Watchlist: President Fujimori Pardoned in Peru

Week of January 8th

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori exiting a hospital in Lima (Source: Luka Gonzales/Agence France-Presse)

Africa 13 Killed in Attack in South Senegal At least 13 teenagers were killed and seven others wounded by gunmen on Saturday in Casamance, a southern region of Senegal. The attack took place just outside the town of Ziguinchor where the teenagers were collecting firewood. The deaths are thought to be linked to a conflict between the Senegalese government and the insurgent group MFDC, which has dragged on for over thirty years. Violence has waned since a ceasefire was signed between the rebels and the government in 2014, and the attack—which is the worst Casamance has seen since the ceasefire—has raised fears of a renewal of the conflict. There has not yet been any confirmation over who carried out the attack, though local media has suggested enemies of MFDC, and the Senegalese military has stated that it may be in response to the recent release of two MFDC members from custody. The military has increased their presence around Ziguinchor in response, and interior minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye promised that, “A hard and relentless hunt will be conducted to find the perpetrators of this despicable act.” MAYA ZREIK


Reuters Reporters Reappear in Myanmar Court

Two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, will be in court for the second time on Wednesday morning since their arrest last month in Yangon. The journalists are accused by the Myanmar government of being in possession of sensitive state secrets “with intention to share [the information] with foreign media”, and they could be charged under the Official Secrets Act, a holdover from colonial times. Prosecutors will decide on Wednesday whether or not to formally bring charges under this arcane statute. Such prosecutions are somewhat rare; the last such case was brought in 2014, and the indicted individuals were released shortly after Aung San Suu Kyi came to power in 2016. The journalists were held for two weeks with no means of communication with lawyers or their families before their first court appearance. High ranking officials from governments around the world have called on Myanmar officials to release the two men. VINEET CHANDRA


Fujimori Pardon in Peru: Outrage at the Release of the Former President

The pardon of former President Alberto Fujimori, released due to his failing health, occurred this week in Peru. He was serving 25 years for his role in the authorization of firing squads in two massacres of the Maoist Shining Path (the communist party in Peru) and for corruption. His release has prompted another outpouring of anger at the government and caused a failed impeachment of current President, Pablo Kuczynski. Fujimori’s release reopened old wounds in the nation and many both within the government and in civilian life have responded, including the Prime Minister in support of the pardon for purposes of reconciliation. There appear to be limited barriers to Fujimori’s re-entry into political life in Peruvian law, and the 79-year-old’s recent statements on Twitter signal he may be interested in a return to politics. His pardon has caused massive protests in Lima in which a hatred for Kuczynski as well as Fujimori was shown. It will be interesting to see if a ruling on whether or not Fujimori will be allowed to be politically active under Peruvian law is decided, and to see how public opinion shifts as this new reality solidifies in the Andean nation. ANDREW MITCHEL


Germany Attempts to Create a Governing Coalition

Over the next five days, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and her party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), will begin talks with leaders of the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) in hopes of forming a long-awaited coalition. Since Germany’s general elections in October, all of Merkel’s negotiations—with the CSU and SPD, as well as Greens and FDP—have failed, leaving the country without a new government. Looking toward the negotiations ahead, leaders have expressed both optimism and apprehension about the possible results. The General Secretary of the SPD reported that “a serious, constructive, and open” conversation had taken place during the first day of discussions. However, the country remains skeptical about the likelihood of such an alliance, given the differences between the parties’ platforms on highly controversial issues like the refugee crisis. Despite the failures of the past four months, when asked about her hopes for the upcoming negotiations this week, Merkel said, “I think it can succeed.” ANNA HAYNES

Middle East

Arab League to Launch Mission to Persuade UN to Recognize Palestine Members of the Arab League are planning on beginning a diplomatic drive to convince the UN to recognize a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. A committee led by Jordan and consisting of Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Palestine organized on Saturday in response to the United States’ decision to move their Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. The Arab League had previously described the American decision as a “dangerous violation of international law” and are aiming to ensure that it has no legal impact. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi condemned the embassy move again on Saturday, and announced that, “We [the Arab League] will confront the decision by seeking a [UN] resolution, an international one, to recognize a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.” He announced plans for the Arab League to meet later this month to begin the campaign. Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abdul Gheit stated that the meeting would also discuss the United States’ future role in Israeli-Palestinian peacekeeping following what many Arab leaders see as clear bias in favor of Israel. MAYA ZREIK

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