John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Sitting on Tied Hands: The African Union & Burundi

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, February 12, 2016
A general view shows Chad's President Idriss Deby addressing delegates during the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri) A general view shows Chad's President Idriss Deby addressing delegates during the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

Tyler Falish is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, and a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

On February 6, four people—including a child—were killed and twelve injured in a coordinated grenade attack in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. Republican Forces of Burundi (FOREBU), an armed group opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid, claimed involvement in separate attacks on February 5. The recent violence continues a trend that began nine months ago, when Nkurunziza first announced his intention to seek a third term. Read more »

Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Suicide Bombers

by John Campbell Thursday, February 11, 2016
People displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, are seen near their tents at a faith-based camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) People displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, are seen near their tents at a faith-based camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

On February 9, two female suicide bombers killed at least sixty people in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) about fifty miles from Maiduguri, Borno state’s capital. The Nigerian media reports that a third bomber did not detonate her explosives after seeing family members in the camp. Read more »

Nigerian Army to Shut Markets Where Boko Haram Trades

by John Campbell Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Men walk in front of election posters at an open market in Kano, March 27, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) Men walk in front of election posters at an open market in Kano, March 27, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

In a February 9 statement, acting Director of Army Public Relations Sani Usman said that the military will be shutting markets in Yobe and Borno states where traders “have clandestinely been aiding the terrorists (Boko Haram) with logistics and other supplies through smuggling and other forms of illicit trading, thus sustaining them while the merchants of death make money out of it.” Hence, “from now on, some markets identified to be engaging in this illegal trade with the adversary in Borno and Yobe states will be closed.” He also said that the traders were “sabotaging the successes… against the Boko Haram insurgency.” Read more »

Jacob Zuma and South Africa’s Constitution

by John Campbell Tuesday, February 9, 2016
A general view of the Nkandla home of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, August 2, 2012. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) A general view of the Nkandla home of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, August 2, 2012. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

The South African government spent about $24 million on “security upgrades” to President Jacob Zuma’s private estate, Nkandla. Those “security upgrades” included a swimming pool, a chicken run, and a football pitch. In 2014, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela investigated the expenditure and found some of it improper, and directed the president to pay back some—not all—of the public money spent on the estate. President Zuma refused, and was supported by his cabinet minister and the governing African National Congress (ANC) majority in parliament. Read more »

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 »