John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

The Somali Prime Minister Merry-Go-Round

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, December 5, 2014
Somalia's Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed waves as he arrives for the celebration to mark the 54th Somali Independence Day at the former parliament buildings in capital Mogadishu July 1, 2014. (Ismail Taxta/Courtesy Reuters) Somalia's Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed waves as he arrives for the celebration to mark the 54th Somali Independence Day at the former parliament buildings in capital Mogadishu July 1, 2014. (Ismail Taxta/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Recently, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud organized for the Somali parliament to lodge a petition for a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed Mohammad. This comes on the heels of a spat between Ahmed and President Mohamud after the prime minister removed a minister of justice and constitutional affairs. That minister, now the minister of veterinary and animal husbandry, is a major ally of President Mohamud, who declared the move “null and void” citing constitutional authority. Read more »

An African Odyssey

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, December 5, 2014
A group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy reach out for life jackets tossed to them by rescuers of the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) some 25 miles off the Libyan coast in this handout photo provided by MOAS October 4, 2014. MOAS, a privately-funded humanitarian initiative, began operating at the end of August and has assisted in the rescue of some 2,200 migrants crossing from Libyan shores towards Europe.
(MOAS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/Handout via Reuters) A group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy reach out for life jackets tossed to them by rescuers of the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) some 25 miles off the Libyan coast in this handout photo provided by MOAS October 4, 2014. MOAS, a privately-funded humanitarian initiative, began operating at the end of August and has assisted in the rescue of some 2,200 migrants crossing from Libyan shores towards Europe. (MOAS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/Handout via Reuters)

This is a guest post by Amanda Roth, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a graduate student at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, where she studies international security policyRead more »

Tanzania Shows It Has A Woman’s Constitution

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete speaks during the closing news conference for the "Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm's Reach" Summit in Toronto, May 30, 2014. (Aaron Harris/Courtesy Reuters) Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete speaks during the closing news conference for the "Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm's Reach" Summit in Toronto, May 30, 2014. (Aaron Harris/Courtesy Reuters)

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

A victory for women. That’s what October 8 represented in Tanzania as the East African nation’s Committee of the Constituent Assembly officially presented a draft for a new constitution to President Jakaya Kikwete, the first new constitution since 1977. This draft has been endorsed by parliament and will likely become law when it is put through a referendum in the spring before the October 2015 general elections. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update November 22-November 28

by John Campbell Tuesday, December 2, 2014
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 22 to November 28, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

Kano, Nigeria, Mosque Attack Likely Aimed at Governor, Emir

by John Campbell Monday, December 1, 2014
Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters) Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Stringer/ Courtesy Reuters)

The November 28 attack on worshippers at Kano’s Central Mosque killed at least 130, according to the Nigerian media. No group has claimed responsibility, though most observers appear to think it was Boko Haram. Read more »

Gulu and Detroit: Bicycles to the Rescue

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, November 25, 2014
A gold miner uses a bicycle to transport a sack of sandy soil from a small scale mine in Bugiri, 348 km (216 miles) east of Kampala, Uganda's capital February 5, 2013. (Edward Echwalu/Courtesy Reuters) A gold miner uses a bicycle to transport a sack of sandy soil from a small scale mine in Bugiri, 348 km (216 miles) east of Kampala, Uganda's capital February 5, 2013. (Edward Echwalu/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update November 15-November 21

by John Campbell Monday, November 24, 2014
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 15 to November 21, 2014. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker.
Read more »

What’s Next for Burkina Faso?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, November 21, 2014
Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 31, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 31, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Molly Rapaport, a Research Associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. She recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship in Burkina Faso, where she studied polygamy.

Ça chauffe moins pour le moment au Burkina. Things have cooled off in Burkina Faso, where massive protests three weeks ago led to the October 31 resignation of Blaise Compaoré. Blaise, as he is known colloquially, was president for twenty-seven years and intended to remain in power. When his proposed constitutional revision, which would have allowed him to run again in 2015, went to the National Assembly for a vote, hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe citizens protested. Their message, reinforced by burning the parliament building and tearing down a statue of Blaise, was crystal clear. Protest signs combined the president’s name with that of a terrible virus (making “Ebolaise”), and Burkinabe entreated their fellow citizens to “disinfect” themselves. Read more »

Can the U.S. Help Nigeria Confront Boko Haram?

by John Campbell Thursday, November 20, 2014
Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

For a long time Nigeria was Washington’s most important strategic partner on issues of security and stability in Africa. But, the Boko Haram insurgency and Abuja’s response to it has put that partnership in jeopardy. The movement and the Nigerian government’s failed response to it pose a dilemma for the Obama administration. On the one hand, Boko Haram is repellent, regularly resorting to terror against the highly vulnerable, including the murder and kidnapping of young people in school. On the other hand, the official security forces carry out atrocities against the local population, and the government has thus far failed to address the drivers of the insurgency, including political marginalization, accelerating impoverishment, and rampant corruption. This state of affairs has allowed Boko Haram to ramp up its military campaign in 2014, having killed over 3,600 civilians and seizing control of more than 10 towns in northeast Nigeria. Boko Haram has also carried out cross-border operations, notably in northern Cameroon. Read more »

The U.S. Government Will Not Pay Ransom

by John Campbell Wednesday, November 19, 2014
A Chinese hostage, who was recently released by militant group Boko Haram, hugs a man upon his arrival at the Nsimalen International Airport in Yaounde in this October 11, 2014 still image taken from video. (Reuter TV/ Courtesy Reuters) A Chinese hostage, who was recently released by militant group Boko Haram, hugs a man upon his arrival at the Nsimalen International Airport in Yaounde in this October 11, 2014 still image taken from video. (Reuter TV/ Courtesy Reuters)

ISIS and other Middle Eastern groups are notorious for kidnapping. However, for radical Islamist groups in the Sahel and northern Nigeria, ransom is also an important source of funding. In Nigeria, and probably elsewhere, most of the victims are indigenous. Families of kidnapping victims routinely pay to secure the release of loved ones. Read more »