John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Congo"

Ebola in the Congo

by John Campbell
Medical workers in protective clothings work in the Ebola isolation zone at a makeshift health clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders at the village of Kampungu, near Kananga in western Kasai province in south-central Democratic Republic of Congo, some 700 km (435 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa, September 18, 2007. Medical workers in protective clothings work in the Ebola isolation zone at a makeshift health clinic run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders at the village of Kampungu, near Kananga in western Kasai province in south-central Democratic Republic of Congo, some 700 km (435 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa, September 18, 2007.

The health minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Felix Kabange Numbi, has announced an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the remote Equateur province. Two cases have been confirmed by the ministry. The authorities have moved quickly to isolate the village where the disease was found. Read more »

Rebels Surrender in Eastern Congo

by John Campbell
Congolese soldiers guard suspected M23 rebel fighters who surrendered in Chanzo village in the Rutshuru territory near the eastern town of Goma, November 5, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Congolese soldiers guard suspected M23 rebel fighters who surrendered in Chanzo village in the Rutshuru territory near the eastern town of Goma, November 5, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

For as long as a generation, parts of the eastern Congo have been hell on earth. The depredations of war lords, militias, and even the Congolese army itself, in a context of the breakdown of government and gangster-like intervention from abroad have made the region nearly unlivable. Eastern Congo has become notorious for the wholesale looting of its vast natural resources and the widespread use of rape for political ends. Under such circumstances, the announcement that a particularly vicious rebel group, M23, would end its rebellion and begin surrendering its weapons can only offer hope in what has long been a hopeless situation. Read more »

Lord’s Resistance Army and Elephant Poaching

by John Campbell
Lords Resistance Army (LRA) fighters arrive at an assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul, 160km (100 miles) south of Juba, Sudan, September 19, 2006. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters) Lords Resistance Army (LRA) fighters arrive at an assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul, 160km (100 miles) south of Juba, Sudan, September 19, 2006. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported to the UN Security Council Group of Experts, who monitor the Libyan arms embargo, that Joseph Koney and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are funding themselves through elephant poaching, as are other armed rebel groups. He commented that Libyan heavy weapons, formerly in Muammar Ghaddafi’s Libyan arsenal, and now scattered prolifically across sub-Saharan conflict areas, are making the poachers more efficient. His report added weight to the growing security concerns associated with elephant poaching, especially across Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Read more »

Katanga’s Quest for Autonomy from Kinshasa

by John Campbell
Congolese children in Mitwaba camp for internally displaced people watch as a U.N. helicopter lifts off after delivering emergency food aid in Katanga Province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo February 9, 2006. (Stephanie Savariaud/Courtesy Reuters) Congolese children in Mitwaba camp for internally displaced people watch as a U.N. helicopter lifts off after delivering emergency food aid in Katanga Province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo February 9, 2006. (Stephanie Savariaud/Courtesy Reuters)

Africa has had many secessionist movements in the post-colonial period. Only South Sudan and the Republic of Somaliland have so far been successful, and the latter lacks international recognition. Some secessionist movements never really go away. Katanga, currently the southernmost province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), established itself as a state separate from the rest of the former Belgian Congo in the years immediately after independence, allegedly with Belgian connivance. Read more »

The Evolution from Heroes to Big Men

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (R) speaks to Finance Minister Tendai Biti before President Robert Mugabe opened the country's Parliament in Harare, October 30, 2012. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (R) speaks to Finance Minister Tendai Biti before President Robert Mugabe opened the country's Parliament in Harare, October 30, 2012. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

Friends of Africa often anoint “for the moment” selected leaders from that continent as heroes. Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo, Congo’s Mobutu Sese-Seko, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame have all enjoyed that status at one time or another. Often the “hero” immediately follows a tyrant–or chaos. Obasanjo followed a generation of military rulers, and his immediate predecessor was the “tyrant” Sani Abacha who resorted to judicial murder; Mobutu emerged from Congo’s domestic chaos and civil war and promised inoculation against the Communists; Mugabe followed the racist regime of Ian Smith and promised racial reconciliation; and Paul Kagame “ended” the genocide in Rwanda. Read more »

A Way Forward for the Democratic Republic of Congo?

by John Campbell
A newly deployed police officer gestures as he walks in a line in Goma port December 2, 2012. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters) A newly deployed police officer gestures as he walks in a line in Goma port December 2, 2012. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

Search for Common Ground, a distinguished Washington-based NGO devoted to international conflict resolution and peace building that has long focused on the Great Lakes Region, organized a special two-day meeting of the Great Lakes Policy Forum (GLPF) earlier this week–the 165th meeting of the Forum. The Council on Foreign Relations and the Nitze School of International Studies at Johns Hopkins hosted and participated, along with many other Congo-watchers from the executive and legislative branches, NGOs, and academia. Search for Common Ground arranged for the presence of experts from the Congo, and there were representatives of the Congolese diaspora in the United States. Read more »

What Will it Take for the United States and Others to Address the Crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

by John Campbell
Congolese children gather in front of a United Nations peacekeeping tank during the global rally "One Billion Rising" which is part of a V-Day event calling for an end to gender-based violence, in Bukavu February 14, 2013. (Jana Asenbrennerova/Courtesy Reuters) Congolese children gather in front of a United Nations peacekeeping tank during the global rally "One Billion Rising" which is part of a V-Day event calling for an end to gender-based violence, in Bukavu February 14, 2013. (Jana Asenbrennerova/Courtesy Reuters)

There is a useful new feature on cfr.org, the Council on Foreign Relations’ website. Ask a CFR Expert invites members of the public to submit questions on U.S. foreign policy, and CFR fellows respond to questions that pertain to their own areas of expertise and research. Read more »

President Obama and Sub-Saharan Africa: What’s Missing

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A man with a flag stuck to his forehead waits to catch a glimpse of U.S. President Barack Obama in Accra 11/07/2009. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters) A man with a flag stuck to his forehead waits to catch a glimpse of U.S. President Barack Obama in Accra 11/07/2009. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters)

Richard Joseph is the John Evans Professor of International History and Politics at Northwestern University and a Senior Fellow with the Program on Global Economy and  Development of The Brookings Institution.  He has been deeply engaged with American policy toward Africa for a generation.  In his guest post below, Dr. Joseph analyzes the Obama administration’s June 2012 policy paper on Africa and he provides specific policy recommendations for the President’s second term. Read more »

The Geopolitical Quagmire of the Eastern Congo

by John Campbell
UN peacekeepers hold a position outside the eastern Congolese city of Goma 23/07/2012. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters) UN peacekeepers hold a position outside the eastern Congolese city of Goma 23/07/2012. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

The situation in the eastern Congo is no less obscure than before the regional leaders met for negotiations over the weekend. M23 stated they would leave the city of Goma, captured on November 20, by November 27. They are still there. Now they claim they will hold a handover ceremony and pull back to Rutshuru, their original stronghold, on Friday, November 30; but only so long as M23 troops remain at the Goma airport. And possibly, that their political wing remain in Goma itself. Read more »

Goma Falls to Rebels in the Eastern Congo

by John Campbell
Congolese Revolution Army rebels drive in trucks as they patrol a street in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, soon after the rebels captured the city from the government army 20/11/2012. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters) Congolese Revolution Army rebels drive in trucks as they patrol a street in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, soon after the rebels captured the city from the government army 20/11/2012. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

Since I blogged yesterday about the fighting around the city of Goma between the army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) supported by UN forces and the M23 rebels, the situation has deteriorated.

Yesterday, the rebels had pulled back to await a response from Kinshasa to its demands that Goma be de-militarized and that a border post with Uganda be reopened. Kinshasa did not accept the M23 ultimatum, and the rebels have now occupied the city and its international and military airports for the first time since 2003. In the general melee, DRC soldiers shelled a neighboring Rwanda district, killing two, according to Rwanda sources. That same Rwanda source says, however, that Kinshasa has apologized. If so, Kinshasa and Kigali may be trying to avoid any cross border escalation, a positive development. Read more »