John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Inauguration Day in Nigeria

by John Campbell
Nigeria's outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan (L) congratulates incoming President Muhammadu Buhari after the handover at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan (L) congratulates incoming President Muhammadu Buhari after the handover at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Muhammadu Buhari will be inaugurated president of Nigeria today, May 29, in Abuja’s Eagle Square. To call an occasion “historic” is hackneyed. But, this time, it is true. Read more »

What’s Happening With Boko Haram?

by John Campbell
An armoured tank is seen abandoned along a road in Bazza town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters) An armoured tank is seen abandoned along a road in Bazza town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters)

Nigeria inaugurates its new president, Muhammadu Buhari, on May 29. It is the first time a Nigerian head of state has defeated an incumbent at the ballot box. Buhari’s successful campaign was largely based on the need to restore security and to counter corruption. Now, as he takes office, the radical Islamist insurrection labeled Boko Haram is the country’s most immediate security threat. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update May 16-May 22

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 May 16, 2015 to May 22, 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 »

United States Support for African Peacekeeping

by John Campbell
U.N. peacekeepers patrol in their tank, past the deserted Kibati village, near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, August 7, 2013. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) U.N. peacekeepers patrol in their tank, past the deserted Kibati village, near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, August 7, 2013. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

Multilateral peacekeeping operations have long been a feature of the international community’s response to African conflicts (most of which are domestic though often with outside meddling). For those concerned about African peacekeeping operations, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action has just published an important new special report by Paul D. Williams titled Enhancing U.S. Support for Peace Operations in Africa. It is a must-read for those involved in African security issues. Read more »

Response Needed to Northern Nigeria’s Humanitarian Disaster

by John Campbell
Baby Lurky, whose family was displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, sleeps in the shade at a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Baby Lurky, whose family was displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, sleeps in the shade at a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

In the May 19 New York Times Adam Nossiter reports on the conditions of women and girls newly freed from Boko Haram captivity. He reports that they are among some 15,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) at a camp in Dalori, Borno, outside of the state capital, Maiduguri. Read more »

A New Generation of South African Politics?

by John Campbell
A statue of Nelson Mandela stands outside the gates of Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison), near Paarl in Western Cape province, February 10, 2010. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters) A statue of Nelson Mandela stands outside the gates of Drakenstein Correctional Centre (formerly Victor Verster Prison), near Paarl in Western Cape province, February 10, 2010. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

The African National Congress’s (ANC) electoral support is slowly eroding. Its share of the national vote has declined to 62.2 percent in 2014 from its high water mark of 69.7 percent in 2004. Its leader, President Jacob Zuma, is much more unpopular than the party, and outside his Zulu core constituency, many see him as corrupt and incompetent. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update May 9-May 15

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 May 9, 2015 to May 15, 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 »

More on Nigeria’s South African Mercenaries

by John Campbell
A burnt armour tank is seen abandoned along a road in Bazza town after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A burnt armour tank is seen abandoned along a road in Bazza town after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

After almost five years of reverses, the Nigerian federal government largely cleared Boko Haram fighters from the territories they occupied in Borno state–in about five weeks. The Nigerian government has given most of the credit to an allegedly invigorated Nigerian army. There has also been some acknowledgement of the contributions of Chadian and Nigerien forces. There has, however, been little recognition of the role of South African mercenaries, though they are likely to have been crucial to military success against Boko Haram. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update May 2-May 8

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 May 2, 2015 to May 8, 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 »

Boko Haram’s Sex Slaves?

by John Campbell
A girl who was freed by the Nigerian army from Boko Haram militants in the Sambisa forest looks on at the Malkohi camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Nigeria, May 3, 2015 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters). A girl who was freed by the Nigerian army from Boko Haram militants in the Sambisa forest looks on at the Malkohi camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Nigeria, May 3, 2015 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters).

Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds, perhaps thousands of young women, of whom the Chibok school girls are only the most well-known. Now, many of these girls are being rescued by the Nigerian army after having been abandoned by retreating Boko Haram operatives. Read more »