Tracking Conflict World Wide - February 2006

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Africa

Burundi

Prospect of peace talks between Front National de Libération (FNL) rebels and government remained low, further complicated by UN mission (ONUB) call for FNL to disarm unconditionally. Clashes between security forces and FNL continued, 5 rebels and 1 soldier killed outside Bujumbura 15 February. ONUB continued progressive disengagement with withdrawal of Kenyan peacekeepers. Government rejected UN Special Representative McAskie’s proposal for forum of Burundi’s donors to replace Arusha Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee, whose mandate expired August 2005, saying proposed body would undertake tasks in government’s domain and justify undesired extension of ONUB’s mandate. Additional 780 political prisoners freed as part of amnesty launched January; released will face questioning by truth commission and possible re-incarceration.

Central African Republic

Clashes between army and bandits in northwest displaced over 4,000 villagers; many fled to Chad. Refugees reported 50 killed in violence.

Chad

Relations with Sudan improved with 8 February agreement in Libya to end support to each other’s rebel groups and establish force to patrol border. Cross-border raids continued despite accord and high-level defections from Chad’s army to Darfur-based Chadian rebels increasing likelihood of continued escalation between neighbours; many refugees fled to Darfur to escape fighting. Sudanese and Chadian militias from Darfur, with apparent Sudanese government backing, reportedly behind attacks. Chadian rebels demanded President Deby hold national forum for change ahead of 3 May presidential election; threatened coup.

Democratic Republic of Congo

New constitution officially adopted 18 February granting DRC new legal framework, including president-PM power share and 2-term limit for elected president. Parliament approved electoral law but election commission announced polls delayed until 18 June from 29 April. EU investigating option of sending troops to reinforce UN mission (MONUC) for elections, but took no decision on size of force and member state contributions. Fighting continued in North Kivu and Katanga between army and militias. MONUC threatened to stop assisting army trying to push out rebels in east, if DRC troops continue to commit human rights violations during operations. Setback for reintegration of ex-fighters into army after 6 starved to death at Kamina training camp because allotted rations and payment not arriving.

Rwanda

Local government elections held 6 and 20 February passed off peacefully with high voter turnout; mayors to be chosen 1 March by newly elected officials; key steps in broader decentralisation process. Norway agreed to try former Rwandan official Michel Bagaragaza for role during 1994 genocide as Rwanda criticised transfer of case from International Criminal Tribunal.

Ethiopia/Eritrea

Situation remained tense along disputed border with troop movement reported on both sides. UN Security Council agreed 8 February to give U.S. 30 days to resolve border dispute before considering troop redeployment. Witnesses of 2000 Algiers Agreement (Algeria, AU, EU, UN, U.S.) met 22 February in attempt to expedite border demarcation process but Asmara refused to work with independent boundary commission to resolve dispute. Eritrea arrested 27 local UN mission staff; 25 later released but no official reason given for arrests.

Ethiopia

Trial of 129 opposition members charged with treason after November 2005 rioting opened 23 February. EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel met with PM Zenawi in effort to restore dialogue; visited jailed opposition and reported many needed urgent medical attention, including CUD party Chairman Hailu Shawel.

Somalia

Transitional parliament met in Somalia for first time in Baidoa 26 February; adjourned session for 1 week to allow members to resolve personal differences. Insecurity continued throughout country: heavy fighting between militia associated with Islamic courts and those loyal to Mogadishu warlords left at least 38 dead in capital. Severe drought led to clashes between rival clans for control of dam inside Ethiopian border; at least 12 killed. In Puntland, clashes between gunmen loyal to Planning Minister Farole and security forces killed 3; mass protest against Danish newspaper cartoons killed 1.

Somaliland

Land dispute in Hargeysa flared into inter-clan conflict; 6 killed. President Kahin appointed mediation committee at emergency cabinet meeting.

Sudan

UN Security Council authorised planning for expected re-hatting of AU mission in Darfur to UN mission, despite strong objections from Khartoum; resolution expected March after AU makes final decision on handover. UNSG Annan asked U.S. President Bush for greater U.S. role in Darfur; Bush called for doubling of international troops and role for NATO in planning and logistics. Little progress in Darfur peace talks with continued insecurity on ground. UK FM Straw warned would consider UN sanctions if no headway made. Sudan and Chad signed agreement in Libya to end cross-border dispute, committing to preventing presence of rebels on other’s territory. UN expert panel recommended Security Council extend arms embargo; discussions on sanctions for individuals seen to be blocking peace process continued. 7 killed in clashes between South Sudan Defence Forces and SPLA in Upper Nile region. Eastern Front rebels indefinitely postponed peace talks with government.

Uganda

President Museveni reelected with 59% of vote in first ever multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections 23 February. Main opposition rival Kiiza Besigye, still on trial for treason, second with 37%; to contest results. Ruling NRM party reportedly won 202 of 309 parliamentary seats while opposition FDC won 40. No major election day violence reported though police clashed with opposition supporters outside Besigye’s headquarters. International observers said state media favoured Museveni during campaign, while security forces allegedly intimidated opposition. Tensions between courts and military increased after latter defied court and re-arrested 14 accused of treason with Besigye. Military killed 4 LRA rebels in cross-border operations in Sudan.

Angola

President Eduardo Dos Santos indicated presidential elections to be postponed until 2007 to allow for infrastructure repair and voter registration.

Swaziland

King Mswati III officially brought new constitution into effect 8 February; maintains monarchy’s absolute powers. Attacks on government targets continued with Mbabane police camp petrol-bombed. 1 of 16 members of banned PUDEMO opposition party charged with high treason pleaded guilty and confessed to planning attacks on government targets.

Zimbabwe

Former activist Arthur Mutambara voted head of pro-senate faction as battle with disputed leader Morgan Tsvangirai for leadership of opposition MDC party continued. Government announced plan to allow seizure of passports of critics. Zimbabwe avoided IMF’s threat of expulsion by paying off $9 million in debt; inflation expected to worsen beyond current 613% after government printed money to pay off loan.

Côte d’Ivoire

Key talks between political and rebel leaders, including President Gbagbo and rebel Guillaume Soro, aimed at reviving peace process held 28 February in Yamoussoukro. Meeting of UN-backed international mediators passed off peacefully 17 February; January meeting had provoked violent demonstrations against UN by Gbagbo supporters, angry at mediators’ recommendation to dissolve parliament. UN Security Council approved move of small mechanised unit from Liberia to Côte d’Ivoire, though Annan requested larger reinforcement. UN imposed sanctions on Gbagbo supporters Charles Ble Goude and Eugene Djue and rebel commander Fofie Kouakou for hampering peace efforts.

Guinea

Unions representing 80% of all workers called 5- day general strike 27 February to demand wage increases. Protests held in Guekedou against appointment of mayor belonging to ruling PUP party, which won disputed electoral victory in December; 2 killed in clashes with police.

Liberia

New President Johnson-Sirleaf inaugurated 7- member Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed during 24-year civil war and launched anti- corruption drive with overhaul of finance ministry. Nominations to cabinet and other top posts nearly complete: controversy over appointment of Nigerian to head restructuring of army and former elections commission chief as justice minister. Workers at Firestone rubber plantation went on strike demanding better wages and work conditions.

Nigeria

Security deteriorated with upsurge in religious and political violence. Protests by Muslims against Danish cartoons satirising Prophet Mohammed turned violent, killing 50, mostly Christians, as churches and Christian businesses targeted in several northern cities. In response, riots broke out against Muslims in Christian south; over 100 reported dead. Security situation remained volatile in Delta region, after new series of politically motivated attacks by Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta on oil infrastructure and kidnapping of 9 foreign workers.

Sierra Leone

Trial continued for former leader of Civil Defence Forces militia Samuel Hinga Norman, indicted by UN Special Court for crimes against humanity during civil war: President Kabbah subpoenaed to testify. In local trial, former Revolutionary United Front rebel spokesman Omrie Golley and 2 co-defendants charged with treason boycotted proceedings alleging judge biased.

Asia

China (internal)

Beijing moved to prevent future rural unrest through plan to give aid to poor farmers. Former Communist Party chief He Feng jailed for life after hiring thugs to beat up rural protesters.

Korean Peninsula

Talks with Japan failed to solve any outstanding issues. NK repeated condition for returning to 6-party nuclear talks, suspended since November 2005, would be lifting of U.S. economic sanctions. North-South military-level talks to resume 2 March after 19-month hiatus.

Taiwan Strait

Tension raised between Beijing and Taipei after President Chen Shui-bian announced National Unification Council and its guidelines would “cease to function” 27 February. Move brought condemnation from Beijing who previously called Chen “troublemaker and saboteur”.

Afghanistan

London Conference endorsing “Afghanistan Compact” saw 60 nations and organisations pledge ongoing commitment to Afghanistan, with ambitious benchmarks for governance, development and security; over $10 billion promised. Dutch parliament voted in favour of sending troops to restive southern region of Uruzgan, while first British troops arrived in neighbouring Helmand province. 12 killed in violent protests against cartoons in European publications. Violence in Helmand province killed 6 police and 20 Taliban, allegedly in connection with control of drug routes. Sectarian clashes between Shiite minority and Sunnis at 9 February Ashura festi