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  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: There is serious risk the long-awaited Papuan People's Council (Majelis Rakyat Papua, MRP) is about to collapse, only five months after it was established, ending hopes that it could ease tensions between Papuans and the central government. The MRP was designed as the centrepiece of the autonomy package granted the country's easternmost province in 2001. Almost as soon as it came into being, however, it was faced with two major crises – stalled talks over the legal status of West Irian Jaya, the province carved out of Papua in 2003, and violence sparked by protests over the giant Freeport mine – while Jakarta marginalised its mediation attempts. To revive genuine dialogue and salvage the institution before autonomy is perhaps fatally damaged, President Yudhoyono should meet the MRP in Papua, thus acknowledging its importance, while the MRP should move beyond non-negotiable demands and offer realistic policy options to make autonomy work.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: Asia, Papua
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Pakistan government's ill-planned and poorly executed emergency response to the October 2005 earthquake highlighted the inadequacies of authoritarian rule. As the government now embarks on three to four years of reconstruction and rehabilitation, the absence of civilian oversight and inadequate accountability and transparency could seriously undermine the process. Should jihadi groups that have been active in relief work remain as involved in reconstruction, threats to domestic and regional security will increase.
  • Topic: Security, Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The delivery of humanitarian assistance in Burma/Myanmar is facing new threats. After a period in which humanitarian space expanded, aid agencies have come under renewed pressure, most seriously from the military government but also from prodemocracy activists overseas who seek to curtail or control assistance programs. Restrictions imposed by the military regime have worsened in parallel with its continued refusal to permit meaningful opposition political activity and its crackdown on the Karen. The decision of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to withdraw from the country in 2005 was a serious setback, which put thousands of lives in jeopardy, although it has been partly reversed by the new Three Diseases Fund (3D Fund). There is a need to get beyond debates over the country's highly repressive political system; failure to halt the slide towards a humanitarian crisis could shatter social stability and put solutions beyond the reach of whatever government is in power.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On 11 December 2006 local elections will take place in Aceh, the once war-torn region of Indonesia where exguerrillas are now running for office. The logistical challenges have been huge, particularly in registering so many people displaced by the December 2004 tsunami. But the political challenge has been even greater: how to ensure that the elections facilitate the transition of the former insurgency, the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) from an armed struggle to a political movement, thereby reinforcing its 15 August 2005 peace agreement with the Indonesian government. A rift that has emerged within the GAM leadership has complicated that transition.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Street battles between thousands of pro and antigovernment protestors broken up by police billy clubs and tear gas in the central square of the capital this week illustrate dramatically that Kyrgyzstan is on the verge of political breakdown and possible civil war. The government and opposition have begun talks to pull the country back from the brink, and the president signed a new constitution on 9 November that the parliament had passed the previous day. But tensions are still high. The talks will need to be widened if they are to resolve the underlying dispute, which is centred on the division of power between the president and the parliament, and related issues. The international community should become much more active in preventive diplomacy because if a solution is not found quickly, Kyrgyzstan's instability could easily affect other states in the fragile Central Asian region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After the indiscriminate killing of civilians by Uzbek security forces in the city of Andijon in 2005, the European Union imposed targeted sanctions on the government of President Islam Karimov. EU leaders called for Uzbekistan to allow an international investigation into the massacre, stop show trials and improve its human rights record. Now a number of EU member states, principally Germany, are pressing to lift or weaken the sanctions, as early as this month. The Karimov government has done nothing to justify such an approach. Normalisation of relations should come on EU terms, not those of Karimov. Moreover, his dictatorship is looking increasingly fragile, and serious thought should be given to facing the consequences of its ultimate collapse, including the impact on other fragile states in Central Asia such as Kyrgyzstan.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Germany
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Aceh is the only part of Indonesia that has the legal right to apply Islamic law (Shari'a) in full. Since 1999, it has begun slowly to put in place an institutional framework for Shari'a enforcement. In the process, it is addressing hard questions: What aspects should be enforced first? Should existing police, prosecutors and courts be used or new entities created? How should violations be punished? Its efforts to find the answers are being watched closely by other local governments, some of which have enacted regulations inspired by or derived from Shari'a. These moves in turn are sparking a raging debate in Indonesia about what role government at any level should play in encouraging adherence to Islamic law and how far the Islamisation drive will or should be allowed to spread.
  • Topic: Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In less than ten years, the Maoist insurgency has transformed Nepal. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has spread armed conflict across the country and reshaped its political environment irrevocably. But their political aims are still questioned, and not enough is known about their structure and strategy. This background report seeks to fill in many of the gaps, based on close study of their writings and actions and a wide range of interviews, in order to provide policymakers in Nepal and the international community with information and insights needed to approach a peace process realistically.
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Asia, Nepal
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although the dangers are evident, the international community continues to support General Pervez Musharraf because of his perceived cooperation in the war on terror, ignoring unconstitutional constraints on the civilian opposition. However, the military's refusal to cede real power to civilians and its marginalisation of moderate parties has boosted religious extremists. Instability is worsening, and sectarian conflict threatens to spin out of control. Lacking robust international support for a democratic transition, mainstream parties struggle to survive, subjected to coercion and violence. They can be the most effective safeguard against the religious lobby's manifestly anti-Western agenda, but only if allowed to function freely in a democratic environment. They need outside help but must also get more serious about reforming themselves.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After drifting toward crisis for much of 2004, the outlook for stability across the Taiwan Strait has improved. Constraints on Taiwan pursuing pro-independence initiatives that risk conflict with China will likely remain strong through to the end of President Chen Shui-bian's term of office in 2008. These include a reinvigorated political opposition and Chinese initiatives that have won some poplar support in Taiwan and weakened the drive for independence. Most importantly, the U.S. appears determined to deter not only a Chinese attack but also provocative Taiwan independence moves.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia