PSR: April 20, 2018

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April 14 – April 20

This week in:

 IPSI | Africa | Americas | East Asia | Europe & Central Asia | Middle East | South Asia

This week at IPSI

This week in Sub-Saharan Africa

SOUTH SUDAN: More than 200 child soldiers freed

South Sudan More than 200 child soldiers freed  

On Tuesday, 112 boys and 95 girls, including some 14 years old, were freed at a special “laying down of arms ceremony” organized by UNICEF in the town of Tambio, in the southwest of the country. UNICEF hopes to recover approximately 1,000 more children soon, in addition to the more than 500 already rescued this year. Comment: Since the civil war began in December 2013, thousands of children have been forced into armed groups, including the military. Currently, approximately 19,000 children are still in armed groups throughout the country. Reintegration, according to UNICEF, will be the most difficult part for these children. (CNN, ABC News, Sudan Tribune)


SOUTH SUDAN: Peace talks postponed without explanation


On Wednesday, the East African bloc of nations IGAD pushed back this month’s peace talks. IGAD and other international bodies seek to resolve differences between the two sides, including the release of rebel leader Riek Machar. The bloc said last month that Machar should be released from house arrest as soon as possible – if he chooses to renounce violence. The April 26 talks were to be held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa; however, the talks have been postponed without explanation or new date provided. Comment: Civil confdlict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his former Vice President, Riek Machar, has been ongoing since December 2013. Tens of thousands have been killed with significant food shortages occurring despite many attempts to reach a negotiated settlement. (ABC News, Africanews, Defenceweb)


ZIMBABWE: Government fires all striking nurses, recall retired staff

  ZIMBABWE Government Fires all striking nurses, recall retired staff

On Tuesday, the government fired more than 10,000 nurses who had gone on strike this past Monday to demand higher salaries. Vice President Constantino Chiwenga ordered all nurses who had missed work on both April 16 and 17 to be fired – effective immediately – and accused them of harboring political motivations for their “deplorable and reprehensible” decisions. The Zimbabwe Nurses Association reported that it remains undeterred. Comment: The strike came two weeks after a junior doctors’ strike to gain higher wages ended and affected hospitals’ ability to function. The government is attempting to curb its 90 percent budgetary expenditures on salaries by freezing new hires and reducing its employees. (CNN, Daily News, Bloomberg, Reuters, The Guardian)

Researched/Written by Brian Adienge


This week in the Americas & Caribbean

CUBA: Castro family’s rule in Cuba ends

CUBA Castro rule in Cuba ends  

On Wednesday, Cuba’s National Assembly made way for the end of Raul Castro’s rule. Miguel Díaz-Canel, a longtime official in the Cuban Communist party was nominated for the position as head of state. Despite the country’s start toward opening up both socially and economically, analysts believe the nomination of Miguel Díaz-Canel will not bring much change. Raul Castro officially stepped down on Thursday, and Díaz-Canel was named President by the National Assembly. Comment: According to analysts, the shift in political power appears to be welcomed and is proceeding peacefully. The new president will put an end to more than 60 years of the Castro family’s rule in Cuba. (Havana Times, NBC, New York Times, Time, Washington Post)


ECUADOR: Rebels continue kidnapping along the Colombian border

  ECUADOR Rebels continue kidnapping on the border

On Tuesday, the Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno provided the government with a video showing a kidnapped couple pleading for help. Officials said they received the video “via a communication channel with Guacho,” an alias of a former FARC rebel group member who broke away from FARC following the peace deal with the Colombian government in 2016. In response to these kidnappings, Ecuador and Colombia increased their military presence in the area; last weekend, Ecuadorian forces arrested 43 alleged rebels. Comment: According to reports, Guacho leads a group of between 70 and 80 rebels along the border. Government officials stated that Guacho demands the release of the detained rebels in return for freeing the kidnapped couple. The video was sent mere days after it had been confirmed that kidnapped journalists had been killed by former FARC rebel group members. (Aljazeera, BBC, Reuters, Guardian)


UNITED STATES: White House reverses position on sanctions


On Tuesday, following U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s weekend announcement about new sanctions on Russia, the White House claimed she had suffered from “momentary confusion” before they backtracked on planned sanctions. Public disagreement grew as Haley released a statement saying she does not “get confused.” Since the firing of the former Secretary of State, Haley has been the top foreign-policy figure for the United States. In addition to the frequent personnel changes in this administration, analysts now believe the lack of cohesion between the White House and diplomats is causing less credibility in foreign affairs. Comment: This event follows a military strike against Syria by the U.S., Britain, and France where Trump publicly warned Assad’s allies – declaring they would pay a “big price” for supporting the Syrian regime. This incident feeds into reports that members of the Trump administration continue to have differeing opinions on the issues involving foreign affairs. (ABC News, New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic)

Researched/Written by Connor Murnane



This week in East Asia & Pacific

CHINA: Military sends “warning” to Taiwan with live-fire drills

CHINA Military sends “warning” to Taiwan with live-fire drills  

On Tuesday, China’s navy held live-fire exercises near Taiwan after Taiwanese Premier William Lai told parliament that the country is a sovereign and independent country. The Chinese State media said the drill seeks to remind Taiwan that China will not hesitate to use force to control the self-ruled island; however, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Chen Chung-chi downplayed the drill, calling it “cheap verbal intimidation.” Comment: China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the under its control. (KPVI, CNN, RT)


MYANMAR: President grants amnesty to almost 8,500 prisoners


On Tuesday, President Win Myint granted amnesty to more than 8,500 prisoners, amongst which 8,490 are Myanmar citizens and 51 are foreigners. The Presidential office said the pardon was granted for “humanitarian support” and to “bring peace and pleasure to people’s heart.” The pardon was granted for prisoners who have already been convicted, including elderly prisoners, people with ill health, drug offenders, and 36 political prisoners. Comment: After Aung San Suu Kyi took office in 2016, hundreds of political prisoners were released. (Reuters, The New York Times, Washington Post)


SOUTH KOREA: North Korea seeks “complete denuclearization”

  SOUTH KOREA Moon says North Korea seeks “complete denuclearization”

On Thursday, President Moon said North Korea has expressed its desire for “complete denuclearization” without conditioning the U.S. to withdraw its troops from South Korea. Moon said the North Korean regime wants the “guarantee of its security” and “the end of hostile policies against it.” Comment:  In the past, North Korea said it would consider denuclearizing only if the United States removed its troops from South Korea and its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan. (Reuters, The New York Times, The Guardian)

Researched/Written by Edgar Peter Mutta

Sarajevo 2018 - 09.02.18

This week in Europe & Central Asia

ARMENIA: Opposition calling for “velvet revolution” after ex-president elected prime minister

ARMENIA Opposition calling a “velvet revolution” after ex-president elected prime minister  

On Tuesday, the Armenian parliament voted for ex-president Serzh Sarkisian to become the next prime minister a week after the inauguration of the country’s new president. More than 10,000 people protested in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, after the announcement. Most rallies were peaceful, but around 50 people were injured in one clash and 80 were detained. The demonstrations were led by Nikol Pashinian, a parliamentary member of the opposition, who called for a “peaceful velvet revolution.” Comment: In 2014, Sarkisian issued a promise that he would not seek to be prime minister if Armenia converted to a parliamentary system from a presidential one. As president the following year, Sarkisian’s administration converted the system, providing the prime minister position with greater power than the president. (DW, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Human Rights Watch)


SPAIN: Catalan protesters call for return of leaders

  SPAIN Catalan protestors call for return of leaders

On Sunday, police estimated that more than 300,000 people marched to advocate for the return of the 16 Catalan leaders jailed without trial or in exile after the independence referendum of 2017. The protests were organized by Omnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly as a six-month reminder of the referendum. The organization claimed that as many as 700,000 people demonstrated. Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont tweeted support for the demonstration from exile in Germany. Comment: After Catalonia voted for independence in its recent referendum, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy removed the Catalan government’s leadership and exerted control over the region. (The Local Spain, The Guardian, Al Jazeera)


REGIONAL: European Commission advocates EU accession for Western Balkans


On Tuesday, the European Commission (EC) President Jean-Claude Juncker recommended that the EU expand to include the Western Balkans at a European Parliament debate in Strasbourg, France. In a report published the same day, the EC pushed for the EU to start talks with Albania and Macedonia. France and Germany oppose the move to expand further. According to French President Emmanuel Macron, the EU should focus internally before accepting new members. Comment: The Western Balkan nations include Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. All six countries in the Western Balkans want to become EU members, with Serbia and Montenegro in the lead. The EU has indicated that the countries must overcome regional disputes and corruption allegations before any progress is made. (Balkan Insight, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Reuters)

Researched/Written Daniel Boerger


This week in the Middle East & North Africa

LIBYA: Eastern Libyan military chief of staff survives car bomb

LIBYA Eastern Libyan military chief of staff survives car bomb attack  

On Wednesday, a car bomb hit the convoy of Abdel-Razeq Nathouri, chief of staff of the Libyan National Army – loyal to the “Tobruk government” based in the country’s east. Nathouri was traveling from Benghazi to his base in al-Marj, a small eastern town, when his convoy was hit some 20 km outside Benghazi. Nathouri himself was unharmed, but one person was killed and two wounded, security and military officials reported. Comment: In the ongoing civil war, the Libyan National Army, under the leadership of Khalifa Haftar, is opposing the forces of the UN-backed government based in Tripoli, in the country’s West. Nathori’s has been mentioned as a possible sucessor for Khalifa Haftar, who is currently battling health issues. (Libya Observer, News24, Reuters)


SYRIA: U.S. and its allies launch attack on Syria’s suspected chemical weapons sites


On Saturday, the U.S., UK, and France launched more than 100 TLAM, JASSM-ER, MdCN, Storm Shadow, and Scalp missiles on Syria in a “one-time shot,” according to the Pentagon. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Marine General Joseph Dunford said the missiles, fired from sea and air, targeted chemical weapons facilities. The Russian military reported that Syria’s defense systems shot down 71 out of the 103 cruise missiles launched in the attack. Russia’s Colonel General Sergei Rudoski said that the strikes did not cause any casualties, and that the Syrian military facilities suffered only minor damage. Comment: On Tuesday, the UN sent a delegation from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to investigate the April 7 incident in Douma when Western countries and rescue workers say scores of civilians were gassed to death by government forces. (Al Jazeera 1, 2, BBC, Janes, Reuters)


TUNISIA: Campaigns start for first municipal elections since the 2011 revolution

  TUNISIA Campaigns start for the first municipal elections since the 2011 revolution

This week, the candidates running for the first municipal elections since the removal of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali launched their campaigns. The Independent High Authority for Elections announced that more than 75 percent of registered candidates were under the age of 45, while more than 50 percent were under 35. The two leading political parties Ennahda and Nidaa Tunis are running for the elections with the highest number of lists possible – each submitting 350 lists, equivalent to the 700 municipalities in the country. The elections are scheduled to take place on May 6. Comment: A new election law adopted in early 2017 requires that at least three candidates under the age of 35 and one disabled person be included in each electoral list. (Africa Intelligence, Aljazeera, Al-monitor)

Researched/Written by Ismail Mohamed


This week in South Asia

INDIA: Accused plead not guilty in Kathua rape case

INDIA Accused plead not guilty in Kathua rape case  

On Monday, seven men and one minor accused of involvement in the gang rape and murder of eight-year-old, Asifa Bano, appeared in a local court and pleaded not guilty. Asifa, a nomad Muslim girl from a small village in the Kathua district of Indian-administered Kashmir, went missing in January and was later found dead. According to police, the accused drugged Asifa, held her captive in a Hindu temple, and sexually assaulted her for a week before killing her. A retired government official and four policemen are among the accused; all eight of the accused are Hindu. Protests in cities across India broke out this past weekend – fueled by anger toward the alleged initial support for the accused by some ministers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the silence from the government in cases involving religious minorities. In a statement on Friday, the UN urged Indian authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. Comment: Protestors are also focusing on another rape case involving a BJP lawmaker in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Police started an investigation of the case after the claimant tried to burn herself outside the lawmaker’s residence. (Times of India 1, 2, Al Jazeera 1, 2, The Guardian)


INDIA: Supreme Court dismisses calls for investigation into judge’s death

On Thursday, the Indian Supreme Court dismissed petitions calling for an investigation into the death of Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, who had allegedly died of natural causes while presiding over a case involving Amit Shah, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member. Judge Loya’s family started petitions for an inquiry, citing the mysterious circumstance of his death and the political pressure he received while hearing the case. The Supreme Court judges called the petitions a “frontal attack” on the judiciary system and found no reason to believe judge Loya did not die from natural causes. Comment: In the 2014 case, Amit Shah, a close ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and now president of the BJP, stood trial for allegedly ordering three extrajudicial killings in 2005 and 2006. The judge who replaced judge Loya discharged him due to lack of evidence. (Times of India, 1, 2, Al Jazeera, Reuters)


PAKISTAN: Former Prime Minister banned for life

  PAKISTAN ex-Prime Minister banned for life

On Friday, the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled to disqualify former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, from holding public office for life. The ruling concluded that anyone disqualified from office under a constitutional clause requiring legislators to be “honest and trustworthy” would be banned from public office for life. The government dismissed Sharif from his post in July of last year over alleged corruption following months of hearings in a case instigated by leaked documents. One of the documents revealed that three of his children owned off-shore companies engaged in deals worth USD 25 million and registered in the British Virgin Islands. Sharif denied the allegations stating that he never received money from the companies. The ex-Prime Minster and three of his children continue to face trial for corruption charges in a National Accountability Bureau court, which is due to deliver a verdict in the coming weeks. Comment: In December, the Supreme Court made a similar ruling under the same clause in a case against Jahangir Tareen, an opposition leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. (Dawn, The Nation, Al Jazeera 1, 2)

Researched/Written by Pamela Mhute

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