Africa This Week: April 26, 2021

April 26, 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 tomb of Sheikh Isaaq, who founded the Isaaq clan, one of the major Somali clans, in the 12th century. The tomb is located in Maydh, Somaliland. Clans play a major role in the politics of both Somaliland and Somalia. Somaliland holds long-delayed parliamentary and local elections on May 31. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Abdul Warfa (Public Domain)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Somaliland Parliamentary and Local Elections: May 31, 2021

Somaliland has scheduled its long-overdue parliamentary and local elections for May 31, 2021. Somaliland has de facto but not internationally-recognized independence from Somalia, and has a much more developed democracy, with direct elections. More

MENAFN – SomTribune (April 24, 2021): Somaliland Electoral Commission Releases List of Local Councils Candidates

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 increasing ethnic violence that has reached crisis levels. More

Robbie Gramer, Foreign Policy (April 26, 2021): U.S. Africa Envoy: Ethiopia Crisis Could Make Syria Look Like ‘Child’s Play’

Al Jazeera (April 25, 2021): Death toll from clashes in Ethiopia’s Amhara may be 200: Official

Martin Plaut, RUSI (April 23, 2021): The International Community Struggles to Address the Ethiopian Conflict

Conor Finnegan, ABC News (April 20, 2021): US raising alarm over ‘deteriorating’ humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region

Benjamin Fox, Euractiv (April 20, 2021): EU set to send election observers to Ethiopia despite Tigray conflict

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.

Patrick Gathara, Al Jazeera (April 25, 2021): Kenya’s satire is under threat

John Githongo, The Elephant (April 23, 2021): Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: The Choices Facing Kenya and the Kenyattas

South Africa Local Elections: October 27, 2021

South Africa will hold local elections on October 27, 2021. Voters will elect councils for all municipalities in each of the country’s nine provinces. More

Reuters (April 22, 2021): South Africa to hold coronavirus delayed local elections in October

Lesotho General Election: September 2022

Mathabiso Ralengau, Bloomberg (April 23, 2021): Political Crisis Looms in Lesotho as Ruling Party Splits

Somalia Presidential Election: 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

Aggrey Mutambo, The East African (April 26, 2021): Amisom halts handover plan in Somalia as poll fuels clan politics

Declan Walsh and Hussein Mohamed, New York Times (April 25, 2021): Gunfire Erupts in Mogadishu as Somalia’s Political Feud Turns Violent

Abdi Ismail Samatar, The Conversation (April 23, 2021): Somalia’s toxic political and security order: the death knell of democracy

Past Africa Elections

Chad Presidential Election: April 11, 2020

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, hours after being officially declared the winner of the latest election, 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, the military has said it plans to rule the country for 18 months, and it dissolved parliament and the civilian government. Some have said these moves effectively amount to a coupMore

Paul Taylor, Politico (April 27, 2021): In the Sahel, Macron faces his Afghanistan

Edward McAllister and Mahamat Ramadane, Reuters (April 26, 2021): Chad military refuses talks with rebels as opposition presses for civilian rule

BBC (April 24, 2021): Chad after Idriss Déby: African Union urges end to military rule

David Pilling, Financial Times (April 22, 2021): A warrior dynasty in Chad will do little to end Islamist threat

André Kodmadjingar and Jason Patinkin, Voice of America (April 21, 2021): Chad’s Interim President Faces Power Struggle

Ibtissem Guenfoud and Morgan Winsor, ABC News (April 20, 2021): Chad president dies in battle with rebel group, nation’s army says

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

Tsukasa Hadano, Nikkei Asia (April 27, 2021): China adds carrier pier to Djibouti base, extending Indian Ocean reach

John Vandiver, Stars and Stripes (April 21, 2021): China’s base in Africa now big enough to host aircraft carriers, AFRICOM boss says

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

Marwane Ben Yahmed, The Africa Report (April 26, 2021): Côte d’Ivoire: Bédié, Gbagbo, Ouattara… the endless dance

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

Jason Burke and Samuel Okiror, The Guardian (April 22, 2021): ‘It was a torture chamber’: Ugandans abducted in vicious crackdown

Burkina Faso Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: November 22, 2020

Burkina Faso held presidential and parliamentary elections on November 22, 2020, in the context of a growing security crisis as well as political uncertainty as the country’s democrats seek to consolidate the young, fragile democracy. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore won re-election. More

Aïssatou Diallo, The Africa Report (April 22, 2021): Can former president Compaoré’s trial help to reconcile Burkina Faso?

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. Samia Suluhu Hassan, who had been vice president, assumed the presidency – the first woman to hold that post. She has embarked on some reforms, particularly regarding Tanzania’s COVID-19 policy. More

Nic Cheeseman, Alitalali Amani, and Hilary Matfess, The Conversation (April 20, 2021): The roots of repression and the prospects for democracy in Tanzania

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