Africa This Week: July 19, 2021

July 19, 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.

City Hall in Lagos, Nigeria, which holds local elections on July 24. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Kaizen Photography (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

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.

Aliyu Tanko, BBC (July 19, 2021): Nigeria’s security crises – five different threats

Sao Tome and Principe Presidential Runoff: August 8, 2021

São Tomé and Príncipe (frequently called STP) holds a presidential runoff on August 8, 2021, following the first round on July 18, 2021. 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 ran to succeed him, including six from the MLSTP-PSD party, which was the ruling party during the communist era and currently heads the government.

In the runoff, former infrastructure minister Carlos Vila Nova from ADI will face off against former prime minister Guilherme Posser da Costa from MLSTP-PSD. 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.

Reuters (July 19, 2021): Sao Tome presidential run-off to pit ex-PM against former minister

Ramusel Graça, DW (July 18, 2021 – in Portuguese): 19 candidates compete for the busiest presidential elections ever in São Tomé

John Milo, Foreign Brief (July 18, 2021): Sao Tome and Principe to hold presidential elections

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

Charlotte Scott, Vanguard Africa (July 20, 2021: Why the world should care about Zambia’s August election

Mail and Guardian (July 15, 2021): Will integrity carry the day in Zambia’s 12 August elections? Find out from bishop-turned-politician Trevor Mwamba

The Africa Report (July 15, 2021): Zambia: Will President Lungu postpone the elections due to illness?

Munambeza Muwanei, Times of Zambia (July 14, 2021): Zambia: Socialist Party Candidate Found Dead, Body Burnt

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

BusinessTech South Africa (July 20, 2021): IEC report suggests South Africa’s local government elections be postponed – no later than February 2022

The Economist (July 15, 2021): South Africa reels from the worst violence since apartheid

Mike Cohen, Bloomberg (July 15, 2021): Why Ex-Leader Zuma’s Arrest Has Cast South Africa Into Turmoil

Somalia Indirect Presidential Election: October 10, 2021 (preceded by indirect legislative elections in the preceding months)

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

Garowe Online (July 20, 2021): Al-Shabaab leader threatens electoral delegates ahead of polls

Horn Observer (July 17, 2021): Somalia’s poll body sets date for elections of lawmakers

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (July 16, 2021): Somalia ex-minister’s presidential quest tests rigid patriarchy

Mohamed Kahiye, Voice of America (July 14, 2021): Somalia’s Only Female Presidential Candidate Says Time for Women to Lead

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

Alhagie Mbye, The Point Gambia (July 16, 2021): Human rights groups hail verdict against Yankuba Touray

AFP (July 14, 2021): Ex-Gambian junta member sentenced to death for murder

Senegal Local Elections: January 31, 2022

Senegal has set local elections – originally due in June 2019 but delayed several times – for January 31, 2022. Meanwhile, legislative elections are due in July 2022. More

Mehdi Ba, Jeune Afrique (July 20, 2021 – in French): Senegal: The mayoralty of Dakar at the heart of a crucial political battle

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

LUSA (July 14, 2021): Angola: Need to avoid instability ‘danger’ in elections – Portugal ex-minister

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

Esdras Ndikumana, RFI (July 20, 2021 – in French): Chad: Three months of tense relations between the junta and the African Union

Abba Kaya with Dylan Gamba, AFP (July 19, 2021): Calm and order in Chad three months after the death of Idriss Déby

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.

Inés San Martín, Crux (July 18, 2021): Lone Swaziland bishop says country can’t take painkillers without understanding the pain

Tendai Marima, NPR (July 16, 2021): Pro-Democracy Protests Continue In Eswatini, Africa’s Last Absolute Monarchy

Sudan General Elections: 2024 (due)

Sudan plans to hold general elections in 2024, the culmination of a five-year transition to democracy that began with the July 2019 removal of dictator Omar al-Bashir following several months of protests. Al-Bashir was removed in a military coup, and a junta ruled briefly, but entered into an agreement with the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), a wide-ranging coalition of opposition groups, to transition the country to democracy. However, numerous challenges remain.

The Economist (July 15, 2021): A general, a warlord and an economist vie to run Sudan

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

Shannon Ebrahim, IOL (July 16, 2021): It never ceases to amaze when Nobel Peace Prize winners preside over violent atrocities

Rajen Harshé, Observer Research Foundation (July 14, 2021): Ethiopia: Abiy Ahmed’s landslide victory in a fractious polity

Mehari Taddele Maru, Al Jazeera (July 14, 2021): Ethiopia’s election will not bring peace

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

Samuel Okiror and Jason Burke, The Guardian (July 20, 2021): Ugandan activists describe months of physical abuse in prison

Arnold Tsunga and Tatenda Mazarura, Daily Maverick (July 14, 2021): Torture still a weapon of choice against dissent in Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Tanzania and Uganda

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

Abdul Halim, The Africa Report (July 19, 2021): Why is Tanzania’s opposition pushing for constitution change?

Damas Kanyabwoya, The Citizen Tanzania (July 15, 2021): Why Tanzania will be left behind without new constitution

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 Local 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 31, 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)

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