John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigerian Military Massacres Civilians – Again

by John Campbell
Policemen stand guard as supporters of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu take in a rally, as he is expected to appear at a magistrate court in Abuja, Nigeria, December 1, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Policemen stand guard as supporters of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu take in a rally, as he is expected to appear at a magistrate court in Abuja, Nigeria, December 1, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Amnesty International has published a report claiming that the Nigerian military killed some 150 pro-Biafra demonstrators between August 2015 and August 2016. Amnesty analyzed 87 videos, 122 photographs, and took the testimony of 146 witnesses. It concludes that “the military fired live ammunition with little or no warning” into crowds of demonstrators. Amnesty also has “evidence of mass extrajudicial executions by security forces” of demonstrators calling for an independent Igbo state. Despite official military denials, the Amnesty report, like  other reports of Nigerian military abuse, is credible. Read more »

World AIDS Day 2016 in South Africa

by John Campbell
Mpho Bogagane, a child who is born with AIDS, is consoled by South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after she gave a speech at the orphanage Nkosi's Haven, which was named after Nkosi Johnson, one of the youngest victims of the HIV epidemic who died in 2001 from the disease, during the launch of the 5-Day countdown ahead of the AIDS2016 International Conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Mpho Bogagane, a child who is born with AIDS, is consoled by South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after she gave a speech at the orphanage Nkosi's Haven, which was named after Nkosi Johnson, one of the youngest victims of the HIV epidemic who died in 2001 from the disease, during the launch of the 5-Day countdown ahead of the AIDS2016 International Conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Thursday, December 1, is World AIDS Day, a fitting occasion to call attention to an HIV vaccine clinical trial that has started in South Africa. The vaccine being tested is based on one used in a Thailand trial in 2009 which had a protection rate of about 30 percent, reports the BBC. Results from the South Africa trial will be known in about four years. Read more »

A Reminder that South Africa’s Ruling Party is Multiracial

by John Campbell
Derek Hanekom (C), head of the ANC disciplinary panel, announces the verdict for Youth League leader Julius Malema at the party's head quarters in Johannesburg, November 10, 2011. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Derek Hanekom (C), head of the ANC disciplinary panel, announces the verdict for Youth League leader Julius Malema at the party's head quarters in Johannesburg, November 10, 2011. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom appears to have been the initiator of the African National Congress’s (ANC) November 27-29 in-house debate over whether to recall Jacob Zuma as party leader. (Zuma survived, but is further weakened politically within the ANC by the episode.) Hanekom, who is white, is a useful reminder that the ANC remains a multi-racial party, though its electoral base is overwhelmingly black. In the aftermath of the ANC’s Zuma debate, some black political officials that backed the president accused Hanekom of “racism,” but others defended him as a full member of the movement, even though he is white. Read more »

South Africa’s Wounded President Zuma Survives

by John Campbell
Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma listen as he speaks at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, November 18, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward) Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma listen as he speaks at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, November 18, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

Over the weekend of November 27, Jacob Zuma faced his greatest political challenge to date, a vote of ‘no-confidence’ from within his own party, the African National Congress (ANC). He had previously survived three no-confidence votes in parliament, where the party rallied around him. This time, however, the challenge, orchestrated by four ministers, was within the National Executive Committee (NEC), the highest governance body within the ANC. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: November 19 – November 25

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 November 19, 2016 to November 25, 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 »

Fallout Over The Poacher’s Pipeline Documentary

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A white female rhino named Kuda is dehorned by the Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation (AWARE) at Lake Chivero Recreational Park in Norton, Zimbabwe, August 25, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) A white female rhino named Kuda is dehorned by the Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation (AWARE) at Lake Chivero Recreational Park in Norton, Zimbabwe, August 25, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

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

Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has released a new documentary titled The Poacher’s Pipeline. The report documents the illicit supply chain of rhinoceros horn from South Africa to China and Vietnam. The report associates South Africa’s minister of state security with an admitted trafficker, and it alleges that Chinese officials that traveled to South Africa with Secretary General Xi Jinping participated in the illicit trade. Read more »

Misaligned Incentives Handcuff the ICC

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, March 3, 2011. (Reuters/Jerry Lampen) The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, March 3, 2011. (Reuters/Jerry Lampen)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn. Cheryl is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School.

Burundi, Gambia, and now South Africa have all recently announced their intentions to withdraw from what they deride as a “biased” International Criminal Court (ICC). The permanent tribunal responsible for investigating crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes that was created in 1998. It’s the latest indignity to the court that has been weakened not only by misaligned incentives that enable it to bring cases globally and yet rely mostly upon member states to enforce its actions, but also by the cozy relationship that has emerged between the ICC’s members and its cases. Thirty-four of its 123 members are African states and all thirty-one individuals that the office of the prosecutor has charged with crimes since the ICC began operating in 2002 are African. Read more »

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma’s Nine Lives

by John Campbell
Floyd Shivambu, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reacts ahead of the no-confidence vote, which the South African President Jacob Zuma survived, over what the opposition called his "reckless leadership," after the anti-graft watchdog called for an inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the government, at the National Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, November 10, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham) Floyd Shivambu, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reacts ahead of the no-confidence vote, which the South African President Jacob Zuma survived, over what the opposition called his "reckless leadership," after the anti-graft watchdog called for an inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the government, at the National Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, November 10, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

The publication on November 2 of the South Africa Public Protector’s report on “state capture” by the president and his cronies, the Gupta family, would seem to indicate Jacob Zuma’s direct involvement in corruption. The publication has created a media stir, with the quality Western media devoting more extensive coverage to it than is usual. Yet, the report does not contain a “smoking gun,” but rather calls for an extensive (and well-financed) formal investigation. Read more »

Sub-Saharan Africa and a Trump Administration

by John Campbell
A man hands a newspaper to a customer at a news stand in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton) A man hands a newspaper to a customer at a news stand in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

Media indicates that sub-Saharan African opinion is as astonished as everybody else at Donald Trump’s presidential victory. As appears to be true in much of the rest of the world, African opinion makers do not welcome itThe New York Times cites a Nigerian political science professor as saying that most Nigerians believe that a Trump administration will focus little on international issues. It also quotes Kenyan columnist Mafdharia Gaitho as saying, “If Trump wins, God forbid, then we will have to reassess our relations with the United States.” These views accord with what I am hearing. Read more »

A Review of Stephen Ellis’ “This Present Darkness”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
World 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) World 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)

This is a guest post by Tyler Lycan. Tyler is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, he recently obtained his Masters in International Security Studies from the University of St. Andrews, and is a former U.S. Marine. Read more »