Africa This Week: July 5, 2021

July 5, 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.

Victoria Island in Lagos, Nigeria. Lagos holds local elections this month, ahead of several state elections next year and general elections in 2023. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Nupo Deyon Daniel (CC0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Sao Tome and Principe 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.

In STP’s semi-presidential system, the prime minister holds executive power and serves as head of government, while the president serves as head of state, arbitrating within the government and representing the country.

The current president, Evaristo Carvalho, from the centrist ADI party, is not running for a second term – the first time this has happened in STP’s history. Nineteen candidates are running to succeed him, including six from the MLSTP-PSD party, which was the ruling party during the communist era and currently heads the government.

Ramusel Graça, DW (July 3, 2021 – in Portuguese): São Tomé and Príncipe: The “hunt” for votes for the presidential candidates begins

Oscar Medeiros, VOA (July 1, 2021 – in Portuguese): São Tomé and Príncipe: Analysts question why Evaristo Carvalho is not running for re-election

Nigeria, Local Elections in Lagos: July 24, 2021, followed by several state elections in 2022, and general elections in 2023

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, holds general elections in February 2023, but some states are due to hold elections before that, including Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city and economic hub.

In addition, potential 2023 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.

Samson Itodo, Daily Maverick (June 29, 2021): Nigeria: The politicisation of election management bodies comes at a high cost to democracy and must stop

Somalia Indirect Presidential and Legislative Elections Election: October 10, 2021

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. The parties reached a deal to hold the elections on October 10, 2021, but as is usually the case with Somalia, the date could change. More

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (July 5, 2021): Somalia election faces security challenge, stiff clan-based politics

Mohamed  Kahiye, VOA (June 30, 2021): Somalia Opposition Welcomes Election Plan, but Security Threats Remain

Reuters (June 29, 2021): Somalia to hold indirect election on Oct. 10, PM says

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.

AFP (July 3, 2021): France resumes joint military operations in Mali: France suspended the operations early last month following the West African country’s second coup in less than a year.

Fatoumata Diallo, The Africa Report (July 2, 2021): Mali: Is prime minister Choguel Maïga trying to postpone elections?

Edith M. Lederer, AP (June 29, 2021): UN says it’s `imperative’ Mali holds elections next February

Burkina Faso Local Elections: May 2022 (due)

Burkina Faso is due to hold local elections in May 2022. These follow 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

Thiam Ndiaga, Reuters (July 3, 2021): Thousands protest in Burkina Faso over jihadist attacks

Reuters (June 30, 2021): Burkina Faso President Takes on Defense Role Amid Security Crisis

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

Rafael Marques de Morais, The Elephant (July 2, 2021): Off the Rails: Angola’s SGR Scandal

Committee to Protect Journalists (July 1, 2021): Angola charges 2 more journalists with criminal defamation over corruption reporting

AngolaPress (June 30, 2021): Angola: Unofficial Electoral Registration Starts in September

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

Michael Fitzpatrick, RFI (July 4, 2021): Chad’s Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno to meet President Macron in Paris

Reliou Koubakin, DW (July 2, 2021 – in French): Chad and the African Union in disagreement on the management of the transition? N’Djamena refuses to receive the African Union special envoy

Christian Eboulé, TV5Monde (June 29, 2021 – in French): In Chad, “we are in the process of moving towards an extension of the transition”

Past Africa Elections

Ethiopia General Elections: June 21, 2021

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

Tegbaru Yared, ISS Today (July 5, 2021): Ethiopia’s election was peaceful but not competitive: The polls give technical electoral legitimacy to the ruling party but aren’t enough to resolve deep political cleavages.

Andres Schipani, Financial Times (July 5, 2021): Fighting and food shortages fray hopes for Ethiopia’s ceasefire

AFP (July 4, 2021): Ethiopia: Tigray rebels accept ceasefire but set out conditions

Taylor Luck, Christian Science Monitor (July 1, 2021): Rival histories, alternative facts: Can elections mend Ethiopia?

Kurt Davis Jr., The Africa Report (July 1, 2021): Ethiopia: How has Abiy Ahmed fared as a Prime Minister?

Adam Taylor and Siobhán O’Grady, Washington Post (June 30, 2021): What’s behind the renewed conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region?

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

International Crisis Group (June 30, 2021): Somaliland’s elections and struggle to break free

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 (July 5, 2021): I.Coast’s Gbagbo set for talks with ex-president Bedie

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 

Matthew Campbell, The Times of London (July 3, 2021): Putin’s mercenaries take his war with the West to Africa

Reuters (July 2, 2021): Russia Bolsters Presence in Central African Republic With 600 More Military Instructors

AFP (July 1, 2021): Rebels launch deadly attacks on army positions in the Central African Republic

Mohamed M Diatta, Daily Maverick (June 30, 2021): Will this week’s joint mission to CAR deliver a change in strategy towards quelling regional conflict?

Burundi General Elections: May 20, 2020

Burundi held presidential, legislative, and communal elections on May 20, 2020. They were denounced as neither free nor fair and characterized by intimidation (and sometimes murder) of the opposition, political violence, and a lack of media freedom.

International Crisis Group (July 2, 2021): Burundi: Charm Offensive or Real Change?

Liam Scott, VOA (July 2, 2021): Burundi’s Lifting of Media Ban Met With Cautious Optimism

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.

Alex Thurston, World Politics Review (July 2, 2021): A Power Struggle in Mauritania Comes to a Head

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Sao Tome and Principe Presidential Election: July 18, 2021

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

Somalia Indirect Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 10, 2021

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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