The following is a round-up of the top articles and news highlights from the African continent during the past week.
- Panapress reports indicated that Nigeria signed a cease-fire with Islamist group Boko Haram, although Boko Haram leaders deny such an agreement ever existed. The military says it has uncovered mass graves and weapons caches during raids in Maiduguri, the largest city in Borno State, according to the Associated Press (AP). However, Nigeria’s Joint Military Task Force (JTF) has also been reported by Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper to be dumping tortured and emaciated bodies at Maiduguri’s main hospital. IRIN reports human rights groups are increasingly calling for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the Nigerian military in addition to Boko Haram to determine if atrocities have been committed. According to a BBC report Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara revealed that Nigerian peacekeepers in Mali will be withdrawn and redeployed to combat Boko Haram.
- The AP reports 60,000 refugees have streamed over the Congolese border into Uganda in the wake of last Thursday’s major attack on the town of Kamango by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group made up of Ugandan Muslims operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to IRIN, aid workers are struggling to provide for the refugees, having been caught off-guard by the attack. The ADF had been largely quiet since being driven from Ugandan territory in 1998, according to the AP, but a recent UN report suggested the rebels were cooperating with Somalia-based jihadist group al-Shabaab and on the cusp of revival.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
- The U.N. has reached an agreement with an unnamed contractor to deploy its first unmanned aircraft in the eastern DRC, reports Reuters. Herve Ladsous, the U.N Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told Reuters the aircraft will be unarmed and used in a surveillance capacity to assist peacekeepers on the ground.
- Fighting in North Kivu province between the Congolese army and rebel group M23 resumed on Sunday, following reports by Voice of America during the weekend that the peace talks between the two had faltered. M23 rebels disguised as women crossed the Rwandan border en masse, according to local witnesses, but an M23 spokesman called the allegation a false “rumor”. Reuters reported Congolese helicopters responded on Tuesday by shelling M23 positions north of Goma, the provincial capital, gaining ground on M23. However, hundreds of Congolese nonetheless turned to the streets of Goma in protest against President Joseph Kabila and his inability to contain the rebel threat, according to another Reuters report.
- Seven Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed in South Darfur in an ambush while on patrol on Saturday, with 17 more wounded. The attack was condemned by the UN and African Union (AU) in statements. The Sudan Tribune reported the Sudanese government accused the rebel Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) of perpetrating the attack, but the SLA-MM blamed the attack on government militias. A Tanzanian army spokesman told Reuters it hoped to secure a stronger mandate for its forces in Darfur, enabling them to defend themselves against future ambushes. Minni Minawi, the leader of the faction that bears his name, later told the Sudan Tribune that he was interested in signing a peace agreement with the Sudanese government.
- A visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to a summit in Nigeria prompted local and international outrage from human rights groups, with the Sudan Tribune saying the reaction forced al-Bashir to return to Sudan. Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity related to his role in atrocities that occurred in Sudan’s bloody conflict in Darfur.
- The United Nations Security Council released a statement expressing concern at the presence of transnational criminal and terrorist syndicates in the region and declaring its support for increased regional cooperation to combat terrorism in the Sahel.
- The body of Frenchman Philippe Verdon kidnapped by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was recovered in Northern Mali on Sunday. AQIM claimed in March to have killed Verdon, but until recently there was no official confirmation. Verdon’s body was repatriated this week.
- Defense News cited an unnamed U.S. military official as saying a Reaper drone crashed in Mali in April. The aircraft was on a surveillance flight when it apparently suffered mechanical trouble.
- Early voting in Zimbabwe’s general election started this week with two scheduled days of voting for civil servants and police who will be on official duty on July 31, the national election day. According to an African Elections Project report, polling has been chaotic, with ballots and official stamps in short supply. In response, the national electoral commission announced that the July 31 voting would be opened up to those who were scheduled to vote this week but were unable to. However, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has alleged irregularities with the voter rolls and argued before the country’s High Court that the polls should be delayed, to no avail. Many international observers have voiced doubts about Zimbabwe’s ability to run a free and fair national election, prompting President Robert Mugabe to lash out at the United States as “absolutely insane”, according to News24.
- The ICC has refused a request by Kenyan Vice President William Ruto to be tried in Kenya. Ruto has been indicted on charges stemming from Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence, in which Ruto is accused of playing a central organizing role. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is also on trial, although al-Jazeera reported the prosecution suffered a blow when two key witnesses withdrew their testimony on Thursday due to concerns about their personal security.
- BBC is reporting that ethnic clashes in N’Zerekore, Guinea’s second-largest city, have left 54 dead and heated tensions ahead of the country’s legislative elections in September. In an attempt to quell the violence, a curfew has been imposed and security forces are being deployed to Guinea’s southeastern regions, which have been the most heavily affected.
- Kenya’s government said its forces would remain in Somalia indefinitely as long as the country remains unstable, rebuffing calls by the Somali government for Kenyan forces to leave, according to Bloomberg reports. Kenyan forces remain in control of the Jubaland region of Somalia, which borders Kenya and has been used by al-Shabaab to launch attacks into Kenya.
- Reuters reports that violence in Jonglei state between supporters of local politician David Yau Yau and the army of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has displaced thousands, though the number of deaths remains unknown. Both the U.S. Department of State and UN Mission in South Sudan (PDF) have released statements condemning the violence.
- New data from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) indicates that piracy is dropping worldwide, with the exception of the Gulf of Guinea, where pirate activity continues to surge. The IMB report indicated the region has already seen 31 attempts at hijacking this year, whereas Somalia has only seen four.
- With incidences of piracy in Somalia declining, Defense News reports the EU is looking to reconfigure its relationship with Somalia. In addition to its ongoing counterpiracy efforts, it is negotiating a new aid compact with the Somali government, incentivizing the government to improve Somalia’s stability.
- A mediator in Madagascar’s electoral crisis called on the country’s main presidential candidates to resign or face international sanctions from the South African Development Community (SADC) and potentially the UN Security Council, according to the Global Post. All three of the country’s leading candidates are ineligible according to the country’s election law but refused to end their campaigns, setting off the dispute.
This post was written by CIP intern Alex Dobyan.