June 14, 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 famous Victoria Falls, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zambia holds elections in August. Photo credit: Wikimedia/John Walker (public domain)
Upcoming Africa Elections
Ethiopia General Elections: June 21, 2021
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
AFP (June 15, 2021): Ethiopian elections: Key states in regional structure
The Elephant (June 14, 2021 – video): Abiy, June 21st Elections and the Future of Ethiopia
BBC (June 14, 2021): Ethiopia’s election 2021: A quick guide
Reuters (June 12, 2021): U.S. says it is ‘gravely concerned’ about Ethiopia elections
It is hard to see how #Ethiopia elections will advance democracy or heal the country's wounds. No voting in Tigray, Harar, or Somali regions, as well as other constituencies across the country. Several major parties are boycotting.https://t.co/YK8k1S5V3T
— Judd Devermont (@JDevermont) June 11, 2021
Maria Gerth-Niculescu, DW (June 9, 2021): Ethiopia’s civil society seeks to carve its identity ahead of election
São Tomé and Príncipe Presidential Election: July 18, 2021
São Tomé and Príncipe holds a presidential election on July 18, 2021. Since the end of Marxist one-party rule in 1991, São Tomé and Príncipe has held regular elections with peaceful transfers of power, and is generally considered a free democracy. More
Maximino Carlos, RFI (June 12, 2021 – in Portuguese): More than a dozen candidates for the Sao Tome presidential election
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
Taonga Clifford Mitimingi and Matthew Hill, Bloomberg (June 15, 2021): Zambia Halts Election Campaigns in Capital After Violence
BBC (June 14, 2021): Edgar Lungu collapse: Zambia president assure public after im collapse during event
AFP (June 14, 2021): Zambia’s ‘founding father’ former president Kenneth Kaunda hospitalised
Reuters (June 11, 2021): Zambian Court Throws Out Second Challenge to Lungu Re-Election Bid
James Wan, African Arguments (June 9, 2021): HH: “Zambians want change…We don’t count how many times we run”: An interview with Zambia’s opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema on why Zambians should vote for him at a sixth time of asking.
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
Michael Lewis, Daily Maverick (June 10, 2021): The final countdown: 365 days until direct elections become law in South Africa
Jason Felix, News24 South Africa (June 10, 2021): Ramaphosa says no to postponing October’s local government elections
Leah Wilson and Khuleko Siwele, Bloomberg (June 9, 2021): South African Electoral Commission Says October Vote to Go Ahead
Nigeria, Anambra State Gubernatorial Election: November 6, 2021, followed by 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.
Alonso Soto, Bloomberg (June 15, 2021): Nigeria’s Cratering Economy May Become Africa’s Biggest Threat
Lindsay Hundley, Hakeem Bishi and Shelby Grossman, Washington Post (June 15, 2021): 3 things to know about Nigeria’s Twitter ban: Governments around the world are using social media’s language on content moderation to crack down on these platforms
Emmanuel Akinwotu, The Guardian (June 14, 2021): Young, qualified and barely scraping by – inside Nigeria’s economic crisis
Azubuike Ishiekwene, Daily Maverick (June 8, 2021): Nigeria’s southeastern states descend into near anarchy as agitation for Biafran secession gains traction
Gambia Presidential Election: December 4, 2021
Gambia is due to hold its first presidential election since it began its remarkable transition to democracy in 2016, when 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 election 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
Marième Soumaré, The Africa Report (June 9, 2021): Gambia: Will former president Yahya Jammeh (ever) go on trial?
Senegal Local Elections: January 23, 2022
Senegal has set local elections – originally due in June 2019 but delayed several times – for January 23, 2022. Meanwhile, legislative elections are due in July 2022.
Most recently, the arrest of an opposition leader sparked protests. More
Behdi Ba, Jeune Afrique (June 14, 2021 – in French): Local elections in Dakar: what does Macky Sall’s regime fear?
RFI (June 13, 2021 – in French): Senegal: Is President Macky Sall campaigning early?
Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 27, 2022 (following two coups)
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. Nonetheless, the situation remains fluid.
RFI (June 14, 2021): New Mali government meets to discuss reforms, future elections
Jessica Le Masurier, France24 (June 14, 2021 – video): UN Security Council calls for free, fair elections in Mali to go ahead in 2022
Edith M. Lederer, AP (June 14, 2021): UN envoy: More insecurity in Mali will have “drastic” impact
Al Jazeera (June 11, 2021): Mali coup chief names new cabinet with army officers in key posts
DW (June 10, 2021): France: President Macron announces end of Sahel military operation
South Sudan Elections: December 2022 (planned)
South Sudan plans to hold elections in Deccember 2022, the first since independence in 2011. Salva Kiir had been president of the semi-autonomous region while it was still part of Sudan, and he remained in office following independence. The legislature’s mandate expired in 2015 (it had been elected in 2010, before independence), and has been extended several times. Additional election delays are possible.
David Deng, African Argument (June 14, 2021): South Sudan’s other (more hopeful) peace process
John Tanza, Voice of America (June 14, 2021): South Sudan Blocks UN Peacekeepers from Volatile Areas
Chad Elections: By December 2022 (tentative, post-coup)
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
AFP (June 13, 2021 – in French): The party of the late president procrastinates before finding a successor
Eleanor Brown, Global Risk Insights (June 11, 2021): Chad – Death of Chad’s President Leaves Vacuum in the Heart of the Sahel
Madjiasra Nako, RFI (June 10, 2021 – in French): Chad: Prominent personalities call for a revision of the Charter of the Transitional Military Council
AFP (June 8, 2021): Chad Junta Authorizes Key Opposition Party
Past Africa Elections
Somaliland Parliamentary and Local Elections: May 31, 2021
Somaliland held its long-overdue parliamentary and local elections on May 31, 2021. The two main opposition parties, Waddani and UCID, together won more seats in parliament than the governing Kulmiye party. Waddani and UCID will team up to choose a parliament speaker and on local councils (where they also won). Somaliland is a presidential system, so there’s no PM. President Muse Bihi Abdi from Kulmiye remains head of state. But it is significant for democracy that the opposition won the “midterms.”
Peter Fabricius, ISS Today (June 11, 2021): Somaliland’s election boosted its theoretical case for recognition
Matthew Gordon, World Politics Review (June 8, 2021): Somaliland’s Moment of Reckoning
Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (June 8, 2021): Recognizing Somaliland’s Democratic Success
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 governance. Sectarian clashes have been taking place since 2013. Moreover, Russia has ramped up its political and military involvement in exchange for mining rights. More
Al Jazeera (June 11, 2021): Henri Marie Dondra named Central African Republic prime minister
Al Jazeera (June 10, 2021): CAR Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada and cabinet resign: The entire cabinet steps down in the latest political crisis to hit the country, but the president’s spokesman says the PM could be asked to lead the new administration.
Reuters (June 9, 2021): France suspends aid, military support for Central African Republic
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, and then-vice president Samia Suluhu Hassan became the country’s first female president. Some have hoped that she would enact reforms geared toward restoring democracy. More
Sophie Neiman, World Politics Review (June 11, 2021): Tanzania’s New President Wrestles With Magufuli’s Legacy
Abdul Halim, The Africa Report (June 9, 2021): Tanzania: ‘People are exercising their freedom of speech’ says Zitto Kabwe
Mauritania Presidential Election: June 22, 2019
Mauritania held a presidential election in June 2019 that offered a glimmer of hope. While the ruling Union for the Republic party’s candidate, Defense Minister Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, won, and there were irregularities, opposition candidates, including anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid, participated. This contrasts with the 2014 presidential election, which the opposition boycotted.
The Economist (June 10, 2021): Mauritania may be changing for the better
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.
David B. Moore, The Conversation (June 10, 2021): A new film about Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections is worth watching, but flawed
Sizo Nkala, Daily Maverick (June 9, 2021): Investing for the future: China’s bankrolling of Zanu’s liberation struggle has paid off handsomely
China’s Activities in Africa
Bradley Bowman and Morgan Lorraine Viña, The Dispatch (June 8, 2021): China’s Potemkin Peacekeeping
Africa Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022
Ethiopia General Elections: June 21, 2021
Mauritius Local Elections: June 2021 (due – delay likely)
Sao Tome and Principe Presidential Election: July 18, 2021
Zambia Presidential, Legislative, and Local Elections: August 12, 2021
Somalia Indirect Presidential and Legislative Elections: By August 2021 (due, following agreement)
Cabo Verde Presidential Election: October 17, 2021
South Africa Municipal Elections: October 27, 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)
Gambia Parliamentary Elections: April 2022 (due)
Burkina Faso Local Elections: May 2022 (due)
Lesotho Parliamentary Elections: June 2022 (due)
Republic of Congo Legislative Elections: July 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: December 2022 (planned – delays possible)
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