July 26, 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.
Upcoming Africa Elections
São Tomé and Príncipe 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
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
Nicole Beardsworth, Nic Cheeseman, and O’Brien Kaaba, Mail and Guardian (July 26, 2021): Five thing to watch in the Zambian elections
Somalia Indirect Presidential Election: October 10, 2021 (preceded by indirect legislative elections in the preceding months) POSTPONED – no new date set
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
Mohamed Kahiye, Voice of America (July 26, 2021): Somali Elections Delayed Again; No New Date Set
Chris Thomson, Foreign Brief (July 26, 2021): Voting to begin for Somalian Senate elections deemed critical to achieving political stability
Eric Schmitt, New York Times (July 23, 2021): The U.S. military strikes a Qaeda affiliate in Somalia for the second time in a week.
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. These are taking place in the context of unrest following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma for corruption. More
Gabriele Steinhauser, Wall Steet Journal (July 26, 2021 – podcast with transcript): Unrest, Covid and Economic Despair in South Africa
Linda Givetash, NBC News (July 23, 12021): Riots in South Africa have left people hungry — it’s the poorest who are worst hit
Reuters (July 23, 2021): South Africa’s Electoral Commission to seek to delay municipal vote
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 26, 2021): Man accused of trying to assassinate Malian president dies in custody
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.
David Herbling, Bloomberg (July 27, 2021): Most Kenyans Disenchanted With Nation’s Direction, Survey Shows
Peter Kagwanja, The Citizen Tanzania (July 27, 2021): Divisive populism, weak institutions pose power threat
Andres Schipani, Financial Times (July 27, 2021): Kenya deal with UK aims to turn Nairobi into Africa’s financial hub
Patrick Gathara, Al Jazeera (July 24, 2021): For Kenya, electoral reform is a matter of life and death: If Kenya does not fix its electoral system, it is heading for another cycle of violence in the upcoming 2022 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
RFI (July 24, 2021 – in French): Chad: Opposition dubious after the appointment of new African Union high representative
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. In late June, a series of pro-democracy protests began, and they continue to date.
Tucker C. Toole, National Geographic (July 26, 2021): Africa’s last absolute monarchy is shaken, as protestors defy Eswatini’s king
Past 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.
Ronke Idowu, Channels TV Nigeria (July 24, 2021): Lagos Local Government Elections In Photos
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
AEI’s Critical Threats (July 21, 2021): Africa File: Ethiopia crisis spreads beyond Tigray
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
Sophie T. Rosenberg, World Politics Review (July 26, 2021): Gbagbo’s Return to Cote d’Ivoire Isn’t Healing Any Rifts Yet
Baudelaire Mieu and Benjamin Roger, The Africa Report (July 23, 2021): Côte d’Ivoire: Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo to meet on 27 July
Benin Presidential Election: April 11, 2021
Benin held a presidential election on April 11, 2021. Incumbent Patrice Talon won a second term after largely keeping the opposition off the ballot. Previously a model democracy in the region, Benin has seen democratic decline since Talon’s election in 2016. More
Camille Malplat, AFP (July 23, 2021): Benin’s opposition goes into hiding
Africa Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022
Sao Tome and Principe Presidential Runoff: August 8, 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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