Tracking Conflict Worldwide
Outlook for This Month June 2010
Conflict Risk Alerts
Trends for Last Month May 2010
Conflict in Focus
Four actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and none improved in May 2010, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch, released today.
Israeli commandos killed at least nine people when they raided a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza on 31 May. Full details are not yet clear but the incident has already thrown into question recently launched proximity talks between the Palestinians and Israel. The international community has been swift to condemn Israel’s actions and the UN Security Council has called for an impartial investigation. However, the event has underscored the failure of a much broader policy for which Israel is not solely responsible. Many in the international community have been complicit in isolating Gaza in the hope of weakening Hamas, an approach that has ultimately harmed the people of Gaza without loosening Hamas's control.
May also saw renewed violence in the streets of Bangkok. Clashes between anti-government Red Shirt protesters and security forces that resulted in scores of deaths in April escalated this month, leaving at least 54 people dead. Soldiers removed the Red Shirts from the capital on 19 May and the government has since lifted a curfew imposed on Bangkok and 28 other provinces. But a state of emergency remains and divisions between the Thai establishment and the protesters, many of whom support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have widened. The government has so far failed to address the underlying causes of the protests, which are likely to have long-term implications for Thailand’s stability.
Tensions continued to mount on the Korean Peninsula after investigators announced that a South Korean ship that sunk in March had been hit by a North Korean torpedo. Pyongyang continues to deny responsibility for the sinking which killed 46 people. With Seoul now threatening to take the case to the UN Security Council, recent events have highlighted the challenges facing South Korea – as well as China and the international community more broadly – in dealing with its volatile northern neighbour.
Security also deteriorated in India, where suspected Maoist rebels derailed a train on 28 May leaving at least 147 civilians dead. The Maoists have denied responsibility, but the incident has once again underlined the government’s failure to curb escalating insurgent violence that has become increasingly deadly in recent months.
Ruling CNDD-FDD won 24 May local elections, held after last-minute 2-day postponement, with 64%, followed by FNL 14%. 90.7% turnout reported; national and international observers said vote peaceful and fair; opposition challenged results and alleged fraud; riots in Bujumbura 29 May after FNL demonstration against alleged fraud, police arrested 50. Responding to CNDD-FDD and FNL skirmishes, police 4 May imposed curfew in Bwambarangwe (North). Govt 18 May expelled HRW researcher Neela Ghoshal after report on electoral violence.
Central African Republic
Constitutional Court 28 May validated constitutional amendment allowing extension of president’s mandate, adopted 10 May by parliament; amendment allows only PM, appointed by president, to request mandate extension; though criticised by opposition, only 6 of 27 opposition members voted against bill. Head of MPLC (opposition) Martin Ziguélé 8 May prevented from leaving country amid opposition calls for political deal instead of constitutional change. Police reported 50,000 marched 19 May in support of President Bozizé in capital. Presidential guards 20 May reportedly forced way into home of presidential candidate and ex-Minister of Regional Development Marie Reine Hassen; Hassen left minister post 2009 after death threats. Numerous LRA attacks in region (see Uganda).
UNSC 25 May extended MINURCAT mandate, but announced complete withdrawal by 31 Dec; UNSG Ban 6 May had recommended 1 year extension; President Déby had requested departure before 2011 polls. Rebel leader Mahmat Nouri 20 May defected from UFR, created new rebel coalition ANCD with UFDD, CDR, MDRI, FSR; Nouri argued armed struggle still necessary as credible elections unlikely. Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim (JEM) 19 May denied entry to Chad; authorities cited improved ties with Khartoum; incident triggered impromptu 300-400 people demonstration of solidarity with Ibrahim in N’djamena (see Sudan). Voter registration began 5 May as decreed by Déby 4 May; very low turnout attributed to lack of information; 4m voters expected.