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    War-ravaged South Sudan at a glance
    20.06.18
    AFP

    South Sudan, the world's newest country, has been mired in a devastating civil war for more than four years, with tens of thousands of people killed, nearly four million displaced and its economy in ruins. War broke out when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup just two years after the country gained independence from Sudan in 2011. With the two men to meet on Wednesday in the latest international effort to stop the fighting, here is some background. - World's youngest state - Before independence, the south of Sudan was ravaged by two civil wars (1956-1972 and 1983-2005) that pitted mainly Christian and animist insurgents in the south...

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    Colombia's new president Ivan Duque is an anti-FARC hardliner
    17.06.18
    AFP

    Ivan Duque's election victory in Colombia makes him the youngest president in his country's modern history, and gives him a strong mandate to overhaul the government's fragile peace deal with the former rebel group FARC. He campaigned on a ticket to rewrite the peace deal signed with the FARC by outgoing center-right president Juan Manuel Santos. His vanquished leftist opponent, Gustavo Petro, supports the deal. A lawyer with a degree in economics, Duque represents many Colombian voters who were outraged by concessions given to the former rebels, including reduced sentences for those who confessed to their crimes. He has vowed to make "structural changes" to the 2016 agreement,...

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    Jean-Pierre Bemba, former Congolese warlord and Kabila foe
    12.06.18
    AFP

    Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was provisionally freed Tuesday by the International Criminal Court following an acquittal last week, is a former warlord and adversary of Congolese President Joseph Kabila. His interim release relates to a case in which he was handed a one-year jail sentence and fined 300,000 euros ($350,000) in 2017 for bribing witnesses during his main war crimes trial. He is still awaiting sentencing on July 4 in a secondary trial which he lost on appeal. Bemba, a former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo however won his main war crimes trial on appeal in which he was previously convicted and sentenced to 18 years for rapes, killings and looting committed by...

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    DRC's Jean-Pierre Bemba: key dates
    12.06.18
    AFP

    Key dates of DR Congo's Jean-Pierre Bemba, acquitted on appeal on warcrimes charges by the International Criminal Court (ICC), and whose interim release was ordered on Tuesday: - November 4, 1962: Born in Bogada in the northwest Equateur province, his father was a rich businessman close to former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. - 1997: Leaves Kinshasa when the late rebel leader Laurent Desire Kabila overthrows Mobutu. - 1998: Founds the rebel Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), backed by neighbouring Uganda and opposed to the Kabila regime. - October 2002-March 2003: Sends his private militiamen to the Central African Republic to help put down a coup against then president...

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    Burundi: three years of bloody political crisis
    15.05.18
    AFP

    The small central African state of Burundi has been mired in a bloody crisis since 2015 over President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid to cling to power, the unrest claiming 1,200 lives. The violence has stoked fears of a return to the 1993-2006 civil war in which 300,000 people died. As the country votes Thursday on constitutional reforms that would enable Nkurunziza to rule until 2034, here is a recap of the past three years of unrest. - Demonstrations erupt - On April 26, 2015, a day after Nkurunziza is declared candidate for a third term in office by his ruling CNDD-FDD party, thousands gather in the capital in protest, defying a ban on demonstrations. It is the start of six weeks of...

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    Vojislav Seselj: Unrepentant Serb ultranationalist
    11.04.18
    AFP

    Serb academic turned far-right leader Vojislav Seselj, who was found guilty Wednesday by a UN court of crimes against humanity, won notoriety during the 1990s Balkan wars for his incendiary rhetoric and remains defiant in defending the idea of a "Greater Serbia". UN war crimes judges in The Hague overturned the shock 2016 acquittal of the stocky, ruddy-faced former deputy prime minister, sentencing him to 10 years behind bars, although ruling that he had already served 12 years in custody. The court found the 63-year-old guilty of "instigating persecution, deportation and other inhumane acts". Prosecutors had accused Seselj of poisoning the minds of volunteer forces who committed...

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    Philippines moves to quit ICC: What does it mean?
    14.03.18
    AFP

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced Wednesday a move towards quitting the International Criminal Court, which has launched a preliminary examination of his deadly drug war. Here are five questions and answers on what it means: - Why did Duterte do it? - The ICC announced on February 9 a preliminary examination into allegations Philippine police have killed thousands of alleged users or dealers as part of Duterte's anti-drug war that he launched after taking office in mid-2016. Duterte had previously threatened to withdraw from the international body as a result of what he has called a politically slanted inquiry. - Can ICC still investigate? - Philippine lawyers say...

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    Sierra Leone, cut down by war and Ebola
    05.03.18
    AFP

    The West African nation of Sierra Leone is among the world's poorest countries despite its significant mineral wealth, and scarred by a brutal civil war and the deadly Ebola virus. Here is some background about the country as it prepares to go to the polls on March 7. - Brutal civil war - Founded by Britain in 1787 for freed slaves evacuated from the Caribbean, Sierra Leone was a British colony until independence in 1961. Thirty years later -- after a series of coups and rife instability -- it was plunged into a devastating civil war notorious for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers, sex slaves and rapes. The 11-year conflict (1991-2002) was launched by the Revolutionary...

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    Armenian 'genocide': the disputed massacres of 1915-17
    23.02.18
    AFP

    Armenia and Turkey are at odds over whether the World War I massacres and deportations of Armenians by their Ottoman rulers should be described as genocide. Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed between 1915 and 1917, and have long sought international recognition that this was genocide. Turkey rejects the term and puts the number of dead at between 300,000 and 500,000. It says what happened was civil conflict and a collective tragedy. Around 20 countries and some parliaments have voted through laws or resolutions recognising there was genocide, to the fury of Ankara. The Dutch lower house on Thursday became the latest to vote such an acknowledgement but made...

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    Enclaves bombarded by the Syrian regime
    21.02.18
    AFP

    Before Eastern Ghouta there was Homs, Aleppo, Daraya -- rebel towns and enclaves that the Syrian regime pounded and besieged, forcing fighters to give up their arms and civilians to flee. - Homs - Syria's third city Homs was dubbed the "capital of the revolution," after anti-government protests erupted in March 2011, but from 2012 it came under a two-year siege. In 2014, rebels cornered by advancing regime forces agreed to be evacuated, although the government went on to besiege Waer, the last remaining opposition-held district in the city. During the siege nearly 2,200 people were killed in the Homs's Old City, according to the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. In the historic...

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    South Africa: a giant of Africa
    13.02.18
    AFP

    South Africa is the continent's most industrialised economy and among its most developed, but marked by gaping inequalities rooted in years of racist white-minority rule that ended in 1994. - Apartheid - Black South Africans, around 80 percent of the population, voted for the first time only in 1994. It was a moment of jubilation after a bitter decades-long struggle against white-minority rule. British and Dutch settlers arrived at Africa's southern tip from the 17th century, first using it as a stopover on the shipping route to Asia and later claiming colonies. They imposed discriminatory laws early on, restricting non-whites to unskilled jobs and limiting land ownership and free...

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    The US-led coalition in Syria: a timeline
    08.02.18
    AFP

    The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group has avoided involvement in Syria's civil war, but on Thursday it said it killed more than 100 pro-regime fighters in the country. The international coalition was set up in 2014 to drive IS from territories it controlled in Iraq and Syria. Washington has deployed 2,000 soldiers in Syria, mainly special forces, who support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an Arab-Kurdish coalition fighting the IS. - First air strikes - In September 2014, the US and Arab allies launch air strikes on the IS in Syria, opening a new front in the fight against the jihadist group, already targeted by raids in Iraq. - Support for Kurds - In October 2014...

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    Syrian chemical weapons attacks
    23.01.18
    AFP

    Since the start of the conflict in Syria in 2011, the belligerents -- in particular the regime of President Bashar al-Assad -- have been accused on numerous occasions of using chemical weapons. Here is a summary. - Damascus threatens - The Syrian government acknowledges in July 2012 for the first time that it has chemical weapons and threatens to use them in the event of military operations by Western countries, but not against its own population. The following month, US President Barack Obama says the use or even movement of such weapons would be a "red line" for his administration. - Sarin attack - In August 2013 hundreds of people are killed in Damascus in chemical weapons strikes...

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    Key dates in Tunisia since 2011 revolt
    10.01.18
    AFP

    Key developments in Tunisia in the seven years since president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in a revolt that sparked a wave of uprisings in the region. - 2011: President flees - Ben Ali quits on January 14, 2011 after weeks of demonstrations sparked by the self-immolation of a fruit seller who was protesting police harassment and unemployment. He is the first leader to stand down in the Arab Spring, fleeing to Saudi Arabia after 23 years in power. In October, Islamist group Ennahda wins 89 of the 217 seats in a new constituent assembly, just months after being legalised in March. It is Tunisia's first free election. The assembly elects former opposition leader Moncef...

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    War criminals: freed before serving out their jailtime
    05.01.18
    AFP

    Before former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, several people convicted of crimes against humanity have been granted early release, from Nazis tried in Nuremberg to Argentinian military officers. - World War II - - Walther Funk: The former chief of the German Reichsbank from 1939 to 1945 is sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremberg trials in 1946 for having accepted gold extorted by the SS from deportees to concentration camps. He is freed in 1957 for health reasons. - Erich Raeder: The commander of the German Navy until 1943 is sentenced at Nuremberg to life in prison, before...

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    Herceg-Bosna, bloody separatist bid of Bosnian Croats
    27.11.17
    AFP

    Six leaders of a self-proclaimed statelet for Bosnian Croats, declared during the Balkan country's bloody 1990s conflict, hear a verdict Wednesday from UN judges on their appeal against war crimes convictions. Here are details about their breakaway "republic", which they eventually hoped to merge with neighbouring Croatia: - War breaks out - When war broke out in Bosnia in 1992 as Yugoslavia fell apart, the country's Catholic Croats fought alongside Bosniak Muslims against Orthodox Serbs in the ethnically diverse country. But the nationalist leaders of ethnic Croats, who made up about 17 percent of Bosnia's population of 4.4 million, gradually became more open about their desire to...

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    Jadranko Prlic, Bosnian Croats' breakaway bid leader
    27.11.17
    AFP

    Jadranko Prlic, who hears an appeals verdict over his war crimes conviction this week, is an academic who became leader of a self-proclaimed statelet for Croats during Bosnia's bitter 1990s conflict. The one-time prime minister of the "Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna", Prlic was sentenced to 25 years in jail in 2013 by UN judges at The Hague on charges of aiding and abetting the murder, deportation and harsh detention of Muslims. On Wednesday, the 58-year-old and five other wartime Bosnian Croat leaders will hear the verdict on their appeal case -- the last judgement to be handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The bald and...

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    Politicians, war criminals: figures in the Balkan wars
    19.11.17
    AFP

    The UN court dealing with crimes committed during the wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia hands down its penultimate ruling on Wednesday, having delivered 83 convictions. Ahead of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) judgement of Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic, here is a rundown of the fate of other key players in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. - Milosevic, Serbian president: charged - Slobodan Milosevic was accused of fuelling ethnic conflict and mass murder in the former Yugoslavia during his 13 years of iron rule, defying international sanctions and NATO bombs. Elected Serbian president in 1990, he played a key role in supporting...

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    The 1990s Balkan wars in key dates
    19.11.17
    AFP

    Ahead of the judgement Wednesday of Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic, here is a timeline of the 1990s Balkans conflicts that tore apart the former Yugoslavia. - Bickering after Tito dies - Communist Yugoslavia, which emerged shortly after the end of World War II, was made up of six republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Following the death of its autocratic leader Josip Broz Tito in 1980, the Yugoslav federation found itself in crisis, with bickering between ethnic groups and surging nationalist sentiments. By the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, inter-ethnic relations in Yugoslavia were at breaking point. The first multiparty elections in the...

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    Burundi's deadly crisis: A timeline
    10.11.17
    AFP

    Burundi has been gripped by turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third term in office more than two years ago. On Thursday the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a full probe into alleged crimes committed during the crisis.  Between 500 and 2,000 people have been killed, according to different sources, and more than 400,000 people displaced from their homes. Here is a summary of key developments in the crisis in the central African country.   - Demonstrations start -   April 25, 2015: Nkurunziza is declared candidate for a third term by the ruling CNDD-FDD party. The following day thousands of protesters demonstrate in the...

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