John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Why Tensions Have Cooled between Ethiopia and Eritrea

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2013. (Reuters/Mike Segar) Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2013. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

Nathan Birhanu is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

The June 2016 border clash between Ethiopia and Eritrea reflected renewed tensions between the two countries that have been mutually hostile since their 1998 – 2000 war. Shortly after the clash, tensions escalated as Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgn claimed further retaliation will be administered if “destabilizing efforts” continued, while Eritrea accused the Ethiopian administration of human rights abuses. Read more »

Corruption, Nigeria, and the United States

by John Campbell
DATE IMPORTED:May 12, 2016World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, from left, Sarah Chayes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari take part in a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (Reuters/Frank Augstein/Pool) DATE IMPORTED:May 12, 2016World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, from left, Sarah Chayes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari take part in a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (Reuters/Frank Augstein/Pool)

Nigeria’s notorious corruption was a centerpiece of the 2014-2015 presidential campaign of Muhammadu Buhari, and fighting it has been a centerpiece of his administration. Abuja is an important Washington partner, and a successful Nigerian campaign against corruption is in the American interest. However, Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow Matthew Page argues that the United States is not doing nearly enough in a hard-hitting, thought-provoking brief on corruption, “Improving U.S. Anticorruption Policy in Nigeria.” Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: July 9 – July 15

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from July 9, 2016 to July 15, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Nelson Mandela Day

by John Campbell
Nelson Mandela raises his fist to the crowd in Port Elizabeth, April 1, 1990. (Reuters/Juda Ngwenya) Nelson Mandela raises his fist to the crowd in Port Elizabeth, April 1, 1990. (Reuters/Juda Ngwenya)

Africa in Transition usually runs an update of the Nigeria Security Tracker on Mondays. However, July 18 is Nelson Mandela Day, so the Tracker update will appear on Tuesday, July 19.

Nelson Mandela was born July 18, 1918. He died in 2013; were he living, he would be 98 years of age. Read more »

South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Six Years Imprisonment

by John Campbell
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves the court after his sentence hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, July 6, 2016. (Reuters/Marco Longari/Pool) Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves the court after his sentence hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, July 6, 2016. (Reuters/Marco Longari/Pool)

The tragedy-as-soap-opera starring Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is over. Or, maybe not. Pistorius, a Paralympian gold medalist who also competed in non-disabled events, was a major media celebrity and hero in sports mad South Africa. In 2013, he killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, by shooting her through a closed bathroom door. He maintains that he thought she was an intruder. Read more »

Zimbabwe and an “Arab Spring”

by John Campbell
DATE IMPORTED:July 13, 2016Zimbabwean protesters wait outside the Harare Magistrates court before the arrival of arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) DATE IMPORTED:July 13, 2016Zimbabwean protesters wait outside the Harare Magistrates court before the arrival of arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Zimbabwe is rapidly deteriorating, if not imploding. In the midst of a drought, estimates are that up to half of the rural population will face hunger or famine in the coming year. The economy is contracting, and the government is running out of hard currency, British sterling, the U.S. dollar, and the South African Rand, which it uses since it abandoned its own currency. The government is failing to pay its civil servants and some of its security forces and has imposed a ban on imports from South Africa. Unemployment figures are so high – up to 85 percent –as to be meaningless. The government’s diamond revenue is running out or diverted. President Robert Mugabe – at times referred to as “Uncle Bob” – is 92 years of age, and it shows. His political behavior is increasingly quixotic. He has abandoned a traditional pillar of his regime, the “war veterans,” who played a crucial role as Mugabe’s thugs and drove the white farmers out. He has even threatened the “veterans” with mayhem if they dabble in succession politics. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: July 2 – July 8

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from July 2, 2016 to July 8, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Update on South Africa’s Nkandla Scandal

by John Campbell
A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla, January 11, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) stands on the roof of a house they built for an elderly woman, near the homestead of South African President Jacob Zuma (in the background), in Nkandla, January 11, 2014. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

As directed by the South African courts, the Treasury has determined that President Jacob Zuma owes the state ZAR 7.8 million (US$ 531,024) for work done on his private home, Nkandla. The South African government has spent over ZAR 246 million (US$ 16,747,680) ostensibly on “security upgrades.” Those include underground bunkers, a heliport, and elaborate communications facilities. But, they also include amenities not related to security such as a swimming pool, a chicken run, and a visitors’ center. It is these types of facilities for which the Treasury is seeking repayment. Read more »

Guinea-Bissau: The Road Ahead

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A delegate from Guinea-Bissau attends the opening plenary December 7, 2009 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the venue of the COP15 Climate Summit, which started today and runs till December 18. (Reuters/Keld Navntoft) A delegate from Guinea-Bissau attends the opening plenary December 7, 2009 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the venue of the COP15 Climate Summit, which started today and runs till December 18. (Reuters/Keld Navntoft)

This is a guest post by Russell Hanks. Mr. Hanks is a national security professional and a retired diplomat with the U.S. Department of State.

Guinea-Bissau has a new government, or not, only a few months after the previous attempt to paper over its seriously polarized politics. Elections in 2014 were indecisive and installed officials with the same differences that led to the 2012 coup. The current dispensation is no more likely to bring political stability to the nation than the last. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: June 25–July 1

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from June 25, 2016 to July 1, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »