John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

To Catch a Victim and a Perpetrator: The ICC and Dominic Ongwen

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, February 12, 2015
Dominic Ongwen, a commander of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), waits for the start of court procedures as he makes his first appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Peter Dejong/Pool) Dominic Ongwen, a commander of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), waits for the start of court procedures as he makes his first appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Peter Dejong/Pool)

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

They’ve got him, but can they get him? That’s the question before the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it finally confronts Dominic Ongwen, the number two commander in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The Court has been after him for a decade, almost as long as it has been in existence. Read more »

Nelson Mandela Freed Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

by John Campbell Wednesday, February 11, 2015
A local holds a lit candle in front of a mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of Mandela's first death anniversary, in Soweto, December 4, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A local holds a lit candle in front of a mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of Mandela's first death anniversary, in Soweto, December 4, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

In 1964, Nelson Mandela was convicted of sabotage in conjunction with the armed struggle against apartheid in the Rivonia Trial. He was sentenced to life in prison. His statement at his sentencing was an anthem for a democratic South Africa free of racism. Because Americans may be less familiar with it than South Africans, it is worth quoting part of it here: Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 31-February 6

by John Campbell Tuesday, February 10, 2015
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 24, 2015 to January 30, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Why Were Nigeria’s Presidential Elections Postponed?

by John Campbell Monday, February 9, 2015
A vendor displays newspapers with headlines about Nigeria's elections in traffic in Lagos, February 6, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A vendor displays newspapers with headlines about Nigeria's elections in traffic in Lagos, February 6, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

On Saturday, Nigeria’s Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) announced that Nigeria’s presidential election would be delayed until March 28. According to Attahiru Jega, chairman of the INEC, National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki directed the postponement of the February 14 elections for at least six weeks. Dasuki said that starting February 14, the military and security services will launch a campaign against Boko Haram, the militant Islamist movement in northeast Nigeria. Therefore, they can not provide the necessary security for the electoral process. Read more »

Nigerian Presidential Elections Postponed?

by John Campbell Friday, February 6, 2015
Election posters are displayed on the city gate to Jimeta town, Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Election posters are displayed on the city gate to Jimeta town, Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigeria’s presidential elections are scheduled for February 14, 2015, though there has long been speculation that they might be postponed. The Nigerian National Security Advisor, Sambo Dasuki, called for the elections to be postponed on January 22 to allow time for the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), which are necessary for a ballot to be cast. Dasuki’s call was rejected by the opposition and civil society. Read more »

Chasing an Elusive Peace in South Sudan

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, February 5, 2015
South Sudan's president Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar attend the signing a ceasefire agreement during the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on the case of South Sudan in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Feburary 1, 2015 (Courtesty Reuters/ Negeri). South Sudan's president Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar attend the signing a ceasefire agreement during the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit on the case of South Sudan in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, Feburary 1, 2015 (Courtesty Reuters/ Negeri).

This is a guest post by Aala Abdelgadir, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relation’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative.

Earlier this week, after thirteen months of civil war, South Sudan’s warring factions signed an Agreement on the Establishment of a Transitional Government of National Unity. President Salva Kiir and his rival, former vice president Riek Machar, recommitted to a cease-fire. The two factions also agreed to a transitional power-sharing government that will rule for thirty months beginning in July 2015, and they approved the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission and a judicial body to investigate and address human rights abuses. Read more »

Is Mugabe Jeopardizing the African Union’s Credibility?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (seated) waits to address the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 22, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/East). Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (seated) waits to address the 66th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 22, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/East).

This is a guest post by Nathaniel Glidden, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Affairs with concentrations in Development and Cities & Social Justice at The New School. Read more »

Apartheid Killer to Be Paroled in South Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Eugene de Kock, (L) an apartheid-era assassin nicknamed Prime Evil, appears at the Truth And Reconcilation Commission (TRC) amnesty hearing with his lawyer Schalk Hugo, May 24, 1999. (Courtesy Reuters/Ngwenya) Eugene de Kock, (L) an apartheid-era assassin nicknamed Prime Evil, appears at the Truth And Reconcilation Commission (TRC) amnesty hearing with his lawyer Schalk Hugo, May 24, 1999. (Courtesy Reuters/Ngwenya)

Through the use of death squads many apartheid defenders conducted a dirty war against those whom they perceived as threatening the regime. Victims were of all races, and included Chris Hani, who was seen by some as a possible alternative to Nelson Mandela as the first president of non-racial South Africa. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 24-January 30

by John Campbell Monday, February 2, 2015
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 24, 2015 to January 30, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Musings About Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Maiduguri

by John Campbell Friday, January 30, 2015
An official stands in front of relief materials at a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri in Borno State, January 19, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) An official stands in front of relief materials at a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri in Borno State, January 19, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

Maiduguri is the capital of Borno state and is the metropole of northeastern Nigeria. It has a federal university and an international airport, co-located with a Nigerian air force base. On the edge of the Sahara, it has long had religious links with Khartoum and been a center of radical Islamic thought. It has become known as the city of Boko Haram’s origin, and the venue where the movement’s leader, Mohammed Yussuf, established his community and was eventually murdered by the police. Most of its indigenous population is Kanuri, but like any big Nigerian city, it is populated by numerous ethnic groups. In pre-colonial times, the jihad of the sultan of Sokoto failed to conquer Borno, and its traditional ruler, the Shehu of Borno, continues to be a significant religious, cultural, and possibly political figure. Maiduguri is primarily a trading center. Even in the best of times, it is very poor, a reflection of the general poverty common to northeast Nigeria. The size of its population is approximately 1.2 million, including many refugees displaced by Boko Haram. Read more »