John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Kenya"

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 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 »

Al-Shabaab’s Ivory Trade, Continued

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger walks past a pile of 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers before it was burnt to mark World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger walks past a pile of 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers before it was burnt to mark World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

This is a guest-post by Andrea Crosta, co-Founder and Executive Director of Elephant Action League (EAL).

The Elephant Action League (EAL) is appreciative of this opportunity to justify our findings on al-Shabaab’s involvement in the ivory trade and our decision to not share certain details gleaned from confidential sources due to security and confidentiality reasons. Read more »

Al-Shabaab and Foreign Fighters in Kenya

by John Campbell
Omar Hammami addresses al-Shabaab fighters in a farm within Afgoye district near Somalia's capital Mogadishu, May 11, 2011. (Reuters/Feisal Omar) Omar Hammami addresses al-Shabaab fighters in a farm within Afgoye district near Somalia's capital Mogadishu, May 11, 2011. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

The Kenyan military has announced that it killed a British subject, by appearance ethnically English, during an al-Shabaab attack on a military base in Lamu county. The Kenyan police have issued a $100,000 reward for the capture of a German national who appears to be ethnically German who also took part in the al-Shabaab attack. Read more »

Kenya’s Al-Shabaab Problem

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A man participates in a protest against the gunmen attack at the Garissa University, at the Eastleigh neighborhood in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 8, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A man participates in a protest against the gunmen attack at the Garissa University, at the Eastleigh neighborhood in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 8, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/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.

On October 16, 2011, the Kenyan army, in an ostensibly joint operation with the Somalian and Ethiopian militaries, crossed the border into Somalia and attacked the insurgent group al-Shabaab. In response to the October 16 offensive, al-Shabaab launched an attack in Kenya on October 24, 2011. The attack killed one person. Read more »

The Danger of Al-Shabaab’s Evolution

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

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

In the past five years, the Somali jihadist group al-Shabaab has lost most of its senior leadership, surrendered its control of southern Somalia, and seen its cash flow shrink. The group has certainly seen better times. But as the success of recent attacks in Kenya and Mogadishu indicate, the group is regaining some of its previous stature but as a fundamentally different group. Al-Shabaab is now more decentralized and has a larger geographic focus. Given regional dynamics, an inept Kenyan security response, refugee flows from Yemen, and a diminished United States presence, this new embodiment of al-Shabaab is becoming increasingly difficult to counter. Read more »

Boko Haram Still An Imminent Threat

by John Campbell
Police officers assist in getting a vehicle away from a burning car at the scene of a bomb explosion in Gombe, February 2, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Police officers assist in getting a vehicle away from a burning car at the scene of a bomb explosion in Gombe, February 2, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

In the wake of Nigeria’s presidential elections, horror over the massacre at Garissa in Kenya, and a general western focus on a possible Iran nuclear deal, it is easy to leave Boko Haram to one side. Some may see the election of Muhammadu Buhari as somehow “solving” Boko Haram. This misplaced inattention is reinforced by the clearance of Boko Haram militants from towns in northeast Nigeria by the Chadian, Nigerien, and Nigerian militaries fighting alongside South African and other mercenaries. Read more »

Innovative Anti-poaching in Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger stands guard as 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers is burnt to mark World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park, March 3, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger stands guard as 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers is burnt to mark World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park, March 3, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Lately, conservationists and lovers of Africa’s diverse wildlife have been hard pressed for good news. From South Africa’s difficulty tackling rhino poaching to Zimbabwe’s sale of baby elephants to foreign countries, it often seems that African governments are either ill equipped to protect their animal populations or simply don’t care—or worse. However, it is important to remember that there are park rangers who are working tirelessly to protect and save Africa’s biodiversity. Read more »

U.S. Efforts to Power Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Electricity pylons carry power from Cape Town's Koeberg nuclear power plant July 17, 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Mike Hutchings). Electricity pylons carry power from Cape Town's Koeberg nuclear power plant July 17, 2009 (Courtesy Reuters/Mike Hutchings).

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

While on his Africa tour in June 2013, President Obama announced a new U.S. effort to expand energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa, where two thirds of the population are without electricity. The Power Africa initiative identifies and facilitates energy transactions between private enterprises and governments in African countries to generate 30,000 megawatts of new energy and reach 60 million households and businesses by 2020. Read more »

Kenya’s Troubling New Anti-Terrorism Legislation

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Police stop a protester from demonstrating for freedom of speech outside Kenya's parliament, December 18, 2014. (Courtesy REUTERS/Noor Khamis) Police stop a protester from demonstrating for freedom of speech outside Kenya's parliament, December 18, 2014. (Courtesy REUTERS/Noor Khamis)

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

In mid-December, the Kenyan parliament passed counterterrorism legislation that has since been hotly contested by politicians, civil society leaders, journalists, and ordinary citizens alike for its alleged infringement on basic civil liberties. Read more »