Africa This Week: May 24, 2021

May 24, 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 Anwar Mosque in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ethiopia holds landmark elections on June 21. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Francisco Anzola (CC BY 3.0)

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.

Somaliland celebrates 30 years of de facto independence in May 2021. More

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (May 22, 2021): Somaliland celebrates 30 years of self-rule

Ethiopia General Elections: June 5, 2021 (Postponed indefinitely)

Ethiopia will hold general elections on June 21, 2021, after several postponements. These elections are taking place in the context of increasing ethnic violence that has reached crisis levels. More

The East African (May 24, 2021): Ethiopia plans June 21 poll, but Tigray crisis sticks out like a sore thumb

David M. Herszenhorn, Politico (May 21, 2021): Ethiopia expels journalist who reported on atrocities in Tigray

Reuters (May 20, 2021): Ethiopia to hold delayed elections on June 21 – vote board

Mauritius Municipal Elections: Due by June 2021 (delay possible)

Mauritius is due to hold municipal elections in June 2021. The country is generally considered a free democracy that has seen multiple peaceful transitions of power following competitive elections, but politics are dominated by a handful of powerful families. However, recent protests have raised the political temperature, and some have raised concerns about authoritarian backsliding. More

Jessica Fjeld, Milan Meetarbhan, Adam Nagy, and Shreya Tewari, Slate (May 20, 2021): Mauritius Is Considering an Unprecedented Attack on Online Freedom

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

Africanews (May 19, 2021): Zambia opposition leader Hichilema cleared to run for president

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

Anna Maree, The Africa Report (May 25, 2021): South Africa: Democratic Alliance turns away from black leadership

James Hamill, World Politics Review (May 24, 2021): South Africa’s Ramaphosa Disappoints on Human Rights

Jan Gerber, News24 (May 22, 2021): DA will have ‘none of’ postponing October’s municipal elections

Wayne Sussman, Daily Maverick (May 20, 2021): ANC holds most of the pieces of the political puzzle ahead of 27 October local government polls

Suné Payne, Daily Maverick (May 19, 2021): Smooth run at the polls on big by-election day for South Africa

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.

On May 25, Mali had another coup, but leaders have stated that the elections will remain on the calendar for 2022.

Melissa Bell, Barbara Wojazer and Caitlin Hu, CNN (May 25, 2021): Mali’s vice president ousts president and prime minister from office, assumes power

The Economist (May 25, 2021): The leaders of Mali’s coup last August do it again

AFP (May 25, 2021): Mali strongman sacks transition leaders, vows elections ‘in 2022’

Kenya 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.

Andres Schipani, Financial Times (May 22, 2021): Kenya court ruling sets stage for election battles: President’s constitutional overhaul defied by judges amid fears of worsening ethnic violence

Nic Cheeseman, The Africa Report (May 21, 2021): Can the courts protect democracy in Africa?

Duncan Miriri, Reuters (May 19, 2021): Kenya set to appoint first female chief justice at sensitive moment

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

Antonio Cascais, DW (May 24, 2021): Angola: Opposition unites against the government

Nigeria Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 23, 2023 (following Anambra State gubernatorial election in November 2021)

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.

Anambra State, in the country’s southeast, holds a gubernatorial election in November 2021.

Emmanuel Akinwotu, The Guardian (May 24, 2021): Nigerian president’s vow to end violence lies in tatters as insurgencies grow

Jude Michael, The Africa Report (May 21, 2021): Nigeria: Who will inherit President Buhari’s bloc vote in 2023?

Jess Craig, Foreign Policy (May 20, 2021): Separatist Movements in Nigeria and Cameroon Are Joining Forces

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 sought to extend his term for two years, but parliament voted to reject the extension.

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

Edith M. Lederer, AP (May 25, 2021): Somalia minister says agreement reached on delayed elections

Sinan Hanioglu, Foreign Brief (May 20, 2021): Somali government officials to discuss elections

Chrispin Mwakideu, DW (May 20, 2021): What is behind Kenya and Somalia’s dicey relations?

Sudan General Elections: Late 2022 (proposed)

Sudan is supposed to hold general elections in late 2022. In April 2019, nonviolent demonstrations ousted longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir. Subsequently, military officers and civilian leaders reached an agreement to share power until elections in 2022.

Jérôme Tubiana, Foreign Affairs (May 25, 2021): Darfur Is Bleeding Again: Sudan’s New Government Confronts Old Problems

Reuters (May 23, 2021): Woman on Sudan’s ruling council quits, saying civilians are being ignored

Past Africa Elections

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

Matthieu Millecamps, Jeune Afrique (May 23, 2021 – in French): Benin: Patrice Talon wants to turn the page on the elections

Katarina Hoije, Bloomberg (May 19, 2021): Benin Falls in Ranking of Civic Freedoms Amid Regional Backslide

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

France24/AFP (May 21, 2021 – in French): Chad: African Union demands transition “in 18 months” but does not sanction junta

Paul-Simon Handy and Félicité Djilo, ISS Africa (May 20, 2021): ISS: Chad: a test case for Central Africa’s difficult transitions

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

Rajen Harshé, Observer Research Foundation (May 23, 2021): Uganda: Museveni’s re-election and its regional and international implications

Luke Melchiorre, African Arguments (May 19, 2021): “Our Liberation is a Matter of Now”: An Interview with Bobi Wine

Africa Elections in 2021 and 2022

Somaliland Parliamentary and Local Elections: May 31, 2021

Gambia Constitutional Referendum: June 5, 2021

Mauritius Local Elections: June 2021 (due – delay likely)

Kenya Constitutional Referendum: June/July 2021 (delay or cancellation likely)

Sao Tome and Principe Presidential Election: July 18, 2021

Zambia Presidential, Legislative, and Local Elections: August 12, 2021

South Africa Municipal Elections: October 27, 2021

Cabo Verde Presidential Election: October 17, 2021

Nigeria, Anambra State Gubernatorial Election: November 6, 2021

Gambia Presidential Election: December 4, 2021

Angola Local Elections: Overdue, might possibly happen in 2021

Senegal Local Elections: January 23, 2021

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

Burkina Faso Local Elections: May 2022 (due)

Republic of Congo Legislative Elections: July 2022 (due)

Lesotho Parliamentary Elections: June 2022 (due)

Senegal Legislative Elections: July 2022 (due)

Kenya Presidential and Legislative Elections: August 9, 2022

Angola Legislative Elections: August 2022 (due)

Sao Tome and Principe Parliamentary Elections: October 2022 (due)

Equatorial Guinea Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

Sudan General Elections: Late 2022 (due)

Ethiopia General Elections: Postponed indefinitely

Somalia Elections: Postponed indefinitely

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