John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Muhammadu Buhari’s Questionable Health

by John Campbell Thursday, February 9, 2017
A man rides his tricycle with placards as he takes part in a rally to show support for Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, Febuary 6, 2017. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

On January 19, President Muhammadu Buhari departed Nigeria for London for ten days of vacation and medical tests. Since then, he has extended his stay twice, most recently on February 5. His spokesman did not say when he will return to Nigeria. Before he left, as required by law, President Buhari informed the National Assembly of his departure and that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would exercise presidential power during his absence. Read more »

Jacob Zuma and the State of the South African Nation

by John Campbell Wednesday, February 8, 2017
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma before speaking to members of the Twelve Apostles' Church in Christ at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa, December 4, 2016. (Reuters/Rogan Ward)

On February 9, President Jacob Zuma will deliver South Africa’s annual State of the Nation speech in parliament. The substance of the speech is likely to be a mixture of policy stability with calls for “radical” transformation of ownership of the economy. Few expect that the speech will really break new ground or that it will presage “radical” change. Rather, his remarks will be shaped by concern for his legacy and the leadership succession fight within the governing African National Congress (ANC). Read more »

Nigerian Violence and Impunity

by John Campbell Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) walks with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan upon arriving at the State House in Lagos, January 25, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Observers have long tied Nigeria’s very high levels of ethnic and religious violence to impunity, that there is a history of the security services and the judiciary failing to find and punish the perpetrators of violence. That reality, among other things, leads to a cycle of revenge. Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan openly acknowledged this reality when he addressed the U.S. Congress’ House Subcommittee on Africa on February 1. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: January 28 – February 3

by John Campbell Monday, February 6, 2017
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 January 28 to February 3, 2017. 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 »

Caught in the Crossfire: What Future for Women and Children in Nigeria’s Forgotten Crisis

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, February 3, 2017
A mother holds her malnourished baby at the Molai General Hospital Maiduguri, Nigeria, November 30, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabai Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Sherrie Russell-Brown. Sherrie is an international lawyer, who writes about issues of gender, security, international justice and humanitarian law, with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa. She also coordinates a collaborative group of experts dedicated to promoting research and analysis on the Sahel, and, in particular, the Boko Haram insurgency. Read more »

AU ICC Withdrawal Recommendation Means little

by John Campbell Thursday, February 2, 2017
A general view shows Chad's President Idriss Deby addressing delegates during the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

At the end of the recent 28th African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa on January 31, a recommendation emerged that collectively member states should withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). The AU is not a party to the Treaty of Rome, which established the ICC, and its recommendation cannot compel individual states to withdraw. According to the media, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania opposed the AU recommendation and other states declined to commit themselves. In the aftermath of the recommendation, on February 1, Nigeria publicly reiterated its intention to remain within the ICC. Read more »

South Africa’s ANC Horserace

by John Campbell Wednesday, February 1, 2017
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L), who is also the president of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), gestures next to his Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during the party's 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, January 9, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Everybody loves a horserace among political personalities. South Africa is no different. The December 2017 African National Congress (ANC) leadership contest is commonly seen as a race between Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the a reformer with an urban constituency, and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, President Zuma’s ex-wife and potential protector of his patronage networks. A possible dark horse is Zweli Mkhize, ANC party treasurer, who has been identified as a likely compromise candidate. There are also suggestions of compromise arrangements, such as Ramaphosa accepting Dlamini-Zuma as deputy president of the party or vice versa. Read more »

African Elite Reaction to President Trump’s Travel Ban

by John Campbell Tuesday, January 31, 2017
African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (L) and Chadian President Idriss Deby attend a news conference at the close of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

It is too soon to say what the lasting consequences will be of President Trump’s “travel ban” of the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries and his 120-day suspension of all refugee admissions to the United States. But, it could have serious effects on U.S.-African relations. In 2010 the Pew Research Center found that of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population of 823 million, 234 million were Muslims. The Islamic population is heavily concentrated in West Africa where U.S. strategic and economic interests on the continent are the greatest, especially Nigeria, where at least 50 percent of the country’s population of two-hundred million is Muslim. However, there are Muslim minorities in nearly all African countries. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: January 21 – January 27

by John Campbell Monday, January 30, 2017
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 January 21 to January 27, 2017. 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 »

Salafism in Northern Nigeria Beyond Boko Haram

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, January 27, 2017
A pilgrim returning from his Haj in Saudi Arabia looks on at the General Aviation Terminal of the Abuja Airport, Nigeria, September 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Alex Thurston. Alex is the author of  Salafism in Nigeria: Islam, Preaching, and Politics, and is an assistant professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Alex was an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations from 2013-2014. Read more »