John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "governance"

South African Democracy and the International Criminal Court

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma smiles as he is welcomed by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (R) upon his arrival at Khartoum airport January 31, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

For this outsider, the parliamentary and judicial response to the Zuma administration’s failure to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and turn him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) provides a window in to the state of South African democracy. To me, it is clear that the Zuma government broke both South African and international law by not only failing to hold al-Bashir, though specifically ordered to do so by the South African judiciary, but also facilitated his clandestine departure. South African law is relevant because the South African government at the time incorporated the ICC treaty into its own legal system. Read more »

President Buhari to Visit the United States

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama gestures next to French President Francois Hollande (2L) and other G7 summit participants and outreach delegates at a family picture event at the G7 summit at the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 8, 2015. (Reuters/Christian Hartmann) U.S. President Barack Obama gestures next to French President Francois Hollande (2L) and other G7 summit participants and outreach delegates at a family picture event at the G7 summit at the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 8, 2015. (Reuters/Christian Hartmann)

The White House announced on June 25 that President Obama will host Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Washington, D.C. on July 20. The White House statement notes that both presidents will be accompanied by “senior advisors,” an indication that the visit will be more substantive than ceremonial. Read more »

Nigeria’s Cupboard is Bare

by John Campbell
Villagers stand near jerrycans containing crude oil collected at the shore of the Atlantic ocean near Orobiri village, days after Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga off-shore oil spill, in Nigeria's delta state December 31, 2011. Amnesty International called into question Royal Dutch Shell's accounting in Nigeria for oil spill amounts and causes, saying the oil major was seeking to avoid compensation payments and damage to its reputation. Picture taken December 31, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Villagers stand near jerrycans containing crude oil collected at the shore of the Atlantic ocean near Orobiri village, days after Royal Dutch Shell's Bonga off-shore oil spill, in Nigeria's delta state December 31, 2011. Amnesty International called into question Royal Dutch Shell's accounting in Nigeria for oil spill amounts and causes, saying the oil major was seeking to avoid compensation payments and damage to its reputation. Picture taken December 31, 2011. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

According to the media, President Muhammadu Buhari said on June 23 that Nigeria’s treasury is “virtually empty.” In order to document this he has promised to release a report on the size of Nigeria’s revenue and debt in about four weeks. He also says that he will recover billions of dollars that have been stolen under previous administrations, and that the United States and other countries will assist Nigeria in the recovery of the stolen money. Read more »

South Africa’s EFF and Charleston

by John Campbell
Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), leaves parliament with supporters in Cape Town, August 21, 2014. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), leaves parliament with supporters in Cape Town, August 21, 2014. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a populist , far-left “revolutionary” political party led by Julius Malema is now the third largest in South Africa’s National Assembly under the system of proportional representation, though it received only about 6.35 percent of the votes in the 2014 elections. It has issued a statement on the Emanuel Church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. It will have credibility, especially to those unfamiliar the United States. Read more »

Bans on Wildlife Trade Gaining Steam

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic). An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic).

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

At the end of May the Chinese government announced that following a one year ban on ivory imports, it will “strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted.” If the Chinese are able to follow through, this could be one of the most important actions taken to end the illicit trade of Ivory that is contributing to the decimation of elephant populations in Africa (China is the largest market for elephant ivory). Read more »

The Mind of the African Strongman

by John Campbell
South African Nobel Peace laureates Nelson Mandela (L) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2nd L) arrive for the 70th birthday celebrations of fellow laureate former President FW de Klerk (2nd R) in Cape Town, March 17, 2006. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) South African Nobel Peace laureates Nelson Mandela (L) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2nd L) arrive for the 70th birthday celebrations of fellow laureate former President FW de Klerk (2nd R) in Cape Town, March 17, 2006. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Herman J. Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for Africa, former ambassador, and former special assistant for African affairs to President Reagan, has written a fascinating and clear-eyed book on his “conversations with dictators, statesmen, and father figures.” His interlocutors, including more than sixteen African heads of state, range from Leopold Senghor to Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk. Read more »

Boko Haram Factions Divided over Loyalty to the Islamic State

by John Campbell
A cross sign inscribed at the entrance of a room is seen chiselled in a compound once occupied by Boko Haram in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A cross sign inscribed at the entrance of a room is seen chiselled in a compound once occupied by Boko Haram in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the The Jamestown Foundation. Read more »

Amnesty International Calls for International Criminal Court Prosecution of Nigerian Military

by John Campbell
A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters) A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters)

In a long expected report, Amnesty International has claimed that the Nigerian security services have detained 20,000 men and boys since 2009 and that 7,000 of those detainees died in detention under inhumane circumstances. Amnesty also reports that 17,000 people were killed in northeast Nigeria in the same time frame, meaning that 41 percent of deaths occurred under Nigerian custody. Read more »

New Possibilities for the U.S.-Nigeria Security Relationship

by John Campbell
A signboard rests against a wall in a compound in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A signboard rests against a wall in a compound in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Following the international response over Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of hundreds of school girls from the town of Chibok, the Obama administration and other partners offered assistance to Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan. However, cooperation never really got off the ground. The nadir was reached in December 2014 when Nigeria unilaterally cancelled a small U.S. military training mission. 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 »