November 29, 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 Gambia River. Photo credit: Pixabay/Isaac Turay (public domain)
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.
Somalia’s strategic location means that instability has impact beyond its borders. More
Peter Fabricius, ISS Today (November 19, 2021): Democracy by instalments: Public pressure mounts for Somalia to complete elections ahead of December deadline
Edith M. Lederer, AP (November 17, 2021): UN envoy: Somalia’s leaders must finish elections quickly
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
Louise Hunt, Al Jazeera (November 28, 2021): Will Gambians get justice after Barrow’s deal with Jammeh party?
Saikou Jammeh and Ruth Maclean, New York Times (November 25, 2021): Abuses Under Gambia’s Ex-Ruler Should Be Prosecuted, Inquiry Says
Marième Soumaré, The Africa Report (November 22, 2021): Gambia: Who’s who in Barrow’s presidential task force
Al Jazeera (November 19, 2021): The Gambia’s ex-ruler Jammeh ignores president’s campaign warning
Pap Saine, Reuters (November 17, 2021): Gambian president warns opponent to keep exiled predecessor out of campaign
Eromo Egbejule, African Arguments (November 16, 2021): Gambia: The seat-warmer, the forever runner-up, and the return of Jammeh
Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 27, 2022 (following two coups – delays highly likely)
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. Most recently, the government has said the elections would be delayed.
Reuters (November 24, 2021): Mali delays talks that could decide post-coup election date
The Economist (November 18, 2021): Why the war against jihadists in Mali is going badly: Dysfunctional politics is exacerbating poor security
Africanews/AFP (November 18, 2021): ECOWAS places sanctions on over 150 members of Malian government
AP (November 15, 2021): EU eyes sanctions in Mali, and against Russian mercenaries
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.
Because of the crises in neighboring Ethiopia and Somalia, Kenya plays an important role in the region. In addition, Kenya has been an important partner to the United States and other countries on counterterrorism.
Son Gatitu, The Africa Report (November 23, 2021): Kenya: After an attack on Ruto’s motorcade, are 2022 polls shaping up to be violent?
Equatorial Guinea Parliamentary Elections: November 2022 (due) and Presidential Election: April 2023 (due)
Equatorial Guinea is due to hold elections in 2022 and 2023. Elections the country have been neither free nor fair. Current president Teodoro Obiang seized power in a coup in 1979 and has ruled ever since. He presides over one of the most brutal regimes in Africa.
Equatorial Guinea discovered oil in the 1990s, and has since become one of the biggest oil producers in the region. Nonetheless, much of the population still lives in poverty.
AFP (November 19, 2021): E.Guinea’s ruler set to be nominated for sixth term
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.
Hlengiwe Portia Dlamini, The Conversation (November 24, 2021): What lies behind uprisings in Eswatini: the unfinished business of democratic reform
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
AFP (November 29, 2021): Chad gives amnesty to hundreds of rebels and dissidents, meeting opposition demand
Sierra Leone Presidential Election: March 2024 (due)
Sierra Leone is due to hold presidential and legislative elections in March 2024. In the last elections, in March 2018, Julius Maada Bio from the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) – one of the country’s two major parties – won the presidency. However, the All People’s Congress (APC), the other major party, won the most seats in parliament.
Umaru Fofana, Reuters (November 26, 2021): Sierra Leone indicts opposition front-runner for alleged corruption
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.
Andres Schipani, Financial Times (November 24, 2021): Sudan’s Burhan promises return to democracy in 2023: General behind coup tells FT he will hold elections and transfer power to civilians
Joseph Krauss, AP (November 22, 2021): What reinstating Sudan’s prime minister means for the country
Declan Walsh, New York Times (November 21, 2021): Ousted in Coup, Sudan’s Prime Minister Returns via Military Deal
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
Mogomotsi Magome, AP (November 24, 2021): South Africa’s ANC loses mayors in Johannesburg and Pretoria
S’thembile Cele, Bloomberg (November 23, 2021): ANC Loses Grip on Key South Africa Cities After Election Setback
Reuters (November 23, 2021): In blow to ANC, opposition DA mayors elected in major S.African cities
Michael Cohen, Bloomberg (November 19, 2021): South Africa Opposition Parties Seal Pact to Control Capital Municipality
Marius Roodt, African Arguments (November 18, 2021): What did we learn from South Africa’s local elections?
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.
Matthew Lee, AP (November 17, 2021): Top US envoy appeals for preservation of democracy in Africa
David Herbling, Bloomberg (November 17, 2021): Blinken Warns Ethiopia Conflict Threatens Regional Security
Befekadu Hailu, African Arguments (November 15, 2021): How Violence and Incompetence Stole Ethiopia’s Transition
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
Joshua Meservey, Heritage Foundation (November 29, 2021): Missing Opportunities in Somaliland
Africa Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022
Somalia, Indirect Legislative Elections: Ongoing
Gambia Presidential Election: December 4, 2021
Senegal Local Elections: January 23, 2021
Somalia Indirect Presidential Election: 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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