CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

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CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

Global Overview

Outlook for This Month January 1970

Conflict Risk Alerts

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month אפריל 2024

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

Our monthly conflict tracker highlights four conflict risks in May. 

  • Israel continued its war in Gaza, bringing the death toll since 7 October to over 34,500 Palestinians. Famine in Gaza’s north is shaping up to be the world’s worst relative to population size of the past few decades. Israeli leaders reiterated their threat to invade Rafah city, which could kill or again displace many of the more than one million Palestinians who have sought refuge there.
     
  • Lebanon continued to face the spectre of all-out war as deadly cross-border hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah expanded in scope and severity.
     
  • Fears of all-out intercommunal conflict in Sudan’s North Darfur escalated as the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and Darfuri armed groups prepared for war and the Sudanese Armed Forces intensified bombings of Arab areas. 
     
  • In Myanmar, ethnic armed groups in the south east, west and north inflicted battlefield setbacks on the regime, highlighting the extent of the regime’s weakness and setting the stage for further hostilities in May. Communal tensions escalated in Rakhine state, foreshadowing potential violence, including against civilians.

CrisisWatch identified ten deteriorated situations in April. Notably:

  • An Israeli airstrike on an Iranian consular facility in Syria triggered the first ever direct military confrontation between Iran and Israel, as Tehran launched hundreds of drones and missiles in a retaliatory attack on Israeli territory (see this month’s Conflict in Focus).
     
  • Tensions surged in Mali as the government suspended the political activities of all political parties and associations, while announcing elections would not be held until the country regained stability.
     
  • In Ethiopia, clashes erupted between Tigray and Amhara forces in disputed territories, displacing tens of thousands.
     
  • The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissident group known as EMC fractured, plunging negotiations with the Colombian government into uncertainty and fuelling fears of violent escalation.
     
  • In Bangladesh, a surge in attacks by an ethnic armed group, the Kuki-Chin National Front, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts derailed nascent peace talks and prompted a major operation by security forces.
     
  • Security forces in Georgia cracked down on protesters opposing the ruling party’s reintroduction of its controversial “foreign agents” legislation.
     

Our tracker also assessed one improved situation.

  • Venezuela’s opposition coalition rallied behind little-known retired diplomat Edmundo González as its candidate to take on President Maduro, raising hopes for a more competitive election in July.

Aside from the scores of conflict situations we regularly assess, we tracked significant developments in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gabon, Mauritania, Moldova, South Africa and Togo.

Conflict in Focus

Iran

What happened in April? An Israeli airstrike on 1 April against what Iran asserted was a consular facility in Syria’s capital Damascus killed at least seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) personnel, including senior commanders. In response, Iranian forces unleashed a barrage of over 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles at Israel, the vast majority of which were intercepted by multilayered Israeli and allied air defences. Days later, Israel conducted a drone/missile attack on Iran’s Isfahan city, reportedly targeting a radar site near a key nuclear facility.

Why does it matter? After years of a so-called “shadow war” fought covertly and via proxies across the region, April’s hostilities mark the first ever direct military confrontation between Iran and Israel. Against the backdrop of Israel’s war in Gaza, the unprecedented exchange underscored both sides’ greater risk tolerance and willingness to engage in battle. With the rules of the game being rewritten in perilous ways, what comes next is fraught with danger for the bitter adversaries, their allies and the broader region.

What to watch in the coming weeks and months? April’s escalatory cycle appears to have subsided, but it may not be the last. Another round of direct confrontation could be triggered by one side transgressing the other’s red lines either by accident or design, such as a brazen strike that inflicts high casualties. The precedent of direct military action heightens the stakes of what had previously been indirect or undeclared exchanges, even as each side believes their respective actions to have been calibrated in nature and limited in scope. A retaliatory spiral could quickly envelop the region, prompting the U.S. to directly enter the fray and Iran’s non-state allies to become even more belligerent.

An expansion of Israel’s war in Gaza – approaching its eighth month – greatly increases the possibility of a catastrophic scenario engulfing the Middle East. Famine in Gaza’s north is likely to be the world’s worst, relative to population size, of the past few decades and may spread throughout the enclave. A threatened Israeli ground invasion of Rafah could exacerbate the suffering by killing or again displacing a huge proportion of the more than one million Palestinians who have sought refuge there. Iran or Iran-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen may respond with intensified attacks on Israel or U.S. forces.

Meanwhile, Tehran’s nuclear program is closer than ever to having the capacity of producing a weapon, and is operating under limited international oversight. Having failed to fend off Israeli attacks through its regional allies and use of conventional weapons, Tehran might calculate that the Islamic Republic’s survival requires obtaining the ultimate deterrent. Yet a detected move toward weaponisation could prompt U.S. and/or Israeli military action to prevent the Islamic Republic from successfully crossing the nuclear threshold. 

What should be done? To temper the risks of uncontrollable escalation, Israel should agree to an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and desist from provocative strikes on Iran-linked targets. Tehran should restrain its partner militias from continuing or even stepping up their own attacks against Israeli/U.S. targets. The U.S. should calibrate its response – as well as Israel’s – with appropriate prudence, steering clear of escalatory reactions. Washington and Tehran would be wise to look for opportunities to defuse tensions, aiming to return to the pre-Gaza war lull in hostilities. That could provide sufficient diplomatic headroom for engagement on other pressing issues, like Iran’s nuclear program.

Latest Updates

Africa

Burundi

Church expressed concerns about political freedoms, opposition criticised new electoral code, and insecurity persisted. 

Catholic Church expressed profound concerns about state of nation. Church 14 April issued public declaration highlighting failures in justice system, economy and, most prominently, political freedoms; statement emphasised need for free legislative elections in 2025, cautioning against political exclusion in implicit reference to recent govt-sponsored efforts to dismantle opposition National Congress for Freedom (CNL) party; political party leaders, civil society and human rights activists broadly reacted in agreement with church’s analysis, while ruling CNDD-FDD party Sec Gen said statement was sign of “freedom of expression enjoyed by every Burundian citizen”. Meanwhile, CNL remained in disarray amid govt repression, with reports at least 100 party members have fled to Tanzania since mid-March.

Electoral law amendments stirred opposition. Parliament 9 April adopted new electoral code, raising costs of candidate deposits and establishing that funds only reimbursed upon winning 5% of votes. Opposition highlighted concerns that measures will prohibit many candidates from running. Code also stipulated two-year waiting period for those who leave a political party before they are able to stand as independents, effectively barring prominent opposition figure Agathon Rwasa – ousted as CNL head in March in govt-sponsored efforts – from standing as independent in 2025 polls.

Human rights abuses and insecurity persisted. Human rights group Ligue Iteka 9 April released monthly report detailing dozens of murders, abductions and arbitrary arrests, with police, intelligence agents, soldiers and ruling-party youth wing Imbonerakure suspected as main perpetrators. Meanwhile, CNDD-FDD members accused in cases of sexual assault and other violence throughout April. Concerns remained high over agitation within army related to troop deployment in eastern DRC amid reports of desertion over pay, as Imbonerakure members continued to be trained to be deployed. 

Cameroon

Anglophone separatists sought African Union (AU) support, enforced lockdowns and continued to clash with govt forces; jihadist attacks persisted in the Far North. 

Separatists pursued AU backing, clashed with govt forces. Anglophone separatist group Ambazonia Governing Council 3 April sent joint letter with Nigerian Biafra separatist group to AU Chairperson Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, urging body’s intervention in their independence causes, including leading dialogue and mediation initiatives and establishing fact-finding missions to investigate human rights violations. Separatist-enforced lockdowns continued to cause disruption in North West (NW) and South West (SW) regions as weekly “Monday ghost town” strikes halted public activities, including delaying school reopenings and threatening farming; in Nkambe city, Donga Mantung division (NW), separatist militia Ambazonia Defence Force 15 April burned dozen motorbikes as punishment for non-compliance with strikes. Separatists also clashedwith govt forces and detonated around dozen roadside bombs between March and April, mostly in NW, damaging military patrol vehicles and resulting in unspecified numbers of casualties. Govt forces 8 April killed two notorious separatist fighters in Bafut and Batibo areas (NW) and two others on 24 April near Kumba city (SW). Meanwhile, two prominent repentant separatist fighters mid-April criticised govt’s demobilisation program in viral video, denouncing unfulfilled promises.

Jihadist violence persisted in Far North. Boko Haram militants 6 April targeted Ngourkouma town, Logone-et-Chari division, but faced resistance from locals who seized weapons from assailants; militants 16 April issued ultimatum to residents, demanding return of seized weapons under threat of harm to their children, prompting hundreds from neighbouring fishing villages to flee to nearby Blangoua town over fear retribution would spread. Bakoura faction of Boko Haram 14-29 April carried out attacks on military positions in Magdeme, Mora, Kolofata and Zigue towns, raiding nearby villages for resources, and 29 April killed at least six civilians and two soldiers at Darak town. Meanwhile, soldiers and vigilantes 25 April freed around twenty women Boko Haram had kidnapped near Amchide town two days earlier. 

Preparations for 2025 presidential elections continued. Amid concerns over slow voter registration rate, ruling and opposition parties, alongside religious leaders, mobilised citizens to register.

Central African Republic

Intercommunal violence escalated as govt allies responded firmly to cost-of-living protests.

Sectarian tensions rose in several regions. Series of incidents highlighted rising intercommunal tensions; rebels from Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) group 2 April killed over twenty civilians 40km from Bohong town in Ouham-Pendé prefecture (north west). In Ouham prefecture (north), clashes erupted between Christian and Muslim communities in Bossangoa town 5 April following private dispute, highlighting ongoing divisions; in nearby Benzambé village, transhumant herders from West Africa same day killed child, leading villagers to lynch three residents they accused of witchcraft, while relatives of victim attacked and killed Fulani girl with machetes, as tensions remained high throughout month. Meanwhile, in Obo town, Haut-Mbomou prefecture (east) Russian paramilitary Africa Corps, formerly Wagner Group, initiated enlistment and training of fighters from Azandé Ani Kpi Gbé (AAKG) ethnic self-defence militia to confront Fulani-led armed group Unity for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) rebels; moves heightened risk of further sectarian tensions in region should Azandé fighters target Fulani, and by association Muslim, civilians accused of backing rebels.

Govt supporters responded firmly to protests over cost of living. Crescent Beninga, spokesperson of Civil Society Working Group, 7 April called for peaceful protest against water and electricity shortages, but faced opposition from pro-govt factions; notably, Central African Youth Advisory Council 9 April denounced protest as political manipulation while National Coordination of Central African Students 11 April urged students to boycott march, branding it uncivil and unpatriotic. Around 100 demonstrators 12 April attempted to march in capital Bangui but security forces blocked them; activist Blaise Didatien Kossimatchi same day organised pro-govt counter-demonstration.

In another important international development. President Touadéra met with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron 17 April in France’s capital Paris in bid to ease tensions over govt’s growing ties with Russia; presidents agreed upon “roadmap” for “constructive partnership”.

Chad

Tensions continued to mount in lead-up to May presidential election as opposition disunity persisted; govt requested U.S. troops leave. 

Amid political tensions, opposition remained divided over boycott of polls. Ahead of May presidential vote, which includes transitional President Déby and recently-appointed PM Succès Masra as main contenders, opposition remained divided. Civil society opposition platform Wakit Tama 12 April endorsed boycott – which some parties including New Chad Artisans party and Chadian Liberal Party called for in March and early April – citing concerns over lack of electoral roll revision and timing during rainy season. Meanwhile, Union of Nationalists Party 3 April accused international community of financing flawed electoral process. Other opposition parties, however, formed alliances to contest vote and oversee electoral process; 34 parties 9 April formed Justice-Equality Coalition around Masra, partly in order to monitor polling stations nationwide; but alliance, as well as others including Coalition for Just and Equitable Republic created to support influential former PM Padacké’s candidacy, unlikely to defeat ruling party. Meanwhile, electoral authorities criticised perceived violations of electoral rules including supporters of Déby and Masra early April organising rallies and religious ceremonies across country, ahead of official 14 April campaign start date, and Masra 28 April urging supporters to monitor vote by taking photos of tally sheets.

Socio-economic crisis sparked civil unrest, insecurity continued in hinterland. Amid socio-economic deterioration including rising fuel prices and electricity shortages, various unions held protests including students 3 April in capital N’Djamena and textile workers 9 April in Sarh city (Moyen-Chari region). Inter-communal violence remained high, particularly in Moyen-Chari and Mayo-Kebbi Ouest regions.

Govt requested U.S. troop withdrawal. Letter from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Idriss Amine Ahmed 4 April confirmed previous rumours that govt asked U.S. troops to withdraw from Adji Kosseï military base at airport in N’Djamena; Ahmed cited lack of legal basis for U.S. presence. U.S. military 25 April said Washington would reposition “some” troops but described it as “temporary step” as talks continue.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Military stalemate persisted in North Kivu as security deteriorated in regional capital Goma; govt renewed scrutiny over supposed allies of rebels. 

Military front remained frozen but pervasive violence swept Goma city. Frontlines in North Kivu province stalled as govt forces held regional capital Goma but M23 rebels retained control of strategic areas near Sake town (25km north west of Goma) and foothills of Nyiragongo volcano; heavy gunfire continued, however, including 4 April mortar that killed three Tanzanian soldiers in Mubambiro area deployed as part of Southern African regional bloc (SADC) mission SAMIDRC, which Congolese army blamed on M23. Meanwhile, escalating insecurity gripped Goma with military and pro-govt Wazalendo militia groups blamed for surge in lawlessness that saw at least 22 civilians and one soldier killed in city during month; notably, alleged soldiers and Wazalendo members on motorbikes 10 April killed four civilians during armed robbery near provincial governorate building. Locals at times responded violently, leading to soldiers and Wazalendo casualties and raising tensions. In response, govt suppressed protests while also attempting to demonstrate accountability, including 15 April sentencing Republican Guard member to death for civilian shootings. Meanwhile, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa 24 April announced extension of troop contribution to SAMIDRC for unspecified time.

Govt continued to accuse former President Kabila of M23 support. Intelligence services 5 April released deposition video of Éric Nkuba, recently-arrested adviser to pro-M23 politico-military group Congo River Alliance, in which Nkuba implicated Kabila and several figures close to him as M23 supporters; next day, Kabila allies dismissed allegations and said Nkuba coerced into testimony.

Armed militias continued attacks against civilians in Ituri and North Kivu. In North Kivu, Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels 2 April killed ten civilians in Mangina commune, Beni territory. In Ituri province, ADF 7 April killed eight civilians in Otomabert village, Irumu territory while ethnic Lendu militia CODECO members 14 April ambushed and robbed convoy of humanitarian workers on road to Fataki town, Djugu territory. In attempt to address violence, Defence Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba 19 April oversaw signing of agreement for immediate cessation of hostilities by various armed groups including CODECO.

Rwanda

International diplomacy continued to push govt to seek solution to crisis in eastern DR Congo; tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa remained high.

International actors called for Rwanda to pursue diplomatic resolution. On sidelines of 30-year Rwandan genocide commemorations in capital Kigali, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa 6 April met with President Kagame amid strained ties over former’s contribution of troops to southern African bloc (SADC) mission in DR Congo (DRC); Ramaphosa next day said both leaders emphasised need for political solution over military action. Mauritanian President and AU Head Mohamed El Ghazouani held similar discussions with Kagame, seeking to facilitate dialogue and secure ceasefire in eastern DRC. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron 23 April called for dialogue between Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi and urged respect for DRC “territorial integrity” during call with Rwandan president.

Tensions remained high over Kigali’s role in DRC. Kagame 8 April said Congolese M23 rebels only existed as they were “denied their rights as citizens” and those accusing Rwanda of supporting group should themselves be accused of “not supporting M23” due to “injustice” done to community. Belgian ambassador to Kinshasa Roxane de Bilderling 19 April argued DRC could lodge formal complaint with International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Rwanda; Rwandan govt rejected suggestions, saying instead “DRC should take Belgium to ICJ”. Meanwhileduring Tshisekedi’s official visit to France, Congolese president 29 April denounced “predatory and expansionist ambitions” of unnamed countries while Macron next day called on Kigali to end “support for M23 and withdraw its forces from Congolese territory”.

Eritrea

African Union (AU) confirmed Eritrea is controlling territory in Ethiopia’s Tigray region; Asmara strengthened ties with Moscow and Beijing.

AU confirmed Eritrean presence in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. AU monitoring team 4 April confirmed Eritrean control over part of Zalambessa town in Ethiopia’s East Tigray Zone, though Eritrea continued to reject claims it is occupying Ethiopian territory. Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s dismantling of Amhara-established administrations in Ethiopia’s north – part of its plan to tackle Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute – could strain relations with Eritrea given alleged ties between Amhara nationalist militias known as Fano (who have been fighting insurgency in Ethiopia) and Asmara (see Ethiopia). 

Eritrea bolstered ties with Russia and China. Russian Pacific fleet late March-early April visited Massawa port, marking growing defence partnership between two countries; Russian delegation led by deputy commander-in-chief of Russian navy, Vice Admiral Vladimir Kasatonov, 1 April met Eritrean army officials, 5 April met President Isaias Afwerki to discuss enhancing bilateral ties. Isaias 7 April met China’s Special Envoy to Horn, Xue Bing, and discussed expansion of economic cooperation.

Kenya

Al-Shabaab-related insecurity persisted, while police deployment to Haiti remained delayed.

Al-Shabaab militants remained threat in north east. Insurgents continued to stage attacks and ambushes, targeting civilians and security forces. Al-Shabaab militants 9 April attacked two vehicles travelling between Makowe and Garsen towns, Lamu county, killing civilian; suspected Al-Shabaab bomb 29 April killed at least five civilians and wounded five others in El Wak town, Mandera county. Meanwhile, amid Al-Shabaab cross-border attacks, Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo 2 April said in interview govt would not yet reopen border points with Somalia due to “challenge of insecurity”.

Multinational security mission to Haiti continued to face delays. Although govt continued to insist Nairobi would still lead mission, deployment remained on hold. President Ruto 13 April welcomed official establishment of transitional presidential council in Haiti (see Haiti), seen as crucial step to allow deploying of force, and 25 April said “Kenya stands ready and willing” to give security support. Eight Haitian private sector organisations 15 April sent letter to Ruto expressing concerns over delays to security mission.

In other important developments. Amid struggling economy, doctors’ strike over pay and training that began in March continued as medical union 4 April rejected govt’s offer; Ruto administration insisted it did not have funds to pay more. Meanwhile, military chief General Francis Ogolla killed with nine others in helicopter crash 18 April in North Rift region. Unclear circumstances behind crash led to speculation that incident may not have been accident, heightening political tensions.

Somalia

Govt continued to face opposition over contentious constitutional review while tensions remained high with both Ethiopia and Puntland state; Al-Shabaab undertook several attacks. 

Constitutional review process remained controversial. Amendments passed in parliament last month that call for direct vote for presidency and grant additional powers to president’s office continued to face political opposition. Former President Sheikh Sharif 12 April met with President Mohamud in Kenyan capital Nairobi over issue, but failed to reach agreement. Sheikh Sharif and other opposition members 16 April met in Nairobi in attempt to form coalition against govt. Process likely to keep political tensions high in coming months.

Frictions with Ethiopia intersected with domestic tensions. After 3 April meeting between Ethiopian and Puntland state officials in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa – and in wake of Jan Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal and March Puntland announcement that it has withdrawn from federation – Somalia’s Foreign Ministry 4 April ordered Ethiopian Ambassador to leave federal capital Mogadishu and demanded Ethiopian consulates in Puntland capital Garowe and Somaliland capital Hargeisa close within week; Ethiopia, however, reacted mutely and consulates remained operational. Meanwhile, Mohamud discussed Ethiopia-Somaliland deal during 2-8 April trip to Saudi Arabia and 11-13 April visit to Kenya, with latter reportedly proposing regional maritime treaty to defuse dispute; govt 19 April, however, ruled out dialogue with Ethiopia until latter “revokes” Somaliland agreement.   

Amid stalled govt operations, Al-Shabaab carried out several attacks. Militants 6 April used vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in attack on Baclad town (Middle Shabelle region) and 11 April attacked Bar Sanguni military base (Lower Juba region) for second time in space of four weeks, with reports of up to 30 soldiers and 27 militants killed. Meanwhile, although govt 13 April asserted it would resume anti-Al-Shabaab campaign, no significant action taken or progress made.

In other important developments. Pirates 14 April released MV Abdullah, cargo ship seized in March, and 23-member crew after reportedly receiving $5mn ransom; first major pay-out to Somali pirates in years raised concerns over resurgence in attacks on vessels in Indian Ocean.

South Sudan

South Africa’s president brokered talks between Kiir and Machar ahead of December poll, Murle youth from Jonglei State launched well-coordinated deadly attack, and economy worsened.

South African president held high-level political talks in capital Juba. South African President Ramaphosa 16-18 April visited capital Juba to mediate talks between President Kiir and VP Machar. Ramaphosa publicly emphasised need for govt to prepare for Dec elections, though mediation likely sought to broker pre-election deal that could see Machar rejoining Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)as deputy; rank and file of Kiir and Machar’s parties showed discontent at secrecy of diplomacy amid deep polarisation.

International community reiterated concerns over election preparedness. Political Parties Council and National Election Commission – tasked with organising poll – 4 April received first batch of allocated funding, representing only fraction of requested money, leaving electoral process vastly underfunded. UN Sec-Gen Guterres 8 April transmitted letter to UN Security Council outlining over a dozen outstanding preconditions essential for holding fair election and emphasising urgent need for technical, legal and operational assistance. U.S. 16 April said South Sudan’s politicians so far have “failed to meet the standards necessary for genuine and peaceful elections”. UN Security Council 29 April renewed UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) mandate for one year.

Jonglei state saw worrying uptick in intercommunal violence. In one of the most serious escalations since 2020 war in Jonglei, armed Murle youth from Jonglei State’s Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) 26 April launched well-coordinated and well-armed attack on Toposa cattle keepers in Kapoeta East County (Eastern Equatoria state), killing unknown number and abducting scores of women and children; UNMISS 30 April deployed additional peacekeepers to Jonglei and Kapoeta East county to deter more violence. Meanwhile, former leader of Murle rebel group David Yau Yau 1 April defected from SPLM to join Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition, raising fears of electoral violence in GPAA, 29 April announced he had returned to SPLM. 

Pipeline rupture hurt economy. Main pipeline exporting South Sudan’s oil remained in disrepair, plunging country further into economic and fiscal crisis; Juba 25 April claimed oil exports through pipeline would resume within two months.

Sudan

Fears of all-out intercommunal conflict in North Darfur escalated as paramilitary forces (RSF) and Darfuri armed groups prepared for war and Sudanese army (SAF) intensified bombings of Arab areas. 

RSF and Darfuri armed groups prepared for war, raising fears of ethnic conflict. Tensions in North Darfur escalated after three members of a coalition of non-Arab armed groups, Joint Force of Armed Struggle Movements, 12 April aligned with SAF against RSF. RSF-aligned Arab militias, meanwhile, torched villages around North Darfur’s state capital El Fasher in response to growing role of non-Arab populations in conflict, notably Sudanese Zaghawa of North Darfur, heightening fears of all-out ethnic warfare. U.S. 24 April warned of imminent RSF offensive on El Fasher, which hosts hundreds of thousands of displaced people; UN 26 April said RSF were reportedly encircling city and that attack “would have devastating consequences” for civilians. Meanwhile, SAF carried out airstrikes on RSF positions, reportedly killing scores. 

SAF-RSF fighting persisted in Bahri, Gezira and South Kordofan. Fighting continued in Omdurman and Bahri cities, with SAF making modest gains. SAF offensive to retake Wad Madani state capital in Gezira made no significant progress. In South Kordofan state, RSF-affiliated militias 5-6 April reportedly attacked villages in Qurdud Nyama region, killing scores.

International conference pushed for aid and greater mediation coordination. In international humanitarian summit for Sudan and neighbouring countries held in French capital Paris, various states 15 April pledged $2.1bn aid and reaffirmed commitment to peace initiatives; regional and international actors also convened ministerial meeting, calling for unhindered humanitarian access, cessation of hostilities and support for consolidated mediation and peace process. Saudi and U.S. committed to restart Jeddah process within three weeks. U.S. 29 April called for all countries to halt weapons’ exports to Sudan, warning El Fasher is “on the precipice of a large-scale massacre”. 

Civilian actors held meetings to discuss future political process. On Paris conference sidelines, EU brought together Sudanese civilian political actors to discuss ending conflict and prospects for political future. Promediation organisation, supported by Swiss govt, 20 April hosted meeting of Sudanese political actors to discuss ceasefire negotiations and political process; talks excluded representatives from former President Bashir’s National Congress Party.

Uganda

Tax proposals and implementation of electronic tax system prompted nationwide strike amid opposition support; military operations against Islamic State-affiliated group continued. 

Suggested tax increases and regulations led to industrial action. Traders 16-25 April held nationwide strike in protest at potential new taxation measures and increases on items including fuel and building materials, which business associations also criticised. Opposition leaders Robert Kyagulanyi, alias ‘Bobi Wine’, and Kizza Besigye 15 April came out in support of strike which shuttered many businesses, while taxation may become key campaign issue ahead of 2026 general elections. In response, President Museveni 19 April met traders to hear complaints, and temporarily suspended penalties for non-compliance with electronic tax system.

Army continued anti-Allied Democratic Force (ADF) campaign. Military said army 4 and 8 April killed two top commanders from Islamic State-affiliated ADF in eastern DR Congo (DRC) during joint operation with Congolese forces; army 14 April released statement detailing continued pursuit of scattered ADF fighters, urging vigilance against potential attacks by those returning to Uganda. Meanwhile, newly appointed head of army and Museveni’s son Lt-Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba 17 April met delegation of Rwandan military chiefs, raising concerns over whether Muhoozi’s close ties to Rwanda would impact joint DRC-Uganda operations against ADF amid Congolese-Rwandan tensions. 

In other important developments. Parliamentary spending controversies continued as Parliamentary Speaker Anita Among 11 April blocked debate on March revelations of extravagant expenditures, while parliament 15 April proposed increase in budget to cover travel costs and salaries; UK 30 April announced sanctions on three politicians including Among over allegations of corruption related to housing aid project in Karamoja region. Constitutional Court 3 April upheld 2023 Anti-Homosexuality Act, straining govt’s relations with international donors and raising concerns over potential reduction in foreign aid.

Zimbabwe

Amid hunger crisis, govt used aid to intimidate opposition supporters; authorities launched new currency in bid to stabilise economy.   

Govt intimidated opposition through partisan distribution of food aid. Amid shortfall in grain caused by inflation and drought, President Mnangagwa 3 April declared national state of disaster to address widespread hunger, seeking $2bn from international actors. Concerns, however, increased over how govt will distribute aid after local NGO Zimbabwe Peace Project 17 April released monthly report recording increase in human rights violations, intimidation and harassment, including twelve alleged incidents where citizens affiliated with political opposition were denied food parcels. Notably, ruling party ZANU-PF MP distributed rations in Gobhi village, Matabeleland North province, while warning villagers to join party or face exclusion from aid; also, village head in ward fifteen, Masvingo province allegedly convened supporters of opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s Blue Movement and threatened to remove them from beneficiary list. Meanwhile, ZANU-PF consolidated super majority in parliament with 27 April victory in two by-elections amid boycott by opposition parties.

Govt launched new currency. Central Bank 5 April announced new gold-backed currency Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG); ZANU-PF officials claimed ZiG will stabilise economy amid high inflation and volatile currency depreciation, although questions remained over whether authorities have sufficient gold, other minerals and foreign currency reserves to back ZiG. Govt and businesses reportedly refused to accept previous currency, leaving some citizens without cash due to insufficient circulation of ZiG. 

Burkina Faso

Govt renewed mobilisation orders as new civil society group launched criticism of military authorities; civilians continued to suffer amid widespread violence. 

Govt extended mobilisation decree amid criticism from new civil society group. Concerns continued over authorities forcing opponents into security forces including civilian auxiliaries (VDPs) after govt 31 March announced year-long extension to “general mobilisation” protocols to combat terrorism. Although most civil groups remained hesitant or unable to criticise govt amid repression, new civil society movement Front pour la Défence de la République (FDR) 4 April called for dissolution of military junta, elections and civilian transition, and criticised military authorities’ failure to free territory from jihadists as promised; FDR reported to be comprised of former politicians, civil society leaders and security officers, many of whom have taken refuge in Côte d’Ivoire. 

Clashes with jihadists continued, with high toll on civilians. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants clashed with govt forces and VDPs throughout month with major fatalities recorded across East, Boucle de Mouhoun, South-West, Sahel, Centre-East, North and Centre-North regions. JNIM militants 17 April attacked military near Barsalogho town, Sanmatenga Province (Centre-North), killing at least nineteen and wounding at least ten soldiers. Civilians continued to suffer; notably, JNIM militants 23 April launched attack on Séguénéma town (North) that killed 30 civilians; govt forces next day allegedly killed two civilians from same town. Islamic State Sahel Province militants also accused of launching attacks on civilians including 2 April assault on Woulmassoutou and Sakatemba villages in Seno province (Sahel), killing around twenty.

Govt expelled French diplomats, suspended broadcast of critical foreign channels. Foreign Affairs Minister 16 April expelled three French diplomats, including two political officers, for alleged “subversive activities”. After rights group Human Rights Watch 25 April released report alleging military “summarily executed” at least 223 civilians in two villages in Yatenga province (North) in Feb, govt in following days suspended various international media outlets including BBC and Voice of America for their coverage of report; U.S. and UK 29 April issued joint statement calling for investigation into allegations and reversal of media suspensions.

Côte d’Ivoire

Political positioning continued ahead of 2025 presidential election; govt discussed border incidents with Burkina Faso. 

Preparations for 2025 vote continued. Amid internal jostling within ruling-Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace’s (RHDP), Adama Bictogo, president of National Assembly and RHDP heavyweight, 16 April said President Ouattara was “natural candidate” for party. Meanwhile, former PM Guillaume Soro – in exile since 2019 and sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in 2021 for endangering the state – 4 April confirmed late March calls with Ouattara after president pardoned several associates of Soro, welcoming “beginning of political relaxation”; however Soro, who is seeking to end exile, 23 April criticised govt’s “prerequisites” to allow him to return.

Defence delegation met Burkinabé authorities. Defence Minister Téné Birahima Ouattara 19 April travelled to Burkina Faso border town Niangoloko to discuss tensions with his counterpart Kassoum Coulibaly; meeting came after series of incidents along border including Ivorian soldiers late March arresting two Burkinabé security force members who had crossed border; troops subsequently exchanged fire, although no casualties reported.

Guinea

Opposition demanded junta stick to timeline of return to civilian rule before end of 2024; social discontent continued over services and repression. 

Opposition called on authorities to stick to transition timeline. Concerns grew over potential delays to return to civilian rule after President Doumbouya late March dismissed members of communal councils and 9 April appointed delegates to fill these posts for six months, also after govt failed to publish draft of new constitution by promised March date. In response, coalition of opposition political parties and civil society groups Les Forces Vives de Guinée (FVG) 2 April called for “restoration of public liberties and return to constitutional order before 31 Dec 2024”, threatening to no longer recognise junta as legitimate govt after this date. Meanwhile, several political parties and civil society groups 22 April joined opposition party Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) to form Union Sacrée coalition, which also called for elections before 2025 in its first declaration.

Popular unrest continued amid poor services and repression. Lack of services, particularly electricity and water, led to demonstrations including 15 and 25 April in Lero town, Kankan region, latter resulting in one death, seven injured and 56 arrests; director of company responsible for providing electricity 10 April said recent power cuts intentional and necessary to improve electricity network. Meanwhile, govt continued to target media; after authorities 17 April suspended media site inquisiteur.net on defamation charges, press associations requested audience with Doumbouya.

Mali

Political tensions surged as govt took series of authoritarian decisions, closing political space and putting inter-Malian dialogue at risk; civilians continued to be targeted by conflict actors.

Govt suspended civil society activities and elections. Series of decisions highlighted govt’s increasing authoritarian turn and caused tensions to soar. Authorities 10 April suspended all political activities of political parties and politically-oriented activities of associations until further notice; PM Maïga same day announced elections would be suspended until country regained political stability. Meanwhile, authorities following day announced suspension of all media coverage related to political parties. In response, numerous parties and civil society groups 22 April submitted appeal to Supreme Court, and others announced intention to boycott inter-Malian dialogue (see below) until restrictions removed.

Phase one of Inter-Malian dialogue commenced. Communal level discussions took place 13-15 April. However, concerns remained over inclusiveness and legitimacy of process with neither separatist armed groups of Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP) nor jihadist groups taking part, and other key political actors boycotting dialogue. 

Amid jihadist attacks and counterinsurgency operations, violence left high toll on civilians. Clashes between armed forces, Russian paramilitary Africa Corps (formerly known as Wagner Group) and militants continued. Notably, in centre, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 7 April attacked army and Russian paramilitaries near Sarakala village, Segou region, resulting in at least six militant fatalities. Govt forces 22-23 April conducted operation south of Kalifaré, Timbuktu region, killing 29 JNIM militants. In Menaka region, army 29 April announced killing of senior Islamic State Sahel province commander Abu Huzeifa near Indelimane village. Meanwhile, JNIM and CSP 5 April clashed near Nampala village, Mopti region, resulting in at least 23 CSP and nineteen JNIM fighters killed. Army and Africa Corps reportedly involved in several attacks against civilians with forces alleged to have killed up to 26 civilians in Mopti and Segou regions in incidents 3, 7 and 12 April. Suspected JNIM militants 16 April kidnapped 110 civilians aboard public bus between Bandiagara and Bankass towns, Mopti region; dozens of hostages reportedly released 24 April after local authorities allegedly signed informal agreements with jihadist group.

Niger

As U.S. military prepared to withdraw, govt strengthened military relations with Russia and held initial security discussions with China. 

Govt formed closer ties with Russia as U.S. troops began withdrawal preparations. Following severing of military accords with Washington in March, civil society groups 13 April organised protest in capital Niamey in support of govt and demanding immediate departure of U.S. military personnel, attended by thousands; hundreds 21 April also demonstrated in Agadez town – where U.S. base located – ahead of 25 April arrival of Washington delegation to arrange withdrawal. Meanwhile, highlighting shifting military alliances, some 100 Russian military instructors and material 10 April arrived in Niamey with mission of training Nigerien forces in using new equipment including anti-aircraft systems; troops possibly affiliated with Russian paramilitary Africa Corps, formerly known as Wagner Group, who 12 April announced presence in Niger via social media. Additionally, officials 23 April discussed strengthening defence cooperation with Chinese ambassador.

Junta consolidated power as case against former President Bazoum set to begin. Transitional President Gen. Tiani 4 April dissolved regional, municipal and local councils, replacing officials with military authorities-chosen special delegates, majority of whom are military personnel. Next day, court announced it would rule in May on case of Bazoum’s political immunity on charges of conspiracy against state, “high treason” and support of terrorism. 

Jihadist-related violence persisted in Tillabery and Diffa regions. In Tillabery (south west), suspected Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel) explosive device 8 April killed six soldiers near Tin Gara village; armed forces same day responded with airstrikes near village, killing at least ten alleged IS Sahel militants. Meanwhile in Diffa (south east), Boko Haram 23 April wounded four soldiers near Lada village. 

In another important development. Amid economic challenges, govt deepened energy ties with key partners, notably 12 April announced $400mn loan from China National Petroleum Corporation as advance on future oil sales and 16 April finalised gas deal with Mali, in part motivated by latter’s energy crisis.

Nigeria

Jihadist-related insecurity persisted in North East, while bandits continued killings and mass abductions; worsening inflation heightened food crisis fears. 

Violence between jihadists and military remained high in North East. Govt conducted operations involving artillery and aerial bombardment against Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram militants around Lake Chad and Sambisa Forest in Borno state. Notably, army said airstrikes 13 April killed over 30 ISWAP members and commanders and destroyed vehicles in Kolleram village on lake. However, in Borno state, explosive devices apparently planted by ISWAP fighters 17 April struck bus in Kukawa area, killing sixteen civilians and wounding twenty others and 27 April struck vehicle in Gamboru area, killing at least nine civilian vigilantes.

Criminal groups continued mass abductions in North West and North Central. Despite govt security operations, particularly in Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara states, bandit-related violence remained prolific. Notably, in Katsina, gunmen on motorcycles 16 April abducted at least twenty persons in Na-Alma village, Malmufashi area while armed group 18 April kidnapped at least 28 from at Zamfarawar Madogara village, Batsari area. Armed gangs 19 April killed six soldiers in Shiroro area, Niger state and 27 April killed at least fourteen civilian vigilantes in Isa area, Sokoto state. Herder-farmer violence persisted in North Central zone; series of attacks on farming communities 4-28 April in Benue, Kogi and Plateau states killed over 90 people; residents blamed herder militias. 

Separatist movements continued in South East and South West. Although security in South East improved, military blamed Biafra separatists for 18 April attack on troops in Ihiala area, Anambra state that killed soldier. In Oyo state in South West, armed members of Yoruba Nation – organisation calling for breakaway of Yoruba people from Nigeria – 13 April stormed govt secretariat and parliament in capital Ibadan and hoisted flag of self-proclaimed Democratic Republic of Yoruba, before security forces arrested them.

Concerns rose over food crisis amid deepening economic problems. As inflation rose to 28-year high on 15 April with food inflation at 40%, humanitarian agencies warned of worsening food insecurity; UN 5 April reported analysis tool showed 31.8mn people face acute food crisis by June, 28% increase on same period last year.

Ethiopia

Hostilities escalated between Tigray and Amhara forces over disputed territories, displacing thousands; insurgencies in Amhara and Oromia regions continued.

Tigray-Amhara clashes over disputed territories displaced thousands. As govt began implementing plan to address Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute (which paves way for return of displaced Tigrayans), hostilities escalated in disputed areas. Tigray forces and Amhara militants 13-15 April clashed in Alamata town and Raya Alamata, Zata and Olfa woredas of Southern Tigray Zone, displacing almost 50,000. Tigray interim President Getachew Reda 16 April blamed “anti-Pretoria deal elements”, while Amhara authorities next day accused Tigray region’s ruling party Tigray People’s Liberation Front of launching “full-scale war” against Amhara. Calm returned to area, though violence could resurge should federal govt proceed with plans to resettle people displaced from Southern or Western Tigray regions.

Security forces and Fano militants clashed in capital Addis Ababa. Security forces and Fano militants 12 April clashed in Addis Ababa, marking first such incident in capital, killing civilian and two militants; authorities accused Fano of planning “terrorist attack”. Meanwhile, violence continued in Amhara as authorities struggled to suppress Fano, who are scattered across region and enjoy considerable local support. Notably, grenade attack on school in Finote Selam town, West Gojjam Zone, 4 April injured at least 27; grenade 6 April targeted market in Finote Selam; three hand grenade attacks 22 April occurred in regional capital Bahir Dar. 

Insurgency in Oromia continued. Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) militants 4 April attacked Amaye Woreda, West Shewa Zone, killing twelve Amhara civilians. Govt forces same day killed twenty civilians in Tole Woreda, South West Shewa Zone, accusing them of links to OLA. Govt attempted to weaken OLA by: calling on fighters to surrender and reintegrate; attempting to exploit alleged divisions in OLA leadership; and training local militias. 

In other important developments. Donor conference 16 April raised $630mn for emergency relief in Ethiopia. Somalia 4 April announced expulsion of Ethiopian ambassador, ordered closure of two Ethiopian consulates in Somaliland and Puntland and recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia over Addis’ plans to build naval base in Somaliland (see Somalia).

Somaliland

Govt announced date of Nov elections as lull in fighting in Sool region continued. 

Authorities confirmed date of Nov polls. Election commission 20 April announced party and presidential elections to take place 13 Nov and unveiled voter list two days later. Slow technical preparations and funding concerns, however, fuelled speculation that polls could still be delayed, despite March passing into law of electoral bill. 

Lull in fighting continued along Sool region frontline. Although govt troops and Dhulbahante clan militias conducted movements along frontline in Sool region, calm continued to hold.

In another important development. Govt 4 April rejected Somalia’s order to close Ethiopian consulate in capital Hargeisa amid persistent tensions with Mogadishu over Jan-announced Ethiopia-Somaliland Memorandum of Understanding over sea access and diplomatic recognition.

Mozambique

Islamic State militants remained active in northern Cabo Delgado province, amid faltering security operations and gradual withdrawal of international troops; preparations for Oct general election continued. 

Jihadist activity continued to plague Cabo Delgado, including targeting civilians. Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) attacks remained at low-level following fasting for religious month of Ramadan from March to early April. Incidents of violence, however, continued including group 9 April beheading four people caught making alcoholic drinks in Namaluco village, Quissanga district, and kidnapping several others. Govt early April launched anti-militant operations with some success in dispersing insurgents from Mucojo and Quissanga districts, although ISMP fighters, who may now total 350-500, continued to have free movement in much of province; meanwhile, locals accused military of killing several civilians in helicopter fire in Mucojo town 6 April, with accusations army unable to differentiate between insurgents and civilians worsening relationship between local communities and security forces. In neighbouring Nampula province, local sources reported insurgents 25-26 April carried out assault on three villages in Eráti district, reportedly killing at least one civilian in first attack in province in several years. Meanwhile, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) continued gradual drawdown of troops from Cabo Delgado with Botswana 5 April and Lesotho 14 April completing withdrawals. South Africa 22 April announced extension of 1,500 strong force deployment until end of year on bilateral basis, although concerns remained over security gaps in province ahead of 15 July deadline for formal withdrawal of all SAMIM forces.

Preparation for Oct polls continued with jostling for presidential candidacies. Ruling-FRELIMO party central committee 5-6 April met and although no candidate yet decided, four potential names considered included former PM Diogo. Meanwhile, main opposition RENAMO 15 April announced preconditions for competing for its presidency that included holding senior role in party; move in effect bans Venâncio Mondlane, primary opponent of party chief Ossufo Momade, from running for opposition candidacy. Final decision on both parties’ candidates expected after respective general congresses in May. Parliament 30 April began discussing several electoral bills put forward by opposition parties.

South Africa

Former President Zuma won court bid to contest May polls, while delegitimisation campaign against election commission continued. 

Ahead of 29 May general elections, electoral court 9 April upheld uMkhonto weSizwe party (MKP) appeal in bid to keep its leader and former President Zuma on parliamentary candidate list, overturning Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s March objection to his running due to Zuma’s 2021 conviction for defying court order. IEC 14 April filed appeal with Constitutional Court and 29 April called for expedited police investigation into whether MKP forged registration signatures; Zuma and MKP continued to claim legal battles showed alleged electoral authority bias against former president, calling for lead commissioner’s resignation. Meanwhile, Zuma and allies continued delegitimisation campaign including alleging collusion between IEC and ruling African National Congress (ANC) to rig elections, while also claiming MKP would win two-thirds majority; President and ANC leader Ramaphosa and IEC – which despite these efforts retained widespread public trust – denied collusion accusations. Despite high level of political tensions, Zuma’s permission to run appeared to defuse concerns that unrest could be sparked by radical rhetoric employed by MKP members, with no apparent electoral-related violence reported during month; authorities 3 April charged MKP leader for inciting unrest through March inflammatory statements while party 10 April also demoted four youth leaders for using similar rhetoric. MKP 26 April said it had expelled five “rogue” members including co-founder Jabulani Khumalo as part of attempts to “cleanse itself”.

Gabon

Govt held national dialogue on transition to civilian rule.

Transitional President Nguema 2 April inaugurated national dialogue process as part of transition toward civilian rule; Catholic church 8-30 April led discussions in capital Libreville, convening over 600 delegates while Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera attended dialogue’s closing ceremony as facilitator for regional body Economic Community of Central African States. Report delivered to Nguema at end of dialogue process called for new constitution with balance of power between different arms of govt as well as review of country’s international cooperation, particularly with France. Meanwhile, opposition continued to raise concerns over inclusiveness and structure of dialogue.

Togo

Political tensions ran high amid vote for new constitution and holding of delayed polls; jihadist violence continued in north.

Elections took place amid controversy over transition to parliamentary system. Amid rising political tensions, parliament 19 April gave final approval to new constitution that transitions presidential system to parliamentary one and creates new “President of Council of Ministers” role appointed by legislature; opposition remained concerned that President Gnassingbé, in place since 2005, will use new structure to extend stay in office and condemned moves as “power grab”. Legislative and regional elections – which govt 9 April delayed from 20 April date – 29 April took place peacefully; opposition had called for 11-13 April protests in response to reforms, initial vote delay and arrests of activists, but govt 9 April denied permits for demonstrations which failed to attract significant turnout. West African regional bloc ECOWAS 15 April sent delegation to capital Lome to facilitate govt-opposition dialogue.

Jihadist-related insecurity continued in north. In Savanes region, Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 2 April damaged military vehicle in Lalabiga village, while army helicopter 4 April reportedly crashed during counter-insurgency operations in region, injuring several soldiers.

Benin

Jihadist violence continued to plague north.

In northern Alibori and Atakora departments, armed groups allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 3-6 April killed two poachers and one Fulani pastoralist in National Park W. In Alibori, JNIM 3 April also reportedly abducted two men in Guenelaga and Garbey Koara towns and 13 April killed civilian in Gogounou commune. Meanwhile in Alibori’s Malanville commune, suspected JNIM gunmen 16 April killed two civilians and soldier at border crossing with Niger. 

Asia

Korean Peninsula

North Korea tested ballistic missiles, including as part of “nuclear counterattack” drills, as Seoul warned of another spy satellite launch by Pyongyang; President Yoon suffered heavy setback in South Korea’s election.

North Korea continued weapons testing, including nuclear-capable missiles. North Korea 2 April launched hypersonic intermediate range ballistic missile, as state media implied likelihood of further such launches to come. North Korean state media 20 April reported “a power test of a super-large warhead designed for ‘Hwasal-1 Ra-3’ strategic cruise missile”. Pyongyang 22 April launched several short-range ballistic missiles into East Sea, saying launches were part of “virtual comprehensive tactical training for a nuclear attack”; Pyongyang indicated targets in South Korea in event of “nuclear counterattack” in “clear warning signal to the enemy”, underscoring its intent to acquire ability to strike South Korea with nuclear weapons using multiple systems. South Korea 22 April claimed it had detected evidence that North Korea is preparing for its second spy satellite launch after first successful launch in Nov.

Evidence of Pyongyang’s ongoing nuclear armament surfaced. Media reports based on satellite imagery late March indicated North Korea continued to expand industrial site in Chollima county, widely believed to be used for uranium enrichment for nuclear weapons production, further illustrating its commitment to production of nuclear devices following collapse of talks with U.S. in 2019; leader Kim Jong Un in Dec 2023 called for “steadily increasing the production of nuclear weapons”. 

South Korea’s President Yoon received stinging electoral rebuke. President Yoon, leader of People’s Power Party, suffered defeat in legislative election on 10 April, as main opposition Democratic Party secured 175 seats compared to ruling party’s 108; outcome underscores desire among electorate to introduce measure of balance to political landscape. 

North Korean economic delegation visited Iran. North Korea dispatched economic delegation to Iran, state media reported 24 April; move follows trend of expanding economic exchanges with China and Russia, but also raises long-standing concerns over military cooperation between Pyongyang and Tehran.

Taiwan Strait

China continued its military activity around Taiwan and increased engagement with Taiwanese opposition, while U.S. demonstrated support to Taipei with military aid package.

China continued military activity around Taiwan. As of 29 April, Taiwan detected 397 Chinese military aircraft around island, of which 212 crossed unofficial “median line” or were detected inside Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ); notably, Taiwan 3 April spotted twenty planes in ADIZ, with total of 30 planes around Taiwan. Taiwan reported 260 sightings of Chinese navy vessels in surrounding waters. China 17 April confirmed it sent fighter jets to monitor and warn U.S. Navy patrol aircraft flying over Taiwan Strait, following call between Chinese and U.S. defence officials. 

China stepped up engagement with Taiwanese opposition. President Xi Jinping 10 April met with former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou in China in bid to demonstrate viability of peaceful unification to both domestic and international audiences. Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang 26-28 April sent delegation to China, announcing that China was willing to lift some import bans and reopen some cross-strait travel as result of trip. 

U.S. continued military support to Taiwan. After bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation 28 March met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and pledged continued support, U.S. President Biden 24 April signed $1.2tn spending package containing $8.1bn foreign military allocation for Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific countries to bolster their defences and counter Chinese influence in region. KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia 4-14 April visited U.S. and met lawmakers and others to discuss KMT’s foreign policy. Taiwan Naval Commander Admiral Tang Hua 8-10 April attended U.S. Navy Sea League conference in U.S., where he emphasised global implications of Chinese military action against Taiwan and advocated continued U.S.-Taiwan military exchanges. 

In another important development. Senior U.S. State Dept officials 15 April met Deputy Director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office in rare meeting in Chinese capital Beijing to discuss Taiwan issue; U.S. reaffirmed its long-standing “One-China” policy and importance of maintaining peace and stability in Taiwan Strait. 

Afghanistan

Islamic State’s local branch continued attacks, Taliban authorities restricted space for political activism, and tensions with Pakistan persisted amid concern over new wave of deportations. 

Islamic State’s local branch targeted minority groups and Taliban. Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) claimed explosion of fuel tankers in capital Kabul on 9 April. Taliban forces 11 April reportedly killed two IS-KP members, arrested third, in Sawkay district, Kunar province (east). IS-KP 21 April claimed magnetic IED attack targeting bus carrying mostly Hazara civilians near security checkpoint in Kabul. IS-KP 30 April killed six worshippers at Shiite mosque in Guzara district, Herat province (west). Possible IS-KP gunmen 19 April killed senior Taliban figure and close advisor to Emir, Sheikh Omar Jan Akhundzada, in mosque in Pakistan’s Quetta city. 

Taliban authorities intensified crackdown on Islamist and social groups. After Taliban late March forced leader of Hizb-e Islami Hekmatyar – one of few prominent non-Taliban politicians to stay in country following Taliban takeover – to vacate his Kabul compound, son of leader 2 April claimed Taliban was protecting and supporting Al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan. Ministry of Justice 7 April referred two political parties and 76 social and charitable institutions to security authorities for alleged illegal activism. Following months of pressure to stifle activities by Hizb ut-Tahrir – primarily consisting of young, urban and educated Salafist-leaning Islamists – Taliban 18 April reportedly arrested group’s spokesman. Ministry of Information and Culture 16 April announced shuttering of two television stations owned by Islamist groups Hizb-e Islami and Jamiat-e Islami. 

Tensions between Taliban authorities and Pakistan persisted. Following cross-border hostilities in March, Taliban 30 March claimed U.S. drones flew inside Afghan airspace in south west, allegedly entering from neighbouring countries; Taliban previously accused Pakistan of permitting U.S. drones to enter Afghanistan. Anticipation grew over Pakistan’s announced intention to initiate Phase Two of the Illegal Foreigners’ Repatriation Plan, launched in Nov 2023 to forcibly deport millions of Afghans in country; Phase One deported around 500,000, while Phase Two could target some 800,000 Afghan Citizen Card holders or 1.3m with Proof of Residence. Such moves could further fuel tensions between two countries. 

Bangladesh

Surge in ethnic armed group attacks in south east prompted major security operation and derailed fledgling peace talks; opposition announced boycott of local polls in May, as country felt spillover of Myanmar’s conflict. 

In Chittagong Hill Tracts, ethnic armed group stepped up raids and attacks. Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) – which claims to represent six Kuki-Chin subgroups, largest of which is Bawm – 2-3 April attempted three bank robberies in Bandarban district, two of which were successful; group 4 April reportedly fired on police station in Thanchi upazila and 5 April attacked checkpoint in Alikadam upazila; hundreds of KNF militants took part in operations across towns 20-30km apart, suggesting growing operational capacity. In response, security forces 5 April launched major operation against KNF, arresting in subsequent days up to 100 suspected members, including alleged KNF key leader; further raids 22 and 28 April killed three KNF members. KNF robberies and attacks derailed peace talks between group and govt delegation, which were scheduled for 22 April; some community leaders in Chittagong Hill Tracts called for renewed dialogue with KNF.

Main opposition party announced boycott of local elections in May. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) 15 April opted to boycott upcoming local elections, which will take place in 150 of 495 upazilas (sub-districts) on 8 May; delayed decision signalled likely internal BNP divisions, with some activists seeking to participate to revitalise grassroots mobilisation. BNP refrained from launching major anti-govt activities since end of Ramadan in mid-April.

War in Myanmar spilt over border, raising prospect of new refugee influx. Heavy fighting in Myanmar’s Rakhine state – where Arakan Army continued its offensive against military – prompted increasing numbers of military personnel and Rohingya civilians to cross border into Bangladesh. Bangladesh 25 April repatriated 288 regime officials, mainly Border Guard Police members, to Myanmar. Additionally, communal tensions rose significantly between Rakhine and Rohingya communities over military’s alleged forced recruitment of Rohingya and collaboration with Rohingya armed groups Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and Arakan Rohingya Army, both of which are predominately based in refugee camps in Bangladesh (see Myanmar). 

India-Pakistan (Kashmir)

PM Narendra Modi promised to restore statehood and hold elections in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) during visit ahead of national elections, while militant attacks and security operations resumed after winter lull. 

Modi visited J&K and promised to restore statehood and hold regional polls. PM Modi 12 April visited Udhampur area of J&K and addressed rally, announcing that “people will soon have their ministers and legislators” and promising to restore statehood in first direct reference since Aug 2019. Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 16 April indicated that it decided not to take part in general election in three predominantly Muslim constituencies in Kashmir, preferring to support regional parties perceived as BJP proxies; former Chief Minister of J&K Omar Abdullah 19 April asserted “the [party’s] 2019 decisions have made people angrier and more alienated”. 

After winter respite, militant attacks and security operations resumed in J&K. In Jammu’s Rajouri district, security forces 2 April busted suspected module of militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, arresting three. In Kashmir’s Baramulla district, security forces 5 April killed two militants allegedly infiltrating from Pakistan. Security forces 11 April killed militant in Kashmir’s Pulwama district and arrested three alleged member associates linked to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba in Baramulla town. Militants 17 April shot dead non-local worker in Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Security forces 26 April killed two militants in Baramulla district.

Authorities detained Kashmir’s chief cleric and prohibited congregational prayers. Authorities 6 April again placed Kashmir’s chief cleric and moderate party Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest, despite J&K administration in March declaring him “free man”; Farooq 7 April accused authorities of “spiritual oppression” and of attacking “religious freedom and rights of Kashmiri Muslims”. Authorities 10 April disallowed congregational prayers at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid for fifth time in row.

Protests in Ladakh continued. Protestors continued relay hunger strike in Leh city to demand statehood for union territory and inclusion in Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to regain protections and privileges lost after reorganisation of J&K’s constitutional status in 2019. 

Pakistan

Fallout of disputed Feb polls continued as opposition parties reignited nationwide anti-govt protests, while insecurity plagued provinces bordering Afghanistan amid tensions with Kabul. 

Political polarisation persisted. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by imprisoned former PM Imran Khan, continued to oppose Election Commission’s refusal to allocate seats reserved for women and minorities to its proxy party Sunni Ittehad Council. In protest, PTI-dominated legislature in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province delayed administering oath to members on reserved seats, thereby disrupting 1 April election of 48 Senate seats; in response, Election Commission put on hold elections for eleven Senate seats until oath was administered. PTI called commission’s decision continuation of “mandate theft plot”. Increasing pressure, PTI 13 April announced countrywide anti-govt protest by coalition of six opposition parties to denounce alleged rigging of 8 Feb election and “illegal” govt; first protests next day commenced in Balochistan province’s Pishin city. During series of by-elections 21 April, violent clashes between PTI and PLN-N supporters at polling stations killed one in Punjab’s Narowal district; PTI launched countrywide protest against electoral irregularities after PML-N gains.

Militancy and security operations continued in provinces bordering Afghanistan. Militants early April attacked police targets across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Militants 13 April killed two soldiers during operation in Buner district and two others in suicide bombing in Dera Ismail district, where seven customs officers were killed in two attacks 21 and 24 April. In Balochistan province, Balochistan Liberation Army militants 13 April abducted and shot dead nine people from Punjab province near Noshki district. Suspected Baloch suicide attack in Sindh province’s capital Karachi 19 April appeared to target Japanese citizens, possibly mistaking them for Chinese nationals.

Tensions lingered with Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities. Following escalation in hostilities in March, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif 1 April accused Taliban of being source of resurgence of militancy in Pakistan. After senior Afghan Taliban leader 4 April urged Islamabad to negotiate peace with Pakistani Taliban, foreign ministry next day ruled out such talks. Tensions could mount further should militancy continue to surge and Islamabad follow through on threats to forcibly deport Afghan nationals (see Afghanistan). 

Sri Lanka

Govt lobbied International Monetary Fund (IMF) and creditors to secure loan disbursement amid rising poverty, while fifth anniversary of 2019 Easter bombings fuelled political tensions and calls for justice.

Govt sought to secure next tranche of IMF loan. Govt officials sought to convince IMF enough progress was being made to approve second review of Extended Fund Facility and disburse third tranche of roughly $335mn. Govt 16 April stated that main stumbling block in reaching deal with commercial creditors was “baseline parameters” for bondholders, whose payout will depend on nation’s economic growth; bondholders think IMF calculations underestimate growth potential and ability to repay bonds. Campaigning for presidential election, which is due by mid-Oct, may complicate negotiations or delay debt restructure deal into 2025. Meanwhile, Asian Development Bank mid-April projected moderate growth of 1.9% in 2024 and 2.5% in 2025. World Bank 2 April reported devastating increase in poverty from 11% of population in 2019 to almost 26% in 2024.

Fifth anniversary of Easter bombings spurred political attacks and justice campaigns. Ahead of anniversary of 2019 Eastern attacks on 21 April, main opposition party Samagi Jana Belawegaya 4 April promised within two months of gaining power to appoint Special Investigative Commission on attacks to be served by special team of investigators, pledging to establish special court to expedite prosecutions. Delegation of opposition National People’s Power (NPP) 18 April presented its seven-point action plan, including promise to establish special investigative commission. Gen Sec of President Wickremesinghe’s United National Party, Palitha Range Bandara, 19 April attacked both NPP and Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, accusing NPP of having links to bombers and Cardinal of “associating” with former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Commemorating attacks, Cardinal Ranjith 21 April delivered scathing attack on Gotabaya Rajapaksa, accusing him of obstructing investigation and failing to pursue new revelations about attack, while also accusing Attorney General of failing to take legal action against govt and security officials found negligent by multiple inquiries. Rajapaksa 25 April issued detailed statement rejecting allegations.

Myanmar

Ethnic armed groups in south east, west and north dealt regime further battlefield defeats, highlighting its weakness amid risk of intensifying hostilities; communal tensions in Rakhine state foreshadowed potential violence, including against civilians.

In south east, regime temporarily lost control of important border town. In Kayin state (south east), Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and allied resistance groups 11 April overran last military base in key trading town Myawaddy on Thai border, which handles billions of dollars of annual trade. KNLA did not occupy town, which is being patrolled by armed group Karen National Army (KNA) that was formerly allied with regime; KNA subsequently facilitated return of regime forces to one base in town. Regime reinforcement convoy attempted to fight its way to Myawaddy, but faced repeated ambushes. Regime efforts to repel KNLA and allied forces from around Myawaddy could fuel fighting and displacement, including into Thailand, where hundreds have already fled (see Thailand); Thailand’s PM Srettha Thavisin 8 April asserted regime was “losing” and ought to “make a deal”.

In west, Arakan Army (AA) advanced in Rakhine state amid communal tensions. AA effectively encircled regimes forces in Ann township, home to military’s Western Command headquarters, and late April captured tactical command base near headquarters, raising prospect of surge in fighting if group seeks to overrun headquarters. Meanwhile, communal tensions rose significantly in state’s north between Rakhine and Rohingya communities over military’s alleged forced recruitment of Rohingya and collaboration with Rohingya armed groups, particularly Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Underscoring risk of communal violence or atrocities against civilians, two Rakhine men were found dead 11 April in Buthidaung town, as hundreds of homes were torched over subsequent days in town; AA accused military and Rohingya armed groups of targeting homes of Rakhine and Hindu residents who had fled; Rohingya similarly accused AA of attacks against civilians.

In north, Kachin forces continued offensive. In Kachin state (north), Kachin Independence Army (KIA) attacked road running east from Bhamo to Loije town, which is one of five official trade gates with China; last remaining regime troops in Loije 8 April fled into China. KIA thereafter made progress toward capturing Hpakant township, home to lucrative jade mines. 

Philippines

Security operations, clan feuds and rebel infighting persisted in south, while govt forces continued to battle Communist militants.

Insecurity persisted in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). In Maguindanao del Sur province, individuals associated with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander 7 April clashed with supporters of commander of 106 Base Command of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Shariff Saydona municipality. In apparent clan feud, ambush 14 April killed four members of MILF’s 118th Base Command in Satan village. Gunfight between military and militants of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) 23 April killed twelve militants, including key local commander, and wounded seven soldiers near Datu Saudi Ampatuan town. In Lanao del Norte province, army during security operation 13 April clashed with militants of Dawlah Islamiya-Maute Group in Munai town, killing three. Army 29 April engaged band of militants led by new leader of Dawlah Islamiyah in Lanao, Nasser Daud, in two encounters in Munai town, killing five militants and leaving three soldiers injured. In Pigcawayan province, clan feud rooted in political competition 16 April triggered clashes between MILF commanders from 104 and 105 Base Commands, supported by respective relatives from MNLF and local officials, killing at least two and injuring three. 

Hostilities persisted between security forces and Communist rebels. Clashes between govt forces and Communist militants in Luzon (Abra) in north, Mindanao (Bukidnon) in south, and Visayas (Northern Samar, Negros Occidental) in centre during April killed five combatants and civilians and injured three. Anti-Terrorism Council 21 April renewed its designation of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as terrorist organisation despite commitment to pursue dialogue with group.

Thailand

Constitutional Court considered case to ban election-winning Move Forward Party (MFP), militant attacks continued in deep south and hundreds fleeing Myanmar’s war crossed into Thailand.

Election-winning party faced prospect of dissolution. Constitutional Court 3 April accepted petition from Election Commission seeking dissolution of Move Forward Party (MFP), which won May 2023 elections, and 10 April said it would afford MFP more time to prepare, likely pushing decision to May; in March, Election Commission had found evidence that MFP’s policy to amend lèse-majesté law was tantamount to seeking to overthrow democratic system with king as head of state. MFP’s dissolution would disenfranchise 14.4m voters who opted for party in last election, raising risk of street protests. 

Militant attacks continued in deep south. In Narathiwat province, militants 7 April ambushed truck carrying rangers in Rueso district, killing two and wounding eight. Some twenty militants 28 April ambushed police on patrol in Sungai Kolok, with IEDs, pipe bombs and small arms, wounding four. In Pattani province, roadside IED attack 5 April wounded two rangers in Thung Yang Daeng district. Gunman 13 April shot dead Muslim soldier in Panare district. Assailant 14 April shot and killed sergeant in Saiburi district. In Yala province, gunmen shot and killed Muslim soldier in Than To district. Militants 19 April ambushed police patrol in Bannang Sata district, wounding officer. Gunmen 25 April killed defence volunteer in Bannang Sata district; soldiers responding were targeted by IED, wounding three. 

War in Myanmar spilled over Thai border. Amid heavy fighting in south east Myanmar as ethnic armed group early April sought to dislodge military forces from Myawaddy, key town on Thai border, PM Srettha Thavisin 7 April assessed “the current regime is starting to lose some strength” (see Myanmar). Govt 9 April announced task force to deal with fallout from conflict and willingness to accept up to 100,000 people seeking temporary shelter. Ministry of Public Health 20 April revealed 1,686 people had crossed border seeking refuge. Foreign ministry 24 April said it urged ASEAN chair Laos to form “troika” with Indonesia and Malaysia to engage Myanmar junta on easing crisis. 

China/Japan

China maintained naval activity in East China Sea amid tensions with Japan over disputed islands, while Tokyo and U.S. strengthened alliance with series of defence agreements. 

Beijing continued maritime presence. As of 25 April, Japan reported 98 Chinese vessels in Japan’s contiguous zone, while nine vessels were detected within Japan’s territorial sea, representing slight increase from March. Chinese coast guard ships 5-6 April entered Japan’s territorial sea off disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which Japan claims as its territory, in East China Sea and attempted to approach Japanese fishing boat. Japanese coast guard 12 April requested four Chinese coast guard vessels to leave “our territorial waters” in disputed area off Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Japan 25 April detected one Chinese coast guard vessel that entered Japanese territorial waters off coast of Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. China’s coast guard 28 April claimed it took law enforcement measures against inspection mission of Japanese lawmakers near Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands – reportedly marking first such mission since 2013. Japan 2 April detected Chinese military ships and surveillance aircraft active in waters between Taiwan and Japan, as well as Russian surveillance ship off Japanese coast.

U.S. and Japan struck agreements to boost alliance. U.S. President Biden 10 April hosted Japanese PM Fumio Kishida for official visit and state dinner, as leaders announced scores of agreements and initiatives for defence cooperation and to counter perceived threats from China in East and South China Seas, which Biden described as “most significant upgrade in our alliance since it was first established”; notably, pair agreed new joint military command structure in Japan, new air missile defence network with Australia, and Japanese participation in NASA moon missions, reflecting Japan’s growing international role following changes to its pacifist constitution.

Japan, U.S. and South Korea held joint exercises. Japan, U.S. and South Korea 11-12 April conducted trilateral maritime exercise in East China Sea, including anti-submarine warfare drills and search and rescue operations, in bid to enhance deterrence vis-à-vis China and North Korea (see Korean Peninsula). 

India

Govt’s inflammatory rhetoric stoked religious and political tensions as national polls commenced, ethnic conflict in Manipur state in north east derailed voting and security forces killed dozens of Maoists in centre.

Amid govt’s divisive electoral rhetoric, concern grew over new ruling party term. First phase of election for national parliament 19 April began, with voting scheduled to run until 1 June, against backdrop of mounting tensions over arrest of opposition leaders and allegations of electronic voting manipulation. Addressing rally in Rajasthan state (north west), PM Narendra Modi 21 April deployed Islamophobic rhetoric by referring to Muslims as “infiltrators” and asserting that opposition Congress party would seize wealth of Hindus and redistribute it among community with “more children”; remarks prompted outrage. With ruling Bharatiya Janata Party seeking to implement range of Hindu majoritarian policies, critics such as historian Ramchandra Guha fear another BJP term could weaken India’s status as secular republic; Guha warned “stigmatisation of Muslims will continue, and perhaps even sharpen” with BJP’s third term.

In Manipur state, insecurity prevented free and fair polls. As voting in national polls commenced in Manipur state (north east), extremist Meitei militia Arambai Tanggol 19 April captured polling stations, damaged voting machines and tampered with votes, forcing Election Commission to void results of at least seventeen of 3,000 polling stations across state. In sign of unending conflict, gunmen in camouflage 13 April killed two Kuki men at border of Kangpokpi and Imphal East districts before mutilating bodies; gunfight between gunmen of Kuki-Zo and Meitei communities 28 April killed one in same location. Suspected militants 27 April killed two central security forces personnel and injured two others in Bishnupur district.

Security forces launched large-scale anti-Maoist operation in centre. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), security forces 2 April killed thirteen Maoists in Bijapur district. Security forces during operation 16 April killed 29 Maoists in Bastar region, which marks state’s most lethal anti-Maoist operation ever; Maoists claimed that seventeen of 29 were slain in cold blood, which security forces rejected. Maoists 26 April killed opposition Congress member Joga Podiyam in Bastar region. Security forces 30 April shot dead ten Maoists in Bastar region.

South China Sea

Tensions persisted in South China Sea (SCS) amid maritime encounters between China and Philippines, while U.S. and Manila held military drills and deepened security ties to regional partners.

Maritime tensions persisted between China and Philippines. In call with U.S. counterpart, Philippine National Security Advisor 1 April discussed China’s “coercive, aggressive and deceptive actions” in SCS; China’s foreign ministry same day urged Manila to immediately stop violating China’s sovereignty and its provocations at Second Thomas Shoal. Philippine National Security Council 3 April said it will not relinquish its position in Second Thomas Shoal, adding country’s measures against China will be “multi-dimensional”. Philippine President Marcos 8 April called on China to hold talks on recent SCS incidents. Underscoring persistent tensions between Beijing and Manila, China Coast Guard vessels 13 April blocked two Philippine govt ships for eight hours 35 nautical miles from Philippine coastline, as latter sought to conduct hydrographic survey in near contested Scarborough Shoal. China Coast Guard ships 30 April fired water cannons at Philippine vessel near Scarborough Shoal, damaging equipment.

U.S. & Philippines held series of military drills, including with regional partners. Coinciding with first combined military exercises between Australia, Japan, Philippines and U.S. in form of patrol 7 April in Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone, China’s military same day announced it conducted “joint naval and air combat patrols” in SCS. U.S. and Philippines 8-19 April conducted combined air force exercise Cope Thunder north of capital Manila and 8 April commenced annual Salaknib exercises. U.S. Army 15 April announced it had deployed ground-based missile launcher to northern Luzon of Philippines for drills, marking first time U.S. had deployed mid-range missile system capability to Indo-Pacific; China 18 April said it “firmly opposed” it. U.S. and Philippines 22 April commenced annual Balikatan exercises, running until 10 May, which are second-largest ever and for first time will take place beyond Philippine territorial waters.

U.S., Japan and Philippines deepened trilateral cooperation. U.S. President Biden, Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida and Marcos 11 April held first-ever trilateral summit in U.S. capital Washington, DC; joint statement expressed “serious concerns” about China’s behaviour in East and South China Seas. 

Europe & Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan

President Japarov signed law on foreign representatives, sparking international condemnation; UK’s FM visited Kyrgyzstan during regional tour.

Kyrgyz leader signed controversial “foreign representatives” bill. President Japarov 2 April signed “foreign representatives” bill into law, which many human rights organisations have warned mirrors Russia’s repressive legislation; law grants authorities oversight over non-profit and non-governmental organisations, and allows them to designate those that receive foreign funding and engage in “political activity” as “foreign representatives”. Move sparked outcry: notably, EU 2 April said legislation could have “a negative impact on Kyrgyz society and their cooperation with international partners”, while UN Commissioner for Human Rights 5 April said it poses “serious threat to the work of numerous civil society organisations in the country”. Media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists 2 April said legislation threatens to erase country’s status as “relative haven of free speech and democracy in post-Soviet Central Asia”.

In important international developments. UK FM David Cameron 22 April embarked on five-day tour of region, beginning in Tajikistan before heading for Kyrgyzstan; trip sought to deepen diplomatic and economic ties in region, and to address concerns about circumvention of sanctions on Russia. Meanwhile, defence minister 26 April attended regional forum Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Kazakhstan amid efforts to boost military cooperation.

Tajikistan

Authorities contended with aftermath of terrorist attack in Russia, and UK’s FM visited Tajikistan during regional tour.

Tajikistan continued to deal with aftermath of Moscow terrorist attack. By end of April, Russian authorities had detained twelve people in connection with March terrorist attack in capital Moscow, eleven of whom hail from Tajikistan. Senior Russian official Nikolai Patrushev 3 April claimed Ukraine’s embassy in capital Dushanbe was recruiting mercenaries to fight against Russia; foreign ministry 6 April dismissed allegation, say