Africa This Week: June 21, 2021

June 21, 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 voter in Ethiopia on June 21, 2021. Photo credit: VOA/Yan Boechat (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

Ayenat Mersie, Reuters (June 21, 2021): Ethiopians vote as opposition alleges some irregularities

Max Bearak, Washington Post (June 21, 2021): Ethiopia’s historic election overshadowed by a cascade of crises and conflict

Declan Walsh, New York Times (June 21, 2021): From Nobel Hero to Driver of War, Ethiopia’s Leader Faces Voters

Birtukan Midekssa, The National Interest (June 20, 2021): Ethiopia’s Elections: A New Life for an Old Hope – The Ethiopian elections are an imperfect step in the right direction.

The Economist (June 16, 2021): Why has civil war returned to Ethiopia?

São Tomé and Príncipe Presidential Election: July 18, 2021

São Tomé and Príncipe (frequently called STP) 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

LUSA (June 21, 2021 – in Portuguese): Nearly 110,000 voters registered for July 18

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

Jeff Kapembwa, Southern Times (June 18, 2021): Violence mars Zambia poll campaigns

Chris Mfula, Reuters (June 18, 2021): Zambia’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, dies aged 97

The Economist (June 18, 2021): Kenneth Kaunda was a bad Zambian leader but a great ex-president: The founding president led his country to ruin, but set a model in relinquishing power

Nigeria, Anambra State Gubernatorial Election: November 6, 2021, Ekiti and Osun State Gubernatorial Electons; June 18 and July 16, 2022, 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.

Several states are due to hold elections before the big vote in 2023, including Anambra in the southeast and Osun and Ekiti in the southwest.

The News Nigeria (June 18, 2021): 18 parties jostle for Anambra Governorship election – INEC

Makua Adimora, Washington Post (June 17, 2021): Opinion: Nigeria’s Twitter ban harms people — and democracy

Samson Adenekan, Premium Times Nigeria (June 16, 2021): INEC fixes dates for Ekiti, Osun polls

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. However, the situation remains fluid.

France24 with AFP and AP (June 21, 2021): Car bomb targets France’s Barkhane force in Mali, several soldiers injured

Colum Lynch and Jack Detsch, Foreign Policy (June 18, 2021): Washington Scrambles France’s Mali Exit Strategy

AFP (June 16, 2021): France Arrests ‘High-Ranking’ Islamic State Fighter in Mali

AFP (June 15, 2021): UN: Mali coup leaders should not participate in polls

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

Venancio Rodrigues, Voice of America (June 21, 2021 – in Portuguese): Diaspora constituencies divide parties in the revision of the Angolan Constitution

DW (June 18, 2021): Angolan opposition: ‘People are eating animal feed’

Lesotho General Elections: September 2022

Pascalinah Kabi, Lesotho Times (June 16, 2022): Lesotho: Govt Cancels By-Elections, Orders IEC to Prepare for 2022 Polls

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

L’Arbre à Palabres, DW (June 17, 2021 – in French): For a peaceful transition in Chad…

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.”

Somaliland has de facto but not internationally-recognized independence from Somalia, and has a much more developed democracy, with direct elections. More

Michael Horton, Jamestown Foundation (June 18, 2021): Somaliland Elections Disrupt al-Shabaab’s Regional Expansion

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 governanceSectarian clashes have been taking place since 2013. Moreover, Russia has ramped up its political and military involvement in exchange for mining rights. More 

AFP (June 18, 2021): France slams Russia’s ‘seizure of power’ in C. African Republic

Clarissa Ward, CNN (June 14, 2021 – video): Russian mercenaries accused of atrocities in the Central African Republic

Côte d’Ivoire Parliamentary Elections: March 6, 2021 and Presidential Election: October 31, 2021

Côte d’Ivoire just completed a major election cycle that began in turbulent fashion when incumbent 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, during the March parliamentary elections, the situation calmed down a bit. Following discussions and the release of some opposition figures, the opposition participated in the legislative elections. 

Former president Laurent Gbagbo cast a long shadow over the recent election cycle. He had been tried by the International Criminal Court following violence surrounding his refusal to accept his loss of the 2010 election. Gbagbo was ultimately acquitted, but an appeal against the acquittal kept him in Belgium until this year. He now plans to return home in June. More

AFP (June 17, 2021): Ivory Coast ex-leader Gbagbo heads home after war crimes acquittal

Florence Richard, The Africa Report (June 17, 2021): Côte d’Ivoire: Return of Laurent Gbagbo brings both excitement and fear

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

Charles Onyango-Obbo, The East African (June 21, 2021): Museveni keeps Uganda guessing on his preferred ‘strong’ successor

Regional Analysis

Nadège Rolland, Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter (June 21, 2021): The battle for Africa: A US led coalition of Western democracies versus a China-led circle of developing friends.

Nic Cheeseman, The Africa Report (June 17, 2021): Smaller African states do not necessarily make better democracies

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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