Africa This Week: January 31, 2022

January 31, 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 house in Galkayo, Somalia. Photo credit: Wikimedia/warsame90 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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

Critical Threats (January 28, 2022): Africa File: Al Shabaab surges bombings amid Somali political crisis

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Foreign Affairs (January 26, 2022): Somalia’s Dangerous Authoritarian Turn

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

Satang Nabaneh, The Conversation (January 27, 2022):: Why The Gambia should fast-track gender quotas for women

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

AP (January 31, 2022): African Union suspends Burkina Faso following military coup

Al Jazeera (January 28, 2022): ECOWAS due to discuss response to Burkina Faso coup

Clair MacDougall, Christian Science Monitor (January 28, 2022): Burkina Faso coup: How democracy crumbled under jihadi stress

Edward McAllister and Thiam Ndiaga, Reuters (January 27, 2022): Burkina Faso will return to constitutional order when conditions are right, military leader says

Georja Calvin-Smith and Laura DiBiasio, France24 (January 25, 2022 – video): Burkina Faso: Pro-junta protesters rally in Ouagadougou after coup

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

Senegal is due to hold legislative elections by July 2022. These follow local elections that took place on January 23.

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

Marième Soumaré, The Africa Report (January 25, 2022): Senegal: Oppositionist Ousmane Sonko celebrates his election victory in Ziguinchor

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.

Mohammed Yusuf, Voice of America (January 28, 2022): Kenya on High Alert After France Warns of Impending Terror Attack

Eric Ombok and David Herbling, Bloomberg (January 27, 2022): Kenya Revises Law to Prop Political Coalitions Ahead of Vote

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

Peter Fabricius, Daily Maverick (January 25, 2022): Angola’s ruling MPLA begins international voter registration drive but analysts believe move will be party’s undoing

Lesotho General Elections: September or October 2022

Lesotho is due to hold general elections in September or October 2022, its third in six years.

Sabrine Donohoe, Foreign Brief (Janaury 28, 2022): Former Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to step down as leader of the All Basotho Convention

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

Ali Aba Kaya, AFP (January 27, 2022): Chad junta postpones post-coup forum to May

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.

David Pilling, Financial Times (January 31, 2022): What is Nigeria’s government for? Muhammadu Buhari may go but it’s not the leader who matters, the system itself must change

Harrison Edeh, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (January 25, 2022): Analysts tap 2023 election as major reason for suspending petrol subsidy

South Sudan Elections: By March 2023 (planned)

South Sudan plans to hold elections by March 2023, the first since independence in 2011. Salva Kiir had been president of the semi-autonomous region while it was still part of Sudan, and he remained in office following independence. The legislature’s mandate expired in 2015 (it had been elected in 2010, before independence), and has been extended several times. Additional election delays are possible.

Fred Oluoch, The East African (January 29, 2022): Juba asks global community for support to hold timely polls in 2023

David J. Scheffer and Madeline Babin, Council on Foreign Relations (January 28, 2022): Understanding South Sudan’s Postwar Struggle for Democracy and Accountability

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 27, 2022): Zimbabwe opposition upbeat about polls despite crackdown

South Africa General Elections: May 2024 (due)

South Africa is due to hold general elections in May 2024.

Dubbed the “Rainbow Nation” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa inspired the world with its nonviolent transition from apartheid in 1994. Since the end of apartheid and the subsequent victory of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress (ANC) has been South Africa’s dominant political party, winning every election since then. However, in the local elections on November 1, 2021, which took place in the context of unrest following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma for corruption, the ANC had its worst election result since the end of apartheid, gaining less than 50 percent of the vote. More

S’thembile Cele, Bloomberg (January 28, 2022): Ramaphosa Ponders Woman Running Mate in South African Party Race

Jakkie Cilliers, ISS Africa (January 27, 2022): South Africa’s future is tied to ANC leadership and election battles

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

Sam Bradpiece, Al Jazeera (January 26, 2022): Interview: Guinean PM defends record following military coup

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: Delayed to December 2025

Mali had 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.

Jeune Afrique (January 31, 2022): Mali: French ambassador kicked out over Russia accusations

Reuters (January 28, 2022): European Mali mission sets 2-week deadline for new plan – Danish defence minister

Amaury Hauchard, AFP (January 27, 2022): Sanctions put squeeze on Mali’s lucrative cotton sector

Lorne Cook, AP (January 26, 2022): EU warns Mali, Sahel states over use of Russian mercenaries

A Series of Coups

Ruth Maclean, New York Times (January 31, 2022): Ruth Maclean, New York Times (January 31, 2022): Five African Countries. Six Coups. Why Now?

Sébastien Whitechurch Brack, European Council on Foreign Relations (January 28, 2022): Beyond sanctions: How west Africa can recommit to democracy

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)

Nigeria General Elections: February 18, 2023

Djibouti Legislative Elections: February 2023

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

South Sudan General Elections: By March 2023 (tentative)

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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