John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Politics"

Nigeria’s Democracy Challenge

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Members of the Nigerians United for Democracy Movement hold signs during a rally against any further election postponement in Abuja, February 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Members of the Nigerians United for Democracy Movement hold signs during a rally against any further election postponement in Abuja, February 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Russell Hanks, now retired from the State Department, who is a long-time observer of the Nigerian political scene. The views expressed are entirely his own.

Nigeria’s election, originally scheduled for last month, is set to take place this weekend. This is the first open election in the nation since 1980, one in which the outcome is not a foregone conclusion. Read more »

“Don’t Steal Nigeria’s Election”

by John Campbell
An Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) worker checks the validity of a voter's card during a mock accreditation exercise in Lafia on March 7, ahead of the election. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) An Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) worker checks the validity of a voter's card during a mock accreditation exercise in Lafia on March 7, ahead of the election. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

In an era of instant analysis too often driven by the superficialities of the twenty-four hour news cycle, Jean Herskovits has published a thoughtful, detailed op-ed on Nigeria only a few days away from national elections. Her perspective is that of an academic who is devoted to the development of African democracy and good governance and has been writing about Nigeria for forty-five years. Her op-ed is a must-read. Read more »

Nigeria Retakes Territory from Boko Haram

by John Campbell
A convoy of soldiers from Niger and Chad drive down a looted street in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. (Emmanuel Braun/Courtesy Reuters) A convoy of soldiers from Niger and Chad drive down a looted street in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. (Emmanuel Braun/Courtesy Reuters)

Since postponing the national elections from February 14 to March 28, the Abuja government has apparently recovered most of the territory in northeast Nigeria that had been lost to Boko Haram. Of the major towns once captured, only Gwoza appears to remain under Boko Haram’s control. Read more »

President Zuma Unlikely to Exit Early

by John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma greets supporters of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party during their final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma greets supporters of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party during their final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

When Jacob Zuma succeeded Thabo Mbeki as African National Congress (ANC) party leader and eventually became the South African chief of state, his flaws were already well known: personal financial issues, a rape trial (he was acquitted), and corruption scandals. The ANC was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Read more »

South Africa’s President Zuma Stonewalls

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma arrives to give his State of the Nation address at the opening session of parliament in Cape Town, February 12, 2015. (Nic Bothma/Courtesy Reuters) South African President Jacob Zuma arrives to give his State of the Nation address at the opening session of parliament in Cape Town, February 12, 2015. (Nic Bothma/Courtesy Reuters)

For many South Africans, the expenditure of roughly 246 million Rand (about $24.6 million) on President Jacob Zuma’s private residential compound, Nkandla, has become symbolic of the corruption at the upper reaches of the African National Congress (ANC). Parliamentary members of the ANC’s opposition have increasingly complained about the misuse of public money to fund Zuma’s ostentatious home. Read more »

Nigerian First Lady on the Campaign Trail

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Patience arrive for a dinner with the French President and other dignitaries as part of the Summit for Peace and Security in Africa at the Elysee Palace in Paris, December 6, 2013. (Benoit Tessier/Courtesy Reuters) Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Patience arrive for a dinner with the French President and other dignitaries as part of the Summit for Peace and Security in Africa at the Elysee Palace in Paris, December 6, 2013. (Benoit Tessier/Courtesy Reuters)

First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan has a big personality and is a powerful political figure. She holds multiple Nigerian university degrees. She has been the permanent secretary in the Bayelsa state government, usually the most senior civil service position. She was appointed by the governor who is a political ally of her husband, President Goodluck Jonathan. She has consistently advocated on behalf of more women in national life. She also acquired brief notoriety in the United States when she initially described the Chibok kidnapping as a fraud designed to embarrass her husband. 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 »

Buhari on Being Nigeria Military Chief of State

by John Campbell
Nigeria's former military ruler and opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the U.S. consulate house in Lagos January 25, 2015. (Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Nigeria's former military ruler and opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the U.S. consulate house in Lagos January 25, 2015. (Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Muhammadu Buhari, the leading opposition candidate in Nigeria’s upcoming presidential election, delivered an address at the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) in London on February 26. The speech appears intended for an international audience. In it, Buhari revisits his campaign themes: the importance of democracy and of credible elections, the struggle against corruption, and military reform in the face of Boko Haram. Read more »

South Africa’s Billion Dollar Rhino Question

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Rhinos with cut horns walk at a farm of Dawie Groenewald, who is accused of rhino poaching, in Musina, Limpopo province, May 9, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Rhinos with cut horns walk at a farm of Dawie Groenewald, who is accused of rhino poaching, in Musina, Limpopo province, May 9, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

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

On February 10, the South African government announced the formation of a committee to determine the viability of legalizing the trade of rhino horn. Read more »

Nelson Mandela Freed Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

by John Campbell
A local holds a lit candle in front of a mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of Mandela's first death anniversary, in Soweto, December 4, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A local holds a lit candle in front of a mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of Mandela's first death anniversary, in Soweto, December 4, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

In 1964, Nelson Mandela was convicted of sabotage in conjunction with the armed struggle against apartheid in the Rivonia Trial. He was sentenced to life in prison. His statement at his sentencing was an anthem for a democratic South Africa free of racism. Because Americans may be less familiar with it than South Africans, it is worth quoting part of it here: Read more »