Africa This Week: January 23, 2023

January 23, 2023

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in Africa, usually posted on Mondays and occasionally updated throughout the week.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Akwa, Nigeria, capital of Anambra State, of which presidential candidate Peter Obi formerly served as governor. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Nwabu2010 (public domain)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Nigeria General Elections: February 25, 2023

Nigeria, the “Giant of Africa,” as Nigerians call the continent’s most populous country, has a history of military coups, and since the return to civilian rule, vote-rigging and violence have plagued elections. While the 2015 polls – which handed the opposition its first-ever victory – were considered credible, international and Nigerian observers found that the 2019 polls fell short, with low turnout, fraud, and violence. The country is in the midst of several security crises.

The presidential front-runners include the nominees of the two biggest parties: Bola Tinuba from the governing “sort of left” All Progressives Congress Party (APC) and Atiku Abubakar from the main opposition “sort of right” People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In addition, Peter Obi from the Labour Party has gathered momentum among younger voters and is seen as a possible contender. Somewhat ironically, his supporters call themselves “Obidients,” despite positioning themselves as an anti-establishment movement.

Nigeria is the second-biggest oil and gas producer in Africa, and also arguably has the biggest economy on the continent.

Ben Ezeamalu, The Africa Report (January 23, 2023): Nigeria 2023: Electoral umpire helpless in political parties’ vote-buying antics

Jideofor Adibe, The Conversation (January 22, 2023): Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election: 10 factors that could affect the outcome

BBC (January 21, 2023): Nigeria elections 2023: The allegations against the presidential contenders

Ope Adetayo, The Guardian (January 19, 2023):  ‘Obi understands’: young Nigerians swell support of presidential hopeful

Reuters (January 18, 2023): Nigeria will not postpone presidential vote – election chief

Ope Adetayo, Al Jazeera (January 18, 2023): Attacks on electoral commission spark concerns for Nigeria polls: Experts say the new wave of attacks takes insecurity in Nigeria into uncharted territory ahead of the elections.

AFP (January 17, 2023): Young Nigerians flock to get voting cards for February election: Nearly 10 million new voters have been registered for the February 25 ballot, 84 percent of them people under age 34.

Cameroon Indirect Senate Elections: March 12, 2023 (by local councilors)

Moki Edwin Kindzeka at Voice of America notes: “Separatists in English-speaking western Cameroon launched their rebellion in 2017 after what they said was years of discrimination by the country’s French-speaking majority. The conflict has killed more than 3,500 people and displaced more than a half-million, according to the United Nations.”

Moki Edwin Kindzeka, Voice of America (January 20, 2023): Two Election Officials Killed in NW Cameroon as Separatists Vow to Disrupt Senate Elections

Zimbabwe General Elections: July 2023 (due)

Zimbabwe is due to hold general elections in July 2023. They will be the second since the 2017 coup that led to the fall of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s longtime dictator, who left a legacy of gross economic mismanagement and political repression. Democracy continues to face many challenges in Zimbabwe, and the current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, governs in an authoritarian, repressive manner.

Jason Burke and Nyasha Chingono, The Guardian (January 22, 2023): ‘The Crocodile has not changed’: Zimbabwe opposition warns of election violence

CAJnews (January 18, 2023): Crackdown escalates leading to Zimbabwe elections

Robert Lansing Institute (January 17, 2023): Scenarios: Mnangagwa likely to save presidency amid risks of violence in Zimbabwe after elections

Eswatini Parliamentary and Local Elections: August 2023 (due)

Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is an absolute monarchy. The country does hold parliamentary elections, but the parliament does not actually have much power, and the elections are tightly controlled, without much choice for voters.

Itumeleng Mafisa, IOL (January 23, 2023): Saftu condemns assassination of eSwatini political activist and human rights lawyer

Liberia Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 10, 2023

Liberia’s last elections, in 2017, brought the first peaceful transition of power since 1944, but the country still faces some challenges as it seeks to consolidate democracy. President George Weah, a former football player, 

Nicholas Norbrook, The Africa Report (January 20, 2023): Liberia’s George Weah: Slipping one into the net

Democratic Republic of the Congo Presidential and Legislative Elections: December 20, 2023

The DRC’s last elections, in December 2018, took place after multiple delays and were mired in controversy and dispute. Nonetheless, they did produce the first peaceful transfer of power in the history of the country’s independence, with former opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi being declared the winner of the presidential poll (even though election observers from the highly-trusted Catholic Church said their data indicated a victory for another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu). 

The DRC faces numbers political and security crises, exacerbated by conflicts over massive mineral wealth. By some estimates, the country has untapped reserves worth $24 trillion, and with increased interest in electronic vehicles and other technologies that require rare earths, this has become a subject of increased interest internationally. 

Due to its size and central location, conflicts from neighboring countries spill over into the DRC. The horrific conflicts happening in the eastern part of the country send shockwaves through the entire region.

Stratfor (January 19, 2023): Congo: Government Expects $6 Billion Overhaul in Mining Deals

Agenzia Fides (January 17, 2023): Eastern DRC: not only jihadists but a complex network of local and foreign interests

Senegal Presidential Election: February 2024 (due)

Long considered a stable democracy, backsliding has been taking place under President Macky Sall, who has been accused of prosecuting his political opponents on politically-motivated charges (Freedom House downgraded the country from Free to Partly Free in 2020). 

Consequently, Senegal saw violent protests in March 2021 following rape charges against former opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, and further protests in November 2021. Some are concerned that Sall could attempt to seek an unconstitutional third term

A series of oil and gas discoveries starting in 2014 have set Senegal up to become a player in energy production. Sall is a former oil executive and thus has focused on beginning production. 

Africanews and AFP (January 23, 2023): Senegal opposition leader to face rape trial: lawyers

South Africa General Elections: May 2024 (due)

Mogomotsi Magma and Gerald Imray, AP (January 19, 2023): Russia, China to hold naval drills off South Africa

Past Africa Elections

Tanzania General Elections: October 28, 2020

Dickson Ng’hily, The Citizen (January 22, 2023): Chadema outlines strategy as nationwide rallies start

Regional Analysis

Teresa Nogueira Pinto, GIS Reports (January 23, 2023): Europe’s energy switch may boost African producers: As Europe shuns Russian energy supplies, Africa is poised to increase its oil and natural gas exports to the continent.

African Development Bank (January 19, 2023): Africa’s economic growth to outpace global forecast in 2023-2024 – African Development Bank biannual report

Afrobarometer (January 19, 2023): Africans want more democracy, but their leaders still aren’t listening

ICIR Nigeria (January 18, 2023): Repression and resistance: how a new generation challenges African autocrats and their international allies

Tanya Mehra LL.M and Méryl Demuynck, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (January 17, 2023): Raising the stakes against the Wagner Group: From mercenaries to a designated terrorist group?

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2023

Seven countries in Africa are scheduled to elections that will determine who heads the government: Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Gabon, Liberia, Madagascar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In addition, Sudan has talked about holding long-delays general elections in July, but additional delays are possible. 

Benin Legislative Elections: January 8, 2023

Djibouti Legislative Elections: February 24, 2023

Nigeria General Elections: February 25, 2023

Nigeria, Gubernatorial Elections in Most States: March 11, 2023

Cameroon Indirect Senate Elections (by members of local councils): March 12, 2023

Mauritania Legislative and Local Elections: May 13, 2023

Gambia Local Elections: May 13, 2023

Mauritania Legislative and Local Runoffs: May 18, 2023

Sierra Leone Presidential and Legislative Elections: June 24, 2023

Mali Local Elections: June 2023 (due – delays possible)

Zimbabwe General Elections: July 2023 (due)

Sudan General Elections: July 2023 (tentative – delays possible)

Gabon Presidential, Legislative, and Local Elections: August 2023 (due)

Eswatini Parliamentary and Local Elections: August 2023 (due)

Gabon Legislative Elections: September 2023 (due)

Liberia Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 10, 2023

Mozambique Local Elections: October 11, 2023

Nigeria, Gubernatorial Elections in Imo State, Kogi State, and Bayelsa State: November 11, 2023

Madagascar Presidential Election: October 2023 (due)

Mali Legislative Elections: October 2023 (due – delays possible)

Democratic Republic of the Congo Presidential and Legislative Elections: December 20, 2023

Togo Legislative and Regional Elections: December 2023 (due)

Côte d’Ivoire Local Elections (due in 2023)

Comoros Gubernatorial Elections (due in 2023)

Ghana Local Elections (due in 2023)

Guinea-Bissau Local Elections (due in 2023)

Guinea Local Elections (due in 2023 – delays possible to to coup situation)

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