Africa This Week: April 10, 2023

April 10, 2023

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

Lumley Beach in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Hussein Kefel (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Sierra Leone Presidential and Legislative Elections: June 24, 2023

Sierra Leone has scheduled its next presidential election for June 24, 2023. In the last elections, in March 2018, Julius Maada Bio from the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) – one of the country’s two major parties – won the presidency. However, the All People’s Congress (APC), the other major party, won the most seats in parliament. Bio is seeing seek a second and final term in 2023. Meanwhile, the APC has nominated Samura Kamara, who placed second in the 2018 election.

Sierra Leone fought a civil war from 1991 to 2002, but since the end of the war, it has held elections and made some progress toward democracy.

Melissa Chapman, RFI (April 5, 2023): Sierra Leone bans political street rallies ahead of elections

Africanews (April 4, 2023): Sierra Leone: Corruption trial of opposition leader Samura Kamara begins

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.

The Africa Report (April 7, 2023): Zimbabwe: Apathy derails young prospective voters

Africanews with AFP (April 5, 2023): Zimbabwe: Voters “intimidated” on the phone, says NGO

AFP (April 4, 2023): Zimbabwe: Electoral board accused of ‘leaking’ voter data

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

Gabon is due to hold a presidential election in August 2023. Although the country does hold multi-candidate elections, the Bongo family has been in power for over 50 years. The regime remains repressive. But the ruling family has faced challenges in recent years. In 2018, President Ali Bongo Ondimba (who succeeded his father in 2009) had a stroke, and in January 2019, military officers attempted a coup.

Despite the Bongo family’s power, election results have been close in recent years. In the last presidential election in 2016, Bongo was declared the winner with 49.8 percent of the vote, compared to 48.2 percent for opposition leader Jean Ping.

AFP (April 7, 2023): Gabon reduces presidential term to five years before 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.

Africanews with AFP (April 4, 2023): DRC urged to drop ‘discriminatory’ bill on ‘Congoleseness

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.

Etienne Gatanazi, DW (April 6, 2023): Senegal: Macky Sall Mum On 3rd Term Candidacy

Africanews (April 4, 2023): Senegal’s President ‘open to dialogue’ after tensions

Chad General Elections: October 2024 (additional delays possible due to coup situation)

Chad held a presidential election on April 11, 2021. President Idriss Déby, who seized power in a rebellion in 1990, won a sixth term. However, on April 20, 2021, he was killed by rebels while fighting on the front lines. His son, 37-year-old General Mahamat Déby, declared himself interim leader, backed by the military. He dissolved parliament and promised elections within 18 months, by December 2022. However, it is unclear when the elections will actually happen.

Although the country holds elections, there has never been a change in power by a free or fair vote, and elections are riven by lengthy delays, violence, and fraud.

Chadian politics are taking place in the context of instability and insecurity throughout the Sahel region, which could increase as France winds down Operation Barkhane, its counterterrorism operation in the region. Russian mercenaries are stepping in to fill the void and plunder the region’s resources, leading to higher levels of violence.

Bloomberg (April 8, 2023): Chad Expels German Ambassador as Election Delay Raises Concern

Sudan General Elections: 2025 (proposed)

Reuters (April 6, 2023): Sudan Transition Deal Delayed, Protesters March Against Talks

DW (April 6, 2023): Sudan delays signing civilian rule agreement

Uganda Presidential and Legislative Elections: January 2026 (due)

Uganda las held presidential and legislative elections in January 2021. President Yoweri Museveni has held power since 1986, but this time faced possibly his biggest challenge yet in the form of 37-year-old pop star Bobi Wine. Following the elections, the government launched a brutal crackdown on the opposition.

Liam Taylor, Foreign Policy (April 9, 2023): The New Politics of an Urbanizing Uganda: The battle for urban space in Kampala shows how Africa’s informal workers are rattling ruling regimes.

Tom Wheeldon, France24 (April 5, 2023): Tweets by Uganda president’s son spark ‘concern’ over succession question

Past Africa Elections

Nigeria Local and Gubernatorial Elections: March 18, 2023 (postponed from March 11, and following general elections on February 25)

Nigeria held general elections on February 25. Bola Tinuba from the governing “sort of left” All Progressives Congress Party (APC) won the presidency, defeating Atiku Abubakar from the main opposition “sort of right” People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi from the Labour Party, as well as a number of other candidates (incumbent Muhammadu Buhari was term-limited and unable to run for re-election). However, both Obi and Atiku are challenging the results.

In past years, PDP and APC got the vast majority of the vote share in presidential elections, but Obi won 25 percent, and won a majority in Lagos, Nigeria’s state.

In the gubernatorial elections, which took place a week late (election delays at short notice are not infrequent in Nigeria), PDP and APC remained dominant. Although Obi’s supporters had hoped to win in Lagos, the incumbent APC governor won re-election.

Jana Krause and Imrana Buba, The Conversation (April 10, 2023): Security in Nigeria: Bola Tinubu will increase tension in some parts of the country and reduce it in others

Chimamanda Adichie, The Atlantic (April 6, 2023): Nigeria’s Hollow Democracy: Why is America congratulating the winner of this disastrous election?

Imrana Buba, African Arguements (April 6, 2023): How Nigeria avoided organised violence during the 2023 elections

Kenya General Elections: August 9, 2022

Africanews (April 5, 2023): Kenya: Raila Odinga calls for talks to involve parties outside parliament

Reuters (April 4, 2023): Kenyan opposition leader presents new demand for electoral reform talks

Lisa Zengarini, Vatican News (April 4, 2023): Kenya: Opposition suspends planned protests after Bishops’ call for truce

Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (April 3, 2023): Kenyans Unmet Expectations

Ethiopia Partial Elections: September 30, 2021, preceded by General Elections: June 21, 2021

Ethiopia held general elections on June 21, 2021, after several postponements. These elections took place in the context of increasing ethnic violence that has reached crisis levels. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, previously a reformer (he even won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019) but most recently an authoritarian, won in a landslide. Polling couldn’t happen in several areas due to the ongoing conflict, so make-up votes took place on September 30, amid opposition boycotts. Nonetheless, Abiy already had enough seats to form a new government regardless of the results of the September elections.

Zeenat Hansrod, RFI (April 6, 2023): Ethiopia’s Tigray region unveils new cabinet to lead political transition

Fritz Schaap and Sergio Ramazzotti (Photos), Spiegel (April 5, 2023): A Fragile Peace in the Wake of Unspeakable Horrors

Protests in Africa

Felix Maringa, DW (April 6, 2023): What’s driving Africa’s demonstrations?

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. 

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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