Africa

April 5, 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 Ouémé River flowing into the Atlantic Ocean in Cotonou, the economic capital of Benin. Benin holds a presidential election on April 11, “Super Sunday,” when many elections around the world are set to take place. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Mark Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (April 6, 2021): Somali leaders fail to agree on agenda for crucial poll meeting

Peter Kirechu, War on the Rocks (April 2, 2021): Somalia’s electoral crisis in extremis

Africanews/AP (April 1, 2021): UN urges Somali leaders to break impasse delaying elections

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 (April 2, 2021 – in French): Presidential in Djibouti: Ismaïl Omar Guelleh faces himself

Africa Times (March 31, 2021): Djibouti increases reliance on Beijing, but at what cost?

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 and Honoré Banda, The Africa Report (April 5, 2021): Benin: Talon set for April 11 poll victory with opposition sidelined

Justin Cole, Just Security (April 5, 2021): What are the stakes of the upcoming elections in Benin?

AFP (April 5, 2021): Top Benin judge flees country denouncing pressure

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

Kizzi Asala and Joel Honoré Kouam, Africanews (April 6, 2021): Chad: Charged atmosphere pre-election as opposition calls for boycott

Mathieu Olivier, Jeune Afrique (April 5, 2021 – in French): Presidential election in Chad: has voter registration slipped?

Nafissa Amadou, DW (April 4, 2021 – in French): Chad: Tense climate before the elections

Vincent Niébédé, BBC (April 2, 2021 – in French): Presidential election in Chad: who is running, who is boycotting and why?

Joel Kouam, Africanews (April 2, 2021): In Chad, the opposition is outspent and harassed

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

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

Odair Santos, RFI (April 1, 2021 – in Portuguese): Cape Verde: 597 candidates run for 72 seats in parliament

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

Taiwan Times (April 2, 2021): Elections In Taiwan’s Horn of Africa ally Somaliland won’t be delayed by COVID

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

Muleya Mwananyanda, Daily Maverick (April 5, 2021): Free speech? Zambia’s new internet law fails basic human rights scrutiny

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

Reed Brody, Human Rights Watch (April 1, 2021): Interview with Reed Brody on the Jammeh2Justice campaign

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.

AFP (April 5, 2021): Mali paid ransom for release of opposition leader, says intermediary

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

Salamoseydi, Senalioune (April 2, 2021 – in French): Senegal local elections: Government and opposition invited to find a compromise

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

AFP (April 3, 2021): COVID-19 victim Kolelas won Congo vote, opposition party claims

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

Giacomo Zandonini, Al Jazeera (April 2, 2021): Mohamed Bazoum sworn in as Niger’s president amid tensions

Olayinka Ajala, The Conversation (April 2, 2021): Botched coup in Niger points to deep fissures in the country

Melissa Bell, Sarah Dean and Richard Roth, CNN (March 31, 2021): Arrests made in Niger attempted coup, days before President-elect’s inauguration

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, The East African (April 1, 2021): Uganda election petition filed at EACJ

Lynsey Chutel, Foreign Policy (March 31, 2021): Is Uganda returning to the “dark days”?

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

The Citizen Tanzania (April 3, 2021): ACT-Wazalendo to participate in by-polls; Chadema opts out of the race

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 (April 5, 2021): Zimbabwe police disrupt MDC alliance meeting amid tense political situation

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