John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Uhuru Kenyatta"

Africa’s Leadership

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace cut a birthday cake at celebrations at Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo, February 27, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace cut a birthday cake at celebrations at Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo, February 27, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

It is no secret that bad leadership at the top has long been a brake on the economic, political, and social development of certain African countries. Many years the Mo Ibrahim Prize for leadership by an African president who leaves office at the end of his term goes unrewarded. There have been numerous, egregious examples of bad presidential leadership over the past few weeks. Read more »

AU Vote to Leave the International Criminal Court of Little Consequence

by John Campbell
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri) Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

Led by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the African Union (AU) voted by a huge margin in favor of a proposal for withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the aftermath of the vote, President Jacob Zuma reiterated his threat that South Africa would withdraw from the ICC’s jurisdiction: “Our strongly held view is that it is now impossible, under the circumstances, for South Africa to continue its participation…” The AU chairman, Chadian President Idriss Deby, repeated the regular criticism that the ICC is biased against Africa: “Elsewhere in the world, many things happen, many flagrant violations of human rights, but nobody cares.” Read more »

Pope Offers ‘Home Truths’ About African Elites

by John Campbell
Pope Francis prays at the Anglican martyrs' shrine in Namugongo near the Ugandan capital of Kampala, November 28, 2015. (Reuters/James Akena) Pope Francis prays at the Anglican martyrs' shrine in Namugongo near the Ugandan capital of Kampala, November 28, 2015. (Reuters/James Akena)

In November during a Nairobi, Kenya slum visit, Pope Francis used plain language to express home truths about African elites. According to UK media the Pope ascribed the “injustices” suffered by the slum residents to “wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy, and rundown peripheries.” Read more »

The Danger of Al-Shabaab’s Evolution

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, Assistant Director, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

In the past five years, the Somali jihadist group al-Shabaab has lost most of its senior leadership, surrendered its control of southern Somalia, and seen its cash flow shrink. The group has certainly seen better times. But as the success of recent attacks in Kenya and Mogadishu indicate, the group is regaining some of its previous stature but as a fundamentally different group. Al-Shabaab is now more decentralized and has a larger geographic focus. Given regional dynamics, an inept Kenyan security response, refugee flows from Yemen, and a diminished United States presence, this new embodiment of al-Shabaab is becoming increasingly difficult to counter. Read more »

Kenya’s Troubling New Anti-Terrorism Legislation

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Police stop a protester from demonstrating for freedom of speech outside Kenya's parliament, December 18, 2014. (Courtesy REUTERS/Noor Khamis) Police stop a protester from demonstrating for freedom of speech outside Kenya's parliament, December 18, 2014. (Courtesy REUTERS/Noor Khamis)

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

In mid-December, the Kenyan parliament passed counterterrorism legislation that has since been hotly contested by politicians, civil society leaders, journalists, and ordinary citizens alike for its alleged infringement on basic civil liberties. Read more »

Delaying President Kenyatta’s Justice

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta smiles as he appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague October 8, 2014. (Peter Dejong/Pool/Courtesy Reuters) Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta smiles as he appears before the International Criminal Court in The Hague October 8, 2014. (Peter Dejong/Pool/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Last week, two “firsts” occurred in Africa: 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 »

Kenya: Violence Coopted by Political Rivalries

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A resident holds a placard as he participates in a protest against the recent attack by unidentified gunmen in the coastal Kenyan town of Mpeketoni, June 17, 2014. (Joseph Okanga/Courtesy Reuters) A resident holds a placard as he participates in a protest against the recent attack by unidentified gunmen in the coastal Kenyan town of Mpeketoni, June 17, 2014. (Joseph Okanga/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Amanda Roth, volunteer intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa program. She is a graduate student at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where she studies international security policy. Read more »

Dust Up Between Pretoria and Kigali

by John Campbell
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame (2nd L) pays his respects to former South African president Nelson Mandela on the last day of Mandela's lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, December 13, 2013. (Alexander Joe/Courtesy Reuteres) Rwanda's President Paul Kagame (2nd L) pays his respects to former South African president Nelson Mandela on the last day of Mandela's lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, December 13, 2013. (Alexander Joe/Courtesy Reuteres)

South Africa on Monday expelled three Rwandan officials from its embassy in Pretoria. They are charged with complicity in an assassination attempt against a Rwandan dissident living in South Africa. In response, Kigali expelled six South African diplomats. Read more »

In Africa, It’s About Governance

by John Campbell
Combination picture shows Kenya's then-finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenya's former Higher Education Minister William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in these April 8, 2011 (L) and September 1, 2011 file photos. (Pool New/Courtesy Reuters) Combination picture shows Kenya's then-finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenya's former Higher Education Minister William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in these April 8, 2011 (L) and September 1, 2011 file photos. (Pool New/Courtesy Reuters)

Many friends and observers of Africa, including myself, see shortcomings in governance as key to the slow rate of economic, social, and political development in some African countries. The converse is also true. Where governance is better, development can be rapid. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has published its annual ranking of African states. The top five in descending order are Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana, Seychelles, South Africa, and Namibia while the bottom five, going from bad to worse, are Zimbabwe, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, and Somalia. For a second consecutive year, the Foundation has announced that there is no winner of the Ibrahim Prize for outstanding leadership by a chief of state. Established in 2006, the prize’s independent and highly distinguished judges have awarded the prize only three times, to the former chiefs of state of Botswana, Cape Verde, and Mozambique. They have also recognized the work of Nelson Mandela, out of office long before the prize was established, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, both of South Africa. Subsequently, I will be blogging on the Ibrahim Index and the Ibrahim Prize. Here I cite them to support the point about the relationship between good governance and social and economic progress, and to point out that poor governance remains a significant challenge for Africa. Read more »