Africa This Week: January 24, 2022

January 24, 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.

The city of Ziguinchor, Senegal. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Ji-Elle (public domain)

Upcoming Africa Elections

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, parties have agreed to complete the process by February 25, 2022, delayed from February 8, 2021, but are unlikely to meet the deadline. 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. Legislative election are underway, but proceeding slowly, and will unlikely be complete in time to meet the February 25 deadline for the presidential election.

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

Mohamed Olad Hassan, Voice of America (January 22, 2022): Reporter’s Notebook: Somali Journalist-Turned-Politician Survives Fifth Suicide Attack

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (January 21, 2022): Somalia resumes parliamentary elections following deal

Gambia Legislative and Local Elections: April 9, 2022

Gambia has scheduled legislative and local elections for April 9, 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

Africanews with AFP (January 20, 2022): Gambia’s Barrow sworn in for second presidential term

The Point (January 18, 2022): Gambia: IEC Announces Date for Legislative Election

Burkina Faso Local Elections: May 2022 (delays likely following coup) and Presidential and Legislative Elections: Possible, following coup

Burkina Faso is due to hold local elections in May 2022, but delays are likely due to the growing security crisis and recent coup.

On January 24, 2022, a group of soldiers detained President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, dissolved the legislature, and declared that a military junta would control the country moving forward. This coup (which follows coups in nearby Guinea, Chad, and Mali) plunges the country’s political future into even greater uncertainty. Burkina Faso avoided an earlier coup attempt, and some analysts believed that a successful coup was only a matter of time given simmering discontent with Kabore’s handling of the jihadist threat and other issues.

Captain Sidsore Kaber Ouedraogo of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration (the name the junta has given itself) says new elections will take place in the future, but has not specified a date. More

Dave Lawler, Axios (January 24, 2022): Soldiers seize power in Burkina Faso as global coup surge continues

Sam Mednick, AP (January 24, 2022): Soldiers say military junta now controls Burkina Faso

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.

Stratfor (January 24, 2022): What’s at Stake in Kenya’s 2022 Presidential Election

Son Gatitu, The Africa Report (January 20, 2022): Kenya: What’s next for William Ruto as he hits polling plateau?

AFP (January 18, 2022): Kenya’s top court reviews disputed bid to change constitution

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

Borralho Ndomba, DW (January 19, 2022 – in Portuguese): Angola: MPLA rejects dialogue with those who “do not respect institutions”: The opposition once again asked for a dialogue with the President of the Republic, but the ruling party, the MPLA, is against it.

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

Matthew Gordon, The Conversation (January 21, 2022): Somaliland’s quest for recognition: UK debate offers hint of a sea change

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 while fighting on the front lines. His son, 37-year-old General Mahamat Déby, declared himself interim leader, backed by the military. He dissolved parliament and promised elections within 18 months, by December 2022. However, it is unclear when the elections will actually happen.

Although the country holds elections, there has never been a change in power by a free or fair vote, and elections are riven by lengthy delays, violence, and fraud. More

Mahamat Ramadane, Reuters (January 19, 2022): Chad frees rebels ahead of national peace-building talks

Zimbabwe General Elections: July 2023 (due)

Zimbabwe is due to hold elections in 2023. These will be the second since the 2017 coup that led to the fall of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s longtime dictator, who left a legacy of gross economic mismanagement and political repression. However, democracy continues to face many challenges in Zimbabwe, and the current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, continues to govern in an authoritarian, repressive manner.

AFP (January 24, 2022): Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader changes party name

Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (January 20, 2022): Identity Crisis Undermines Zimbabwean Opposition: Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party finds itself fighting for survival amid a slew of legal challenges.

Tafi Mhaka, Al Jazeera (January 19, 2022): It’s time for the SADC region to hold Zimbabwe to account: It is not foreign powers that are keeping Zimbabwe in a permanent state of crisis, but its own government.

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.

Mohanad Hashim, BBC (January 24, 2022): Sudan protesters: Ready to die for freedom

Al Jazeera (January 24, 2022): Sudan security forces kill three anti-coup protesters: Medics – Deaths bring to 76 the number of protesters killed in a crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations, the medics say.

Wini Omer, openDemocracy (January 21, 2022): Sudan’s revolution enters its second phase: disrupting the state

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: Delayed to December 2025

Mali has set presidential and legislative elections for February 27, 2022, following the August 2020 coup, but the interim government has proposed a delay to December 2025, sparking a backlash from neighboring countries and the international community.

In the coup, soldiers removed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (who has since died at age 76, having been in poor health for years), dissolved parliament (which had just been elected in April, in elections marred by fraud and intimidation) and established a transitional government.

On May 25, 2021, 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. France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has called the interim government illegitimate, and the international community has condemned its failure to make progress against the jihadist threat that plages the Sahel.

Kemo Cham, The East African (January 22, 2022): Defiant Mali junta banks on mass public support to beat Ecowas ban

AFP (January 21, 2022): US army confirms Russian mercenaries in Mali

Al Jazeera (January 21, 2022): Mali holds state ceremony for ex-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita

France24 (January 20, 2022): France mulls ending military support for Mali as relations with junta worsen

Bate Felix, Reuters (January 18, 2022): ‘We don’t want to isolate Mali’, EU envoy says despite sanctions plan

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

Sharnam Vaswani, Jurist (January 24, 2022): Guinea junta creates council to facilitate transition to elections

AP (January 18, 2022): Ex-Guinean President Conde Flown Abroad for Medical Care

Past Africa Elections

Senegal Local Elections: January 23, 2022, followed by legislative elections in 2022 and a presidential election in 2024

Senegal held local elections on January 23, and is due to hold legislative elections by 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.

In the local elections, the opposition won in Dakar (which was already an opposition stronghold) and the southern city of Ziguinchor, where Sonko was elected mayor. Several candidates close to Sall, including health minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, lost their races.

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

Diadie Ba, Reuters (January 24, 2022): Senegal’s ruling party loses key cities in local elections

Théa Ollivier, Le Monde (January 24, 2022 – in French): In Ziguinchor, in the south of Senegal, Ousmane Sonko celebrates his “beautiful victory” in the municipal elections

Africanews (January 22, 2022): Residents of Dakar share expectations ahead of Sunday poll

Assane Diagne, AFP (January 20, 2022): Senegal local elections key test for President Sall

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

Joseph Cotterill, Financial Times (January 24, 2022): ANC rival steps up attacks on South Africa’s judiciary: Judges become political targets as battle for control of ruling party intensifies ahead of leadership poll this year

Zambia General Elections: August 12, 2021

Zambia held August 12, 2021 following a hotly-contested campaign between President Edgar Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema, the main opposition leader, who narrowly lost to Lungu in 2016. Ultimately, Hichilema won the presidential election in a landslide and his liberal United Party for National Development (UPND) won a majority in the parliamentary election, restoring hope in Zambia’s democracy.

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. Similarly, this year, despite concerns about violence and the larger pre-election environment – as well as a social media shutdown on election day – observers judged the polls credible. Lungu initially took a page from Donald Trump’s playbook and alleged fraud, but ultimately conceded defeat, moving Zambia back toward democracy.

Hakainde Hichilema, Brookings Institution (January 21, 2022): Zambia’s success will be Africa’s success

Regional Analysis

Nic Cheeseman, The Africa Report (January 19, 2022): Africa in 2022: The danger of hegemonic instability

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Somalia, Indirect Legislative Elections: Ongoing

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 9, 2022

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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