Africa

December 7, 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.


Central Accra, Ghana. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Muntaka Chasant (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Ghana Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: December 7, 2020

Ghana holds presidential and parliamentary elections on December 7, 2020. Often cited as a success story for democratic transition, Ghana’s 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. More

Francis Kokutse, AP (December 7, 2020): Ghana votes for president in test of country’s stability

Stacey Knott, Voice of America (December 7, 2020): Voters in Ghana Choose Between Familiar Faces 

David Pilling, Financial Times (December 6, 2020): Africa watches with envy at Ghana’s ‘boring’ presidential race

Luke Tyburski, Atlantic Council (December 4, 2020): Data remains a weak spot for African elections, but Ghana can lead the way

Liberia Senate Elections: December 8, 2020

Liberia will elect half of its Senate on December 8, 2020. The country’s 2017 election brought the first peaceful transition of power since 1944, but Liberia still faces some challenges as it seeks to consolidate democracy. More

Wescott Yeaw, Foreign Brief (December 8, 2020): Senate elections in Liberia to begin

AFP (December 6, 2020): Liberia referendum could pave way for contentious third term for President Weah

South Africa By-Elections: December 9, 2020

Wayne Sussman, Daily Maverick (December 7, 2020): High stakes at eleventh hour of 9 December municipal by-elections

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, and in contrast to some incumbents in the region, he is standing down. 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

RFI (December 8, 2020 – in French): In Niger, observers are concerned in the run-up to general elections

DW (December 7, 2020 – in French): Niger: Presidential election campaign kicks off

RFI (December 4, 2020 – in French): Municipal elections in Niger: a desire for democracy despite the security situation

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

France24/Reuters (December 3, 2020): Central African Republic court rejects ex-president Bozizé’s election candidacy

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

Abdullahi Abdille Shahow, World Politics Review (December 8, 2020): Fears of Al-Shabab Attacks Rise Ahead of Somalia’s Delayed Elections

Mohamed Sheikh Nor, The Africa Report (December 7, 2020): Somalia’s election impasse: Crisis or successful state-building?

Declan Walsh, New York Times (December 5, 2020): In Somalia, U.S. Troop Withdrawal Is Seen as Badly Timed

Uganda General Elections: January 14, 2021

Uganda will hold presidential and legislative elections on January 14, 2021. President Yoweri Museveni has held power since 1986 and plans to seek a sixth term. For the upcoming elections, 37-year-old pop star Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, better known as Bobi Wine, has emerged as a leading opposition candidate. Security forces remain in a pattern of intimidating and harassing the opposition, and political climate is tense. More

Africa Center for Strategic Studies (December 8, 2020): The Battle for the Soul of Uganda

Jonathan Kamoga, The East African (December 6, 2020): Violence, deaths continue ahead of Uganda elections

The Africa Report (December 2, 2020): Uganda: Bobi Wine suspends presidential campaign after violence

Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post (December 2, 2020): The Ugandan opposition leader survives an attack. The U.S. needs to take a stand.

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 (December 8, 2020): Catholic Church intercedes with President Talon on sponsorships for the presidential election

Ethiopia General Elections: Postponed indefinitely

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 conflictMore

Nima Elbagir, Barbara Arvanitidis and Eoin McSweeney, CNN (December 4, 2020): Forces from Ethiopia’s Tigray region say Eritrean troops are part of the conflict and the war is far from over

Samuel Getachew, Washington Post (December 3, 2020): Ethiopia sees reminders of its dark days as ‘Abiy-mania’ fades

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: TBD, following coup

Mali had a coup in August 2020. Soldiers removed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, dissolved parliament (which had just been elected in April, in elections marred by fraud and intimidation) and established a transitional government, promising elections in due course

Leanne de Bassompierre, Bloomberg (December 6, 2020): A Leader of Mali’s Coup Was Elected Head of Transitional Council

AFP (December 4, 2020): Mali names members of interim parliament as army cements control

Katarina Hoije, Bloomberg News (December 4, 2020): Salif Keita, One of Mali’s Most Beloved Singers, Enters Politics

Past Africa Elections

Cameroon Regional Elections (indirect): December 6, 2020

Cameroon will hold its first-ever regional elections on December 6. Cameroon is in the midst of several crises. Anglophone separatists seek to form a new country called Ambazonia. Furthermore, the country is in the middle of a political crisis.

Reuters (December 6, 2020): 1 Killed, Others Wounded as Cameroon Holds First Regional Elections

Al Jazeera (December 6, 2020): Cameroon holds first regional election amid opposition boycott

Namibia Local and Regional Elections: November 25, 2020

Namibia is due to hold local and regional elections on November 25, 2020. Namibia is a free, stable democracy. In that vein, recent elections have been judged free, fair, and credible by observers.Since independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibian politics have been dominated by the socialist Swapo, an independence movement-turned-political party. More

Henning Melber, The Conversation (December 6, 2020): Namibia’s democracy enters new era as ruling Swapo continues to lose its lustre

Michael Fitzpatrick, RFI (December 4, 2020): Politician named Adolf Hitler puts Namibia local election in world headlines

Côte d’Ivoire Presidential Election: October 31, 2020

Cote d’Ivoire held a presidential election on October 31, 2020 in a tense environment as President Alassane Ouattara sought and won a controversial third term. Protests followed. More

Tyson Roberts, Washington Post (December 2, 2020): Ivory Coast reelected its president. Opposition candidates boycotted the voting.

Human Rights Watch (December 2, 2020): Côte d’Ivoire: Post-Election Violence, Repression

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