Africa This Week: March 28, 2022

March 28, 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 central train station in Harare, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s opposition won a majority of seats up for election in the March 26 by-elections. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Samwise Gamgee (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Somalia, Indirect Legislative Elections: Due, Indirect Presidential Election: By March 15, 2022 (delayed – 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 (March 27, 2022): Al-Shabab Surge in Somalia’s Suicide Attacks ‘Change of Tactics,’ Experts Say

All Africa (March 26, 2022): Al-Shabaab Increases Attacks As Elections Drag in Somalia

Georja Calvin-Smith and Laura Di Blasio, France24 (March 25, 2022): Dozens killed in twin attacks in Somalia ahead of elections

Caleb Weiss and Andrew Tobin, Long War Journal (March 24, 2022): Shabaab kills dozens in twin suicide bombings targeting Somalia’s election process

AFP (March 16, 2022): Somalia delays election process again as deadline lapses

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (March 9, 2022): Somali women warn states doing little to meet gender quotas in elections

Democratic Republic of the Congo Gubernatorial and Vice-Gubernatorial Elections: April 6, 2022

The DRC will hold gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial elections on April 6, 2022. After that, the country 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.

Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (March 10, 2022): Conspiracy and Mistrust Poison Congolese Politics

Martin Fayulu, Mail and Guardian (March 10, 2022): Don’t revive Leopold’s ghost or legitimise DRC’s president, Felix Tshisekedi

Gambia Legislative and Local Elections: April 9, 2022

Gambia is holding legislative and local elections on 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 challenged the results, highlighting the fact that Gambia still has a ways to go in its transition to democracy. More

Reuters (March 23, 2022): Over 6,000 displaced in Gambia after Senegal separatist fighting flare-up

Jankey Ceesay, The Point Gambia (March 15, 2022): Gambia Participates deploys 415 Domestic Election Observers

Nigeria, Local Elections in Edo State: April 19, 2022, followed by 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.

Akin Irede, The Africa Report (March 21, 2022): Nigeria: Want to be president? Here is how much it will cost you…

Sahara Reporters (March 21, 2022): Angry Residents Pelt Niger State Lawmaker With Stones, Drive Him Away From Community

Wole Mosadomi, Vanguard Nigeria (March 15, 2022: Insecurity: Elections may not hold in 270 polling units in Niger — INEC

Premium Times Nigeria (March 24, 2022): Edo fixes date for local elections

Teniola Tayo, ISS Today (March 11, 2022): Critical issues of party politics, instability and governance up the stakes in run-up to Nigeria’s 2023 elections

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

Andréa Ngombet, African Arguments (March 17, 2022): It’s time to shine a light on Congo’s Sassou-Nguesso and his abuses: Congo-Brazzaville’s autocratic regime has long been able to fly below the radar, in part thanks to China’s protection.

Kenya General Elections: August 9, 2022

Kenya holds 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. Ironically, Kenyatta has endorsed Odinga for this year’s election, against William Ruto, who was formerly his anointed successor.

Kenyan politics is highly polarized with a strong ethnic component.

Because of the ongoing 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.

Afrobarometer (March 25, 2022): Most Kenyans support multiparty elections, but fewer trust the electoral commission, Afrobarometer survey shows

Westen K Shilaho, The Conversation (March 24, 2022): William Ruto, the presidential candidate taking on Kenya’s political dynasties

Aditi Malik and Philip Onguni, The Conversation (March 21, 2022): From message to violence: what to watch for in the media ahead of Kenya’s elections

Dunan Miriri, Reuters (March 15, 2022): Kenya’s Ruto aims for presidency, vows no ‘debt slavery’

Al Jazeera (March 13, 2022): Kenya’s President Kenyatta backs his former rival Odinga in polls: The move comes weeks after the two leaders’ parties joined forces ahead of a general election in August.

David Herbling, Bloomberg (March 9, 2022): Kenya’s Elections Agency Appoints Chief After Four-Year Wait

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

Cláudio Silva, The Africa Report (March 28, 2022): Angola 2022: Can Adalberto Costa Júnior wrest power from President Lourenço?

Rajen Harshé, Observer Research Foundation (March 24, 2022): Angola’s coming elections: A critical appraisal of Lourenço’s governance record

Columbus Mavhunga, Voice of America (March 20, 2022): World Press Freedom: Angola, Eswatini, Zimbabwe Ranked Among the Worst

Paula Cristina Roque, African Arguments (March 9, 2022): Angola’s regime is scared

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

Dave Lawler, Axios (March 22, 2022): Democratic, self-governing Somaliland pleads with U.S. to recognize independence

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

TRT World (March 13, 2022): Chad’s military government, opposition groups start peace talks in Qatar

Ali Abba Kaya, Al-Monitor (March 11, 2022): Chad junta and rebels gear for tricky talks in Qatar

Sierra Leone Presidential Election: June 24, 2023

Sierra Leone has scheduled its next presidential election for June 24, 2023. 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. Bio will likely seek a second and final term in 2023.

Sierra Leone fought a civil war from 1991 to 2002, but since the end of the war, it has held elections and made some progress toward democracy.

Kemo Cham, The East African (March 16, 2022): Sierra Leone sets date for presidential election

Gabon Presidential Election: August 2023 (due)

Gabon is due to hold its next presidential election in August 2023. Current president Ali Bongo succeeded his father, Omar Bongo, in 2009, when the elder Bongo died. Omar Bongo had been president for 42 years, thus the Bongo family will have been in power for 56 years when the next elections take place. Ali Bongo was re-elected in 2016 but won by a narrow margin amid protests accusations of fraud. In 2019, the military attempted a coup. His opponent was diplomat Jean Ping.

Africanews with AFP (March 13, 2022): Gabon: Bongo promises to “be there” for next election

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

Pierre de Vos, Daily Maverick (March 25, 2022): Why proposed amendments to SA’s electoral system favour the governing ANC

Valli Moosa, Daily Maverick (March 24, 2022): South Africa’s proposed new electoral system is complex to understand, complicated to implement and less fair

Ray Mwareya and Ashley Simango, The New Arab (March 24, 2022): South Africa’s failure to condemn Russia betrays Mandela’s legacy of siding with the oppressed

Namibia Presidential and Legislative Elections: November 2024 (due)

Namibia is due to hold presidential and legislative elections in November 2024. The last set of these elections took place in November 2019, and local elections were in November 2020.

Namibia is a free, stable democracy, but since independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibian politics have been dominated by the socialist Swapo, an independence movement-turned-political party. 

Swapo took a series of hit in the last few sets of elections, losing control of the city council in the capital, Windhoek, and other cities in 2020. More

Henning Melber, The Conversation (March 16, 2022): Namibia badly needs refurbishment after 32 years under the ruling party

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.

AFP (March 26, 2022): West African bloc ECOWAS to keep Mali sanctions over delayed elections

Africanews (March 21, 2022): Ecowas, Mali reach no agreement on duration of transition before elections

Lorne Cook, AP (March 21, 2022): EU freezes some Mali army training over mercenary concerns

The New Arab (March 17, 2022): Mali junta orders French broadcasters RFI, France 24 off air

Jayson Casper, Christianity Today (March 17, 2022): Amid Cascade of Coups, African Christians Debate Civic Duty

Burkina Faso Elections: TBD, following coup

Burkina Faso is set to hold elections at some point in the future following the 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. Subsequently, coup leader Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was sworn in as president.

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

Clair MacDougall, World Politics Review (March 28, 2022): Burkina Faso’s Activists Take a Wait-and-See Approach to the Junta

Central African Republic Local Elections: September 2022 (Delayed – no new date set)

The Central African Republic (CAR) had planned to hold local elections in September 2022, but they have been delayed. If held, these will be the first local elections since 1988, and they follow presidential and partial legislative elections that took place on December 27, 2020 in the midst of a worsening security situation. Rebels disrupted voting in some areas, so consequently, those constituencies held the first round of their legislative elections on March 14, 2021. In addition, some of the constituencies that did vote on December 27 held runoff elections for their legislators.

These elections took place in the context of a humanitarian crisis and a crisis of governanceSectarian clashes have been taking place since 2013. Moreover, Russia has ramped up its political and military involvement in exchange for mining rights. More 

Peter Knoope and Amanda Lucey, Mail and Guardian (March 23, 2022): Is the Central African Republic at risk from violent extremism?

Tony Blair Institute (March 23, 2022): Security, Soft Power and Regime Support: Spheres of Russian Influence in Africa

African Manager (March 19, 2022 – in French):CAR: Municipal elections delayed due to money

Charles Onyango-Obbo, The East African (March 15, 2022): In CAR, Rwandans lead East Africans in fight to keep a leader and nation alive

Past Africa Elections

Zimbabwe By-Elections: March 26, 2022

Zimbabwe held by-elections on March 26, 2022 to fill 28 parliamentary seats and 105 local seats. A new opposition party called the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) won a majority of the seats up for election. CCC is led by Nelson Chamisa, who broke with Zimbabwe’s traditional opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) over internal politics. CCC won 19 parliamentary seats while the ruling ZANU-PF won nine.

General elections are due in 2023. They 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. Democracy continues to face many challenges in Zimbabwe, and the current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, governs in an authoritarian, repressive manner.

Al Jazeera (March 28, 2022): Zimbabwean opposition wins majority seats in by-elections: Saturday’s polls were seen as a preview of the 2023 elections, with the opposition hoping to end ZANU-PF’s hold on power since 1980.

RFI (March 28, 2022): Zimbabwe’s newest opposition party wins majority of seats in by-elections

Voice fo America (March 28, 2022 – video podcast): Livetalk, March 28, 2022: By-election Results Analysis

Djibouti Local Elections: March 11, 2022

Djibouti held local elections on March 11.

In last year’s presidential election, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, who has been president since 1999, won a fifth term amid opposition boycotts and protests. Under Guelleh, Djibouti (which is strategically located on the Bab-el-Mandeb chokepoint) has been pivoting toward China, although the U.S. and other democracies continue to have military bases there. More

Faisal Ali, The New Arab (March 28, 2022): The US-China battle for influence in the Horn of Africa

Soufiane Khabbachi, Jeune Afrique (March 12, 2022 – in French): Djibouti: unsurprisingly, the ruling party wins the regional and communal elections

Mauritius, Regional Elections in Rodrigues: February 27, 2022

Mauritius held regional elections in Rodrigues, an autonomous outer island, on February 27, 2022. A broad opposition coalition won.

The country is generally considered a free democracy that has seen multiple peaceful transitions of power following competitive elections, but politics are dominated by a handful of powerful families. However, protests in 2021 raised the political temperature, and some have raised concerns about authoritarian backsliding. More

Iqbal Ahmed Khan, L’ (March 7, 2022): Mauritius: Regional elections in Rodrigues – What the results really mean?

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Somalia, Indirect Legislative Elections: Ongoing

Somalia Indirect Presidential Election: March 15, 2022 (delayed)

Democratic Republic of the Congo Gubernatorial and Vice-Gubernatorial Elections: April 6, 2022

Gambia Legislative and Local Elections: April 9, 2022

Nigeria, Local Elections in Edo State: April 19, 2022

Burkina Faso Local Elections: May 2022 (delays likely)

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 (delayed – no new date set)

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)

Sierra Leone Presidential Election: June 24, 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

Mali Presidential and Legislative Elections: TBD, following coup

Burkina Faso Elections: TBD, following coup

Guinea Elections: TBD, following coup

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