John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 30-February 5

by John Campbell Monday, February 8, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from January 30, to February 5, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Nigerian President Buhari’s Sysyphean Efforts

by John Campbell Friday, February 5, 2016
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, February 3, 2016. (Reuters/Vincent Kessler) Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, February 3, 2016. (Reuters/Vincent Kessler)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s anticorruption campaign continues to gain credibility. Over the weekend, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) searched the Abuja residence of former Vice President Namadi Sambo and found documents that it described as “helpful.” Read more »

AU Vote to Leave the International Criminal Court of Little Consequence

by John Campbell Thursday, February 4, 2016
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri) Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

Led by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the African Union (AU) voted by a huge margin in favor of a proposal for withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the aftermath of the vote, President Jacob Zuma reiterated his threat that South Africa would withdraw from the ICC’s jurisdiction: “Our strongly held view is that it is now impossible, under the circumstances, for South Africa to continue its participation…” The AU chairman, Chadian President Idriss Deby, repeated the regular criticism that the ICC is biased against Africa: “Elsewhere in the world, many things happen, many flagrant violations of human rights, but nobody cares.” Read more »

Boko Haram Resurgence in Northeast Nigeria

by John Campbell Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Soldiers are seen on a truck along a road in Maiduguri in Borno State, Nigeria, May 14, 2015. (REUTERS/Stringer) Soldiers are seen on a truck along a road in Maiduguri in Borno State, Nigeria, May 14, 2015. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Over the weekend, Boko Haram attacked the village of Dalori, only three kilometers away from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and the headquarters of Nigerian military forces in the fight against the jihadist insurgency. According to the New York Times, citing Nigerian official sources, at least sixty-five were killed, and women and children were kidnapped. Boko Haram’s actions at Dalori constituted a complex attack that included armed fighters, some wearing military uniforms, and female suicide bombers. Nearby, Boko Haram raided a camp for internally displaced persons. Read more »

Nigeria’s Pro-Biafra Agitation: A Mix of Crisis and Opportunity

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, February 2, 2016
A man carries the Biafran flag during a parade in Ekwe village, near Enugu in southeastern Nigeria, May 27, 2008. (Reuters/George Esiri) A man carries the Biafran flag during a parade in Ekwe village, near Enugu in southeastern Nigeria, May 27, 2008. (Reuters/George Esiri)

This is a guest post by Carl Unegbu. Carl is a Nigerian-born American lawyer and journalist. He lives in New York City.

Nigeria’s old Biafra problem has reared its head again and with it, the specter of disintegration. For a thirty-month period between 1967 and 1970, Nigeria was embroiled in a bloody civil war as its eastern region unsuccessfully tried to secede from the country under the banner of the Republic of Biafra. The latest episode in the Biafra crisis revolves around the arrest on October 19, of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of a secession movement called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Kanu is presently facing trial for sedition and treason. Since his arrest, protesters demanding both his release and an independent Biafra have repeatedly clashed violently with security forces with resulting deaths. On the international front, the European Union’s foreign policy chief recently weighed in on the matter with a policy statement and the controversy is on its way to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 23-29

by John Campbell Monday, February 1, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from January 23, to January 29, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

“Africa Rising”

by John Campbell Friday, January 29, 2016
The sun rises over Mount Mikeno (C) in the Virunga National Park, Eastern DRC, December 12, 2008. (Reuters/Peter Andrews) The sun rises over Mount Mikeno (C) in the Virunga National Park, Eastern DRC, December 12, 2008. (Reuters/Peter Andrews)

For the past decade, the narrative of “Africa Rising” has been dominant. In hindsight, it was largely the product of high prices for Africa’s export commodities, especially oil, the continent’s rapid urbanization, an over-estimation of the growth of a middle class, over-reliance on dubious statistics, and more than a dollop of wishful thinking. “Africa Rising” was also a useful marketing tool for those seeking to raise capital for investment on the continent. Read more »

Al-Shabab and Islamic State: A New Rivalry

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, January 28, 2016
Djibouti soldiers serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) display weapons and parade suspected al-Shabab members during a patrol in the south central town of Beledweyne in Somalia, May 9, 2013. (Reuters/Feisal Omar) Djibouti soldiers serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) display weapons and parade suspected al-Shabab members during a patrol in the south central town of Beledweyne in Somalia, May 9, 2013. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, Assistant Director, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

Earlier this month, al-Shabab attacked an African Union (AU) base deep into AU controlled territory. This was followed up last week with an attack on civilians in AU controlled Mogadishu. The attacks reminded the world, again, that although al-Shabab has lost some of its previous stature, it remains resilient. But, a new threat looms. Recently, al-Shabab has been struggling to counter the new threat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s growing influence in East Africa. As the Islamic State gains momentum, and the rival groups compete for recruits and jockey for position, they may both use attacks on AU troops and civilians to prove their legitimacy.  Read more »

South African Icon Disillusioned with Ruling Party Leadership

by John Campbell Wednesday, January 27, 2016
A copy of a combo picture showing Rivonia trialists with their names written by hand is seen on the wall in Maybuye Center in Cape Town, March 10, 2005. From L to R on the top row are Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Gowan Mbeki and Raymond Mhlaba and on the bottom row are Elias Motsoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada, and Dennis Goldberg. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti) A copy of a combo picture showing Rivonia trialists with their names written by hand is seen on the wall in Maybuye Center in Cape Town, March 10, 2005. From L to R on the top row are Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Gowan Mbeki and Raymond Mhlaba and on the bottom row are Elias Motsoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada, and Dennis Goldberg. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)

On January 24, in London, UK Prime Minister David Cameron honored Nelson Mandela’s three surviving co-defendants at the 1964 Rivonia trial. They were Denis Goldberg, Ahmad Kathrada, and Andrew Mlangeni. Cameron also honored their suriviving defense attorneys, Lord Joel Joffe and George Bizos, who succeeded in avoiding the death penalty for their clients, though not twenty-six years of imprisonment. Read more »

Mugabe and Obiang Call for Security Council Reform

by John Campbell Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) and his Equatorial Guinea counterpart Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo arrive for the opening of the Harare Agricultural Show, August 31, 2007. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) and his Equatorial Guinea counterpart Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo arrive for the opening of the Harare Agricultural Show, August 31, 2007. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is a perennial African chestnut. The UNSC is more involved in Africa than in any other region, and many Africans feel it is acutely unjust that none of the permanent members are from the continent. (The permanent members are the victorious powers in World War II: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States.) Read more »