John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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The Horrors Keep Coming in South Sudan

by John Campbell
A South Sudanese girl displaced by the conflict carries a younger boy on her back as they walk through mud in a flooded camp for internally displaced people at the UNMISS base in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 30, 2014.   (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters) A South Sudanese girl displaced by the conflict carries a younger boy on her back as they walk through mud in a flooded camp for internally displaced people at the UNMISS base in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 30, 2014. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters)

The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) released a report on June 29, detailing human rights atrocities in South Sudan. The litany of abuses has now become familiar: gang rape, torture, killing, and the destruction of villages. The UN reports that the military, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), launched a major offensive in northwestern Mayom County that resulted in the displacement of over 100,000 people. Read more »

South African Democracy and the International Criminal Court

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

For this outsider, the parliamentary and judicial response to the Zuma administration’s failure to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and turn him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) provides a window in to the state of South African democracy. To me, it is clear that the Zuma government broke both South African and international law by not only failing to hold al-Bashir, though specifically ordered to do so by the South African judiciary, but also facilitated his clandestine departure. South African law is relevant because the South African government at the time incorporated the ICC treaty into its own legal system. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 20-June 26

by John Campbell
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 June 20, 2015 to June 26, 2015. 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 »

President Buhari to Visit the United States

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama gestures next to French President Francois Hollande (2L) and other G7 summit participants and outreach delegates at a family picture event at the G7 summit at the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 8, 2015. (Reuters/Christian Hartmann) U.S. President Barack Obama gestures next to French President Francois Hollande (2L) and other G7 summit participants and outreach delegates at a family picture event at the G7 summit at the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 8, 2015. (Reuters/Christian Hartmann)

The White House announced on June 25 that President Obama will host Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Washington, D.C. on July 20. The White House statement notes that both presidents will be accompanied by “senior advisors,” an indication that the visit will be more substantive than ceremonial. Read more »

Nigeria’s Cupboard is Bare

by John Campbell
Villagers stand near jerrycans containing crude oil collected at the shore of the Atlantic ocean near Orobiri village, days after Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga off-shore oil spill, in Nigeria's delta state December 31, 2011. Amnesty International called into question Royal Dutch Shell's accounting in Nigeria for oil spill amounts and causes, saying the oil major was seeking to avoid compensation payments and damage to its reputation. Picture taken December 31, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Villagers stand near jerrycans containing crude oil collected at the shore of the Atlantic ocean near Orobiri village, days after Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga off-shore oil spill, in Nigeria's delta state December 31, 2011. Amnesty International called into question Royal Dutch Shell's accounting in Nigeria for oil spill amounts and causes, saying the oil major was seeking to avoid compensation payments and damage to its reputation. Picture taken December 31, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

According to the media, President Muhammadu Buhari said on June 23 that Nigeria’s treasury is “virtually empty.” In order to document this he has promised to release a report on the size of Nigeria’s revenue and debt in about four weeks. He also says that he will recover billions of dollars that have been stolen under previous administrations, and that the United States and other countries will assist Nigeria in the recovery of the stolen money. Read more »

South Africa’s EFF and Charleston

by John Campbell
Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), leaves parliament with supporters in Cape Town, August 21, 2014. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), leaves parliament with supporters in Cape Town, August 21, 2014. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a populist , far-left “revolutionary” political party led by Julius Malema is now the third largest in South Africa’s National Assembly under the system of proportional representation, though it received only about 6.35 percent of the votes in the 2014 elections. It has issued a statement on the Emanuel Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. It will have credibility, especially to those unfamiliar the United States. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 13-June 19

by John Campbell
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 June 13, 2015 to June 19, 2015. 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 »

Al-Shabaab and Foreign Fighters in Kenya

by John Campbell
Omar Hammami addresses al-Shabaab fighters in a farm within Afgoye district near Somalia's capital Mogadishu, May 11, 2011. (Reuters/Feisal Omar) Omar Hammami addresses al-Shabaab fighters in a farm within Afgoye district near Somalia's capital Mogadishu, May 11, 2011. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

The Kenyan military has announced that it killed a British subject, by appearance ethnically English, during an al-Shabaab attack on a military base in Lamu county. The Kenyan police have issued a $100,000 reward for the capture of a German national who appears to be ethnically German who also took part in the al-Shabaab attack. Read more »

No “First Lady” for Nigeria

by John Campbell
Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed swears in Muhammadu Buhari (C) as Nigeria's president while Buhari's wife Aisha looks on at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed swears in Muhammadu Buhari (C) as Nigeria's president while Buhari's wife Aisha looks on at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

For many Nigerian political figures, “too much of a good thing is perfectly wonderful.” Extravagant display, whether it be of honorifics, dress, cars, official residences, or entourages  is very common. The former first lady, “Dame” Patience Jonathan was a highly visible and controversial figure. Nobody was allowed to forget that she was “First Lady of Nigeria.” Read more »

South African Rule of Law Threatened

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (L) reacts next to South Africa's President Jacob Zuma during the opening of the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

From the perspective of the expectations of Nelson Mandela, South Africa has been treading water, if not worse, especially since the national elections of 2014. Economic growth remains an anemic 2 percent or less, thereby challenging Mandela’s assumption that poverty could be eliminated rapidly. Public concerns about corruption remain unaddressed. Parliament appears increasingly dysfunctional. Its procedures are under assault by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters and stonewalling tactics by the Zuma government over corruption. Read more »