Africa This Week: April 19, 2021

April 19, 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 motorcyclist in Bamako, capital of Mali. Mali will hold several sets of elections in the coming year following a coup. Photo credit: Iwaria/Mukaleng D (CC0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

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

Al Jazeera (April 19, 2021): Why is ethnic violence surging in Ethiopia?

Reuters (April 19, 2021): Eighteen killed in clashes between Ethiopia’s Oromo, Amhara groups

Ann FitzGerald and Hugh Segal, RUSI (April 19, 2021): Ethiopia: A New Proxy Battlespace?

Kenya Constitutional Referendum: June 2021, followed by 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.

In June 2021, Kenya will hold a referendum on eight constitutional amendments as proposed by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a joint taskforce created by Kenyatta and Odinga in 2018. The amendments would create a prime minister and two deputies, in addition to other changes. Critics that these changes would further centralize power in Kenya.

Elisabeth King, The Conversation (April 19, 2021): Kenya should take note: recognising ethnic identities can lead to positive outcomes

Bella Genga, Bloomberg (April 16, 2021): Kenyan Vice President Hints at Break Away From Ruling Party

Senegal Local Elections: Overdue – no new date set (but possibly by January 2022)

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 sparked protests in March 2021. More

James Courtright, Equal Times (April 19, 2021): The protests may have stopped, but the embers of discontent continue to smoulder in Senegal

Ibrahima Mansaly, PressAfrik (April 15, 2021 – in French): Local elections in Senegal: no consensus on the date, after the meeting of the select committee

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 27, 2022 (following coup)

Mali has set presidential and legislative elections for February 27, 2022, following the August 2020 coup. In the coup, 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. Before that, there will be a constitutional referendum on October 31, 2021 and local and regional elections on December 26.

Katarina Hoije, Bloomberg (April 15, 2021): Reeling From a Coup, Mali Sets Date For Elections Next Year

Al Jazeera (April 15, 2021): Mali sets February date for presidential, parliamentary elections

Bokar Sangaré, The Africa Report (April 14, 2021): ‘Mali was built on a foundation that has neglected its true nature’ says Ousmane Sy

Somalia 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 term of President Mohamed “Farmaajo” has expired, leaving Somalia in a political and constitutional crisis. In April 2021, Farmaajo etendedd his term for two years.

While the United States and the EU threatened sanctions, some analysts believe that the delay could pave the way for direct elections. However, critics dismiss this idea as a ruse to justify Farmaajo’s extension of his term. More

Mohammed Ibrahim Shire, The Conversation (April 16, 2021): How a protracted political battle led to the extension of the Somalia president’s term

Isaac Mugabi, DW (April 15, 2021): US, EU threaten to sanction Somalia

Mohamed Kahiye, VOA (April 14, 2021): Somalia’s Farmajo Signs Controversial Measure Extending Mandate by 2 Years

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.

BBC (April 19, 2021 – in Pidgin): Rivers State local government election results: RSIEC full results for 23 LGAs, 319 wards

John Campbell, Council on Foreign Relations (April 16, 2021): Yoruba Debate “Restructuring” of Nigeria or “Autonomy”

Past Africa Elections

Cabo Verde Parliamentary Elections: April 18, 2021 (followed by a presidential election on October 17, 2021, and following local elections last year)

Cabo Verde, a stable democracy with regular elections and peaceful transfers of power, held parliamentary elections on April 18, 2021. The incumbent center-right MpD won, defeating the socialist PAICV (which had run Cabo Verde as a one-party state until 1990, but MpD won a historic victory in 2016).

Cabo Verde’s strategic location in the Atlantic has made it the site of increasing geopolitical competition between the U.S., NATO, and the EU on one hand and China on the other. While PAICV advocates strong links with Beijing, and has a party-to-party relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, current PM Ulisses Correia e Silva from MpD advocates stronger links with NATO and the West. More

Reuters (April 19, 2021): Cape Verde’s ruling party maintains majority in parliamentary elections

Al Jazeera (April 17, 2021 – video): Cape Verde election: Economy and drought dominate campaign

Chad Presidential Election: April 11, 2020 and Parliamentary and Local Elections: October 24, 2021

Chad held a presidential election on April 11, 2021. President Idriss Déby, seized power in a rebellion in 1990, won a sixth term. However, on April 20, he was killed by rebels.

Although the country holds elections, there has never been a change in power by a free or fair vote. Long-delayed long-delayed parliamentary elections had been set for October 24, 2021 and local elections for April 2022. Originally due in 2015, the legislative elections have been delayed multiple times. However, Deby’s death could lead to further delays – the military has said it plans to rule the country for 18 months. More

Niamh Kennedy, Stephanie Busari, Tim Lister, and Stephanie Halasz, CNN (April 20, 2021): Chad’s President Idriss Deby killed in frontline clashes with rebels, state TV reports

Reuters (April 19, 2021): Chad President Deby wins re-election, extending 30 years in power

Cameron Hudson, Atlantic Council (April 19, 2021): Will events in Chad force a reset of Sahel strategy?

Remadji Hoinathy, ISS Today (April 19, 2021): Chad’s turbulent presidential polls put democracy on the backburner

Al Jazeera (April 18, 2021): Chad’s Deby takes early election lead as rebels near Ndjamena

Lynsey Chutel, Foreign Policy (April 14, 2021): Why the World Won’t Criticize Chad

John Campbell, Council on Foreign Relations (April 13, 2021): Chad Holds Another Sham Election

Benin Presidential Election: April 11, 2021

Benin helda presidential election on April 11, 2021. Incumbent Patrice Talon won a second term after largely keeping the opposition off the ballot. Previously a model democracy in the region,  Benin has seen democratic decline since Talon’s election in 2016. More

Virgile Ahissou, Australian Associated Press (April 14, 2021): Benin president Talon wins re-election

Camille Malplat, AFP (April 13, 2021): Feared and revered: Patrice Talon, Benin’s ‘King of Cotton’

Annika Hammerschlag, VOA (April 13, 2021): Democracy Under Threat in Benin

Djibouti Presidential Election: April 9, 2021

Djibouti held a presidential election on April 9, 2021. Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, who has been president since 1999, won a fifth term amid opposition boycotts and protests. Under Guelleh, Djibouti (which is strategically located on the Bab-el-Mandeb chokepoint) has been pivoting toward China, although the U.S. and other democracies continue to have military bases there. More

Doug Moursay, International Policy Digest (April 16, 2021): After Guelleh’s Election, Much of the Same for Djibouti

Aadil Brar, ThePrint (April 14, 2021): Djibouti story resembles Hambantota, has the same Chinese script

Eoin O’Cinneide, Upstream (April 14, 2021): Potential LNG hub Djibouti re-elects Guelleh in poll slammed as ‘farce’ by opposition

Republic of the Congo Presidential Election: March 20, 2021

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

Africanews (April 16, 2021): Congo’s Dennis Sassou -Nguesso sworn in for fifth term

Brett L. Carter, African Arguments (April 13, 2021): Congo: Sassou Nguesso wins another term but still faces two big threats

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

Reuters (April 16, 2021): U.S. Imposes Visa Curbs on Those Who Undermined Ugandan Elections

Nangayi Guyson, African Arguments (April 15, 2021): I was abducted by Museveni’s regime. This is what I saw.

UN News (April 13, 2021): Rights experts sound alarm over Uganda ‘brutal’ election crackdown 

Africa-Wide Analysis

Jibrin Ibrahim, ISS Today (April 14, 2021): Insecurity and Covid-19: Threats to electoral democracy in Africa

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