John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 30-September 4

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from August 30 to September 4, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

A Caliphate in Northeastern Nigeria?

by John Campbell
Mike Omeri (R), Coordinator of the National Information Centre, speaks next to Chris Olukolade (L), Nigeria's Director of Defence Information, during a news conference on issues relating to security, multiple bombings and military operations in Nigeria, at the National Briefing Centre in Abuja, July 2, 2014. Mike Omeri (R), Coordinator of the National Information Centre, speaks next to Chris Olukolade (L), Nigeria's Director of Defence Information, during a news conference on issues relating to security, multiple bombings and military operations in Nigeria, at the National Briefing Centre in Abuja, July 2, 2014.

Boko Haram chieftain Abubakar Shekau has announced in a video released on August 24 that the Borno town of Gwoza is now part of a caliphate and will be ruled according to strict Islamic law. The Nigerian Ministry of Defense denies that Boko Haram controls the town and insists that Nigeria’s territorial integrity is intact. According to credible Nigerian media sources, the United Nations Humanitarian Office (OCHA) has confirmed that Gwoza is under rebel control. Read more »

Is the IMF Going to Save Ghana’s Troubled Economy?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama attend the Ghana Compact Signing Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, August 5, 2014. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama attend the Ghana Compact Signing Ceremony at the State Department in Washington, August 5, 2014. (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Long hailed as evidence of Africa’s growing political and economic stability, Ghana is suffering a reversal of fortune. One week ago as President John Mahama arrived in Washington for the U.S.-Africa Summit, his government finally admitted it needed urgent help to fix its faltering economy and contacted the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance. Read more »

Boko Haram: A Different Perspective

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Burnt-out cars are seen at the scene of a blast in Abuja, June 25, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Burnt-out cars are seen at the scene of a blast in Abuja, June 25, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers. Read more »

Nigeria’s Chibok School Girls as Suicide Bombers?

by John Campbell
Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, former minister of education and a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaigner, addresses supporters at the Unity Fountain, on the hundredth day of the abductions of more than two hundred school girls by Boko Haram, in Abuja, July 23, 2014 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters). Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, former minister of education and a "Bring Back Our Girls" campaigner, addresses supporters at the Unity Fountain, on the hundredth day of the abductions of more than two hundred school girls by Boko Haram, in Abuja, July 23, 2014 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters).

It has been nearly four months since Boko Haram kidnapped up to three hundred school girls from a school in Chibok, Borno state. Thus far, there has been little public evidence that the government has located them or is about to rescue them. Nor do the offers of assistance from friendly governments such as the United States appear to have had much impact. Frustration is growing, articulated by former education minister Obiageli Ezekwesili, an animator of the #BringBackOurGirls protests in Abuja. Read more »

South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters Making a Splash

by John Campbell
Members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party demonstrate outside Parliament in Cape Town, June 20, 2014 (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters). Members of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party demonstrate outside Parliament in Cape Town, June 20, 2014 (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters).

Julius Malema’s political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), won about 6 percent of the vote in the South Africa’s March national elections. This makes it South Africa’s third largest party, though it remains significantly behind the governing African National Congress (ANC), which won 62 percent of the vote, and the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, which won 22 percent. Read more »

South Africa’s Mamphela Ramphele Leaves Politics

by John Campbell
Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele launches her new political party "Agang" to challenge South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria, June 22, 2013. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele launches her new political party "Agang" to challenge South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria, June 22, 2013. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Mamphela Ramphele, the founder of the political party AgangSA (Agang is the northern Sotho word for ‘build’) in 2013, announced on July 8 that she is leaving politics. Read more »

Immunity for African Leaders?

by John Campbell
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013. (Tiksa Negeri/Courtesy Reuters) Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013. (Tiksa Negeri/Courtesy Reuters)

African elites generally do not like the International Criminal Court (ICC) that sits in the Hague. There is a widespread view that the ICC engages in selective prosecution and holds African leaders to a higher standard than others.

Africans ask why the ICC prosecutes Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, but not former vice president Dick Cheney or former prime minister Tony Blair for Iraq-related issues, for example. There have been calls for immunity for African heads of state that are wanted for international crimes. The ICC cases against President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have particularly focused the debate, and Kenya may withdraw from the Treaty of Rome, which established the ICC. Read more »

Nigeria: Kidnapping and Escape of Women and Girls

by John Campbell
Campaigners attend a speak-out session for the "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign in the rain near Nigeria's Lagos Marina, July 5, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Campaigners attend a speak-out session for the "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign in the rain near Nigeria's Lagos Marina, July 5, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Western attention continues to focus on the kidnapping of up to three hundred school girls from the Chibok Secondary School in April. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility. There has been an international outcry and offers of assistance from Western countries. The United States offered surveillance aircraft and unmanned drones. Nevertheless, the girls have not been located, much less rescued. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 15-20

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from June 15 to June 20, 2014. These incidents are also available here, and are included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »