Africa This Week: March 15, 2021

March 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.

A tailor selling traditional dresses in Chad. Chadians head to the polls in April and October this year. Photo credit:
Wikimedia/Mark Knobil (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

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

Matthieu Vendrely, TV5Monde (March 15, 2021 – in French): Presidential in Congo: Denis Sassou Nguesso, chronicle of a presidency for life

Africanews/AFP (March 15, 2021): Ex-rebel chief Ntumi calls for ‘peaceful and “transparent” elections

Africanews (March 12, 2021): Congo: Human rights activist arrested 10 days before election

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

Matthieu Millecamps, Jeune Afrique (March 15, 2021 – in French): Benin: Reckya Madougou’s daily in detention

RFI (March 12, 2021): Benin: the Democrats party, removed from the presidential election, calls for a national dialogue

Estelle Mauisson, The Africa Report (March 11, 2021): Benin: President Patrice Talon’s agricultural policy is put to the test

Maurice Thantan, Jeune Afrique (March 9, 2021 – in French): Presidential election in Benin: who is Corentin Kohoué, unexpected challenger to Patrice Talon

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

RFI (March 15, 2021 – in French): Chad: Idriss Déby’s remarks at a meeting make the opposition jump

Renaud Masbeye Boybeye and Desirey Minkoh, AFP (March 14, 2021 – video): Chad President Idriss Deby Kicks Off Campaign For Sixth Term

Laurent Larcher, La Croix (March 11, 2021 – in French): In Chad, the presidential campaign hardens

Cabo Verde Parliamentary Elections: April 18, 2021 and Presidential Election: October 17, 2021

Cabo Verde, a stable democracy with regular elections and peaceful transfers of power, is due to hold parliamentary elections on April 18, 2021 and a presidential election on October 17, 2021. These follow local elections, which took place on October 25, 2020. More

Eugénio Teixeira, VOA (March 15, 2021 – in Portuguese): Cape Verde legislatures: PAICV bets on new names; MPD mixes veterans and novices

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

Addis Getachew Tadesse, Andalou Agency (March 15, 2021): Ethiopia: Election campaign in full swing

AFP (March 11, 2021): Ethiopian diplomat in US resigns over Tigray war

Ameyu Etana, BBC (March 10, 2021): Ethiopia’s main opposition party pulls out of poll

Joshua Keating, Slate (March 9, 2021): The Information Age Retreats From the Battlefield

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

Mandla Lionel Isaacs, Daily Maverick (March 15, 2021): South African politics: Parties are not the problem — and independent candidates are not the solution

Luke Feltham, Mail and Guardian (March 12, 2021): Pandemic vote: What will the local government elections look like?

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

AFP (March 10, 2021): Zambia passes sweeping cyber laws ahead of elections

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: March 2022 (tentative, 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, which will “in principle” take place in March 2022.

Al Jazeera (March 15, 2021): Mali: Court ends trial of former coup leader Sanogo

Aïssatou Diallo and Bokar Sangaré, The Africa Report (March 12, 2021): Who really runs Mali? Bah N’Daw or Assimi Goïta?

Alphonse Logo, Andalou Agency (March 9, 2021): Mali to hold presidential elections in March 2022

Kenya General Elections: August 9, 2022

Kenya is due to hold general elections on August 9, 2022. The last elections, in August 2017, were disputed, and the presidential poll was re-run in October 2017. President Uhuru Kenyatta won re-election after opposition leader Raila Odinga encouraged his supporters to boycott the re-run. Kenyan politics is highly polarized with a strong ethnic component.

AFP (March 11, 2021): Veteran Kenya opposition chief Odinga in hospital with Covid

Angola Angola Legislative Elections: August 2022 (due) and Local Elections: Overdue, no date set

Angola, which has never held free elections, and has been ruled by the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), a former armed group, since independence in 1976, is due to hold legislative elections in August 2022. In addition, the country is overdue to hold its first-ever local elections. These 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.  More

Moniz Francisco, VOA (March 15, 2021 – in Portuguese): UNITA President reiterates proposal for presidential and legislative 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 crisisMore

The Economist (March 13, 2021): A power grab by Somalia’s president has tipped it into crisis

Edith M. Lederer, AP (March 13, 2021): UN urges Somalia to organize elections without delay

Chrispin Mwakideu, Reuters/AP (March 10, 2021): Somalia’s security situation in crisis amid political uncertainty

Senegal Local Elections: March 28, 2021 (delayed – no new date set)

Senegal was supposed to have local elections in June 2019. However, the country’s election commission first postponed to late 2020, and then postponed them yet again, to March 28, 2021. However, the elections have been delayed again, and no new date has been set. Meanwhile, legislative elections are due in July 2022. 

Most recently, the arrest of an opposition leader has sparked protests. More

Christina Lu, Foreign Policy (March 12, 2021): What’s Going On in Senegal?

Emily Hawthorne, Stratfor (March 12, 2021): An Opposition Leader’s Arrest Threatens Senegal’s Stability

Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (March 12, 2021): Senegal’s Democracy Faces a Crisis of Public Trust

Tom Burges Watson, Alessandro Xenos, and Juliette Laurain, France24 (March 9, 2021 – video):  The Debate: Senegal back from the brink? Opposition leader, president call for calm after unrest

Past Africa Elections

Central African Republic Partial Legislative Elections and Runoffs: March 14, 2021

The Central African Republic (CAR) held presidential and partial legislative elections on December 27, 2020 in the midst of a worsening security situation. Rebels disrupted voting in some areas, so consequently, those constituencies held the first round of their legislative elections on March 14, 2021. In addition, some of the constituencies that did vote on December 27 held runoff elections for their legislators.

These elections took place in the context of a humanitarian crisis and a crisis of governanceSectarian clashes have been taking place since 2013. Moreover, Russia has ramped up its political and military involvement in exchange for mining rights. More 

Antoine Rolland and Judicael Yongo, Reuters (March 15, 2021): Central African Republic votes amid tight security after December violence

Mathieu Olivier, Jeune Afrique (March 14, 2021 – in French): Russia-CAR: Who are Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s Russian guardian angels?

Neil Edwards, Council on Foreign Relations (March 10, 2021): Coup-Proofing: Russia’s Military Blueprint to Securing Resources in Africa

Côte d’Ivoire Parliamentary Elections: March 6, 2021

Cote d’Ivoire held legislative elections on March 6, 2021, following the turbulent October 2020 presidential election, in which 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, following discussions and the release of some opposition figures, the opposition participated in the legislative elections. More

Katarina Höije, Al Jazeera (March 13, 2021): Ivory Coast prime minister’s death heralds political jockeying

Leanne de Bassompierre, Bloomberg (March 9, 2021): Win For Ivorian Ruling Party Bolsters Ouattara’s Authority

Le Monde/AFP (March 9, 2021 – in French): In Ivory Coast, ruling party wins majority in legislative elections

Niger Presidential Runoff: February 21, 2021

Niger held a presidential runoff on February 21, 2021 amid security threats and violence. Despite that, the historic election facilitated Niger’s first peaceful transfer of power from one elected president to another. More

Lalla Sy, BBC (March 9, 2021): Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou – why he won a $5m prize

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 Bobi Wine. Following the elections, the government launched a brutal crackdown on the opposition. More

Farah Bahgat, DW (March 15, 2021): Uganda: Bobi Wine arrested during rally, his office says

Patty Magubira, The East African (March 15, 2021): [East Africa] Law Society sues Uganda for shutting down internet during polls

Halima Athumani and Max Bearak, Washington Post (March 12, 2021): Stories of torture emerge as Uganda releases Bobi Wine supporters

Regional Analysis

Rhys Martin, Global Risk Insights (March 12, 2021): Are COVID-19 Measures Being Used to Stifle Democracy in Africa?

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