June 2011 IIJD Newsletter Update

Libya: NATO Bombardment Continues. NATO Forces comprised mostly of UK and French forces, continue to bombard Gaddafi government and military positions including positions throughout Tripoli. NATO’s widened campaign, even at the cost of civilian lives throughout Tripoli, signifies an obvious shift in policy and a potential violation of its UN mandate. NATO and interested international governments (UK, US, France and Italy) affirmed that the purpose of NATO’s military campaign was to protect civilians; however, that purpose has now shifted to regime change, as NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently confirmed that nothing less than Gaddafi’s departure will be accepted. Meanwhile, the EU has established an office in rebel-stronghold Benghazi and the National Transitional Council (NTC) has opened an office in Washington, DC, USA. The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi and a recent UN investigation into the conflict has concluded that war crimes have been committed by both sides. A recent attempt to settle the conflict by South African President Jacob Zuma failed to result in a negotiated settlement; Gaddafi stated that he would agree to a ceasefire but would not step down.

Sudan: Northern Sudanese Government Launches Major Assault upon Strategic Town; Forces New Agreement over Demilitarized Zone. This month, after Northern Sudanese soldiers, who were being escorted out of a neutral zone by UN peacekeepers, were attacked by South Sudanese forces, Northern Sudan launched a full assault on the disputed town of Abyei, which as per the 2005 peace agreement is ruled by a joint administration. Abyei is an oil-rich region which is claimed by both Northern and Southern tribes. It was set to hold a referendum, allowing residents to decide which country to join; however that has now been postponed indefinitely. In their assault, Northern Sudanese forces razed the town, whose over 60,000 residents have fled south. The UN condemned the Northern Sudanese government’s unwarranted attack and seizure of Abyei, but also condemned the Southern Sudanese attack on Northern forces a week prior. The Northern Sudanese government has stated that it will not vacate Abyei until new political and security arrangements have been made; Khartoum has proposed that Northern troops remain in the region until a referendum can be held. This proposal will likely be rejected by the South as well as the UN, given Khartoum’s record of violence and intimidation. The presence of Northern troops in Abyei will hinder the freedom of any such referendum. Ethiopia has offered to provide troops to patrol Abyei until the referendum. The UN recently proposed a three-month extension of its peacekeeping mandate to ensure adequate security after South Sudan’s official secession in July. The Northern Sudanese government has opposed the request and stated its desire for full withdrawal of UN peacekeepers in July. Recently, amidst fears of an escalation in violence, both sides agreed to set up a demilitarized zone along the border that will be jointly patrolled.

Egypt: Egyptian Military Facing Increased Condemnation as it Cracks Down on New Protests and any Opposition to its Rule. Recent reports, confirmed by an Egyptian army official, claim that female protestors were subjected to humiliating treatment that included being stripped down and given ‘virginity’ tests, after being arrested and held for several days by military forces. Egyptian and international human rights and legal groups have condemned the Egyptian military of its treatment of the women and other protestors who have criticized the military’s actions. Journalists, a human rights lawyer and a potential presidential candidate have all been summoned to appear before the military council over their criticism of the military. The military has faced recent criticism, not only over its continued abuse of protestors, but over its slow prosecution of former regime officials and its alleged dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood. Some have accused the military regime of forming a deal with the powerful Muslim Brotherhood to ensure that both institutions benefit from the transition. Meanwhile, former President Hosni Mubarak and several of his family members and former government officials have been arrested and will go to trial over their role in the killings of protestors and in the widespread corruption that plagued the country during Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Nigeria: Sectarian Violence Escalates as Radical Islamic Group Launches Several New Attacks. Just one week after Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck’s swearing in, local Islamic sectarian group Boko Haram launched a series of terrorist attacks against various military and civilian targets across the Northern states. The terrorists struck in Maiduguri, Bauchi, Zaria in Kaduna State, Borno and Zuba on the outskirts of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), killing 16 people and injuring another 40. Shortly after the attacks, a spokesperson for the terrorist group claimed responsibility for the bombings, and of the killing of Alhaji Abba Anas Umar, younger brother of one of Nigeria’s most renowned Islamic leaders, Shehu of Borno. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for killing several security and religious officials, targeting any one perceived to be helping Nigerian security forces in the fight against it. Boko Haram opposes any education it views as being ‘Western’ and accuses the Nigerian government of being corrupted by ‘Western’ ideas; the group believes the Nigerian constitution to be illegitimate and is seeking the imposition of sharia law in the country. Over the past few years, the Nigerian government has battled the group and its use of guerilla tactics. Clashes in 2009 left hundreds of people dead, mostly sect members. In addition, immediately following Goodluck’s re-election, hundreds of people in the North were killed during three days of rioting and reprisal killings by Boko Haram members and other Muslims angered by election results. Newly-elected Goodluck must now contend with growing sectarianism as well as instability and violence in oil-producing areas of the country.

Cote D’Ivoire: President Ouattara’s Forces Accused of Continuing Mass Killings of Gbagbo Supporters; President Ouattara Implicated in Attacks. Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have accused both former President Laurent Gbagbo’s forces and current President Alassane Ouattara’s forces of committing mass atrocities during the political crisis. AI concluded its two-month investigation in late May, after uncovering evidence that both forces carried out mass executions and rape of civilians. Particularly troubling is the that both human rights groups found evidence that Ouattara’s forces continued to execute Gbagbo supporters and those of particular ethnic groups in the weeks after Gbagbo’s arrest. HRW reports that Ouattara’s Republican Forces have continued to kill. rape and/or otherwise severely abuse pro-Gbagbo civilians, even in the capital Abidjan. In one instance, Republican Force soldiers interviewed by HRW reported witnessing the execution of 29 detainees and stated that the killings had been ordered directly by Chérif Ousmane, the close ally of Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and a longtime commander in the northern capital of Bouaké for Soro’s Forces Nouvelles, the rebel group that now comprises the majority of the Republican Forces. HRW and AI have both accused Ouattara and other senior officials of complicity in these attacks and have criticized Ouattara for doing nothing to prevent them, thereby providing his tacit support. Ouattara’s inability to prevent such attacks also demonstrates a serious lack of control over the country’s new security forces, which are comprised extensively of criminal elements.  Mr Ouattara seems to have chosen to eliminate through prosecutions, arrests, illegal detentions, extra-judicial killings of an entire political class, mostly supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo before the legislative elections in Cote d'Ivoire.  How will that tactic work?  we should never forget that the whole thing began in Cote d'Ivoire with the 2002 failed coup to topple a democratically elected president...Laurent Gbagbo.  Is that the kind of leader and "STRONG MAN" President Barack Obama and his administration want for 21st century Africa?   The IIJD will continue to focus on the situation in Cote d'Ivoire.  

Other Developments…

Burkino Faso: Military Mutiny Put Down but Country Still Remains Unstable. In April, hundreds of soldiers mutinied against the government in protest of unpaid housing allowances. Shortly before the mutiny, tens of thousands of people had taken to the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, in protest of high food prices. Protests by various groups have been ongoing since February, including a protest by teachers and students in late May over low salaries and large class sizes. Many of the mutinous soldiers went on a rioting and looting rampage and some even attacked a jail, freeing colleagues arrested for rape. President Blaise Compaore, who has been in power for over 24 years, sacked his government in response and promised to pay the allowances; however, soldiers in some areas, particularly the southern city of Bobo Dioulasso, continued with their tirade, looting markets and terrorizing local residents daily. This past week, pro-Compaore soldiers ended the soldiers’ mutiny by encircling their base and forcing their surrender. Several people were killed and 57 soldiers have been arrested. Compaore’s continued autocratic rule however remains under threat as he no longer has the loyalty of security forces and the population grows increasingly angry with the country’s economic situation and government corruption.

Madagascar: SADC Increases Efforts to Resolve Madagascar Political Crisis. Last month, Madagascar’s President Andry Raejolina, who seized power through a 2009 army-backed coup that resulted in the ouster of President Marc Ravalomanana, visited Luanda to conduct talks with Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos. The two discussed the deteriorating political and economic situation in Madagascar and the recently proposed political roadmap developed by the South African Development Community (SADC) in an effort to resolve the ongoing political stalemate. Raejolina’s government has thus far rejected the SADC proposal and has itself proposed a timetable for a constitutional referendum and elections for late summer this year. A previous constitutional referendum was rejected by the international community as seriously flawed. Opposition and various other political and legal groups have criticized Raejolina for making unilateral decisions in his favor and for not creating an inclusive government as demanded by the public. In addition, France has been accused of perpetrating the crisis, first by supporting the coup to protect its economic interests in its former colony and now with its heavy involvement in constructing the SADC roadmap. Meanwhile, poverty within Madagascar has increased to record levels with more than 75% of the population now earning less than $1/day; in addition, human and civil rights abuses and criminality are reported to be widespread and illegal logging has boomed in the past two years, causing severe environmental degradation.

Somalia: No Progress as Mogadishu-Based TFG Remains Besieged. Somalia’s transitional government (TFG) has made little to no progress in expanding its political control of the country. The TFG’s mandate is set to expire in August; although it will likely be extended. Political in-fighting within the transitional regime and between parliament members have hindered any political progress. This past February, the Somali Parliament unilaterally voted to extend its term for three years after the end of the transitional period; however, the TFG rejected the move as illegitimate. The UN envoy in Somalia, increasingly frustrated by the inept government, recently called upon the UN Security Council to set strict benchmarks and a monitoring mechanism for ensuring the implementation of transitional goals. Meanwhile, TFG and UN peacekeepers continue to battle Al-Shabaab militias in Mogadishu; recent fighting has killed another 17 civilians. The WHO recently reported that half of the casualties in Mogadishu are comprised of children under five. In early May, the Ugandan government announced its decision to send 4,000 more troops to Somalia to combat militants.