Togo extends regional state of emergency
Togo's National Assembly voted April 6 to extend a "state of security emergency" in the northern Savanes region of the country for another year. The measure follows a recent increase in incursions by militant groups along Togo's northern border. The measure is a further extension of President Faure Gnassingbé's initial state of emergency decreed in June 2022. The state of emergency was lengthened by six months in September 2022 but expired on March 12. The unanimous National Assembly vote authorizes the Togolese government to retroactively increase the measure for a further 12 months starting from March 13.
UN panel: prosecute South Sudan officers
A panel of UN rights experts on April 3 named senior officials and military leaders in South Sudan who they say warrant criminal prosecution for their part in grave atrocities against civilians. A year-long investigation by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan details the involvement of both government and rebel leaders in widespread extrajudicial killings, as well as rape and sexual slavery.
Ghana's northern borderlands militarized
The government of Ghana is rushing hundreds of army troops to the northern town of Bawku, where a long-simmering conflict between two ethnic groups over control of the local traditional chieftaincy has exploded into open warfare. The fighting began in December, when members of the Mamprugu people installed a "parallel" chief, refusing to recognize the incumbent chief from the Kusasi ethnicity. Since then, some 30 local residents have been slain—many civilians killed in ethnically targeted attacks.
Military tensions threaten Sudan transition
Sudan's military and civilian factions have agreed to form a new transitional government on April 11, ending the deadlock that followed an October 2021 military coup. But consultations being held ahead of that date are proving thorny, especially on the sensitive subject of security sector reform. Pro-democracy groups want the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to be integrated into the Sudanese army, and for all troops to be placed under civilian authority. But the army and RSF both have economic interests and fear accountability should they be forced to reform. The two forces are also increasingly at odds with each other, with talks breaking down over a proposed timeline for integration. The army reportedly wants to fuse with the RSF in two years, while the RSF (which has up to 100,000 fighters) wants a decade. Open fighting between the two sides has been long feared, and reports suggest both are embarking on a recruitment race in the long-suffering western Darfur region.
DRC: accused war criminal becomes defense chief
Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi appointed former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba as defense minister and deputy prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle on March 24. Bemba, who served as vice president from 2003 to 2006, was convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2016 of crimes against humanity over atrocities allegedly committed by rebels under his command when they intervened in the conflict in the neighboring Central African Republic in 2002. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, but the court overturned his sentence on appeal in 2018. However, five defendants were convicted on charges related to obstruction of justice in the Bemba case. (AfricaNews, France24)
Oil contracts at issue in Somaliland conflict?
Fighting continues in Somalia's northern breakaway state of Somaliland, where three eastern administrative regions—Sool, Sanaag, and Aynaba—have taken up arms in a bid to rejoin the internationally recognized Mogadishu government. Somaliland accuses the neighboring autonomous region of Puntland and the government of Ethiopia (which is officially attempting to broker a dialogue in the conflict) of intervening on the side of the re-integrationist rebels, who are headquartered in the town of Las Anod, Sool region. Somaliland has been effectively independent since 1991, and has seen a more stable and secular social order than the regions controlled by the Mogadishu government.
Clashes over contested Somaliland regions
More than 200 people have died in three weeks of fighting around a disputed town in Somalia's northern breakaway region of Somaliland. Médecins Sans Frontières said March 1 a hospital it supports in Las Anod was hit for the fourth time in "indiscriminate" shelling that has depopulated the town. The medical charity described the situation as "desperate"; more than 95,000 refugees have reportedly fled into neighboring Ethiopia after three weeks of clashes. Local militias around Las Anod are fighting to pull three administrative regions–Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn–away from Somaliland, with the aim of rejoining Somalia. Meanwhile, Puntland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia that is also in a territorial dispute with neighboring Somaliland, has sent in troops to support the militias. Somaliland has claimed that the jihadist group al-Shabab is also fighting in Las Anod–an allegation denied by Puntland. Somali leaders in Mogadishu have called on Somaliland to allow the three administrative regions to decide their own futures. The international community has called on all sides to abide by an earlier announced ceasefire.
French forces out of Burkina Faso, into Ivory Coast
France has officially ended its operations in Burkina Faso on Feb. 20, a month after the ruling junta there terminated a military accord that allowed the former colonial power to fight jihadists. French forces remain in the greater region, however. The move came as French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu visited Côte d'Ivoire, pledging to boost military support as jihadist attacks hit coastal West African states. (TNH)
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