John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Elections"

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 »

Women and the Boko Haram Insurgency

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun) A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

In June 2014, Nigeria experienced its first attack by a female suicide bomber. Since then, Boko Haram has increasingly used girls and women as operatives in suicide attacks on soft targets. According to the Nigeria Security Tracker, Female suicide bombers have been responsible for over 200 deaths since May 2015, nearly half of all casualties from Boko Haram-attributed suicide bombings during this period. 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 »

Burundi: What Went Wrong?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

Over the weekend, 170 opposition fighters were captured and thirty-one killed by Burundian armed forces in the Chibitoke region (near the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). This is the latest in a series of violent incidents following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term in office in violation of Burundi’s constitution. Last week Nkurunziza’s party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), announced victory in the parliamentary elections, despite an opposition boycott and the UN proclamation that the vote was not free, fair, or credible. Once a post-conflict success story, Burundi now threatens to relapse into violence, raising questions about what went wrong in the peacebuilding process. Read more »

No “First Lady” for Nigeria

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) 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)

For many Nigerian political figures, “too much of a good thing is perfectly wonderful.” Extravagant display, whether it be of honorifics, dress, cars, official residences, or entourages  is very common. The former first lady, “Dame” Patience Jonathan was a highly visible and controversial figure. Nobody was allowed to forget that she was “First Lady of Nigeria.” Read more »

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari’s Inauguration Address

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. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters) 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. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

In Nigeria’s current circumstances, it is hard to imagine a better inaugural address than the one President Buhari delivered on May 29. It strikes all the right notes. He accepted his new role as an international leader and thanked former president Goodluck Jonathan for his “statesmanship” in the transition, everyone involved in the electoral process, and Cameroon, Chad, and Niger for their part in the fight against Boko Haram. The speech was plain and devoid of national or personal self-congratulation and baroque rhetorical flourishes. It was also very short—only 1,909 words—but packed with substance. Read more »

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 »

Sudan’s Recent Elections and Daunting Future

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C) casts his ballot during elections in the capital Khartoum April 13, 2015. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters) Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (C) casts his ballot during elections in the capital Khartoum April 13, 2015. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Aala Abdelgadir, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relation’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative.

Last month, Sudan held national elections, and Omar al-Bashir secured another presidential term. Though expected, many commentators are focused on the illegitimacy of al-Bashir’s victory. The election’s results are indeed disappointing, but the real challenge facing Sudan is its uncertain future. The country is struggling with an economic crisis, ethnic conflict, and political gridlock. These must be the focus of politicians and analysts alike if Sudan is ever to regain stability. Read more »

It Is Time for President Obama to Visit Nigeria

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama is seen in a mirror behind members of the Nigerian delegation as he meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (not seen) in New York September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama is seen in a mirror behind members of the Nigerian delegation as he meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (not seen) in New York September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Up to now, President Barack Obama has never visited Nigeria. That has been appropriate given the country’s history of rigged elections and the government’s refusal to investigate credible reports of human rights abuses by the security services in the struggle with Boko Haram. The Obama administration did engage with the Jonathan administration, with meetings between the two presidents in Washington and New York, and visits by Secretary of State John Kerry to Abuja. Read more »