Africa This Week: April 24, 2023

April 24, 2023

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

Government building in Bissau, capital of Guinea-Bissau. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Joehawkins (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Guinea-Bissau Snap Legislative Elections: June 4, 2023

Guinea-Bissau’s president dissolved parliament in May 2022 and and called for snap elections, which will take place on June 4. In March 2019, Guinea-Bissau finally held long-delayed legislative elections. The ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won 47 out of 102 seats, but made deals with three smaller parties to form a coalition with 54 seats, voting in Aristide Gomes as prime minister. Subsequently, Umaro Sissoco Embaló won the November 2019 presidential election, defeating incumbent José Mário Vaz and 10 other candidates.

Prone to coups (most recently in 2012), no elected leader has served a full term since independence from Portugal. The country remains in a political crisis, with President José Mário Vaz (known as Jomav) in a feud with his own party (PAIGC). Although analysts believed that the March 2019 legislative elections improved the situation, the country regressed once again at the end of October 2019, when Vaz fired Gomes, and Gomes refused to leave office – the third government dissolution in two years.

There is an ever-present risk of a coup (and in fact, one was attempted in January 2022).

Iancuba Dansó, DW (April 19, 2023 – in Portuguese): Elections: Guinea-Bissau races against time

Cote d’Ivoire Local Elections: September 2, 2023, followed by General Elections: 2025

Côte d’Ivoire’s president has proposed holding local elections early, in 2023. The country just completed a major election cycle that began in turbulent fashion when incumbent president Alasanne Ouattara sought and won a controversial third term. The opposition boycotted the presidential election. Protests followed, as well as arrests of opposition members.

However, during the 2021 parliamentary elections, the situation calmed down a bit. Following discussions and the release of some opposition figures, the opposition participated in the legislative elections. 

Former president Laurent Gbagbo casts a long shadow over Cote d’Ivoire politics. He had been tried by the International Criminal Court following violence surrounding his refusal to accept his loss of the 2010 election. Gbagbo was ultimately acquitted, but an appeal against the acquittal kept him in Belgium until this year. He has now returned home.

Côte d’Ivoire is one of the largest economies in West Africa. It is the world’s biggest producer of cocoa and cashew nuts, and a net exporter of oil. However, since 1999, political struggles and two civil wars have created instability, and the political climate remains tense.

Africanews with AFP (April 20, 2023): Ivory Coast: municipal and regional elections on September 2

South Africa General Elections: May 2024 (due)

South Africa’s ANC has won every election since the end of apartheid in 1994, but it had its worst result ever in 2019, winning less than 60 percent of the vote. While South Africa is a vibrant democracy, Freedom House notes: “…in recent years, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been accused of undermining state institutions to protect corrupt officials and preserve its power as its support base has begun to wane.” 

Corruption remains an issue. Moreover, power cuts have been bad lately, with people experiencing up to 12 hours a day without electricity, prompting President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster.

Geopolitically, South Africa has strong ties to Russia and China as a member of the BRICS. The three countries are hosting a joint naval exercise, much to the consternation of Europe and the United States.

Dirk Kotze, The Conversation (April 24, 2023): South Africa votes in 2024: could a coalition between major parties ANC and EFF run the country?

Antony Sguazzin, Bloomberg (April 19, 2023): Ramaphosa’s Popularity Plunges Amid South African Power Cuts, Survey Shows

Joseph Cotterill, Financial Times (April 19, 2023): New South African party hopes to capitalise on discontent with ANC

S’thembile Cele, Bloomberg (April 17, 2023): South Africa Backs Law Allowing Individuals to Run for President

Somaliland Presidential Election: November 2024 (delayed from 2022)

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (April 19, 2023): Delayed Somaliland elections blamed for violence in Las Anod

Sudan General Elections: 2025 (proposed)

Reuters (April 21, 2023): Explainer-Sudan’s conflict and what worries neighbours, the U.S. and others

IFES (April 18, 2023): IFES Q&A: Conflict in Sudan

Christopher Tounsel, The Conversation (April 17, 2023): Sudan crisis explained: What’s behind the latest fighting and how it fits nation’s troubled past

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.

Afolabi Adekaiyaoja, Foreign Policy (April 18, 2023): Is the Party Over in Nigeria? Personality rules in a country where political parties were once kingmakers.

Kenya General Elections: August 9, 2022

Reuters (April 24, 2023): Kenya opposition says it will resume protests on May 2

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. 

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

Zimbabwe General Elections: August 23, 2023

Gabon Presidential Election: August 26, 2023

Eswatini Parliamentary and Local Elections: September 29, 2023

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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