Africa This Week: Deceber 27, 2021

December 27, 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.

Aerial view of Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo credit: Wikimedia/MrMidnimo (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)

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

Abdi Latif Dahir, New York Times (December 27, 2021): Somalia’s President Suspends Prime Minister Over Corruption Allegations: The premier, Mohamed Hussein Roble, defied the order to step down as tensions continued over long-delayed elections.

Larry Madowo, CNN (December 27, 2021): Fears of political violence rise as Somalia’s president and prime minister jockey for power

Reuters (December 27, 2021): We ‘strongly’ urge Somalia leaders to de-escalate tensions – U.S. Embassy

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, backsliding has been taking place under President Macky Sall, who has been accused of prosecuting his political opponents on politically-motivated charges (Freedom House downgraded the country from Free to Partly Free in 2020). Consequently, Senegal saw violent protests in March 2021 following rape charges against former opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, and further protests in November 2021. 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

AP (December 16, 2021): Hundreds protest treatment of Senegal’s opposition

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 (December 25, 2021): Mali denies deployment of Russian mercenaries, says only ‘trainers’ present

Tim Lister and Sebastian Shukla, CNN (December 24, 2021): Arrival of Russian Wagner mercenaries in Mali condemned by European governments

Barbara Surk, AP (December 23, 2021): France: Russia is funding Wagner Group mercenaries in Mali

DW (December 22, 2021): Mali: West African bloc asks for post coup election plans from interim government: West African bloc ECOWAS said they hoped to have an election plan from Mali by the end of this year, after a meeting with the interim leaders. Mali’s authorities had previously said elections could be delayed.

Al Jazeera (December 15, 2021): French forces leave Mali’s Timbuktu after nearly nine years: French army says ‘will be present in a different way’ as former colonial power draws down its military presence in Mali.

RFI (December 13, 2021): West African bloc ECOWAS warns of sanctions if Mali misses election deadline

Gambia Legislative and Local Elections: April 2022 (due)

Gambia is due to hold legislative and local elections in April 2022. These follow the December 2021 presidential election, the first 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. Jammeh sought to influence this election from exile (he is currently in Equatorial Guinea). Although Jammeh and Barrow had previously made a controversial pre-election deal, they abandoned it and Jammeh ultimately called on voters to oust Barrow, who nonetheless won re-election by a large margin.

However, even though international observers and Gambian civil society organizations have called the vote credible, some opposition candidates are challenging the results. More

DW (December 25, 2021): Gambia commission recommends ex-president Jammeh be tried: A commission in Gambia has suggested that former President Yahya Jammeh be brought before an international tribunal for crimes committed during his 22-year dictatorship.

Sait Matty Jaw, African Arguments (December 14, 2021): Why the people picked Barrow again in Gambia’s best-run elections ever

Al Jazeera (December 14, 2021): The Gambia opposition asks Supreme Court to annul poll results

Nigeria General Elections: February 18, 2023

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, holds general elections on February 18, 2023, but some states are due to hold gubernatorial elections before that, including Ekiti and Osun states in 2022.

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.

Africanews (December 21, 2021): Nigeria: President Buhari opposes a change in the electoral law

Cote d’Ivoire Local Elections: 2023 (proposed), followed by General Elections: 2025

Côte d’Ivoire’s president has proposed holding local elections early, in 2023. The country 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. 

Côte d’Ivoire is one of the largest economies in West Africa. It is the world’s biggest producer of cocoa and cashew nuts, and a net exporter of oil. However, since 1999, political struggles and two civil wars have created instability, and the political climate remains tense.

RFI (December 16, 2021 – in French): Côte d’Ivoire: resumption of political dialogue with the 2023 elections in the sights

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.

BBC (December 19, 2021): Sudan coup: Thousands protest on uprising anniversary

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

Boubacar Diallo, AP (December 22, 2021): Guinea’s 2008 coup leader returns home from exile

AFP (December 14, 2021): West African bloc calls for election timetable from Guinea

AFP (December 19, 2021): Sudan braces for new protests three years after revolution

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Somalia, Indirect Legislative Elections: Ongoing

Senegal Local Elections: January 23, 2022

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 Legislative and Local Elections: April 2022 (due)

Burkina Faso Local Elections: May 2022 (due)

Nigeria, Gubernatorial Election in Ekiti State: June 18, 2022

Nigeria, Gubernatorial Election in Osun State: July 16, 2022

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)

Lesotho Parliamentary Elections: September 2022

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

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

Somaliland Presidential Election: November 2022 (due)

Equatorial Guinea Legislative and Local Elections: November 2022 (due)

Chad General Elections: By December 2022 (tentative, post-coup)

South Sudan General Elections: December 2022 (tentative)

Nigeria General Elections: February 18, 2023

Nigeria Gubernatorial Elections in Most States: March 2023 (due)

Djibouti Legislative Elections: February 2023

Zimbabwe General Elections: July 2023

Eswatini Parliamentary Elections: August 2023 (due)

Gabon Presidential Election: August 2023 (due)

Mauritania Parliamentary Elections: September 2023 (due)

Gabon Legislative Elections: October 2023 (due)

Liberia Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 2023 (due)

Nigeria, Gubernatorial Elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States: November 2023 (due)

Madagascar Presidential Election: November 2023 (due)

Togo Legislative Elections: December 2023 (due)

Côte d’Ivoire Local Elections: 2023

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