Africa This Week: November 8, 2021

November 8, 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 Niger River near Onitsha, capital of Nigeria’s Anambra State, which held a gubernatorial election on November 6. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Cyril Okeke (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Somalia, Indirect Legislative Elections: Due, Indirect Presidential Election: February 8, 2022 (tentative – preceded by indirect legislative elections), following Direct Local Elections in Puntland: October 25, 2021

Somalia does not hold direct elections, but rather holds indirect elections in a clan-based system. Currently, an indirect presidential election is planned for October 10, delayed from February 8, 2021. 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 believed 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 this has been pushed to February 8, 2022. Additional delays are possible.

Meanwhile, the self-declared autonomous state of Puntland plans to hold its first-ever direct local elections on October 25. More

Abdulkadir Khalif and Aggrey Mutambo, The East African (November 6, 2021): Diplomat’s ejection linked to spat over Amisom

Al Jazeera (November 4, 2021): Somalia gives African Union envoy seven days to leave country

Abdiwali Mohamed Sayid, Daily Sabah (November 4, 2021): Somalia and the fallouts of an election deadlock

Garowe Online (November 1, 2021): Somalia begins much-anticipated election amid crisis

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.

In a shock move, Barrow announced an alliance with Jammeh ahead of December’s election. More

The Point Gambia (November 8, 2021): EU election observation mission to Gambia deploys 16 longterm observers Banjul

Pap Saine, Reuters (November 7, 2021): Six to stand for president in Gambia’s first election after Jammeh

Modou Joof, Bloomberg (November 4, 2021): Gambian President Barrow Defies Backers With Reelection Bid

Senegal Local Elections: January 31, 2022, followed by legislative elections in 2022 and a presidential election in 2024

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. Long considered a stable democracy, some backsliding has been taking place under President Macky Sall, who has been accused of prosecuting his political opponents on politically-motivated charges. Consequently, Senegal saw violent protests in March 2021 following rape charges against former opposition leader Ousmane Sonko. Some are concerned that Sall could attempt to seek an unconstitutional third term, especially if his allies win another majority in the 2022 legislative elections.

A series of oil and gas discoveries starting in 2014 have set Senegal up to become a player in energy production. Sall is a former oil executive and thus has focused on beginning production. More

Marième Soumaré, Jeune Afrique (November 4, 2021 – in French): Senegal: Local elections, first big test for Macky Sall before 2024

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.

DW (November 8, 2021): West African bloc issues fresh sanctions over coups in Mali, Guinea

Africanews (November 7, 2021): Mali political parties demand junta respect transition schedule

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.

Son Gatitu, The Africa Report (November 5, 2021): Kenya: Can Kenyatta control his final 9 months in power?

Guyo Chepe Turi, Institute for Security Studies (November 3, 2021): Firepower won’t restore trust among Kenya’s warring Laikipia communities

Nigeria, Several state elections in 2022, and general elections in 2023 (and preceded by local elections in various states)

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, holds general elections in February 2023, but some states are due to hold elections before that. Most recently, Anambra held its gubernatorial election on November 6.

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.

Akinola Ajibola, Channels TV Nigeria (November 7, 2021): Anambra Governorship Election In Photos

AFP (November 7, 2021): Nigeria counts votes in key state election

BBC (November 6, 2021 – in Pidgin): Anambra governorship election result 2021: Charles Chukwuma Soludo of APGA win – See breakdown of im victory

Alan Shaw-Krivosh, Foreign Brief (November 6, 2021): Anambra Gubernatorial Elections to be Held

Dele Yusuf, The Africa Report (November 4, 2021): Anambra election: Can Nigeria’s APC displace PDP, APGA in southeast?

Africanews with AFP (November 1, 2021): Nigeria: New leadership for PDP as it eyes 2023 polls

Sudan General Elections: By 2024 (due – unclear following coup)

Sudan plans to hold general elections by 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.

Rajen Harshé, Observer Research Foundation (November 8, 2021): Another military coup in Sudan

Elie Podeh and Haim Koren, Jerusalem Post (November 3, 2021): Will the Sudan coup affect future ties with Israel?

Al-Monitor (November 3, 2021): Intel: US sees role for Sudan’s military in government if coup reversed

Nisan Ahmado, (November 2, 2021): Sudan’s Military Chief Whitewashes a Power Grab

Abdelwahab El-Affendi, Al Jazeera (November 2, 2021): Sudan’s states of exception: Why did the Sudanese transition stumble into a coup?

Trevor Filseth, National Interest (November 1, 2021): Sudanese Coup Leader to Appoint New Prime Minister

Guinea Elections: TBD, following coup

On September 5, 2021, Guinea’s president, Alpha Condé, fell in a military coup. Guinea’s political future remains uncertain, but regional and international bodies, as well as Guinean civil society and political groups, have urged elections.

Condé was re-elected in October 2020 amid violence. He sought and won a controversial third term, and for the third time, faced off against opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo. Both candidates claimed they won, but election officials declared Condé the winner. However, Diallo challenged the results, alleging fraud and prompting street protests leading to at least 10 deaths. The government arrested a number of opposition members following the election. More

Reuters (November 5, 2021): Guinea junta names AngloGold Ashanti executive as mines minister

Africanews with AFP (November 4, 2021): Guinea: party of former president holds first conference since junta took over

Past Africa Elections

South Africa Local Elections: November 1, 2021

South Africa held local elections on November 1, 2021. Voters elected councils for all municipalities in each of the country’s nine provinces. The elections took place in the context of unrest following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma for corruption. In that vein, the ruling African National Congress had its worst election result since the end of apartheid, gaining less than 50 percent of the vote. More

The Economist (November 6, 2021): South Africa is slowly souring on its ruling party: Local elections suggest the ANC will need coalitions to stay in charge

Lynsey Chutel, New York Times (November 4, 2021): A.N.C. Suffers Worst Election Setback Since End of Apartheid

Malawi Parliamentary By-Elections: October 26, 2021

Malawi last held legislative elections on May 21, 2019 (with the presidential election being re-run in 2020, with opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera ultimately winning). On October 26, the country held several by-elections to fill vacant seats in the legislature.

Located on Lake Malawi, one of Africa’s Great Lakes, Malawi’s economy is largely agricultural. It remains one of the poorest countries in the world, despite some mineral wealth.

Charles Pensulo, The Guardian (November 9, 2021): Malawian campaigner makes history as country’s first elected MP with albinism: Overstone Kondowe’s election hailed as ‘giant step forward’ in continent where people with albinism face stigma and attacks

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. It is located on the Bab el-Mandeb, a strait through which most oil and gas from the Persian Gulf – and a lot of other international commerce – transits. Thus the geopolitical stakes are high. More

Stephen M. Schwartz, Foreign Policy Research Institute (November 8, 2021): The African Union Should Resolve Somaliland’s Status

Ethiopia Partial Elections: September 30, 2021, preceded by 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. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, previously a reformer (he even won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019) but most recently an authoritarian, won in a landslide. Polling couldn’t happen in several areas due to the ongoing conflict, so make-up votes took place on September 30, amid opposition boycotts. Nonetheless, Abiy already had enough seats to form a new government regardless of the results of the September elections.

Ellen Ioanes, Vox (November 7, 2021): The coalition of rebel forces taking on Ethiopia’s government, explained

Mike Cohen and Samuel Gebre, Bloomberg (November 5, 2021): How Ethiopia’s Rift With Tigray Rebels Has Deepened

Eliza Mackintosh and Ed Upright, CNN (November 5, 2021): Ethiopia crisis deepens as nine groups form anti-government alliance

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. However, arrests of opposition figures continue. More

Priya Sippy, World Politics Review (November 3, 2021): Hopes Fade in Tanzania for Greater Press Freedom Under Hassan

Macro Trends

John McDermott, The Economist (November 8, 2021): Elections in Africa will be seen as bellwethers for democracy

Benoit Faucon, Summer Said and Joe Parkinson, Wall Street Journal (November 4, 2021): Military Coups in Africa at Highest Level Since End of Colonialism

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Somalia, Indirect Legislative Elections: Ongoing

Gambia Presidential Election: December 4, 2021

Angola Local Elections: Overdue, might possibly happen in 2021

Senegal Local Elections: January 23, 2021

Somalia Indirect Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 8, 2022 (Tentative, following numerous delays – additional delays possible)

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 27, 2022 (following coup – delays possible)

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)

Central African Republic Local Elections: September 2022 (due – delays possible)

Sao Tome and Principe Parliamentary Elections: October 2022 (due)

Equatorial Guinea Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due)

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