John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Democracy"

Podcast: Africa and The New Administration

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama walks off stage as he finishes his news conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. State Department in Washington, August 6, 2014. (Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Africa in Transition announces a new podcast series. For our inaugural effort the CFR Africa program’s own John Campbell and Allen Grane discuss the United States’ policy priorities in Africa and what the new Trump administration means for America’s relationship with its African partners. There is also a discussion of the focus of the CFR Africa program. Read more »

Muhammadu Buhari’s Questionable Health

by John Campbell
A man rides his tricycle with placards as he takes part in a rally to show support for Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, Febuary 6, 2017. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

On January 19, President Muhammadu Buhari departed Nigeria for London for ten days of vacation and medical tests. Since then, he has extended his stay twice, most recently on February 5. His spokesman did not say when he will return to Nigeria. Before he left, as required by law, President Buhari informed the National Assembly of his departure and that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would exercise presidential power during his absence. Read more »

Identity Politics in South Africa

by John Campbell
Students await the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town (UCT), April 9, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The African National Congress (ANC), which has governed South Africa since the 1994 transition to “non-racial democracy,” traditionally eschewed identity politics. Though its electoral support was overwhelmingly Black, the party recruited its leadership from all races, which included many Whites and Asians. Nelson Mandela’s emphasis on racial reconciliation was very much in the spirit of the ANC. He particularly emphasized that there was place for Whites in post-apartheid South Africa. Famously, he attended a rugby championship match, the subject of the film Invictus. (Rugby is a White, mostly Afrikaner sport). Read more »

Affordable Housing Crisis in Johannesburg

by John Campbell
General view of Alexandra township, commonly known as Alex, a slum overlooking the Sandton skyscrapers in Johannesburg, March 26, 2002. (Reuters/Juda Ngwenya)

In general, the economies of the United States and South Africa are based on the “Washington Consensus” of free markets to encourage economic growth. Both countries are characterized by growing inequality, with South Africa’s GINI coefficient (a measure of inequality) the worst of any large country in the world. Similarly, in some ways, social problems in South Africa resemble those in the United States. However, because South Africa is smaller and poorer than the United States, the issues are clearer. Johannesburg’s affordable housing crisis recalls similar phenomenon in high-cost American cities like New York, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C. But in Johannesburg the housing crisis is starker and more visible. Read more »

The looming showdown in the Gambia

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh receives a delegation of West African leaders including President John Mahama of Ghana and Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari for a meeting on election crisis in Banjul, Gambia, December 13, 2016. (Reuters/Stringer)

This is a guest post by Mohamed Jallow, an Africa watcher, following politics and economic currents across the continent. He works at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

The Gambia is in a political crisis. The country’s longtime strongman, President Yahya Jammeh lost his bid for re-election to a fifth term earlier this month. After initially conceding defeat, he is refusing to step down. Citing irregularities on the part of the Electoral Commission, Jammeh has rejected the results, and is calling for fresh elections. Read more »

Ethnicity, Control, and Coups d’État

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Burkinabe President Michel Kafando speaks at a news conference after soldiers took control of the Naaba Koom military camp in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 30, 2015. (Reuters/Arnaud Brunet TPX images of the day)

This is a guest post by Tyler Lycan. Tyler is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, he recently obtained his Masters in International Security Studies from the University of St. Andrews, and is a former U.S. Marine. Read more »

Sub-Saharan Africa and a Trump Administration

by John Campbell
A man hands a newspaper to a customer at a news stand in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

Media indicates that sub-Saharan African opinion is as astonished as everybody else at Donald Trump’s presidential victory. As appears to be true in much of the rest of the world, African opinion makers do not welcome itThe New York Times cites a Nigerian political science professor as saying that most Nigerians believe that a Trump administration will focus little on international issues. It also quotes Kenyan columnist Mafdharia Gaitho as saying, “If Trump wins, God forbid, then we will have to reassess our relations with the United States.” These views accord with what I am hearing. Read more »

Exit of South Africa’s Finance Minister? Not So Fast

by John Campbell
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan reacts during a media briefing in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 14, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo)

Pravin Gordhan faces charges of fraud and has been summoned to the Pretoria Regional Court on November 2. The charges appear to be spurious. They concern Gordhan’s approval of the early retirement of a government employee and his subsequent re-employment under contract. The claim is that the amount of money involved is just over ZAR 1.1 million (approximately $76,000). Early retirement followed by re-engagement on contract is commonplace in many governments, including that of South Africa. Read more »

Nigeria Moves Against Corrupt Judges

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)

According to the Nigerian media, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) arrested seven judges over the weekend for corruption and is planning to move against an additional eight. Among the seven are three supreme court justices. The arrested judges are to be arraigned in court yesterday and then released on bail. Read more »

Nigeria’s War Against Indiscipline

by John Campbell
Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari rides on the motorcade while inspecting the guard of honour at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

In 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari said “The long-cherished and time honored, time-tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, punctuality, good neighborliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism, have given way in the main to dishonesty, indolence, unbridled corruption and widespread impunity.” He said much the same thing when he was military chief of state from 1983 to 1985. Read more »