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Weekly Round-Up

1.UK – India ties to take a ‘quantum leap’ forward in tackling shared security concerns.

Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi held a virtual summit this week in lieu of the British Prime Minister’s twice postponed official visit to India. The summit laid the groundwork for much deeper relations between the two countries and explored amongst other items further cooperation in defence, and in addressing shared security concerns. Programme for cooperation builds on the well known warmth between the two leaders, and is intended to lead towards a comprehensive India-UK trade deal, formally linking the Commonwealth’s two largest economies, and boosting already established social and cultural ties.

2. 30 Nigerian students freed by bandits in Kaduna state.

Weak and malnourished, 30 students have been freed from their captivity at the hands of bandits in the north-western Nigeria state of Kaduna. The students were kidnapped from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in March alongside 10 other students who were previously freed. It is believed a ransom was paid for the students, with the chairman of the parents association refusing to reveal the amount paid.

Kidnappings in Kaduna state have become increasingly frequent, with over 700 students having been abducted for ransom since the beginning of the year. President Buhari released a statement cheering the release of the students.

3. Former Lord’s Resistance Army commander sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The first former Ugandan child soldier has been convicted by the International Criminal Court. Dominic Ongwen was tried in the Hague and convicted of a litany of war crimes and atrocities including sexual slavery, murder, forced marriage, abduction, and torture. In all, 4000 witnesses provided testimony to the case, recounting the horrors that referred specifically to attacks on refugee camps in Uganda in the early 2000s.

Although convicted of 61 of 70 crimes Ongwen was given a notably lenient sentence, with judges mitigating his actions by referring to his own abduction from his parents as a young boy and subsequent grooming at the hands of rebels.

4. Former Maldives President injured in suspected terror attack.

The ex-President of the Maldives, and current Speaker of the Maldives parliament, Mohamed Nasheed, has been injured in a bomb blast in Male, the country’s capital. The attack took place as Speaker Nasheed was entering his car, and is suspected to have originated from a bomb attached to a motorbike nearby. Australian Federal Police are assisting the Maldives with the investigation.

Ex-President Nasheed has been a fierce critic of hardline islamist influence in the archipelagic nation, and his willingness to speak out against radical elements has raised concerns that such an attack would be targeted against him. Serving President Ibrahim Solih has condemned the attack, calling it an “attack on Maldives”. Islamist influence is a growing concern in the Maldives, with foreign preachers believed to have helped radicalise parts of the country’s youth. Dozens of Maldivan citizens are believed to have travelled to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State, some of whom have now returned to the Maldives.

5. Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) exercise takes place virtually for the first time.

Exercise Bersama Shield, an annual FPDA command post exercise that tests the capabilities of the Combined Joint Task Force took place throughout April having been suspended for 2020. The exercise, which brings together military personnel from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and UK, was held online for the first time. Adapting to the continued constraints of the global Covid-19 pandemic the exercise was deemed a great success by Chief of Staff Colonel Lau Mun Leng of the Singaporean Air Force, emphasising the dedication to the FPDA by the five militaries:

“Together, the five nations have shown resilience in these unique and challenging circumstances to organise and deliver a successful exercise. This marks an important beginning to our Golden Jubilee year celebrations, and in doing so we have made significant strides in preparations for Exercise Bersama Lima 2021. This exercise has demonstrated in difficult times the adaptability of our member nations to use alternative platforms, and their steadfast commitment to the FPDA.”

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