John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

by John Campbell
Children run past a mural painting of an Aids ribbon at a school in Khutsong Township, 74 km (46 miles) west of Johannesburg, August 22, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Children run past a mural painting of an Aids ribbon at a school in Khutsong Township, 74 km (46 miles) west of Johannesburg, August 22, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) published the “South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, and Behaviour Survey, 2012” on April 1, 2014. It is the definitive survey of HIV/AIDS in South Africa to date, and is part of a series, with earlier surveys published in 2002, 2005, and 2009. The Survey is funded by, among others, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Read more »

Nigeria’s Boko Haram Releases New Videos

by John Campbell
Pius Nna, the village head of Angwan Gata, walks through one of the rooms destroyed when gunmen attacked his village in Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 19, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Pius Nna, the village head of Angwan Gata, walks through one of the rooms destroyed when gunmen attacked his village in Kaura local government Kaduna State, March 19, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

On March 14, fighting broke out in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, including at the Giwa Barracks –the military’s main headquarters in Borno. “Boko Haram” claims it secured the release of two thousand detainees during the siege on the barracks. Abubakar Shekau released two new videos to claim responsibility for the attack. Read more »

Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau: Dead Again?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters) A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the Washington D.C.-based think tank, The Jamestown Foundation, and a contributor to the West Point CTC Sentinel.

On August 1, Nigerian media reported that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was either shot by the Nigerian security forces or deposed by his own men in a mutiny. Shekau has been the sole face and voice of Boko Haram’s most violent faction since its first attack on a prison in Bauchi in September 2010. The reports about Shekau are still unconfirmed—and even denied by the Joint Task Force and a rival factional leader of Shekau’s—but, if the reports are true, it would be the fourth time Shekau was wounded or almost killed. Read more »

Violence in Zimbabwe

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe looks on before casting his vote in Highfields outside Harare July 31, 2013. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe looks on before casting his vote in Highfields outside Harare July 31, 2013. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

As Zimbabweans go to the polls on July 31, there is already press commentary that, unlike in 2008, these elections will be (relatively) non-violent. The election preparations were a technical shambles. That means that the African election observers (from the Southern African Development Community and the African Union) as well as those of us looking on from the outside are unlikely to reach credible conclusions. Read more »

Bleak Outlook for Zimbabwe’s Election

by John Campbell
Supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition party Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) cheer during the final election rally of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare July 29, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Supporters of Zimbabwe's opposition party Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) cheer during the final election rally of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare July 29, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

The International Crisis Group (ICG) is a distinguished non-governmental organization (NGO) devoted to conflict prevention. On July 29 it issued an important report, Zimbabwe’s Elections: Mugabe’s Last Stand. It suggests that the aftermath of the July 31 elections in Zimbabwe is likely to be a protracted and violent political crisis. Read more »

Mali’s Elections: Still More Questions Than Answers

by John Campbell
A woman casts her vote during Mali's presidential election in Timbuktu, Mali, July 28, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) A woman casts her vote during Mali's presidential election in Timbuktu, Mali, July 28, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Information about Mali’s polling on Sunday, July 28 is coming from western sources–notably Radio France Internationale (RFI), Deutsche Welle (DW), and Voice of America (VOA). As is usual the day after African elections, the three are upbeat in tone. Already there are congratulations and self-congratulations. According to RFI, French President Hollande, who is heavily invested politically in the elections being a success, welcomed the polling “marked by good turnout and an absence of any major incident.” French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, “congratulations are in order that the Mali elections went off well. For France, it is a great success,” also according to RFI. The Mali interim president, Dioncounda Traoré said, “I think that this is the best election that Malians can remember since 1960,” again according to RFI. Read more »

Nigeria Winds Down Peacekeeping

by John Campbell
Nigerian soldiers sit in military trucks before leaving for Mali, at the airport in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna January 17, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Nigerian soldiers sit in military trucks before leaving for Mali, at the airport in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna January 17, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Alassane Ouattara, president of the Ivory Coast and chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), announced that he received a letter from Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan saying that Nigeria will withdraw part of its peacekeeping contingent in Mali. Read more »

What Next for Nigeria’s Oil Patch?

by John Campbell
Children stand in front of a stilt house used as a local fuel station near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) Children stand in front of a stilt house used as a local fuel station near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

With Mali’s implosion, Islamic extremism in the Sahel, and the “Boko Haram” insurgency in Nigeria’s north drawing international attention, the Niger Delta has dropped off the radar of many West Africa watchers. Yet, only five years ago an insurrection there resulted in a major reduction in Nigeria’s oil production and impacted on state revenue. In 2009, then-president Umaru Yar’Adua introduced an “amnesty” that has been continued by President Goodluck Jonathan and ended (or at least reined-in) that cycle of violence. The United States Institute for Peace has just published an assessment of the amnesty by Aaron Sayne. The report is based on a wide range of interviews, but he cautions that it not a rigorous assessment of the amnesty’s success because the necessary data is absent. Nevertheless, the tone of his report is positive. Read more »

Beyond Boko Haram: Nigeria’s History of Violence

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
People pray near the graves of victims of a suicide bomb attack during a memorial service at St. Theresa's Church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 23, 2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) People pray near the graves of victims of a suicide bomb attack during a memorial service at St. Theresa's Church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital Abuja, December 23, 2012. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Tiffany Lynch, a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The views expressed are her own and may or may not reflect the views of the Commission.

For almost two years, stories about violence in Nigeria have focused almost exclusively on Boko Haram’s attacks on churches and Christians; police stations and other government buildings; schools and politicians; and Muslim critics. Forgotten is Nigeria’s longer and more deadly history of religiously-related violence. Too much analysis of Boko Haram fails to take into account how Nigeria’s history of Muslim-Christian violence directly contributes to the Boko Haram phenomenon. Read more »

A Way Forward for Mali?

by John Campbell
A Malian soldier looks out on the banks of the Niger River in Gao February 26, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) A Malian soldier looks out on the banks of the Niger River in Gao February 26, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

The Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF) has done Africa watchers and policy makers an important service by publishing David J. Francis’s analysis of the Mali crisis with his suggestions as to the way forward. Titled “The Regional Impact of the Armed Conflict and French Intervention in Mali,” Francis teases out for the educated non-specialist the highly complicated Malian narrative, identifying key players, groups and events. The study is especially strong on the French domestic political dimensions of President Hollande’s military intervention, and what the likely consequences may be. Read more »