CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: The latest escalation of violence kills one thousand people in December, according to various international organisations
In December, an offensive targeting the Muslim community was carried out by militias known as antibalakas (anti-machetes) in various neighbourhoods of the capital, Bangui, which was followed by a large-scale counteroffensive carried out by former members of the armed ruling Séléka coalition, ending in hundreds of deaths. Different acts of violence were also committed by self-defence militias in the country’s interior, especially in the northwestern region of Bossangoa. The situation of violence degenerated into an atmosphere of chaos in the capital, where serious human rights violations were reported. According to Amnesty International, the escalation of the conflict has caused the death of around one thousand people since 5 December. That same day, faced with the seriousness of the events, the UN Security Council approved the intervention of the French Army detachment present in the country. In early January, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) confirmed that more than 1,000 people had been killed all over the country, in addition to hundreds of cases of people wounded, people raped and homes burned, among other things, increasing the number of forcibly displaced people to almost one million. The organisation said that executions have continued inside the country despite the intervention of French troops. The FIDH asked for international soldiers to be sent immediately to guarantee security and to reinforce the AU mission (MISCA). The conflict has taken on an interfaith dimension in recent months, joining the many other underlying issues at the root of the situation. (Jeune Afrique, 10-21/12/13; IRIN, Amnesty International, 09, 10, 19/12/13; FIDH, 07/01/14)
CHINA (XINJIANG):Two attacks blamed by the government on armed separatist groups cause the death of at least 24 people
At least 24 people died in Xinjiang in two different attacks carried out, according to the Chinese government, by separatist armed groups. In the first, in mid-December, 16 people were killed in Shufu county when a group of armed people allegedly attacked a police station. However, the organisation World Uyghur Congress declared that the people shot to death by the police were simple demonstrators, including some minors. In late December, eight more people died in Yarkand county during an attack on a police station that the government said was perpetrated by a terrorist group. The World Uyghur Congress declared again that the people killed were demonstrators protesting a series of arbitrary arrests and denounced the Chinese security forces for firing on them indiscriminately. According to some sources, during 2013 the number of violent incidents rose notably in Xinjiang, causing the death of at least 130 people. (Reuters, 30/12/13; CNN, 16/12/13)
INDIA (ASSAM): Indian security forces carry out an operation against the armed opposition group NDFB(S)
The growing activity of the armed opposition group NDFB(S) in the border area of the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh prompted Indian security forces to launch a counterinsurgency campaign in the area. The armed Bodo group is apparently trying to expand its operations in various districts of the state of Assam. The security forces have arrested various insurgents. According to official sources, the armed group is conducting a recruitment campaign among the local population of Bodo origin. The security forces warned this same population not to give support or shelter to the armed group. As a result of the counterinsurgency operation, the members of the NDFB(S) apparently moved to the jungle areas of Arunachal. Meanwhile, in some parts of Assam, civilian patrols are being organised to support the security forces in tracking down the insurgents, with the cooperation of factions of the armed group that have since disarmed. (The Assam Tribune, 29/12/13)
IRAQ: Violence claims more than 8,800 lives in 2013, the worst figure in the past five years
Periodic episodes of violence in Iraq caused the death of at least 8,836 people in 2013, according to the count made public by the UN mission to the country (UNAMI) in late December. This figure includes 7,818 civilians and 1,050 security force members. In December alone, a total of 759 people were killed and another 1,345 were wounded in different incidents occurring throughout the country. Acts of violence in the last month included attacks on Shia pilgrims and Christian communities; suicide attacks; attacks on coffee shops, markets, a television station and even funerals; and attacks on security forces, summary executions and clashes between the military and Sunni tribal militias linked to al-Qaeda in the province of Anbar. In its report, UNAMI admitted that these figures are “conservative” and that the total death count for 2013 could be higher. According to provisional data from the organisation Iraq Body Count (IBC), the number of people killed by violence in Iraq throughout the year was 9,475. The figures provided by UNAMI and Iraq Body Count confirm the escalating violence in the country in 2013, which saw the highest number of victims since 2008. The head of UNAMI, Nickolay Mladenov, stressed that the levels of indiscriminate violence in Iraq are unacceptable and confirm the pressing need for the authorities to address the causes of the conflict and keep from entering a downward spiral of sectarian tension. In this context, Iraqi and US officials confirmed that the United States has begun to deliver dozens of Hellfire missiles and drones to the Iraqi forces to strengthen their ability to fight al-Qaeda, as part of the strategic agreement signed in 2008 by both countries. (BBC and al-Jazeera, 01-31/12/13; UNAMI, 02/01/14; Iraq Body Count, 02/01/14; New York Times, 25, 28/12/13)
LEBANON: Tension intensifies in the country, with new clashes and bomb attacks that cause the death of at least 22 people
Divisions in Lebanon as a result of the war in Syria gave rise to new acts of violence, clearly aggravating the tension in the country and the regional impact of the armed conflict. Early in the month, the Lebanese Army assumed control of the northern city of Tripoli after two days of violent incidents between members of the pro-Damascus Alawite community and supporters of the Syrian opposition caused the death of ten people. Days later, a senior commander of Hezbollah was killed in Beirut. The Shia group blamed the crime on Israel, which denied the accusation. Later, an armed Sunni group claimed responsibility for the murder. Days after that, a suicide attack against an area controlled by Hezbollah in the region of Baalbek, in the eastern part of the country, wounded several civilians and members of the organisation. Two other attacks carried out by armed men against military checkpoints in the southern city of Sidon killed five, including a soldier and four assailants. Finally, a bomb attack in Beirut left six people dead on 27 December, including former Finance Minister Mohamed Chatah, a prominent opposition figure and harsh critic of Damascus and Hezbollah. Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but the leader of the Lebanese opposition, Saad Hariri, implicitly accused the Shia group. In this context, the Lebanese President announced that Saudi Arabia would provide 2.8 billion euros to enhance the abilities of the Lebanese Army. Analysts interpreted the decision as an attempt by Riyadh to reverse Iran’s influence in the country through Hezbollah. Days later, Lebanese troops shot at Syrian planes that entered Lebanese airspace in the first incident of its kind since the war started, according to press reports. Notably, throughout December there were also exchanges of artillery fire on the border between Lebanon and Israel. (BBC, 02, 04, 27, 30/12/14; Le Monde, 02/12/14; al-Jazeera, 16, 17/12/13 and 01/01/14)
MYANMAR: The resumption of clashes between the Burmese Armed Forces and the KIA endangers the general countrywide ceasefire agreement
The Burmese Armed Forces launched a new offensive against positions of the armed Kachin opposition group the KIA in the southern part of Kachin State, using heavy weapons and forcibly displacing the civilian population of the area. The attacks, which began on 24 December, lasted several days. Sources of the armed group said that the resumption of fighting endangered the continuity of the peace negotiations, since it was a deliberate attack carried out by the Burmese Armed Forces. Humanitarian organisations providing assistance to the civilian population indicated that the attack could also have repercussions for all negotiations being conducted with all the insurgent groups, and not just with the KIA, risking the possibility of not reaching a general ceasefire agreement for the entire country, which is expected to be signed in early 2014. Ever since fighting resumed between the KIA and the Burmese military in 2011, 100,000 people have been forcibly displaced. (The Irrawaddy, 26/12/13)
PAKISTAN: An operation conducted by security forces in North Waziristan claims the lives of dozens of civilians and insurgents
Pakistani security forces carried out a large-scale operation in North Waziristan after a suicide attack on a checkpoint in the same area on 18 December killed five soldiers and wounded 34. The armed opposition group Ansarul Mujahideen, linked to the Taliban insurgency, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was an act of revenge for the killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in November. According to official sources in the Pakistani Army, 30 insurgents died during the operation that responded to the attack, but the local population reported that dozens of civilians were killed and up to 70 may have died. In an official statement, the security forces acknowledged the insurgent casualties but made no reference to the civilian population. These figures could not be independently verified because journalists are denied access to the area. This is the first large military operation after several years in the area. Civilians expressed fear that forced displacement could take place on a massive scale. Meanwhile, Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah ruled out any possibility of starting negotiations with the government, which were interrupted after Mehsud was killed by a US drone. (AFP, 18/12/13; BBC, 19/12/13; Reuters, 23/12/13)
RWANDA: Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire sentenced to 15 years in prison
In mid-December, the Rwandan Supreme Court sentenced opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, of the unrecognised United Democratic Forces (UDF) party, to 15 years in prison. The verdict builds on a previous sentence of eight years, handed down by the same Court in October 2012 after she was found guilty of conspiracy against the regime and genocide denial, but not guilty of charges of spreading genocide ideology and forming an armed group. After the appeal, a charge of “propagating rumours” was added to the two clearly motivated charges for which she was sentenced in October 2012. Ingabire was first arrested in October 2010, months after returning from exile in The Netherlands and trying to question the government of Paul Kagame from within the country. (AFP, 13/12/13; allAfrica, 14/12/13, UMOYA, 22/12/13)
THAILAND: The protests continue even though the Prime Minister dissolves Parliament and calls early elections for 2 February
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced the dissolution of Parliament and called early elections for 2 February to address the massive demonstrations that have demanded the resignation of the government since October, claiming that it has violated the Constitution, that it promotes corruption and nepotism and that it follows the dictates of exiled former Primer Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of the current leader. Eight people have been killed and more than 300 have been injured in these demonstrations, led by the former Deputy Prime Minister from 2008 to 2011, Suthep Thaugsuban, who is wanted on two arrest warrants for destroying public property and sedition. Despite the fact that more than 40 governments, including those of the United States, Russia, China and most of the states of the EU, have supported holding early elections as a mechanism to resolve the political crisis in Thailand, the political opposition and organisations leading the demonstrations are opposed to it. Thus, the MPs of the Democrat Party resigned en bloc after hearing Shinawatra’s announcement, while Suthep Thaugsuban said he intended to keep up the demonstrations and proposed the resignation of Shinawatra as head of the interim government and the King’s designation of a new “people’s council” of around 400 members to reform the election law and undertake various political reforms before elections are held in 2014 or 2015. Yingluck Shinawatra declared her intention to run as a candidate in the early elections in February, which the current ruling party is favoured to win according to most analysts. (AFP, 09/12/13; EFE; 20 y 29/12/13; El País, 07/12/13)
CHINA – JAPAN: The adoption of a new national security strategy in Japan and the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to a controversial shrine increase tension in the region
Tension rose again between both countries after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine, which holds the remains of several war criminals of Japan’s invasion of China and other countries of the region before and during the Second World War. This visit, the first by a Japanese Prime Minister since 1996, sparked strong protests from China and South Korea, as well as criticism from the United States, Japan’s traditional ally. The Chinese government declared that Abe’s visit to the shrine would have serious consequences for diplomatic relations between both countries, which have deteriorated significantly in recent months due to the visit of 100 Japanese MPs to the same shrine and to the dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Furthermore, in mid-December, Tokyo announced its adoption of a new national security strategy and an increase in military spending over the next five years, decisions that were condemned by the Chinese government and generated concern among the international community. Japan’s new national security strategy could mean the end of restrictions on exporting military equipment and technology, as well as a change to the Constitution to allow Japanese troops to fight abroad if any of its allies is attacked. Also notable was Beijing’s strong condemnation of the naval exercises carried out jointly by Japan and South Korea. (CNN, BBC, 27/12/13; El País, 17/12/13)
DR CONGO (EAST): Leaks of the UN Groups of Experts report indicate Rwanda’s support for the M23, the weakness of the FDLR and the persistence of the illegal exploitation of resources
Still confidential, the UN Group of Experts report has begun to be leaked to the media and makes different revelations on the situation in the east of the country. The Group has documented violations of human rights committed by the armed group M23 over the course of the year and confirms the different forms of support for the M23 from inside Rwanda, including recruitment, troop reinforcement, weapons and ammunition supply and even support in the form of bombing from Rwanda. With regard to Uganda, the Group has credible information that penalised and wanted M23 leaders are moving about freely. In addition, the report says that the victory of the Congolese Armed Forces over the M23 with the help of the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) sent an important message to the rest of the armed groups of the eastern DR Congo: some have radicalised, others have demobilised and still others have assumed more defensive positions in case they are attacked by the Congolese Armed Forces or the FIB. The ADF in the northern part of North Kivu and the FDLR in both eastern provinces are the main threat to the country’s security. The first group is increasingly active and organised, while the FDLR are in decline. Meanwhile, the illegal exploitation of natural resources that helps to fund the war persists, despite the efforts of the OECD and the ICGLR. (African Arguments, 02/01/14; Jeune Afrique, 07/01/14)
EGYPT: Authorities declare the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist” organisation amidst a highly tense atmosphere while the constitutional referendum is being prepared
The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was declared a “terrorist” group by the Egyptian interim government after it was accused of perpetrating an attack on a police station in Mansoura (Nile Delta) that killed 16 people and wounded more than one hundred. The MB denied any responsibility for the assault, which took place on 24 December and was claimed by the group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, allegedly linked to al-Qaeda and based in Sinai. The decision of the Egyptian authorities, which had already declared the MB illegal in September, sparked new clashes, violent confrontations involving Islamist sympathisers, MB opponents and the security forces and the arrest of more than one hundred people, which prompted the United States to express its concern and to demand an inclusive political process in the country. At least five people were killed in different acts of violence in the last week of December. Previously, as part of his trial, deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was charged with carrying out acts of terrorism and conspiring with foreign groups, in reference to Hamas and Hezbollah. During the first half of the month, dozens of anti-government demonstrators were arrested after participating in protests in various provinces. Morsi’s former Prime Minister Hisham Qandil was also arrested and 450 Islamist prisoners started a hunger strike. In this atmosphere of tension, preparations continued for the referendum on the new Constitution, planned for 14 and 15 January. Approved in early December by a constituent assembly of 50 experts (that had only five women) and rejected by the MB, the text upholds broad powers for the Egyptian Armed Forces, as well as articles that permit civilians to be tried in military courts and ban religious-based parties. The constituent panel signalled a change in the timing of the transition announced after the military coup in July, allowing the presidential elections to be held before the parliamentary ones, which according to analysts could favour the general candidacy of General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. (BBC, 1-31/12/13; al-Jazeera, 02, 14, 24/12/13)
GEORGIA (ABKHASIA, SOUTH OSSETIA) – RUSSIA: The new round of negotiations does not reach an agreement on the non-use of force, despite expectations after the previous round
The delegations of Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Russia held the 26th round of negotiations known as the Geneva Talks on 18 December co-chaired by the OSCE, the UN and the EU, without reaching an agreement yet on the non-use of force. After the previous round, in November, the co-chairs indicated that the parties had agreed to continue working on a shared declaration on the non-use of force that could be adopted in the near future. However, in the round in December, an agreement was not possible. According to a statement made later, the parties agreed to keep working on the issue. The Georgian government said that the differences between the parties had become clear once again. The co-chairs appreciated the relative calm and stability in the border areas, though they also drew attention to the fences and other obstacles around the borders and to their negative impact on the population. Furthermore, Georgian President Georgy Margvelashvili said in late December that taken together with other steps towards Europe, the Association Agreement with the EU approved at the European summit in November will help to solve problematic issues with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. (Civil Georgia, 19/12/13, Caucasian Knot, 30/11/13, EUMM, 18/12/13)
INDIA – PAKISTAN: Representatives of both governments meet to negotiate over Kashmir at a critical moment of tension between both countries
Indian and Pakistani senior military officials met for the first time in 14 years for the purpose of negotiating directly over the situation on Kashmir, a region disputed by both countries. The general directors of military operations met at the border station of Wagah to agree on ways to guarantee peace along the Line of Control, the de facto border that divides both states and has been the scene of many violent clashes between both armies. The meeting took place after a significant escalation in tension with an exchange of accusations between the governments and after Pakistani media outlets reported statements by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif mentioning the possibility of a fourth war in the disputed region. However, Sharif’s office later denied that the leader had made these statements. (BBC, 24/12/13; The Hindu, 5/12/13)
MADAGASCAR: The candidate of ousted President Marc Ravalomanana wins the presidential elections in a normal atmosphere with no irregularities
The second round of the presidential elections was held, coinciding with the legislative elections on 20 December in a normal atmosphere. The presidential candidates were former Health Minister Jean Louis Robinson, the candidate of ousted President Marc Ravalomanana, and former Finance Minister Hery Rajaonarimampianina, the candidate supported by President Andry Rajoelina. At first, both presidential candidates claimed victory in the elections and accused each other of trying to manipulate the results. After the ballots were counted, the Electoral Commission declared that Rajaonarimampianina had won with 53.5% of the votes. Robinson, who won 46.5% of the votes, demanded a recount. In addition, Ravalomanana’s candidate submitted more than 300 complaints to the Electoral Court, which has still not validated the results. The EU deployed a mission of 123 observers to the country to supervise the process and declared that the elections had been fair and transparent. (Xinhua, 17/12/13; Al Jazeera, 20/12/13; VOA, 01/01/14; BBC, Euronews, Reuters, 03/01/14)
MALI: France prepares to withdraw its troops while fighting continues in the north
Fighting continued in the north of the country. In early December, French forces executed 19 people suspected of belonging to Islamist groups during battles north of Timbuktu. Furthermore, two Senegalese soldiers belonging to the peacekeeping force died in Kidal of wounds suffered during a car bomb attack in which three more soldiers were injured. In early December, a mass grave was discovered in Kati that contained the bodies of 21 soldiers killed during the military coup in April 2012. In addition, the government announced an investigation of former President Amadou Toumani Touré for committing high treason. He is accused of not fulfilling his duty as commander of the Malian Armed Forces during the Islamist assault in the northern part of the country and of letting foreign forces take over the country. Meanwhile, France is making preparations to withdraw its troops from the country. It is expected that around 2,000 of the 3,000 deployed soldiers will leave in late January. (CNN, 04/12/13; Reuters, 04, 14, 27/12/13; allAfrica, 05/12/13; BBC, 11, 14, 28/12/13; AP, 14/12/13; Al Jazeera, 25/12/13; Reuters/EP, 28/12/13)
RUSSIA: Two attacks in Volgograd kill 36 and injure more than 70, triggering fears of new insurgent attacks during the Winter Olympics
A total of 36 people were killed and 70 were wounded in two suicide attacks in the Russian city of Volgograd, the capital of the region of the same name in southern Russia, on two consecutive days in late December and barely a month before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in the southern city of Sochi. The attacks included an explosion at the city’s train station and a suicide attack on a trolley. More than 700 people were arrested in the anti-terrorism operation launched by the Ministry of the Interior after the attacks. Press analysts pointed to the insurgency in northern Caucasus led by the Chechen Doku Umarov, who is fighting Russia in order to establish an Islamic emirate in the southern region. The attacks join the continuous succession of violent attacks and incidents in the republics of the northern Caucasus and occasionally (as in the case of Volgograd) in other parts of Russia. Volgograd is almost 700 kilometres from Sochi, where the Winter Olympics are being held, and Moscow has launched a massive security operation to prevent attacks on them during the month, when Russia will be in the media spotlight. In 2013, Umarov announced the end of the insurgency of the northern Caucasus’ moratorium on violence against the civilian population and warned Russia of his intention to thwart the Olympic Games. The Olympics are being held in Sochi, historically land of the Circassian people, which was massacred during the Tsarist conquest of Circassia in the 18th and 19th centuries. (Caucasian Knot, RFE/RL, 01/12/13-03/03/14)
SOMALIA: The President forces his Prime Minister to resign just one year after he was appointed
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud forced his Prime Minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon (Saacid), to resign through a vote of no confidence in the lower chamber of the Somali Federal Parliament. Saacid had held the post since October 2012 and was initially presented as an ally of the President, which might have meant a change in the political confrontation that caused the paralysis of previous governments (specifically, the Federal Transition Government, the predecessor of the current government created in 2004), in addition to an attempt to turn around the systematic corruption, many irregularities and institutional failure, according to various analysts. However, alarms went off in November when public reports emerged on the tension between both figures, and Shirdon declared that the President was overstepping his functions and assuming powers belonging to the Prime Minister, like for example the appointment of the cabinet in which the President wanted to include figures close to what is known as the Dam Jadid faction. New Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed is an economist who is hoped to be able to patch up relations with the federal states, since Puntland has not cooperated with Mogadishu since August and relations with Jubaland are very tense. In parallel, clashes and insecurity persisted mainly in the centre and south of the country, as a consequence of various actions carried out by al-Shabaab and military operations led to dismantle the group. (Garowe Online, 02/12/13; 12-16/12/13)
SOUTH SUDAN: Peace negotiations begin between the government and forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar after fighting that killed one thousand people
On 14 December, there was an attempted coup d’état that President Salva Kiir was able to stifle, though it did trigger fierce clashes that left one thousand people dead. Kiir accused former Vice President Riek Machar of orchestrating the coup and ordered his arrest, while Machar denied being behind the events. Later, forces loyal to Machar seized control of Unity, an important oil region, and of Bor, the capital of the state of Jonglei and the scene of a massacre in 1991 between the Dinka ethnic group, to which Kiir belongs, and the Nuer, of which Machar is a member. Both groups continued to dispute control over other important places in battles in different parts of the country. While fears mounted that a new conflict was brewing, the UN announced the arrival of more peacekeeping forces. The bases of the UN mission in South Sudan (UNIMISS) in Bor and Akobo, in the state of Jonglei, were looted and at least 20 civilians and three Indian peacekeepers died in the assault on Akobo. Concerns grew when 25,000 Nuer youth belonging to the armed group known as the White Army marched on Bor. Thousands of civilians took refuge in UN premises in the capital before the militia’s imminent attack. Nuer leaders managed to persuade various youth of the White Army to leave the city, but it is believed that around 5,000 remained. Even though Kiir and Machar reached a fragile cessation of hostilities agreement, clashes continued in Bor and Bentiu. Both groups started peace talks in January in Addis Ababa that included negotiations to release prisoners and agreements to attain a ceasefire. The government announced that it would only consider freeing prisoners when the corresponding investigation and legal process are conducted. Meanwhile, the rebels declared that the government’s arrest of senior officials was still an obstacle to peace negotiations. The UN calculates that around 1,000 people have lost their lives, more than 800 have been wounded and around 180,000 civilians have been displaced since the escalation of violence in December. (BBC, 17/12/13, 05/01/14; CNN, 18/12/13; Radio Dabanga, 18/12/13; Al Jazeera, 19, 28/12/13; Europapress, DW, 20, 21/12/13; Reuters, 18, 22, 29/12/13; UN, Reuters, 07/01/14; VOA, 08/01/14)
SUDAN (SOUTH KORDOFAN AND BLUE NILE): Contradictory information continues on battles between rebels and government forces
Battles between rebels and government forces caused dozens of fatalities. According to the armed group JEM, dozens of government soldiers were slain in fighting on the mountain of Abu Doma. Furthermore, spokespersons of the SPLM-N reported the death of seven civilians in Showa during a bombardment by the Sudanese Air Force. Another bombardment in Um Adaar killed one woman and wounded five other people. Moreover, the rebels bombed Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan, causing various forms of material damage and displacing thousands of people. In the area of Kharasan, various people were killed and others were injured in violent clashes between militia members and civilians. According to various witnesses, a militia supported by the government and commanded by Mohamed Handan may have killed between 30 and 35 people. Finally, the Sudanese Armed Forces announced that they had liberated various parts of the area of Abu Al Hassah, one of the administrative and operational centres of the SRF coalition (which brings together different armed groups, including the JEM and the SPLM-N). If true, this attack would be a heavy blow for the rebels groups in the region. However, Arnu Ngululu Lodi, spokesperson of the SPLM-N, ensured that the armed group still had absolute control over the area and denied the information provided by the Sudanese Armed Forces. (News24, 02,21/12/13; ReliefWeb, 04, 05/12/13; Sudan Tribune, 14, 20/12/2013; Radio Dabanga, 15, 22, 24/12/13)
PHILIPPINES (MINDANAO-MILF): The government and the MILF sign a power-sharing agreement, one of the last and most important points in the negotiations
The government and the MILF signed a power-sharing agreement, one of the last issues pending in the negotiations to reach a global peace agreement. With the signing of this agreement, three of the four annexes of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro of late 2012 have been signed, leaving only negotiations over the so-called “return to normalcy” (which includes demobilisation of the MILF and the creation of a police force for Bangsamoro, the withdrawal of the Philippine Armed Forces from some regions, the eradication of criminal groups and the creation of mechanisms of transitional justice, among other things). In the joint statement issued to end the round of negotiations, both parties pledged to reach an agreement on the last annex for January 2014. However, the MILF and some other analysts think that this last point could be one of the most sensitive in the entire negotiating process. The power-sharing agreement designates the powers assumed by the central government, those assumed by the Bangsamoro government and those that will be shared. The central government’s powers include foreign relations, defence, currency, immigration and international trade. The agreement also regulates the creation of the Bangsamoro Assembly, which will guarantee the representation of women, Christians and indigenous peoples. The government expressed satisfaction that this annex had been signed, which it considers the cornerstone of the entire peace process. (Philstar, 20 y 24/12/13; AFP, 09/12/13; Xinhua, 01/01/14)
SERBIA – KOSOVO: Both governments reach an agreement on the police in the Serb areas of Kosovo, although negotiations on the judiciary break down
At the 19th round of negotiations facilitated by the EU and held in Brussels, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci reached an agreement on the basic aspects of the police in the Serb-majority areas of Kosovo. Both parties agreed that a person of Serb origin will lead the police force in the northern part of Kosovo. Furthermore, Serb Kosovar and Albanian Kosovar agents will make up the force proportionally. According to Thaci, everything possible has been done to establish an integrated police force. Furthermore, the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo did not reach an agreement in the following round, on 13 December, on the judiciary in northern Kosovo. Dacic blamed the failure on the Kosovar government’s “inacceptable” demand that the jurisdiction of the court of Mitrovica include Albanian towns. According to Dadic, this would mean the assimilation of four Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo. Even so, the parties promised to continue talking in January. Moreover, despite the lack of agreement on the judiciary, the heads of state and government of the EU approved a European summit in mid-December to start negotiations with Serbia regarding its entry into the EU. The negotiating framework with the EU establishes that at the end of the process, Belgrade and Pristina will sign a legally binding agreement to normalise their relations. (B92, Balkan Insight, 01/12/13-30/12/13)
TUNISIA: Tunisian political forces reach a consensus and designate the Prime Minister that will lead the interim government until new elections are held in the country
In mid-December, after seven weeks of intense negotiations, the Tunisian political parties agreed that Industry Minister Mehdi Jomâa would become the new Prime Minister. Jomâa, an independent figure that had backing from Western governments, will lead an interim government until elections are held in the country, which are planned for the middle of 2014. The consensus formed around Jomâa in negotiations mediated by the main Tunisian union, the UGTT, as part of a broader pact to facilitate the Islamists of Ennahda’s handover of power in an attempt to unblock the political crisis in the country. After two prominent secular opposition leaders were assassinated in February and July, the Ennahda-led government of Tunisia has been subject to intense pressure and protest. In October, the Islamist party agreed to cede power to an interim government on the condition that the new Constitution that it has been working on for the last two years is approved and that the electoral schedule is established. According to press reports, the government led by Islamist Ali Larayedh will hand power over to Jomâa’s government prior to 14 January, the third anniversary of the fall of the regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The new Constitution should be approved by that date. Analysts pointed out that the main challenges of the new Tunisian government included the organisation of transparent elections, the struggle against political violence, the implementation of the law of transitional justice and the adoption of measures to address socio-economic problems in the country. (BBC, 13, 14, 17/12/13; Le Monde 14, 16, 17, 23/12/13; AFP, 14, 23/12/13; Reuters, 14/12/13)
TURKEY (SOUTHEAST): Five Kurdish MPs released after being preventively detained since 2010
In early January, a court in the province of Diyarbakir released five Kurdish MPs, four from the BDP and the other independent, who had been in preventative detention since 2010 when they were arrested as part of judicial operations against the KCK, a Kurdish nationalist organisation linked to the PKK and organisations that do not use violent tactics. The release orders came after a ruling by the Constitutional Court that their lengthy detention was in violation of their rights, similarly to the decision that ended the lengthy detention of an MP of the opposition party CHP in December. The release of these Kurdish MPs, as well as the release of Kurdish councillors, activists, lawyers and journalists arrested in anti-KCK operations in recent years, have been a constant goal of the Kurdish nationalist movement. The news generated optimism after the tension in December caused by violent incidents in some Kurdish areas of Turkey. For example, three Kurdish demonstrators were shot to death by the police in clashes in Yuksekova in early December following rumours about damage to a cemetery where the bodies of PKK members rest. Nevertheless, the peace talks between the Turkish government and the PKK remained active, though slowed ahead of the elections, with a new visit by a Kurdish political delegation to the imprisoned leader of the PKK in December. (AFP, Hürriyet, Firat, 30/11/13- 03/01/14)
To subscribe to the monthly observatory or to receive information from the School for a Culture of Peace, https://llistes.uab.es
To unsubscribe, click here
For any comments or suggestions, please write to:
Tel. +34 93 586 88 42   |   http://escolapau.uab.cat   |   pr.conflictes.escolapau@uab.cat
Edifici MRA (Mòdul Recerca A), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona)
With the support of:

If you cannot see the image, please click here

In compliance with Law 15/1999, of 13 December, on Protection of Personal Data, the School for a Culture of Peace informs that personal information is treated in strict confidence and incorporated into our general database in order to keep you updated on our activities.