Week 18: News roundup

May 1, 2023
3 mins read
Image: Twitter

North Africa 

Sudan’s political crisis has only worsened after it began on April 15. The ongoing conflict between the state army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his arch-rival Mohamed Hamdan Hemedti Dagalo aka Hameti who heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has given rise to a humanitarian catastrophe. The US and UK moved troops to neighboring Djibouti last week in lieu of preparedness to evacuate the foreign nationals using military options. On April 26, the SDU said in another statement that the death toll has exceeded 500, and thousands have been injured. 72% of the hospitals have gone out of service in the areas where fighting is ongoing. 

The root of the conflict lies in disagreements over integrating the paramilitary into the army. Burhan and Hemeti, after toppling the dictator Omar al Bashir with the support of pro-democracy masses, ran the country through a junta government for four years.

South Asia

April 24 marked 10 years into Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza tragedy that killed 1,138 garment workers and left more than 2,000 injured in 2013. On April 18, rights activists organized a programme in Dhaka in which union leaders said that at least 18 cases seeking compensation to families of the deceased workers and the survivors and ensuring the workers’ safety continue to remain pending with the High Court and the labor tribunals since 2013.

25 April 2013. Two victims amid the rubble of a garment factory building collapse in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. Image credit: Taslima Akhter

“Only four large US brands signed the Bangladesh accord. Instead, 26 US retailers signed a voluntary agreement led by Walmart Inc. that didn’t mandate independent inspections or bind signatories to make repairs,” a report titled “A Broken Partnership: How Clothing Brands Exploit Suppliers and Harm Workers—And What Can Be Done About It” by New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, noted. Human Rights Watch in their report also seconded that “as of April 11, 195 brands are part of the Accord in Bangladesh, and 45 brands are part of the Accord in Pakistan. Many other brands, mostly from the US, have yet to join.”

The popular clothing brands operating in the country have still not joined the Accord on Health and Safety. Since the Rana Plaza devastation, “at least 109 other buildings in the area have collapsed, resulting in the death of 27 workers (at minimum),” according to estimates. Several reports on the plights of the millions of garment workers have been reiterating how corporate buyer behavior and exploitative purchasing practices have had a worsening impact on workers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

South America

On April 30, new presidential elections will be held in Paraguay in a single round. The ruling Colorado Party is evenly poised against the strong opposition alliance—Coalition for a New Paraguay— this election will have at least 5 million votes and is going to be critical in defining the Chinese influence in the region. Paraguay is among the 13 nations to have maintained diplomatic ties with the contested Taiwan region. 

Economist Santiago Peña of Colorado Party (or National Tepublic Association) is the main contender along with the veteran lawyer Efrain Alegre of Authentic Radical Liberal Party (PLRA), who also heads the Coalition for a New Paraguay (Concertación para un Nuevo Paraguay). 

The former president Mario Abdo Benitez was replaced on August 15. In the latest round of selection 45 senators (30 alternates), 80 deputies (more than 80 alternates), 17 governors and 257 councilmen will also be elected.

Other major candidates are Payo Cubas (Cruzada Nacional), Euclides Acevedo (Movimiento Nueva República) and José Luis Chilavert (Partido de la Juventud). 


The Belgian city of Liege has decided to suspend its relations with the Israeli authorities. On April 24, the resolution by the Workers Party of Belgium called for a national boycott of all Israeli goods and services, sought suspension of bilateral ties with Israel until it ends the ongoing abuse of Palestinians, and fully respects the obligations imposed by international law and various United Nations resolutions.  

The majority of the city council voted for the resolution, which acknowledged the mass displacement of Palestinians (nakba) and Palestinians’ right to return. A large number of civil society members kept a vigil outside the council building while the resolution was being voted on. 

West Asia

As a part of the Oman-based peace talks between Saudi Arabia and Houthis, at least 900 prisoners were exchanged between the two warring sides. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), prisoners in two planes took off at the same time from Sana’a (controlled by Houthis) and Marib (controlled by Saudi forces) on April 16.

However, the head of the Houthi-led Supreme Political Council in Yemen, Mahdi al-Mashat, blamed the US for obstructing the ongoing negotiations. The war in Yemen has been ongoing for almost a decade. 

Despite growing tensions over cutting down oil production, President Joe Biden’s administration’s special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking and CIA’s chief William Burns visited Saudi Arabia earlier in this month.

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