South Sudan celebrated its one-year anniversary on Monday, but the hope and optimism that accompanied its independence has been marred by a rapidly deteriorating economy, escalating internal tensions and the threat of renewed war with Sudan. Meanwhile, in Sudan itself protests are escalating despite a fierce government crackdown that has seen hundreds of protestors arrested – reports of torture and inhumane treatment in detention are rampant. While the Khartoum regime argues that the only alternative to their totalitarian rule is utter chaos, the Sudanese opposition parties have jointly signed a Democratic Alternative Charter, laying out concrete plans for a peaceful transition to democracy.
The M23 rebellion that launched in March of this year, with the ICC-indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda at the helm, has escalated violently in the last few days. After overtaking several strategic towns in the Rutshuru district of North Kivu, the rebels are now just 60 km outside of the province’s main city, Goma – the violence has spurred anti-Tutsi sentiment in Goma. Meanwhile, work on the conflict minerals issue here in the US is beginning to bear fruit. Motorola Solutions, Microsoft and General Electric have all publicly broken ranks with the stance of the US Chamber of Commerce, which has threatened a lawsuit against the SEC over conflict minerals regulations required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. The SEC, in turn, has finally set a date certain to vote on these regulations – August 22. And in a move toward justice in Congo, the International Criminal Court has sentenced war criminal Thomas Lubanga to 14 years in prison for his use of child soldiers during Congo’s wars.