John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Democracy"

What to Do About Sudan’s al-Bashir and the UN General Assembly?

by John Campbell
Outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (R) of Argentina leaves after the swearing-in ceremony to install Fatou Bensouda of Gambia as his successor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands June 15, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Bas Czerwinski/Pool) Outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (R) of Argentina leaves after the swearing-in ceremony to install Fatou Bensouda of Gambia as his successor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands June 15, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Bas Czerwinski/Pool)

In early August, the Sudanese UN envoy stated that Sudan President al-Bashir plans to travel to New York to speak at the upcoming UN General Assembly (UNGA). Al-Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court. Countries that are signatory to the Rome Statute are required to apprehend those indicted and to hand them over to the International Criminal Court (ICC). That almost happened earlier in the summer when al-Bashir attended an African Union summit in South Africa. A South African superior court ordered the Zuma administration to arrest him. In that case, al-Bashir, perhaps with the connivance of the Zuma administration, left before the court’s order could be carried out. (The Zuma administration’s failure to arrest al-Bashir is still before the South African courts.) Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 15-August 21

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 August 15, 2015 to August 21, 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 »

South Africa’s Paralympian and Gender Based Violence

by John Campbell
South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius (C) is escorted to a police van after his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 21, 2014. Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, ending a trial that has gripped South Africa and the world. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) South African Olympic and Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius (C) is escorted to a police van after his sentencing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria October 21, 2014. Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, ending a trial that has gripped South Africa and the world. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

It is conventional wisdom that South Africa has a very high rate of domestic abuse. (Exact rates are unknown due to irregularities in South Africa’s statistics, combined with the fact that gender based violence is vastly underreported worldwide.) Oscar Pistorius is a celebrated South African athlete who competed in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, using prostheses (his legs were amputated as a child). In 2014, he killed his live-in girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, a South African model. At the trial, he said he believed she was an intruder. He was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter before a black, female judge, Thokozile Masipa. (The race and gender of the judge caused little comment.) She found that the prosecution failed to prove intent, necessary for a murder charge. The trial was the occasion for much South African soul-searching, not least about domestic abuse and gender-based violence. Read more »

Putin’s Russia and Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Eugene Steinberg, an assistant editor at the Council on Foreign Relations.

From 1961 to 1992, one of Moscow’s most prestigious schools bore the name of Patrice Lumumba, the Soviet-supported Congolese independence leader brutally executed in 1961. Patrice Lumumba University recruited and educated generations of foreign leaders, especially African leaders, and was just one of the many ways in which the Soviet Union cultivated ties with Africa. Then with the fall of the Soviet Union, after years of pouring money, arms, and manpower into left-leaning anticolonial movements, Russia’s presence in Africa, and Lumumba University, nearly disappeared overnight. But today, two decades later, Russia is once again working to establish a foothold on the continent. Read more »

Cleaning up the Mess at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation

by John Campbell
Joseph Thlama Dawha (R), group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), listens to Bernard Otti, deputy group managing director and executive director for finance and accounts, at a news conference on the forensic audit of the company which was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, in Abuja February 11, 2015. NNPC said on February 5 that the audit has cleared it of the allegation that it failed to remit $20 billion owed to the state. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the audit in early 2014 after former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said an estimated $20 billion in oil revenues had been withheld from the Federation Account. The news conference was held by NNPC to reiterate its position on the matter. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Joseph Thlama Dawha (R), group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), listens to Bernard Otti, deputy group managing director and executive director for finance and accounts, at a news conference on the forensic audit of the company which was conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, in Abuja February 11, 2015. NNPC said on February 5 that the audit has cleared it of the allegation that it failed to remit $20 billion owed to the state. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the audit in early 2014 after former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi said an estimated $20 billion in oil revenues had been withheld from the Federation Account. The news conference was held by NNPC to reiterate its position on the matter. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The Natural Resource Governance Institute, a New York-based think tank and advocacy organization, has issued a must-read report, Inside NNPC Oil Sales: A Case for Reform in Nigeria. The authors are Aaron Sayne, Alexandra Gilles, and Christina Katsouris. The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) sells about half of Nigeria’s oil, worth an estimated $41 billion in 2013. Read more »

South Africa’s Independent Judiciary

by John Campbell
Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Party (EFF), waves to supporters during his party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ruling Afican National Congress (ANC) of President Jacob Zuma in power. (Courtesy Reuters/Skyler Reid) Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Party (EFF), waves to supporters during his party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ruling Afican National Congress (ANC) of President Jacob Zuma in power. (Courtesy Reuters/Skyler Reid)

Julius Malema has been convicted of anti-white hate speech, and advocates the nationalization of white property without compensation. He has attacked the governing African National Congress (ANC) establishment, ranging from former president Thabo Mbeki to current president Jacob Zuma to possible future president Cyril Ramaphosa. He is the founder of a radical, populist political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which won 6 percent of the vote in the 2014 elections, making it the third largest party in parliament. The EFF has disrupted parliamentary sittings, notably in its protests against President Zuma’s alleged corruption with respect to his private estate, Nkandla. Read more »

African Chiefs of State and the Law

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015. Obama toured a U.S.-supported food factory in Ethiopia on Tuesday on the last leg of an Africa trip, before winding up his visit at the African Union where he will become the first U.S. president to address the 54-nation body. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 28, 2015. Obama toured a U.S.-supported food factory in Ethiopia on Tuesday on the last leg of an Africa trip, before winding up his visit at the African Union where he will become the first U.S. president to address the 54-nation body. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

In his rightfully celebrated speech at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa on July 28, President Barack Obama proclaimed, “no one person is above the law, not even the president.” This is a fundamental principle of American law, based on centuries of English precedent, but it is by no means universally accepted. Read more »

President Obama Discusses South Sudan in Addis

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) holds a meeting on South Sudan and counterterrorism issues with African heads of state at his hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 27, 2015. Pictured at the table (clockwise from the top center), are: Obama, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, African Union Chairperson Dlamini Zuma, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Sudan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim Ghandour, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) U.S. President Barack Obama (C) holds a meeting on South Sudan and counterterrorism issues with African heads of state at his hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 27, 2015. Pictured at the table (clockwise from the top center), are: Obama, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, African Union Chairperson Dlamini Zuma, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Sudan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim Ghandour, Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice. (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Addis Ababa is the location of the headquarters of the African Union, which has been deeply involved in the search for an end to the civil war in South Sudan. So, too, has the Ethiopian government of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

The Obama administration was a prime sponsor of the process by which South Sudan became independent four years ago, and has contributed over one billion U.S. dollars to the country since the conflict erupted in 2013. As such, President Obama’s visit to Addis provided a good opportunity for talks at the highest level on the conflict in South Sudan. The Obama administration is blunt: the humanitarian disaster now underway is the result of unscrupulous political leaders who have exploited an ethnic conflict that they cannot control. Read more »

President Obama Visits Kenya and Ethiopia

by John Campbell
A security guard walks past a wall mural depicting U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Go-Down Art Centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 17, 2015. Kenya is preparing itself for a visit by U.S. President Obama in the coming week. Seen as a son of the East African nation owing to his father being Kenyan, many see this visit as a long overdue homecoming, while others question how long authorities can keep up the upgrades after Obama is gone. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) A security guard walks past a wall mural depicting U.S. President Barack Obama outside the Go-Down Art Centre in Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 17, 2015. Kenya is preparing itself for a visit by U.S. President Obama in the coming week. Seen as a son of the East African nation owing to his father being Kenyan, many see this visit as a long overdue homecoming, while others question how long authorities can keep up the upgrades after Obama is gone. (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

Whatever decision the White House makes in selecting the countries included on a presidential visit to Africa, it is bound to draw critical scrutiny. On July 24, President Obama departs for a trip to Kenya and Ethiopia. Two reasons for these two countries seem immediately clear. An important focus of the trip will be the African Union (AU), which has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held this year in Nairobi, Kenya. The AU is the lodestar of the “African solutions to African problems” policy, while the Entrepreneurship Summit demonstrates a focus on economic development. Both are policy goals keenly supported by the United States. However, there is also a symbolic significance to this decision. Many in Africa have questioned why President Obama, with a Kenyan father, has not yet visited Nairobi during his presidency. This absence has contributed to disappointment in Africa that the Obama presidency has not been particularly African in its focus. Read more »

Buhari Visit to Reset the Bilateral Relationship

by John Campbell
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry (L) sits beside Nigeria's former military ruler and opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari at the U.S. consulate house in Lagos January 25, 2015. Kerry was in Nigeria to urge its rival political camps to respect the outcome of a Feb. 14 presidential election. Washington is concerned that post-poll violence could undermine the stability of Africa's top oil producer and hamper efforts to tackle the Islamist militants of Boko Haram. "Given the stakes it's absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully," Kerry told reporters in the commercial capital Lagos after meeting President Goodluck Jonathan and main opposition rival Buhari. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) U.S Secretary of State John Kerry (L) sits beside Nigeria's former military ruler and opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari at the U.S. consulate house in Lagos January 25, 2015. Kerry was in Nigeria to urge its rival political camps to respect the outcome of a Feb. 14 presidential election. Washington is concerned that post-poll violence could undermine the stability of Africa's top oil producer and hamper efforts to tackle the Islamist militants of Boko Haram. "Given the stakes it's absolutely critical that these elections are conducted peacefully," Kerry told reporters in the commercial capital Lagos after meeting President Goodluck Jonathan and main opposition rival Buhari. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

At the invitation of the Obama administration, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is making an official visit to Washington, D.C. from July 20 to July 24. The visit is an opportunity to reset a bilateral relationship that had chilled under former President Goodluck Jonathan, in part because of the Nigerian security service’s human rights violations in the fight against the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram, and in part because of vocal criticism from the Jonathan administration that the United States was not doing enough to help in the struggle against Boko Haram. Now, an indication of the importance of the visit to the Obama administration is that President Buhari will be staying at Blair House, the official guest house, even though this is not a state visit, which are usually arranged long in advance and more ceremonial than substantive. Read more »