Africa This Week: January 30, 2023

January 30, 2023

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

Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows Cathedral in Kisantu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, built by Jesuits. Pope Francis will call for free and fair elections on his visit the DRC and South Sudan this week. Photo credit: Wikimedia/PClement (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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.

The Africa Report (January 30, 2023): Nigeria 2023: Will the election follow the 2019 poll pattern?

Eromo Egbejule and Ope Adetayo, Al Jazeera (January 30, 2023): Can Bola Tinubu, Nigeria’s ailing kingmaker, win the presidency?

Voice of America (January 26, 2023 – video): Officials Say Nigerian Elections on Track Despite Violence

Al Jazeera (January 25, 2023): US bars entry for those who ‘undermine’ Nigeria’s upcoming polls

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.

AFP (January 30, 2023): Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa welcomes Putin ally Belarus President Lukashenko

Reuters (January 28, 2023): Zimbabwe court grants bail to 26 opposition party members

Human Rights Watch (January 27, 2023): Zimbabwe: A Move to Curb Freedom of Association as Election Nears

Gibbs Dube, Voice of America (January 24, 2023): Chamisa Says Jittery, Desperate Mnangagwa Arresting CCC Activists Ahead of Crucial General Elections

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.

Justin Kabumba and Sam Mednick, AP (January 30, 2023): Survivors of conflict to meet Pope Francis in Congo

Andres Schipani, Financial Times (January 27, 2023): The 60-year, 4,000-mile journey home of Lumumba’s tooth

Africanews and AFP (January 26, 2023): ‘Electoral process badly underway’, DRC civil society platform warns

Al Jazeera (January 24, 2023): Catholic Church urges DRC citizens to vote as election looms: The influential church has a long history of promoting democracy and monitoring elections in the country.

Past Africa Elections

Benin Legislative Elections: January 8, 2023

Benin had been a stable democracy until 2016, when President Patrice Talon started the country down a more authoritarian path. The opposition was exuded from the 2019 legislative elections. However, they were able to run this year, and won 28 out of 109 seats. 

The next presidential election is due in 2026 and it is unclear whether Talon will pursue another term.

Jeannine Ella Abatan, Institute for Security Studies (January 25, 2023): Will legislative elections put Benin’s democracy back on track?

Chris Olaoluwa Ògúnmọ́dẹdé, World Politics Review (January 25, 2023): Benin Continues Its Authoritarian Drift Under Talon

Tanzania General Elections: October 28, 2020

Dan Paget, The Conversation (January 26, 2023): Tanzania: opposition rallies are finally unbanned – but this doesn’t mean democratic reform is coming

Dickson Ng’hily, The Citizen Tanzania (January 26, 2023): Return of Lissu fuels Chadema’s demand for new constitution

Regional Analysis

Elise Ann Allen, Crux (January 30, 2023): Pope heads to battered Congo, South Sudan as a herald of peace

Matthew Lee, AP (January 26, 2023): US expands sanctions on Russia’s ‘brutal’ Wagner Group: The Biden administration is expanding sanctions against Russia’s Wagner Group and related companies and individuals for their role in the war in Ukraine and mercenary activities, including human rights abuses, in Africa

Africa Center for Strategic Studies (January 24, 2023): Africa’s Role in China’s Multilateralism Strategy: China’s efforts to reshape existing global institutions and norms rely on the support of African governments, though this can often be at odds with African citizen interests.

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)

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content. That is to say, their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.



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