John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

Congo-Kinshasa: Legislative Election Results Postponed Again

by John Campbell Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Incumbent Congolese President Joseph Kabila receives his ballot at a polling station in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, November 28, 2011. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters) Incumbent Congolese President Joseph Kabila receives his ballot at a polling station in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, November 28, 2011. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

Despite the press focus on the credibility of Congo’s presidential elections, legislative elections also took place in November on the same day. While presidential elections were widely seen as fraudulent, including by opposition candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi, Kabila was sworn in as president. However, perhaps in response to international criticism, the Congolese electoral commission suspended counting of the legislative ballots in December. The electoral commission promised the results would be posted on January 18. Now, however, the commission is saying that the results will be available January 26. Read more »

Improving the ICC’s Image in Africa

by John Campbell Friday, January 13, 2012
The ICC's deputy prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (L), who will start as chief prosecutor in June, greets Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan June 28, 2011. (Thierry Gouegnon/Courtesy Reuters) The ICC's deputy prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (L), who will start as chief prosecutor in June, greets Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan June 28, 2011. (Thierry Gouegnon/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Asch Harwood, Africa program research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The International Criminal Court is expected to announce its decision (possibly next week) about whether to proceed with its charges against the “Ocampo 6,” the Kenyans accused of involvement in provoking violence following that country’s 2007 elections. Read more »

Nigeria’s Turmoil and the Outside World

by John Campbell Thursday, January 12, 2012
Protesters sit with signs showing prices of commodities on the fourth day of a nationwide strike against the removal of the petrol subsidy in Lagos January 12, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Protesters sit with signs showing prices of commodities on the fourth day of a nationwide strike against the removal of the petrol subsidy in Lagos January 12, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Because of Nigeria’s size and predominance in West Africa, its neighbors are watching events unfold with nervousness—but also a prudent silence. Large numbers of Nigerians live outside their country in West Africa, and economic links between Nigeria and its neighbors are strong. In the past – and perhaps at present – Nigeria also supplied its neighbors with cut-rate oil. So, developments in Nigeria are bound to influence the entire West African region. Read more »

South Africa’s African National Congress Celebrates its Centenary

by John Campbell Wednesday, January 11, 2012
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (R) pose with former president Thabo Mbeki during the lighting up ceremony of the centenary torch ahead of the upcoming African National Congress (ANC) centenary celebration in Bloemfontein January 8, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (R) pose with former president Thabo Mbeki during the lighting up ceremony of the centenary torch ahead of the upcoming African National Congress (ANC) centenary celebration in Bloemfontein January 8, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters

On Sunday, the African National Congress (ANC) celebrated its one-hundredth birthday. Though it is notoriously riddled with factions, all was sweetness and light. South African president and ANC party leader Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki, whom Zuma had previously deposed, participated in an elaborate — and largely meaningless — ceremony of reconciliation. Nelson Mandela, the hero and a major architect of the transition to non-racial democracy did not attend because of his fragile health. Read more »

Nigeria: Fuel Subsidy Strikes Continue

by John Campbell Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Demonstrators gather at a burning barricade during a protest against the elimination of a popular fuel subsidy that has doubled the price of petrol, at Gwagwalada on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital Abuja January 9, 2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Demonstrators gather at a burning barricade during a protest against the elimination of a popular fuel subsidy that has doubled the price of petrol, at Gwagwalada on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital Abuja January 9, 2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The strikes appear to be gaining momentum, with oil and gas workers joining and some aviation shut down.

The protests appear to be the strongest in Lagos and Kano, Nigeria’s two largest cities and where there is a tradition of opposition to any government in Abuja. The oil workers joined the strike only on Tuesday morning, so it remains to be seen what the impact will be on Nigeria’s oil and gas production. Oil and gas are more than ninety percent of Nigeria’s exports and provide about eighty percent of the government’s revenue.

Jonathan and his political allies are seeking to rally support for the subsidy elimination. He appears to have the support of many – not all – of the governors. As a confidence building measure, Jonathan has announced the establishment of a blue ribbon panel to oversee the use of resources freed by elimination of the fuel subsidy. The economic arguments for elimination of the subsidy are widely rehearsed from official sources. Read more »

Congo-Kinshasa: The Other Shoe Hasn’t Dropped – Yet

by John Campbell Monday, January 9, 2012
Supporters of incumbent President Joseph Kabila are seen celebrating through a banner with his image after provisional election results are announced in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, December 9, 2011.  (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Supporters of incumbent President Joseph Kabila are seen celebrating through a banner with his image after provisional election results are announced in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, December 9, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

For Africa watchers, this morning’s attention is focused on Nigeria. Over the weekend, murder of Christians continued, ostensibly by an Islamic radical group, Boko Haram. Various ‘Christian’ spokesmen have threatened retaliation against Muslims and mosques have been attacked. But, in some areas, there are grassroots efforts to forestall religious conflict, with Christians protecting Muslims while they pray and Muslims guarding Christian churches. While the nation has gone on strike, President Goodluck Jonathan sought to mollify public anger at his elimination of the fuel subsidy, including by cutting government salaries (including his own). Preliminary reports are that the strike has shut-down Lagos, Abuja, and Kano and protestor deaths are being reported from Lagos and Kano. I have heard nothing from Port Harcourt and the oil patch except that police allegedly prevented a protest from taking place in Bayelsa state. Personalities ranging from the president to literary icon Chinua Achebe are saying that the current situation recalls the run-up to the 1967-70 Biafra war. But, information is too incomplete, and too much is in flux for meaningful comment today. Read more »

#Occupy Nigeria

by John Campbell Friday, January 6, 2012
A member of the Nigerian Bar Association holds up a placard to protest a fuel subsidy removal in Lagos January 5, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) A member of the Nigerian Bar Association holds up a placard to protest a fuel subsidy removal in Lagos January 5, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Anger at President Goodluck Jonathan’s elimination of the fuel subsidy appears to have united Nigerians in a way not seen for many years. There have been popular protests in virtually all of Nigeria’s major cities. According to the Nigerian press, protestors have shut-down economic activity in Lagos, Ibadan, and Kano. In the capital, Abuja, most gas stations are closed. It is likely that road haulage will decline in the face of a tripling of gasoline prices since the end of the fuel subsidy– most Nigerian goods move by road. It remains to be seen when or if civil aviation will be affected. Read more »