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CrisisWatch identified twelve deteriorations in June.
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Spike in fuel prices sparked demonstrations that left five people dead.
Govt 2 June scrapped fuel subsidies, prompting gasoline price to almost double. In response, taxi drivers 5 June held protest in Huambo province. Police responded with live ammunition, killing five people including 12-year-old. NGO Human Rights Watch next day condemned disproportionate use of force, called for impartial investigations and prosecutions. President Lourenco 8 June fired economic coordination minister and replaced him with central bank governor. Unrest continued with thousands 17 June protesting fuel price hike in several cities, including in capital Luanda and Benguela and Namibe cities; police fired tear gas, with several people reportedly wounded and at least 87 detained.
Amid heavy fighting between security forces and jihadist militants, abuses against civilians continued as transitional govt pursued all-military approach to insecurity.
Jihadists inflicted heavy losses on security forces. Govt forces and civilian army auxiliaries (VDPs) late May conducted wide-ranging operations against al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and Islamic State Sahel Province in North region’s Yatenga province, Boucle du Mouhoun region’s Nayala province, and Centre-West region’s Sanguié province. In Centre-East region, suspected jihadists 5 June killed 14 VDPs and four soldiers in Sawengua area, Boulgou province, reportedly prompting airborne counter-attack. In Centre-North region, unidentified jihadists 26 June ambushed supply convoy in Namsiguia village, Bam province, killing at least 31 soldiers and three VDPs, while govt claimed to have killed around 40 assailants; jihadists same day reportedly killed 33 VDPs in Noaka village, Sanmatenga province, with VDPs claiming to have killed 50 jihadists.
State-sponsored militias conducted multiple abuses against civilians. In Centre-East region, suspected VDPs 3 June abducted 19 Fulani civilians from bus near Yargatenga commune, Koulpélogo province, and soldiers and VDPs 6 June killed traditional chief and two other people they accused of collaborating with JNIM in Sawengua village, Boulgou province. In East region, VDPs 10 June abducted at least four people from medical centre in Kompienga province before killing them.
Transitional President Capt. Traoré conducted partial cabinet reshuffle. Traoré 25 June proceeded to partial reshuffle of govt, with departure of four ministers, including those in charge of security and justice; other key ministries including defence, finance and foreign affairs did not change hands.
Govt took further steps to re-align away from traditional Western partners. Traoré 12 June received delegation from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) alliance of major emerging economies. FM Olivia Ragnaghnewendé Rouamba next day signed memorandum of understanding with BRICS delegation, defining priority areas of cooperation, largely related to development. Meanwhile, transitional govt 18 June congratulated Malian authorities on decision to revoke consent for UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA), lauding step as “conforming to the strategic vision of the Malian state” and “affirmation of sovereignty” (see Mali).
Govt suspended main opposition party as authorities stepped up attempts to silence dissent ahead of 2025 legislative elections.
Govt suspended main opposition party. Interior Minister Martin Niteretse 2 June banned main opposition party National Congress for Freedom (CNL) from any activities, citing “irregularities” during congresses held in March and April, which saw several party executives opposed to CNL President Agathon Rwasa ousted. Rwasa and other party officials in following days denounced “attempt to weaken the CNL ahead of the 2025 legislative elections”. Authorities 10-17 June arrested at least 16 CNL activists and party officials on spurious charges. Meanwhile, ruling-party youth militia Imbonerakure 4 June reportedly lynched CNL activist Gabriel Ndayishimiye in Gitega province, and 7 June launched census of population by political affiliation in Kayogoro commune, Makamba province, with CNL denouncing manoeuvre aimed at dissuading locals from openly supporting CNL.
In other important developments. Burundi 14-28 June participated in East African Community’s military exercise aiming to foster cooperation among military, police and civilian components of seven EAC member states.
Anglophone separatist movement appeared increasingly divided as conflict with govt forces showed no sign of abating; authorities took steps to stem uptick in jihadist violence in Far North.
Violence continued in Anglophone North West (NW) and South West (SW) regions. Anglophone separatist militants 6-7 June ambushed army patrol in Ekondo Titi town, Ndian division (SW) and detonated explosive device on military reinforcement team, leaving two soldiers and one assailant dead; 8 June shot and killed gendarmerie commander in Bamenda city, Mezam division (NW); 16 June killed police officer in Bamenda city (NW); and 25 June killed soldier near Kumba city, Meme division (SW). Soldiers 15-17 June raided Big Babanki village, Mezam, to dislodge suspected separatists, reportedly killing about dozen people including civilians; 24 June reportedly raided Ekona village, Fako division (SW), leaving five people dead.
Splits widened within Anglophone separatist movement. After resigning in April as Deputy Defence Chief of separatist armed group Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF), prominent separatist figure Capo Daniel mid-June challenged ADF head Ayaba Cho, accusing him of power-mongering, corruption, and failure to provide adequate political leadership.
Govt redoubled efforts to stem jihadist violence amid uptick in attacks in Far North. After Boko Haram in May intensified attacks, military in Far North region 31 May requested further support from Chad and Nigeria to enhance border protection, and additional military resources from Yaoundé; governor of Far North region same day urged local chiefs and community leaders to reactivate militias to assist govt forces in fighting militants, and army 2 June announced construction of two additional army bases in Far North. Attacks continued, however. In Mayo-Sava division, suspected Boko Haram militants 2 June killed vigilante group leader in Amchidé town, 5 June killed one soldier in Kerawa town, and 11 June killed one civilian and abducted two children in Kassa village. In Mayo-Tsanaga division, army overnight 3-4 June repelled Boko Haram attack on Goldavi military post, killing four militants. Suspected Islamic State West Africa Province militants 17 June reportedly kidnapped six women in Bargaram village, Logone-et-Chari division, for failing to pay taxes levied by group.
President Touadéra faced renewed pushback from opposition for scheduling constitutional referendum, while rebel violence continued countrywide.
Scheduling of constitutional referendum rekindled political tensions. Opposition and civil society groups early June condemned Touadéra’s late May move to schedule constitutional referendum for 30 July as manoeuvre to stay in power. Notably, opposition leader Alexandre Ferdinand N’Guendet, who briefly served as transitional president in 2014, 1 June reportedly threatened to march on capital Bangui, calling on army to rally behind him to overthrow Touadéra. Army generals 6 June rejected call, and public prosecutor 12 June launched investigation into N’Guendet’s actions. Opposition party Resistance and Transition Council 3 June urged citizens to rise up against Touadéra. UN human rights expert in CAR, Yao Agbetse, 16 June warned referendum could “result in further human rights violations” and urged authorities to prevent surge of hate speech and violence before, during and after vote. Meanwhile, Touadéra 9 June appointed Evariste Ngamana, ruling party spokesperson and parliament’s first VP, as head of referendum campaign, sidelining party’s executive secretary and Parliament Speaker Simplice Mathieu Sarandji, who has spoken out against constitutional reform.
Rebel violence continued across country. Govt forces and rebel Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) 5 June clashed in Baoro town (Nana-Mambéré prefecture), leaving three civilians injured. CPC fighters 8 June ambushed govt forces near Kadjama village (Ouham prefecture), killing three and capturing one; 13 June attacked army and Russian paramilitary Wagner position in Makoundji Wali village (Ouham-Pendé prefecture), with unknown casualties. Govt forces and Wagner 11 June captured senior CPC official during operation in Bria town (Haute-Kotto prefecture), after CPC fighters surrounded Bria and spread rumours of major attack. Self-defence militia Azandé Ani Kpi Gbé 20 June clashed with Union for Peace in CAR (a member of CPC) rebels in Mboki town (Haut-Mbomou prefecture), leaving unknown number dead.
Chadian army continued military operations in CAR. Chadian military 3 June killed a dozen alleged CAR-based Chadian rebels near Ngolongosso locality (Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture).
Govt forces and rebel groups engaged in week-long fighting in northern region in worst episode of rebel violence since 2021 offensive.
Rebel violence resurged in Tibesti region in north. Rebel groups National Front for Democracy and Justice in Chad (FNDJT) and Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR), both of which took part in 2022 Doha dialogue but refused to sign ensuing peace deal with transitional govt, 31 May-6 June clashed with armed forces in Tibesti. Army 7 June said fighting left 23 rebels dead, while eight soldiers suffered injuries; rebels 6 June claimed 15 soldiers killed, later announced death of one FNDJT senior commander.
Suspected criminal violence affected eastern regions. In Guéra region, unidentified assailants 3 June killed four civilians in attack on agricultural project team near Iregué locality (Mangalmé department); mob 15 June attacked Mangalmé prison and lynched two alleged perpetrators. In Sila region, unidentified gunmen 7 June killed two security personnel in Hadjer Marfain locality (Kimiti department), while dispute over local chief’s succession 14 June reportedly left two dead and 30 injured in Djourouf Al Ahmar department.
Fallout from Sudan conflict increased risk of tribal clashes along border. Security services 11 June arrested Allamine Adoudou, Chad’s former ambassador to Egypt and prominent opposition leader, over comments supporting Chadian Arab tribesmen fighting alongside Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan. Lt. Gen. Shams al-Din Kabbashi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Sudanese Armed Forces, 9 June accused RSF of recruiting mercenaries from Arab tribes notably in Chad. NGO Doctors without Borders 16 June said over 600 war-wounded Sudanese in last three days arrived in Adré town in Ouaddaï region (east). UN human rights representative late June said 120,000 Sudanese refugees have arrived to Chad since 15 April, warned UN camps in country only had capacity for 90,000.
In other important developments. Council of Ministers 2 June and National Transitional Council 27 June approved preliminary draft constitution ahead of constitutional referendum due in Nov. Several political and civil society opposition groups immediately said proposed text, which retains unitary state, contradicts recommendations of Inclusive National Dialogue, according to which form of the state was to be decided by referendum.
Ahead of September local elections, voter roll continued to spark controversy; govt pursued efforts to monitor refugee influx from Burkina Faso amid fears of jihadist infiltration.
Opposition heavyweights criticised electoral list. Henri Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) and Laurent Gbagbo’s African People’s Party - Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) 1 June held joint press conference, alleged irregularities on voter roll including presence of deceased voters, and called for extension of appeal period. Gbagbo 8 June filed appeal at electoral commission’s office in Abidjan city to be reinstated on election roll to vote in municipal and regional elections due 2 Sept; PPA-CI 30 June said electoral commission had rejected appeal.
Ad-hoc political alliances faced challenges. PPA-CI and PDCI continued to discuss circumstantial electoral alliances for local elections; disagreements however persisted over designation of common candidates in some districts, notably in Gbagbo stronghold of Yopougon in Abidjan suburb. Paris-based weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique 12 June reported ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace did not withdraw its candidate in Moronou region where president of Ivorian Popular Front party, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, is seeking re-election, despite partnership agreement signed in May.
Govt took further steps to manage refugee influx from Burkina Faso. UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Côte d’Ivoire 19 June announced two “transit sites” for Burkinabe refugees will be operational by late June in porous border departments of Ouangolodougou (north) and Bouna (north east); Ivorian authorities hope sites will allow for better monitoring of refugee influx amid concerns that some jihadist militants might be hiding among displaced people in order to infiltrate country.
Political tensions escalated ahead of December general elections, and M23-related violence resumed, jeopardising fragile ceasefire observed on the ground since April.
Political climate sharply deteriorated. Military intelligence 5 June accused opposition leader Moïse Katumbi’s right-hand man, Salomon Kalonda – detained in May – of collusion with Rwanda and M23 rebels, and 8 June searched Kalonda and Katumbi’s homes in capital Kinshasa and Lubumbashi city. Moves fuelled concern among opposition parties that President Tshisekedi may use M23 crisis to repress rivals ahead of December general elections. Opposition and civil society continued to strongly criticise electoral process. Former President Kabila 16 June denounced those “organising chaotic elections that will set the country ablaze”, while opposition heavyweight Martin Fayulu 19 June threatened election boycott if voter list is not redone. After National Episcopal Conference 22 June condemned democratic backsliding, Tshisekedi 25 June accused Catholic Church of intimidation.
Clashes resumed between M23 rebellion and local armed groups allied to army. Following lull in M23-related violence in North Kivu province since April, M23 rebels 8, 26 June clashed with ethnic Hutu militia in Bwito chiefdom, Rutshuru territory, and 15 June captured Kasura, Butale and Lwama villages in Bashali chiefdom, Masisi territory, after clashes with ethnic Hutu and Hunde militias; renewed fighting reported in Masisi 17-21 June. Meanwhile, Angola 3 and 27 June hosted regional summits to help resolve conflict (see Rwanda).
Deadly attacks by ethnic and Islamist militias continued. Association of various ethnic Lendu militias, Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, 11-12 June rampaged through Lala displacement camp in Djugu territory of Ituri province, killing 46 civilians, mostly ethnic Hema. Islamist militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) 2-9 June killed at least 24 people in Beni territory, North Kivu. ADF 16 June also launched deadly cross-border attack into Uganda (see Uganda), and 25 June killed several people in Manya locality, Mambasa territory, Ituri.
Conflict between Yaka and Teke communities continued in west. Ethnic Yaka “Mobondo” militiamen 6 June beheaded ethnic Teke village chief in Maluku commune, Kinshasa, and 26 June killed at least 20 people, mostly from Teke ethnic group, in ambush in Kwamouth territory, Mai-Ndombe province.
Asmara re-joined regional bloc in sustained effort to bolster international standing; President Isaias continued seeking closer ties with Russia.
Eritrea sought to bolster regional standing. Eritrea 12 June formally rejoined regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) after 16-year hiatus. Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel same day said IGAD should play leading role in resolving Sudan crisis. High-level delegation led by FM Osman Saleh 13 June participated in 14th IGAD regular meeting in Djibouti.
President Isaias completed first official visit to Russia. President Isaias late May-early June made first official visit to Russia, held talks with President Putin on strengthening bilateral ties and agreed to participate in second Russia-Africa Summit in July. In interview with state-controlled TV channel Russia Today, Isaias 5 June supported Russia’s “right to defend itself” against “hegemonic forces … led by Washington” that have “declared war against humanity”, calling for “global solidarity” to forge new world order.
Deadly violence persisted in Oromia region, Tigray peace process remained on track despite challenges, and unrest simmered in Amhara region amid rising opposition to federal govt.
Insecurity remained rampant in Oromia, exacting heavy toll on civilians. Hostilities between Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and military continued at high intensity; month also saw clashes between Amhara Fano militia and govt forces. Meanwhile, armed groups stepped up attacks on civilians. Notably, OLA 6 June attacked bus near Bule Hora town (West Guji Zone), killing two; Fano militia 8-9 June killed at least three in Agemsa town (East Wollega); UN humanitarian agency 14 June reported deteriorating humanitarian situation following attacks on civilians in parts of Horo Guduru Wollega and East Wollega zones. Kidnappings also continued; notably, gunmen 24 June abducted around 50 people in Ali Doro area (North Shewa Zone), demanding ransom.
Tigray peace process saw mixed progress. NGO Human Rights Watch 1 June reported Amhara forces in disputed Western Tigray continued ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans after Nov 2022 truce. Amhara residents of Western Tigray 4 June demonstrated, demanding govt address status of ethnic Amharas living there. U.S. Horn of Africa envoy 7 June met with federal and Tigray leaders, and African Union (AU) officials, later confirmed parties agreed to extend AU ceasefire monitoring and verification team’s mandate until Dec 2023. Tigray Interim President Getachew Reda 11 June visited Amhara’s capital Bahir Dar for first time since Tigray war ended, pledged to continue work toward “sustainable peace” during talks with Amhara’s president.
Fano militia clashed with federal forces in Amhara. Amid rising discontent with federal govt in Amhara region, sporadic fighting occurred during month between federal forces and Amhara nationalist Fano militia, notably leaving six dead on 10 June in Awi Zone. Other Amhara nationalist factions feeling isolated as federal govt strengthens relations with Tigray may resort to low-grade armed rebellion.
In other important developments. U.S. development agency 8 June suspended food aid to Ethiopia after uncovering “widespread and coordinated campaign” to divert assistance; World Food Program next day followed suit. Addis Ababa 29 June requested to join BRICS bloc of emerging economies that includes Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa.
Opposition coalition put demonstrations on hold, but political tensions persisted as transitional authorities launched consultations on constitutional reform.
Opposition suspended demonstrations, court acquitted key opposition leaders. Large opposition and civil society coalition Forces Vives de Guinée (FVG) 31 May put demonstrations on hold for June, citing preparations for Eid al-Adha celebrations. Dixinn court 13 June cleared three leaders of civil society platform National Front for the Defence of the Constitution – including Oumar Sylla, alias Foniké Mengué – of all charges levelled against them in mid-2022, including participating in an illegal gathering; public prosecutor immediately appealed acquittal, which was one of FVG’s main preconditions to resume negotiations with govt.
Transitional authorities moved forward with constitutional reform initiative. Transitional legislature 15 May-2 June organised constitutional consultations, calling upon institutions and political entities to discuss guiding principles of future constitution and present recommendations; armed forces suggested limiting number of political parties to three, while FVG boycotted initiative.
Tensions with ECOWAS remained latent. Transitional authorities postponed talks on conduct of transition scheduled for 18-21 June with West African regional bloc (ECOWAS) mediator for Guinea, former Beninese President Thomas Boni Yayi, citing higher agenda priorities. African Union Chairperson Azali Assoumani 23-25 June visited Guinea, met with transitional president, Lt. Col. Doumbouya; leaders likely discussed tensions between Conakry and ECOWAS on conduct of transition.
President Ruto enacted new finance bill, adding to tensions with opposition; under pressure in Somalia, Al-Shabaab stepped up incursions into Kenya.
President signed controversial finance bill into law despite opposition. Police 6 June fired teargas to disperse hundreds of people demonstrated against proposed Finance Bill 2023 in capital Nairobi. Lawmakers 21 June approved bill, which doubles fuel tax and introduces new housing levy, and Ruto 26 June signed it into law. Move added to tensions between govt and opposition. In protest, opposition leader Raila Odinga 27 June called for tax boycott and vowed to hold street protests from 7 July; Odinga’s coalition Azimio la Umoja same day also announced leaving bi-partisan talks with govt on selection of election commissioners. High Court 30 June suspended implementation of Finance Act 2023 pending hearing and determination of lawsuit sponsored by opposition senator.
Al-Shabaab attacks spiked along Somali border. As offensive against Al-Shabaab continued in Somalia, group 2 June reportedly attacked police vehicle with rocket-propelled grenade along Lelele-Takaba road in Mandera county, killing two officers and injuring five others. Al-Shabaab claimed explosive device attack 7 June killed four soldiers on Mararani-Kiunga road in Lamu county, while another explosive device attack 13 June reportedly killed eight police officers near Bodhei town along Lamu-Garissa county border. Suspected Al-Shabaab militants 24 June killed five civilians in Juhudi and Salama villages in Lamu county, raising death toll in such cross-border attacks to at least 30 in past month.
Violence over cattle and land resources continued in north. Suspected cattle raiders 3 June injured two people in Kamurion village along West Pokot-Turkana county border; 9 June attacked Lolmolog village in Samburu county, injuring four and stealing hundreds of cattle. Attacks also increased in Meru County, possibly reflecting security operations’ success in pushing raiders south. Notably, armed men likely coming from Samburu 12-13 June attacked Njaruine village, killing five and stealing over 100 cattle.
UN Security Council ended UN mission at Bamako’s request, while Mali voters approved new Constitution in referendum, and jihadist violence continued in centre and north.
UN mission set to leave Mali after authorities revoked consent. Ahead of UN Security Council’s vote on renewal of UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA)’s mandate, FM Abdoulaye Diop 16 June requested MINUSMA’s departure “without delay”, citing “crisis of confidence” between authorities and decade-old mission. Permanent Strategic Framework (CSP), which gathers northern armed groups signatory to 2015 peace agreement, 21 June said departure of UN mission “without a credible alternative” would strike “fatal blow” to peace deal. UN Security Council 30 June terminated MINUSMA’s mandate, with mission to cease operations, transfer tasks and withdraw personnel by 31 December.
Voters approved new Constitution in referendum. Mali 18 June held constitutional referendum on new constitution strengthening presidential powers, providing amnesty for coup perpetrators, and potentially paving the way for Transitional President Col. Goïta to run in presidential election scheduled for Feb 2024. CSP members did not allow vote to proceed in Kidal town (north) under their control, while Malian civil society-led election observation mission 18 June said around 80 polling stations remained closed in Mopti region (centre) due to insecurity. Electoral authority in following days claimed turnout was 38% and 23 June said new constitution approved with 97% of vote. United Front Against the Referendum, made up of 21 political parties and civil society organisations, in following days denounced massive fraud and filed appeals to Constitutional Court.
Jihadist violence continued in centre and north. In Mopti (centre), Islamic State Sahel Province (IS Sahel) militants 3 June killed 15 pastoralists at Teberemt village, and al-Qaeda affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) 6 June killed at least 10 Dan Na Ambassagou militiamen in ambush in Korn’Ga village. In north, JNIM and IS Sahel militants 3 June clashed in Tatakarat area, Gao region, leaving eight IS Sahel militants dead; JNIM militants next day ambushed IS Sahel unit in Timatalwayene area, Timbuktu region, killing ten. Also in Timbuktu, JNIM 9 June attacked MINUSMA patrol, killing one UN peacekeeper.
Insurgent activity persisted at lower intensity in northern Cabo Delgado province; preparations for October municipal elections moved forward.
Islamic State militants remained active mostly in coastal Macomia district. Graves containing bodies of three individuals who went missing in early May in Chitoio village, Macomia district, discovered 5 June. Suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) militants sighted 7 June around coastal village of Pequeue in Macomia. Meanwhile, security forces mid-June reportedly reduced escorts on N380 road between Macomia district headquarters and Mucojo town. ISMP militants continued to engage communities peacefully in certain coastal areas, while also warning civilians against cooperation with security forces. Notably, militants 5 June searched bus near Ilala village along Macomia coast but let the passengers go unharmed, and 21 June reportedly entered Kalugo village in Mocímboa da Praia district, bought food and clothing before leaving.
Authorities appeared set to step up counter-insurgency operations in Macomia. Military 19 June reportedly ordered residents of several villages along Macomia coast to evacuate to make way for govt, Rwandan and Southern African forces operations, and 21 June blocked all travel to Mucojo town from Macomia town. Soldiers’ indiscipline continued to fuel distrust. Notably, security forces 9 June killed schoolteacher in Pamunda neighbourhood of Mocímboa da Praia district.
Ahead of October municipal elections, voter registration closed. Voter registration for municipal elections scheduled for 11 October concluded 3 June, amid accusations that as many as 1.5mn people, particularly in opposition-leaning areas in central and northern Mozambique, had been unable to register. In Cabo Delgado, however, more people than expected registered, notably in Pemba, Mocímboa da Praia, Ibo, Chiure, and Balama municipalities, which host villagers displaced by conflict.
Low-level jihadist violence persisted notably in south east, and reports emerged of Arab tribesmen from Niger fighting in Sudan.
Sporadic violence from Boko Haram factions continued in Diffa region (south east). Suspected members of JAS faction of Boko Haram 9 June killed three Nigerian youths in Bosso department. Military vehicle 16 June hit explosive device likely planted by Islamic State West Africa Province militants near Chetima Wangou locality, Diffa department, leaving seven soldiers dead.
Mediation efforts made headway in Tillabery region (south west). Military around 3 June killed five suspected militants of Islamic State Sahel Province or al-Qaeda-affiliated Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) and arrested another eight in Tera department. Arab, Fulani, Djerma and Tuareg communities of Ouallam department 4 June signed peace agreement in Tondikiwindi village, committing to resolving differences peacefully and “forgive past acts”; deal was supported by national peacebuilding body Haute autorité à la consolidation de la paix, testifying to Niger’s multidimensional approach to insecurity relative to its neighbours.
In other important developments. In Agadez region (north), suspected bandits 9 June attacked Tchibarakaten gold mining site in Iferouane area; army repelled attack, killing three assailants and detaining another. Lt. Gen. Shams al-Din Kabbashi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Sudanese Armed Forces, 9 June accused rival Rapid Support Forces of recruiting mercenaries from Arab tribes notably in Niger.
New president took steps to address economic and security crises, while jihadist, criminal and herder-farmer violence continued unabated in several states.
President Tinubu reaffirmed focus on security, economy. Tinubu 19 June replaced all service and intelligence chiefs, ensuring that new appointments reflect country’s “federal character” as required by constitution. Tinubu during first few weeks in office also took significant steps toward reforming economy, notably scrapping fuel subsidy, which prompted major price increase. Main labour union announced indefinite strike from 7 June to protest move and soaring inflation, but put it on hold after govt 5 June engaged them in negotiations. After Tinubu 9 June suspended central bank chief, Godwin Emefiele, central bank mid-June ended years-long policy of operating multiple exchange rates.
Islamist insurgents launched bold attack in Borno state in North East. Air force 6 June bombed enclave believed to be camp of notable Boko Haram leader, Ali Ngulde, in Gwoza area, reportedly killing number of insurgents but missing Ngulde; 8 June allegedly struck Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) convoy in Damboa area, killing unconfirmed number. However, suspected Boko Haram 15 and 22 June killed at least 23 civilians and abducted others in Jere and Mafa areas, suggesting that some units are still lurking in forests around state capital Maiduguri. Suspected ISWAP 30 June fired rocket-propelled grenade at Damboa town after failing to invade community, killing five people. Boko Haram and ISWAP 23 June clashed between Gajiganna and Gajiram towns in Nganzai area, with unconfirmed fatalities.
Criminal violence continued unabated in North West and North Central. In Sokoto state, gunmen around 3 June killed over 100 people in villages of Tangaza area of Sokoto state, Maradun area of Zamfara, and Katsina-Ala area of Benue state. In Niger state, armed individuals 7 June killed at least 25 farmers and abducted unconfirmed number of residents in Rafi area. Military 1-15 June reportedly killed 38 members of armed groups, mostly in Kaduna and Zamfara states.
Herder-farmer violence continued to run high in North Central. Violence arising from herder-farmer tensions 11-27 June left over 60 people dead in Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Mangu areas of Plateau state.
Regional leaders discussed situation in eastern DR Congo, and UN annual report heavily criticised Rwanda’s role in DR Congo.
Regional peace efforts continued. Regional leaders 3 June met in Angola’s capital Luanda for extraordinary summit of International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to discuss eastern DR Congo and Sudan. Participants notably urged M23 armed group to accelerate withdrawal from North Kivu province and “condemned any attempt by the M23 [and others] to revive hostilities in occupied areas”. DR Congo President Félix Tshisekedi attended, while PM Edouard Ngirente represented Rwanda in place of President Kagame. Angola 27 June also hosted first quadripartite summit of ICGLR, Southern African Development Community, East African Community and Economic Community of Central African States under African Union auspices; participants pledged better coordination of peace initiatives in eastern DR Congo.
UN report condemned Rwanda’s intervention in DR Congo. In annual report published 20 June, UN Group of Experts on DR Congo reported “evidence of direct interventions by the Rwanda Defence Force on Democratic Republic of the Congo territory, either to reinforce M23 combatants or to conduct military operations”. U.S. 19 June welcomed report and reiterated call for Rwanda to “immediately remove Rwandan Defense Force troops from Congolese territory” and “cease support for the UN- and U.S.-sanctioned M23 armed group”.
Deadly protests erupted after court sentenced opposition leader to prison.
Court in capital Dakar 1 June sentenced opposition leader Ousmane Sonko to two years in prison for “corrupting the youth”, de facto disqualifying him from Feb 2024 presidential election; court however acquitted him of rape. Sonko’s supporters immediately denounced ruling as politically motivated, and 1-2 June staged protests notably in Dakar’s suburbs and Sonko’s hometown of Ziguinchor (Casamance region), with clashes reported between police and protesters. Govt 2 June deployed army in Dakar, and 4 June shut down mobile internet access, citing need to combat “subversive messages in a context of public disorder in certain localities”. Govt same day said clashes left 16 protesters dead, while NGO Amnesty International 9 June reported 23 fatalities, and Sonko’s party 20 June counted 30. Calm quickly returned but situation remained volatile until month’s end, with Sonko under de facto house arrest in Dakar pending transfer to jail, and President Sall expected to announce in early June whether or not he will run for third term in 2024.
Tensions flared as country went to polls for general elections.
Security forces 21 June clashed with opposition All People’s Congress (APC) supporters in capital Freetown as they gathered to protest “discrepancies in the electoral process”; APC same day said police killed one protester, while police denied firing shots but confirmed arresting 66 people. After elections 24 June proceeded without major incidents, APC said security forces 25 June fired tear gas and live ammunition into their headquarters in Freetown, leaving one person dead; police acknowledged firing tear gas at APC supporters who allegedly harassed passers-by near party headquarters and claimed victory. As APC presidential candidate Samura Kamara called early counts showing incumbent President Bio in lead “daylight robbery”, election commission 27 June declared Bio as winner of presidential election with 56.17% of votes; Kamara immediately rejected results, deeming them “not credible”. European election observers 28 June reported “statistical inconsistencies” in election results and urged election commission to “promptly publish disaggregated results data per polling station to allow for public scrutiny of the results”.
Al-Shabaab continued to launch major attacks amid stalled govt offensive, political tensions turned deadly in Puntland state and spiked in Gedo and Hiraan regions, while AU began troops drawdown.
Al-Shabaab conducted series of major attacks. As govt’s anti-Al-Shabaab offensive remained stalled, militants 7 June launched assault on outpost of Ethiopian forces in Dolow town, Jubaland state (south); 9 June laid seven-hour siege to Pearl Beach hotel in capital Mogadishu, killing at least nine; twin bombs 21 June killed multiple trainees in army recruitment centre in Bardhere city, Jubaland; and 25 June fired mortars at Halane base housing AU and UN personnel in Mogadishu, causing no casualties.
Violence left at least two dozen dead in Puntland state. As opposition groups continued to accuse Puntland President Said Deni of seeking to extend his term, gunmen loyal to opposition 20 June tried to disrupt parliamentary debate on changes to electoral system in state capital Garowe; clashes with security forces left at least 26 people dead. Traditional elders next day helped negotiate pause in fighting.
Political tensions spiked in Hiraan and Gedo regions. Hirshabelle state President Ali Guudlaawe 17 June replaced Hiraan regional governor Ali Jeyte, prompting immediate protests from Jeyte’s supporters, notably among his Hawadle clan, in regional capital Beledweyne. Jeyte 18 June said Hiraan is “severing ties” with Hirshabelle administration, and around 24 June proclaimed himself president of “new” Hiraan state, rejected talks with federal govt, and banned all flights into and out of Hiraan. Meanwhile, in bid to replace Gedo regional officials close to former federal President Farmajo, Jubaland state President Ahmed Madobe 7 June named Abdullahi Abdi Jama as new Gedo governor. Local elites however opposed move, with officials in Garbaharey city 13 June denying permission for plane carrying Abdi Jama to land until 27 June.
African Union (AU) mission began drawdown of troops. AU mission (ATMIS), due to exit Somalia by December 2024, 30 June completed first stage of withdrawal with 2,000 of almost 20,000 total troops leaving and several bases transferred to Somali army.
Las Anod crisis continued amid fighting between govt forces and local clan militias and defection of high-ranking officials.
Fighting between security forces and local clan militias continued. After lull in violence between Somaliland forces and Dhulbahante clan militias in early to mid-June, fighting picked up with several clashes and mortar exchanges reported 24-27 June in and around Las Anod town. President Bihi 25 June reiterated commitment to defend territorial integrity but expressed willingness to engage in negotiations with Dhulbahante elders.
Senior officials switched sides. Deputy commander of army, Lt. Gen. Suleiman Barre Gesood, early June defected and reportedly joined Dhulbahante forces. House of Representatives speaker, Abdirisaq Khalif, 12 June resigned, said President Bihi’s govt and security forces responsible for violence around Las Anod. Move came days after Attorney General filed lawsuit against Khalif, accusing him of absenteeism and undermining unity of Somaliland.
In other important developments. Electoral authorities 21 June completed distribution of voter cards; election timeline remained elusive, however, with opposition and govt divided over whether presidential vote or so-called political parties election should be held first.
Militia forces integrated into army, and intercommunal tensions escalated amid displacement crisis from Sudan where conflict threatens oil exports.
Agwalek militia integrated into army and defections weakened opposition. President Kiir and leader of ethnic Shilluk Agwalek militia, Johnson Olony, 7 June held long-awaited meeting in capital Juba, agreed to officially integrate Agwalek combatants into national armed forces. Leaders of two largest rebel groups not to have signed revitalised peace agreement – South Sudan United Front/Army deputy chief of staff, Dickson Gatluak, 11 June and National Salvation Front’s commander, Kenyi Warrior, 18 June – defected to govt, which could disincentivise Juba from reconvening Rome talks with armed groups outside of 2018 deal.
Sudan conflict enflamed intercommunal violence and threatened vital oil pipeline. UN refugee agency 26 June reported around 117,000 had crossed border from Sudan, mostly returnees, since 15 April. Humanitarian organisations continued to relocate thousands to areas of origin and areas adjacent to existing Protection of Civilians (PoC) camp in Malakal city (Upper Nile state), where intercommunal tensions have been high for months due to fighting between Nuer and Shilluk Agwalek ethnic militia. Empowered by President Kiir’s recognition of Olony, armed Shilluk 8 June clashed with Nuer groups in PoC camp, killing over 20, injuring dozens and raising doubts about UN mission’s (UNMISS) ability to protect camp. Meanwhile, Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces mid-June reportedly threatened to blow up only oil pipeline through Sudan if South Sudan does not stop paying transit fees to Sudanese army; move would prevent South Sudan’s oil export through Port Sudan, with catastrophic economic consequences.
Violence persisted in several states. Clashes during cattle raid between Nuer youth of Panyijiar County and Dinka youth of Rumbek Central County 1 June killed eight in Lakes State. Local official said youth from Unity State 3 June killed 19 in cattle-related attack in Tonj North county, Warrap State. Misseriya tribesmen from Sudan’s Kordofan states 10-15 June killed ten in Warn Ayen area of Aweil East County in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state. UNMISS 16 June revealed number of violent incidents targeting civilians Jan-March 2023 grew by 12% compared to same time period in 2022.
Conflict between Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and army escalated as mediation efforts failed, with fighting drawing in other armed groups and Darfur witnessing worst violence since civil war.
Fighting intensified in Khartoum and Kordofan states, drawing in rebel group. Army continued aerial bombardment of RSF-controlled areas of capital Khartoum, including residential and commercial neighbourhoods; notably, air attack 17 June killed at least 17. In North Kordofan state, where RSF and army fought over state capital El-Obeid, RSF 3 June reportedly killed over 50 civilians in al-Humaira village. Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) 8 June reportedly mobilised in South Kordofan state, raising fears conflict could spread southward. Army 21 June accused SPLM-N of attacking army unit in South Kordofan’s capital Kadugli; SPLM-N and RSF same day reportedly attacked army in al-Dalanj city. In first reported fighting in Blue Nile state, residents 26 June said SPLM-N attacked Kurmuk city.
Ethnic conflict escalated in Darfur. Violence in June killed or displaced thousands in Darfur as conflict took on ethnic dimension involving Arab Rizeigat and non-Arab Masalit tribes. RSF 14 June allegedly killed West Darfur state governor after he accused RSF of genocide. In North Darfur state, fighting 2-3 June reportedly killed over 40 civilians in Kutum town, with renewed clashes reported 22 June in state capital Al Fashir. Clashes 20-25 June reportedly escalated in South Darfur’s state capital Nyala, killing at least 25. Violence risks drawing in other tribal militias including from neighbouring Chad.
Conflict raised risk of state failure. Hostilities led to breakdown of governance, law and order, and economic collapse. Meanwhile, UN agencies 2 June reported increasingly “desperate” situation for civilians as rainy season started, which could complicate relief efforts.
Various mediation tracks struggled to gain traction. U.S. and Saudi Arabia-brokered 72-hour ceasefire 20 Jun broke down; U.S. next day adjourned Jeddah talks, saying format was “not succeeding”. Warring parties 26-27 June announced ceasefires for Eid al-Adha holiday, but fighting continued. Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) leaders 12 June met in Djibouti, adopting roadmap for conflict’s resolution; army 15 June opposed Kenya taking lead, jeopardising track. African Union’s late May roadmap for peace failed to make progress. Competing mediation tracks risk hindering efforts to resolve crisis.
Uganda suffered deadliest attack in years as Islamist militia launched raid on school near Congolese border, killing dozens.
Deadly attack on school undermined faith in security forces. Armed assailants overnight 16-17 June raided secondary school in Mpondwe town near border with DR Congo, killing at least 44 people, mostly children, and abducting several others. Authorities immediately blamed attack on Islamic State-linked Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia based in eastern DR Congo and deployed reinforcements to border area; security forces 18-20 June rescued three kidnapped students and arrested at least 20 people, including school director and head teacher, for alleged collaboration with ADF. As lack of timely intervention despite presence of police and army posts in school’s direct vicinity raised concern, opposition figures including Abdallah Kiwanuka 21 June called for repatriation of Ugandan troops deployed abroad to improve security at home. Meanwhile, after deadly raid on Ugandan contingent of African Union transition mission in Somalia in late May, reports emerged of low troop morale and frustration over ageing equipment and pay gaps.
Random shootings by security personnel continued. Following last month’s spat of gun violence, security guards 4-6 June shot at least three people, leaving one dead and two injured.
In other important developments. After President Museveni late May enacted law punishing homosexuality with death penalty in some cases, rights groups early June urged World Bank to suspend loans to Uganda, and U.S. 16 June announced visa restrictions on individuals “undermining the democratic process” in Uganda.
Tensions simmered ahead of general elections scheduled for August as authorities continued to harass opposition and advanced bill curtailing political freedoms.
Opposition protested bill curtailing political freedoms. Both houses of parliament 31 May-7 June passed Criminal Law Code Amendment Bill criminalising “willfully damaging the sovereignty and national interest of Zimbabwe”. In response, main opposition party Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) described bill as “dangerous and unconstitutional”, said it was designed to punish citizens, civil society organisations and political adversaries of ruling ZANU-PF party ahead of general elections due in August. NGO Amnesty International 9 June denounced “disturbing crackdown on Zimbabweans’ rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association”, and called on President Mnangagwa not to sign bill into law.
Authorities continued to stifle dissent. Security forces 2 June detained five CCC activists, including one candidate for upcoming elections, following altercation with suspected ruling ZANU-PF party supporters at voter registration centre in Midlands region; all five remanded in custody next day on various charges including assault. Authorities 12 June charged 39 CCC supporters with political violence for allegedly attacking ZANU-PF office in Nyatsime locality, just south of capital Harare in Mashonaland East region.
Final list of presidential candidates disclosed. Electoral authority 22 June said 11 candidates will run for presidency in August, including Mnangagwa, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa, and exiled former ruling party official Saviour Kasukuwere.
Islamic State killed senior Taliban official in north, satellite imagery revealed dramatic reduction in opium production, and UN slashed aid budget amid Taliban’s draconian restrictions on women.
Islamic State’s local branch conducted deadly attacks on Taliban in north. While violence countrywide remained at historic lows, Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) continued to menace Taliban. After two-month hiatus in attacks, ISKP 6 June carried out vehicle-borne IED strike in Badakhshan province (north), killing provincial deputy governor; ISKP suicide attack 8 June struck funeral procession of deputy governor, killing another senior Taliban member. Attacks in Badakhshan indicate ISKP may have capitalised on ethnic grievances and Taliban’s crackdown on Islamists to build network in province. Taliban 3 June reportedly killed senior ISKP commander in unspecified eastern province.
Signs emerged of Taliban’s crackdown on opium production. Private satellite imagery and analysis published 6 June indicated 99% reduction in poppy crops in main opium cultivation areas of country, such as Helmand province (south), leading to projections of 80% decline in national production of drug. If confirmed, it would mark most significant reduction of poppy cultivation in world history. Switch to alternative water-intensive crops, however, could contribute to water shortages and exacerbate disputes with neighbouring countries, while economic status of tens of thousands of labourers who previously relied on poppy cultivation remains unclear.
UN cut aid budget for country and UN rapporteur accused Taliban of “gender apartheid”. UN and humanitarian agencies 5 June revised Afghanistan’s aid plan for 2023 from $4.6bn down to $3.2bn, citing “changing operating context” following Taliban restrictions on female aid workers. UN special rapporteur for Afghanistan mid-June published report accusing Taliban government of “widespread and systematic discrimination” against women and alleging Taliban “may be responsible for gender apartheid”. In annual report, World Bank same day ranked Afghanistan among bottom 11 economies based on laws that affect women’s economic opportunity.
Tensions cooled with Iran. Following water dispute and border escalation in May, Iranian envoy 17 June stated Taliban permitted Iranian experts to visit Kajaki dam, signalling renewed dialogue.
Tensions persisted between ruling Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), while violence and insecurity continued in Rohingya camps and Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Tensions remained elevated between govt and opposition ahead of 2024 election. BNP 6 June announced sit-ins at electricity offices across country to protest recent power outages. Awami League supporters 8 June attacked BNP members in Pabna city, injuring ten. BNP plans to step up demonstrations in July following Islamic Eid holiday. PM Sheikh Hasina 13 June cautioned her party members that “development and the country will be destroyed” if Awami League loses power. Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami 10 June held large rally in Dhaka – its first political gathering in decade – echoing BNP’s call for caretaker government to oversee election. BNP sec gen 19 June asserted that there would be no elections without caretaker govt; law minister 21 June stated that constitution did not include provisions for caretaker govt. Ahead of city polls in Rajshahi on 21 June that Awami League candidate won by large margin, clashes between rival supporters 18-19 June injured over 30.
Rohingya refugees demanded repatriation as violence in camps persisted. Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees 8 June attended rally, which may have been backed or instigated by Bangladeshi authorities, in favour of repatriation to Myanmar. UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrew 8 June blamed authorities for using “deceptive and coercive measures” to convince refugees to return. In Cox’s Bazar camps, security forces 11 June arrested member of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) accused of six murders. Security forces 17 June accused ARSA of killing Rohingya leader. Police 19 June stated Rohingya man died following gunfight between ARSA and rival Rohingya Solidarity Organisation.
Chittagong Hill Tracts remained restive. Military 1 June raided Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) camp in Bandarban’s Ruma Upazila, killing soldier, while improvised explosive that army blamed on KNF 16 June killed soldier in Ruma; six soldiers have been killed in region in last six months. Following recent spike in violence, ethnic minority leaders 6 June held rally in Mymensingh to mark 25-year anniversary of peace treaty and to demand its full implementation.
China maintained maritime presence in East China Sea as Japan conducted military exercises with partners and allies.
Military activity intensified in East China Sea. As of 26 June, Japan had spotted 92 Chinese vessels in Japan’s contiguous zone and detected eight vessels within Japan’s territorial sea. Japan, U.S., Australia and Canada 3 June held three-day joint exercise for first time in East China Sea, which involved five vessels, including Japanese destroyer JS Shiranui. China and Russia 6 June conducted joint aerial patrol over Sea of Japan and East China Sea, marking sixth such joint patrol this year; aircraft reportedly entered South Korea’s air defence identification zone, prompting Japan and South Korea to scramble fighter jets in response. Japan’s military and coast guard 22 June rehearsed joint response to armed attack for first time, in line with new guidelines for cooperation. China 13 June held military exercises in East China Sea.
Chinese President Xi referenced southern Japanese islands. During visit to China National Archives of Publications and Culture, Chinese President Xi 4 June made rare mention of China’s historical connection to Japan’s Ryukyu Islands (located close to Taiwan), which observers suggested could be intended as subtle warning to Japan to roll back its increasingly forward position on Taiwan Strait issue (see Taiwan Strait).
Violence and signs of instability continued in Manipur state after deadly escalation in May, while Maoist violence in centre and tensions with China persisted.
Manipur state remained restive. Following ethnic violence that erupted in Manipur state bordering Myanmar in north east in May – which killed at least 98 people, injured over 300 and displaced some 37,000 – insecurity, violence and instability continued across region, albeit at reduced intensity. Notably, improvised explosive device in Bishnupur district 22 June injured three people, while unknown gunmen same day injured two soldiers in Imphal West district. Security forces 23 June intercepted group of militants who fired automatic weapons in Imphal East district. Police 24 June said arsonists torched private property of Manipur minister in Imphal East district and previous day fired tear gas to prevent mob from setting ablaze property in same district belonging to another minister. Army 26 June said women activists accompanying armed rioters were blocking routes used by forces. Shooting 29 June killed two on outskirts of state capital Imphal. Several local organisations called on federal govt to dismiss regional govt, which is run by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and impose direct rule. Amid opposition criticism of state and local govt’s handling of crisis, Congress party Rahul Gandhi 29 June commenced two-day visit to region.
Maoist violence persisted. In Chhattisgarh state (centre), security forces 12 June killed Maoist woman in Kanker district; suspected Maoists 20 June killed policeman on leave in Bijapur district, taking Maoist-related police casualties in state to 19 in 2023.
Border crisis continued with China. FM S. Jaishankar 8 June said India and China “are deploying very close to each other, and this proximity can escalate tensions towards violence, as we witnessed in Galwan”.
PM Narendra Modi visited U.S. Modi 21 June commenced three-day state visit to U.S. which notably produced memorandum on joint production of fighter jet engines for Indian aircraft; U.S. and India jointly called on Pakistan “to ensure that no territory under its control is used for launching terrorist attacks”; Pakistan called remarks “unwarranted, one-sided and misleading”. White House 26 June criticised online harassment campaign against U.S. reporter who asked Modi about govt’s human rights record at joint press conference with President Biden.
Tensions persisted between India and Pakistan as insecurity continued in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), which marked five years without elected government.
Hostile rhetoric continued between India and Pakistan. Answering questions about Pakistan at press briefing, Indian FM S. Jaishankar 8 June said India would not tolerate “cross-border terrorism from Pakistan” and “Pakistan knows what it needs to do” to move bilateral relations forward; regarding objections from Pakistan to new map installed at Indian parliament, Jaishankar retorted “We don’t have hope in Pakistan for understanding [this matter]”. Joint statement late June with U.S. following Indian PM Narendra Modi’s state visit called on Pakistan to prevent terrorist attacks (see India). Indian border security forces 5 and 10 June allegedly shot down drones carrying drugs into Punjab province from Pakistan.
Militant attacks and security operations continued J&K. Security forces 1 June shot dead alleged Pakistani intruder in Jammu’s Samba district and next day killed militant in Rajouri district’s forest. Security forces 13 June killed two militants in Kupwara district. Security forces 14 June foiled infiltration attempt in Jammu’s Poonch sector. Security forces 16 June shot dead five alleged foreign militants near Line of Control in Kupwara district and 27 June killed an alleged Al Badr militant in Kulgam district. In major infiltration attempt, security forces 16 June killed five militants allegedly trying to infiltrate Kupwara district. Pakistan 24 June claimed Indian security forces killed two civilians in Sattwal sector along Line of Control. General Officer Commanding of Chinar Corps 1 June said there was no Afghan Taliban infiltration into Kashmir; his remarks addressed concerns about Taliban or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) weaponry left in Afghanistan following Taliban’s takeover in 2021.
J&K marked five years without elected state govt. Region 19 June reached five-year anniversary since state govt was dissolved following collapse of ruling coalition’s majority in state assembly; five years marks longest spell of central rule in J&K since peak of militancy in region in period 1990-96. National Conference party leader Omar Abdullah 19 June wrote, “Democracy ends where J&K begins”, while People’s Democratic Party of Kashmir 20 June called it “death anniversary”.
After failed satellite launch, North Korea fired short-range missiles as U.S. and South Korea concluded major live-fire drills; Pyongyang commemorated Korean War’s start with anti-U.S. rally.
North Korea responded to U.S.-South Korea exercises with missile launches. U.S. and South Korea mid-June concluded fifth and final round of large-scale live-fire drills near border to mark 70th anniversary of alliance, which North Korea responded to 15 June with two short-range ballistic missiles that landed in waters inside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone; launches came just over two weeks after Pyongyang conducted failed satellite launch. In first visit of its kind in years, nuclear powered submarine USS Michigan 16 June arrived at South Korea’s south-eastern port of Busan. U.S. and South Korea late June held aerial drills involving bombers and fighter jets.
North Korea marked anniversary of Korean War’s outbreak. Some 120,000 people and ruling-party officials 25 June attended major rally at Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium to mark “day of struggle against U.S. imperialism”, otherwise known as anniversary of outbreak of Korean War. As is customary, smaller events were held countrywide. Maintaining 73-year-old illusion that North Korea did not start 1950-53 war, state media directed antipathy toward “U.S. imperialists’ war of aggression” and said country sought “strongest absolute weapon” in order to “punish the U.S. imperialists”.
Pyongyang returned hawkish figure to front-line politics. In signal that it intends to deepen its hard line toward South Korea, North Korea 19 June returned veteran conservative Kim Yong-chol to front-line politics at plenum of ruling Korean Workers’ Party, appointing him alternate member of Politburo and advisor to United Front Department (counterpart of South Korea’s Ministry of Unification); decision to restore infamous Kim, who is believed to have been behind attacks on South Korean targets in 2010 that arguably brought peninsula to brink of war, follows South Korea’s decision in May to appoint hardliner general to presidential committee charged with reforming military.
Deadly hostilities between military and resistance forces continued countrywide, regime curtailed relief operations following cyclone and Thailand sought high-level engagement with regime.
Countrywide clashes continued between military and ethnic armed groups. In Sagaing region (north west), military 4 June raided People’s Defence Forces (PDF) camp in Budalin township and allegedly executed three detained fighters. Regime forces 5 June used 18 people from nine villages in Kawlin township as human shields, leaving at least nine dead. Around 80 soldiers 7 June raided PDF camp in Monywa township. Three resistance groups 9 June raided police station in Salingyi township, claiming to have killed eleven officers. After fighting escalated between regime and Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) in May, KNLA and resistance forces 1 June staged attack on bridge in Thaton township linking Mon and Kayin states, reportedly inflicting heavy casualties. In Bago region (south east), KNLA and allies 6 June destroyed major bridge in Kyaukkyi township. Assailants 7 June shot dead army major and village administrator in Kyauktaga township. Meanwhile, conflict intensified in Chin state (north west) as regime forces sought to clear resistance groups from strategic locations.
Regime pursued peace talks with select armed groups. Regime peace negotiators 1-2 June met representatives of three ethnic armed groups (Arakan Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Army and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army - MNDAA, which collectively make up Three Brothers Alliance) for first time since coup, with Chinese facilitation; no concrete progress was made and fighting erupted in Laukkaing townships with MNDAA during talks.
Junta closely controlled relief following Cyclone. Amid aftermath of 14 May cyclone that was strongest ever to make landfall on Myanmar coast, regime 8 June rejected UN aid distribution plan and rescinded existing travel authorisations; acting UN resident coordinator 12 June described restrictions as “devastating setback”. Consequently, only small amount of aid reached 1.6m affected people.
Thailand sought to boost engagement with junta. Thai FM 19 June hosted meeting of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) FMs with ultimate aim to “fully re-engage Myanmar at the leaders’ level”, to which only Myanmar and Laos sent respective FMs; ASEAN chair Indonesia criticised Thai initiative, reflecting lack of consensus within regional bloc.
Crackdown on former PM Imran Khan’s party deepened Khan’s isolation, insecurity persisted in provinces bordering Afghanistan and govt secured international funding amid debt default fears.
Military-led crackdown intensified on Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). After large numbers of senior PTI leaders exited party following 9 May street unrest and authorities continued to detain many others, several journalists deemed sympathetic to PTI were disappeared during month, while others were detained and charged with crimes such as sedition and mutiny against state. Military 7 June called for “noose of law” to be tightened for masterminds of “politically driven rebellion”, and reiterated intention to try civilians in military courts. Supreme Court 22 June began hearing several petitions challenging military trials of civilians. .Military spokesman 26 June announced dismissal of at least three senior officers, including lieutenant general, and disciplinary action against 15 other officers, including three major generals, for failure to protect military installations on 9 May. Khan’s isolation deepened as he faced charges that could result in disqualification from public office and his former close confidant 8 June launched Istekham-i-Pakistan Party with backing of almost 100 former PTI leaders, in likely bid to damage PTI’s electoral chances ahead of polls.
Security operations and militant attacks continued in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. Pakistani Taliban 8 June claimed killing of two police constables in Swat district’s Mingora city. Militants same day killed police constable in Lakki Marwat district. Gun battle in North Waziristan district 9-10 June killed three soldiers. Security forces 28 June killed three Islamic State militants in Bajur district. In Balochistan province, militant attack along border with Iran 1 June killed two soldiers; Baluch Liberation Army suicide bomber 24 June killed police officer in Turbat city.
Govt secured International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal. PM Shehbaz Sharif 9 June presented 2023-24 budget to parliament providing tax exemptions for several sectors, including IT and agriculture. Moody’s Investor Services 14 June warned that Pakistan could fail to revive IMF program by looming expiration on 30 June, heightening risks of sovereign default. In effort to secure “standby arrangement” with IMF, govt removed subsidies and tax exemptions and reduced expenditures with revised budget passed by parliament on 25 June. IMF 30 June announced staff- level agreement with govt for $3bn fund.
Clashes in south continued between security forces and Islamist militants amid intra-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighting, while military battled communist rebels.
Insecurity persisted in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In Basilian province, security forces 6 June rescued Indonesian child from custody of Abu Sayyaf Group commander in Sumisip municipality; army 7 June killed two Abu Sayyaf fighters in Sumisip hinterlands. Military and unnamed armed group 18 June skirmished in Ungkaya Pukan town. In Marawi city, joint police-military operation 14 June killed Abu Zakaria, Islamic State’s emir in Philippines and leader of remnants of Maute Group – local branch of Islamic State-inspired militants in Lanao region. Ambush same day killed two police officers in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao del Sur province, which authorities blamed on Islamic State-linked militants. Elsewhere in Maguindanao del Sur, police-military raid 18 June killed seven persons in Datu Paglas town in operation aimed at members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters; MILF claimed victims were its members. Members of MILF’s 105 and 118 Base Commands 20 June clashed in Datu Saudi town, marking fourth such round of fighting between groups this year. Militant surrenders continued: notably, in Sulu province, member of Abu Sayyaf and Egyptian militant 13 June surrendered.
Deadly clashes continued between military and communist rebels. Military operations and militant ambushes by communist New People’s Army in Mindanao in south and Visayas Islands in centre killed at least 13 combatants and civilians and injured four during June.
Claimant states and interested parties conducted range of military exercises.
Military activity in region occurred at high intensity. Indonesia 5-7 June held multilateral naval exercises off South Sulawesi involving 36 nations, including both U.S. and China. Vietnam 8 June demanded Taiwan cancel live-fire drills near Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba Island, citing direct violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over Spratly archipelago. U.S., Japan, France and Canada 9 June concluded integrated sea exercises near Philippine Sea; in response, China reportedly deployed reconnaissance aircraft to monitor activities. Chinese naval ship Qi Jiguang 14 June arrived in Philippine capital Manila for four-day good-will visit. Japan, U.S. and Philippines 16 June announced plans to stage regular joint exercises in South and East China Seas, aiming to produce formal strategy document by end of year; Japan also reaffirmed support to enhance Philippines’ military capabilities through official security assistance announced in April. U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan 25-30 June docked at Vietnam’s port city of Danang, in third such visit by U.S. carrier since 1975.
In other important developments. Malaysia and Philippines 13 June signed agreements to end 18-year maritime border disputes in parts of Straits of Malacca and Sulawesi Sea. Philippine and Indian FMs 29 June urged China to abide by international law in South China Sea, most notably including 2016 ruling at Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which found that China’s declared “nine-dash line” has no legal basis.
Tentative signs emerged of economic improvement, UN Human Rights Council reviewed govt’s accountability progress, and tensions surfaced in Tamil-majority Northern Province.
Economic and humanitarian suffering eased slightly. Figures late month showed inflation in June fell to 12% from 25.2% in April. With rupee’s value rising, Central Bank 1 June cut interest rates by 2.5%. UN and World Food Programme assessed that number of citizens who were “moderately acute food insecure” fell from 6.2m to 3.9m. Following brief visit, International Monetary Fund deputy managing director 2 June announced “economic recovery remains challenging” notwithstanding “tentative signs of improvement”. World Bank 28 June approved $700mn in budgetary and welfare support. Main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) 29 June announced it would vote against the govt's proposals for domestic debt restructuring, made public same day.
Human Rights Council continued accountability oversight as govt pledged further progress. In oral update to 53rd session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) on 21 June, Deputy High Commissioner Nada Al-Nashif called on authorities to “directly acknowledge past violations and undertake credible investigations and prosecutions, alongside other accountability measures”, with “the international community play[ing] a complementary role”. Ahead of meeting, President Wickremesinghe 8 June reviewed “progress of initiatives” on govt’s “Reconciliation Action Plan”. Justice Minister 18 June signalled Truth and Reconciliation Commission draft will be circulated in July. Eight prominent international human rights and rule of law NGOs 16 June strongly criticised “ongoing violations of fair trial rights” of lawyer and human rights defender Hejaaz Hizbullah, who was arrested in 2020 under Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Inter-communal tensions rose in Tamil-majority Northern Province. Tensions rose to dangerous levels over disputed area in Northern Province where Buddhist stupa – known as Kurundi Vihara – has recently been built with military assistance and against court orders, reportedly blocking access to long-standing Hindu pilgrimage site. Prominent Buddhist nationalist organisations 21 June gathered “in defence of” Kurundi Vihara. Police 7 June arrested Tamil legislator and Tamil National People’s Front Leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam at his Colombo residence on charges of “obstructing police duties” following altercation on 2 June with plainclothes police in Jaffna, in Northern Province.
China maintained military activities around Taiwan amid near-collision incident with U.S. and Canadian ships, while U.S. ruled out Taiwan independence during high-level talks in Beijing.
China continued aerial and maritime activities. As of 27 June, Taiwan had spotted 298 Chinese military aircraft entering its air defence identification zone (ADIZ), of which at least 84 either crossed unofficial “median line” or were detected in south- western ADIZ; notably, Taiwan 8 June detected 37 Chinese planes in its ADIZ, one day after China conducted joint air patrols with Russia in Sea of Japan and East China Sea (see China/Japan); 11 Chinese aircraft 30 June crossed median line as U.S. congressional delegation visited capital Taipei. Taiwan sighted 138 Chinese naval vessels in surrounding waters; Chinese aircraft carrier group led by Shandong 21 June transited strait. In worrying incident, as Canadian HCMS Montreal and USS Chung-Hoon 3 June conducted joint “freedom of navigation” transit through Taiwan Strait, Chinese warship made course to cut across bow of USS Chung-Hoon, risking collision; Montreal’s commander called move unprofessional, while Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu said move aimed to prevent operations being used “to exercise hegemony of navigation”.
U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken visited China and discussed Taiwan. In first visit by U.S. sec of state to China in five years and becoming highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit, Blinken 18-19 June met with China’s FM Qin Gang, State Councillor Wang Yi and President Xi Jinping; U.S. called talks “candid, substantive and constructive” as Blinken assured his Chinese counterpart that U.S. does not support Taiwan’s independence, while China urged U.S. to fulfil its promise. Taiwan and U.S. 1 June signed initial agreement under U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade. U.S. House Armed Services Committee 14 June said it is exploring possibility of joint weapons production with Taiwan.
China hosted annual non-political conference. Beijing 16 June held 15th Straits Forum in Fujian province, which saw participation of 5,000 people from various backgrounds, including Andrew Hsia, vice chairman of Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang party; in letter to forum, President Xi urged people from both sides of Taiwan Strait to work together to “safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation”.
Election winner Move Forward Party faced legal and political hurdles in quest to form govt, while deadly attacks continued in deep south amid controversial student-led independence vote.
Move Forward leader battled for political survival. Following general election in May, uncertainty shrouded process for election-winning Move Forward Party and its leader Pita Limjareonrat to form new govt amid investigations into Pita by Election Commission and senate. Election Commission 9 June tossed out petition lodged 10 May by Palang Pracharath Party member alleging Pita was ineligible to run in election because he owned shares in media company, but announced it would investigate further; if convicted, Pita could face up to ten years in jail and 20-year ban from politics. Pita 6 June declared he had earlier transferred shares in defunct media company. Senate 23 June announced investigation of Pita’s assets. Aside from legal complications, Move Forward and its eight-party coalition, which command 312 seats, face political challenge of securing 376 seats in joint sitting with 250- member senate to form govt; election commission 19 June endorsed all 500 newly elected MPs, paving way for first session of new parliament in early July.
In deep south, violence continued as student group held independence referendum. In Pattani province, IED attack 5 June wounded one army officer and civilian in Saiburi district; militants 10 June killed police officer in Khok Po district; militants 17 June assaulted police base in Muang district; IED attack 21 June wounded three defence volunteers and soldier in Raman district. In Narathiwat province, gunmen 17 June ambushed four villages in Chanae district, killing one. In Yala province, IED attack 15 June wounded four police officers and civilian in Raman district. Meanwhile, student group at Prince of Songkla University in Pattani province 7 June simulated referendum on Pattani independence during seminar that included two speakers from Move Forward’s coalition. National Security Council secretary general 9 June informed PM Prayuth Chan-ocha about event and announced investigation, describing call for public referendum as “illegal”. Commander of Fourth Army Area 12 June called proposal for referendum unconstitutional and threat to nation’s territorial integrity.
Yerevan continued high-level talks with Baku, as exchanges of fire along border and in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) caused injuries.
Leaders reached impasse during talks in Moldova, FMs met in Washington. PM Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev 1 June held meeting with European Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Moldova’s capital Chişinău; participants agreed to attend follow-up meeting in Brussels on 21 July but achieved little else. During meeting with members of Armenian community in Moldova, Pashinyan 1 June indicated willingness for an enclave exchange on condition sides use mutually agreed-upon map to draw border. U.S. 27-29 June hosted fresh negotiations between FMs of both Azerbaijan and Armenia, with U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 29 June saying sides made “further progress” toward peace agreement but that “hard work” remains to be done.
Clashes with Azerbaijan continued along border and in NK. Armenia 14 June claimed Azerbaijani gunfire injured two Indian nationals in Yeraskh village in Ararat region on border; Azerbaijan same day denied accusation and blamed Armenian troops for “intensive fire” in Sadarak district of Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave on 13-14 June. In NK, Azerbaijan 15 June claimed gunfire from Armenian territory injured soldier in Lachin corridor connecting NK with Armenia, prompting Baku to tighten its blockade of corridor (see Nagorno-Karabakh); Armenia claimed one of its soldiers was injured when Azerbaijani forces sought to advance into its territory.
In other important developments. Pashinyan 3 June visited Turkish capital Ankara to attend inauguration ceremony of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, marking first visit to Türkiye by Armenian leader in over decade; leaders 28 June called for “confidence-building measures” to continue during phone call. After EU 21 June approved 11th sanctions package against Russia, Deputy FM Mnatsakan Safaryan same day expressed concern, claiming sanctions “make it unbearable for Armenia economy-wise and security-wise”.
Baku continued high-level talks with Yerevan, as exchanges of fire along border and in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) caused injuries.
Leaders reached impasse during talks in Moldova, FMs met in Washington. Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan and President Aliyev 1 June held meeting with European Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Moldova’s capital Chişinău; participants agreed to attend follow-up meeting in Brussels on 21 July but achieved little else. During meeting with members of Armenian community in Moldova, Pashinyan 1 June indicated willingness for an enclave exchange on condition sides use mutually agreed-upon map to draw border. U.S. 27-29 June hosted fresh negotiations between FMs of both Azerbaijan and Armenia, with U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 29 June saying sides made “further progress” toward peace agreement but that “hard work” remains to be done.
Clashes with Armenia continued along border and in NK. Armenia 14 June claimed Azerbaijani gunfire injured two Indian nationals in Yeraskh village in Armenia’s Ararat region on border; Azerbaijan same day denied accusation and blamed Armenian troops for “intensive fire” in Sadarak district of Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave on 13-14 June. In NK, Azerbaijan 15 June claimed gunfire from Armenian territory injured soldier on Lachin corridor connecting NK with Armenia, prompting Baku to tighten its blockade of corridor (see Nagorno-Karabakh); Armenia claimed one of its soldiers was injured when Azerbaijani forces sought to advance into its territory.
In another important development. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 13 June visited Azerbaijan to discuss further military and political cooperation, as well as to express readiness to open Turkish general consulate in Shusha city, reclaimed by Baku in 2020 war.
Authorities continued to stifle dissent, Russian nuclear weapons started arriving, and prospect of Wagner presence in Belarus following mutiny prompted concern among its western neighbours.
Repression of independent media and opposition continued. Vyasna Human Rights Centre 2 June reported court had sentenced union activist Alyaksandr Kandratsyuk to over three years in prison for insulting President Lukashenka, discrediting country and inciting hatred. Court 6 June sentenced activist Yana Pinchuk to 12 years in prison on multiple charges, including creating extremist group. Police 12 June arrested eight journalists in south-eastern Svetlahorsk city on extremism charges. Court in Minsk 21 June sentenced 15 people to between two and 21 years in prison; sentenced three others in absentia. Other trials continued amid clampdown.
First deployment of Russian nuclear weapons arrived in Belarus. Following Russia’s March announcement to store tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Lukashenka 13 June declared country had already received some, which Russian President Vladimir Putin 16 June confirmed, adding that deployment would be completed by end of summer.
Prospect of Wagner exiles in Belarus raised fears among western neighbours. Moscow 24 June announced Lukashenka had brokered talks to end short-lived mutiny in Russia launched by paramilitary Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin (see Russia), who Lukashenka 27 June confirmed was in Belarus. Putin 26 June said Wagner mercenaries can either go to Belarus or sign contract with Ministry of Defence, raising fears among Belarus’ western neighbours of possible Wagner “infiltration” into their countries. Reports 26 June claimed base, which would accommodate up to 8,000 Wagner troops, was already under construction in Mogilev region. Polish officials 28 June announced plans to strengthen eastern border, deputy Polish FM 29 June said Poland “expects” EU to help fund these measures.
Lawmakers in Republika Srpska voted to reject state-level court rulings amid growing fears of secession.
Bosnian Serb lawmakers voted to reject top court rulings. National Assembly of self-governing entity Republika Srpska (RS) 27 June voted to suspend rulings by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s constitutional court. Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who had long threatened to withdraw from state institutions, 23 June initiated vote after court 19 June changed rules to allow it to convene sessions and make decisions without judges from RS (same rules apply for Bosniak or Croat judges), a move Dodik dismissed as “unconstitutional”. National Assembly’s decision prompted widespread condemnation amid fears RS is moving toward secession. Notably, House of Representatives Speaker Denis Zvizdic 27 June called decision “a direct attack” on constitution and “the beginning of secession”; other govts, notably U.S., same day denounced “reckless attack on the Dayton Peace Agreement”, while EU 28 June said decision is “without legal basis” and marks “clear departure from the expectations that accompanied the granting of EU candidate status”.
RS National Assembly voted to no longer recognise rulings of high representative. RS lawmakers 21 June amended laws allowing entity to no longer recognise decisions made by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s High Representative, Christian Schmidt, international overseer who enjoys broad powers over local authorities. Schmidt 19 June had warned them not to take such measures, saying “they will be sailing in heavy waters”.
Republic of Cyprus continued push to reignite reunification talks with European Union (EU) involvement, while Turkish President Erdoğan reiterated support for two states.
Greek Cypriot leaders sought return to 2017 dialogue, as Türkiye reiterated position. Republic of Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides 7 June expressed readiness to meet with “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”) leader Ersin Tatar “even tomorrow” to discuss reunification talks. President of House of Representatives in Republic of Cyprus Annita Demetriou 13 June underscored “the Greek Cypriot side will continue to exert every effort for the resumption of negotiations from where they stopped in Crans Montana [in 2017]”. During his first foreign trip following his re-election, Erdoğan 12 June met Tatar in “TRNC” and reiterated support for two-state solution, adding “Cyprus does not have another 50 years to lose” and urging international community to recognise “TRNC”. In his address to EU parliament next day, Christodoulides continued efforts to involve EU and asserted “EU has every interest and obligation to actively contribute to the final settlement of the Cyprus problem”. European Council 25 June pledged to continue to have “active role” in supporting peace process; Republic of Cyprus FM Constantinos Kombos welcomed inclusion of reference. UN Special Representative Colin Stewart 26 June met Tatar, describing “positive exchange of opinions”.
In other important developments. Spain and Poland suspended their participation on first day of 5-16 June military exercises with Türkiye and “TRNC”-dubbed Anatolian Phoenix naval drills following protest by Republic of Cyprus. News on social media 7 June reported Greek Cypriot man had allegedly attacked Turkish Cypriot woman in holiday resort Ayia Napa in Republic of Cyprus; “TRNC” 5 June denounced “racist attack” and called for justice.
UN General Assembly adopted Georgia’s resolution on rights of internally displaced people and refugees from breakaway regions, while EU welcomed govt’s positive political steps.
Georgia won overwhelming support for UN resolution on breakaway regions. In notable triumph for Georgian diplomacy that underscored Moscow’s growing isolation on global stage, Georgia 8 June secured support of 100 countries for UN General Assembly resolution that, while not legally binding, asserts rights of internally displaced persons and refugees from breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia to return to their homes, emphasising importance of protecting their property rights and condemning any instances of “forced demographic changes”; similar vote in 2008 had secured only 14 votes in favour. Russia, which 8 June said resolution undermined “normalisation in the region”, voted against it alongside nine other states, including Belarus, Syria and Nicaragua; Russian-backed de facto authorities of South Ossetia and Abkhazia 15 June claimed resolution was “another act of repeated political farce”.
Govt took steps aligned with EU accession path. PM Garibashvili 21 June announced he had “clearly confirmed” to European and U.S. partners that ruling Georgian Dream party would not renew attempts to adopt foreign influence bill, which triggered widespread domestic opposition and tensions with Western countries in March. EU 22 June welcomed announcement; it also praised Georgian Dream’s 21 June decision not to pass controversial de-oligarchisation law, and 22 June pardoning of former minister Nika Gvaramia, whom authorities had accused of abuse of power.
Tensions continued to spiral in Serb-majority northern municipalities as European Union (EU) and U.S. ratcheted up pressure on Pristina and Belgrade to defuse situation.
Situation deteriorated further in northern Kosovo. Following protests late May in four northern Serb-majority municipalities, which broke out after authorities seized municipal buildings and installed newly elected ethnic Albanian mayors, protests and violent clashes continued. Notably, Kosovo Serbs 13 June targeted police with stones following arrest of an individual accused of organising attack on NATO forces 29 May. Month also saw increase in explosions and other attacks, primarily targeting govt institutions: notably, two bombs 19 June exploded near police station in Zvečan town. Meanwhile, PM Kurti 14 June announced Serbian armed forces had detained three Kosovo police officers, fuelling tensions further, though Serbia 26 June released them. EU High Representative Josep Borrell 23 June expressed alarm at reports of extrajudicial arrests of Kosovo Serbs and subsequent “heavy rhetoric from Serbia”, warning escalation is “becoming dangerous”.
Month saw flurry of EU and U.S. diplomatic activity aimed at defusing tensions. International actors urged de-escalation between Kosovo and Serbia, with particular pressure exerted on Pristina to suspend police operations in north and have mayors temporarily perform duties “in premises out of the municipal buildings”. EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák and U.S. Special Envoy Gabriel Escobar 5 June also reiterated calls for fresh polls to elect new mayors in northern municipalities during talks with Kurti, who 12 June sent Borrell five-point plan to calm tensions. Borrell 14 June warned Kurti’s plan had failed to address “key elements that triggered the current crisis”, 22 June hosted series of crisis management meetings with Serb President Aleksandar Vučić and Kurti, without immediate breakthrough. EU 28 June warned Kosovo it is preparing number of punitive measures, which are “temporary and reversible” if sufficient steps are taken to de-escalate situation; Kurti 29 June announced willingness to “decrease Kosova Police presence” and “organise early elections”.
Human rights group warned draft law on “foreign representatives” threatened civic space; EU and Central Asian leaders sought to strengthen regional cooperation.
Draft law on “foreign representatives” raised concerns. NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) 9 June called on parliament to reject “highly repressive draft law”, which would require organisations to register as “foreign representatives” if they receive funding from abroad and engage in political activity. Noting similarities to Russia’s controversial 2012 “foreign agents” law, HRW warned law “could have a chilling effect on the country’s civil society”.
High-level EU-Central Asia meeting took place in Kyrgyzstan. Following China-Central Asia summit late May, European Council President Charles Michel 2 June gathered with Kazakh, Kyrgz, Tajik and Uzbek leaders, alongside representative from Turkmenistan, in Kyrgz town of Cholpon-Ata for high-level meeting. In joint press communiqué, leaders reaffirmed importance of deepening ties and used opportunity to express “continued commitment to uphold the UN Charter, particularly the principles of respect for the independence, sovereignty [and] territorial integrity of all countries”; they also discussed climate change, emphasising need to continue dialogue on “open water-energy cooperation in Central Asia”.