John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "ECOWAS"

UN Secretary General in Nigeria

by John Campbell
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon receives a wreath before laying it in memory of persons who died in the 2011 bombing of the Abuja United Nations by Boko Haram members, ahead of the incident's 4th anniversary, in Abuja, Nigeria August 24, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon receives a wreath before laying it in memory of persons who died in the 2011 bombing of the Abuja United Nations by Boko Haram members, ahead of the incident's 4th anniversary, in Abuja, Nigeria August 24, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Abuja August 23 to 24, his first to Nigeria since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The secretary general commemorated the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the UN building in Abuja that killed some twenty UN employees and others. He also marked the 500 day anniversary of the Boko Haram kidnapping of more than 200 Chibok schools girls. As expected, the secretary general praised Nigeria for the conduct of the 2015 elections and the democratic transfer of power. According to the media, in his conversation with President Buhari, the secretary general affirmed his support for Nigeria’s struggle against terrorism stressed the need for education, especially for women and girls, and then emphasized the humanitarian challenges in northern Nigeria. Read more »

Ebola: What Happened

by John Campbell
The Ebola virus treatment center where four people are currently being treated is seen in Paynesville, Liberia, July 16, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/James Giahyue) The Ebola virus treatment center where four people are currently being treated is seen in Paynesville, Liberia, July 16, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/James Giahyue)

With a rapidly growing and urbanizing population, persistent poverty, and weak governance, Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to be the source of new epidemics that potentially could spread around the world. Understanding the disastrous response of African governments, international institutions, and donor governments to the Ebola epidemic is essential if history is not to be repeated yet again. That makes Laurie Garrett’s essay, “Ebola’s Lessons,” in the September/October 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs, essential reading. Read more »

Nigeria Winds Down Peacekeeping

by John Campbell
Nigerian soldiers sit in military trucks before leaving for Mali, at the airport in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna January 17, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Nigerian soldiers sit in military trucks before leaving for Mali, at the airport in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna January 17, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Alassane Ouattara, president of the Ivory Coast and chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), announced that he received a letter from Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan saying that Nigeria will withdraw part of its peacekeeping contingent in Mali. Read more »

State of Emergency in Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
A woman sits amongst the ruins of the burnt Bama Market, which was destroyed by gunmen in last Thursday's attack, in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria April 29, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A woman sits amongst the ruins of the burnt Bama Market, which was destroyed by gunmen in last Thursday's attack, in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria April 29, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Having cut short a trip to South Africa and annulled a planned state visit to Namibia, President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a “state of emergency” in the three northern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa. In announcing this step, Jonathan acknowledged that there is an “insurrection” in northeast Nigeria, and that the government has lost control of certain geographic areas to “Boko Haram,” a defuse Islamist movement. 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 »

Mali Intervention Becoming a Partisan Issue in France?

by John Campbell
France's outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) welcomes his successor newly-elected President Francois Hollande upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace for a handover ceremony in Paris May 15, 2012. (Patrick Kovarik/Courtesy Reuters) France's outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) welcomes his successor newly-elected President Francois Hollande upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace for a handover ceremony in Paris May 15, 2012. (Patrick Kovarik/Courtesy Reuters)

French former president Nicolas Sarkozy criticized the French intervention in Mali in a March 6 magazine interview. He is quoted as saying, “the rule is never to go into a country that has no government,” and, “What are we doing there if we’re not just supporting putschists and trying to control a territory four times larger than France with four thousand men?” Read more »

What’s Happening With the ECOWAS Force in Mali?

by John Campbell
Bamako, Mali
Nigerian soldiers prepare to cook at the Mali air force base near Bamako as troops await their deployment January 19, 2013. (Eric Gaillard/Courtesy REUTERS). Bamako, Mali Nigerian soldiers prepare to cook at the Mali air force base near Bamako as troops await their deployment January 19, 2013. (Eric Gaillard/Courtesy REUTERS).

It’s hard to get the details on the logistical arrangements, or numbers, of the ECOWAS force in Mali. The majority of Nigeria’s promised 1,200 troops are reportedly deployed to a military base in Niger, or still stationed in Bamako. However, the Nigerian media organization Premium Times reports that the Nigerian troops actually in Mali are suffering from inadequate provisions, especially food. Citing a “defense source,” Premium Times  reports that Nigerian soldiers are resorting to, in effect, shaking down their Malian hosts under the guise of making “courtesy calls.” Apparently, they ask for–and receive–food, in one case a cow and fifty bags of rice from a prefect. The story is roundly denied by a Nigerian defense spokesman who is quoted, “we have provided the contingent with enough food and funds to last them for the initial three months. Is Nigeria not bigger than that?” Read more »

Ghana: An African Poster-Boy?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama (L) takes the oath during his inauguration ceremony at the Independence Square in Accra January 7, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama (L) takes the oath during his inauguration ceremony at the Independence Square in Accra January 7, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Fr. Giles Conacher, a Benedictine monk based in Ghana. 

Ghana is often portrayed as Africa’s answer to sliced bread, a political and economic role model for all of Africa–does it deserve so much credit?

Politically it shows creditable maturity. In elections in 2004, 2008, and 2012 it successfully and peacefully changed president. The margin between losers and the victors, in the 2008 presidential runoff, was 48.1 percent to 51.9 percent, and yet there was a change of government, party, and president; no riots. I was proud of “our Ghana,” I tell you! Read more »

Boko Haram and Nigerian Military Abuses in the North

by John Campbell
Members of a local Islamic group sit after their arrest in Kano, Nigeria 28/07/2009. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Members of a local Islamic group sit after their arrest in Kano, Nigeria 28/07/2009. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Mali and Algeria have largely driven Nigeria out of the headlines over the past several days, except with respect to Nigerian troop commitments to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervention force. Serious and informed speculation about the relationship between Boko Haram, militants in Mali, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has also been largely absent. Read more »

Nigeria Accelerates Involvement in Mali

by John Campbell
Malian soldiers listen to Mali's President Dioncounda Traore speak at Malian air base in Bamako 16/01/2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Malian soldiers listen to Mali's President Dioncounda Traore speak at Malian air base in Bamako 16/01/2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

What a difference a fortnight can make.

On January 7, 2013, the eve of the Islamist feint south, the Jonathan government announced that it was reducing its troop pledge for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Mali intervention force that was to be deployed in September 2013. Nigeria would contribute 450 troops, not 600. It also signaled that it would be unable to bear the lion’s share of the costs, as it had in previous ECOWAS interventions in African states to restore or maintain security. But, in the aftermath of the French intervention, the Jonathan government reversed its course to significantly increase that contribution. On January 17, the Nigerian Senate approved deployment of 1,200 troops. Some Nigerian troops have been on the ground in Mali for a few days already, according to the Abuja government. Read more »