Five actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated and two improved in December 2010, according to the latest issue of the International Crisis Group’s monthly bulletin CrisisWatch.
Côte d’Ivoire was gripped by political crisis as incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power after losing to rival Alassane Outtara in the late-November presidential runoff polls. Post-election violence claimed the lives of at least 170 people and more than 15,000 fled to neighbouring countries.
Amid growing concern that the country risks a return to civil war, three West African presidents delivered an ultimatum threatening ECOWAS military intervention unless Gbagbo steps down. At the time of going to press Gbagbo remained defiant despite diplomatic and economic sanctions, and CrisisWatch again identifies a conflict risk alert for Côte d’Ivoire for the coming month.
Tensions remained high on the Korean peninsula just one month after North Korea shelled Yonp’yong Island in South Korea. Pyongyang threatened “brutal consequences beyond imagination” against the South as Seoul held live-fire artillery drills on the island. Russia and China called for a calming of tensions on the peninsula, but South Korea refused to cancel the drills amid domestic pressure to stand firm against the North.
Nigeria was hit by several deadly bomb attacks and ongoing Islamist militant violence over the month. At least 80 people were killed in coordinated explosions in the central city of Jos on 24 December. The attacks, claimed by Islamist sect Boko Haram, sparked clashes between Christian and Muslim groups. The northern city Maiduguri saw further deadly violence by suspected Boko Haram members, including a series of attacks on churches on 24 December that killed at least six people. The month ended with more violence as an explosion in a market in the capital Abuja killed at least four people on New Year’s Eve and a political rally in Bayelsa state was hit by two bombs.
In Pakistan, the Taliban launched a wave of suicide attacks during the month that left scores dead. Many of those killed were locals supporting efforts against the militants. In the worst incident, more than 45 were killed as Pakistan’s first female suicide bomber targeted a World Food Program aid point in Bajur Agency, causing a district-wide shut down of food distribution affecting nearly 300,000 displaced people.
A flawed presidential election on 19 December in Belarus prompted tens of thousands of protesters to take to the streets, accusing the authorities of massive fraud. As police forcibly dispersed the crowd dozens of people were injured and hundreds arrested, including several presidential candidates. President Lukashenka was declared victor with almost 80 per cent of the vote, for a fourth term in office. The flawed polls and the government’s violent crackdown on protesters were widely condemned by the international community.
The situation in Guinea improved as former Prime Minister Cellou Diallo conceded defeat in the November presidential runoff and Alpha Condé was sworn in as the country’s first democratically elected president. Following a tense election period and concerted international efforts to avert renewed conflict, world leaders commended Guinea for a “historic achievement”.
Iraq’s parliament unanimously approved a new 42-member government under incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on 21 December. The move ends nine months of political deadlock and protracted negotiations over government formation following parliamentary elections in March.
CrisisWatch also notes a marked deterioration in Mexico’s drug-related violence over the course of the past year, despite the killing of several high-profile cartel leaders. The Attorney General reported in December that some 12,500 were killed in drug violence from January to November 2010, a significant increase over the 9,600 for the whole of 2009.
December 2010 TRENDS
Belarus, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), Colombia, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Georgia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, U ganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe
January 2011 OUTLOOK
Conflict Risk Alert