Tracking Conflict Worldwide
Outlook for This Month February 2023
Conflict Risk Alerts
Trends for Last Month January 2023
CrisisWatch warns of one conflict risk alert in February.
- Hundreds of Sudan-based rebels entered the Central African Republic, fuelling fears of large-scale fighting and regional destabilisation.
Our monthly conflict tracker highlights eight deteriorations in January.
- A Canadian peace initiative to end the brutal conflict between Cameroon’s government and several Anglophone separatist groups suffered setbacks as Yaoundé denied giving any country a mandate to facilitate negotiations.
- Already high tensions between Rwanda and DR Congo ratcheted up after the Rwandan military shot at a Congolese fighter jet they say violated Rwandan airspace.
- In Pakistan, a suicide bombing claimed by the Pakistani Taliban killed scores in Peshawar city, as the group continued high-frequency attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
- Days after Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva’s inauguration as Brazil’s president, supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed government buildings in the country’s capital, demanding a military coup to reinstate him to power.
- Deadly violence escalated in Israel-Palestine as Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians in the West Bank and a Palestinian shooter killed seven Israelis in Jerusalem.
We also assess an improved situation in Ethiopia, where the Tigray People’s Liberation Front began surrendering heavy weapons to federal forces, fulfilling a key clause of the November peace deal. Within days, Eritrea withdrew its troops from most major cities in Tigray.
Aside from the dozens of conflict situations we usually assess, we tracked notable developments in January in Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Eswatini, Peru, Rwanda and Togo
Days after Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva’s inauguration as president, Pro-Bolsonaro protesters stormed govt buildings, demanding military coup.
Rioters stormed govt buildings in attempt to reinstate Bolsonaro as president. Days after President Lula 1 Jan took office, supporters of former President Bolsonaro 8 Jan invaded presidential palace, Congress, and Supreme Court in capital Brasília, demanding military coup to reinstate Bolsonaro as president; they stole weaponry from vaults and caused millions of dollars in damage, including by smashing windows and furniture and destroying works of art. Lula same day declared state of emergency in Federal District, where Brasilia is located, until 31 Jan. Bolsonaro 9 Jan denied any involvement, claiming to have always acted lawfully.
Authorities arrested scores for attempted coup, evidence of army role in riots emerged. Police arrested over 1,500 protesters, 39 of whom were indicted by federal prosecutors on 16 Jan for crimes including attempted coup d’état. Supreme Court head Alexandre de Moraes 8 Jan suspended pro-Bolsonaro governor of Federal District Ibaneis Rocha for 90 days due to lack of action to contain protesters; Rocha 13 Jan responded, claiming army prevented police from removing pro-Bolsonaro protesters’ encampment in Brasília before riots. Police 10 Jan arrested former Commander of Federal District’s military police Colonel Fábio Augusto Vieira due to security lapses during riots; Vieira 12 Jan said army had twice blocked police from clearing encampment. Supreme Court 13 Jan approved request to investigate Bolsonaro’s role in protests. Authorities 14 Jan arrested Anderson Torres, Brasília’s security secretary and former minister of justice under Bolsonaro, on charges of “omission”; upon searching his home, they found draft decree that would allow electoral authorities to interfere with past presidential election results and annul Lula’s win. Lula 21 Jan fired army General Julio Cesar de Arruda for not following govt orders to dismantle pro-Bolsonaro tent. Police 27 Jan raided home of Leonardo Rodrigues de Jesus, Bolsonaro’s nephew, currently under investigation for role in riots.
Amid ongoing protests against arrest of right-wing opposition leader and Santa Cruz Governor Luis Fernando Camacho, opposition-led “national assemblies” took place across country.
Santa Cruz unrest continued, protesters launched opposition assemblies. Following arrest of Luis Fernando Camacho late Dec, protests persisted in Santa Cruz province during Jan amid clashes between police and protesters; Civic Committee of Santa Cruz president, Rómulo Calvo, 1 Jan stated that blockades around Santa Cruz would remain in place to deny province’s resources to capital La Paz. Yet as concerns grew over economic impact of blockades, Civic Committee 16 Jan announced opposition-led “national assemblies” would take place 25 Jan in all regional capitals to discuss “new measures” to demand Camacho’s release. Ahead of assemblies, protesters 18 Jan lifted blockades. Judge 19 Jan ruled Camacho must remain in detention while awaiting trial. Thousands 25 Jan attended Santa Cruz “national assembly”, which pressed for Camacho’s release via proposed Amnesty Law and called on all opposition forces to form political party to oppose ruling Movement for Socialism party in 2025 elections. Minister of Government Eduardo del Castillo 26 Jan dismissed “national assembly” resolutions as Santa Cruz citizens’ “new coup adventure”, Minister of Justice Iván Lima same day called them “unconstitutional”.
Govt and protesters faced criticism for violence. Ombudsman’s office 10 Jan reported 25 alleged human rights violations since protests began late Dec, and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression 17 Jan condemned “excessive use of force by the security forces and the acts of violence perpetrated by organised groups”.
Govt’s ceasefire announcement with five armed and criminal groups faced legal and political headwinds, while violence continued at high levels.
ELN peace talks faced first challenge with govt’s ceasefire announcement. Though President Petro 31 Dec announced six-month bilateral ceasefire with five armed and criminal groups, including National Liberation Army (ELN), ELN 1 Jan denied agreeing to any deal; group commander Antonio Garcia 3 Jan said govt’s announcement amounted to “crisis” in negotiations. ELN and govt 17-21 Jan held emergency meeting in Venezuelan capital Caracas to address misunderstanding, 21 Jan said they had resolved crisis but had not agreed on any ceasefire. In interim, parties 17 Jan announced they would undertake mission in municipalities in Chocó department to observe humanitarian conditions in communities beleaguered by conflict between ELN and criminal group Gulf Clan.
Authorities faced legal hurdles to implement ceasefires with four other groups. Despite complications with ELN, govt 4 Jan insisted it had agreed to ceasefires with remaining four groups – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissident group calling itself FARC-EP, FARC dissident group Segunda Marquetalia and two post-paramilitary groups – and issued presidential decrees ordering cessation of operations against them; govt’s decree indicated that it considers FARC-EP insurgency with political goals, making group eligible for negotiations. However, attorney general’s office 13 Jan said it could not lift arrest warrants for other three groups, nor could ceasefire take place as these organisations are criminal outfits and lack political objectives. Legal crisis has meant military is effectively upholding ceasefire only with FARC-EP. Attorney General Francisco Barbosa 30 Jan said he met with Petro, who confirmed “there will be no political negotiations with drug trafficking organisations”; Barbosa confirmed that “Prosecutor’s Office accompanies the efforts in terms of peace with the ELN ... and even with the dissidences that did not sign the peace agreement”.
Violence continued apace. Amid lack of clarity around ceasefire arrangements, fighting between FARC-EP and ELN 10-12 Jan erupted in Arauca department, killing at least 11; FARC-EP accused military of working with ELN and said govt had therefore broken ceasefire, which Defence Minister Iván Velasquez 13 Jan denied. Meanwhile, military 11 Jan confirmed FARC dissident factions had kidnapped military sergeant in southern Cauca department; FARC dissidents 15 Jan kidnapped three soldiers in Nariño department, released them three days later.
Protests rejecting Boluarte’s take-over intensified across country, killing scores and prompting widespread concern nationally and internationally; new president resisted calls to resign.
Renewed protests left dozens dead as security forces clashed with protesters. Protests, which first erupted in Dec 2022 after former President Castillo’s impeachment, 4 Jan resumed after two-week pause in southern Puno, Cusco, Apurimac and Arequipa regions, and central Junin department. Protesters continued to demand immediate elections, closure of Congress, new Constitution and removal of President Dina Boluarte, who was sworn in 7 Dec following Castillo’s removal. Violence 9 Jan escalated in Puno’s Juliaca city, where clashes between protesters and police left 19 dead. Massive protests in capital Lima 19-20 Jan once more descended into violence, leaving one dead and dozens more injured as police used tear gas to push back protesters. Police 21 Jan arrested well over 200 demonstrators who had stormed university in Lima day before. As of 30 Jan, 58 people have died during protests.
Boluarte refused to resign amid concerns over mounting violence. Prosecutor’s office 10 Jan opened investigation against Boluarte and members of her cabinet for alleged crimes of “genocide, aggravated homicide and serious injuries”. UN same day released statement voicing concern for “rising violence”, while EU 21 Jan condemned security forces’ “disproportionate use of force”. Boluarte 13 Jan apologised for violence but insisted she would not resign nor call constitutional assembly. Govt next day extended 30-day state of emergency in Lima and several other regions for another month. Boluarte 24 Jan called for “truce” and blamed “radicals” for violence, 27 Jan urged Congress to bring tentative April 2024 elections forward to Oct 2023; Congress next day rejected proposal but is set to vote again.
Relations with Honduras and Bolivia grew increasingly strained. Lima 9 Jan banned former Bolivian President Evo Morales and eight Bolivian citizens from entering Peru, accusing them of interfering in Peru’s internal affairs. Morales, who has denounced Castillo’s arrest as illegal, same day said ban aimed to “distract from “human rights abuses”. Foreign ministry 26 Jan recalled its ambassador to Honduras after Honduran President Xiomara Castro 24 Jan condemned Boluarte’s “coup d'état”.
Opposition selected new parliamentary leadership, Mexico talks between govt and opposition stalled, and protests over low wages erupted across country.
Opposition elected new parliamentary leadership, exposing deep internal cleavages. After mainstream opposition late Dec dissolved so-called “interim presidency” of Juan Guaidó, opposition-led National Assembly 5 Jan voted for new leadership, comprising three women, including incoming head Dinorah Figuera from Justice First (PJ) party. All three are in exile and represent so-called “G3” – three largest parties in opposition alliance Un