John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "France"

Boko Haram Kidnapping Protests Go Viral

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington May 6, 2014. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters) Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington May 6, 2014. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is currently an officer in the Army National Guard. His interests are in Africa, conflict, and conflict resolution.

Recently we have seen a great amount of social awareness and dissent among Nigerian’s regarding how the government has handled the conflict with Boko Haram. The impetus for this reaction has been the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from four towns in Borno State: Izge, Lassa, Ashigashiya and Warabe. Within Nigeria there have now been protests in KadunaAbuja, and as far south as Lagos. Through the use of social media these protests have now spread across the world to include Washington and New York City. Read more »

United Nations: Harsh Realities and Hard Lessons

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A barefoot girl jumps over an open drain filled with rubbish at Tomping camp in Juba, South Sudan, January 10, 2014. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters) A barefoot girl jumps over an open drain filled with rubbish at Tomping camp in Juba, South Sudan, January 10, 2014. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, program coordinator, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

International peacekeeping missions in Sudan and South Sudan received a lot of bad press last week from a number of different sources. Together these reports challenge a basic tenant of United States (U.S.) policy toward Africa–that peacekeeping missions, in their current form, work. Read more »

The Central African Republic: Where Elections Could Do More Harm Than Good

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
(L-R) Archbishop of Bangui Dieudonne Nzapalainga; Bangas Nicolas, a minister in the evangelical church; and imam Oumar Kobine Layama, representative of the Muslim community in Bangui attend during a meeting between religious representatives, Bangui residents and African and French peacekeeping forces, in Bangui, February 10, 2014. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters) (L-R) Archbishop of Bangui Dieudonne Nzapalainga; Bangas Nicolas, a minister in the evangelical church; and imam Oumar Kobine Layama, representative of the Muslim community in Bangui attend during a meeting between religious representatives, Bangui residents and African and French peacekeeping forces, in Bangui, February 10, 2014. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Emily Mellgard, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Elections are often seen as progress toward democracy in Africa. Elections confer legitimacy on governments, especially abroad. However, in some conflicts, conducting elections credible enough to confer legitimacy is an unrealistic goal. Instead there are “election-like-events.” These may even exacerbate internal cleavages within a society. Rushing into elections in the Central African Republic will not resolve the breakdown of order there and could make it worse. Read more »

A Hopeful Choice for the Central African Republic’s Interim President

by John Campbell
Catherine Samba-Panza shakes hands with a supporter after she was elected as Central African Republic's interim president at the national assembly in Bangui, January 20, 2014. (Siegfried Modola/Courtesy Reuters) Catherine Samba-Panza shakes hands with a supporter after she was elected as Central African Republic's interim president at the national assembly in Bangui, January 20, 2014. (Siegfried Modola/Courtesy Reuters)

The Central African Republic’s National Transitional Council (NTC) elected Catherine Samba-Panza as interim president on January 20. She has been serving as interim mayor of the Central African Republic (CAR) capital, Bangui. (Those multiple “interims” are a sign that formal government has almost entirely broken down.) Read more »

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb Claims it Murdered Two French Journalists in Retaliation for a French “Crusade”

by John Campbell
A poster with the portraits of reporter Ghislaine Dupont (R), 51, and radio technician Claude Verlon, 58, two French journalists killed in Mali last week is seen at the entrance of Radio France Internationale building in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris November 5, 2013. (Jacky Naegelen/Courtesy Reuters) A poster with the portraits of reporter Ghislaine Dupont (R), 51, and radio technician Claude Verlon, 58, two French journalists killed in Mali last week is seen at the entrance of Radio France Internationale building in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris November 5, 2013. (Jacky Naegelen/Courtesy Reuters)

Two French journalists working for Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, were kidnapped in Kidal in northern Mali on November 3. Shortly thereafter, and only seven miles from where they were abducted, they were murdered.

In a blog I posted on November 4, I expressed surprise that the two were not held for ransom. Ransom is an important income stream for jihadist groups operating in the Sahel. According to the French media, the four French hostages held for three years in Niger were released in October upon the payment of U.S.$27 million, though the French government says that it did not pay a ransom. Read more »

Why Were Two French Journalists Killed in Mali?

by John Campbell
Members of MINUSMA and MNLA inspect the vehicle believed to have been ferrying two French journalists just after they were abducted in Kidal, November 2, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Members of MINUSMA and MNLA inspect the vehicle believed to have been ferrying two French journalists just after they were abducted in Kidal, November 2, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

It is not so surprising that Radio France Internationale journalist and sound engineer Claude Verion and colleague Ghislaine Dupont were kidnapped on November 2 in the northern Mali town of Kidal. The kidnapping of foreigners in the Sahel is, if not frequent, then also not uncommon. The question is, however, why were they murdered and not held for ransom? Read more »

Mali and Tuaregs: Déjà Vu All Over Again?

by John Campbell
A marching band parade during the inauguration celebration of Mali's new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at the 26th of March Stadium in Bamako September 19, 2013. (Michel Euler/Courtesy Reuters) A marching band parade during the inauguration celebration of Mali's new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at the 26th of March Stadium in Bamako September 19, 2013. (Michel Euler/Courtesy Reuters)

The Tuareg rebels and the Malian government reached a peace agreement in June that allowed Mali’s August elections to go forward. They–generally regarded as free and fair–resulted in the election of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who has now been inaugurated. At the end of September, however, three separatist Tuareg groups announced that they are suspending their participation in the peace process with the government. They accuse the Bamako government of failing to live up to promises made in June. They provide no specifics, and neither the Keita government nor the UN peacekeeping mission has commented on the suspension. Read more »

Mali’s Elections: Still More Questions Than Answers

by John Campbell
A woman casts her vote during Mali's presidential election in Timbuktu, Mali, July 28, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) A woman casts her vote during Mali's presidential election in Timbuktu, Mali, July 28, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Information about Mali’s polling on Sunday, July 28 is coming from western sources–notably Radio France Internationale (RFI), Deutsche Welle (DW), and Voice of America (VOA). As is usual the day after African elections, the three are upbeat in tone. Already there are congratulations and self-congratulations. According to RFI, French President Hollande, who is heavily invested politically in the elections being a success, welcomed the polling “marked by good turnout and an absence of any major incident.” French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, “congratulations are in order that the Mali elections went off well. For France, it is a great success,” also according to RFI. The Mali interim president, Dioncounda Traoré said, “I think that this is the best election that Malians can remember since 1960,” again according to RFI. 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 »

Mali’s Elections and the Issues of Kidal

by John Campbell
Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA sit in a pickup truck in the northeastern town of Kidal February 4, 2013. (Cheick Diouara/Courtesy Reuters) Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA sit in a pickup truck in the northeastern town of Kidal February 4, 2013. (Cheick Diouara/Courtesy Reuters)

France and the United States are leading the push for elections to proceed on schedule in Mali in late July. The urgency reflects the view that elections are crucial to ending the rift in Bamako and to restoring the legitimacy of the Malian government, which was tarnished by a military coup and a subsequent feckless interim government. But, for elections to have meaning, they must take place throughout Mali. Read more »