Fighting and displacement sharply increased in the Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, as the Congolese army and UN forces failed to contain Laurent Nkunda's CNDP rebels. Tens of thousands have been forced to flee, and the army has been implicated in looting, rapes and killings in and around the capital Goma as troops abandoned their positions. Tensions between Rwanda and Congo also escalated over Rwandan support for Congolese Tutsi Nkunda.
As CrisisWatch went to press, a ceasefire declared by Nkunda on 29 October was holding, and a significant diplomatic effort was underway, including an EU mission to Congo and Rwanda led by the French and British foreign ministers. Yet the risks of even more damaging conflict and catastrophic humanitarian consequences are high.
The international community must press both Kinshasa and Kigali to immediately desist from supporting armed groups in the region, Nkunda to withdraw to his usual deployment points in Masisi and Rutshuru, and Congo to remove all army commanders collaborating with Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels. The situation requires a pro-active and sustained international commitment by UN Security Council member states and the appointment of a new UN Special Envoy, dedicated to bringing momentum, focus and pressure to the implementation of the already signed November 2007 Nairobi declaration and January 2008 Goma agreement, which provide the framework for resolving the crisis.
The situation also worsened dramatically in the Indian state of Assam with a series of 13 explosions in Guwahati and elsewhere killing over 60 and injuring around 300. There have been no immediate claims of responsibility for the bombings. Assam also saw its worst inter-communal violence in 25 years as clashes between Bodo tribes and Muslims killed over 50 earlier in the month.
Near simultaneous suicide bombings on 29 October hit Hargeisa in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland and Bossaso in the neighbouring region Puntland, killing around 30 and injuring scores more. In Peru, the rebel Shining Path movement launched its deadliest attacks in almost a decade, killing 14 soldiers and 4 civilians. October also saw further deteriorations in the political crisis in Thailand and in mounting violent attacks in Ingushetia (North Caucasus).
The situation in Bolivia improved with an agreement between the government and opposition on a compromise text for a new constitution and President Morales's renunciation of the possibility of standing for a third term, offering hope that the protracted political crisis can be resolved. In the Maldives, the first multi-party elections after 30 years of rule by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom saw a massive turnout, with victory going to the opposition candidate, a former political prisoner.
For November, CrisisWatch identifies the Democratic Republic of Congo as a Conflict Risk Alert.
October 2008 TRENDS
Democratic Republic of Congo, India (non-Kashmir), North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), Peru, Somaliland (Somalia), Thailand
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), China (internal), Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti/Eritrea, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Georgia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Niger, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), North Korea, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Somaliland (Somalia), Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe
November 2008 OUTLOOK
Conflict Risk Alert
Democratic Republic of Congo
Conflict Resolution Opportunities
*NOTE: CrisisWatch indicators - up and down arrows, conflict risk alerts, and conflict resolution opportunities - are intended to reflect changes within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between countries. For example, no "conflict risk alert" is given for a country where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated violence is feared.