• Research Briefing

    Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war

    Sri Lanka's civil war ended in May 2009. Since then President Mohinda Rajapakse has consolidated his power at home but has been unable to shake off international controversy about alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by the security forces during the final phase of the conflict. There are also grave doubts about whether the govermment is willing to promote the kind of regional autonomy that many observers believe is essential to avoiding renewed conflict in the longer-term.

  • Research Briefing

    Kenya since the 2007/08 crisis

    This note reviews major political developments since the 2007/08 crisis, whose legacies Kenya is still struggling to overcome. Elections are scheduled for March 2013 but two of the candidates seeking high office - Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto - are due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in the following month. Meanwhile, Kenyan troops have now been in southern Somalia for over a year and helped re-take the strategic port of Kismayo in September 2012. But there remains uncertainty about Kenya's objectives in Somalia.

  • Research Briefing

    Pakistan in 2013

    2013 will be another important year for Pakistan. Federal and provincial elections will be held during the first half of the year. If, as seems increasingly likely, the Pakistan People’s Party-led Government sees out its full term in office and hands over to a civilian successor, it will be the first time in Pakistan’s history that this has happened. But the political and economic situation remains highly volatile and unpredictable.

  • Research Briefing

    In brief: deja vu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

    On 20 November, forces belonging to the March 23 (M23) armed group seized Goma, the main city in eastern DRC. This note briefly surveys the events of recent days and the many echoes of the past that they evoke. It also looks at the roles of Rwanda and Uganda, which is leading Western governments, including the UK, to review their aid programmes to both countries.

  • Research Briefing

    Mali in crisis: a political and security overview

    Mali has been in crisis since March 2012, when the military overthrew the government of Amadou Toumani Touré. Within weeks of the coup, a coalition of Tuareg rebels and militant Islamist armed groups pushed the national army out of the north of the country. There is now growing momentum behind proposals to create a regional military intervention force. But many questions remain about the wisdom of this course of action.

  • Research Briefing

    Zimbabwe: recent political developments

    This note surveys developments since the beginning of 2011, during which time implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement has remained painfully limited. Halting progress is being made towards agreement on a new Constitution, but there remains a real possibility that President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF might abandon the negotiations and opt for early elections under the old Constitution, which greatly favours them. Elections are due by June 2013. Zimbabwe's political prospects remain highly uncertain.

  • Research Briefing

    In brief: Guinea-Bissau – has the 12 April coup been overturned or rewarded?

    A 12 April coup has provoked renewed political crisis in the West African state of Guinea Bissau. On 20 May there was an ECOWAS-backed deal under which power was ostensibly returned to civilians, but there is concern about its credibility and legitimacy. The crisis is likely to set-back recent efforts to strengthen Guinea-Bissau’s capacity to combat drug-trafficking and thereby shed its reputation as a ‘narco-state’. In a country where there are regular military coups, no president has completed a full term in office since the mid 1990s.

  • Research Briefing

    Bangladesh: the International Crimes Tribunal

    The Government of Bangladesh has re-established a long dormant International Crimes Tribunal to try people for alleged 'international crimes' committed during the 1971 war of independence. Eight men, all senior figures in opposition parties, currently face trial. While steps have been taken to strengthen the rules of procedure of the Tribunal, there are criticisms that the process still falls short of interntional standards.

  • Research Briefing

    Madagascar’s political crisis

    The continuing political crisis in Madagascar began when Andre Rajoelina successfully ousted the incumbent President, Marc Ravalomana, in March 2009 and installed himself instead, albeit formally as a transitional leader pending elections. The international community considers Rajoelina illegitimate. Regional mediation efforts to return Madagascar to 'constitutional rule' led to a peace deal in September 2011, but implementation remains fraught and the danger reamains that the process could collapse.

  • Research Briefing

    The Chagos Islanders

    This note provides brief background about the situation of the Chagos Islanders, paying particular attention to the legal dispute over whether they have the right of return and the recent establishment of a Marine Protection Area around the British Indian Ocean Territory (with the exception of Diego Garcia). The note is not comprehensive in its coverage and will not be automatically updated.

  • Research Briefing

    Chad: A political and security digest

    This note provides a quick guide to political and security issues currently affecting Chad -a country that at the moment may seem superficially stable, but one for which the norm over the past half century has been a condition of permanent emergency

  • Research Briefing

    In brief: Burma – the beginning of a new era?

    Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy achieved a stunning victory in recent by-elections, leading some to argue that Burma's democratic transition is no sham after all. This note briefly surveys the debate about what has been achieved so far, what remains to be done and whether the time has come to scrap Western sanctions.

  • Research Briefing

    Does Somali piracy have any ‘developmental effects’?

    There has been growing debate about where the spoils of Somali piracy have been going. How far are they helping to support the Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab? Is some of the money going into the pockets of local politicians and businessmen with links to the pirates? Could a surprisingly large portion of the spoils be percolating through to ordinary Somalis? This note briefly surveys recent debates on the last two of these questions.