanese capital Khartoum 27 June, including ceasefire to take effect 30 June, opening opportunity in July to work out comprehensive peace deal. Parties agreed to sign further agreement in next two weeks on composition of new transitional unity govt to rule for three years until general elections. They also agreed to work with Sudan to improve security in oil fields. Kiir and Machar met in Addis Ababa 20 June for first time since fighting re-erupted in 2016. Govt 22 June said Machar could not be part of govt, but that rebel representative could. S Sudan and Sudan 26 June agreed on plan to increase S Sudan’s oil output through rehabilitation of oil infrastructure. Unidentified gunmen ambushed humanitarian convoy between Yei and Lasu in west 26 June, killing Bangladeshi UN peacekeeper.

Sudan

Sporadic fighting continued between govt forces and Sudanese Liberation Army faction led by Abdel Wahid (SLA-AW) in Jebel Marra region of Central Darfur. Govt reportedly mobilised up to 2,000-strong force of Rapid Support Forces militia and Sudan Armed Forces to retake positions from SLA-AW in Jebel Marra raising possibility of more fighting in coming months. Amid ongoing drawdown of UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix 11 June proposed to close all UNAMID bases within two years but reinforce and expand mission’s presence in Jebel Marra. Govt 7 June also advocated for UNAMID drawdown, arguing it is able to provide security and stability there. UN Security Council 29 June voted to extend current UNAMID mandate until 13 July citing insecurity. Ahead of general elections in 2020, Sudan Council of Ministers 10 June approved draft election law reducing number of seats in parliament from 450 to 300 and increasing subnational state representation from two MPs to three; draft to be ratified by National Assembly in Oct. Former opposition party, now member of National Consensus Govt, Popular Congress Party 16 June said law did not reflect opinions of consensus govt. Following talks hosted by President Bashir in Khartoum, S Sudanese President Kiir and his former first VP turned rebel leader Riek Machar signed framework peace agreement 27 June (see South Sudan).

Uganda

In latest high-profile killing, unidentified attackers shot dead MP Ibrahim Abiriga and his bodyguard in capital Kampala 8 June, sparking public anger at govt and security forces; residents of Abiriga’s Arua municipality accused govt of complicity. In Arua, crowds of mourners 10 June seized Abiriga’s coffin from funeral car and vandalised tents and chairs for vigil; security forces dispersed crowds with teargas and live ammunition. President Museveni 10 June condemned murder and framed it as attack on ruling party. Military arrested General Kale Kayihura, Inspector General of Police (IGP) from 2005 till his sacking in March, and four senior police officers 13 June and some 40 others in following days; charges as yet undisclosed but arrests reportedly in connection with organised crime and 2017 killing of assistant IGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi.

May 2018

Africa

Ethiopia

In talks on Ethiopia’s construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Nile River held in Addis Ababa 15-16 May, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agreed to set up technical team to consult on filling of dam’s reservoir and that heads of state would meet every six months; Egypt also reportedly withdrew its proposal that World Bank arbitrate dispute. Earlier talks 5 May ended in stalemate. Amid push toward political opening, Amhara regional state 7 May said it would pardon 3,591 prisoners. Govt 11-12 May began talks with exiled opposition group Oromo Democratic Front (ODF), which said it would return to Ethiopia and form political party; PM Abiy and ODF leaders met in Addis Ababa 23 May and agreed to pursue national unity. Members of Oromo and Garre ethnic groups clashed in Moyale town, near border with Kenya 6 May; several people reportedly killed and some fled across border into Kenya. Govt 26 May announced pardon or removal of charges against 749 detainees, including opposition leader and Ethiopian-British dual national Andargachew Tsige. Amnesty International 31 May alleged that Somali state police attacked civilians in neighbouring Oromia 23 and 24 May, killing five.

Kenya

President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga continued to work toward reconciliation. Odinga 1 May lifted boycott by his National Super Alliance (NASA) of four companies it said were close to members of ruling Jubilee Party. In state of nation address 2 May, Kenyatta said political leaders must apologise for divisions they created during election period and emphasised need for national unity. Fourteen-member committee formed by Kenyatta and Odinga to drive reconciliation talks held its first meeting 10 May, no results made public. Kenyatta 18 May said his administration would not pursue referendum on constitutional changes that would introduce new executive positions, as advocated by Odinga and allies. Suspected Al-Shabaab militants 3 May attacked quarry in Mandera in north east, killing four.

Somalia

Conflict between semi-autonomous Puntland region in north and neighbouring Somaliland over disputed territory flared, and could escalate further in June. Puntland forces 15 May launched offensive to retake Tukaraq in Sool region from Somaliland forces, which captured town in Jan; at least 45 people killed. Fighting resumed on outskirts of Tukaraq 24 May, dozens more reportedly killed, both sides blamed each other for restarting clashes. Al-Shabaab stepped up attacks in several regions ahead of and during Ramadan, which began mid-May. Kenyan military convoy triggered mine in Dhobley, near border with Kenya 7 May, at least seven soldiers killed; suicide bomber 8 May attacked market in Wanlaweyn, Lower Shabelle, killing fifteen civilians and one soldier; next day seven soldiers killed in Wanlaweyn when their vehicle detonated mine; suicide bomber 22 May attacked military convoy in Afgoye town, 30km north west of capital Mogadishu, killing unconfirmed number of soldiers. Joint U.S.-Somali operation in Ma’alinka village, 60km south of Mogadishu 10 May reportedly killed five civilians. U.S. said it carried out airstrike 24km south west of Mogadishu 23 May, which it claimed killed ten militants. Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman – reportedly ally of PM Kheyre – elected speaker of parliament’s lower house 1 May after Mohamed Osman Jawaari resigned early April.

Somaliland

Conflict between Somaliland and neighbouring Puntland, semi-autonomous region of Somalia, over disputed territory flared, and could escalate further in June. Puntland forces 15 May launched offensive to retake Tukaraq in Sool region from Somaliland forces, which captured town in Jan, at least 45 people killed. Despite calls by Somali federal govt and UN for ceasefire and end to hostilities, heavy fighting resumed on outskirts of Tukaraq 24 May, dozens more reportedly killed, both sides blamed each other for restarting clashes. Poet Nacima Qorane, sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly supporting reunification with Somalia mid-April, released 7 May after receiving presidential pardon. Police 28 May arrested 47 protesters demonstrating in Las Anod town in support of reunification with Somalia, along with two journalists.

South Sudan

Signatories of Aug 2015 peace agreement 17 May began third round of talks, known as High Level Revitalisation Forum, mediated by South Sudan Council of Churches under auspices of regional grouping Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); talks broke down 23 May having made no significant progress. IGAD allowed former army chief turned rebel Paul Malong to send representatives to talks under umbrella of opposition party. Ugandan President Museveni 3 May called on factions of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) – including ruling party, opposition in transitional govt and armed opposition – to unite and pursue South Sudanese-led solution to conflict, as alternative to revitalisation process. SPLM-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) faction in transitional govt led by First VP Taban Deng 7 May said it would reunify with ruling SPLM under 2015 Arusha Agreement, but other SPLM-IO faction loyal to former VP Riek Machar said it would only reunify with govt if it reinstates Machar. At meeting of SPLM’s National Liberation Council, first since civil war began in 2013, President Kiir said Machar could return to S Sudan and SPLM in “personal capacity”, but not govt official; Machar rejected proposal. Belligerents continued to clash, violating Dec 2017 cessation of hostilities; most significant fighting involving govt forces, fighters loyal to Machar and local militias took place in former Unity state in north. U.S. 8 May said transitional govt is no longer “inclusive”, that U.S. opposes any effort by transitional govt to unilaterally extend its mandate and announced review of its humanitarian assistance and support to monitoring bodies to ensure it does not contribute to conflict. UN Security Council 31 May agreed to extend some sanctions on govt until mid-July and, absent cessation of hostilities by 30 June, to consider freezing assets and banning travel for six govt officials, as proposed by U.S..

Sudan

After German-led peace talks collapsed in April, two Darfuri rebel groups involved, Justice and Equality Movement and Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction led by Minni Minnawi, 7 May extended their unilateral ceasefires for three months. SLM faction led by Abdel Wahid, not party to talks, clashed sporadically with govt forces late April-early May and late May in Jebel Marra area of Darfur. Govt reportedly massed forces in South and Central Darfur for renewed offensive on Jebel Marra before end of dry season (end-June). Economic situation worsened with fuel shortages starting late April; govt 2 May said it had run out of strategic fuel reserves, but 7 May said Saudi Arabia would provide Sudan with oil at preferential rates for five years. President Bashir 14 May reshuffled cabinet, appointing new foreign, oil and interior ministers. In talks on Ethiopia’s construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Nile River held in Addis Ababa 15-16 May, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agreed to set up technical team to consult on filling of dam’s reservoir and that heads of state would meet every six months. Earlier talks 5 May ended in stalemate.

April 2018

Africa

Ethiopia

New PM Abiy Ahmed took several measures to mitigate ethnic tensions, promote national unity and relax restrictions on civil liberties. Head of ethnic Oromo party, Abiy Ahmed, elected chairman of ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front late March, sworn in as prime minister 2 April. In his first trip, Abiy 7 April went to Jijiga, capital of Somali regional state, in bid to ease tensions between ethnic Somalis and Oromos. Govt 6 April said it had closed Maekelawi prison, alleged torture site, and same day internet service reportedly resumed in parts of Oromia regional state; internet access restored in other areas 16 April. Abiy 19 April appointed ten new ministers including defence minister. Lawyer representing opposition figures, arrested 25 March for reportedly displaying banned version of national flag, said 5 April they had been released. Arrests under state of emergency imposed mid-Feb continued, particularly in Oromia. Small-scale protests reported in Ambo, Oromia regional state and parts of Somali regional state late April. Lower parliament citing security concerns 12 April postponed local elections for a year and 30 April postponed population census. Grenade attack by unidentified assailants 17 April killed four people in Moyale town, Oromia, close to border with Kenya. Talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over latter’s building of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Nile 4-5 April ended without agreement on any issues; Egypt 19 April said Ethiopia and Sudan had not responded to its invitation to resume talks in Cairo. U.S. Congress 10 April passed resolution condemning rights abuses by Ethiopian security forces; govt 11 April said resolution was harmful to U.S.-Ethiopia relations.

Kenya

Political negotiations and reconciliation talks between govt and opposition continued following meeting between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga in March; two leaders 29 April named fourteen-member team to drive talks. Deputy President Ruto 14 April criticised proposals to amend constitution to create more executive positions to accommodate opposition, describing them as attempt by politicians to secure more top jobs. Standoff between executive and judiciary continued; interior minister 3 April accused judiciary of anti-govt bias and “judicial overreach”; Chief Justice David Maraga 14 April said judiciary was struggling to fulfil its mandate due to budget cuts. Electoral commission 10 April said it had sent its chief executive on compulsory leave for three months pending audit; three of body’s six commissioners resigned 16 April, citing “dysfunctional” management, while maintaining disputed Aug presidential vote was conducted properly.

Somalia

Following further deterioration of relations between federal govt and United Arab Emirates (UAE) over increased Emirati cooperation with  Somaliland and Puntland regions, UAE ended military training program triggering clashes between army factions over weapons at training centre. Federal govt 8 April seized almost $10mn in cash from Emirati plane at Mogadishu airport, which UAE said was to pay Somali soldiers it had been training. Federal govt 11 April ended UAE military training program and 16 April prevented plane leaving Puntland after departing Emirati military instructors refused to allow authorities to search their bags. UAE criticised govt’s actions and 16 April closed Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Mogadishu which it had been running. Members of Somali armed forces 23 April attacked military training centre in Mogadishu that UAE handed back to govt, reportedly intending to loot it, exchanging fire with UAE-trained forces until presidential palace guards retook control; some UAE-trained forces ran away with weapons. Puntland 16 April urged UAE to stay and continue support for Somalia. PM Khayre continued efforts to remove speaker of federal parliament’s lower house, Mohamed Osman Jawaari, triggering armed standoff. On Khayre’s orders, security forces 4 April closed major roads in Mogadishu and tried to prevent MPs accessing parliament building; Jawaari went to parliament with his own armed guards who confronted forces loyal to Khayre; parliamentary session concluded with neither side making any concession. African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) stepped in to mediate. Following talks, Jawaari 9 April resigned and parliament 30 April elected former defence minister as new speaker. Al-Shabaab militants 1 April attacked AMISOM base in Bula Marer, Lower Shabelle region, four AMISOM soldiers and some 30 militants killed. Al-Shabaab suicide bombing at football stadium in Barawe, Lower Shabelle, killed five people 12 April. Suicide bomber 28 April attacked army camp in Galkayo in Puntland, reportedly killing four officers.

Somaliland

Authorities 15 April sentenced writer Nacima Qorane to three years in prison for allegedly supporting unification with Somalia, triggering widespread criticism of govt.

South Sudan

In late March, regional grouping Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) pledged to place sanctions on individuals violating Dec cessation of hostilities, but fighting continued in several areas; various groups including govt forces and main opposition group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) allegedly responsible. Former army Chief of Staff Paul Malong Awan 9 April announced creation of his new rebel group, South Sudan United Front, and sought entry to peace talks. IGAD postponed new round of peace talks, scheduled to restart 26 April to 17 May because parties remained uncompromising. Army chief Gen James Ajongo died 20 April; at his funeral 25 April, President Kiir said he regretted not killing group of political leaders he arrested in 2014 and former VP now rebel leader Riek Machar in 2016.

Sudan

President Bashir 10 April ordered release of remaining dozens of political prisoners detained during Jan-Feb economic protests. Bashir 19 April dismissed Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour after he questioned non-payment of salaries to diplomats over six months. Talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia over latter’s building of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Nile 4-5 April ended without agreement on any issues. Egypt 19 April said Ethiopia and Sudan had not responded to its invitation to resume talks in Cairo. Peace talks in Berlin 16-17 April between govt and two Darfuri rebel groups – Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction led by Minni Minnawi and Justice and Equality Movement – broke down after parties failed to agree framework for further talks. Sporadic clashes continued throughout April in Jebel Marra region of Darfur between govt forces and two rebel groups, SLM faction led by Abdel Wahid and SLM-Transitional Council.

Tanzania

Govt 25 April deployed armed police in major towns and authorities reportedly made arrests ahead of planned anti-govt protests called for following day by U.S.-based activist; no large demonstrations reported 26 April.

March 2018

Africa

Ethiopia

Ruling coalition Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front 27 March elected Abiy Ahmed as its chairman, paving way for him to become PM, replacing Hailemariam Desalegn who announced resignation in Feb. Parliament 2 March approved state of emergency, prompting general strikes in towns across Oromia regional state early March, during which protesters clashed with security forces, several reportedly killed. Army 10 March killed at least nine civilians in Moyale town on border with Kenya after mistaking them for rebels; following incident over 8,500 people reportedly crossed from Ethiopia into Kenya; authorities 15 March arrested senior official from Oromia regional state who criticised killings. Authorities 25 March arrested some twelve opposition figures, including recently released politicians and journalists, in capital Addis Ababa for reportedly displaying prohibited version of national flag. State media 31 March said 1,107 people had been arrested under state of emergency.

Kenya

President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga held surprise talks 9 March – their first meeting since disputed 2017 elections – creating opportunity in April to begin dialogue and reduce tensions. They pledged to work together to unify country, including by creating joint office to tackle political divisions. During visit to Nairobi same day, then U.S. Sec State Rex Tillerson said govt should not threaten independence of media or courts. Immigration officials at Nairobi airport 26 March denied entry to prominent opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna whom govt 6 Feb deported for being “prohibited immigrant”. High court 27 March ordered authorities to allow Miguna to leave airport and enter country. After authorities failed to release Miguna, high court 28 March found interior minister and police inspector general in contempt of court, and next day fined them and immigration minister for ignoring ruling. Miguna 29 March said officials had put him on plane to Dubai late 28 March after beating and drugging him. Al-Shabaab attacks continued near border with Somalia; 2 March attack on police camps in Mandera county in north east left four police officers and reservists dead. Clan-related violence 27 March left six people dead in Banisa, Mandera county, following killing of two Garre clansmen in Ethiopia previous day.

Somalia

Al-Shabaab maintained attacks in rural areas and capital Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab 2 March captured Balcad town, Middle Shabelle region, from army and African Union mission (AMISOM), but withdrew next day after counteroffensive by Somali forces. Improvised bomb laid by Al-Shabaab killed five soldiers in Afgooye in Lower Shabelle region 2 March; same day Al-Shabaab militants conducted cross-border attack on police camps in Kenya, killing four police officers and reservist. Army 17 March said it had killed 32 Al-Shabaab militants near Mahas, Hiraan region, in clashes sparked by Al-Shabaab attempts to tax local residents 16 March. Al-Shabaab militants 1 April conducted large-scale attack involving two suicide car bombs against AMISOM base in Bulamarer town, Lower Shabelle region, and attacked surrounding villages; Ugandan army said its soldiers had killed 22 Al-Shabaab militants and that four Ugandan troops had been killed, unconfirmed local reports said some 46 Ugandan soldiers killed. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab claimed 22 March car bombing outside hotel which killed at least fourteen people; Al-Shabaab claimed 25 March car bombing at checkpoint near parliament which killed three people. Lower parliament 12 March rejected Berbera port deal between Emirati shipping line DP World and breakaway region Somaliland and banned DP World from operating in Somalia; senate 15 March passed similar legislation. Somaliland President Abdi 25 March confirmed Somaliland had suspended talks with Somalia, which had been due to restart 19 March. MPs loyal to PM Khayre 14 March tabled motion of no confidence against speaker of federal parliament’s lower house; Khayre sent security forces to secure parliament ahead of vote expected 31 March. President Farmajo 31 March postponed parliamentary session without setting new date.

Somaliland

Somalia’s lower parliament 12 March rejected Berbera port deal between Emirati shipping line DP World and Somaliland; Somalia’s senate 15 March passed similar legislation. President Abdi 25 March confirmed suspension of talks with Somalia, which had been due to restart 19 March.

South Sudan

Regional grouping Intergovernmental Authority on Development 26 March scheduled next round of peace talks for 26 April, announced it would place targeted sanctions on ceasefire violators, referred ceasefire monitors’ findings to African Union, and said rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar could be released from house arrest in South Africa if he renounced violence, but that he would not be allowed back to Horn of Africa or any country neighbouring S Sudan. Following sexual exploitation scandal involving UN police, govt 9 March announced suspension of UN peacekeeping mission’s (UNMISS) Radio Miraya for allegedly violating media laws; disputed by UNMISS. Govt forces clashed with rebels at Kajokeji, Central Equatoria near Ugandan border 28 March and limited fighting reported in several places in former Upper Nile region. Govt and Egypt signed memorandum of understanding in Juba 12 March to increase cooperation and held consultations on S Sudan joining Arab League; Egypt reiterated its support for govt’s national dialogue and provided financial support.

Sudan

Govt and Egypt took steps to reduce tensions, which flared late Dec-early Jan, but points of contention remained. Govts 2 March exchanged detainees arrested for illegally crossing disputed border areas. Sudanese ambassador to Egypt – recalled to Khartoum early Jan – returned to Cairo 5 March. Sudanese and Egyptian security chiefs in Khartoum 10 March discussed border security and terrorism, and Egypt’s alleged lobbying of Gulf states not to grant Khartoum financial relief. President Bashir and Egyptian President Sisi in Cairo 20 March discussed issues including status of disputed border region Halayeb, Sudan’s position on Ethiopia’s dam under construction on Nile river, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), and alleged Sudanese support for Egyptian Islamist opposition groups, particularly Muslim Brotherhood. However, countries still hold divergent positions on key issues in GERD dispute – Khartoum wants to increase its use of Nile waters – and changes in leadership in Ethiopia adds uncertainty. Economic situation continued to worsen.

Tanzania

Police 21 March said they had arrested two people for comments on social media criticising govt repression and urging others to participate in anti-govt protests called for 26 April. Police 27 March arrested Freeman Mbowe, head of main opposition party Chadema, along with five other party members on several charges, including inciting hatred and rebellion at 16 Feb protest during which police killed bystander.

Uganda

President Museveni 4 March replaced unpopular police chief General Kale Kayihura, under whose tenure crime and insecurity increased, with Kayihura’s deputy. Govt 20 March said that five petitions against bill removing presidential age limit of 75 will be aggregated into one, and will be heard by constitutional court in Mbale 9 April.

February 2018

Africa

Ethiopia

PM Desalegn 15 Feb said he would resign from post and leadership of ruling coalition to ease reforms, but would stay in power until successor identified; amid anti-govt protests, govt 16 Feb reimposed state of emergency, in place from Oct 2016 to Aug 2017. Following govt’s early Jan announcement that it would pardon some political prisoners, attorney general 8 Feb announced pardon of 746 prisoners, mostly detained during 2015-2016 unrest in Oromia and Amhara regions. Anti-govt protesters in several towns in Oromia mid-Feb demanded release of more opposition leaders. Oromo politician Bekele Gerba and several others released 13 Feb. Ethnic Oromo party Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), member of ruling coalition, 21 Feb elected former army intelligence officer Abiy Ahmed as its leader, signalling intention to nominate him for PM. Somali regional govt 22 Feb said it had released 1,500 more prisoners.

Kenya

Govt continued crackdown on opposition after opposition leader Raila Odinga staged his own swearing-in ceremony as “people’s president” 30 Jan. High Court 1 Feb overturned govt’s shutdown of some private television channels that covered ceremony; two resumed broadcasting 5 Feb, two others 8 Feb. Police 2 Feb arrested opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna, who played prominent role in ceremony; authorities 6 Feb charged Miguna with treason, sparking clashes between opposition supporters and police in Kisumu in west, one bystander killed. Same day High Court ordered govt to stop proceedings against Miguna until authorities had brought him to Nairobi court; govt same day deported Miguna, describing him as “prohibited immigrant” due to his dual Kenyan-Canadian citizenship. High Court 15 Feb revoked Miguna’s deportation, declaring it illegal; decision on whether Miguna can return expected in March. Authorities 3 Feb arrested opposition MP George Aladwa. Govt prevented two prominent Odinga supporters, senator and financier, from leaving country 19 Feb; allowed them to travel next day. Human Rights Watch 25 Feb reported that police and armed gangs killed at least 37 people Sept-Nov 2017 around 26 Oct presidential election rerun.

Somalia

Al-Shabaab continued to clash with govt forces and troops from African Union mission (AMISOM) in Lower Shabelle region, kept up targeted killings in capital Mogadishu and intensified attacks in Puntland in north east. In Lower Shabelle, Al-Shabaab attacked and claimed to have temporarily captured from govt forces Afgoye town, about 30km from Mogadishu 10 Feb. Army and AMISOM recaptured from Al-Shabaab Awdheegle town, about 60km from Mogadishu 11 Feb, but withdrew next day. In Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab militants killed two army officers 14 Feb. Twin car bombings claimed by Al-Shabaab targeted presidential palace and hotel in Mogadishu 23 Feb, killing at least 38. Exchange of fire between AMISOM and Somali army troops at checkpoint in Mogadishu same day left three Somali soldiers dead; both forces blamed each other for incident. In Puntland, militants attacked police station in Bosaso 6 Feb, injuring four officers. At meeting of National Security Council 6 Feb, federal govt and regional states announced joint committee on integrating regional state forces into Somali National Army and agreed on roadmap for Federal Policing Model and temporary resource-sharing agreement. Federal govt 19 Feb appointed new heads of police and national intelligence, posts vacant since President Farmajo sacked predecessors following 28 Oct lorry bomb in Mogadishu. Reacting to VAT hikes announced by federal govt 18 Feb, businessmen launched boycott of Mogadishu’s port and called for strike in Bakara Market, country’s largest. U.S. said it conducted three airstrikes against Al-Shabaab: one near Jilib, Middle Juba region 19 Feb killing three militants, one near Jamaame, Lower Juba region 21 Feb killing four militants, and another near Jilib 26 Feb killing two militants.

Somaliland

Standoff continued between Somaliland and Puntland forces following 8 Jan clash over disputed border.

South Sudan

At close of peace talks 5-16 Feb, regional bloc International Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and African Union threatened punitive actions against parties violating Dec cessation of hostilities; Troika (Norway, UK and U.S.) 19 Feb called on all parties to observe ceasefire. U.S. 2 Feb announced unilateral arms embargo on S Sudan. During talks IGAD proposed draft power-sharing agreement between current transitional govt and opposition forces that would create four deputy vice president positions, expand parliament and grant 51% representation in certain state institutions to transitional govt (including opposition currently in govt) and 49% to other opposition groups. Govt criticised proposal saying four deputy vice presidents was unworkable. After fighting near govt-held Nasir town in north east 12 Feb, opposition walked out of talks for one day. Rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar said clashes between its members and govt forces in Yei River state in south 26 Feb left rebel commander dead; govt said clashes between rival opposition groups.

Sudan

Govt and rebel faction Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu met for talks in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa 1-2 Feb, first since Oct 2016, but failed to secure cessation of hostilities agreement, hitting deadlock over humanitarian access to Two Areas (S Kordofan and Blue Nile states). SPLM-N al-Hilu 30 Jan extended its unilateral ceasefire for four months in Two Areas ahead of talks. Rival SPLM-N faction led by Malik Agar protested exclusion from talks. Protests against bread price rises continued, mainly in Khartoum; after EU and U.S. embassies condemned harsh govt crackdown, govt 19 Feb released 80 detained protesters, though hundreds remained imprisoned. Govt delegation met Egyptian counterparts in Cairo 8 Feb further de-escalating tensions between countries which flared late Dec-early Jan and agreeing to curb hostile media campaigns, set up mechanisms for high-level dialogue and reaffirm commitment to principles agreed March 2015 regarding dispute over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Tanzania