John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "protest"

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 »

Burundi: What Went Wrong?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

Over the weekend, 170 opposition fighters were captured and thirty-one killed by Burundian armed forces in the Chibitoke region (near the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). This is the latest in a series of violent incidents following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term in office in violation of Burundi’s constitution. Last week Nkurunziza’s party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), announced victory in the parliamentary elections, despite an opposition boycott and the UN proclamation that the vote was not free, fair, or credible. Once a post-conflict success story, Burundi now threatens to relapse into violence, raising questions about what went wrong in the peacebuilding process. Read more »

African Leaders Silent on Boat People

by John Campbell
Shadows from migrants are cast on a makeshift shelter with the written word "Refugee" in Calais, France, April 30, 2015. (Pascal Rossignol/Courtesy Reuters) Shadows from migrants are cast on a makeshift shelter with the written word "Refugee" in Calais, France, April 30, 2015. (Pascal Rossignol/Courtesy Reuters)

Adam Nossiter has published a thought-provoking article in the April 29, 2015, New York Times. He comments on the silence of African leaders regarding the deaths of scores of African boat people who were trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life. While it is true that many of the Mediterranean boat people are from Syria, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world, the majority are African. Read more »

South Africa’s Xenophobic Violence

by John Campbell
A Zimbabwean man takes refuge at the Milnerton police station after fleeing a fresh outbreak of anti-foreigner violence in Cape Town, May 22, 2008. (Courtesy Reuters/Mark Wessels) A Zimbabwean man takes refuge at the Milnerton police station after fleeing a fresh outbreak of anti-foreigner violence in Cape Town, May 22, 2008. (Courtesy Reuters/Mark Wessels)

The current wave of violence and intimidation against African immigrants in South Africa started in Durban and has spread to Johannesburg and other parts of the country. Intimidation and fear mongering appears to be widespread, generating panic among African foreigners. There have been previous waves of xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa that also were violent. Read more »

Paying Nigeria’s Civil Servants

by John Campbell
Youths and workers carrying signs protest at a rally marking May Day outside an open field in Lagos, May 1, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Youths and workers carrying signs protest at a rally marking May Day outside an open field in Lagos, May 1, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

A large proportion of the government of Nigeria’s revenue goes to pay the salaries of civil servants at the national, state, and local levels. With the exception of Lagos state, the heart of Nigeria’s modern economy, the states and the local government authorities have few sources of revenue of their own. They are largely dependent on revenue from the Federation Account, the share of oil revenue distributed by the federal government according to a set formula. Read more »

What’s Next for Burkina Faso?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 31, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 31, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Molly Rapaport, a Research Associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. She recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship in Burkina Faso, where she studied polygamy.

Ça chauffe moins pour le moment au Burkina. Things have cooled off in Burkina Faso, where massive protests three weeks ago led to the October 31 resignation of Blaise Compaoré. Blaise, as he is known colloquially, was president for twenty-seven years and intended to remain in power. When his proposed constitutional revision, which would have allowed him to run again in 2015, went to the National Assembly for a vote, hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe citizens protested. Their message, reinforced by burning the parliament building and tearing down a statue of Blaise, was crystal clear. Protest signs combined the president’s name with that of a terrible virus (making “Ebolaise”), and Burkinabe entreated their fellow citizens to “disinfect” themselves. 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 »

Nigeria: What Time Is It?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
People crowd on a road near Balogun market to shop, a day before Christmas in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, December 24, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) People crowd on a road near Balogun market to shop, a day before Christmas in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, December 24, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/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.

Luxury watch sales are rising in Africa. Ulysse Nardin opened a shop in Abuja, as Nigeria is seen as “the force today” in that market. Yet time may be moving faster than horological devices can measure. Read more »

Boko Haram Kidnapping Protests Go Viral

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington May 6, 2014. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters) Protesters march in support of the girls kidnapped by members of Boko Haram in front of the Nigerian Embassy in Washington May 6, 2014. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is currently an officer in the Army National Guard. His interests are in Africa, conflict, and conflict resolution.

Recently we have seen a great amount of social awareness and dissent among Nigerian’s regarding how the government has handled the conflict with Boko Haram. The impetus for this reaction has been the kidnapping of over 300 schoolgirls from four towns in Borno State: Izge, Lassa, Ashigashiya and Warabe. Within Nigeria there have now been protests in KadunaAbuja, and as far south as Lagos. Through the use of social media these protests have now spread across the world to include Washington and New York City. Read more »

South Africa’s May National Elections a Watershed? Not Yet

by John Campbell
Supporters of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party cheer at the launch of the EFF's election manifesto in Tembisa township, east of Johannesburg, February 22, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters) Supporters of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party cheer at the launch of the EFF's election manifesto in Tembisa township, east of Johannesburg, February 22, 2014. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) is in decline, but it will most likely win the upcoming elections on May 7. Many voters are angry over its corruption, symbolized by public money spent on President Jacob Zuma’s private, African-styled Versailles named Nkandla, and last year’s unresolved police brutality, labor disputes, and other issues at the Marikana platinum mine. Read more »