John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Violence in Zimbabwe

by John Campbell Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe looks on before casting his vote in Highfields outside Harare July 31, 2013. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

As Zimbabweans go to the polls on July 31, there is already press commentary that, unlike in 2008, these elections will be (relatively) non-violent. The election preparations were a technical shambles. That means that the African election observers (from the Southern African Development Community and the African Union) as well as those of us looking on from the outside are unlikely to reach credible conclusions. Read more »

Bleak Outlook for Zimbabwe’s Election

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition party Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) cheer during the final election rally of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare July 29, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

The International Crisis Group (ICG) is a distinguished non-governmental organization (NGO) devoted to conflict prevention. On July 29 it issued an important report, Zimbabwe’s Elections: Mugabe’s Last Stand. It suggests that the aftermath of the July 31 elections in Zimbabwe is likely to be a protracted and violent political crisis. Read more »

Mali’s Elections: Still More Questions Than Answers

by John Campbell Monday, July 29, 2013
A woman casts her vote during Mali's presidential election in Timbuktu, Mali, July 28, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Information about Mali’s polling on Sunday, July 28 is coming from western sources–notably Radio France Internationale (RFI), Deutsche Welle (DW), and Voice of America (VOA). As is usual the day after African elections, the three are upbeat in tone. Already there are congratulations and self-congratulations. According to RFI, French President Hollande, who is heavily invested politically in the elections being a success, welcomed the polling “marked by good turnout and an absence of any major incident.” French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, “congratulations are in order that the Mali elections went off well. For France, it is a great success,” also according to RFI. The Mali interim president, Dioncounda Traoré said, “I think that this is the best election that Malians can remember since 1960,” again according to RFI. Read more »

“Africa: Kenya, Zimbabwe, and South Africa – Violence and Transition in Post Settler-Colonial States”

by John Campbell Thursday, July 25, 2013
Nyirenda Nami, 76, shows her ID card as she waits to vote in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold, March 29, 2008. (Emmanuel Chitate/Courtesy Reuters)

This is the title of a short, thoughtful–and thought-provoking–article by Brian Raftopoulos, Solomon Mungure, Nicky Roussea, and Masheti Masinjila that originally appeared in Solidarity Peace Trust blog and has been reprinted in “African Arguments.” The authors look at the similarities and differences in the forms of governance and the nature of violence in three of the most prominent former “settler-colonial” states in Africa. Read more »

President Zuma’s Approach to Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s Elections

by John Campbell Wednesday, July 24, 2013
South African President Jacob Zuma (L) walks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at Harare International airport, March 16, 2010. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

Zimbabwe’s special elections on July 14-15 for the security forces did not go well. Lindiwe Zulu, former ambassador to Brazil and current international relations adviser to South Africa president Jacob Zuma, had the temerity to say so.

She commented publicly that the July 30-31 polling would be challenging. In response, Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, who previously called Zulu “an idiotic street woman,” demanded that President Zuma “stop this woman of [his] from speaking on Zimbabwe.” Whereupon President Zuma, through his spokesman, promptly disavowed Zulu, as did the governing African National Congress. Read more »

Sudan’s Bashir in Nigeria

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir addresses a joint news conference with his South Sudan's counterpart Salva Kiir in Juba April 12, 2013. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters)

Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, is under indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has a warrant out for his arrest. He briefly attended a July 13-14 African Union (AU) health summit in Nigeria, but left when Nigerian human rights groups called for his arrest. The ICC justices in The Hague also issued a statement reminding Nigeria of its obligation to “honor its warrants” and hand over Bashir. Read more »

Nigeria Winds Down Peacekeeping

by John Campbell Monday, July 22, 2013
Nigerian soldiers sit in military trucks before leaving for Mali, at the airport in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna January 17, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Alassane Ouattara, president of the Ivory Coast and chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), announced that he received a letter from Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan saying that Nigeria will withdraw part of its peacekeeping contingent in Mali. Read more »

Nigeria’s Civilian Joint Task Force

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, July 18, 2013
People gather around the ruins of the burnt Bama Market, which was destroyed by gunmen in last Thursday's attack, in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria April 29, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, a research analyst at The Jamestown Foundation, and Atta Barkindo, a Ph.D. candidate, SOAS, University of London.

In May 2013, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a State of Emergency (SoE) in northeastern Nigeria. The military purpose of the SoE was to eliminate Boko Haram safe havens and disrupt its operations. However, there may also have also been political motivations in declaring the SoE ahead of the 2015 elections. Since May, a new “Civilian Joint Task Force” (JTF) has emerged in Boko Haram’s main base in Borno, which has arrested Boko Haram members, including its commanders. Read more »

Uganda’s Oil Tanker Explosion: More Than Poverty?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, July 17, 2013
A fuel tanker burns at the scene of a fatal road accident on the outskirts of the capital Kampala June 30, 2013. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Brooke Bocast, a PhD candidate in anthropology at Temple University and a visiting predoctoral fellow at Northwestern University. She is currently writing her doctoral dissertation on gender, consumption, and higher education in Uganda. Read more »

No Cease-Fire in Nigeria

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan salutes as he parades during the Nigeria Army's 150th anniversary celebration in Abuja July 6, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Abubakar Shekau, the shadowy leader of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, issued a video in which he flatly denies that there is a cease-fire agreement with President Goodluck Jonathan’s Nigerian government, or that there is any prospect of one. According to the Nigerian media, he said: “We will not enter into any truce with the Nigerian government.” Read more »