CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

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

Global Overview

Outlook for This Month January 1970

Resolution Opportunities

Trends for Last Month мая 2024

Improved Situations

Conflict in Focus

Our monthly conflict tracker highlights six conflict risks in June.

  • In Myanmar’s Rakhine State, fighting between the regime and the Arakan Army has taken a dangerous communal turn. Escalating Rakhine-Rohingya violence could fuel further abuses against civilians and trigger refugee flows into Bangladesh, where camps hosting one million Rohingya have already been destabilised by violence and forced recruitment (see this month’s Conflict in Focus).
  • In Sudan, full-scale conflict pitting the army and allied Darfuri armed groups against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces erupted in North Darfur’s capital El-Fasher, threatening to further inflame intercommunal conflict.
  • Israel’s war in Gaza entered a new phase with the long-feared Rafah offensive, displacing around one million people. Amid the bombing, ground incursions and restrictions on humanitarian aid, more civilians could die, including from starvation, dehydration or disease. 
  • The risk of expanded conflict into Lebanon, including through inadvertent escalation, grew more acute as Hizbollah and Israel continued to trade heavy cross-border blows.
  • The ruling MORENA party’s presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum looks poised to win the 2 June poll in Mexico, where the risk of post-election violence remains high. 
  • In Haiti, the Kenya-led multinational security mission could be met with fierce gang attacks upon arrival in June. 

CrisisWatch identified sixteen deteriorations in May. Notably:

  • Cross-strait tensions rose as Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te articulated a tougher posture toward Beijing in his inaugural address, prompting China to issue stark warnings and launch major military drills.
  • In New Caledonia, France’s proposed voting reforms triggered the worst unrest in the archipelago in four decades, leaving at least seven people dead.
  • Georgia descended further into crisis over the ruling party’s “foreign influence” legislation as protests continued and the opposition faced violence and intimidation.
  • The security situation in Colombia’s south west sharply deteriorated as splinter groups of the EMC, a dissident faction of the former FARC insurgency, launched attacks on state targets and clashed with one another.
  • In Burundi, the government blamed a rebel group it says is backed by Rwanda for a series of deadly grenade attacks in Bujumbura city.
  • Amid the withdrawal of some international troops from Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, Islamic State-linked militants launched a large-scale assault on the strategic town of Macomia. 

Aside from the scores of conflict situations we regularly assess, we tracked significant developments in Bosnia and HerzegovinaCubaMauritaniaMoldovaSouth Africa and Togo.

Conflict in Focus

Myanmar

What happened in May? Myanmar’s military has suffered a series of humiliating battlefield defeats to ethnic armed groups and allied resistance forces, and is rapidly losing control of the country’s periphery. In Rakhine State in the west, the Arakan Army has carved out the largest territory controlled by any non-state armed group in Myanmar. Desperate to keep a foothold, the military has intensified its recruitment of members of the Rohingya community to stoke inter-communal tensions. In Kachin State in the far north, the Kachin Independence Army’s offensive has seized scores of regime outposts and bases. In Kayin State on the Thai border, the Karen National Union – Myanmar’s oldest ethnic armed group – has also gone on the offensive.

Why does it matter? The scale and speed of defeats since October 2023 is unprecedented in the Myanmar military’s post-independence history. The losses will be extremely difficult for the regime to reverse, and more setbacks seem inevitable. The state appears headed toward fragmentation where various ethnic armies will have established autonomous statelets in the periphery. Meanwhile, in Rakhine State, the military has fomented communal tensions between the Rakhine and Rohingya, leading to abuses against civilians.

What to watch in the coming weeks and months? The military is unlikely to entirely collapse as a result of battlefield losses. Its chain of command is intact and ethnic armed groups are focussed on consolidating control and administration of their expanded territory. The current trajectory is therefore one where relatively functional ethnic minority statelets could coexist, albeit with the potential for some conflict, alongside a weak and vengeful regime in the centre. Further violence may concentrate in strategic locations that the military risks losing, including: the Rakhine State capital Sittwe and the military regional command at Ann; the Kachin State capital Myitkyina and nearby military regional command; and the Asia Highway between Hpa-an and Myawaddy in Kayin State.

In Rakhine State, fighting between the regime and Arakan Army has taken a dangerous communal turn as the military has sought to foment inter-communal tensions by rallying some Rohingya to its side. Rohingya armed groups are stepping up their own recruitment and the Arakan Army appears to be forcibly displacing Rohingya communities in some areas and burning their homes. Escalated conflict between the Buddhist Rakhine and the Muslim Rohingya would come at great cost to both sides. It could also trigger refugee flows into Bangladesh, where camps hosting one million Rohingya have already been destabilised by violence and recruitment by Rohingya armed groups and criminal gangs.

In the capital Naypyitaw, discontent within the regime is such that the coup leader and commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing’s future is in some doubt. Many in pro-military elite circles see him as being primarily responsible for the battlefield failures. But since there is no institutional mechanism for removing him from his military position, it is difficult to predict when or how other senior officers might move against him.

What should be done? Outside actors must reckon with the new reality of Myanmar’s fragmentation.

Non-state administrations look set to expand and become more durable. The considerable needs of populations under their control cannot be met through typical state-based aid modalities. Donors should therefore explore ways to strengthen the service delivery and governance functions of existing and emerging subnational administrations, while remaining mindful of conflict risks, human rights considerations and legal constraints. In Rakhine State, international actors should expand channels of communication with the Arakan Army leadership and work to expand humanitarian support for all communities affected by conflict, including the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced. They should also push Bangladesh to take stronger action to prevent Rohingya armed groups from forcibly recruiting refugees. 

Latest Updates

Africa

Benin

Row with Niger prompted Chinese mediation; security front remained quiet as U.S. military official visited.

Chinese diplomatic efforts attempted to cool bilateral tensions with Niger. Amid continued dispute as Niger kept its land border closed – which has disrupted trade and led to increased food prices in Benin – govt 6 May prevented Nigerien authorities using Seme terminal port to export crude oil through March inaugurated 2,000km-long Niger-Benin pipeline and 8 May banned maize exports to neighbours, including Niger. Nigerien PM Ali Lamine Zeine 11 May announced border would remain closed for supposed security reasons, further inflaming tensions. China – whose state oil company owns shares in Niger’s oil – 15 May sent delegation to mediate with President Talon, who reversed decision to block crude oil exports and agreed to hold dialogue with Nigerien authorities on potential border reopening and repair of bilateral ties. Media, however, 23 May reported govt had blocked river crossing with Niger used for informal trade, while 27-28 May dialogue attempt in Nigerien capital Niamey faltered.

Jihadist threat remained latent in Northern departments. Head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Gen. Michael Langley, 1-3 May met Talon and military officials to discuss defence collaboration amid latent jihadist threat in north. Military 14 May reportedly killed eight militants during operation in Bogo-Bogo district, Alibori department, while no significant jihadist attack reported during month.

In another important development. Amid cost-of-living crisis, trade unions 1 May organised protest in country’s largest city Cotonou but police repressed demonstrations and arrested 72 people; opposition party Les Démocrates demanded their release.

Burkina Faso

Extreme levels of violence caused hundreds of civilian casualties as insecurity raged; military authorities extended rule by five years.

Extreme levels of violence against civilians continued, leaving hundreds dead. Armed forces 3-9 May allegedly killed over 250 civilians across country; in Sahel region, troops reportedly killed 150 civilians in four villages between Dori and Mansila towns in Yagha province, while in East region, military allegedly killed at least 100 others between towns of Fada N’Gourma and Tankoualou, Komandjari province. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants reportedly attacked civilians across Centre-North, North, East, and Centre-East regions; notably, JNIM militants 2 May killed twenty civilians in Tagalla village, Sanmatenga province (Centre-North). JNIM also clashed against govt forces and civilian auxiliaries (VDPs); militants 5 May attacked security forces and VDPs in Tapoa-Barrage village, Tapoa province (North), leading to deaths of three JNIM militants, two soldiers and eighteen civilians. In Centre-North’s Namentenga province JNIM 9 May reportedly killed seven VDPs in Bonam village and same day killed six soldiers and 33 VDPs in Boko village. 

Govt delayed transition by five years. Ahead of 1 July supposed end of military rule and after 25 May national conference on state of transition, military authorities announced extension of their rule until 2029, dealing heavy blow to hopes of democratic transition; many civil society and political groups boycotted conference. Earlier, thousands of supporters of military govt 11 May gathered in capital Ouagadougou to endorse an extension of transition and acknowledge “positive results” of regime.

Amid tensions with Côte d’Ivoire, govt strengthened ties with Sahel neighbours. Foreign Ministers of Alliance of Sahel States (AES) 17 May convened in Nigerien capital Niamey to finalise alliance documents; AES 20 May began joint military exercises alongside Chadian and Togolese troops in western Niger. Tensions with Côte d’Ivoire remained high amid series of border incidents; after reported VDP incursions into Ivorian territory throughout May, Ivorian forces 16 May allegedly deployed for one day to Helintira town, Djigoué department, South-West region. 

Burundi

Security situation deteriorated amid series of deadly grenade attacks in Bujumbura that marked worst violence in city in recent years, as govt blamed rebel group.

Series of grenade attacks struck country’s largest city Bujumbura. Grenade 5 May detonated in Kamenge area in north of city, resulting in three deaths and eight injuries, although conflicting casualty reports emerged. Another attack struck city’s bus park 10 May, reportedly claiming six lives and leaving dozens wounded, but Interior Minister Pierre Nkurikiye refuted reports of any fatalities. Same day, attacker carried out grenade assault in Ngagara district, resulting in his injury and arrest. Nkurikiye 11 May accused RED-Tabara rebels, group reportedly backed by Rwanda, of orchestrating attacks with Rwandan and diaspora support; Rwanda 12 May issued statement dismissing involvement, while RED-Tabara also denied accusations of being responsible same day.

Security situation continued to deteriorate across country. Ruling party youth wing Imbonerakure member suspected of being responsible for 2 May killing of civilian in Mukoro hill, Gitega province. Arbitrary arrests continued as police, in collaboration with Imbonerakure, 16 May detained 44 individuals in Nyanza-lac commune, Makamba province, on charges of “rebellion”. Human rights group Ligue Iteka 2 May released monthly report detailing dozens of murders as well as case of torture of opposition National Congress for Freedom (CNL) member, with police, intelligence agents, soldiers and Imbonerakure suspected as main perpetrators.

In other important developments. Economy continued to plummet due to inflation, fuel and electricity shortages, exacerbated by delayed infrastructure projects and govt mismanagement, while food and transport costs rose. Meanwhile, concerns remained high over continued rise of waters of Lake Tanganyika, which has displaced hundreds of thousands in past seven months, flooded homes and destroyed crops, prompting April govt and UN appeals for support.

Cameroon

Anglophone region violence surged around National Day; election tensions continued to mount. 

Separatist tensions and violence escalated in North West (NW) and South West (SW). Ambazonia rebels and security forces heavily clashed in lead-up to 20 May National Day celebration, killing at least sixteen. Notably, govt forces 5 May targeted separatist strongholds in Ndop town (NW), eliminating prominent commander and two fighters. Separatists 10 May ambushed and killed six gendarmes near Mamfe town (SW) and 14 May clashed with soldiers in Bambui town (NW), killing at least four including two civilians. Govt forces 16 May killed four rebels in Kumbo town (NW), while separatist fighters same day killed two soldiers in Akwaya town (SW). On day of celebrations, suspected separatists 20 May assassinated mayor of Belo town (NW); separatist-imposed “ghost town” strikes 17-20 May paralysed business and movement in NW and SW. Meanwhile, former spokesperson of Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF) armed group, alias “Capo Daniel”, 4 May urged ceasefire and direct negotiations with Yaoundé; govt dismissed move while ADF denounced him as “traitor”.

Far North unrest continued. Boko Haram attacks persisted as Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) continued “Operation Lake Sanity II”, launched in April to reclaim territory. Fishermen 11-12 May clashed with JAS Bakura faction in three villages around Lake Chad, seizing guns and three motorbikes, casualties unknown. Jihadist militants 12 May carried out multiple attacks, including cattle rustling and abduction of at least two women in Djibrili village, Mayo-Tsanaga division. Meanwhile, govt forces 14 May announced rescue of 300 Boko Haram captives after week-long operation along northern border with Nigeria.

Tensions continued to mount in run-up to 2025 elections. Concerns over govt manipulation of election process grew as senior govt official 2 May cautioned electoral commission against inciting public voting drive amid calls from opposition politicians for mass registration to challenge President Biya; ruling party mayor 4 May halted registration process in a district of Yaoundé reportedly attended overwhelmingly by opposition supporters. Meanwhile, protests early May erupted in West region over alleged registration irregularities by ruling party, while pro-Biya demonstrators in South region 5 May blocked roads to hinder opposition activity.

Central African Republic

Transitional justice efforts faced challenges as court issued arrest warrant for former president but govt dissolved reconciliation commission; insecurity persisted. 

Authorities’ transitional justice record remained mixed. President Touadéra 8 May ordered dissolution of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission (CVJRR), created as part of 2019 peace agreement between govt and fourteen armed groups; presidential decree remained unpublished so uncertainty persisted over whether move only removes current office holders or dismantles institution entirely. Communication Minister 14 May attributed dissolution to governance, operational and financial issues within CVJRR. Earlier, UN-backed Special Criminal Court 30 April issued warrant for former President Bozizé’s arrest for allegedly ordering crimes against humanity committed Feb 2009-March 2013 by army and presidential guard; NGO Human Rights Watch 3 May said move provided chance for Bozizé to “face justice” but presidential adviser Fidèle Gouandjika same day suggested warrant aims to incite ethnic tensions. President Umaro Embaló Sissoco of Guinea-Bissau, where Bozizé is in exile, 1 May said he would not extradite former president, citing lack of legal framework.

Climate of insecurity persisted against backdrop of intercommunal tensions. Intercommunal and rebel violence continued in hinterland, notably in south west. Suspected armed herders 5 May destroyed two churches in Boganangone town, Lobaye prefecture, resulting in unconfirmed number of casualties. Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) fighters 12 May attacked mining site in Gaga town, Ombella-M’Poko prefecture, killing four Chinese miners and injuring seven. Meanwhile, 100 ethnic Azandé fighters officially integrated into army 1 May after intensive training by Russian paramilitary Africa Corps, formerly Wagner Group, in Obo town, Haut-Mbomou prefecture; despite govt portraying step as improving army integration, militants reaffirmed tribal allegiance by calling themselves “Azandé Wagner”, while fears grew over group’s escalating tensions with Fulani-led armed group Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) in south east. U.S. 30 May imposed sanctions on two companies based in country for supporting “malign activities” of Russian paramilitaries. Meanwhile, risk of unrest grew in capital Bangui as security forces continued search operations in Muslim neighbourhood, which have resulted in arbitrary arrests since April.

Chad

President Déby secured election win amid reports of voting irregularities and repression of opposition, tightening grip on power.

Déby clinched victory, cemented his control despite opposition challenges. Following 5-6 May presidential polls, electoral authority 9 May declared Déby winner with 61% of vote, marking end of transition period; rivals including former PM Padacké and incumbent PM Masra initially contested results, filing unsuccessful appeals with Constitutional Court which 16 May certified results. Déby 17 May rejected calls for national unity govt, further isolating opposition, as Masra same day acknowledged defeat and 22 May resigned as PM; Déby inaugurated next day and appointed Allamaye Halina as PM; Halina 27 May announced new govt formed of pro-Déby ministers and no opposition members. 

International actors welcomed vote amid reports of irregularities and repression. As military deployed significant presence around polling stations and in major cities, security forces 6 May detained 79 Masra supporters over alleged fraud. Reports of electoral irregularities emerged with some polling stations inadequately equipped or opening late while opposition observers reported under-age voting and regime supporters confiscating ballot boxes. Meanwhile, independent election observers faced restrictions, with civil society 5 May and EU 7 May condemning denial of access for 2,900 trained observers. Following vote, canton chief and aide 10 May assaulted opposition activist in Koumra town, while opposition journalist same day reported intimidation from armed men in capital N’Djamena and later went into hiding. NGO Human Rights Watch 13 May expressed concerns over political repression and govt’s consolidation of power. International actors largely welcomed Déby’s election, however. Regional body Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) 12 May congratulated Déby, as did French President Emmanuel Macron 17 May. U.S. 16 May acknowledged transition milestone but highlighted “troubling shortcomings”. Amid growing ties with Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin 14 May sent congratulatory message.

Banditry and herder-farmer-related insecurity persisted. Farmer and herder groups 9 May clashed in Lac-Iro area of Moyen-Chari region, killing at least five civilians and injuring others, after alleged cattle raid by herders. Governor of Ennedi-East region 17 May announced arrest of eight bandits on murder charges in Amdjarass city on Libyan border.

Côte d’Ivoire

Political jostling continued ahead of 2025 presidential election; govt further deepened military ties with U.S.

Political focus remained on next year’s vote. At party convention in Abidjan city, opposition African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) 10 May officially declared former President Gbagbo as candidate for 2025 presidency polls; Gbagbo’s candidacy, however, faces major obstacles including his ineligibility due to 2018 criminal conviction for looting Central Bank of West African States during 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis and competition from several parties run by previous allies, including his former wife, that will be chasing similar parts of electorate. Meanwhile, former PM Soro – in exile since 2019 and sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in 2021 for undermining national security – 8 May said he would continue dialogue with Ouattara on national reconciliation, amid his attempts to return from exile. 

Discussion with Washington over expanded security ties continued. After U.S. delegation led by head of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Gen. Michael Langley, late April visited Ouattara to discuss establishment of American military base, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana 13-24 May jointly hosted annual AFRICOM-led special operations exercise featuring dozens of countries. 

In other important international developments. Relations with Senegal boosted by 7 May visit of new Senegalese President Faye. Tensions with Burkina Faso, however, remained high following series of incidents along border with reports of reciprocal security forces’ provocations during May.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Security and humanitarian situation worsened in east after deadly bombing of displacement camp as rebels took more territory; security forces thwarted apparent coup attempt. 

M23 crisis escalated following attack on IDP sites near North Kivu capital Goma. Rockets allegedly fired from rebel positions west of Goma 3 May struck Mugunga and Lac Vert displacement camps, resulting in 35 deaths, deadliest M23-related attack since Nov 2022. Govt and U.S. accused Rwanda, prompting Kigali to vehemently deny involvement. Meanwhile, M23 continued advance following late April capture of strategic mining town Rubaya. Violence also threatened South Kivu province, with 7 May M23-attributed rocket attack in Kisongati village, resulting in seven fatalities and six injuries; rebels may in June pose threat to pivotal town of Minova, possibly opening route to advance further into South Kivu. Southern African regional bloc (SADC) mission SAMIDRC 5 May announced plans to offensively counter M23 rebellion but faced persistent financial challenges.

Diaspora member orchestrated unsuccessful apparent coup in capital Kinshasa. Army 19 May claimed to have foiled coup attempt led by Christian Malanga – American resident and promoter of New Zaire movement – in Kinshasa’s Gombe district, resulting in death of Malanga, one other assailant and two police officers. Gunmen targeted largely symbolic locations – including residences of top officials and empty state house – prompting widespread questions about security protocols and motives of attack.

Armed group violence plagued Ituri and North Kivu. In North Kivu, seven suspected victims of Islamic State-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels found 3 May along Mangina-Mantumbi road in Beni-Mbau sector. In Ituri, ADF 6 May killed three in Kianangazi village, Irumu territory, abducting one child. Subsequent attacks 9, 12 and 13 May in both provinces resulted in further casualties and abductions, raising doubts about efficacy of joint Congolese-Ugandan anti-ADF operations. 

Ruling party faced discord over formation of new administration. President Tshisekedi 29 May announced new govt – rewarding loyalists and campaign organisers with top jobs while axing foreign and defence ministers – following months of intense haggling amongst his political coalition. Meanwhile, opposition warned against potential power grabs amid concerns over Tshisekedi’s 3 May proposal to overhaul constitution.

Eritrea

Ethiopia’s efforts to settle Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute continued to fuel security concerns in Asmara.

Ethiopia-Eritrea relations remained riddled with tensions. Amid concern in Asmara that Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) may return to administer Western Tigray Zone in Ethiopia, Tigray region’s interim VP Tadesse Worede 2 May said federal efforts to dissolve local Amhara administrations and resettle displaced persons in disputed areas – part of Addis Ababa’s plan to settle Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute  would be completed by late June. Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party and TPLF 15 May convened third round of party-to-party political dialogue in Tigray’s capital Mekelle as part of efforts to address political issues underlying conflict in Tigray, deepening Asmara’s fears that Ethiopia’s PM Abiy may be consolidating alliance with TPLF. 

U.S. bodies criticised Eritrea’s human rights record. Embassy of Eritrea to U.S. 2 May dismissed as “fallacious” U.S. State Department’s 2023 Human Rights Report published late April, which documented “significant human rights issues” in Eritrea. U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom 13 May said religious freedom conditions remain “extremely poor” in Eritrea, urged U.S. President Biden to pressure Asmara to end persecution of unregistered religious communities and release religious prisoners.

In another important development. Eritrea 24 May celebrated 33 years of independence with official gathering in capital Asmara. Anniversary gave rise to scuffles between pro-regime and anti-regime Eritreans living abroad, leaving one killed and several wounded 27 May in Israel’s Tel Aviv city.

Ethiopia

Govt’s plan to address Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute continued to fuel tensions in Western Tigray; federal forces pursued efforts to stem insurgencies in Amhara and Oromia regions.

Tensions lingered over Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute in Western Tigray. Implementation of Addis Ababa’s plan to address Tigray-Amhara territorial dispute continued, with Tigray’s interim VP Tadesse Worede 2 May saying dissolution of local Amhara administrations and resettlement of displaced Tigrayans in Southern and Western zones would be completed by late June. Plan fuelled more violence, however; notably, skirmishes 3 May broke out between Ethiopian military and Amhara nationalist militias known as Fano on outskirts of Maksegno Gebeya town in Western Tigray Zone after Fano militants previous day briefly entered town. Tigray’s interim President Getachew Reda 24 May announced withdrawal of Tigray’s forces from two villages near Alamata town (Southern Tigray Zone), in move designed to ease tensions with Amhara administrations and facilitate return of Tigrayans.

Fighting continued between federal forces and Fano militias in Amhara. After easing of hostilities early May between federal forces and Fano militias, fighting picked up toward end of month, with clashes reported in North Shewa, East Gojjam, West Gojjam, North Gojjam, North Gondar, South Wollo and North Wollo zones. PM Abiy 12 May visited Amhara capital Bahir Dar, called on insurgents to lay down arms and reintegrate into civilian life. Adding to region’s instability, thousands of Sudanese refugees late April-early May fled Kumer and Awlala camps in West Gondar Zone after kidnappings for ransom and armed robberies late April left at least one person injured.

Army intensified counter-insurgency operations in Oromia. Federal forces conducted operations against Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) in East Wollega, West Wollega, Horo Guduru Wollega, West Shewa, Arsi, West Arsi and East Borena zones. Notably, regional broadcaster 2 May reported joint operation by federal and regional security forces in East Borena; Addis Ababa claimed to have inflicted heavy OLA casualties. In rare visit to rebel stronghold of western Oromia, PM Abiy 8 May attended pro-govt rally in Nekemte town, East Wollega, in attempt to shore up Oromo support amid deepening unpopularity and OLA insurgency. 

Guinea

Govt defended stalled transition, while crackdown on protests continued.

As opposition continued calling for elections, PM Bah justified transition delays. Bah 10 May responded to demands from opposition urging regime to respect timetable for restoration of civilian govt, claiming transition’s objective was not just to organise vote but to lay foundations for “institutionalisation to stabilise country and consolidate unity”; PM declared “things are progressing”. Opposition calls to progress transition, however, grew louder; coalition National Alliance for Alternation and Democracy (ANAD) 18 May urged govt to restore constitutional order before 31 Dec 2024, and said it “vigorously denounces junta’s renunciation” of its “commitments”; ANAD threatened to organise protests if timetable not respected. Meanwhile, opposition grouping National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) 21 May announced it will oppose any extension of transition timetable, and also threatened to resume demonstrations. 

Popular protests continued amid crackdown and media repression. Police 3 May arrested 126 people after demonstrations took place over ten days in late April in Lero town (Kankan region) protesting against employment practices of local gold mining company and lack of public services including water and electricity. Also, authorities 14 May arrested spokesperson for victims of Dec gas depot explosion in Conakry that killed at least 23 and 17 May gave him three months suspended sentence for defaming govt; hundreds on same day demonstrated in capital in support of spokesperson. In continued repression of media, authorities 22 May withdrew six radio and television stations licences, with govt 24 May blaming outlets’ “regular abuses”; Union of Guinean Press Professionals 27 May said they were preparing calls for a general strike. 

In another important development. Small fires reported throughout month in capital Conakry including at headquarters of Culture Ministry and public energy company; official state media 7 May attributed cause of fires to “acts of sabotage”, but much remained unclear about incidents.

Kenya

Al-Shabaab-related insecurity continued in north east while govt burnished international standing including through security mission to Haiti and President Ruto’s visit to U.S. 

Militant activity persisted in several areas. Notably, Al-Shabaab 10 May killed border police officer in attack in Garissa county’s Yumbis village near border with SomaliaMeanwhile, military 1 May said forces had killed six Al-Shabaab fighters during operation in Kumba area of Lamu; operation follows stepped-up troop deployment in late April to address insecurity amid reported increases in attacks in Garrissa, Lamu and Mandera counties in recent months.

Police mission to Haiti delayed again as Ruto visited U.S. As part of UN-mandated Nairobi-led multinational security force to combat gang violence in Haiti, high-level Kenyan delegation including mission commander 20 May arrived in Haitian capital Port-au-Prince to assess preparations for force arrival; Ruto 24 May said first batch of police would arrive in three weeks, in further delay to deployment amid reports of logistics issues (see Haiti). Meanwhile, Ruto 22-24 May took high-profile trip to Washington, marking first African state visit to U.S. in sixteen years, with Kenya being given Major Non-NATO Ally status, allowing govt increased access to defence cooperation with U.S. 

In another important development. Following severe floods that began in April that killed hundreds and exposed gaps in govt preparedness for natural disasters, residents decried forceful eviction of people living in settlements next to rivers in capital Nairobi as part of authorities’ evacuation orders.

Mali

Amid political tensions, inter-Malian dialogue ended and recommended extension of transition; conflict persisted in centre and north. 

Inter-Malian dialogue concluded, recommending transition extension. Final stage of national dialogue took place in capital Bamako 6-10 May as key armed groups remained outside of the process and several opposition parties and civil society groups boycotted initiative. Concerns grew that military would use process to prolong hold on power as consultations concluded with report recommending three-year extension of transition and allowing transitional President Col. Goïta to be presidential candidate when elections held; opposition grouping 12 May called dialogue “grotesque political trap” while leader of opposition African Socialist Democratic Party said dialogue only “about securing benefits for ruling junta”. Meanwhile, in continued suppression of civil and political freedoms, court 21 May sentenced university professor to two years imprisonment for harming state’s reputation and defamation over criticism of govt.

Violence remained widespread in centre and north. Clashes between armed forces, Russian paramilitary Africa Corps (formerly Wagner Group) and militants continued. In centre, al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 3 May attacked base in Diafarabe town, Segou region, killing at least ten soldiers. In north, jihadists attacked civilians in Gao region including Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel) 22 May killing at least three civilians in Balga village, Ansongo commune. Reports of killings of civilians during anti-jihadist operations persisted; notably army and Russian paramilitary patrol 16 May allegedly killed nine civilians in Tahaganet village and same day two in Jenchichi village in Kidal region (north). Meanwhile, following April clash between JNIM and armed groups of Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), reports emerged 17 May that CSP leadership was seeking non-aggression pact with JNIM. 

Govt strengthened ties with Sahel neighbours, tensions persisted with Mauritania. Foreign Ministers of Alliance of Sahel States (AES) 17 May convened in Niger to finalise alliance documents; AES 20 May began joint military exercises alongside Chadian and Togolese troops in western Niger. Tensions, however, persisted with Mauritania over cross-border incidents (see Mauritania) as govt remained agitated by alleged presence of rebel groups and jihadists on Mauritanian side of border. 

Mozambique

Security deteriorated in northern Cabo Delgado province as Islamic State militants launched assault on strategic town; attacks may continue in June amid upcoming withdrawal of regional troops. 

Jihadists carried out large-scale attack, displacing thousands. Over 100 Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) militants 10 May launched attack on strategic Macomia town that lies on main road connecting northern and southern districts of Cabo Delgado province; insurgents engaged govt and South African troops in clashes lasting almost two days before returning to their base near Mucojo town. Attack came days after Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) had left town, as militants ambushed South African troops who provided reinforcements to Macomia during attack. Number of casualties unknown but local sources reported between ten and 23 killed, while civilians fled into bush. Militants also stole equipment and goods including vehicles and medicines. Several NGOs suspended operations in town following attack, including Médecins Sans Frontières 13 May, adding to existing shortages. Rights group Human Rights Watch 15 May said ISMP had used children to raid town, while UN 22 May reported 4,500 displaced 10-21 May in Macomia and nearby Quissanga district. Attacks also continued in other areas of Cabo Delgado including Ancuabe and Chiúre districts. Timing of Macomia attack after SAMIM troop movements raised further concerns; scale of ISMP attacks may increase in June as SADC pulls out mission by 15 July, with Islamic State propaganda explicitly referring to SAMIM withdrawal. EU 14 May, however, announced extension of training mission until June 2026 and Rwanda 27 May said it had deployed extra 2,000 troops to Cabo Delgado, boosting security presence in province; Rwandan and govt soldiers 29 May reportedly repelled attack on Limala village, Mocímboa da Praia district.

Main parties announced candidates for Oct general elections. After months of uncertainty, ruling-FRELIMO 5 May announced governor of southern Inhambane province Daniel Chapo as presidential candidate. Meanwhile, main opposition party RENAMO 17 May re-elected Ossufo Momade as leader following April moves that prevented his main opponent Venâncio Mondlane from running; party officials 20 May said Momade would be presidential candidate.

Niger

U.S. troops announced Sept withdrawal date, govt strengthened ties with Sahelian neighbours amid tensions with Benin, and jihadist violence persisted. 

Govt and Washington agreed for U.S. troop withdrawal by mid-Sept. U.S. delegation 15-19 May met with Nigerien officials in capital Niamey to plan formal withdrawal of around 1,000 U.S. military personnel, agreeing to complete manoeuvres by 15 Sept; PM Zeine 14 May stated lack of U.S. military support in combating jihadists had led to severed security ties but also welcomed engagement with U.S. on economic investments. Meanwhile, EU 27 May announced military mission would end 30 June but Germany 29 May announced temporary deal allowing its troops to remain at air transport base outside Niamey while new agreement on presence negotiated.

Row with Benin prompted Chinese mediation and threatened oil exports. Amid continued dispute as govt maintained closure of border with Benin, Beninese authorities 6 May announced they would prevent Niger using its port to export crude oil through March inaugurated 2,000km-long Niger-Benin pipeline. PM Zeine 11 May announced border would remain closed for supposed security reasons. However, following mediation efforts by China – whose state oil company owns shares in Niger’s oil – Beninese President Patrice Talon 15 May reversed decision to block exports and agreed to hold dialogue with govt, although 27-28 May dialogue attempt in Niamey faltered. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministers of Alliance of Sahel States (AES) 17 May convened in Nigerien capital Niamey to finalise alliance documents; AES 20 May began joint military exercises alongside Chadian and Togolese troops in west. 

Jihadists conducted attacks in Diffa and Tillabery regions. In Diffa (south east), military 1 May clashed with militants likely from Boko Haram JAS faction near N’Guigmi town, killing three jihadists. In Tillabery (south west), hundreds of al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) militants 20 May attacked Boni military post, as govt reported seven soldiers killed, while Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel) same day allegedly killed around twenty civilians in Diambala village.

In another important development. State court decision on immunity of former President Bazoum originally scheduled for 10 May delayed to 7 June. 

Nigeria

Military operations continued against jihadists, bandits and other armed groups, but killings and abductions persisted while herder-farmer and separatist violence also flared. 

Army reported gains in anti-jihadist campaign in North East. Govt continued “clearance campaign” against Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram militants around Lake Chad and Sambisa Forest in Borno state. Notably, troops 9 May raided ISWAP enclave and killed six fighters near Goniri village, Damboa area, while army 19 May said it rescued 386 people from Boko Haram strongholds in Sambisa Forest. ISWAP 28 May killed 31 fishermen with 40 others missing in Kukawa area, and 30 May ordered all residents of area to leave by 1 June or be killed. 

Criminal group violence remained high in North West and North Central zones. Despite govt operations, armed groups continued killings and abductions in several states including Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Niger, Plateau and Zamfara. Notably in Zamfara, gunmen 7-11 May killed almost 50 and abducted over 100 civilians in eight villages in Anka and Birnin-Magaji areas. In Plateau, armed group 20 May killed around 50 in attack in Wase area. In Niger, armed groups 24-27 May reportedly killed at least six people, raped at least ten women and girls, and abducted 160 others in Munya area.

Herder-farmer violence persisted in North Central zone. In Benue state, armed group 3 and 14 May attacked Ogbaulu village in Agatu area, killing at least thirteen villagers; local official blamed attacks on herders. Meanwhile in Plateau, gunmen 8 May killed two herders and hundreds of cattle in Bassa area; chair of local Fulani organisation condemned attempts to “annihilate” community.

Biafra separatists and military continued to clash in South East zone. In Imo state’s Orsu area, army 7 May said troops had killed key commander of separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) armed wing Eastern Security Network and two of his lieutenants near Ihiteukwa town. In Abia state, gunmen 17 May killed two soldiers and civilian in Aba city and 30 May killed five soldiers and six civilians in Obingwa area; military blamed attacks on IPOB, vowed fierce response. 

Rwanda

Regional and international actors continued to accuse Rwanda of complicity in security challenges faced by its neighbours. 

Govt firmly denied involvement with neighbouring rebel groups. Rwanda 4 May rejected U.S. and Congolese claims that it had, alongside M23 rebel group, attacked displacement camp in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), branding accusations “ridiculous” and “absurd”. Authorities also 12 May issued statement denying any connection or reason to be involved in series of grenade attacks in Burundian city of Bujumbura, urging Burundi to “address its internal issues”. Meanwhile, DRC Mine Minister 8 May called for international embargo on metal exports from Rwanda, alleging its support for rebel groups stealing natural resources.

In another important development. Army spokesperson Ronald Rwivanga 27 May announced govt had deployed additional 2,000 soldiers to assist Mozambique in combating resurgent attacks by Islamic State-linked insurgents in Cabo Delgado province, amid southern African military mission withdrawal (see Mozambique).

Somalia

Federal govt met member states amid continued political tensions, while clan violence surged in several areas; conflict with Al-Shabaab remained largely quiet. 

Govt held consultations with most member states to discuss key issues. Federal govt and member state leaders 14-17 May gathered in capital Mogadishu for National Consultative Conference (NCC) to discuss contentious issues, including constitutional review process, operations against Al-Shabaab and status of Nov 2024 member state elections amid speculation they may be delayed; officials from Puntland did not attend following March suspension of recognition of Mogadishu-based central govt and pulling out of NCC process in Jan 2023. At NCC conclusion, govt reported participants had endorsed federal parliament’s approval of first four chapters of constitution. Independent constitutional review commission 18 May began discussion of five further chapters. Political figures who oppose govt’s constitutional changes remained vocal, including Puntland President Said Deni 18 May and former federal Presidents Sheikh Sharif and Farmajo next day criticising govt and NCC. 

Clan conflicts erupted in Southwest, Hirshabelle and Galmudug states. In Bay region in Southwest, state security forces and clan militia early May clashed several times in Berdale town, killing elder and militia member, after state govt sent troops to dismantle militia group; tensions remained high throughout month. Significant violence 13 May also erupted in Hirshabelle between Abgal sub-clans in Bur Shiiq and Biyo Adde villages in Middle Shabelle region, killing over 30. Clashes also reported in Galmudug in late April between Marehaan and Dir clans in Abudwaq district of Galgaduud region.

Govt offensive against Al-Shabaab remained at stalemate. Military conducted episodic airstrikes targeting militants in Galmudug and Hirshabelle states with support from international partners, but launched no major ground operations. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab conducted several small-scale bombings and assassinations, particularly in Mogadishu including 3 May shooting of senior police officer, but also did not carry out large-scale attack.

In other important developments. Amid rising concerns over resurgence of piracy off Somali coast, EU naval force 10 May arrested six suspected pirates attempting to hijack oil tanker in Gulf of Aden and 23 May rescued cargo ship being hijacked.

Somaliland

Govt continued to prepare for November elections while tensions with Dhulbahante fighters remained high along Sool frontline.

Authorities progressed with vote arrangements. Ahead of 13 Nov concurrent party and presidential elections, House of Representatives 12 May approved presidential appointees to committee overseeing registration of political associations that will run in polls to decide which can become political parties; step further eases fears elections could be delayed. 

Tensions remained high but stable along Sool region frontline. Despite late April clashes in Sanaag region between Haber Jeclo sub-clan of Isaaq (Somaliland’s largest clan) and Dhulbahante clan members, frontlines between govt troops and those from SSC-Khatumo (self-declared administration for Dhulbahante community) in Sool region stayed largely quiet. Meanwhile, SSC-Khatumo leader Abdulkadir Firdhiye 14 May visited Somali capital Mogadishu for consultations between Somali federal govt and member states (see Somalia), but did not participate as full federal member state.

Authorities pursued preparations for implementation of Jan port deal with Ethiopia. Technical committee from Hargeisa early May announced it had finished its work and was awaiting counterparts from Addis Ababa, while President Bihi 18 May said he was certain agreement would be implemented “shortly”.

South Africa

Tight general elections held as ruling African National Congress (ANC) projected to lose majority; dispute over Zuma’s eligibility increased risk of unrest. 

Polls held as ANC projected to lose majority for first time. General elections took place 29 May as voting day went peacefully, with high voter turnout expected to be reported; full results announced in June. Amid heightened tensions in lead-up to vote, Constitutional Court 20 May barred former President Zuma, leader of newcomer uMkhonto weSizwe party (MKP), from contesting polls due to his 2021 conviction for contempt of court; decision overturned Electoral Court’s April ruling permitting Zuma to run. MKP alleged that Independent Electoral Commission and Constitutional Court colluded with ANC to rig elections. MKP members 25 May broke into ballot storage sites in Chesterville and Hammarsdale towns in KwaZulu-Natal province, alleging voting material had been altered, and also threatened election officer in Chesterville; electoral commission condemned incidents. President Ramaphosa 26 May listed govt achievements in speech on South African Broadcasting Corporation, prompting MKP and opposition Democratic Alliance to each file urgent affidavit in Electoral Court accusing Ramaphosa of violating electoral code of conduct by using presidential office to influence elections outcome; Ramaphosa 29 May said he merely provided update on country’s state of readiness for elections. 

Ruling party members clashed with opposition supporters. ANC members and supporters 19 May clashed with members of populist opposition Economic Freedom Fighters during ANC campaign event in Seshego township, Limpopo province, as rival party members reportedly threw stones escalating into exchange of gunfire that wounded two bystanders. Electoral Commission 23 May convened both parties to diffuse tensions in area ahead of polls. Suspected political dispute between ANC and MKP members 26 May in Kathlehong township, Gauteng province, resulted in two MKP members shot and killed. 

South Sudan

Kenya hosted talks between holdout opposition groups and govt, intercommunal violence remained rampant, and disruption of oil exports deepened economic crisis. 

Govt and holdout opposition groups held peace talks in Kenya. High-level mediation 9 May started in Kenyan capital Nairobi, bringing together govt and some opposition groups that did not sign 2018 peace accord, including South Sudan United Front, Real-Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and South Sudan People’s Movement/Army (SSPM/A); National Salvation Front led by Thomas Cirillo and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition Kitwang led by Simon Gatwech did not participate, dimming hopes for wider deal. SSPM/A leader Stephen Buay 20 May accused govt of sending agents to Nairobi to target him and threatened to withdraw from talks. Kenyan authorities same day launched investigation into claims; in the meantime, Buay agreed to continue participating.

Communal violence persisted in several regions. Notably, in Jonglei region alleged Murle ambush 9 May killed three in Duk county; suspected armed Lou Nuer youth from Jonglei 12 May reportedly raided villages in Likuangole county, Greater Pibor Administrative Area, abducting nine people and raiding cattle. Authorities from Abyei area and Warrap State early May traded blame for deadly violence and cattle raids. Fighting between Balanda and Azande in Tombura county, Western Equatoria, reportedly displaced over 10,000 by 2 May. 

Disruption of oil exports fuelled fiscal crisis. Breakdown of main oil pipeline continued to threaten currency collapse and fuel spike in food costs, raising risk of renewed instability and violence. Central Bank governor 3 May said oil reserves are “at historically low levels”, affecting foreign currency reserves. Official 28 May claimed operations would resume imminently, though acknowledged oil had gelled along pipeline; industry experts maintained that repairs necessary to restart exports would take at least months to complete.

Concerns over election preparedness persisted. U.S. 9 May warned it would not support electoral process without urgent govt action to implement 2018 peace agreement. Body tasked with tracking implementation of agreement 23 May said there was “no evidence of sufficient preparation” for elections. Meanwhile, UN Security Council 30 May renewed sanctions on South Sudan for one year, including arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes.

Sudan

Full-scale conflict pitting Sudanese army (SAF) and allied Darfuri armed groups against Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted in North Darfur’s capital El-Fasher, threatening to inflame intercommunal conflict further in coming weeks.

Fighting broke out in El-Fasher. Clashes 10 May erupted between SAF in alliance with Darfuri armed groups and RSF in El-Fasher, killing and displacing thousands. SAF and armed groups held western and central neighbourhoods, and RSF controlled north and east sectors while besieging city. Outside El-Fasher, RSF-affiliated militias attacked non-Arab villages, while SAF airstrikes targeted RSF positions but also communities allegedly supporting paramilitary, including mostly Arab El-Zurug and Kutum villages; attacks threaten to aggravate intercommunal conflict in coming weeks. UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide 21 May warned “the risk of genocide exists” and is “growing”. Fighting obstructed aid deliveries as World Food Programme 3 May warned of “widespread starvation and death”.

Hostilities escalated across several other states without decisive gains. SAF-RSF clashes expanded from flashpoints including Babanussa town, West Kordofan state, North Kordofan’s capital El-Obeid, and Gezira state capital Wad Madani, to multiple towns and rural villages, increasing displacement and civilian casualties; RSF 19 May announced seizure of Um Rawaba area, North Kordofan. SAF continued offensives in capital Khartoum and sister cities Omdurman and Bahri, particularly in Bahri’s Jiali oil refinery area, but failed to secure clear-cut victory. Parties continued mobilising local communities, exacerbating violence and complicating future peacemaking efforts. In and beyond Darfur, restrictions on free movement, arbitrary killings, arrests and lootings by both sides and their supporters underscored growing lawlessness and impunity across country.

Several political coalitions called for transfer of power to civilians. SAF-aligned political coalition “National Forces Coordination”, which includes over 40 political parties, armed groups, community leaders and civil society organisations, 8 May endorsed political charter proposing three-year transitional govt with joint military-civilian Sovereign Council and transitional legislative council. Anti-war coalition Tagadum, which claims neutrality between warring parties, 26 May launched founding conference of expanded coalition in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, attended by over 600 key stakeholders; conference led to adoption of Tagadum’s political position, new leadership structure and basic principles for political process.

Togo

Ruling party won overwhelming majority in April elections and new constitution expected to extend President Gnassingbé’s decades-long rule came into effect.

Following 29 April legislative and regional votes, provisional results released 4 May showed ruling Union for the Republic party won 108 out of 113 parliamentary seats and 137 of 179 council seats, which Constitutional Court 13 May confirmed. Opposition parties expressed doubts about results but international actors including African Union and West African regional bloc ECOWAS commended electoral process. Meanwhile, President Gnassingbé 6 May signed new constitution into effect, marking beginning of Fifth Republic and transition from presidential to parliamentary system, amid persistent concerns president would use new structure to extend stay in power.

Uganda

Political tensions grew amid threats of further strikes, while govt engaged with DR Congo (DRC) on anti-militant cooperation.

Threats of strikes continued amid persistent fiscal policy discontent. Fear of further industrial action persisted, as business groups 8 May threatened two-month long strike from 20 June after failed talks with President Museveni, spurred by discontent over fiscal and tax policies and govt’s promotion of electronic tax payments. Parliament 16 May approved new taxes on fuel and construction materials despite protests, potentially leading to price increases. Meanwhile, Museveni same day signed deal with Kenya to import refined petroleum directly, aiming to offset impact of fuel tax hikes.

Army chief scrutinised operations against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Newly appointed head of army and Museveni’s son Lt-Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba 6 May engaged in talks with Congolese military leadership to assess progress in joint operations against Islamic State-affiliated ADF rebels in DRC; joint force 18 May captured prominent ADF commander skilled in explosives in Ituri province in eastern DRC. Security forces 4 May said they had discovered four suspected ADF bombs in capital Kampala.

Disputes within opposition political parties escalated. Former opposition leader Mathias Mpuuga faced continued censure from National Unity Platform (NUP) party for accepting financial parliamentary awards, sparking tensions with party leader Robert Kyagulanyi, alias ‘Bobi Wine’. Similarly, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) appeared set for split, with former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye poised to lead breakaway faction over alleged ties between current leadership and Museveni. 

In other important developments. Opposition parties 2 May welcomed UK late April announcement of corruption-related sanctions on three politicians, including Parliament Speaker Anita Among, as potential deterrent against mismanagement of public resources, while govt expressed surprise and promised both investigation and examination of legality of sanctions. Meanwhile, U.S. 30 May also announced corruption-related sanctions on trio and one other politician, alongside sanctioning former deputy army chief for alleged “gross violations of human rights” including extrajudicial killings by military.

Zimbabwe

Ruling party supporters disrupted public hearings on controversial NGO bill while police cracked down on informal money traders amid implementation of new currency.

Govt-linked groups disturbed public consultations on contentious law. Govt 13-17 May held public hearings on controversial proposed Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill that critics argue will be used to control civil society organisations. Suspected ruling party ZANU-PF supporters disrupted hearings in cities of Chinhoyi, Gweru, capital Harare and Masvingo; participants 16 May fled consultation in Masvingo due to fight between ZANU-PF supporters and residents that reportedly left several people injured. 

Govt targeted dissenters of new currency. Govt cracked down on informal money traders in effort to enforce acceptance of new Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) currency – inaugurated in April and facing struggles to win consumer confidence – as police 15 May announced they had arrested 224 alleged illegal currency traders and frozen 90 bank accounts since ZiG introduced; govt 9 May announced it will levy $14,800 fines on businesses who refuse to use official exchange rate while Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube 14 May urged war veterans in Bulawayo city to “protect” ZiG by “fighting” informal money traders. Meanwhile, police 13 May arrested Neville Mutsvanga, son of ZANU-PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa, on charges of illegally dealing in foreign currency, in case reportedly linked to suspected ZANU-PF factional battle between President Mnangagwa and VP Chiwenga. 

In another important development. Harare court 21 May ordered army chief Lt. Gen. Sanyatwe and Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri to pay $29,000 compensation to protester who was attacked and shot during 2019 demonstrations, when authorities deployed military to crush countrywide anti-govt protests sparked by increase in fuel prices. 

Asia

Afghanistan

Afghanistan and Pakistan engaged in sporadic clashes along disputed border, killing two soldiers, as Islamic State continued attacks and thousands in north east protested Taliban’s poppy eradication campaign.

Deadly border hostilities resumed between Pakistan and Taliban forces. Pakistani aircraft 10 May conducted strikes inside Afghanistan, killing at least four suspected Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants. As Pakistani forces 13 May tried to fortify positions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kurram district, clashes erupted with Taliban forces, which lasted six days and killed at least one Pakistani soldier and Taliban forces member; sides 18 May agreed to ceasefire reportedly negotiated by tribal elders. Notably, Taliban rocket 15 May struck Pakistani border post, causing aforementioned fatality. Tensions with Afghanistan could escalate further if another major militant attack within Pakistan is traced back to Afghan havens (see Pakistan).

Islamic State targeted Taliban and foreigners. Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) 8 May claimed bomb attack in Faizabad city, Badakhshan province (north east). ISKP gunman 18 May shot at two buses carrying foreign tourists in Bamiyan province (centre), killing three Spanish nationals and injuring others. ISKP militants 20 May hurled grenade at bus carrying Taliban members in Kandahar (south), killing at least four. 

Thousands protested in north east against Taliban. In Badakhshan province, local residents early May staged protests against Taliban’s poppy eradication campaign in province. Taliban security forces 3-13 May killed several, prompting thousands in region, namely Argo and Darayim districts, to hold protests to demand halt to eradication effort, livelihood support for poppy farmers and compensation for eradicated crops as well as slain protestors; senior Taliban delegation visited region, reportedly agreeing to compensate families of victims but insisting eradication efforts will persist unabated. Authorities mid-May deployed reinforcements to region and resumed destruction of opium fields.

Taliban continued to clamp down on independent media. Taliban authorities 8 May attempted to restrict reporting by Afghanistan International – overseas-based media channel that emerged immediately after Taliban’s takeover and became most-viewed media outlet inside Afghanistan – by ordering Afghan journalists to stop all forms of collaboration with outlet. 

Bangladesh

Conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine state fuelled recruitment drive by Rohingya armed groups in Bangladesh’s refugee camps, raising prospect of greater spillover to come. 

War in Myanmar reverberated in Bangladesh’s refugee camps. In Myanmar, Arakan Army (AA) continued advance in northern Rakhine state after months-long campaign against regime and allegations of abuses against Rohingya community, including extrajudicial killings, torching villages and forced relocations (see Myanmar). In response, Rohingya armed groups – notably Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) – stepped up mostly forced recruitment in refugee camps in Bangladesh, including potentially several thousand young men and children as young as 14, with some refugees reportedly transferred to Myanmar military for training. Forced recruitment triggered wave of panic across camps; since 17 May, refugees staged nightly gatherings to oppose recruitment, in some cases beating RSO members. Fighting in Rakhine likely to escalate, forcing larger numbers of Rohingya across border or sparking wider conflict between AA and Rohingya armed groups as latter build up their forces further to curtail AA’s advance. Meanwhile, turf war in refugee camps between RSO and rival Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) resurged, with five killings reported mid-May. 

Insecurity persisted in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in south east. Security forces continued operations targeting Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) – which claims to represent six Kuki-Chin subgroups, largest of which is Bawm. Security forces 17 May announced detention of chief coordinator of KNF’s women’s wing in Bandarban’s Sadar district. Shootout 23 May killed two KNF members in Sadar. Human rights group Amnesty International 22 May said over 100 Bawm had been arbitrarily detained amid anti-KNF crackdown. PM Sheikh Hasina 23 May claimed there was international conspiracy to establish “Christian state” in CHT. Govt official in India’s Mizoram state mid-May said 127 Bangladeshis fled into Mizoram in previous week due to anti-KNF operation; state now hosts 1,368 refugees from CHT. 

Opposition boycotted local polls. Authorities 8 May held first phase of local polls for districts known as upazila parishad, which saw voter turnout of 36% – lowest since voting was introduced in 2009; opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party boycotted vote and claimed people had rejected election.

China/Japan

China maintained naval activity in East China Sea and held high-level talks with Tokyo, while Japan sought to strengthen defence ties with Western partners. 

Beijing continued maritime presence. As of 27 May, Japan reported 104 Chinese vessels in Japan’s contiguous zone, while Japanese coast guard 8 May detected four Chinese vessels in Japan’s territorial waters off disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands; one vessel was reportedly armed with automatic cannon. Japan coast guard 19-20 May detected two Chinese vessels in Japan’s territorial waters and 24 May detected four Chinese vessels in Japan’s territorial waters. Ten-month impasse persisted over China’s deployment of buoy in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone in East China Sea, as Tokyo demands its removal. Meanwhile, Japan, U.S. and New Zealand 11-13 May conducted trilateral maritime exercise in East China Sea. 

Tokyo and Beijing held high-level talks. Senior Chinese diplomat Liu Jianchao and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida 29 May met in Japanese capital Tokyo, where pair discussed bilateral relations and issues such as Taiwan and discharge from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant into sea. Earlier, Tokyo 22 May lodged protest with China after Chinese ambassador to Japan reportedly warned that Japanese people would be dragged into fire if they supported Taiwan independence (see Taiwan Strait). 

Japan sought enhanced defence cooperation with Western partners. Defence ministers of Japan, Philippines, U.S. and Australia 2 May met in U.S. to deepen cooperation; officials confirmed Japan will work closely with U.S. and Australia to introduce counter-strike capabilities, while Japan and U.S. cabinet ministers will start talks on Japan’s “extended deterrence” capabilities, including nuclear weapons. Japan and France 3 May commenced talks on new security agreement on reciprocal access. U.S. senators 8 May introduced bipartisan bill requiring “AUKUS” – trilateral security partnership between Australia, UK and U.S. – officials to engage Japan on its potential inclusion under second pillar for advanced technology projects; China in April expressed “grave concern” over alliance’s expansion. 

India

Ethnic conflict in Manipur in north east marked first anniversary, national elections entered final phases amid suspicions of voting irregularities, and security forces continued deadly anti-Maoist operations.

In Manipur, ethnic conflict entered second year amid ongoing violence. Conflict in Manipur 3 May reached one-year mark with 67,000 displaced in 2023 and over 220 killed; Kuki and Meitei communities show no sign of compromise and hill areas remain beyond state govt’s control. In Kangkokpi district, leader of United Kuki National Army 5 May was reportedly killed by bodyguard. In Bishnupur district, security forces 17 May rescued 75 Meitei women from Kuki militants. In Imphal West district, unidentified gunmen 18 May killed labourer. In sign of conflict spilling across regional borders, The Hindu 14 May reported National Agency Investigation had charged “China-Myanmar module” of militant group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) – presently in peace talks with New Delhi – of facilitating infiltration of Meitei militants into Manipur to “destabilise state”; NSCN-IM rejected allegations and accused Indian forces of supporting Kuki insurgents in Myanmar to target Meitei rebels.

Elections neared completion. Ahead of completion of seven phases of national elections on 1 June, media in May continued to report allegations of voter exclusion of Muslims. Election Commission’s decision not to share polling in real time fuelled suspicion of potential voting manipulation in favour of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Meanwhile, BJP continued polarising and communal-based campaign speech: notably, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh 18 May declared Pakistan-administered Kashmir would become part of India within six months of BJP’s next term.

Anti-Maoist security operations continued. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), security forces 10 May killed twelve Maoists in Bijapur district and 23 May killed seven Maoists on border of Narayanpur and Bijapur districts; 34 Maoists 25 May surrendered in Bijapur. In Maharashtra state (west), security forces 13 May killed three Maoists in Gadchiroli district. 

Relations with China remained tense. China’s new ambassador 10 May arrived in New Delhi, declaring “our two countries are each other’s development opportunities and not threats”. FM S. Jaishanskar 14 May described China’s deployment of forces at Line of Actual Control as “very abnormal”.

India-Pakistan (Kashmir)

Militant attacks and security operations increased in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), while authorities held first ballots in region since 2019 as part of national elections. 

Militant attacks and security operations intensified after winter lull. In Jammu division, security forces 1 May killed alleged infiltrator from Pakistan in Samba district; militants 4 May attacked Air Force convoy in Poonch district, injuring four and killing one. In Kashmir division, security forces 6-8 May killed three Resistance Front militants, including top commander, during three-day operation in Kulgam district; security personnel 16 May allegedly killed four militants trying to infiltrate Line of Control in Kupwara district; militants 19 May shot dead ruling Bharatiya Janata Party worker in Anantnag district.

Voters cast ballots in three parliamentary constituencies representing J&K. Citizens had first chance to cast ballots in J&K since govt abrogated special status in 2019, with polls held in three parliamentary constituencies as part of national election (see India). In Srinagar city on 13 May, voter turnout reached 38%, highest since 1989; PM Narendra Modi next day claimed “abrogation of Article 370 has enabled potential and aspirations of people to find full expression”, prompting opposition political parties People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference next day to reject declaration, claiming vote reflected people’s expression against administrative changes made by New Delhi since 2019. In Baramulla on 21 May, voter turnout reached 59% – highest in four decades. Voter turnout in Anantnag-Rajouri election 25 May reached 54.3%, highest in 35 years.

Proscribed Islamist group announced intent to contest assembly elections. Prohibited socio-religious organisation Jamaat-e-Islami, banned by govt in 2019, 13 May announced it would contest assembly elections – mandated to be held by 30 Sept – if govt lifted ban; militant group The Resistance Front condemned group’s decision as betrayal of people’s wishes, while former chief minister Omar Abdullah welcomed announcement and urged govt to overturn ban.

Korean Peninsula

South Korea hosted China and Japan at first trilateral summit since 2019, which North Korea protested by attempting fourth spy satellite launch in two years. 

Seoul hosted summit with China and Japan. Leaders of South Korea, Japan and China 26-27 May met in capital Seoul, marking first such meeting since 2019. In joint statement dominated by shared economic concerns, trio reconfirmed three issues – respectively reflecting China’s, South Korea’s and Japan’s concerns – regarding North Korea, saying that they “reiterated positions on regional peace and stability, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the abductions issue”; all noted that “maintaining peace, stability and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia serves our common interest”. Pyongyang responded that discussion of denuclearisation was “insult never to be pardoned and a declaration of war”.

North Korea attempted satellite launch and launched missiles. Responding to first day of South Korea-hosted summit, which saw meeting between South Korea and Japan, North Korea 26 May announced its intention to launch a satellite (using banned ballistic missile technology) in window spanning 27 May to 4 June. Pyongyang next day launched satellite that failed due to technical issue; video taken by Japanese journalists from Chinese city of Dandong on North Korean border showed rocket exploding two minutes after launch. Leader Kim Jong-un 28 May condemned South Korea drills involving fighter jets near border. South Korea’s military 29 May reported around 260 North Korean balloons carrying waste were found countrywide, in apparent retaliation for South Korean activists flying leaflets across border into north. North Korea 30 May fired ten suspected short-range ballistic missiles into waters off east coast.

Seoul and Tokyo imposed sanctions on Russia-North Korea arms trade. Japan 25 May announced sanctions on eleven organisations and one individual linked to military cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow, while South Korea same day designated “seven North Korean individuals and two Russian vessels” for “involvement in the provision of materials and financing for North Korea’s nuclear and missile development”.

Myanmar

Arakan Army expanded control in west, fuelling communal Rakhine-Rohingya violence that could escalate further in coming weeks; regime lost further ground in north, while hostilities in centre killed over 50. 

In west, Arakan Army’s (AA) headway against regime worsened communal violence. In Rakhine state (west), AA made progress across Rakhine state as it sought to control northern townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, capturing former 18 May then launching offensive on latter, while also encircling military’s Western Command headquarters in Ann and pushing south into Thandwe. Regime responded to losses with artillery barrages and airstrikes. AA’s advance further stoked communal tensions with Rohingya amid allegations of AA extrajudicial killings, torching twenty villages and forced relocations. In response, Rohingya militias in Maungdaw 6-9 May targeted at least two Rakhine villages, burning dozens of homes and killing pregnant woman; allegations subsequently surfaced of AA retaliation on Rohingya villages around Buthidaung, while AA 17 May allegedly shelled school in Buthidaung on 17 May, killing eighteen Rohingya; its forces were accused of burning thousands of Rohingya homes. Rohingya armed groups have ramped up their recruitment in Bangladesh’s refugee camps (see Bangladesh). As Rohingya community increasingly becomes party to conflict, there is serious risk of large-scale communal violence and armed group atrocities against civilians (see Conflict in Focus). 

In north, Kachin forces made further gains against regime. In Kachin state (north), Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and allied forces early May launched fresh wave of attacks against regime bases along Myitkyina-Bhamo highway and 5 May captured Sumprabum town in state’s north. KIA 21 May captured light infantry base in Waingmaw, across river from state capital Myitkyina.

In centre, regime and resistance attacks killed dozens. In Magway region (centre), regime airstrike 9 May killed at least twenty in Saw township. In Mandalay region (centre), regime accused resistance forces of killing 32 villagers in Myingyan township; resistance group claimed residents were caught in crossfire. 

In south east, regime convoy sought to reinforce Myawaddy town. In Kayin state (south east), after Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and allied resistance groups in April temporarily overran Myawaddy on Thai border, regime convoy to bolster forces made slow progress through Dawna mountain range. 

New Caledonia (France)

France’s proposed voting reforms triggered worst unrest in four decades, killing at least seven.

In New Caledonia – a special overseas collectivity of France – pro-independence alliance of parties 13 May organised protests in capital Nouméa against electoral reform bill debated in National Assembly in French capital Paris to expand voting rights in provincial polls; voting rights are restricted to Indigenous Kanaks and those who arrived from France before 1998, but bill proposed to include French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for ten years; Indigenous community – comprising around 40% of 271,000 population – widely fear bill would dilute vote share. Protests quickly morphed into worst riots and unrest since 1984–88 troubles, with widespread reports of torched vehicles, looting, erection of road barricades and clashes with police; after National Assembly 14 May approved reform, unrest intensified, leaving three young Kanaks and police officer dead. Paris 15 May declared state of emergency and announced deployment of additional 1,000 police officers and gendarmes. France 16-17 May accused Azerbaijan of meddling and identified Azeri social media accounts of spreading anti-French propaganda, and banned social media platform TikTok until 29 May. Police 18 May reported gun battle between unidentified groups killed one at roadblock in Kaala-Gomen, North Province. President Macron 22 May visited Nouméa and next day delayed voting reform after talks with leaders; Macron called for new political agreement on New Caledonia’s future, acknowledged widening inequality and described unrest as “unprecedented insurrection”. Police 24 May shot dead individual following group attack, bringing death toll of unrest to at least seven. Pro-independence Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front 25 May stated that solution must be “political and non-repressive”. France 28 May lifted state of emergency, but international airport remained closed.

Pakistan

Pakistan and Afghanistan engaged in sporadic border clashes, killing two soldiers, while militant attacks continued in border provinces and protests over prices turned violent in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Deadly border hostilities resumed between Pakistan and Taliban forces. Pakistani aircraft 10 May conducted strikes inside Afghanistan, killing at least four suspected Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants. As Pakistani forces 13 May tried to fortify positions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kurram district, clashes erupted with Taliban forces which lasted six days and killed at least one Pakistani soldier and Taliban forces member; sides 18 May agreed to ceasefire reportedly negotiated by tribal elders. Interior minister and top counter-terrorism chief 26 May held Pakistani Taliban responsible for 26 March suicide attack that killed five Chinese engineers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Sangla district, requested Kabul to arrest or hand over alleged planners along with TTP leadership; minister warned of “unilateral action” if Kabul does not cooperate. 

Militant attacks continued in border provinces and spread into Punjab. In sign of expanding Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacks into Punjab province, heavily-armed militants 1 May attacked checkpoint in Taunsa district, injuring seven police constables, and gun battle between police and TTP militants in Rawalpindi city same day killed constable.In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two militant attacks 11 May killed seven military personnel in North Waziristan, marking one of deadliest attacks of May. Military 27 May said operation previous day killed 23 militants in Peshawar’s Hassan Khel area. In Balochistan province, suspected Baloch militants 9 May shot dead seven Punjabis in Gwadar district.

Unrest erupted in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Alliance of civil society organisations 11 May commenced protest march over high prices of flour and electricity. Clashes lasted several days with security forces, killing five, including constable, and injuring over 100. PM Sharif 14 May accepted demands for subsidies to offset high prices.

Relations between former PM Imran Khan and military plummeted further. Ahead of first anniversary of 9 May 2023 anti-military unrest led by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), military 7 May called on Khan to publicly apologise and abandon “politics of anarchy and hate”. PTI same day condemned military’s “irrational, illogical and venomous press conference”. 

Philippines

Clan feuds and militant attacks continued in south as region geared up for 2025 elections, while govt forces battled Communist militants. 

Insecurity persisted in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). In Lanao del Sur province, five gunmen 1 May ambushed three militiamen in Marogong town in likely clan feud. In Basilan province, gunmen 4 May ambushed group of men in Akbar town, sparking firefight that wounded six, including municipal councillor of Tuburan town. In Cotabato city, assailants 19 May lobbed grenade at Catholics, injuring two. On political front, Bangsamoro Grand Coalition, composed of several parties representing ruling political clans in different provinces in BARMM, 18 May endorsed Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan as their candidate for Bangsamoro chief minister in autonomous region’s first elections scheduled for May 2025; Tan will be pitted against Bangsamoro interim Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, supported by parties affiliated with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Clashes continued between security forces and Communist rebels. Hostilities between military and Communist militants in Mindanao (Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato) in south and Visayas (Samar, Negros and Iloilo) in centre killed twelve combatants and civilians and injured three.

South China Sea

Maritime encounters between Philippines and China in South China Sea (SCS) continued to fuel tensions and strain relations. 

Maritime incidents ratcheted up tensions between Manila and Beijing. Philippines 1 May accused China’s coast guard of escalating tensions in SCS after Chinese vessels fired water cannons at two Philippine ships en route to Scarborough Shoal, causing damage to both; U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin next day accused China of “irresponsible behaviour”. Reports surfaced mid-May that Philippines had deployed ships to monitor Chinese activity amid allegations Beijing had created artificial island on Escoda (Sabina) Shoal. Philippine National Security Advisor Eduardo Ano 10 May called for expulsion of Chinese diplomats over alleged leak of phone conversation between Philippine Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos and Chinese attaché in which former purportedly agreed to Chinese demands related to Second Thomas Shoal; Ano accused China’s embassy of “disinformation” to sow discord. Admiral Carlos 28 May denied making “secret deal” with China. Philippine civilian group Atin Ito (“This is Ours”) 14 May embarked on resupply mission to local fishermen in Scarborough Shoal despite threat of Chinese blockades; Chinese coast guard 16 May claimed it drove away flotilla near shoal, while Atin Ito claimed “major victory”. Philippine Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro 24 May called rules permitting Chinese Coast Guard to fire on foreign vessels in SCS “provocation”.

U.S. and Philippines concluded annual exercises. U.S. and Philippines 10 May concluded annual Balikatan military drills, which commenced 22 April, involving over 16,000 personnel and held in sensitive areas like Bashi Channel – critical waterway between Taiwan and Philippines. U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer 10 May sailed near contested Paracels to challenge “unlawful and sweeping maritime claims”; China, Vietnam and Taiwan claim island chain. U.S. Navy 26 May announced transit of SCS by Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt following Singapore port visit 24 May.

In other important developments. Group of twenty Taiwanese lawmakers of opposition Kuomintang and Taiwan People’s Party 18 May visited Taiping Island, urging President-elect Lai Ching-te publicly reaffirm Taiwan’s claim over island; island is also claimed by China, Vietnam and Philippines. Three Indian naval ships 7 May arrived in Singapore as part of deployment to SCS. 

Sri Lanka

Civil war commemorations drew large crowds in eastern and northern provinces, UN criticised govt inaction over unsolved enforced disappearances, and proposed economic reforms divided parties. 

Wave of events marked 15th anniversary of civil war’s end. Ahead of fifteenth anniversary of end of civil war on 18 May, known increasingly by Tamil activists as “Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”, Tamils in north and east of island, and in diaspora communities worldwide, organised series of commemorations: notably, police 12 May in eastern town of Trincomalee arrested four Tamil women serving “kanji” dish to commemorate Tamils killed in final weeks of 2009 war; other commemorations in north and east were allowed to proceed under tight police and military surveillance. Thousands 18 May gathered at Mullivaikkal beach, scene of final massacres of thousands of Tamil civilians and fighters in 2009; marking first ever attendance of international dignitary at war commemoration event, Amnesty International Sec Gen Agnès Callamard spoke at Mullivaikkal, criticising govt’s “clampdown on memory initiatives, including arrests, arbitrary detentions and deliberately skewed interpretations of Tamil community’s attempts to remember people lost to war”. Consortium of Buddhist and Tamil groups 17 May held first-ever inter-religious and inter-ethnic event in capital Colombo’s centre to commemorate all those killed.

UN report highlighted enforced disappearances. UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 17 May issued major report detailing decades of unsolved, un-investigated enforced disappearances of tens of thousands of people, urging govt to acknowledge involvement of “state security forces and affiliated paramilitary groups” and stating that “alleged perpetrators, including current and former senior officials and diplomats, continue to evade justice”; report criticised govt’s poor record in addressing issues and urged it to establish independent persecutorial authority.

Govt’s economic policies courted criticism. Cabinet 6 May approved twenty-year power purchase agreement for development of 484 MW of wind power generated by stations in north west; economists and opposition politicians criticised lack of competitive bidding for deal, as environmentalists highlighted threat to migratory birds. Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa 16 May attacked proposed sale of state-owned enterprises, a central pillar of International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) economic reform agenda.

Taiwan Strait

Cross-strait tensions rose as new Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te articulated tougher cross-strait posture in inaugural address, prompting China to issue threats and launch major military drills.

Incoming president signalled new posture, triggering China’s “punishment” drills. Marking start of unprecedented third term for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), President-elect Lai Ching-te 20 May assumed office and gave inaugural address in which he firmly asserted Taiwan’s sovereignty and refrained from reaffirming predecessor Tsai Ing-wen’s conciliatory nod to Beijing’s “one China” position; he urged China “to cease their political and military intimidation against Taiwan” and cautioned that so long as Beijing does not renounce use of force its “ambition to annex Taiwan will not simply disappear”. In response, China next day described Lai as “disgraceful” and remarked “all Taiwan independence separatists will be nailed to the pillar of shame in history”. In first such drills since April 2023 when then-U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy visited Taiwan, China 22 May commenced two-day military exercises in five zones encircling Taiwan as well as around Taiwan’s islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin near Chinese coast. Chinese law enforcement vessels took part in exercises around Taiwan’s outlying islands, as well as to Taiwan’s south west and east. Beijing said activities were aimed at “punishing” Lai and testing Beijing’s ability to “seize power” and “occupy key areas”. U.S. 25 May expressed deep concern and urged Beijing to act with restraint. 

Domestic political tensions rose in Taiwan. Legislation tabled by opposition parties Kuomintang (KMT) and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) to grant legislature increased scrutinising powers over the executive passed 28 May; ruling DPP sees bill as attempt to undermine its control of executive and said it would seek constitutional review of bill. Protests took place over multiple days, totalling tens of thousands outside parliament, over opposition’s attempt to fast-track bill’s passage and its contents. 

U.S. continued support for Taiwan. Reports 14 May revealed that U.S. and Taiwan in April conducted unofficial joint naval drills in Pacific to boost cooperation, involving multiple military assets and basic operations. Since Lai’s inauguration, two U.S. congressional delegations visited Taiwan. 

Thailand

Deep south peace dialogue resumed amid militant attacks; activist’s death in detention sparked controversy and authorities convicted opposition MP and charged former PM Thaksin Shinawatra for lèse-majesté.

Deep south peace dialogue resumed as militants staged attacks. Govt delegation and representatives of main southern separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional 19-21 May held 10th Joint Technical Committee Meeting of Joint Working Group Peace Dialogue Process (JWG-PDP) in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur; sides discussed reduction of violence, monitoring mechanisms and Terms of Reference for monitoring teams. Malaysian facilitator’s office 21 May declared itself “gratified” with progress. Meanwhile, in Pattani province, officers 1 May killed two suspected militants in Thung Yang Daeng district; IED secreted in motorcycle 6 May wounded two defence volunteers and two civilians in Muang district. In Narathiwat province, IED explosions 20 May killed two defence volunteers in Sukhirin district.

Activist died in custody, as authorities used lèse-majesté to stifle dissent. Following 110-day hunger strike, imprisoned activist Netiporn Bung Saneysangkhom 14 May died after suffering heart attack; Netiporn was awaiting trial on charges including lèse-majesté for conducting public opinion polls about royal motorcades. After PM Srettha Thavisin 15 May pledged transparent investigation, lawyer next day said autopsy found her stomach empty, raising questions about treatment. Opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) MP Rangsiman Rome 15 May assessed “faith that people of Thailand have in our justice system is at an all-time low”. As Constitutional Court considered case to ban MFP, Court in Pathum Thani province 27 May convicted Chonthicha Jangrew, MFP parliamentarian, of defaming monarchy for 2021 speech calling for release of political prisoners. Office of the Attorney-General 29 May announced former PM Thaksin Shinawatra will be indicted on charges of lèse-majesté and computer crimes for 2015 speech in South Korea.

Caretaker senators sought dismissal of PM. Forty senators 17 May petitioned Constitutional Court to dismiss PM Srettha Thavisin and PM’s Office Minister Pichit Chuenban from office for ethics violations; senators maintain that Srettha’s appointment of Pichit breached standards as Pichit served six months in jail in 2008 for contempt of court. Pichit 21 May resigned. 

Europe & Central Asia

Armenia

Peace talks with Azerbaijan continued, protests against border delimitation deal spread to capital, and relations with Russia remained strained.

Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process saw more positive momentum. Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process gained momentum following border agreement in April, in which Yerevan agreed to return four villages to Baku, with leaders from both sides expressing optimism about signing peace deal by Nov climate conference (COP29) in Azerbaijan. Notably, PM Pashinyan 14 May said “the time has come” to sign deal; earlier, Azerbaijani President Aliyev 23 April said “it is absolutely realistic to reach an agreement… before COP29”. Country’s FMs 10-11 May held talks in Kazakh city Almaty. Countries’ border delimitation commissions 15 May held their ninth meeting, signed protocol confirming demarcation of section of their northernmost border as per April agreement; Baku 24 May assumed control of four villages, with troops from both sides responsible for protecting their respective sections of newly demarcated border segment. 

Protests against border deal led by Archbishop Galstanyan continued. Protests that erupted in Tavush region in response to border deal continued. Archbishop Galstanyan of Tavush Diocese emerged as prominent leader of movement, 4 May instigating march from Tavush to capital Yerevan. Church backed demonstrations, with Supreme Spiritual Council 7 May urging govt to heed protesters’ demands. Upon reaching Yerevan, tens of thousands 9 May converged at Republic Square, where Galstanyan called for govt’s resignation; protests continued in following days, leading to hundreds of arrests amid confrontations with police. Following brief lull, thousands 26 May attended demonstration in Yerevan where Galstanyan reiterated his intention to challenge Pashinyan and declared readiness to lead n