John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 23-29

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 April 23, to April 29, 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 »

Christian Association of Nigeria Warns Against Arrest of Goodluck Jonathan

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) presents a gift to president-elect Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) presents a gift to president-elect Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

According to Nigerian media, the northern branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) warned President Muhammadu Buhari that “Nigeria would boil” if former President Goodluck Jonathan, the “hero of democracy,” were arrested as part of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign. Read more »

No Legal Rhino Horn Trade for South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

The South African government has announced that it will not petition the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for a legal trade in rhinoceros horn. South Africa formed a committee to determine the viability of a legal trade in rhino horn in February 2015. After nearly a year of deliberating, the committee’s recommendation was “that the current mode of keeping the country’s stock levels be kept as opposed to the trading in rhino horns.” Read more »

Africa Returns to the Markets

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration) Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

In early April, South Africa issued its first sovereign bond in over two years. The ten-year, $1.25 billion bond was oversubscribed by a factor of two. This is the first international bond issued by a sub-Saharan African nation in 2016. It is likely to be followed by Kenyan, Nigerian, and Ghanaian issuances. Read more »

The International Criminal Court and Kenya’s Deputy President

by John Campbell
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto smiles in Nairobi (C, L) after judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday threw out post-election violence charges against him, in this April 5, 2016,handout picture. (Reuters/Charles Kimani/Presidential Press Service/Handout) Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto smiles in Nairobi (C, L) after judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday threw out post-election violence charges against him, in this April 5, 2016,handout picture. (Reuters/Charles Kimani/Presidential Press Service/Handout)

Contrary to misleading headlines, the International Criminal Court (ICC) did not acquit Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio personality Joshua Arap Sang of charges related to violence in the aftermath of the 2007 elections. (Amnesty International cites an estimate that there were 1,200 deaths and 350,000 persons displaced by the violence.) Instead of acquittal, the ICC vacated the charges and discharged the accused, but without prejudice to the prosecutor’s right to reprosecute in the future. Read more »

Major Nigerian Terrorist Arrested

by John Campbell
Nigerian special forces conduct a mock casualty evacuation during Flintlock 2015, an American-led military exercise, in Mao, February 22, 2015.  (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun) Nigerian special forces conduct a mock casualty evacuation during Flintlock 2015, an American-led military exercise, in Mao, February 22, 2015. (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

The Nigerian Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, and a spokesman for the Nigerian army announced on April 3 the capture and arrest of Khalid al-Barnawi, the leader of Ansaru (“Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Lands”), a splinter group of Boko Haram. (The confirmation by Lai Mohammed makes the capture claim credible.) Ansaru has carried out a campaign of high-profile targeted assassinations and has kidnapped foreigners, especially Europeans. Read more »

The Constitution and Rule of Law Reaffirmed in South Africa

by John Campbell
Mosiuoa Lekota (C) of the opposition party, Congress of the People (COPE) celebrates with Kevin Malunga deputy public protector after South Africa's constitutional court ordered President Jacob Zuma to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home in Johannesburg, March 31, 2016. (Reuters/Felix Dlangamandla/Pool) Mosiuoa Lekota (C) of the opposition party, Congress of the People (COPE) celebrates with Kevin Malunga deputy public protector after South Africa's constitutional court ordered President Jacob Zuma to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home in Johannesburg, March 31, 2016. (Reuters/Felix Dlangamandla/Pool)

On March 31, the eleven justices of South Africa’s highest judicial body, the Constitutional Court, ruled unanimously that President Jacob Zuma and the National Assembly had violated the Constitution. The president, the court ruled, had improperly spent public money on his private estate, Nkandla. The National Assembly had improperly defended the president by refusing to implement the ruling of the public protector, a constitutionally mandated official, when she concluded that the expenditure had been improper. Read more »

Fire Destroys Market in Nigeria’s Second Largest City

by John Campbell
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Balogun market at the business district in Lagos January 12, 2015.  (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping mall in Balogun market at the business district in Lagos January 12, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Over the weekend—near the end of the Christian observance of Holy Week—a fire broke out in Kano’s Sabon Gari market. It eventually destroyed 3,800 shops, according to the Nigeria Emergency Management Administration (NEMA), obliterated at least two trillion naira (approximately ten billion dollars) worth of goods, and affected at least 18,000 traders. The NEMA director general said, “This is the biggest market fire outbreak Nigeria has ever witnessed. This is a serious calamity.” (Despite the magnitude of the disaster it has not been reported in the mainstream Western media.) Read more »

South Africa’s ANC Ups the Heat on President Zuma

by John Campbell
South Africa's President and African National Congress (ANC) party president Jacob Zuma, flanked by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC Treasury General Zweli Mkhize, reacts ahead of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) three-day meeting in Pretoria, South Africa March 18, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) South Africa's President and African National Congress (ANC) party president Jacob Zuma, flanked by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC Treasury General Zweli Mkhize, reacts ahead of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) three-day meeting in Pretoria, South Africa March 18, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) met March 19-20. Among issues discussed was President Jacob Zuma’s relationship with the wealthy Gupta family, which critics accuse of “state capture,” that is, exercising undue influence over presidential, high level appointments and government contracts for their own benefit. For many in South Africa, the relationship between President Zuma and the Gupta family has become the face of corruption. Concern about corruption is a major political issue in the run up to local and municipal elections that will take place between May 18 and August 16. Indeed, according to South African media, the NEC also discussed the upcoming elections in Johannesburg and Pretoria, where the ANC faces stiff competition from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which has also called for Zuma’s resignation over corruption. Read more »

Former British High Commissioner on Nigeria’s Kidnapped Chibok School Girls

by John Campbell
DATE IMPORTED:January 14, 2016Parents of the Chibok girls hold a "Bring Back Our Girls" banner during their meeting with Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, January 14, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) DATE IMPORTED:January 14, 2016Parents of the Chibok girls hold a "Bring Back Our Girls" banner during their meeting with Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, January 14, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

It has been almost two years since Boko Haram, the radical Islamist movement operating in northeast Nigeria, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of some 276 school girls. Despite significant international outcry, offers of assistance from the international community, and commitments from two Nigerian presidents, most of the girls still have not been found. A small number have escaped. Read more »