Africa This Week: March 22, 2021

March 22, 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.

The Grand Mosque in Porto-Novo, Benin, built in the Afro-Brazilian architectural style. Photo credit: Wikimedia/GBETONGNINOUGBO JOSEPH HERVE AHISSOU (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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 crisisMore

Michael Rubin, The National Interest (March 22, 2021): Why American Embassy’s Botched Somalia Policy Is Making Things Worse

Liban Obisye, The Africa Report (March 22, 2021): Somalia’s disputed polls is an important lesson in its democratic journey

Mohamed Kahiye, VOA (March 21, 2021): Somalia’s leaders plan to move forward with poll following U.S. call

Reuters (March 20, 2021): Blinken urges Somalia’s leaders to set aside ‘narrow political objectives’ and hold ‘transparent’ 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

Rogatien Biaou, Mail and Guardian (March 21, 2021): Benin’s democratic crisis is deepening, but no one is paying attention

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

Katarina Hoije, Bloomberg (March 21, 2021): Chad opposition leader condemns police crackdown ahead of vote

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 22, 2021 – in Portuguese): Presidential elections in Cape Verde: political heavyweights are already on the road

LUSA (March 17, 2021 – in Portuguese): Former Prime Minister José Maria Neves candidate for President of the Republic of Cape Verde

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

Reuters (March 22, 2021): U.N. calls for stop to ‘horrific’ sexual violence in Ethiopia’s Tigray

Neamin Ashenafi, The Reporter Ethiopia (March 20, 2021): Security: the defining factor in the upcoming general elections

Addis Getachew, Andalou Agency (March 20, 2021): Ethiopia: 134,000+ observers to monitor June elections

Nick Westcott, African Arguments (March 18, 2021): Ethiopia: PM Abiy’s three big challenges

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

Sishuwa Sishuwa, Mail and Guardian (March 22, 2021): Zambia may burn after the August elections. Here’s how to prevent this

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

Roger Southall, The Conversation (March 22, 2021): South Africa is ripe for electoral reform. Why its time might have come

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

Adama Tine, The Point (March 22, 2021): Political parties renew commitment to peaceful elections

Human Rights Watch (March 17, 2021): Gambia: Alleged ‘Death Squad’ Member Arrested in Germany

AFP (March 17, 2021): One night in 2004, an AFP reporter in The Gambia was shot dead

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

LUSA (March 19, 2021): Angola: Parliament approves constitutional bill on first reading; UNITA abstains

Borralho Ndomba, DW (March 18, 2021 – in Portuguese): Angola: “Constitutional revision does not intend to postpone 2022 general elections”

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

Bobby Ghosh, Bloomberg (March 21, 2021): Senegal’s Democracy Is in Peril

Marame Gueye, Washington Post (March 19, 2021): Opinion: In Senegal, women’s bodies have become a political battleground

Past 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

Hereward Holland, Reuters (March 22, 2021): Sassou expected to extend 36-year rule as Congo Republic votes

Ruth Maclean and Mady Camara, New York Times (March 22, 2021): Presidential challenger dies of COVID-19 just hours after voting ends

Daniel Finnan, RFI (March 18, 2021): Congo Brazzaville’s ‘emperor’ consolidating power in presidential polls

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 

Al Jazeera (March 21, 2021): CAR ex-President François Bozizé takes charge of rebel alliance

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

Al Jazeera (March 22, 2021): Niger’s top court confirms Mohamed Bazoum’s election win

Sebastian Elischer, The Conversation (March 18, 2021): Why it’s a big surprise that the African leadership prize went to Niger’s Issoufou

Cameroon Regional Elections (indirect): December 6, 2020

Cameroon held 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.

VOA (March 21, 2021): Cameroon Election of Octogenarians to Top Posts Draws Mixed Reactions

Namibia Local and Regional Elections: November 25, 2020

Namibia held local and regional elections on November 25, 2020. Namibia is a free, stable democracy, but since independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibian politics have been dominated by the socialist Swapo, an independence movement-turned-political party. Swapo took a hit in these elections, losing control of the city council in the capital, Windhoek, and other cities. More

Henning Melber, Quartz (March 21, 2021): Namibians aren’t in the mood to celebrate their independence day

Tanzania General Elections: October 25, 2020

Tanzania held presidential and legislative elections on October 25, 2020 in the context of a crackdown on the opposition and growing authoritarianism. President John Magufuli, whose Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has been in power since 1961, won a second term, but the opposition said the elections were neither free nor fair. Opposition figures have been arrested, assaulted, and murdered. 

However, in March 2021, Magufuli died of COVID-19. More

Tundu AM Lissu, Daily Maverick (March 22, 2021): Tanzania’s five years of devastation under the presidency of John Pombe Magufuli

Ineke Mules, DW (March 19, 2021): Samia Suluhu Hassan: Who is Tanzania’s new president?

BBC (March 18, 2021): John Magufuli: Tanzania’s president dies aged 61 after Covid rumours

Nic Cheesman, The Africa Report (March 17, 2021): The great Magufuli mystery: What a missing president tells us about politics in Tanzania

Zimbabwe General Elections: July 30, 2018

A coup in 2017 led to the fall of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s longtime dictator, who left a legacy of gross economic mismanagement and political repression. However, democracy continues to face many challenges in Zimbabwe.

Reuters (March 18, 2021): Zimbabwe parliament expels six lawmakers as opposition infighting escalates

Region-Wide Analysis

Juliet Atellah and Purity Mukami, The Elephant (March 19, 2021): Erosion of civil and political rights in Africa: Ibrahim Index (IIAG) 2020 Report

John Mukum Mbaku, Brookings Institution (March 18, 2021): Entrenching democracy in African countries: Policy imperatives for leaders in 2021

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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