Zambia’s “Imaginary” Terror Plot

Defence Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (in dark glasses) with President Sata (left) and other government officials.

Defence Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (in dark glasses) with President Sata (left) and other government officials. Picture courtesy of Zambian Watchdog

Zambia recently woke up to a story in state-owned media that a group calling itself Tongas Under Oath had killed two people belonging to President Michael Sata’s ethnic group, and was now in the process of removing settlers from the ethnically Tonga Southern Province. However, the story did not wash with the citizens who simply viewed it as an attempt by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) government to clamp down on the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND). Zambia’s third largest opposition party is led by Hakainde Hichilema, a Tonga who has been very critical of the Sata government. And as is often the case in Zambian politics, Hichilema is the latest in a line of fearless opposition leaders whose increasing popular support is likely to result in electoral success.

Prior to the release of the letter allegedly written by the Tongas Under Oath group, Hichilema was arrested and charged after he claimed that the PF government was planning to send youths to Sudan to train as militias. A few days later, the opposition’s headquarters in the capital, Lusaka, were searched by the police looking for seditious materials. » More

Comments Off
Tags:

Colombians Cautiously Optimistic About Peace Talks with FARC

Protestors voicing their outrage against FARC in 2008. Photo: xmascarol/flickr

Despite President Juan Manuel Santos’ wish [es] for discretion, news broke [es] in late August that the Colombian government was to begin negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). This was finally confirmed by Santos on September 4 during a televised speech that outlined that the government’s negotiations [es] with FARC would seek an end to the armed conflict and drug trafficking. Both sides will also discuss victims’ rights, rural development and the participation of FARC in Colombia’s democratic process. Fearing a repeat of the last round of failed negotiationsin 1999-2002, Santos also said that no amnesty would be granted for FARC leaders and that military operations would continue. Minutes later, FARC’s leader, Timoleón Jiménez (‘Timochenko’) appeared in a broadcast from Havana, Cuba and declared that FARC is truly committed to a “civilized dialogue” that would end the decades-old conflict. » More

Comments Off

Dagestan on the Brink

Makhachkala, the capital city of Dagestan. Photo: Bolshakov/flickr

On September 15, 2012 Dagestan, a Russian republic located next to Chechnya in the North Caucasus, was celebrating its Day of National Unity [ru]. While the holiday always seems to be forced upon Dagestan the need for unity is undoubtedly important for the region.

The North Caucasus is one of the most ethnically diverse regions of Russia, and Dagestan is no exception. Its largest ethnic group, the Avar, make up only 30% of the population – the rest is split between a dozen small nationalities.

Ethnic division combined with high levels of unemployment is a recipe for volatility. Opposition leader Eduard Limonov blogged on August 15 [ru]:

[The] impression is that Dagestan is about to stop being a territory of the Russian Federation, because every day we learn of subversive acts, murders and attacks …This is a classic beginning of a civil war.

Two weeks later talk of civil war [ru] was on everyone’s mind. On August 28, Said Afandi, a Sufi Sheikh and one of Dagestan’s most prominent religious scholars, was killed by a female suicide bomber [ru]. The bomber was a Salafi Muslim, and the killing was a manifestation of the tension between the republic’s traditional Sunni Sufis and a growing fundamentalist movement, according to Dagestani blogger[ru] Saif Nuri. » More

Comments Off

Madagascar Struggles to Control Domestic Instability

Student clash in Madagascar. Photo: r1_lita/flickr

Following the deaths of around a hundred people in southern Madagascar in clashes between zebu cattle rustlers (“dahalo”) and farmers, the government has decided to take special security measures to restore order. The violence is a symptom of the growing political instability in Madagascar that is affecting urban centers as well as rural communities.

People’s Justice in the South

Thefts and armed attacks are a recurring problem in Madagascar and have been growing more and more frequent since the political crisis in 2009. To overcome this problem, a national counter-instability plan [fr] was formally introduced in April 2012. The government has now mobilized the armed forces in the capital as well as in areas particularly affected by cattle theft.

However, initial attempts at stabilizing the southern region were far from successful. As Alain Rajaonarivony explains [fr]:

The military campaign carried out against the dahalo in the bush of the great south in June and July 2012 was a disaster. Not only were they more familiar with the local terrain, the dahalo were also just as well equipped as the government forces – and the lack of helicopters was sorely felt by the latter. The government forces were especially noted not for their combat ability but for their atrocities, when they burnt villages that could serve as support bases for the dahalo. » More

Comments Off

Afghans Show Restraint Over Anti-Islam Film

Protests against the anti-Islam movie in the Eastern Nengarhar province. Photo by: Ehsan Amiri

Afghanistan blocked access to YouTube for the first time on September 12, 2012 after the trailer for the highly-controversial film the highly-controversial film the Innocence of Muslims was disseminated online.

The film was allegedly produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian and portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a philanderer and a religious fake. This sparked protests in many Islamic countries and led to the killing of a US ambassador and three other American diplomats in Libya.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that the filmmakers had engaged in a ”devilish act” and that insulting Islam is not permitted by freedom of speech. Aimal Marjan, the general director of Information Technology at the Ministry of Communications told Reuters that they had been asked to block YouTube until the film was removed. » More

Comments Off
Page 2 of 9