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Democratic Republic of Congo
Our monthly conflict tracker highlights one conflict resolution opportunity and four conflict risks in November.
CrisisWatch spotlighted deteriorations in seven countries in October.
We also highlighted two improvements. Lebanon and Israel signed a maritime border deal, defusing a potential flashpoint, and Iraq’s parliament elected a new president, breaking a year-long political deadlock and paving the way for a new government.
Aside from the scores of conflict situations we usually assess, we tracked notable developments in October in Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Djibouti, Ecuador, Moldova and Papua New Guinea.
Our CrisisWatch Digests offer a monthly one-page snapshot of conflict-related country trends in a clear, accessible format, using a map of the region to pinpoint developments.
For our most recent CrisisWatch Digests, please follow these links for Ethiopia, Lebanon and Somalia.
Sporadic violence continued in north, and govt discussed military cooperation with commander of French Operation Barkhane.
Jihadist and other violence persisted in northern departments. In Atakora department, unidentified armed men 4 and 7 Oct reportedly kidnapped two Fulani pastoralists near Matéri and Kérou towns; al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) elements 11 Oct tried to engage govt forces and accidentally detonated explosive device near Matéri, leaving eight militants dead. In Alibori department, unidentified armed men 7 Oct killed farmer in Segbana commune, and overnight 11-12 Oct kidnapped Fulani village chief in Karimama commune.
Visit of Barkhane commander sparked controversy. New commander of French Operation Barkhane, Gen Bruno Baratz, 4-6 Oct visited Benin and met with Defence Minister Fortunet Alain Nouatin; Baratz reportedly expressed France’s willingness to support Beninese forces while ruling out French military operations on Beninese territory. Following visit, rumours of French troop presence and of alleged plans to establish French military base in country spread on social media; govt around 10 Oct denied claims.
Amid countrywide insecurity, new transitional leadership consolidated control following late September coup.
New coup leaders secured national and regional support. Supporters of new coup leader Capt. Ibrahim Traoré 2 Oct marched in capital Ouagadougou waving Russian flag and threw rocks at French embassy on allegations that deposed President Lt. Col. Damiba was hiding out at French base to plot “counteroffensive”; Paris immediately denied any involvement. Damiba same day agreed to step down and left for neighbouring Togo. Traoré 2-3 Oct reportedly secured support from military chain of command, 4 Oct met with West African regional bloc ECOWAS mediator for Burkina Faso, former Nigerien President Issoufou. New transition charter, released mid-Oct, maintained Damiba’s commitment to hold elections by July 2024, prohibited transitional leadership from running in polls and confirmed Traoré’s appointment as head of state. Traoré 21 Oct took office as transitional president, next day named jurist Apollinaire Joachim Kyelem de Tembela as interim PM, and 25 Oct named govt of 23 ministers, including three members of military and five former Damiba ministers. Authorities 24-25 Oct announced initiative to recruit 50,000 civilians as army auxiliaries to help battle jihadists. Hundreds 28 Oct demonstrated in Ouagadougou demanding end of French military presence.
Insecurity remained rampant across country. In Sahel region’s Soum province, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 24 Oct attacked army base in Djibo town, which has been under jihadist blockade for several months, leaving ten soldiers dead and over 50 wounded; 18 militants also killed. In Sahel region’s Oudalan province, presumed Islamic State-Sahel (IS Sahel) 11 Oct killed four people and kidnapped at least seven others in mosque in Gorom-Gorom commune; deadly clashes between IS Sahel and JNIM reported 8 and 10 Oct in Gorom-Gorom and Gountoure localities. JNIM continued sporadic attacks in Centre-North region’s Namentenga province. Notably, suspected JNIM 3 Oct seized Bouroum town, killing at least seven including three civilians; 15 Oct ambushed armed forces in Silmangué locality, leaving 12 security forces dead. In East region, suspected jihadists 29 Oct ambushed military convoy near Kikideni locality (Gourma province), killing at least 15 security forces.
Security forces launched deadly offensive against Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels as govt reopened land border with Rwanda; authorities faced resistance over land expropriations.
Security forces clashed with Kinyarwanda-speaking rebels near Rwandan border. After armed forces late Sept launched offensive against National Liberation Front (FNL) – Hutu-led group of Rwandan origin – in Kibira forest, Cibitoke province, security source mid-Oct reported at least 42 rebels and a dozen soldiers killed; fighting reportedly displaced unspecified number of residents. Meanwhile, govt late Oct announced reopening of border with Rwanda after years-long closure; Bujumbura had previously conditioned border reopening to extradition by Kigali of 2015 coup plotters.
Land expropriations sparked tensions across country. Local media 6 Oct reported over 100 households dispossessed of their land over past week by ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure in Rugombe commune, Cibitoke province (north west), so local administration can reallocate land to ruling party members. In Bubanza province (west), over 200 people 10 Oct observed sit-in before governor’s office, protesting against authorities’ expropriation of 5,000 households from their lands in August to make way for construction of military camp. Meanwhile, in Muyinga province (north east), Imbonerakure 9 Oct reportedly arrested 70 supporters – most of them Muslims – of opposition Union for Peace and Democracy-Zigamibanga party for allegedly holding illegal gathering; 50 remained detained by police as of 18 Oct.
In other important developments. Fuel was back at petrol stations 5 Oct after President Ndayishimiye ended months-long standoff with country’s biggest oil distribution company Interpetrol that caused fuel shortages across country. European Union 25 Oct announced lifting sanctions on three senior officials, including PM Gervais Ndirakobuca and Senior Presidential Adviser Gen. Godefroid Bizimana, following “intensified dialogue” with Bujumbura on human rights record.
New Canada-sponsored dialogue initiative between govt and Anglophone separatists kicked off as violence persisted in Anglophone regions.
Tensions remained high in Anglophone regions. Anglophone separatists held armed marches in North West and South West regions on 1 Oct anniversary of self-proclaimed Federal Republic of Ambazonia. In North West, govt forces 1-2 Oct carried out punitive actions following pro-independence demonstrations in Boyo division, reportedly burning homes and arresting dozens of civilians. Separatists 4 Oct launched explosive device attack on military patrol vehicle in Boyo, with unspecified casualties; 16 Oct killed two gendarmes in Ndu town, Donga-Mantung division. Soldiers 19 Oct clashed with separatists in Bali and Batibo areas (Mezam and Momo divisions respectively) to clear road blocks; at least one civilian killed. Ambazonia militia group 26 Oct ambushed govt convoy on Alabukam-Mbengwi road (Mezam and Momo respectively), leaving unknown casualties.
New dialogue initiative started as civil society called for peace. On third anniversary of 2019 govt-sponsored peace talks, thousands – women in majority – 30 Sept-4 Oct took part in daily marches in capital Yaoundé to call for peace in Anglophone regions. After Swiss-led mediation in Sept ended at Biya’s request, govt officials and representatives of several Anglophone separatist groups 10-14 Oct met in Canada as part of new initiative to negotiate peace process. Meanwhile, former separatist rebels 3 Oct protested difficult living conditions in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) centre in South West regional capital Buea, alleged embezzlement of funds dedicated to DDR process.
Sporadic jihadist violence persisted in Far North. Defence Minister Joseph Beti early Oct met with regional authorities in Far North regional capital Maroua, hailed successful military operations against Boko Haram (BH) and said it is safe for 40,000 villagers displaced by violence to return home. Attacks however persisted. Notably, BH militants 15 and 17 Oct killed two civilians in Mora town, Mayo-Sava division; 22 Oct took control of army’s advanced post in Djibrilli locality, Mayo-Tsanaga division near Nigerian border.
Face-off persisted between govt and Constitutional Court over proposed constitutional reform that would allow President Touadéra to run for third term; rebel groups continued to pose security threat in several regions.
Touadéra sacked top judge amid dispute over new constitution. Following Constitutional Court’s 23 Sept invalidation of presidential decrees creating constitutional drafting committee, civil service ministry 10 Oct decreed retirement from teaching positions, effective 31 Dec, of 40 civil servants including Constitutional Court President Danièle Darlan, claiming this would entail her leaving court. Darlan 19 Oct refused retirement, said she cannot be removed before end of mandate in 2024. Touadéra 24 Oct dismissed Darlan by presidential decree; Darlan 28 Oct rejected dismissal, said decree had no legal value. Meanwhile, pro-Touadéra civil society movements renewed calls for constitutional referendum. Notably, Republican Front-led demonstration 22 Oct reportedly gathered thousands in capital Bangui to demand Touadéra organise referendum within 30 days to endorse constitutional reform.
Violence at hands of 3R rebels and anti-balaka militias persisted notably in west. In Ouham-Pendé prefecture, UN mission vehicle 3 Oct hit explosive device likely planted by 3R rebel group near Koui bridge, leaving three peacekeepers dead; 3R rebels 19 Oct killed one civilian and injured six people, including two soldiers, in attack on armed forces position in Mann village. In Nana-Mambéré prefecture, 3R elements 13 Oct attacked Chinese-operated mining site in Ndiba Molé village, killing four including one soldier. Meanwhile, in Basse-Kotto prefecture, two anti-balaka militia factions 4-11 Oct fought over control of Ndjoukou village; clashes left at least ten killed, including three civilians.
Misseriya Arab-Sara tensions flared in north near border with Chad and Sudan. In Vakaga prefecture, suspected Misseriya Arab tribe individuals 5 Oct held up traders and injured one on Sikidébé-Chad axis; amid inter-community tensions since 14 Oct, suspected Misseriya Arabs 20-21 Oct reportedly kidnapped 13 ethnic Sara individuals in Matala village, 18km from Vakaga’s capital Birao. In Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture, unidentified individuals 23 Oct killed three traders returning from Chad near Bangbali village, 6km from Bamingui-Bangoran’s capital Ndélé.
Authorities brutally repressed countrywide protests after national dialogue extended transition period to civilian rule by two years, leaving at least 60 dead, while herder-farmer conflict killed dozens.
National dialogue concluded, prolonging transition by 24 months. National dialogue’s plenary session 1 Oct adopted final resolutions extending transition by 24 months, maintaining Transitional Military Council leader Mahamat Déby as head of state and allowing him to run for president at next elections (despite earlier pledge not to). Déby 8 Oct issued revised transitional charter, 10 Oct took office as transitional president, and 14 Oct appointed members of “national unity” govt, including former rebel and opposition leaders.
Violent crackdown on opposition protests left dozens dead. Despite govt’s ban, civil society and opposition 20 Oct led demonstrations in capital N’Djamena and several other cities calling for return to civilian rule. Security forces violently cracked down on protesters; authorities reported 60 dead and over 300 wounded, while opposition parties said over 100 killed. PM Saleh Kebzabo same day blamed opposition for attempted “armed insurrection”, announced curfews in four cities and three-month suspension of seven opposition parties involved in protests. NGO International Federation for Human Rights around 23 Oct said hundreds of people detained since 20 Oct had been taken to unknown location in country’s north; NGO Human Rights Watch 26 Oct called for independent investigation of security forces over crackdown.
Deadly intercommunal conflict broke out in centre. Herder-farmer clashes 30 Sept-1 Oct left at least 76 and up to 90 people dead in Mangalmé and Kouka Margni sub-prefectures of Guéra region (centre).
Boko Haram attacks continued in west. In Lake region (west), suspected Boko Haram militants 2 Oct abducted six people in Kadoua village, eventually killing four of them; 7 Oct attacked regional governor’s convoy near Kinasserom Island, leaving three injured. Governor of Hadjer-Lamis region (also west) replaced 5 Oct after Boko Haram in Sept launched first attacks in region in five years, briefly seizing two villages in Karal sub-prefecture.
Despite reported progress, negotiations for release of Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali dragged on; former President Gbagbo loyalist announced return from exile.
President Ouattara expressed optimism over release of soldiers detained in Mali. Ouattara 6-7 Oct met in economic capital Abidjan with Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé and West African regional bloc ECOWAS President Umaro Sissoco Embaló to discuss latest ECOWAS efforts to negotiate release of 46 Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali since July; following meetings, Ouattara said “happy ending” will be reached “very soon”, but negotiations continued to drag on. Stumbling blocks reportedly include location for soldiers’ release, with Mali insisting on Bamako while Côte d’Ivoire prefers Togo’s capital Lomé. Ouattara and Embaló 7 Oct also discussed regional security issues as Abidjan sustains efforts to contain jihadist threat in country’s north.
Former President Gbagbo’s right-hand man vowed to return home. Former Youth Minister under Gbagbo, Charles Blé Goudé, 24 Oct announced he had received Ouattara’s approval to return home from Netherlands on 26 Nov, vowed to take part in Ouattara-sponsored reconciliation process. Blé Goudé, who was acquitted by International Criminal Court in March 2021 on charges of crimes against humanity, still faces 20-year sentence in Côte d’Ivoire for role in 2010-2011 post-election crisis. Ouattara’s move could form part of attempt to divide left-wing opposition ahead of 2023 regional and 2025 presidential elections, as Blé Goudé’s relations with Gbagbo have been tense in recent years.
Opposition heavyweights continued manoeuvring with eye on 2025 presidential election. After faction of Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) 29 Sept proposed long-time party leader Henri Konan Bédié as sole candidate for party leadership, PDCI’s young wing in following days expressed opposition, denouncing lack of internal democracy. Meanwhile, African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire’s general secretary, Damana Adia Médard aka Pickass, 17 Oct said Laurent Gbagbo was party’s “natural candidate” for presidential election.
Tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali reached new heights after M23 rebels made dramatic gains in eastern North Kivu province.
M23 rebels gained territory in east, Kinshasa expelled Rwanda’s ambassador. After fighting 20 Oct resumed between govt forces and M23 rebels in North Kivu province’s Rutshuru territory, rebels 23 Oct captured Ntamugenga village, near strategic RN2 highway linking North Kivu’s capital Goma with province’s north and Uganda. Fighting subsequently spread to several localities along highway: rebels 29 Oct took over Kiwanja and Rutshuru towns, cutting off Goma from upper half of North Kivu. Govt, which accuses Kigali of supporting M23, same day expelled Rwanda’s ambassador to Kinshasa. Thousands of anti-Rwanda protesters 31 Oct demonstrated in Goma, demanding weapons to fight amid fears that M23 could target city. African Union 30 Oct called for ceasefire and negotiations during third inter-Congolese peace dialogue due to take place in Kenya 4-13 Nov.
Also in east, ADF forces killed dozens, and west saw deadly intercommunal conflict. Despite ongoing DR Congo-Uganda operations against Uganda-born Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in east, group 1 Oct allegedly killed 14 people in Kyamata village, Irumu territory (Ituri province); 4 Oct reportedly killed 11 civilians, with 20 others missing in Vido village, Beni territory (North Kivu); 20 Oct killed at least seven people and set fire to health facilities in Maboya town (also North Kivu). Meanwhile, govt mid-Oct said conflict over land between Teke and Yaka communities in Kwamouth territory (western Mai-Ndombe province) had left at least 180 people dead and over 30,000 displaced since July.
President Tshisekedi conducted first major army reshuffle since coming to power. Tshisekedi 3 Oct appointed close relative Lt. Gen. Christian Tshiwewe, formerly commander of Republican Guard (elite unite in charge of presidential security), as new army chief of staff. Presidency said reshuffle, which saw other Republican Guard officers promoted to strategic positions, part of broader military reforms aimed at boosting efficiency. Tshisekedi 17 Oct also appointed new heads of defence zones, notably replacing Gen. Philemon Yav as commander of eastern provinces, who was arrested in Sept for treason in fight against M23 rebellion.
Armed opposition group conducted deadly attack on army base for first time in almost two years.
In their first attack since Jan 2021, splinter group of Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) known as FRUD-armé, which seeks greater representation for Afari Djiboutians in country’s politics, 7 Oct launched raid on army post in Garabtissan area, Tadjourah region (north), leaving seven soldiers dead, four injured and six missing. National Assembly 13 Oct passed law classifying FRUD-armé as terrorist group, allowing harsher consequences for those associated with group and enabling govt to issue international arrest warrants against exiled FRUD-armé leaders.
Eritrean and Ethiopian federal forces gained ground in Tigray, raising fears of mass atrocities against local population.
Ethiopian-Eritrean offensive gained ground in Tigray, fuelling fears of large-scale attacks on civilians. Eritrean forces continued supporting Ethiopia’s military and regional allies in Tigray after returning to frontline fighting early Sept. Eritrean troops fought Tigray’s forces in Tigray’s Eastern, North Western and Central zones throughout month, making significant advances. Notably, joint Ethiopian-Eritrean offensive 17 Oct drove Tigray’s forces from strategic Shire city (North Western Zone), after which they began pushing east from Shire toward Aksum and Adwa cities, and could threaten Tigray’s capital Mekelle (see Ethiopia). Battlefield advances of Ethiopian and Eritrean forces, alongside potential for continued strong Tigray resistance, raised risk of Ethiopian and Eritrean forces escalating atrocities on civilians in Tigray, who largely back Tigray’s resistance led by Asmara’s long-standing rival, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Eritrea 24 Oct accused humanitarian and media groups, as well as western govts, of “insinuating perpetration of ‘unspeakable atrocities’” to “rehabilitate the TPLF” for geopolitical interests.
Asmara rejected calls to withdraw its forces from Tigray. International actors condemned Eritrea’s military activities in Ethiopia and urged troop withdrawal. Notably, European Parliament 6 Oct accused Eritrea of “playing a destructive role in the Tigray conflict”; Asmara next day condemned “spurious accusations”. Australia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, UK and U.S. 12 Oct published joint statement condemning “escalating involvement of Eritrean military forces in northern Ethiopia” and urging them to “cease their military operation and withdraw”. Asmara 15 Oct released second statement, accusing western countries of “wilfully harassing the victims of the TPLF” despite TPLF’s “acts of continued destabilisation of Eritrea”. As talks between Ethiopia’s federal and Tigray negotiators 25 Oct got underway in South Africa, concerns that Asmara will spoil any future peace process remained.
Absent an immediate cessation of hostilities, military offensives in Tigray could result in mass atrocities against civilians in coming weeks.
Federal coalition gained ground in Tigray, raising risk of serious abuses toward local population. After weeks of federal and allied military offensives on multiple fronts in northern Ethiopia, Tigray’s defences began giving way to superior firepower. Notably, Tigray’s forces 2 Oct withdrew from Kobo district in Amhara region’s North Wello Zone; 17 Oct withdrew from strategic Shire city (North Western Zone), which hosts tens of thousands of displaced persons. Federal and Eritrean forces began pushing eastward from Shire toward Aksum and then Adwa cities (Central Zone), where fierce fighting in surrounding areas is ongoing. Federal and Amhara forces 18 Oct captured Alamata and Korem towns (Southern Zone). Meanwhile, Addis 17 Oct said military would seize all federal facilities in Tigray, which will likely fuel continued Tigray resistance to prevent federal govt from forcefully taking control of region. As civilians are caught in crossfire, federal and Eritrean forces could further harm local populations, as they have already done by air. Notably, federal air force 4 Oct killed over 50 displaced people in Adi Daero town (North Western Zone), 14 Oct struck Shire, killing humanitarian worker and two civilians; Ethiopian Red Cross Society 28 Oct reported death of ambulance driver.
African Union (AU) held peace talks in South Africa. Amid mounting international pressure, Tigray and federal negotiators 25 Oct met in South Africa for AU-led peace talks. Whether progress is made remains to be seen. Tigray authorities 16 Oct expressed readiness for immediate cessation of hostilities but demanded Eritrea’s withdrawal from region; federal govt reiterated its willingness to negotiate but is unlikely to halt military operations given recent gains.
Drone strikes in Oromia left scores dead. Amid ongoing clashes between security forces and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), federal air force conducted multiple air strikes. One of deadliest drone strikes occurred 23 Oct in Cobi district in West Shewa Zone at OLA graduation ceremony, killing at least 50, including civilians. Meanwhile, Amhara militias known as Fano reportedly killed at least 43 civilians in five attacks in East Wollega and Horo Guduru Wollega zone during month.
Ruling junta and West African regional bloc agreed on two-year transition to civilian rule as crackdown on opposition protest once again turned deadly.
Military junta agreed to restore civilian rule in two years. Under pressure from West African regional bloc ECOWAS to agree to shorter transition timeline by 22 Oct or risk more sanctions, Col. Doumbouya-led junta 17-21 Oct held series of talks with ECOWAS officials in capital Conakry. Doumbouya and ECOWAS mediator, Benin’s former President Boni Yayi, 21 Oct announced agreement on 24-month transition starting in Jan 2023, down from 36-month period proposed by junta in May.
National dialogue remained stalled amid ongoing repression of opposition. Opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), former President Condé’s Rally of the Guinean People, and outlawed coalition National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) 3 Oct rejected govt-led dialogue framework, denouncing “unilateral” process. Police 17 Oct arrested prominent UFDG official Cellou Baldé in Conakry on undisclosed charges; released him 24 hours later. FNDC 20 Oct held demonstration in Conakry despite nationwide ban on protests, demanding quick return to civilian-led govt and release of all prisoners detained for political reasons; clashes between security forces and protesters left at least three protesters killed, while 20 people suffered gunshot wounds, and many others were detained. Protesters 28 Oct disrupted traffic in Conakry, denouncing death of protesters during 20 Oct demonstration. Meanwhile, Paris-based news website Africa Intelligence 7 Oct reported that France would provide military support to junta to help securitise Mali-Guinea border and prevent expansion of jihadism, sparking rumours of French troop deployment in country; FM Morissanda Kouyaté 11 Oct denied claims.
Trial over 2009 massacre of over 150 people continued. During trial of several former military and govt officials accused of responsibility in 2009 massacre of over 150 people in Conakry stadium, court 10 Oct denied then-junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara’s request to be released to house arrest. Camara’s former aide-de-camp, Lt. Aboubacar Sidiki “Toumba” Diakité, 24 Oct accused Camara of having planned and ordered massacre.
President Ruto’s cabinet sworn in despite concerns over nominees’ integrity, while Al-Shabaab violence persisted near border with Somalia.
Controversy arose over cabinet nominees. After Ruto late Sept unveiled cabinet, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji 12 Oct dropped charges – including murder, fraud and graft – faced by several nominees; Law Society of Kenya next day condemned Haji’s decision, alleging judiciary was compromised to allow nomination. Parliament 26 Oct unanimously approved cabinet, which was sworn in 27 Oct. Presidential runner-up Raila Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja coalition 22 Oct announced it would soon unveil shadow cabinet. Meanwhile, Ruto 14 Oct appointed Mohamed Amin as head of Directorate of Criminal Investigations following resignation of George Kinoti, who led investigations perceived as targeting Ruto and his allies. Ruto 16 Oct said he had disbanded elite police unit, Special Service Unit, accused of extrajudicial killings; rights group Amnesty International Kenya 16 Oct welcomed move. Director of public prosecutions 28 Oct announced 12 police officers would be charged for crimes against humanity over 2017 crackdown on post-election protest.
Ruto undertook efforts toward regional economic integration. Ruto 6 Oct met Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss bilateral cooperation, including electricity import deal from the Ethiopian Electricity Corporation. Ruto 9 Oct visited Uganda as part of regional tour, called for free trade within East African Community.
Al-Shabaab attacks persisted in east near Somalia’s border. In Lamu county, suspected Al-Shabaab militants 8 Oct attacked pub in Mswakini village, making no casualties; leaflets warning of imminent Al-Shabaab attacks early Oct circulated in Mokowe, Mpeketoni and Hindi towns; in response, police increased security around town centres, roads and key infrastructure. In Mandera county, suspected Al-Shabaab militants 12 Oct reportedly attacked school and communication mast in Libehiya town, with local authorities refuting claims that three teachers went missing; 22 Oct raided two mosques in Elram village, making no casualties.
Jihadists pressed ahead with offensive in north, while govt forces and allies sustained counter-insurgency operations in centre; transitional authorities pushed ahead with plan to change constitution.
Islamic State Sahel Province clashed with rival as it consolidates control in north. In Ménaka region, local populations in Oct continued to flee from areas around regional capital Ménaka amid rumours that IS Sahel militants may seek to assault city. Also in Ménaka, IS Sahel and al-Qaeda Affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) late Oct reportedly engaged in intense fighting in Adéraboukane, Inchnane and Tamalate localities; local sources said JNIM had gained upper hand. IS Sahel continued to make progress in Ansongo district of Gao region, where ambush on military convoy near Fafa locality 1 Oct wounded six. In Kidal region, UN mission MINUSMA peacekeepers 17 Oct hit explosive device near Tessalit village, leaving four dead.
Fighting continued apace in centre as military tries to reconquer lost territories. Military 3-5 Oct killed 31 presumed JNIM militants and destroyed two of their bases in Niono district (Ségou region); 4-6 Oct arrested 50 presumed jihadists in Sofara town and Mopti city (both Mopti region). Also in Mopti, public bus 13 Oct hit explosive device between Bandiagara and Goundaga towns, killing 10; local officials 31 Oct claimed govt forces and private security company Wagner operatives previous day killed at least 13 civilians in Guelledjé locality, Ténenkou district.
Transitional authorities poised to change constitution and militarise police. Constitutional drafting commission 11 Oct submitted preliminary draft of new constitution to interim President Goïta, who wants to put new constitution to referendum in March 2023. Coalition gathering dozens of opposition parties in following days insisted drafting process should be handled by democratically elected civilian govt. Meanwhile, transitional legislative body late Oct passed law allowing police and civil protection services to play more active role in fight against jihadist groups while also depriving officers of their right to strike.
Govt continued to confront traditional security partners. At UN Security Council, FM Abdoulaye Diop 18 Oct again accused France of supporting jihadists and undermining Mali’s sovereignty; Paris immediately denounced “slander”. Negotiations for release of 46 Ivorian soldiers dragged on (see Côte d’Ivoire).
Jihadists in Cabo Delgado province continued to terrorise local population and again headed south toward neighbouring Nampula province as insurgency entered its sixth year.
Jihadist attacks continued in northern and central Cabo Delgado province. In Macomia district, suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) 8-9 Oct raided Litandacua, Nguida and Namituco villages, killing at least one; local militia in Namituco reportedly ran out of ammunition, allowing insurgents to run over area. ISMP 13 Oct again engaged local militia at Litandacua village, killing at least three militiamen. In first incursion into Macomia town since 2020, suspected ISMP 23 Oct stormed Napulubo neighbourhood, killing between three and five civilians. In Muidumbe district, alleged ISMP 9 Oct attacked Mandava village, reportedly killing at least five people. In Nangade district, suspected ISMP 10-11 Oct killed one civilian in attack on health centre in Ntoli village, suggesting they face shortages of medical supplies; 14-16 Oct launched raids on Namuembe, Ngalonga and Liche villages, killing at least two civilians and looting goods; further attacks centred around Liche village 26-28 Oct left unknown number of casualties as local militia clashed with militants. Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique and govt forces 4-7 Oct dismantled several insurgents’ camps in Nangade.
Insurgents headed south toward Nampula province. In Ancuabe district in southern Cabo Delgado, alleged ISMP 17 Oct launched coordinated attack on four villages in Meza locality, killing unconfirmed number of civilians; 20 Oct attacked ruby mine belonging to Indian-owned Gemrock Company, reportedly forcing hundreds of residents to flee and evacuation of nearby mine in Montepuez district. In Chiure district along border with Nampula province, alleged ISMP 28-29 Oct attacked three villages and beheaded one civilian. ISMP 29 Oct also launched first attack in Namuno district, killing at least two people in Murrameia village.
RENAMO guerrilla demobilisation program nears completion. President Nyusi and RENAMO leaders 7 Oct reaffirmed resolution to complete disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration program for former RENAMO combatants by year’s end. In Zambezia province (centre), 800 guerrilla soldiers 12 Oct started demobilisation process.
Jihadist violence persisted in south west and south east, while inflation and French troop presence remained sources of public discontent.
Islamic State Sahel Province attacks continued in Tillabery region in south west. Suspected IS Sahel militants 8 Oct ambushed G5 Sahel force patrol in Téra department, injuring five soldiers before being repulsed; 22 Oct attacked transport trucks on Tizegorou-Banibangou axis (Banibangou department), killing 12 civilians. Suspected jihadists – likely IS Sahel or al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) – 22 and 24 Oct killed two police officers in Tamou locality (Say department); after defence ministry said seven jihadists killed 24 Oct in subsequent security operations in Tamou gold mine, civil society coalition M62 29 Oct alleged much higher death toll and civilian victims; local authorities 27 Oct shut down Tamou mining site until further notice.
Boko Haram offshoots maintained their presence in Diffa region in south east. Govt forces 1-2 Oct reported dismantling Boko Haram (likely Islamic State in West Africa Province, ISWAP) supply system in Toumour village (Diffa department). Suspected ISWAP-planted explosive device 16 Oct killed woman and girl and injured two children in Bosso commune (Bosso department).
In other important developments. Niamey authorities 7 Oct banned M62 protest scheduled for 9 Oct, citing “security reasons”; M62 had called for demonstration against high costs of living and relocation of French Barkhane force to Niger. Meanwhile, civil protection services 4 Oct said floods have killed at least 192 people and affected 263,000 others since June, with Maradi, Zinder and Dosso most affected regions.
U.S. warned of terror risk in federal capital Abuja amid rampant violence in North West and Centre North; electoral violence flared four months away from general elections.
Insecurity remained high across country, especially in North West and North Central zones. U.S. 23 Oct warned of “elevated risk of terror attacks” in Abuja, and 25 Oct authorised departure of non-emergency govt staff. Elsewhere in North West and North Central zones, criminal and jihadist violence ran high despite security operations. In Zamfara state, armed group raid 5 Oct left at least 30 civilians dead in Birnin Waje village in Bukkuyum area. Govt forces 29 Oct repelled suspected Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) attack on Wawa military base in Niger state, where nearly 1,700 jihadists are being held, killing eight assailants. Meanwhile, in Benue state, suspected herdsmen 19 Oct killed at least 36 people in Gbeji village. In North East, security forces largely contained jihadists. Notably, in Borno state, govt forces 11 Oct repulsed ambushes by Boko Haram JAS faction or ISWAP near Gala Kura village in Bama area and along Gamboru-Dikwa road in Ngala area, killing over 40 insurgents. Explosive device attacks on Maiduguri-Damboa-Chibok road 3 Oct however left several dead.
Court ordered release of Biafra separatist leader as unrest persisted in South East. Appeal Court in Abuja 13 Oct dropped all remaining charges against separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu, citing procedural flaws including illegal arrest abroad and extradition; govt 18 Oct appealed judgment and Kanu remained in custody. Meanwhile, IPOB or criminal groups continued to target security operatives and facilities. Notably, raid on police divisional headquarters in Inyi town, Enugu state, 8 Oct left two people dead.
Electoral violence turned deadly. During electoral campaign for 2023 general elections, supporters of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) 15 Oct clashed in Zamfara state, leaving one dead and 18 injured. Unidentified gunmen same day killed APC local youth leader in Ebonyi state.
In other important developments. Govt 16 Oct said floods had killed over 600 people and displaced over 1.3mn countrywide since early summer, while also devastating farmlands, raising risk of heightened tensions over access to resources.
Military offensive against Al-Shabaab continued mainly in central regions; in response, group launched deadliest attack in five years, leaving 120 dead.
Govt forces and allies continued to take back rural areas from Al-Shabaab in centre. Intense fighting continued in Hirshabelle state’s Hiraan and Middle Shabelle regions. In Hiraan, military and local Ma’awisley militiamen engaged Al-Shabaab in Bulobarde and Beledweyne districts, reportedly killing over 200 Al-Shabaab militants around 9 Oct near Jicibow town in Bulobarde district. In Middle Shabelle, govt forces and local militia 15-18 Oct wrestled control of multiple villages notably in Bal’ad district; 20 Oct cleared several villages in Adale district; 22-30 Oct cleared Al-Shabaab stronghold of Cali Gadud (also Adale), with over 100 militants reportedly killed. In Galmudug state, govt forces and allies 25 Oct captured Qayib town, Galgadud region, reportedly killing dozens of Al-Shabaab militants. Lower-scale operations also continued in South West state to clear Al-Shabaab-controlled areas around Buur Hakaba and Qansadheere towns in Bay region as local population continued to face major food insecurity.
Al-Shabaab conducted large-scale, exceptionally deadly attacks. In deadliest attack in country since 2017, Al-Shabaab 29 Oct launched twin bombing at busy Kilometer 4/Zoobe junction in capital Mogadishu, leaving at least 120 dead. In Hiraan, Al-Shabaab launched bomb attacks against govt and security targets in Beledweyne city 3 Oct, and in Bulobarde and Jalalaqsi towns 19 Oct, killing over 40. In Jubaland state’s Lower Juba region, Al-Shabaab 23 Oct laid siege to hotel in Kismayo city, killing nine civilians. Meanwhile in South West state’s Bakool region near Ethiopian border, fighting between Al-Shabaab militants and Ethiopian Liyu police forces in Rab Dhuure district 1-7 Oct allegedly resulted in over 100 fatalities on both sides.
Discontent rose in Puntland state over presidential term. Puntland President Said Deni in Sept replaced mayors of Puntland’s major cities and key officials in his cabinet, and late Oct appointed new judicial and security officials. Former Puntland Presidents Abdirahman Mohamad Farole and Abdiweli Gaas 7 Oct accused Deni of planning to extend his term beyond elections scheduled for Jan 2024; dispute follows recent term extensions in other federal member states.
Electoral dispute risks turning into wider crisis as opposition vows to no longer recognise govt after 13 Nov.
Postponement of presidential poll increased tensions between political elites. After electoral commission late Sept announced it could not organise presidential election on scheduled date of 13 Nov and requested nine-month delay, parliament’s Upper House 1 Oct extended President Bihi’s term by two years and its own term by five. Leaders of opposition parties UCID and Waddani – who want presidential vote before selection of new parties – next day said they would no longer recognise Bihi as president when his mandate ends on 13 Nov; also said circumstances under which Upper House has authority to extend both terms were not met, and requested explanation as to why extensions go beyond technical delay outlined by electoral commission. UCID leader Feysal Ali Warabe also 2 Oct said Bihi would be responsible for “any violence or instability” that may occur. Garhajis clan – one of Somaliland’s largest – 27 Oct called for “inclusive and consensus-based agreement” between political parties before 13 Nov; warned that “no election will take place in territories inhabited by Garhajis clan” if no deal is reached.
Rebel groups pursued anti-govt alliance as Rome peace talks appeared set to resume, ruling party expelled VP Machar from leadership structure, and violence remained rampant in several areas.
Amid possible resumption of peace talks, major rebel groups sought alliance. Holdout opposition leaders, including head of National Salvation Front (NAS) Thomas Cirillo, former army chief Paul Malong and former Sec Gen of ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Pagan Amum mid-Oct held consultations with African and Western officials in Italy’s capital Rome ahead of expected renewed talks with govt; peace talks began in 2019 but broke down in Aug 2021. Meanwhile, in move likely aimed at strengthening groups’ hand at negotiations, head of splinter group Sudan People’s Liberation/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) Kitgwang faction Gen Simon Gatwech Dual 9 Oct called for alliance of holdout opposition groups, 15 Oct met with NAS high-ranking representatives to discuss proposal.
President Kiir ousted Machar from vice chairmanship of SPLM. In move aimed at undermining VP Riek Machar, ruling SPLM led by Kiir 20 Oct expelled Machar along with former Sec Gen Pagan Amum from party leadership, accusing them of trying to build up their own political parties. Machar 24 Oct rejected move, saying “no faction can dismiss any member of the other factions from SPLM”.
Split in breakaway faction of Machar’s SPLM/A-IO continued to fuel violence in Upper Nile state. Fighting pitting ethnic Shilluk “Agwelek” forces under Gen. Johnson Olony against Nuer forces, predominantly backed by Gen. Simon Gatwech, persisted. Notably, Nuer forces 8-9 Oct attacked Shilluk territory around Kodok area, Fashoda county, displacing thousands and killing unknown number of civilians. Nuer forces 12 Oct retreated after counter-attack by Shilluk Agwelek forces, with clashes then occurring in Atar area of Jonglei state.
In other notable developments. Fighting over disputed border that erupted late Sept between neighbouring Dinka groups from Abyei Administrative Area and Twic County, Warrap state, left scores dead, according to UNMISS statement published 14 Oct; govt 13 Oct deployed troops to ease tensions. UN Humanitarian Agency 11 Oct reported that fourth consecutive year of major floods have affected at least 909,000 people across country.
Intercommunal clashes killed hundreds in Blue Nile state and forced thousands to flee; transition remained fragile as news of “imminent” civilian-military deal prompted mixed reactions and violent street protests continued.
Intercommunal violence killed hundreds in Blue Nile state. UN humanitarian office 17 Oct reported that killing of two Hamaji people over land dispute 13 Oct “led to clashes between the Hausa community and other tribes” 13-16 Oct, killing at least 13 in Wad al-Mahi and Al-Rusyaris areas of Blue Nile State. Fighting 19-20 Oct escalated once more, reportedly killing over 250 in Wad al-Mahi, injuring over 500 and forcing around 7,000 to flee. State governor 21 Oct declared state of emergency for 30 days while military 24 Oct named new commander for Blue Nile state. Hundreds 23 Oct protested violence and lack of strong security response in state capital Damazin. In West Kordofan state, clashes between Misseriya and Nuba groups over land dispute 13-15 Oct killed at least 19 in Lagawa town.
Military-civilian forces made progress toward transition deal, but some groups decried process. Military and main civilian opposition bloc Forces for Freedom and Change-Central Council (FFC-CC) engaged in talks mediated by “Quad” (U.S., UK, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) over Sudanese Bar Association’s proposal for draft constitution to restore democratic transition, 12 Oct confirming reaching agreement on several issues. Other opposition groups criticised process. Notably, talks did not include Resistance Committees, driving force behind ongoing street protests, who have rejected negotiations with military; deal could thus weaken what remains of revolution that toppled Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Meanwhile, at least 54 resistance committees 5 Oct approved unified political charter calling for resignation of military leaders from power and implementation of new transitional constitution and legislative council.
Resistance Committees escalated anti-military protests. Coordination of Resistance Committees in Khartoum state escalated protests to mark one-year anniversary of military coup, with demonstrations 21-23, 25, 30 Oct held across major cities. Some protests turned violent as security forces cracked down on protestors, leaving two dead in Omdurman and Khartoum cities on 23 and 25 Oct respectively.
Military launched exercises along border with Mozambique amid mounting fears that jihadist activity could spill over.
Military late Oct conducted two military exercises in southern Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma regions near border with Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region; exact nature of exercises – whether training or actual field manoeuvres – remained unknown, but authorities in Ruvuma said objective was to prepare troops “particularly for the threat presented by terrorism” and stressed importance of securing borders. Meanwhile, suspected jihadists in Oct reportedly killed two people on Tanzanian side of Unity bridge across Ruvuma River, which forms border with Mozambique.
Tensions ran high as President Museveni’s son threatened to invade neighbouring Kenya and reaffirmed presidential ambitions.
President removed Kainerugaba from army role after threat to invade Kenya. In series of tweets 3 Oct, Museveni’s son, land forces commander Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, threatened to capture Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Govt next day distanced itself from Kainerugaba, committing to “good neighbourliness, peaceful co-existence” with Kenya, and Museveni 5 Oct apologised to Kenyans. Museveni 4 Oct removed Kainerugaba as armed forces commander, albeit promoting him to full general and keeping him as presidential adviser for special operations. After Museveni around 17 Oct said his son will “leave Twitter”, Kainerugaba 19 Oct said that “no one will ban [him] from anything”.
Kainerugaba’s presidential ambitions revived tensions over Museveni’s succession. Kainerugaba in same series of tweets 3 Oct said it was time for new generation to replace old guard; and 10 Oct pledged to devote time to the youth, Uganda’s largest voting bloc. Museveni 16 Oct declined to say whether he would support his son for presidency; also denied opposition Democratic Party leader and Justice Minister Norbert Mao’s claim that he joined govt in July after agreeing with Museveni to work together toward transition of power. Against backdrop of tensions, ruling party youth sections in Oct called on Museveni to stand for re-election in 2026.
Concern persisted over lack of free speech guarantees of new Computer Act. Museveni 13 Oct ratified controversial Computer Misuse Act, which criminalises using computer to send any information that might ridicule or degrade someone. Group of 13 activists, lawyers and journalists 17 Oct filed petition at Constitutional Court challenging law, citing free speech concerns; local NGO Legal Brains Trust hours later filed similar challenge at regional East African Court of Justice.
Attacks on opposition supporters continued as political temperature heated up ahead of 2023 general elections.
Campaign for 22 Oct local govt by-elections marred by violence. Alleged ruling party Zanu-PF supporters 16 Oct stoned convoy carrying main opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) lawmaker in Matobo district, Matabeleland South province, leaving several women injured; group was campaigning for 22 Oct by-elections in Matobo. Assailants next day reportedly attacked CCC lawmaker Jasmine Toffa and other party members campaigning for 22 Oct by-elections in Insiza district, also Matabeleland South, injuring at least seven; CCC accused Zanu-PF supporters, and CCC candidate in Insiza by-election Augustine Gumede went into hiding in following days. Cases of violence and intimidation reported in at least two other by-election sites. NGO Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and others 18 Oct urged police to investigate all cases of political violence. Electoral commission 20 Oct set general elections for July-Aug 2023. Lawmakers around 27 Oct passed law to establish new institution intended to monitor and investigate allegations of security forces brutality; legislation inspired by recommendations made by commission that investigated post-election violence in 2018.
Clampdown on journalists intensified. Security personnel 8 Oct reportedly assaulted and detained Voice of America journalist Godwin Mangudya as he was covering Zanu-PF party meeting in capital Harare’s Kuwadzana suburb; party officials reportedly seized his cell phones and deleted content. NGO Committee to Protect Journalists 13 Oct reported five journalists “assaulted, harassed, and blocked from covering events” in country 6-10 Oct.
In other important developments. Zanu-PF elective congress late Oct re-elected President Mnangagwa as party’s first secretary, endorsed him as sole party candidate for 2023 presidential election.
National Resistance Front (NRF) expanded activities in north, while U.S. announced financial initiative to ease country’s economic isolation as humanitarian crisis persists.
NRF stepped up activity in north east, as Taliban targeted Islamic State’s local branch. Badakhshan province (north east) witnessed rising insecurity, due to inroads made by National Resistance Front (NRF) fighters and recent defections of Taliban-aligned groups in area. Notably, NRF 3 Oct published video showing capture of Taliban’s governor for Badakhshan’s Shekay district, marking first significant activity by NRF in Badakhshan and suggesting expansion of group’s presence in north; group also announced capture of Shekay district, although this claim was rejected by local residents. Taliban 6 Oct appointed former head of air force, Mawlawi Amanuddin, as province’s governor; Amanuddin appeared to have launched major offensive in province in order to subdue resistance forces. Meanwhile, Taliban forces continued raiding Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) hideouts countrywide, including in capital Kabul, and 4 Oct announced capture of group’s foreign liaison head; ISKP maintains high level of activity, primarily in east.
Taliban sent mixed signals on girls’ tertiary education. In early month, girls in many provinces took part in kankor, or university entrance exams, suggesting that despite closure of girls’ secondary schooling, tertiary education remains open to female students. Reports 14 Oct emerged that de facto authorities had expelled some female Kabul University students, possibly due to involvement with protests. Following replacement of Education Minister in late Sept, Taliban Emir 17 Oct replaced Minister of Higher Education; ramifications of appointment on girls’ tertiary education remain unclear.
U.S. announced new financial initiative amid engagement with Taliban. With Afghanistan’s harsh winter fast approaching, international focus centred on country’s humanitarian and economic crises. Senior U.S. delegation 9 Oct met with Taliban delegation in Qatar’s capital Doha to discuss security and economic issues. U.S. Special Envoy Tom West 22 Oct stated U.S. and other countries would facilitate priority transactions to overcome banking challenges in initiative aimed at permitting authorities to spend tax revenues on vital supplies.
Govt and opposition supporters violently clashed, insecurity gripped Myanmar border areas, and targeted attacks continued in Rohingya refugee camps.
Clashes between rival camps fed political tensions. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters held protests at divisional headquarters countrywide against rise in fuel and commodity prices, aimed at culminating in mass protest in capital Dhaka on 10 Dec and galvanising support ahead of general elections late 2023-early 2024. Notably, parallel BNP and ruling Awami League demonstrations in Mymensingh city 15 Oct led to clashes; police filed charges against 300-400 BNP members, who accused police of disrupting demonstrations. Dhaka court 10 Oct sentenced seven BNP leaders and activists to death, and three to life imprisonment, for 2020 murder of leader of ruling party’s volunteer wing. Police 10, 22 Oct arrested dozens of members of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh– proscribed Islamist party – for allegedly plotting against state.
Insecurity along Myanmar border continued, as police targeted militant groups. Security forces mid-Oct launched operation against Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), Myanmar-based separatist group, in two sub-districts of Chittagong Hill Tract’s Bandarband district; home minister 16 Oct accused group of creating unrest in border areas and asserted Bangladeshi militant groups “were stationed next to KNF camp”. Tensions also continued between govt and Myanmar as firing from latter’s side 3 Oct resumed; FM Abdul Momen next day claimed country would not fall prey to Myanmar’s “provocations”. Meanwhile, police arrested scores of suspected members of new militant organisation, Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya, in several cities countrywide, including 12 persons 6-10 Oct; 26 Oct arrested 5 in Chittagong Hill Tracts, claiming some 70-80 persons had joined group.
Attacks targeted Rohingya camp-based community leaders and volunteers. In Cox’s Bazar Ukhiya camp, attacks on volunteer’s home 4 Oct killed child and 15 Oct killed two community leaders; two refugees were shot dead 27 Oct. Two Rohingya community leaders were hacked to death 15 Oct. Armed police 28 Oct launched operation in Cox’s Bazar’s camps, arresting 56 Rohingyas, including 24 persons suspected of murdering seven community leaders, attributing most killings to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and “ongoing conflict in Myanmar”.
Chinese vessels and aircraft continued incursions into Japanese waters and airspace, while U.S. and Japan held joint exercises.
China maintained naval and aerial incursions. As of 29 Oct, 75 Chinese Coast Guard vessels entered Japan’s contiguous zone over 25 days, including six in Japan’s territorial waters; notably, Chinese Coast Guard 7 Oct announced patrol had been conducted near contested Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Chinese state media 13 Oct reported Chinese fighter jets had carried out combat patrols over East China Sea to “drive away foreign aircraft”. Japan’s Joint Staff Office 17 Oct said Air Self-Defence Force scrambled fighters 446 times in first half of 2022, up from 390 in same period last year, chiefly over increased Chinese aircraft activities. Japan 3 Oct lodged protest with China over gas sea development in East China sea, in area where Beijing and Tokyo in 2008 agreed to jointly development resources; China unilaterally proceeded with development and has installed 18 structures.
Japan held joint exercises with U.S. and signed accord with Australia. Japanese and U.S. fighter jets 4 Oct conducted bilateral exercises over Sea of Japan following same day North Korean ballistic missile test for first time since 2017 (see Korean Peninsula). Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force and U.S. Marine Corps 10 Oct held joint drill in Hokkaido as part of 14-day joint exercises, simulating defence of remote islands. Japan and Australia 22 Oct signed joint declaration on security cooperation, where both countries committed to deepen and expand their comprehensive engagement, which include military, cyber defences and intelligence cooperation, in decade ahead.
Govt and China continued talks on disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC), while security forces targeted militant outfits in north east amid ongoing Maoist violence.
China and India pledged further talks on disputed LAC. In first meeting of bilateral mechanism on border affairs since May, Chinese and Indian delegations 14 Oct failed to reach agreement on remaining friction points along LAC but pledged to “continue discussions through diplomatic and military channels”. Meanwhile, one day after abstaining from draft resolution on China’s Xinjiang province in UN Human Rights Council, Indian foreign ministry 7 Oct made first public comments on human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang region, saying “the human rights of the people of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region should be respected and guaranteed”. China 18-19 Oct blocked fourth joint U.S.-India bid to designate individuals accused of procuring funds and recruiting for Pakistan-based anti-India jihadist groups on UN Security Council’s 1267 terror list.
Police targeted militant leaders in north east. In Assam state, police 5 Oct arrested seven cadres of militant organisation Dimasa National Liberation Tigers, claiming it had “neutralised” group, which reportedly formed last month after splintering from other militant outfits in Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong districts.
Maoist violence continued in centre and east. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), Maoists 17 Oct killed two people in Bijapur district and set four vehicles on fire at mine in Kanker district; 26 Oct killed farmer in Mohla-Manpur-Ambagarh Chowki district. Security forces 31 Oct killed two Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district. In Jharkhand state (east), Maoists 21 Oct shot three people working at railway construction site in Latehar district. In Orissa state (east), Maoists 24 Oct killed youth suspected of working with police in Kandhamal district.
In other important developments. Govt continued to walk diplomatic tightrope on Ukraine: speaking with Ukrainian President, Indian PM Narendra Modi 4 Oct said “there can be no military solution to the conflict”, while India’s FM S. Jaishankar 10 Oct underscored New Delhi’s long-standing relationship with Russia had “certainly served [its] interests well”.
Harsh rhetoric persisted between New Delhi and Islamabad over Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), where deadly localised violence continued amid visit by India’s Home Minister.
India and Pakistan traded tit-for-tat diplomatic barbs. Indian FM Subrahmanyam Jaishankar 1 Oct asserted “No country practices terrorism in the manner that Pakistan does”; Pakistani’s foreign ministry 3 Oct replied “India has been involved in supporting terrorism against Pakistan from its own territory and from other countries in the region”. Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif 13 Oct said India “trampled the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir” and accused New Delhi of holding elections in J&K by power of “the bullet not the ballot”; India responded that Pakistan is “the global epicentre of [militancy]”. India 7 Oct objected to visit by U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan to Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which ambassador referred to as “AJK” – Azad (Free) Jammu Kashmir. In media report published 12 Oct, security agencies claimed 191 drones had entered Indian territory this year, of which seven were shot down.
Insecurity persisted in J&K amid visit by India’s Home Minister. Two bomb blasts late Sept preceded India’s Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s 4-6 Oct visit to J&K, which police 10 Oct attributed to Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba; during visit, Shah announced reservation for mountainous Pahari community and accused region’s three most politically-prominent families (Abdullahs, Muftis and Gandhis) of monopolising power without bringing development; he also emphasised abrogation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status ushered in era of peace and development. Meanwhile, security forces 2 Oct killed Laskhar-e-Tayyaba militant in Shopian district; 4 Oct killed three Jaish-e-Mohammad and one Laskhar-e-Tayyaba militants in two operations in Shopian district; 9 Oct killed two Laskhar-e-Tayyaba militants in Anantnag district. Militant attack on security check post in Pulwama district 2 Oct killed one security personnel member; killed Kashmiri Hindu in Shopian district 15 Oct, and two non-local labourers in Shopian district 18 Oct.
North Korea continued to ratchet up tensions with missile flight over Japan, U.S. and South Korea signalled close cooperation, and North and South traded warning shots at sea.
North Korea conducted provocative launch over Japan. North Korea 4 Oct launched intermediate range ballistic missile over Japan, in most serious provocation since first quarter of 2022 and first such flight over Japan since 2017; missile flew some 4,500km, well within range of U.S. territory of Guam. North Korea 16-23 Oct paused further missile testing, lasting for duration of Chinese Communist Party Congress; prior to pause, Pyongyang launched 15 missiles 21 Sept-14 Oct. North resumed missile testing schedule post-Congress, with two short-range ballistic missiles fired 28 Oct. International Atomic Energy Agency chief 27 Oct said “Everybody is holding its breath” over possible seventh nuclear test as U.S., South Korea and Japan warned of “unparalleled response”; probability of nuclear test likely to rise in lead up to Dec, which will see anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death 17 Dec.
U.S. and South Korea demonstrated strong, united front. U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim 3 Oct met South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk in U.S. capital Washington, pledging to pursue strong measures against any North Korean testing, including new UN Security Council resolution and U.S. treasury sanctions. In sign of heightened pace of joint military exercises, South Korea and U.S. held several small drills in South Korea, including on border with North, following late August Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises; South Korean navy, army, air force, and coast guard 24-27 Oct participated with U.S. in two-week Hoguk Exercises beginning 17 Oct; U.S. and South Korea 31 Oct began large-scale air drills.
North and South Korean vessels traded shots at sea border. In incident underscoring risk of future maritime escalation, North and South Korea 23 Oct traded warning shots after what appeared to be North Korean merchant vessel crossed disputed maritime border Northern Limit Line (NLL) 27km northwest of South Korea’s Baengyeong Island. North Korea denied involvement, issuing counterclaim that South Korean navy sent two ships to “intrude” some 5km over NLL; South acknowledged crossing, said it was necessitated by pursuit of North Korean vessel.
Resistance groups in centre staged deadly attacks on regime, which clashed heavily with Arakan Army in Rakhine state and Karen armed groups in south east; regime killed scores in deadliest air attack on record.
Resistance forces launched several lethal attacks in centre. In Sagaing region, combined people’s defence forces (PDFs) for second time since April 2 Oct attacked strategic locations comprising police post and five army bunkers in Kyadet village, Salingyi township. Military next day retaliated, looting and torching villages, displacing thousands. PDFs 2 Oct attacked police station in Sagaing’s Monywa township, killing at least ten soldiers, while resistance forces same day killed six soldiers in Myingyan township. PDFs 2 Oct attacked police training camp in Magway’s region’s Pauk Township, killing at least 17 police/soldiers and capturing 53 trainee prisoners.
Arakan Army (AA) attacked military as tensions surfaced with Rohingya community. In Rakhine State, AA 10 Oct seized Border Guard Police post in Maungdaw township, killing some 30 soldiers/police. AA 15 Oct ambushed military vehicles in Maungdaw’s Kodan Kauk village, killing four soldiers. Meanwhile, gunmen 6 Oct killed Rohingya community leader from Buthidaung township; local regime administrator blamed Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which in turn blamed military and indirectly AA. Gunmen, likely AA fighters, 8 Oct killed another prominent Rohingya community leader in Buthidaung; his relative, activist Wai Wai Nu, accused AA.
Regime and Karen ethnic armed groups clashed in south east. In Karen state from 18 Oct, Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and aligned PDFs launched attack on Kawkareik town on main trade route with Thailand. In Mon State, regime blamed both for 12 Oct attack on bus terminal in Kyaikto township that killed three. In Kayin State, KNLA and allied resistance group 13-16 Oct launched attacks in Kyainseikgyi township, killing six regime soldiers and capturing 16. State media 4 Oct accused Karenni Nationalities Progressive Party for shooting commercial plane 30 Sept.
In north, regime forces struck Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) celebration. Regime forces 23 Oct conducted deadly airstrikes on crowded anniversary event in Kachin state’s Hpakant Township, killing at least 60 people – both KIO fighters and civilians – and possibly more than 100.
Ahead of general elections in Nov, ruling and opposition parties continued jostling as new electoral alliances were formed.
Parties finalised seat-sharing agreements amid defections and new pacts. Ahead of 20 Nov federal and provincial elections, ruling coalition 8 Oct agreed on dividing up electoral constituencies between coalition’s members, with Nepali Congress getting 90 electoral contests and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) getting 45; opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) will contest 35 federal and 70 provincial seats. Citing dissatisfaction over allocation of electoral seats, Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) 8 Oct split from five-party ruling coalition and joined opposition alliance led by Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist); as per agreement, JSP will receive UML’s support for 17 federal and 42 provincial contests. UML 8 Oct struck electoral alliance pact with right-wing pro-monarchist Rastriya Prajatantra Party. PM Sher Bahadur Deuba 13 Oct dismissed four JSP ministers from cabinet following party’s defection. Following JSP’s departure from ruling coalition, Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP) – regional party based in southern Madhesh plains – joined Nepali Congress-led electoral alliance after it was guaranteed seven federal and 16 provincial constituencies.
Political tensions heightened as former PM Imran Khan began protest march toward capital Islamabad, raising prospect of further violent unrest and aggravating instability.
Khan maintained anti-govt campaign, vowing massive protests in capital. In parliamentary by-elections held 16 Oct for seats vacated by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers, PTI secured six out of eight seats, while ruling Muslim League failed to obtain any; Khan reiterated boycott of parliament, demanding early polls. In blow to Khan, Election Commission 21 Oct ruled former PM was guilty of “corrupt practices” for “false statements” on his assets and gifts from foreign govts or dignitaries, and declared his National Assembly seat vacant. Khan’s supporters same day held violent protests in major cities, including Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi. Khan 25 Oct announced beginning of rally on 28 Oct to reach Islamabad on 4 Nov, raising risk of further unrest; Interior Minister 29 Oct released audio tape allegedly by top PTI leader speaking of protestors bringing arms to Islamabad, as authorities next day declared much of Islamabad off-limits to protestors. In first ever press conference by Inter-Services Intelligence chief, General Nadeem Anjum accompanied by head of military’s publicity wing 26 Oct rejected Khan’s U.S-backed conspiracy narrative as “far from reality” and denounced Khan’s attacks on army chief.
Insecurity and local protests continued in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Military 4 Oct killed four militants in Tank district, as firefight on Peshawar outskirts killed three militants and two soldiers; 8 Oct killed two militants near Swat city; next day killed two militants in North Waziristan district. In Swat, locals held seventh protest against militant groups and threatened to take law into own hands if govt failed to act amid surge in attacks. National Security Council 14 Oct vowed to strengthen counter-terrorism infrastructure; defence minister called resurgence of “a few terrorists” in Swat “an expected spillover from Afghanistan”. After cross-border militant attack 23 Oct killed soldier in North Waziristan, military condemned “use of Afghan soil by terrorists”; last month, militants killed eight soldiers in districts bordering Afghanistan.
In other important developments. Food ministry 12 Oct reported monsoon had wiped out 40% of standing crops. Terrorism financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force 21 Oct removed Pakistan from so-called “grey list” after four years.
Violent clashes erupted, killing dozens.
Clashes 24 Oct surged between Kulumata and Kuboma peoples on Kiriwina Island, Milne Bay province (east), reportedly killing 32 people with over dozen missing; police next day deployed to island to maintain order, as unrest followed reports of communal violence in recent weeks.
Local officials and community members in Marawi urged govt to accelerate rehabilitation amid ongoing insecurity in south.
Local calls for Marawi’s rehabilitation five years on continued. In Marawi city, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Lanao del Sur provincial officials and multisectoral group of Maranaos 11 Oct urged President Marcos, Jr. to speed up activation of Marawi Compensation Board, aimed at compensating survivors of 2017 siege, and called on Marcos to appoint only qualified Maranaos and survivors of siege to nine-seat board. Task Force Bangon Marawi Assistant Secretary Felix Castro 13 Oct said 5,000 families remain in temporary shelters in Marawi city.
Operations targeting jihadist militancy persisted in south. In Maguindanao province of BARMM, military in first week of Oct launched operations on outskirts of Shariff Saydona town in SPSM-Box (area consisting of Shariff Aguak, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Mamasapano, and Shariff Saydona towns), overrunning camp of militants and recovering bombs. Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) 13 Oct clashed with govt forces in Patikul town, Sulu province, killing one ASG member. Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) members same day attacked military post in Datu Salibo town, killing one soldier and injuring another. Meanwhile, militant surrenders continued: in Maguindanao, ten BIFF members 7 Oct surrendered in Ampatuan town, while three ASG members affiliated to deceased commander Isnilon Hapilon 18 Oct surrendered in Zamboanga city. In Basilan province, two ASG members 19 Oct surrendered in Isabela city.
Security forces and communist militants clashed. Military operations or militant ambushes in Mindanao Island in south, Visayas Islands in centre and Luzon Island in north claimed at least seven combatant and civilian fatalities, with 17 injured. Notably, clashes between military and communist New People’s Army (NPA) 6 Oct flared up in Negros Occidental, displacing 18,236 residents in Himamaylan city.
U.S. and allies held naval drills in South China Sea (SCS), while Chinese hospital ship sailed to more than dozen Chinese-occupied islands.
U.S. conducted joint exercises with allies and announced new initiative. U.S., Japan, and Canada maritime forces 1 Oct concluded “Noble Raven 22” joint exercises in SCS. U.S., Japan, and Australia 7 Oct held manoeuvres, while all four countries 19 Oct participated in joint exercises for first time, including surface, subsurface, and air defence exercises. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas 18 Oct announced $60mn investment in new maritime initiatives in Indo-Pacific, with aim to increase presence involving Coast Guard assets and personnel capable of rapid deployment on request of partner.
Chinese naval vessel visited SCS islands. Chinese state media 11 Oct reported naval hospital ship Youhao had completed 18-day voyage, including visit to 13 Chinese-occupied islands in Paracel and Spratly archipelagos, providing “medical services to more than 5,000 people” located on islands. Chinese oil company 20 Oct claimed to find first “deep-deep” gas field in western SCS, with gas reserve exceeding 50bn cubic metres.
In another important development. Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Sec Gen Dato Paduka 19 Oct said regional body and China were currently working on second draft of SCS Code of Conduct.
Govt maintained crackdown on protests and sought international support with goodwill gestures and constitutional amendment, as UN Human Rights Council passed critical resolution.
Govt repressed dissent and adopted measures to signal liberal credentials. Inter University Student Union 18 Oct held large, peaceful and legal march to protest detention of three of its leaders held for two months under Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA); police dispersed marchers with tear gas and water cannons and arrested eight activists. President Wickremesinghe 1 Oct revoked his previous order declaring large area in capital Colombo “High Security Zones” and 19 Oct pardoned eight Tamils convicted of terrorism charges. Supreme Court 20 Oct ruled govt’s “Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill” – permitting compulsory detention in “rehabilitation” centres – unconstitutional.
Parliament passed govt’s constitutional reforms. In vote seen as political win for Wickremesinghe, two-thirds of parliament 21 Oct approved 21st constitutional amendment, which slightly increases independence of various oversight commissions, establishes new parliamentary committees and “National Council”, and reimposes ban on dual citizens holding public office; while govt advertised proposal as reducing presidential powers enshrined in 20th amendment, amendment does not constitute significant revision of governance structures demanded by protest movement.
UN Human Rights Council called on govt to address past abuses. In 6 Oct vote, 20 member states of Human Rights Council passed resolution urging govt to adopt wide range of reforms related to past abuses and “economic crimes” to prevent further deterioration of democratic and human rights; seven states, led by China and Pakistan, voted against, while 20 abstained. Notably, resolution extended and reinforced “capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes” related to rights or international law violations.
In other important developments. World Bank early Oct estimated country’s poverty rate doubled to 25% of population in 2022, with urban poverty tripling to 15%. Govt 11 Oct announced revisions to tax code – designed to expand very small tax base and generate desperately-needed revenue – which were widely criticised for placing most of burden on middle class taxpayers.
China’s President Xi reiterated goal of reunification, if necessary by force, as Beijing continued high level of aerial activity around island.
China and Taiwan stated respective positions on island’s status. In his speech at opening of 20th Party Congress, Chinese President Xi 16 Oct said China will strive for peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but it will never promise to renounce use of force and it reserves option of taking all necessary measures; he warned of “interference by external forces”. In response, Taiwan’s President Tsai same day reiterated Taiwan’s “territorial sovereignty, independence and democracy cannot be compromised” and “military conflict is not an option”. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 26 Oct said Beijing had decided “status quo was no longer acceptable”. Earlier, Tsai’s 10 Oct expressed willingness to work with Beijing “to find a mutually agreeable arrangement”, potentially signalling Taipei’s goodwill to improve cross-straits relations. As of 30 Oct, 425 Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ); 97 aircraft crossed unofficial demarcation known as median line. Chinese naval vessels were sighted 104 times during month.
U.S. reportedly sought deeper defence cooperation with Taiwan. Nikkei Asia media outlet 19 Oct announced U.S. was considering plan for joint weapons production with Taiwan as part of broader move towards greater security assistance; announcement came after Taiwan 1 Oct commissioned largest locally built ship, 10,600-ton amphibious vessel Yu Shan, in significant milestone in govt’s effort to boost indigenous defence production. German-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group Chairman Klaus-Peter Willsch 2 Oct commenced five-day visit to Taiwan; members of Bundestag's Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid 23 Oct also visited.
Peace process in deep south remained fragile as separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) condemned murder of member and deadly attacks persisted.
BRN condemned murder of member amid ongoing violence in deep south. Main southern separatist group BRN 18 Oct issued statement on torture and murder of BRN member Zahri Bin Abdullah whose body was recovered 29 Sept on Thai side of Kolok River, which marks Thailand-Malaysia border, after he had been “picked up in Rantau Panjang” in Kelantan, Malaysia; group said murder would adversely affect dialogue process and decried failure to provide security guarantees to BRN delegation members. BRN 30 Oct issued statement via Twitter that reiterated commitment to peace process, sharing relevant documents such as “General Principles of the Peace Dialogue Process”. Meanwhile, in Pattani province, gunmen 4 Oct ambushed police officer driving in Saiburi district, wounding officer. In Yala province, gunman 15 Oct killed assistant village chief in Bannang Sata district as victim arrived at mosque. In Narathiwat province, IED 21 Oct targeted vehicle carrying rangers and defence volunteers in Chanae district, wounding five patrol members.
Thailand abstained from UN vote condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine. Govt 12 Oct abstained on UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine as other members of regional body ASEAN except Laos and Vietnam voted in favour; govt had approved similar resolution in March. Thai Ambassador and UN Permanent Representative Suriya Chindawongse justified abstention with reference to “an extremely volatile and emotionally charged atmosphere”, while observers pointed to govt’s desire for Russian President Putin to attend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s summit in capital Bangkok next month.
Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders engaged in flurry of diplomatic activity amid ongoing tensions; PM Pashinyan met with Turkish President Erdoğan to discuss normalisation process.
Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders met in Prague for EU/French-mediated talks. Following border violence in Sept that killed almost 300 people, PM Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev 6 Oct met in Czech Republic’s capital Prague for meeting mediated by French President Macron and EU Council President Michel. Both leaders committed to respecting each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, agreed to two-month EU civilian mission to observe situation on Armenian side of border with Azerbaijan; first monitors 20 Oct deployed. Aliyev 6 Oct said sides were gradually moving toward peace, reiterated that Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) was Azerbaijan’s internal affair (see Nagorno-Karabakh).
Moscow held separate summit in Russia. Russian foreign ministry 6 Oct criticised West’s “not quite balanced” approach to reaching peace agreement; Russian President Putin 27 Oct said “so-called Washington option envisages recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh” but emphasised that “if the Armenian people and leadership believe that Karabakh has its own specificities and these specificities must be taken into account, mentioned in a future peace agreement, this is also possible”. Putin 31 Oct hosted Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders at summit in Sochi city; sides, echoing part of outcomes from Prague, committed to respecting each other’s territorial integrity and emphasised “crucial contribution” of Russian peacekeepers.
Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan persisted. Aliyev 14 Oct said Armenia had failed to provide access from mainland Azerbaijan to its exclave Nakhichevan or to pull troops out of NK, as agreed in Moscow-brokered deal to end 2020 war; Pashinyan same day rejected accusations and warned of “high risk” of new “military aggression” by Azerbaijan. Pashinyan 17 Oct accused Azerbaijan of violating Sept ceasefire and blaming Armenia as “pretext for new military aggression”, which Azerbaijan denied. Meanwhile, at Armenia’s invitation, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe sent mission 21-27 Oct to assess situation in certain border areas; Azerbaijan 20 Oct rejected “unilateral” mission.
In other important developments. Pashinyan 6 Oct met with Turkish President Erdoğan in Prague in highest-level meeting in over a decade to discuss normalisation process.
Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders engaged in flurry of diplomatic activity amid ongoing tensions.
Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders engaged in flurry of diplomatic activity. Following deadly violence along border with Azerbaijan in Sept that killed almost 300 people, President Aliyev and Armenian PM Pashinyan 6 Oct met in Czech Republic’s capital Prague for meeting mediated by French President Macron and EU Council President Michel. Both leaders committed to respecting each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, agreed to two-month EU civilian mission to observe situation on Armenian side of border with Azerbaijan; first monitors 20 Oct deployed. Aliyev 6 Oct said sides were gradually moving toward peace, but reiterated that Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) was Azerbaijan’s internal affair (see Nagorno-Karabakh).
Moscow held separate summit in Russia. Russian Foreign Ministry 6 Oct criticised West’s “not quite balanced” approach to reaching peace agreement; Russian President Putin 27 Oct said “so-called Washington option envisages recognition of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh” but emphasised that “if the Armenian people and leadership believe that Karabakh has its own specificities and these specificities must be taken into account, mentioned in a future peace agreement, this is also possible”. Putin 31 Oct hosted Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders at summit in Russia’s Sochi city; echoing part of outcomes from Prague, sides committed to respecting each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and emphasised “crucial contribution” of Russian peacekeepers.
Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan persisted. Aliyev 14 Oct said Armenia had failed to provide access from mainland Azerbaijan to its exclave Nakhichevan or to pull troops out of NK, as agreed in Moscow-brokered deal to end 2020 war; Pashinyan same day rejected accusations and warned of “high risk” of new “military aggression” by Azerbaijan. Pashinyan 17 Oct accused Azerbaijani forces of violating Sept ceasefire and blaming Armenia as “pretext for new military aggression”, which Azerbaijan denied. Meanwhile, at Armenia’s invitation, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe sent mission 21-27 Oct to “assess the situation in certain border areas”; Azerbaijan 20 Oct rejected “unilateral” mission.
Authorities deployed joint regional force with Moscow after Minsk accused Ukraine of planning attack, while authorities continued crackdown on dissent.
Govt ramped up military cooperation with Russia amid war in Ukraine. President Lukashenko 10 Oct alleged Ukraine was planning strikes on Belarus and announced joint deployment of forces with Russia. G7 (Canada, France, Italy, Japan, UK, Germany and U.S.) 11 Oct called joint force proof of “regime’s complicity with Russia”. Russia 15 Oct began sending equipment and troops, while defence ministry 16 Oct said they expected to host just under 9,000 Russian troops. Authorities 17 Oct announced live-fire exercises and missile launches as part of “training activities” in east and centre of country. Meanwhile, FM Vladimir Makei 14 Oct told Russian Izvestia newspaper that govt was introducing “counterterrorist regime” in response to expected provocations from Ukraine, giving security forces broad powers to detain people or restrict free movement.
Crackdown on dissent continued apace. Following sentencing of four independent media representatives in Minsk District Court, EU 7 Oct criticised govt’s “brutal crackdown”, “long prison sentences” and “appalling conditions” in detention. Meanwhile, in trial dubbed “Autukhovich case”, court 17 Oct sentenced main defendant Mikalay Autukhovich to 25 years in prison for allegedly plotting terrorist attack and conspiring to seize power; remaining eleven defendants received sentences of up to 20 years.
Tensions flared in Republika Srpska amid alleged vote-rigging in presidential election, prompting street protests and ballot recount.
Bosnians 2 Oct headed to polls to vote in general elections, including presidential vote in Republika Srpska (RS), for which main contenders were Serb leader Milorad Dodik and Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) VP Jelena Trivic. Tensions began rising in RS after preliminary results 3 Oct showed Dodik on verge of electoral victory despite Trivic claiming victory night before, reportedly based on preliminary ballot count from number of polling stations. Amid reports of “irregularities”, Trivic alongside opposition parties Serbian Democratic Party and List for Justice and Order 5 Oct formally called for ballot recount. Meanwhile, opposition supporters 6, 9 Oct held protests in Banja Luka city, denouncing vote-rigging. Central Electoral Commission 10 Oct ordered recount in all polling stations in Serb entity; move escalated tensions further, with thousands of Dodik supporters 25 Oct taking to streets and demanding end to recount, during which Dodik reiterated his “belief in the idea of an independent Republika Srpska”. Electoral Commission 27 Oct declared Dodik winner.
Tensions persisted after U.S. lifted arms embargo on Republic of Cyprus last month, while Türkiye and Turkish Cypriots issued ultimatum to UN peacekeeping mission.
Türkiye vowed new weapons for Turkish Cypriots. After U.S. lifted its decades-old arms embargo on Republic of Cyprus on 16 Sept and Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu late Sept vowed to send more weapons to “protect Turkish Cypriots”, Turkish President Erdoğan 7 Oct said Turkish UAVs and combat drones may be sent to region “because we need to secure Northern Cyprus from all sides”; statement came amid reports of potential plan for Türkiye to establish military base in Karpaz peninsula located on northern tip of “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”).
Turkish Cypriot leadership made demands to UN peacekeeping force. Turkish Cypriot leadership demanded end to UN’s peacekeeping force deployment in northern Cyprus unless UN signs agreement specifically with “TRNC”; Turkish Cypriot FM Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu 5 Oct said “We decided to give them another month. It is not the Greek Cypriot government that will approve your mission in the north. It is us”; UN military presence in north is enabled by agreement between UN and Greek Cypriot govt.
After months-long pause, international forum to discuss consequences of 2008 Russo-Georgian war held.
New round of Geneva International Discussions held in Switzerland. After pause of nearly one year due to international tensions over Russian invasion of Ukraine (see Ukraine), 56th round of Geneva International Discussions – multilateral forum to address security and humanitarian consequences of 2008 Russo-Georgian War –held 5 Oct in Switzerland’s Palais des Nations. Deputy FM Lasha Darsalia 5 Oct described negotiation process as “particularly difficult” given “rather complicated security environment around us”. EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar same day commended “very useful” exchange of views, noting everyone was “committed” to continuing work in Geneva format.
In other important developments. EU Council 12 Oct announced plan on non-acceptance of Russian travel documents issued in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine; said decision was in “response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine and Russia’s practice of issuing Russian international passports to residents of the occupied regions”.
Authorities delayed license plate rule in bid to ease tensions, as discussions on Kosovo-Serbia normalisation continued.
Kosovo govt announced new license plate rules. As tensions simmered over govt’s 31 Oct deadline for switch of all Serbia-registered vehicles to temporary Republic of Kosovo plates, U.S. Special Envoy Gabriel Escobar 19 Oct said that “Quint” countries (France, Germany, Italy, UK and U.S.) asked PM Kurti to extend deadline for implementation of license plate rule by ten months; EU 21 Oct joined call for postponement. Serb party in Kosovo 28 Oct warned that Serb minority would once again block roads if govt did not delay implementation of rule. Kurti same day announced phased deadlines: until 21 Nov, users of Serbia-registered cars will be given warning, after which they will receive fine; full implementation will be established 21 April 2023. EU 29 Oct said decision was “step in the right direction” but called for longer transition period to “maintain calm”.
Franco-German proposal for normalisation with Serbia sparked debates. Following Sept rumours of Franco-German draft proposal on normalising Serbia-Kosovo relations, Serb President Vučić 8 Oct confirmed its existence, claiming it proposed UN membership for Kosovo in exchange for Serbia receiving financial aid and fast-track to EU membership; FM Donika Gervalla 9 Oct also confirmed document’s existence, said it was “basis for discussion” rather than final proposal.
Authorities repressed dissenting views over border delimitation agreement with Uzbekistan; tensions persisted along Tajik-Kyrgyz border as both sides traded accusations of military build-up.
Local tensions flared over final border delimitation agreement with Uzbekistan. Following govt’s breakthrough deal in March 2021 with Uzbekistan to resolve longstanding border disputes, sides drew closer during month toward agreement on definitive delimitation of shared border. However, frustration mounted among border communities over govt’s decision to hand ownership of Kempir-Abad reservoir, vital water source that lies between Osh region and Uzbekistan’s Andijan region, in return for land. Notably, opposition forces 15 Oct organised rally in Uzgen district’s Kyzyl-Oktyabr village near reservoir, where they criticised govt’s handling of border negotiations and demanded reservoir remain in Kyrgyz hands. In response, authorities 23 Oct repressed dissent, notably detaining at least 20 activists and politicians opposed to deal, accusing them of “organising and preparing mass riots”; court in Bishkek 25 Oct sent all detainees to pre-trial detention until at least Dec.
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan accused each other of mustering forces along border. Following deadly violence in Sept along disputed segment of border with Kyrgyzstan, President Sadyr Japarov and Tajik counterpart Rahmon 13 Oct met in Kazakh capital Astana along with Russian President Putin, who offered to help resolve border dispute. Yet tensions persisted, with Tajikistan’s border guard service 19 Oct accusing Kyrgyzstan of “deliberate actions aimed at escalating the situation in the border areas”, including “preparing firing positions, creating trenches, continuing to pull in additional military equipment and regularly violating [its] airspace”. Security services same day rejected “absolutely untrue” accusations, blaming Tajik armed forces for “preparing firing positions, digging trenches and making incursions with unmanned aerial vehicles”.
Authorities called on regional security organisation to station troops along border. Authorities 19 Oct asked Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), of which Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are members, to deploy peacekeeping troops at disputed parts of Kyrgyz-Tajik border to uphold fragile ceasefire, saying “until an arbitrator comes between us, say a small contingent from the CSTO, peace will not be achieved”.
Amid ongoing opposition-led protests, U.S. imposed sanctions targeting Russian “influence operations”; tensions ran high with Russia amid airspace violation and gas supply worries.
Opposition-led protests prompted U.S. sanctions targeting Kremlin. Protests that began in Sept denouncing high inflation and fuel prices and demanding resignation of President Maia Sandu and pro-EU govt continued throughout month in capital Chisinau. Notably, estimated 7,000 protesters 23 Oct marched through capital and created new tent camp, removed 10 Oct by police. Members of opposition Shor Party, who maintain links to Russia, have been main organisers behind demonstrations, hinting at Kremlin’s role in protests to destabilise country. Amid growing concerns, U.S. 26 Oct imposed sanctions on over 20 individuals and entities to counter Russia’s “persistent malign influence campaigns and systemic corruption in Moldova”.
Authorities accused Moscow of violating country’s airspace. Deputy PM Nicu Popescu 10 Oct announced that three missiles launched on Ukraine from Russian ships in Black Sea crossed Moldova’s airspace; Russia offered no official explanation for incident. Meanwhile, govt 7 Oct extended state of emergency imposed in Feb following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by 60 days.
Concerns grew over Russian gas supplies. Amid soaring gas prices in wake of Ukraine war, Russian gas supplier Gazprom – which Moldova relies almost entirely on for gas – 4 Oct threatened to cut gas supplies if country failed to comply with its payment obligations by 20 Oct; one lawmaker said move was “another element of soft blackmailing Moldova for its European course”. Govt 20 Oct said Gazprom refused to tell Chisinau how much gas it would provide in Nov, citing supply issues due to Ukraine, further straining relations.
De facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) declared willingness for direct negotiations with Baku, while talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders drew mixed reactions.
Stepanakert declared readiness for direct talks with Baku. Armenia 5 Oct confirmed negotiations to establish “international discussion mechanism” between Baku and Stepanakert were under way. De facto NK FM Davit Babayan same day confirmed readiness for direct talks with Baku, adding that Baku should recognise NK as “full-fledged party to the conflict” so that all sides could negotiate as “equals”; Babayan also said talks should include Armenia and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group in order “to achieve a comprehensive settlement”.
Talks in Prague between Armenia and Azerbaijan prompted mixed reactions in NK. Following deadly violence along Armenia-Azerbaijan border in Sept, Armenian PM Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev 6 Oct met in Czech Republic’s capital Prague for EU and French-mediated meeting (see Armenia and Azerbaijan). Aliyev same day said sides were gradually moving toward peace, but reiterated that NK was Azerbaijan’s internal affair; added that Azerbaijani govt would continue to develop informal relations with NK Armenians. Prague meeting prompted mixed reactions in NK. Notably, protesters 8-9 Oct held sporadic rallies against being placed under Baku’s rule, while de facto authorities same day complained that Prague statement made no reference to NK. NK residents 30 Oct once more gathered in huge numbers for rally while de facto parliament, who organised rally, issued statement rejecting any peace deal envisaging Azerbaijani control over NK and urging authorities in Yerevan to “approach recognizing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity with reservations, taking into account the fact that the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict is not settled.”
In other important developments. Ahead of 31 Oct summit in Russia’s Sochi city, in which Russian President Putin brought together Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to discuss peace process, de facto NK leader Arayik Harutyunyan 29 Oct expressed hope that meeting would “extend the term of the Russian peacekeeping force deployed in NK indefinitely, since the Russian peacekeepers have undertaken a significant share of the effort to ensure the security of Artsakh and its population”.