Africa This Week: November 16, 2020

November 16, 2020

Your weekly roundup of news and analysis of elections in Africa, usually posted on Mondays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

A scene at a village well in Dori, in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso, which holds elections on November 22 amid a security crisis. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Adam Jones, PhD (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Burkina Faso Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: November 22, 2020

Burkina Faso is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on November 22, 2020. These elections are taking place in the context of a growing security crisis as well as political uncertainty as the country’s democrats seek to consolidate the young, fragile democracy. More

Amaury Hauchard and Armel Baily, AFP (November 17, 2020): Security crisis dominates as Burkina heads to polls

Henry Wilkins, Al Jazeera (November 16, 2020): Insecurity dominates Burkina Faso campaigns before tight polls

Matteo de Mayda, Guilia Polato, and Cosimo Bizzarri, Vice (November 12, 2020): The Women Trying to Transform Burkina Faso, Whatever the Result of the Presidential Election

AFP (November 14, 2020): IS Claims Burkina Attack That Left 14 Soldiers Dead

Ghana Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: December 7, 2020

Ghana is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on December 7, 2020. Ghana is often cited as a success story for democratic transition. In that vein, the two main political parties, the center-right New Patriotic Party (NPP) and center-left National Democratic Congress (NDC), have alternated stints in power since Ghana began holding multiparty elections. The presidential election will be a rematch between incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo from NPP and former president John Mahama from NDC – the third consecutive face-off between Akufo-Addo and Mahama. More

BBC (November 12, 2020): Jerry Rawlings: Ghana’s ex-president dies aged 73

George M. Bob-Milliar and Jeffrey Paller, Washington Post (November 15, 2020): A longtime leader in Ghana has died. Jerry John Rawlings leaves a complicated legacy.

Niger Local Elections: December 13, 2020 and Presidential and Legislative Elections: December 27, 2020 (Presidential Second Round: February 20, 2021)

Niger plans to hold long-delayed local elections on December 13, 2020. These elections were supposed to take place in May 2016, but have been postponed multiple times. Next, the country will hold presidential and legislative elections on December 27.

Niger’s constitution bars incumbent Mahamadou Issoufou from running for a third presidential term, and in that vein, he is standing down (in contrast to Alpha Condé of Guinea, his friend and longtime colleague in the Francophone socialist movement, who recently changed his country’s constitution in order to pave the way to a third term). His party has nominated interior minister Mohamed Bazoum to be its presidential candidate. However, the constitutional court has barred opposition leader Hama Amadou from running. More

AFP (November 14, 2020): Niger court blocks opposition presidential candidate from poll

Reuters (November 13, 2020): Niger’s top court clears 30 candidates for Dec. 27 presidential election

Central African Republic Presidential and Legislative Elections: December 27, 2020

The Central African Republic (CAR) has scheduled presidential and legislative elections for December 27, 2020. The upcoming elections are taking place in the context of a humanitarian crisis and a crisis of governance. The country has had multiparty elections since 1993, but a series of coups and instability have prevented democracy from flourishing. Meanwhile, Russia is heavily involved in the country’s politics. More

Charlotte Cosset, RFI (November 15, 2020 – in French): Presidential election in the Central African Republic: France and Minusca [UN Peacekeeping Mission] protest against challenges

Michèle Joseph, Voice of America (November 12, 2020 – in French): December presidential election in CAR: Touadéra facing 21 candidates

Rodrigue Forku, Andalou Agency (November 13, 2020): UN extends Central African Republic mission for 1 year

Ethiopia General Elections: Postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19

Ethiopia planned to hold general elections on August 29, 2020, but has postponed the elections indefinitely due to COVID-19 and other factors. These elections are taking place in the context of political change in Ethiopia, and in the midst of both the opportunity to build a democracy and the threat of ethnic violence or even a breakup of the country, especially in light of the growing crisis in Tigray region in the north that has exploded into violent conflict. More

Claire Wilmot, Washington Post (November 17, 2020): Ethiopia’s cracking down in Tigray. But activists are spreading the news.

Reuters (November 13, 2020): War crimes feared in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict

Angola Local Elections: Due in 2020, no date set

Angola is due to hold its first-ever local elections in 2020. However, the elections have already been delayed multiple times (most recently in September 2020), and no date has been set. Meanwhile, COVID-19 provides an excuse for additional delays. In short, it is unclear when – or whether – the local elections will actually happen. Moreover, the country has never held free elections, and the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), a former armed group, has ruled since independence in 1976.

On October 24, Angolans protested against – among other things – the delay of the local elections. Another protest is planned for November 11, 2020 – Angola’s independence day. More

Human Rights Watch (November 12, 2020): Angola: Police Fire on Peaceful Protesters

Osvaldo Silva, openDemocracy (November 14, 2020): What happened to democracy in Angola?

Somalia Parliamentary Elections: December 1-27, 2020 and Presidential Election: February 8, 2021 (indirect)

Somalia has announced that indirect parliamentary elections will take place between December 1 and December 27, 2020, and the indirect presidential election will take place on February 8, 2021. Although some had hoped for direct elections, it didn’t work out this time, and these elections will continue to use the clan-based delegate system to choose parliament, which will then choose the president. 

However, tensions are high, and some have called for a delay in order to lower the chances of violence. More

Otieno Joel. The East African (November 16, 2020): Why Somali polls are critical for the country and Horn of Africa

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (November 12, 2020): Somalia’s electoral calendar rocked by controversy over poll team

Somali Affairs (November 12, 2020): Somalia’s Hirshabelle elects new president, vice president

International Crisis Group (November 10, 2020): Staving off Violence around Somalia’s Elections

Chad Presidential Election: April 11, 2020 and Parliamentary and Local Elections: October 24, 2021

Chad plans to hold a presidential election on April 11, 2021 and long-delayed long-delayed parliamentary elections on October 24, 2021 and local elections in April 2022. Originally due in 2015, the legislative elections have been delayed multiple times.

President Idriss Déby seized power in a rebellion in 1990, and although the country holds elections, there has never been a change in power by a free or fair vote. However, the opposition does hold seats in the National Assembly. Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world, and its economy depends on oil, meaning it will be hit particularly hard by the global slump in oil prices. More

Mahamat Kally, Tchadinfos (November 14, 2020 – in French): Chad Presidential Election: Budding candidates in shambles

Benin Presidential Election: March 2021

Benin is due to hold a presidential election in March 2021. Incumbent Patrice Talon will likely run for a second term, and he could be the only candidate on the ballotPreviously a model democracy in the region,  Benin has seen democratic decline since Talon’s election in 2016. More

Jean-Luc Aplogan, RFI (November 12, 2020 – in French): Benin: Patrice Talon begins a national tour, the opposition denounces a “pre-campaign”

Zambia General Elections: August 12, 2021

Zambia has scheduled general elections for August 12, 2021. Zambia used to be a model democracy in the region, with regular, competitive elections and a vibrant civil society. However, under Edgar Lungu, elected in 2015 to complete the term of Michael Sata (who died in office), Zambia began to regress toward authoritarianism. The 2016 elections were  marred by political violence and allegations of vote-rigging but ultimately judged credible. However, there are fears that Lungu could try to rig the 2021 elections. More

The Economist (November 14, 2020): Zambia is starting to look like Zimbabwe, the failure next door

South Africa Local Elections: Between August 3 and November 3, 2021 (due)

South Africa is due to hold local elections between August 3 and November 3, 2021. Voters will elect councils for all municipalities in each of the country’s nine provinces. South Africa, dubbed the “Rainbow Nation” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, inspired the world with its nonviolent transition from apartheid in 1994. The election that year was South Africa’s first that included all races. Since the end of apartheid and the subsequent victory of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress (ANC) has been South Africa’s dominant political party, winning every election since then. More

Dirk Kotze, The Conversation (November 18, 2020): What by-elections in South Africa say about the ruling party and the state of opposition

Past Africa Elections

Cote d’Ivoire Presidential Election: October 31, 2020

Cote d’Ivoire held a presidential election on October 31, 2020 in the context of rising political tensions as President Alassane Ouattara sought and won a controversial third term while using the state to bar his political opponents from running against him. More

William Assanvo, Institute for Strategic Studies (November 13, 2020): Dialogue is no easy answer for Côte d’Ivoire

Bram Posthumus, DW (November 12, 2020): Ivory Coast jittery after disputed election

Vincent Duhem, The Africa Report (November 12, 2020): Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara and Bédié meet for first time after two years

Benjamin Roger, The Africa Report (November 11, 2020): Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara starts third term by jailing opposition leader

Tanzania General Elections: October 25, 2020

Tanzania held presidential and legislative elections on October 25, 2020. While the country has historically been a beacon of stability, President John Magufuli has overseen a slide into authoritarianism. After the elections, the government ramped up its assault on the opposition. More

Nicodemus Minde, The Conversation (November 15, 2020): How Magufuli has steered Tanzania down the road of an authoritarian one-party state

Bob Karashani, The East African (November 14, 2020): Tanzania opposition turns to ICC for probe into rights violation, electoral misconduct

Abdul Halim, The Africa Report (November 12, 2020): Tanzania: Magufuli denounces UN human rights report, Tundu Lissu flees the country

Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (November 13, 2020): Recent Election Highlights the Dangers of Disenfranchisement in Zanzibar

Guinea Presidential Election: October 18, 2020

Amid violence, Guinea held a presidential election on October 18, 2020. Incumbent Alpha Condé ran for a controversial third term, and for the third time, faced off against opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo. Both candidates claimed they won, but election officials declared Condé the winner. However, Diallo is challenged the results, alleging fraud and prompting street protests leading to at least 10 deaths. More violence is likely. More

AFP (November 12, 2020): Guinea arrests opposition leaders after disputed election

Democratic Republic of the Congo General Elections: December 30, 2019

The DRC’s December 2018 presidential and legislative elections, which took place after multiple delays, were mired in controversy and dispute. The election commission declared opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential poll, but the Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers and is a highly trusted institution in the country, said that their data indicated a victory for another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu. When Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, was polling too poorly for Kabila to credibly rig the election for him, Kabila cut a deal with Tshisekedi. The legislative elections – also highly disputed – produced a majority for Kabila’s coalition. Major opposition figures Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba were barred from the polls and spent the election cycle outside the country, but both have returned. The opposition holds that Kabila is still in control.

Albert Kasanda, The Conversation (November 16, 2020): Growing turbulence in DRC’s ruling coalition points to an early divorce

Georges Kasongo Kalumba and Lisa Jené, African Arguments (November 12, 2020): DRC: Rumours abound after series of deaths in the president’s entourage

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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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