August 2017

Myanmar’s Treatment of the Rohingya: A Road Block to Reintegration or Just a Bump in the Road?

The historic election of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party – the National League for Democracy – in 2015 was met with sighs of relief in the international community. The replacement of a repressive military junta by a Nobel Peace Prize recipient appeared to signal the beginning of Myanmar’s rehabilitation with much of the international community. However, since then there has been an increasing focus on Myanmar’s Treatment of the Rohingya – a minority Muslim group whose plight has gone unnoticed. The world’s reaction, and in particular the reaction of Myanmar’s regional neighbours, when faced with plausible accounts of violence directed against the Rohingya has been curiously muted. This is perhaps partly due to the halo effect of Aung San Suu Kyi’s election. Nevertheless, the fallout from the persecution of the Rohingya cannot be confined within Myanmar’s borders alone. The treatment of the Rohingya is likely to have significant consequences for the medium-term development of Myanmar’s relations with its neighbours.

Kenya Decides: Kenyatta or Odinga?

In the past two years, the world has experienced multiple elections with unexpected results. Political divisions, public disenchantment, economic weakness, lack of leadership, acute international instability and –of course- terrorist attacks are combining to drive international politics to a populist stance. Following the elections in USA, France, UK and the Netherlands, now it is time to see what Kenya decides.

However, as far as the Kenya elections are concerned, the populist movement is maybe the least of its problems. The election of the 8th of August is the sixth presidential election since the country of more than 45 million people embraced a multiparty democratic system in 1992. Whilst the families of the leading presidential candidates, Kenyatta and Odinga, have been competing powers since the independence of Kenya from Britain in 1963. The existing situation is turbulent. In the second weekend of July nine people were beheaded by suspected Al-Shabaab militants, the Internal Security Minister suddenly died, Odinga was hospitalised with food poisoning, and President Kenyatta appeared to accuse the judiciary of trying to delay general elections. The decisions made on 8th August will have a considerable ripple effect throughout Kenyan society for years to come.

The Forgotten Crisis in the Central African Republic and the Impact on NGOs

The Central African Republic (CAR) descended into violence in March 2013, when Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize’s weak authoritarian regime. After seizing power, the Seleka engaged in large-scale abuses, leading to the deaths of thousands of civilians. Initially, the Seleka started as a political movement against President Bozize but since then it has shifted its character to that of a sectarian confrontation drawn along religious lines.

The anti-Balaka (comprising of Christians) was created in response to the Seleka (rebels comprising of Muslims), with the aim of protecting the Christian community at all costs. Both sides are responsible for large scale killings, which have thrust the country into a downward spiral of pain and repression.