Africa This Week: March 29, 2021

March 29, 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.

Lake Abbe, a salt lake on the border of Djibouti and Ethiopia. Both countries head to the polls this spring. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Rolf Cosar (CC BY 3.0)

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

Talya Parker, Global Risk Insights (March 28, 2021): Somalia’s election impasse: history repeating itself

Mohamed Kahiye, VOA (March 27, 2021): Somalia parliament session called off

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (March 24, 2021): Somalia’s leaders attempt another round of discussions on elections

Vava Tampa, The Guardian (March 24, 2021): The world has a vested interest in Somalia. Will it act to stop its collapse?

Djibouti Presidential Election: April 9, 2021

Djibouti is holding a presidential election on April 9, 2021. Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, who has been president since 1999, will run for a fifth term. The main opposition parties plan to boycott and have been holding protests. More

Olivier Caslin, Jeune Afrique (March 31, 2021 – in French): Djibouti: the threats of al-Shabab against Guelleh, France and the United States taken very seriously

AFP (March 29, 2021): Al-Shabab leader calls for more violence ahead of Djibouti presidential 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

DW (March 30, 2021): Presidential election in Benin: a formality for Patrice Talon?

Jean-Luc Aplogan, RFI (March 30, 2021): Presidential election in Benin: Patrice Talon in active campaign for his re-election

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

TV5Monde (March 30, 2021 – in French): Presidential election in Chad: the indestructible Déby without a real challenger

AFP (March 30, 2021): Chad’s Deby set for sixth term after key rivals sidelined

Helga Dickow, The Conversation (March 24, 2021): How a popular movement could threaten Idriss Déby Itno’s 30 years in power

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

LUSA (March 29, 2021 – in Portuguese): Cape Verde: PAICV wants to return to power in April

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

Girmachew Alemu, The Elephant (March 30, 2021): Ethiopia’s next poll could be more competitive. But big challenges remain

AP (March 26, 2021): Ethiopia says Eritrea agrees to withdraw troops from Tigray

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

ANI (March 31, 2021): Zambia’s debt: Future of Chinese loan

Romeo Langlois, Nicolas Germain, and Yi Song, France24 (March 26, 2021 – video): Zambia: Under Chinese influence

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

Kevin Brandt, Eyewitness News (March 30, 2021): EFF still wants local government elections postponed until 2024

Reuters (March 30, 2021): All members of South Africa’s ANC charged with corruption must step aside or face suspension – Ramaphosa

Rebecca Davis, Daily Maverick (March 27, 2021): The new face of South Africa’s elections

Nigeria Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 23, 2023

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, holds elections in February 2023, but potential candidates have already begun jockeying for position. Since the return to civilian rule, vote-rigging and violence have plagued elections. While the 2015 polls – which handed the opposition its first-ever victory – were considered credible, international and Nigerian observers found that the 2019 polls fell short. The country is in the midst of several security crises.

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, The Guardian (March 30, 2021): Osinbajo defies expectations as Nigeria’s vice-president

Nwokoye Mpi, The Africa Report (March 26, 2021): Nigeria: Yoruba/Fulani relations at breaking point, as Buhari security promises ring hollow

‘Tofe Ayeni, Patrick Smith, The Africa Report (March 25, 2021): Nigeria’s Tinubu: Will the lion of Bourdillon roar again?

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

AFP (March 26, 2021): Senegal again postpones local elections

Africanews (March 24, 2021): Senegalese journalists allege increasing intimidation over Ousmane Sonko

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

Andrew Green, World Politics Review (March 26, 2021): Sassou Nguesso’s long reign continues

RFI (March 25, 2021): Congo-Brazzaville opposition vows to appeal ‘rigged’ Nguesso re-election

AFP (March 24, 2021): Sassou Nguesso, ‘Emperor’ of oil-rich Congo, wins election

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

Michael Fitzpatrick, RFI (March 25, 2021): Cote d’Ivoire: trial over Duékoué post-election massacre underway

Benjamin Roger, The Africa Report (March 25, 2021): Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara’s new government, who is likely to stay or get the boot?

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

Jonathan Kamoga, Daily Monitor (March 28, 2021): Six sue government over post-election violence

Sally Hayden, Irish Times )March 24, 2021): Outcry over election-related abductions in Uganda

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

Nolan Quinn, Council on Foreign Relations (March 30, 2021): Interview: Tundu Lissu discusses the need for constitutional reform in Tanzania

Rob Ahearne, The Conversation (March 27, 2021): Tanzania’s new president faces a tough ‘to do’ list

Abu-Bakarr Jalloh, DW (March 26, 2021): Opinion: Tanzania’s John Magufuli hid his tyranny behind a blame game

Khaled Abubakar and Tom Odula, AP (March 25, 2021): Hassan becomes Tanzania’s first female president

Luke Melchiorre, African Arguements (March 24, 2021): “Young people in Tanzania shunned the election completely”: A conversation with Zitto Kabwe

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 

Moki Edwin Kindzeka, VOA (March 30, 2021): Cameroon hopes for stability as CAR president is sworn in

Jean Fernand Koena, AP (March 30, 2021): Embattled Central African Republic president begins 2nd term

Luke Harding and Jason Burke, The Guardian (March 30, 2021): Russian mercenaries behind human rights abuses in CAR, say UN experts

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.

Gibbs Dube, VOA (March 25, 2021): Opposition Zimbabwe Members of Parliament facing US$5,000 fines for “disrespecting” Mnangagwa

VOA (March 24, 2021): United States: Zanu PF misusing levers of government to silence critics

Africa-Wide News and Analysis

Nic Cheeseman, The Citizen (March 30, 2021): Digital democracy still a long way off in Africa; it takes more than tech

David Zounmenou and Nadia Adam, Daily Maverick/ISS Today (March 26, 2021): ‘Electoral reforms’ stifling democracy and political opposition in West Africa

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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