Africa This Week: January 10, 2022

January 10, 2022

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.

A street in Bamako, Mali’s capital, with the presidential palace in the background. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Robin Taylor (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Senegal Local Elections: January 23, 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 23, 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

Babacar Dione, AP (January 6, 2022): Senegal rejects bill to double jail time for homosexuality

Mawunyo Hermann Boko, The Africa Report (December 29, 2021): Senegal: Why the opposition wants to toughen the law against homosexuality

Somalia, Indirect Legislative Elections: Due, Indirect Presidential Election: By February 25, 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.

An ongoing conflict between Farmaajo and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and continual election delays are exacerbating the country’s instability.

Somalia’s strategic location means that instability has impact beyond its borders. More

Mohamed Kahiye, Voice of America (January 10, 2022): Somali Leaders Urged to Implement New Elections Agreement

AFP (January 9, 2022): Somalia’s leaders agree to hold delayed election by February 25

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

Dharvi Vaid, DW (December 27, 2021): Somalia: President ‘suspends’ prime minister amid tensions over elections

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 27, 2022 (following two coups – delay until December 2025 proposed)

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.

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 proposed delaying the elections to December 2025, sparking the threat of sanctions from the regional bloc ECOWAS.

Danielle Paquette, Washington Post (January 10, 2022): Two coups and no election later, West Africa cuts off Mali

Christian Akorlie and Tiemoko Diallo, Reuters (January 10, 2022): West African nations sever links with Mali over election delay

Christian Akorlie, Reuters (January 9, 2022): Mali eyes elections in four years as West African bloc mulls sanctions

Christopher Michael Faulkner, The Conversation (January 10, 2022): Rising instability in Mali raises fears about role of private Russian military group

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 2016’s surprising election result, then-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. Even though international observers and Gambian civil society organizations have called the 2021 presidential election credible, some opposition candidates are challenging the results. More

Marième Soumaré, The Africa Report (January 6, 2022): The Gambia: Will Yahya Jammeh be tried by an African court?

DW (December 29, 2021): Gambia’s highest court dismisses challenge to Adama Barrow’s election

Burkina Faso Local Elections: May 2022 (due)

Burkina Faso is due to hold local elections in May 2022, but delays are possible due to the growing security crisis. These follow presidential and parliamentary elections on November 22, 2020. The political climate remains uncertain as the country’s democrats seek to consolidate the young, fragile democracy. More

Boureima, Wakat Séra (January 1, 2022): Holding municipal elections is “imperative,” according to the Convention of Civil Society Organizations

Republic of the Congo Legislative and Local Elections: July 2022

The Republic of the Congo (sometimes called Congo-Brazzaville) will hold legislative and local elections in July 2022 or thereabouts. These follow last year’s presidential election. Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has been president almost continuously since 1979 and rules with an iron fist, won re-election. Elections have not been free or fair. More

RFI (January 3, 2022 – in French): Congo-Brazzaville: part of the opposition calls for consultation before the legislative elections

Arsène Séverin, Voice of America (December 29, 2021 – in French): Denis Sassou N’Guesso announces elections in 2022

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.

Duncan Miriri, Reuters (January 6, 2022): China’s foreign minister visits Kenya amid unease over rising debt

Africanews (December 29, 2021): Brawl erupts in Kenya parliament over political parties bill

Angola Presidential and Legislative Elections: August 2022

Angola holds presidential and legislative elections in August 2022. The country has not to date held free elections. The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), a former armed group, has been in power since since independence in 1975. For 38 years, the MPLA’s José Eduardo Dos Santos ruled Angola with an iron fist. His regime engaged in rampant corruption and kleptocracy. Dos Santos’s successor, João Lourenço, has enacted some reforms and sought to curtail corruption, but many issues remain. Moreover, local elections (the country’s first) have been delayed repeatedly, at times sparking protests. The political climate remains tense.

MPLA’s vote share has been steadily decreasing with each successive election: it received 81 percent of the vote in 2008, 72 percent in 2012, and 61 percent in 2017. For the upcoming elections, the three main opposition parties will back a single presidential candidate: Adalberto Costa Junior, leader of UNITA, the main opposition party.

Angola is one of the biggest oil producers in Africa. More

Candido Mendes and Henrique Almeida, Bloomberg (January 10, 2022): Angola Taxi Drivers’ Strike Sparks Protests Against Ruling Party

Somaliland Presidential Election: November 13, 2022

Somaliland plans to hold a presidential election on November 13, 2022, following long-delayed parliamentary and local elections that finally took place on May 31, 2021. In those elections, 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. But it is significant for democracy that the opposition won the “midterms.”

President Muse Bihi Abdi from Kulmiye is eligible to seek a second term in 2022.

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

Conrad Heine, African Arguments (January 10, 2022): How did Somaliland end up with zero female MPs?

Committee for the Protection of Journalists (December 31, 2021): Somaliland authorities arrest three journalists for critical reporting

Democratic Republic of the Congo General Elections: December 2023 (due)

The DRC is due to hold general elections in 2023. The December 2018 presidential and legislative elections, which took place after multiple delays, were mired in controversy and dispute. The election commission declared opposition leader Félix Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential poll, but the Catholic Church, which deployed 40,000 election observers and is a highly trusted institution in the country, said that their data indicated a victory for another opposition leader, Martin Fayulu.

When Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, was polling too poorly for Kabila to credibly rig the election for him, Kabila cut a deal with Tshisekedi.

The legislative elections – also highly disputed – produced a majority for Kabila’s coalition. Major opposition figures Moïse Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba were barred from the polls and spent the election cycle outside the country, but both have returned.

Adenikè Adegbidi, London School of Economics (December 29, 2021): The next DRC elections could weaponise ‘Congolité’ identity

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. Civil servant and diplomat Abdalla Hamdok became prime minister.

However, another coup in October 2021 returned Sudan to military rule. Hamdok resigned. Protests continue and the country’s political future remains uncertain.

Samy Magdy, AP (January 4, 2022): Anti-coup protests in Sudan amid turmoil after PM resigns

Reuters (January 3, 2022): Explainer: Sudan’s political transition in the balance

Max Bearak and Miriam Berger, Washington Post (January 2, 2022): Sudan’s prime minister resigns, unable to build new civilian government after coup

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 (January 7, 2022): South Africa’s ruling party marks birthday amid divisions

Joseph Warungu, BBC (January 2, 2022): Letter from Africa: Africa plays on in 2022 without its great referee

Eusebius McKaiser, Foreign Policy (December 27, 2021): Without Tutu and Mandela, Is South African Moral Exceptionalism Dead?

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

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 (delays possible)

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 Presidential and Legislative Elections: August 2022

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 13, 2022

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)

Democratic Republic of the Congo Presidential and Legislative Elections: December 2023 (due)

Togo Legislative Elections: December 2023 (due)

Côte d’Ivoire Local Elections: 2023

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