April 18, 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 police officer in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo credit: Rawpixel (public domain)
Somalia, Indirect Presidential Election: By May 17, 2022 (delays possible – 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 elections have finally concluded after a slow, delay-ridden process, with the new lawmakers sworn in April. A new date has not been set for the presidential election, but the International Monetary Fund has set May 17 as the deadline, or else Somalia will stop receiving budget support.
Somalia’s strategic location means that instability has impact beyond its borders. More
DW (April 18, 2022): Somalia: Al-Shabab claims mortar attack as new lawmakers meet
Mustafa Haji Abdinur, AFP (April 14, 2022): Somalia swears in lawmakers after chaotic election process
Mohamud Ali, BBC (April 14, 2022): Somalia’s elections – where the people don’t vote
Anne-Marie Bissada, The Africa Report (March 31, 2022): Somalia: Delayed elections have kept the economy hanging by a thread, says finance minister Beileh
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
Loïcia Martial, RFI (April 16, 2022 – in French): Congo-B: the ruling party has nominated its candidates in the 2022 legislative elections
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.
Jeff Otieno, The Africa Report (April 8, 2022): Kenya: Voters wary of increase in violent crimes in run-up to 2022 elections
David E Kiwuwa, The Conversation (April 7, 2022): Odinga is running his fifth presidential race. Why the outcome means so much for Kenya
David Herbling, Bloomberg (April 7, 2022): Debt in Focus as Kenya Faces $7.5 Billion Gap in New Budget
Mohammed Yusuf, Voice of America (March 31, 2022): Kenya Supreme Court Rejects President’s 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
Human Rights Watch (April 12, 2022): Angola: Police Arrest, Charge 22 Peaceful Protesters
Cláudio Silva, The Africa Report (March 28, 2022): Angola 2022: Can Adalberto Costa Júnior wrest power from President Lourenço?
Lesotho General Elections: September or October 2022
Lesotho is due to hold general elections in September or October 2022, for the third time in six years.
John Aerni-flessner, Mail and Guardian (April 7, 2022): Lesotho’s richest man gets political
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
AFP (April 18, 2022): A year after Chad coup, junta’s promises start to fade
AFP (April 14, 2022): Prayers but no peace talks: Chad rivals bide time in Qatar
Virginia Pietromarchi, Al Jazeera (April 6, 2022): What is happening with Chad’s peace talks in Doha? About 300 rebels landed in the Qatari capital, seeking a peace deal, but find themselves in a curious cohabitation.
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.
Reuters (April 15, 2022): Nigeria suspends voter registration in Imo state after election official shot dead
Felix Onuah, Feuters (April 11, 2022): Nigerian vice president Osinbajo launches bid for president, faces hurdles
Chad Williams, IOL (April 11, 2022): Nigerian presidential elections: Deputy president Yemi Osinbajo says he will run for 2023 presidency
Ebenezer Obadare, Council on Foreign Relation (April 11, 2022): Nigeria’s Deepening Security Crisis Exposes Growing Reliance on Nonstate Actors: Governor El-Rufai’s threat to import mercenaries to help with Nigeria’s security crisis reveals cracks in the security sector and waning state power.
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.
The DRC faces several political and security crises.
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.
DW (April 13, 2022): Germany tells Mali to halt work with Russian mercenaries
Emmanuel Akinwotu, The Guardian (April 5, 2022): Russian mercenaries and Mali army accused of killing 300 civilians
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
Sam Mednick, AP (April 7, 2022): Burkina Faso’s ex-president moved to arrest at personal home
DW (April 6, 2022): Burkina Faso ex-leader Compaore sentenced to life over Sankara assassination: The exiled leader fled the country after protesters threw him out of government, so he was convicted in absentia.
Reuters (April 2, 2022): Burkina Faso leader says security situation will dictate transition timeline
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
David Coffey with RFI (April 7, 2022): Guinea-Conakry’s former prime minister arrested on alleged embezzlement charges
Gambia Legislative Elections: April 9, 2022
Gambia held 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 the 2021 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.
RFI (April 10, 2022): Gambian president’s party falls short of majority in legislative vote
Africanews (April 9, 2022): Gambians vote in legislative elections to consolidate democracy
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.
Derek Matyszak, Daily Maverick (April 10, 2022): Reports of Zanu-PF defeat in 2023 polls are tad premature
David Ehl, DW (April 4, 2022): Zimbabwe: A new hope for the opposition amid fresh repression
Jason Burke and Nyasha Chingono, The Guardian (March 31, 2022): Zanu-PF faces threat from Zimbabwe’s new opposition party
Ethiopia Partial Elections: September 30, 2021, preceded by General Elections: June 21, 2021
Ethiopia held general elections on June 21, 2021, after several postponements. These elections took place in the context of increasing ethnic violence that has reached crisis levels. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, previously a reformer (he even won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019) but most recently an authoritarian, won in a landslide. Polling couldn’t happen in several areas due to the ongoing conflict, so make-up votes took place on September 30, amid opposition boycotts. Nonetheless, Abiy already had enough seats to form a new government regardless of the results of the September elections.
Jos Meester and Guido Lanfranchi, Clingendael (April 14, 2022): A clash of nationalisms and the remaking of the Ethiopian State