Africa This Week: February 15, 2021

February 15, 2021

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.

Somalia’s Port of Mogadishu. Photo credit: Wikimedia/TSTG PERRY HEIMER (public domain)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Somalia Indirect Presidential Election: Set for February 8, 2021 but postponed

Somalia was supposed to hold an indirect presidential election on February 8, 2021, following indirect parliamentary elections in December 2020. However, the elections have been delayed, and the current president’s term has expired, leaving Somalia in a political and constitutional crisis. More

Matt Bryden and Theodore Murphy, European Council on Foreign Relations (February 16, 2021): Somalia’s election impasse: A crisis of state building

Lynsey Chutel, Foreign Policy (February 10, 2021): Will Somalia’s Missed Election Lead to Chaos?

Mohamed Sheikh Nor, The Africa Report (February 4, 2021): Somalia’s delayed presidential elections: Top 7 issues to follow

Central African Republic Legislative Runoffs: March 14, 2021

The Central African Republic (CAR) held presidential and partial legislative elections on December 27, 2020 in the context of a growing humanitarian crisis and crisis of governance. The disqualification of a prominent presidential candidate led to increased rebel activity, which disrupted  voting in some areas, so consequently, those constituencies will hold the first round of their legislative elections on March 14, 2021. In addition, some of the constituencies that did vote on December 27 will hold runoff elections for their legislators.

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

BBC (February 16, 2021): Central African Republic: War crimes trial of two ex-militia leaders starts

Human Rights Watch (February 7, 2021): Central African Republic: First Anti-Balaka Trial at ICC: Milestone for Justice for Victims of Conflict Since 2012

Al Jazeera (February 13, 2021): CAR to hold runoff parliamentary elections in March

Ruth Maclean, New York Times (February 12, 2021): Refugees Flee Central African Republic, a Crisis the World Neglects

Samuel Ramani, RUSI (February 12, 2021): Russia’s Strategy in the Central African Republic

Republic of the Congo Presidential Election: March 20, 2021

The Republic of the Congo (sometimes called Congo-Brazzaville) is due to hold a presidential election on March 20, 2021. Denis Sassou Nguesso been president almost continuously since 1979, and rules with an iron fist. Elections have not been free or fair. More

Catholic News Service (February 5, 2021): Bishops in Republic of Congo worried presidential election won’t be fair

AFP (January 31, 2021): Main opposition to boycott Congo elections

Benin Presidential Election: April 11, 2021

Benin is due to hold a presidential election in March 2021. Incumbent Patrice Talon is running run for a second term, and he has largely kept the opposition off the ballot. Previously a model democracy in the region,  Benin has seen democratic decline since Talon’s election in 2016. More

AFP (February 13, 2021): Benin President Patrice Talon to face two rivals in April election

Khalid Al Mouahidi, Medafrica Times (February 11, 2021): Benin: UN envoy Ibn Chambas calls for dialogue before the presidential elections

Djibouti Presidential Election: April 2021

Djibouti is due to hold a presidential election in April 2021. Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, who has been president since 1999, will run for a fifth term. The main opposition parties plan to boycott, but have been holding protests. More

RFI (February 12, 2021): Djibouti’s veteran leader in Paris for talks on France’s military base

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. More

Martina Schwikowski, DW (February 11, 2021): Chad: Tensions rise over Deby’s presidential run

AFP (February 9, 2021): Chad opposition parties name single candidate for April 11 poll

Amnesty International (February 9, 2021): Chad: Opposition members and human rights activists banned from freely protesting ahead of election

Somaliland Parliamentary and Local Elections: May 2021 (tentative)

Somaliland is long overdue to hold parliamentary and local elections. Somaliland has de facto but not internationally-recognized independence from Somalia, and has a much more developed democracy, with direct elections. More

Mark Buckton, Taiwan Times (February 12, 2021): Somaliland Elections To Take Place May 31st, 2021

Ethiopia General Elections: June 5, 2021

Ethiopia has scheduled general elections for June 5, 2021, after several postponements. These elections are taking place in the context of the growing crisis in Tigray region in the north that has exploded into violent conflictMore

The Africa Report (February 15, 2021): Ethiopia: Will Tigray reach a conclusion in 2021?

Zecharias Zelalem, Al Jazeera (February 13, 2021): Ethiopia: Concern grows over health of jailed political leaders

Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (February 10, 2021): The Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region: What to Know

Simon Marks and Declan Walsh, New York Times (January 22, 2021): On ‘Rooftop of Africa,’ Ethiopia’s Troops Hunt Fugitive Former Rulers

Samuel Gebre Bloomberg (January 18, 2021): Ethiopia Pulls Tigray Party License Ahead of June Elections

Mauritius Municipal Elections: June 2021 (due)

Mauritius is due to hold municipal elections in June 2021. The country is generally considered a free democracy that has seen multiple peaceful transitions of power following competitive elections, but politics are dominated by a handful of powerful families. However, recent protests have raised the political temperature. More

Kamlesh Bhuckory, Bloomberg (February 13, 2021): Thousands Rally in Mauritius, Calling on Government to Step Down

Nishan Degnarain, Forbes (January 11, 2021): Mauritius In Crisis As Militarized Police Deployed Against Peaceful Protestors

São Tomé and Príncipe Presidential Election: July 2021 (due)

São Tomé and Príncipe is due to hold a presidential election in July 2021. Since the end of Marxist one-party rule in 1991, São Tomé and Príncipe has held regular elections with peaceful transfers of power, and is generally considered a free democracy. More

Óscar Medeiros, VOA (February 15, 2021 – in Portuguese): Sao Tome and Principe: Enactment of electoral law divides politicians

South Africa Local Elections: Due between August 3 and November 3, 2021

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. More

Kgothatso Madisa, Times Live (February 11, 2021): 2021 local government elections will go ahead as planned: Cyril Ramaphosa

Gambia Presidential Election: December 4, 2021

In December 2016, The Gambia began a remarkable transition to democracy. Citizens removed dictator Yahya Jammeh – who had come to power in a coup and ruled for 22 years – peacefully, via the ballot box, in a surprising result. Opposition candidate Adama Barrow won the presidency with the backing of a coalition of seven opposition parties. However, the process of establishing democracy and recovering from Jammeh’s brutal dictatorship has not been easy.

Although Barrow had initially pledged to serve only one term, he plans to run for re-election, which has sparked controversy and protests. More

Marième Soumaré, The Africa Report (February 3, 2021): Gambia: Adama Barrow on his way to a second term in office

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.

Patrick McAllister, Global Risk Insights (February 13, 2021): Mali’s “Fresh Start” is Becoming a Pipe Dream as Colonel Malick Diaw is Elected Head of Interim Legislature


Fredline M’Cormack-Hale and Mavis Zupork Dome, Washington Post (February 12, 2021): Africans want elections, but fewer believe they work

Jeffrey Smith and Todd Moss, World Politics Review (February 12, 2021): The U.S. Can Still Promote Democracy in Africa

Past Africa Elections

Uganda General Elections: January 14, 2021

Uganda held presidential and legislative elections on January 14, 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 Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, better known as Bobi Wine. Following the elections, the government launched a brutal crackdown on the opposition. More

Rodney Muhumuza, AP (February 15, 2021): Allegations of Abductions Grip Uganda After Tense Elections

Alice McCool, CNN (February 8, 2021): Alleging her partner was abducted and tortured, Ugandan activist Stella Nyanzi flees to Kenya

Burkina Faso Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: November 22, 2020

Burkina Faso held presidential and parliamentary elections on November 22, 2020, 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. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore won re-election. More

Ramesh Rajasingham, DW (February 15, 2021): Opinion: Crisis-crippled Burkina Faso needs urgent help

Sam Mednick, AP (February 12, 2021): UN: Burkina Faso on brink of protracted humanitarian crisis

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