Trouble Brewing in Lesotho

It probably won’t make headlines outside of Africa, but pre-election violence in Lesotho is a legitimately worrisome development in an otherwise stable constitutional-ish monarchy. “Two soldiers who warned Lesotho’s prime minister about last year’s alleged coup attempt have been shot and wounded and another man killed, officials say. The guards were not with [PM] Thomas Thabane at the time they were shot outside the gates of the presidential palace. The shootings come ahead of elections later this month intended to resolve the crisis between rival parties in the coalition government. The power struggle is believed to have polarised Lesotho’s security forces… The prime minister’s press secretary, Thabo Thakalekoala, told the Associated Press news agency that the two officers in Mr Thabane’s security detail had been targeted by “renegade” soldiers bent on destabilising the small mountainous nation, which is surrounded by South Africa, ahead of the polls.”  (BBC

Get Ready for Some Awesome New Art on Wheels in Kenya…Kenya’s president has recently given the green light to lifting the ban on matatu art and the battle has begun among drivers to have the best moving graffiti. (VOA

Comings and Goings…Former USAID deputy director Nancy Lindborg was officially sworn in yesterday as the new head of the United States Institute for Peace.


Uganda said Monday it was conducting DNA tests to determine whether a body discovered is that of the wanted deputy of Uganda’s murderous Lord’s Resistance Army rebels. (AFP

The inside story of the Bulgarian flight crew on contract from the WFP that was shot down over South Kordofan last week. (Nuba Reports )

South Sudan’s warring factions early Monday signed another peace deal in the latest effort to end hostilities that have raged for more than a year, but analysts expressed doubt about whether it will hold. (AP

Liberia began a trial of experimental Ebola vaccines on Monday, involving thousands of volunteers as part of an effort to slow the spread of the deadly hemorrhagic fever and prevent future outbreaks. (Reuters

Ethiopia’s ambition to become a manufacturing hub may hinge on Khalid Bomba’s ability to transform small-scale farming just as much as it relies on new railways, roads and other more obvious signs of change in a nation once brought to its knees by famine. (Reuters

More than two years after Kenya struck oil for the first time in its northern-most county, Turkana, the two ethnic groups that live on either side of the oil reserves are engaging in violent, often deadly, armed conflict. (VOA

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has urged all parties in Nigeria’s elections later this month to refrain from violence before, during and after the vote. (AP


Syrian refugees struggle to survive the winter with no heat, little access to clean water and not enough food, as humanitarian organizations struggle to help amid a $40 million shortfall, continued fighting and a looming sense from donors that the region is a lost cause. (Humanosphere

Tunisian Prime Minister-designate Habib Essid on Monday announced a new coalition government including secular party Nida Tounes, its main rival, the Islamist Ennahda, and smaller political parties. (Reuters

An Egyptian court sentenced to death 183 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood Monday on charges of killing at least 15 police officers in at attack after the 2013 ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi. (VOA

Syrian government warplanes carried out several air raids on a rebel-held village in the country’s south on Monday, killing at least 12 people and wounding dozens, activists said. (AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticised the UN force in Lebanon just days after a Spanish peacekeeper was killed by what Madrid said was Israeli fire. (AFP

Australian journalist Peter Greste said on Monday it was a great relief to be freed from prison in Egypt but added in an interview on Al Jazeera that he felt “incredible angst” about leaving two colleagues behind in prison. (Reuters

Conditions for Palestinian refugees in a camp near Damascus have worsened significantly in recent weeks, with fresh restrictions on relief supplies compounding shortages of food, clean water and decent healthcare, according to residents. (IRIN

Kurdish forces have found the remains of about 25 members of the Yazidi minority killed by the Islamic State jihadist group in a mass grave in northwest Iraq, officials said Monday. (AFP


The killing of polio workers by militants in Pakistan has led to a surge in cases, but in Karachi there is no shortage of volunteers to fight the disease. (Guardian

The United States threw their support behind the new Sri Lankan government of President Maithripala Sirisena Monday, pledging Washington’s support for the government’s 100 day reform program. (VOA

Police in Thailand’s capital announced increased security Monday for public places, such as bus and train stations, after a pair of blasts outside a popular central Bangkok shopping mall. (VOA

China said Monday it is opposed to any country meeting the Dalai Lama “in any manner,” after the White House said President Barack Obama will attend the National Prayer Breakfast with the Tibetan spiritual leader this week. (VOA

Worsening drought has led to over 80 percent of water resources in Pakistan’s southern Tharparker district becoming unfit for people to drink, a new study says. (Reuters

Government authorities in Pakistan’s northwest frontier have given permission for teachers to carry concealed firearms in response to the Dec. 16 attack in Peshawar that became one of the deadliest terrorist strikes in Pakistani history. Most teachers are not carrying weapons, but some are. (AP http::/

The Americas

Far from laughing along with those who poke fun at him on social media, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has created a website and Twitter account to marshal digital counterattacks by his supporters against the “defamers.” (AP

Bus drivers in Haiti have launched a two-day strike over the cost of fuel and many people are unable to get to work and school throughout the country. (AP

Venezuela’s largest drugstore chain says it’s under investigation by price-control authorities and the intelligence service, presumably on suspicion of aggravating the country’s chronic shortages. (AP


The US Special Advisor on global children’s issues, Ambassador Susan Jacobs is Mark’s podcast guest this week. She was one of the very first married women allowed to enter the US Foreign service and she has some amazing stories to tell. (Global Dispatches Podcast

Has Syria really beaten polio? (IRIN

Dirty Money and Development by Sri Mulyani Indrawati (Project Syndicate

Why don’t we care about older people as much as children? (Guardian

Here are 3 challenges for open data in fragile states (Governance for Development

What next for South Sudan’s 3,000 freed child soldiers? (Guardian

India Still Struggling to Combat Child Labour (IPS

Oxfam’s misleading wealth statistics (Fusion

Critics of Oxfam’s Poverty Statistics Are Missing the Point (The New Yorker


Yet more Evidence on Global Warming…The U.N. weather agency says 2014 was the warmest year on record, though the temperature difference with 2010 and 2005 is so small that it’s impossible to say for sure which of the three years was the hottest. (AP