Four actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and two improved in February 2010, according to the new issue of CrisisWatch.
Download full report: CW79.PDF
Deteriorated Situations: Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria
Côte d’Ivoire’s long-delayed elections ground to a halt as the country’s president, Laurent Gbagbo, dissolved both the electoral commission and government on 12 February following accusations of electoral fraud and rising popular tensions. The move triggered strong condemnation from the opposition and was quickly followed by several days of violent protests in which at least 7 people were killed. Tensions eased following the formation of a new government and electoral commission in which opposition figures were afforded a continuing role. However, the crisis has underscored the still burning issue of identity and nationality in Côte d’Ivoire and the fragility of the country’s post-war transition.
Kenya, the coalition government was plunged into a new crisis when a dispute over two major corruption scandals escalated into a tense standoff between power-sharing partners President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga. Political tensions in Nigeria also increased over February. The appointment of Vice President Jonathan Goodluck as acting president, in the context of President Yar’Adua’s extended hospitalisation abroad, has created sharp divides within the country’s political elite. Uncertainty increased considerably on 24 February when Yar’Adua suddenly returned to Abuja amid high security and secrecy.
Niger, soldiers staged a successful military coup on 18 February, detaining President Tandja and announcing that all governing institutions were dissolved. The move followed a ten-month constitutional crisis grounded in Tandja’s efforts to extend his term in office. Thousands rallied in the capital Niamey in support of the takeover, and the coup leaders have pledged to restore constitutional order and hold elections in which no junta leaders will stand. The takeover comes in the context of a series of unconstitutional changes in government across the region, and has been widely criticised by the international community.
Nigeria, Political tensions resulting from President Yar’Adua’s 3-month hospitalisation abroad continued, intensifying following his sudden return to Abuja 24 Feb. Media outlets and civil society groups 3 Feb issued appeal for Yar’Adua to hand over power. National Assembly 9 Feb approved motion declaring VP Goodluck Jonathan acting president. Jonathan quickly assumed presidential authority, delivering national address 9 Feb, minor cabinet reshuffle10 Feb and elected ECOWAS chair 16 Feb. Sharp divides within cabinet and political elite over legitimacy of Jonathan’s leadership. Yar’Adua allies 9 Feb declared handover “unconstitutional”, fled legal challenges. Uncertainty increased with Yar’Adua’s return: accompanying high security and secrecy increased speculation over his capacity to govern; presidential camps issued conficting statements over who was in charge. Senate 25 Feb voted for constitutional amendment requiring ill leaders to step aside after 14-day absence from offce; requires National Assembly approval. Anambra state governorship election held 6 Feb, incumbent Peter Obi (opposition APGA) declared winner 7 Feb; marred by allegations of serious irregularities. Niger Delta violence at relative ebb, as Delta leaders urged restraint to allow Jonathan to push forward reforms. Previously unknown Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC) announced attacks on Shell pipeline in Rivers State, claimed fghting for “independent Niger Delta”.
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Armenia/Turkey, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), Colombia, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), Northern Ireland, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Zimbabwe
Improved Situations: Guinea, Yemen
In Yemen, hopes were raised for an end to seven months of heavy fighting in the north when the government and Houthi rebels reached a ceasefire agreement on 12 February, after the rebels accepted several conditions including withdrawing from their positions, releasing government prisoners, and returning captured weapons. The ceasefire appeared to be holding despite a small number of rebel attacks later in the month. However, unrest continued in the country’s southern provinces, where clashes and sweeping arrests accompanied protests calling for the secession of former South Yemen.
In Guinea, prospects for a lasting transition to civilian rule continued to improve. On 21 February, Prime Minister Doré appointed a new interim government comprising opposition figures, trade unionists and former junta members. And in a move widely welcomed by the international community, the electoral commission announced plans for presidential elections to be held later this year.
Conflict Risk Alert – none
Conflict Resolution Opportunity – none