Tracking Conflict Worldwide - November 2011


The Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential and parliamentary vote went ahead on 28-30 November, after a campaign marred by violence and amid allegations of rigging and mismanagement. Political rallies were banned in the wake of election-related clashes in Kinshasa on the eve of polls, and sporadic reports of violence emerged, including from Lubumbashi and West Kasai, during voting. Four opposition candidates have already called for results to be invalidated, aggravating fears that violence may escalate as results come in – especially if the presidential contest is close. CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for the Democratic Republic of Congo for December.

Trends and Outlook

In Burundi state troops clashed with the recently formed Forces for the Restoration of Democracy; the government reported 18 rebels killed. A civil society coalition group claimed 300 National Liberation Forces (FNL) members had been killed since July by government-backed death squads. Signs of media repression increased.

Relations between Sudan and South Sudan deteriorated further this month. On 9 November the Sudanese Armed Forces reportedly launched cross-border airstrikes on Maban County in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State, and a day later bombed Yida refugee camp in Unity state, killing 12. Late-month negotiations between the two sides failed to achieve a settlement on contentious oil and transitional financial arrangements. Both Sudan and South Sudan also grappled with internal instability. In Sudan, government forces repeatedly clashed with rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In South Sudan, South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) rebels continued to attack towns in Unity State, and rebel leader George Athor vowed to continue attacks in Jonglei after negotiations with President Kiir failed.

In Syria violence continued, with the regime’s brutal crackdown ongoing, elements of the protest movement increasingly militarised, the conflict internationalised and the Arab League’s attempt to end the bloodshed running aground. A United Nations report accused President Bashar Assad’s regime of crimes against humanity in its eight-month repression of anti-regime protests, which it says has left at least 3,500 people dead. Assad looked increasingly isolated as his refusal to implement measures agreed with the Arab League led the League to suspend Syria and introduce economic sanctions. CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for Syria amid signs that violence may escalate in the coming month.

NATO airstrikes on two Pakistan military border outposts left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead and U.S.-Pakistani relations in tatters. Islamabad swiftly condemned the attacks, requesting NATO vacate its airbase in Balochistan and shutting down its supply routes. The incident also damaged already strained Pakistani relations with Afghanistan, with the Pakistani government threatening to boycott forthcoming Bonn talks on Afghanistan.

Tensions continued to rise in Kosovo. Late month violence in the north between international KFOR troops and ethnic Serbs who are barricading customs gates with Serbia left dozens injured. Earlier in the month three ethnic Serbs including a Kosovo Police officer were wounded, one fatally, in a clash with ethnic Albanians in North Mitrovica.

Myanmar saw further positive developments this month. The announcement by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD party that they will contest seats in forthcoming by-elections marked their return to the political process. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s arrival in Myanmar at the end of the month – the first such visit for over 50 years – capped a flurry of other diplomatic visits. On 18 November, ASEAN leaders confirmed that Myanmar will chair the group in 2014.

On 1 November leaders of Nepal’s four main political parties signed a landmark deal to integrate one third of former Maoist rebels into the national army and give others financial rehabilitation packages, removing a major stumbling block to the drafting of a new constitution.

Morocco held the first elections under its new constitution, approved by referendum in July, which devolved some power from the monarch. The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) won 107 of the 395 seats in parliament. King Mohamed VI appointed as new prime minister the party’s secretary general Abdelilah Benkirane, who will now hold talks on forming a coalition government.

Following the official announcement of last months’ historic election results, Tunisia’s new Constituent Assembly held its first session on 22 November. The main parties quickly agreed to form a new government, with Hamadi Jebali, the leader of the moderate Islamist An-Nahda party which took over 41% of the vote, assuming the post of prime minister.

The first stage of parliamentary elections in Egypt took place at the end of November. The polls, the first since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February, were mostly peaceful despite deadly protests earlier in the month against the interim military leaders who replaced Mubarak. At least 41 people were killed and over 2,000 injured in clashes between security forces and activists. Crisiswatch maintains a close watching brief on developments in that country.

Latest Updates

Africa

Burundi

Troops 21 Nov clashed with recently-formed Forces for the Restoration of Democracy (FRD-Abanyagihugu) in Cancuzo; govt said 18 rebels killed. Civil society coalition Government Action Observatory 22 Nov said govt-backed death squads covertly killed over 300 FNL members since July. Reporters Without Borders 16 Nov called on govt to halt intimidation campaign after 9 radio journalists repeatedly summoned to prosecutor’s office early Nov over allegations of endangering public order related to Sept Gatumba massacre reportage; radio reporter arrested 28 Nov for allegedly helping FRD-Abanyagihugu.

Cameroon

Security forces early-Nov arrested Cameroonian People’s Liberation Army leader Rev Bertin Kisob, suspected of ordering 9 Oct killing of 2 gendarmes in Bakassi Peninsula and 29 Sept attack on Douala bridge. National anti-corruption commission 13 Nov issued report accusing several ministries of mismanagement, embezzlement. UNSG Ban praised Cameroon, Nigeria for implementation of ICJ ruling on Bakassi peninsula border dispute.

Central African Republic

Gunmen 9 Nov killed 2 soldiers in attack on Ubangui river 30km SW of Bangui. Police tried to evict traders in Bangui 15 Nov; fighting left 2 dead, 6 wounded. Chadian rebels under Baba Laddé reported 19 Nov forcefully recruiting, raiding cattle near Bambari. Border with Cameroon closed for 3 days 24 Nov when govt troops opened fire in clash with policeman and Cameroonian military rapid intervention force.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Fears violence will escalate following 28-30 presidential elections marred by disorganisation, allegations of fraud and violence, and subsequent call by 4 opposition candidates for results to be invalidated. SADC, AU observers 30 Nov said polls success, no basis for annulment. Political rallies banned 26 Nov following violence in Kinshasa; police 28 Nov fired tear gas on crowd gathered at Kinshasa polling station. 7 killed 28 Nov in 2 separate clashes in Lubumbashi and West Kasai, SE. Opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) leader Tshisekedi 7 Nov proclaimed himself president, told followers to jailbreak political prisoners, provoking national, international condemnation. Opposition Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) candidate Marcus Gangale shot dead 22 Nov in Kinshasa. UNSC 29 Nov added Mai Mai Shka leader and parliamentary candidate Ntabo Sheka to UN sanctions list. UN Joint Human Rights Office report 9 Nov documented 188 rights violations Nov 2010 -Sept 2011, most involving police or National Intelligence Services.

Rwanda

Dutch Ambassador 14 Nov, provided Rwandan prosecutor with documents to be used in trial of opposition United Democratic Forces (UDF)-INKINGI leader Victoire Ingabire; UDF-INKINGI 16 Nov protested in Brussels, denounced “political” trial.

Eritrea

Govt 2 Nov denied reports it supplied weapons to Somalia’s al-Shabaab; 21 Nov complained to UNSC over Kenyan allegations it sent weapons, called for independent investigation, urged UN take action (see Kenya).

Ethiopia

IGAD 25 Nov said Ethiopia had agreed to back efforts to defeat Somalia’s al-Shabaab; heavily armed troop convoys reported crossing into Somalia. 25 people, including senior Unite for Democracy and Justice Party politicians and 6 journalists, charged 10 Nov with terrorism; Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International 21 Nov called on govt to stop using anti-terrorism laws to stifle dissent. Teacher died after 11 Nov self-immolation at public meeting to protest repression. Court 3 Nov dropped participating in terrorism charges against 2 Swedish journalists; still charged with supporting terrorist group, entering Ethiopia illegally.

Kenya

Series of al-Shabaab retaliatory attacks in northern border region. 2 killed, 3 injured 5 Nov in grenade attack on church in Garissa town, bomb planted at power transformer in central Garissa failed to detonate; attack blamed on al-Shabaab sympathizer. Al-Shabaab 6 Nov attacked police camp in Mandera district, left 1 dead; bomb targeting police exploded 15 Nov at Dadaab refugee camp wounding 4. UN aid convoy 5 Nov struck landmine which failed to detonate in Dadaab camp. Garissa leaders 19 Nov accused military of excessive force to flush out suspected al-Shabaab. Police 13 Nov reported 30 Kenya-based al-Shabaab militants accepted police amnesty; 26 Nov arrested 5 suspected al-Shabaab fighters in Lamu, 29 Nov arrested 4 suspects in Kiunga. Govt 1 Nov claimed aircraft delivering weapons to al-Shabaab landed in Baidoa, southern Somalia; FM Wetangula suggested arms supplied by Eritrea; govt 27 Nov filed case before UNSC sanctions committee calling for investigation, sparking diplomatic row. Series of public worker strikes mid-Nov over cost of Somalia military operation, low wages. Sudan 29 Nov expelled Kenya’s ambassador to Khartoum, day after Kenya court ruling ordered execution of ICC arrest warrant for Sudan President Bashir if he enters Kenya; Nairobi called ruling “unhelpful”, plans to appeal. Supreme Court 15 Nov refused to rule on date for elections, prompting increased concern over govt attempt to amend polling timeline.

Somalia

At least 2 killed 8 Nov in Mogadishu grenade attack as al-Shabaab warned of increased assaults, claimed to have killed 15 govt soldiers in separate attacks. Al-Shabaab 2 Nov claimed 10 Kenyan soldiers killed in ambush on convoy near Dhobley; Kenya denied. At least 6 soldiers killed 12 Nov in grenade attack in Mogadishu’s Dharkenley district; landmine 12 Nov killed at least 9 al-Shabaab fighters in Bula Burde district, Hiran. Transitional Federal Govt (TFG), al-Shabaab 15 Nov both claimed victory in clashes in Hawin town, south. Kenyan troops backed by warships 20 Nov destroyed 2 al-Shabaab training camps in Badade district, Lower Juba. 10 killed by roadside bomb in Wagajir, Mogadishu 22 Nov; at least 7 killed 28 Nov in bomb attack on Mogadishu hospital. Suicide bomber killed 4 in 30 Nov attack on Mogadishu army headquarters. TFG President Sharif 16 Nov met with Kenyan, Ugandan counterparts, agreed to coordinated approach. Ethiopian troops 26 Nov reportedly reached Hiran. 3 al-Shabaab leaders, including former head of Union of Islamic Courts Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys targeted 13 Nov in missile strike on camp in Afgoye, U.S. denied involvement; 17 killed, 67 wounded 15 Nov in reported drone strike in Dhobley. Head of UN OCHA in Mogadishu 17 Nov said looting of aid major problem; 1 killed 11 Nov when soldiers fired on crowd at Mogadishu food distribution point; 6 killed, 25 wounded 17 Nov when govt forces reportedly opened fire, aid in Mogadishu camp. Al-Shabaab 28 Nov banned 16 aid groups, stole UN agencies from territory.

Somaliland

2 police officers killed 3 Nov in clash with gunmen in Erigavo town, Sanaag, area claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland. Puntland govt 9 Nov accused Somaliland security forces of killing 4, wounding 13 in Erigavo district, Sanaag 5-6 Nov.

South Sudan

North-South relations further deteriorated when Sudanese Armed Forces reportedly launched cross-border air-strikes on Maban County, Upper Nile State, and 10 Nov bombed  Yida refugee camp, Unity state, killing 12; Khartoum denied. Negotiations with Sudan 25-30 Nov made no progress on oil and outstanding issues (See Sudan). Clashes between South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) rebels and govt forces continued. SSLA 24 Nov claimed govt soldiers and officer captured, urged civilians and aid workers to evacuate Mayom, Unity State, ahead of planned attack. Militia with suspected ties to rebel George Athor 16 Nov attacked 3 villages in Jonglei killing 4; Athor 20 Nov said further violence likely after talks with President Kiir failed. 2 journalists released 19 Nov after 2 week illegal detention by security forces allegedly for publishing article criticising marriage of President Kiir’s daughter to Ethiopian national.

Sudan

Increased tension with S Sudan after SAF airstrikes in Upper Nile State and on Yida refugee camp, Unity State (see South Sudan); govt denies. Defence Minister Hussein 13 Nov claimed SAF seized heavy armoury belonging to S Sudan during clashes with SPLM-N in Blue Nile, S Kordofan; accused S Sudan of attempting to destabilise country. Govt 5 Nov lodged complaint with UNSC detailing alleged S Sudan support for rebels in S Kordofan, Blue Nile. Rebel JEM 23 Nov denied reports that S Sudan aiding leader Khalil Ibrahim. Talks between Khartoum and Juba reconvened 25 Nov; failed to reach agreement on critical issues of oil and financial arrangements. Petroleum Minister Ali Ahmed Osman 28 Nov announced S Sudan oil exports blocked until transit fee agreed; Foreign Ministry 29 Nov denied decision, following criticism by China. Clashes between SAF and rebels continued in S Kordofan, Blue Nile; SAF 3 Nov captured rebel stronghold Kurmuk, 22 Nov announced capture of Deim Mansour, Blue Nile. Amnesty International 12 Nov accused govt of arresting over 100 opposition activists,