July 12, 2021
A weekly review 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 presidential palace in Sao Tome. Sao Tome and Principe heads to the polls on July 18 to elect a new president. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Ji-Elle (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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.
LUSA (July 12, 2021 – in Portuguese): São Tomé: President is not running for re-election in order to “pass on leadership to the youngest”
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
"Our youth may be too young to remember the struggle for independence … but 2021 is now their moment to shine and defy the odds. This a chance to unite and alter the course of our country.https://t.co/JsRfZLxR6O
— Vanguard Africa (@VanguardAfrica) July 9, 2021
Simon Allison, Mail and Guardian (July 9, 2021): Two surveys, two wildly different predictions for Zambia’s election
Nimi Princewill, CNN, and Reuters (July 7, 2021): Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, buried amid controversy over site
cajnews (July 6, 2021): Zambia opposition leader under probe for ‘propaganda’
How NOT to rig an election
Zambia has just seen the release of an opinion poll that claims to show that the gov't has a strong lead ahead of the August election
— Prof Nic Cheeseman (@Fromagehomme) July 5, 2021
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
Committee for the Protection of Journalists (July 12, 2021): Somali journalist Hanad Ali Guled survives beating, knife attack by unidentified assailants
Hassan Barise, AP (July 10, 2021): Extremist attack in Somalia’s capital kills at least 9
Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (July 10, 2021): Somalia re-elects electoral commission boss rejected by opposition
Matthew Bryden, The Elephant (July 9, 2021): Somalia’s Election Is Already Rigged: The Question Is, For Whom?
#Somalia’s government and member states agreed on a new schedule for long-delayed elections.
Yet, Al-Shabaab attacks continued and the government attempted to mend ties with Kenya.
— Crisis Group (@CrisisGroup) July 7, 2021
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
Gideon Rachman, Financial Times (July 12, 2021): Jacob Zuma and the global battle against strongman rule
Gabriele Steinhauser, Wall Street Journal (July 12, 2021): South Africa Deploys Army to Contain Unrest Over Former President Zuma’s Arrest
Andrew Meldrum and Mogomotsi Magome, AP (July 11, 2021): 10 dead in South Africa riots over jailing of ex-leader Zuma
Reuters (July 9, 2021): South African court upholds top ANC official Magashule’s suspension
David McKenzie, CNN (July 8, 2021): Former South African President Jacob Zuma begins jail term after handing himself over to police
Susan Booysen, Daily Maverick (July 7, 2021): Disunited we stand: Coalition politics in South Africa is jinxed when politicians behave badly in pursuit of power
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
The Point Gambia (July 8, 2021): CSO Coalition fears divisive political rhetoric could retard country’s peace, stability
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
Clair MacDougall, World Politics Review (July 9, 2021): Another Massacre Pushes Burkina Faso Toward the Brink
Henry Wilkins, Voice of America (July 6, 2021): Government-backed Militias in Burkina Faso Accused of Abuses
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
Nelson Francisco Sul, DW (July 10, 2021 – in Portuguese): Tense climate between MPLA and UNITA raises concern in Angola
Aaron Ndipa, Voice of America (July 10, 2021 – in Portuguese): Angola seeks consensus to amend the Elections Law
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.
Joseph Warungu, BBC (July 12, 2021): Kenyatta, Ruto and Odinga: The true cost of Kenya’s political love triangle
Robert Kiplagat, The Standard Kenya (July 12, 2021): Maasai leaders in unity talks ahead of next year elections
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
Jeune Afrique (July 9, 2021): Chad – France: What Mahamat Idriss Déby and Emmanuel Macron discussed
Al Jazeera (July 9, 2021): France to pull more than 2,000 troops from Africa’s Sahel region
AFP (July 8, 2021 – in French): Chadian junta says relations with African Union “appeased”
Le Figaro/AFP (July 5, 2021 – in French): France promises “new budgetary aid” to Chad
South Sudan Elections: December 2022 (planned)
South Sudan plans to hold elections in December 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.
Waakhe Simon Wudu, Voice of America (July 11, 2021): South Sudan’s Liberation Struggle Supplanted by Autocracy
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian (July 11, 2021): The light that failed: South Sudan’s ‘new dawn’ turns to utter nightmare
Amine Dinar, Foreign Brief (July 9, 2021): South Sudan to inaugurate first post-reconciliation Transitional National Legislative Assembly
AP (July 9, 2021): Pope tells South Sudan leaders to make sacrifices for peace
Comfort Ero and Alan Boswell, Foreign Affairs (July 9, 2021): South Sudan’s Dismal Tenth Birthday
Eswatini Parliamentary Elections: August 2023 (due)
Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is an absolute monarchy. The country does hold parliamentary elections, but the parliament does not actually have much power, and the elections are tightly controlled, without much choice for voters.
On June 20, 2021, a series of protests calling for democratic reform began. Protests continue.
Frida Ghitis, World Politics Review (July 8, 2021): Eswatini Has Had Enough of Its Despotic King
Gertrude Kitongo, CNN (July 6, 2021): eSwatini opposition leaders go into hiding as Africa’s last absolute monarchy cracks down
Lynsey Chutel, News24 (July 5, 2021): Civil groups ‘gatecrash’ SADC meeting in eSwatini, accuse government of staging talks
Democratic Republic of the Congo General Elections: December 2023 (due)
The DRC is due to hold general elections in 2023. The December 2018 presidential and legislative elections, which took place after multiple delays, were mired in controversy and dispute. The election commission declared opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential poll, but the Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers and is a highly trusted institution in the country, said that their data indicated a victory for another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu.
When Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, was polling too poorly for Kabila to credibly rig the election for him, Kabila cut a deal with Tshisekedi.
The legislative elections – also highly disputed – produced a majority for Kabila’s coalition. Major opposition figures Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba were barred from the polls and spent the election cycle outside the country, but both have returned.
Edgar Odongo, Jurist (July 11, 2021): Congo lawmakers introduce bill to restrict presidential candidate eligibility requirements
Reuters (July 9, 2021): Congo bill to limit presidential eligibility prompts backlash
Lindsay Scorgie and Mallory Dunlop, Washington Post (July 8, 2021): Congo officials claim that a rebel group is tied to the Islamic State. That could backfire.
UN News (July 7, 2021): DR Congo sees fresh government impetus to fight unrelenting violence in the east
Zimbabwe General Elections: July 2023 (due)
Zimbabwe is due to hold elections in 2023. These will be the second since the 2017 coup that 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.
Tony Reeler, Daily Maverick (July 9, 2021): The numbers don’t lie: Zanu-PF would have to defy the reality of political economy to win the next election
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
Mia Alberti, CNN (July 11, 2021): Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed wins election in landslide amid Tigray conflict and voting fraud concerns
James Jeffrey, Al Jazeera (July 11, 2021): Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed gets his Pyrrhic victory
Declan Walsh and Finbarr O’Reilly, New York Times (July 11, 2021 – photo essay): How Local Guerrilla Fighters Routed Ethiopia’s Powerful Army
Top read > Elections bring #Ethiopia no closer to resolving fundamental differences about the nature of the Ethiopian state.
— ISS (@issafrica) July 10, 2021
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.”
In a @Newsweek op-ed, #Somaliland President @musebiihi makes a compelling case for his country's role as a partner for the 🇺🇲#USA: "We should not be denied the ability to contribute to regional stability simply because of 🇸🇴#Somalia's inability to do so."https://t.co/LkzouwL8AQ
— Dr. J. Peter Pham 🇺🇲 (@DrJPPham) July 12, 2021
Musa Bihi Abdi, Newsweek (July 12, 2021): East Africa’s Ray of Hope in a Challenging Year for Democracy | Opinion
Lynsey Chutel, Foreign Policy (July 7, 2021): Somaliland’s Strategic Case for Independence
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 has now returned home. More
Kizzi Asala with AFP, Africanews (July 11, 2021): Côte d’Ivoire: Gbagbo and Bédié’s politics-healing fraternal reunion
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
Franklin Draku, Daily Monitor Uganda (July 6, 2021): Polls: How parties used social media to manipulate voters
James Trigg, Global Risk Insights (July 6, 2021): Uganda Seeking Inroads to Compete for Regional Influence
Ghana Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: December 7, 2020
Ghana holds presidential and parliamentary elections on December 7, 2020. Often cited as a success story for democratic transition, Ghana’s two main political parties, the center-right New Patriotic Party (NPP) and center-left National Democratic Congress (NDC), have alternated stints in power since Ghana began holding multiparty elections. NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo won re-election, but NDC’s John Mahama challenged the results. More
Christian Akorlie, Reuters (July 6, 2021): Hundreds of Ghana opposition supporters march in protest at killings
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. However, there have recently been signs that could indicate that the country is beginning to open up a bit more political space.
Romain Gras, The Africa Report (July 9, 2021): Burundi: President Ndayishimiye is trying to bring the country out of its isolation
Committee for the Protection of Journalists (July 8, 2021): CPJ calls on Burundi government to let all news outlets operate without conditions
Africa Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022
Sao Tome and Principe Presidential Election: July 18, 2021
Nigeria, Local Elections in Lagos: July 24, 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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