John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Press Freedom"

American “Quality” Press and Nigeria

by John Campbell
Crowd gather at the scene of a bomb blast at a bus terminal in Nyayan, Abuja April 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Crowd gather at the scene of a bomb blast at a bus terminal in Nyayan, Abuja April 14, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

On April 15, arguably the most influential of the American print press carried the story of the horrific April 14 bombings in Abuja. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post among others all had stories or photographs on their front pages. Read more »

“Africa Rising” and Freedom of the Press

by John Campbell
Major General Fred Mugisha, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Force Commander, shows the media examples of components of improvised explosive devices that have been found on the streets of Mogadishu, which were subsequently defused, removed and deactivated by AMISOM in Mogadishu in a photograph released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team November 29, 2011. (AU-UN/Stuart Price/Courtesy Reuters) Major General Fred Mugisha, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Force Commander, shows the media examples of components of improvised explosive devices that have been found on the streets of Mogadishu, which were subsequently defused, removed and deactivated by AMISOM in Mogadishu in a photograph released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team November 29, 2011. (AU-UN/Stuart Price/Courtesy Reuters)

The “Africa Rising” narrative that reflects GDP growth of many African economies is strongly supported by sub-Saharan governments, African popular opinion, and by business interests, at home and abroad. Mohamed Keita from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) writes a salutary reminder that the authorities in too many cases try to suppress home media challenges to this positive and optimistic narrative. Read more »

The Push to Lift U.S. Communication Technology Sanctions on Sudan

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Locals and South Sudanese refugees play video games in a market near a camp 10 km (6 miles) from al-Salam locality at the border of Sudan's White Nile state, after arriving from Malakal and al-Rank war zones within South Sudan, January 27, 2014. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters) Locals and South Sudanese refugees play video games in a market near a camp 10 km (6 miles) from al-Salam locality at the border of Sudan's White Nile state, after arriving from Malakal and al-Rank war zones within South Sudan, January 27, 2014. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters)

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

After a year of collaboration with U.S. civil society groups and U.S. Department of State officials, members of Sudan’s civil society launched a campaign on January 20, 2014, to advocate that the U.S. government lift its technology sanctions on Sudan. Read more »

President Omar al-Bashir’s Crumbling Foundation

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Gas station fuel pumps are toppled during protests over fuel subsidy cuts in Khartoum September 25, 2013. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters) Gas station fuel pumps are toppled during protests over fuel subsidy cuts in Khartoum September 25, 2013. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters)

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

On September 22, Sudan’s government announced the lifting of fuel subsidies as part of an IMF-backed strategy to restabilize the economy. Protests broke out the next day in Wad Madani and spread to several other cities, including the capitol Khartoum. President Omar al-Bahsir defended this latest austerity measure as a necessary step to prevent the total collapse of Sudan’s economy, which has been teetering since South Sudan seceded in 2011 and took with it three quarters of oil profits, which accounted for 48 percent of Sudan’s government revenue. Read more »

Communications Further Cut in Northeastern Nigeria

by John Campbell
A woman tries to get reception on her mobile phone in Maiduguri, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of the city in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A woman tries to get reception on her mobile phone in Maiduguri, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of the city in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

When President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states in response to a radical Islamist insurgency, the Nigerian government banned the use of cell phones. Earlier, the Islamists had destroyed many or most of the cell phone towers. A result has been little telephone communication between the northeast and the rest of the world. This is in addition to existing restrictions on the operations of the press in the affected region. A consequence is that the outside world knows little about what is actually going on in northeast Nigeria independent of government sources. Read more »

Ghana: An African Poster-Boy?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama (L) takes the oath during his inauguration ceremony at the Independence Square in Accra January 7, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama (L) takes the oath during his inauguration ceremony at the Independence Square in Accra January 7, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Fr. Giles Conacher, a Benedictine monk based in Ghana. 

Ghana is often portrayed as Africa’s answer to sliced bread, a political and economic role model for all of Africa–does it deserve so much credit?

Politically it shows creditable maturity. In elections in 2004, 2008, and 2012 it successfully and peacefully changed president. The margin between losers and the victors, in the 2008 presidential runoff, was 48.1 percent to 51.9 percent, and yet there was a change of government, party, and president; no riots. I was proud of “our Ghana,” I tell you! Read more »

Avoiding Political Violence in Sierra Leone

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Sierra Leone's opposition party All People?s Congress supporters mingle outside their party headquarters in Freetown 26/07/2007. (Katrina Manson/Courtesy Reuters) Sierra Leone's opposition party All People?s Congress supporters mingle outside their party headquarters in Freetown 26/07/2007. (Katrina Manson/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest blog post by Mohamed Jallow, Program Development Specialist at IntraHealth International. He was previously a program associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sierra Leoneans go to the polls a little over a week after the United States this year. Unlike the United States, Sierra Leone is still experimenting with the idea of democracy and all its complexities. There remains an ever present fear of elections degenerating into chaos and violence. Read more »

South Africa: Zuma Painting Opens Freedom of Expression Debate

by John Campbell
A visitor photographs a painting of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma at an exhibition in Johannesburg May 18, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) A visitor photographs a painting of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma at an exhibition in Johannesburg May 18, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

The New York Times reports that an exhibition at a Johannesburg art gallery is pushing contemporary hot buttons. On exhibit is a large painting of a figure resembling President Zuma with his genitals exposed. The governing African National Congress (ANC) is suing to have the painting removed. The gallery and its supporters from civil society are claiming the right to free speech, which the constitution guarantees. Read more »

Nigeria: Civil Servants Unpaid, Journalists Threatened, Boko Haram and MEND Bombing

by John Campbell
Farm produce are seen with burnt patches after a blast at Gomboru local market on Monday, in Nigeria's northern city Maiduguri February 7, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Farm produce are seen with burnt patches after a blast at Gomboru local market on Monday, in Nigeria's northern city Maiduguri February 7, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past week there have been curious Nigerian developments. The government has been unable to pay its civil servants and is now a month in arrears. The explanation has been that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation failed to deposit the government’s oil revenue in the account from which civil servants are paid. Then, this week, the government closed down the press office at Lagos’s Murtala Muhammed Airport. This facility has operated under military and civilian governments and is a generation old. In addition, journalists were reportedly threatened in the Middle Belt. Read more »

Press Freedom in South Africa

by John Campbell
A demonstrator protests against the passing of the Protection of Information Bill outside Parliament in Cape Town, November 22, 2011. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) A demonstrator protests against the passing of the Protection of Information Bill outside Parliament in Cape Town, November 22, 2011. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

Relations between South Africa’s governing coalition led by the African National Congress (ANC) and the mostly white-owned press have been edgy from the beginning of post-apartheid South Africa. They worsened under President Thabo Mbeki and current president Jacob Zuma. Read more »