Africa This Week: April 25, 2022

April 25, 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.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Axmadyare (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

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

Mohamed Sheikh Nor, The Africa Report (April 26, 2022): Somalia: The top 10 candidates to watch ahead of the presidential polls

Caleb Weiss and Andrew Tobin, Long War Journal (April 24, 2022): Shabaab targets Somali police chief in Mogadishu suicide bombing

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (April 23, 2022): ‘Parallel’ elections emerge in Somalia

AFP (April 22, 2022): Six Killed in Restaurant Blast in Somali Capital

Abdulkadir Khalif, The East African (April 19, 2022): Somalia’s Lower House, Senate set to elect speakers before end of April

Senegal Legislative Elections: July 2022 (due)

Senegal held local elections on January 23, and is due to hold legislative elections by July 2022. The next presidential election is due in 2024.

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

Jeune Afrique (April 25, 2022 – in French): Legislative elections in Senegal: Macky Sall seeks to conquer diaspora seats

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.

John Githongo, The Elephant (April 22, 2022): Kenya’s Giant Political Merger: Faustian Pact or Reshaping Reality?

Paul Richardson, Bloomberg (April 22, 2022): Mwai Kibaki, Ex-Kenyan Ruler Tainted by Violent Vote, Dies

Duncan Miriri, Reuters (April 22, 2022): Kenyan leader Kibaki’s legacy stained by re-election violence, graft

Maina wa Mutonya, The Conversation (April 20, 2022): Latest approach to Kenya election hate speech raises more questions than answers

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 21, 2022): Chad rebels accuse junta of ‘deliberately dragging out’ Doha talks

Lewis Mudge, Le Monde (April 20, 2022 – in French): Like his father, Mahamat Idriss Déby runs Chad with an iron fist

Helga Dickow, The Conversation (April 19, 2022): No signs of a true transition in Chad a year after Idriss Déby’s death

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.

Potential 2023 candidates have already begun jockeying for position, and Nigeria’s two major parties plan to hold presidential nominating contests at the end of May. 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 26, 2022): Nigeria’s opposition to pick presidential candidate at end of May

Kehinde Olatunji, The Guardian Nigeria (April 22, 2022): Osinbajo, Obi top list of presidential hopefuls, poll indicates

Isaac Kaledzi, DW (April 21, 2022): Nigeria: Buhari’s succession battle heats up: At least 35 presidential hopefuls have joined the race to succeed Muhammadu Buhari, who is set to step down in February 2023

Ezekiel Oyero, Premium Times Nigeria (April 21, 2022): Nigeria: How Nigerian Govt Can Tackle Electoral Violence Against Women

Reuters (April 20, 2022): Nigeria’s Ruling Party APC Sets Presidential Primaries Date

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.

Charles Tai Gituai, The East African (April 22, 2022): South Sudanese crying for free, fair and credible polls

Zimbabwe General Elections: July 2023 (due)

Zimbabwe is due to hold general elections in July 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.

Most recently, 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.

However, many concerns remain about the fairness of the upcoming elections.

Gibbs Dube, Voice of America (April 21, 2022): Political Scientist Says Zanu PF Will Win 2023 Elections If Zimbabwe Does Not Implement Tangible Electoral Reforms

Simon Allison, World Politics Review (April 19, 2022): Zimbabwe’s New Opposition Party Faces the Same Old Problems

Tendai Marima, Al Jazeera (April 19, 2022): Unresolved disappearances, economic misery haunt Zimbabwe at 42

Lenin Ndebele, News24 (April 18, 2022): Zimbabwe turns 42: Opposition calls for ‘legitimate democracy’

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.

Jason K. Stearns, Foreign Affairs (May/June 2022 issue): Rebels Without a Cause: The New Face of African Warfare

Stephen Buchanan-Clarke, Mail and Guardian (April 22, 2022):  Pros and cons of DRC joining the East Africa bloc

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.

Majeed Malhas, Borgen Magazine (April 22, 2022): The Humanitarian Consequences of the Sudanese Coup D’état

Jérôme Tubiana, U.S. Institute of Peace (April 20, 2022): Darfur after Bashir: Implications for Sudan’s Transition and for the Region

Marc Espanol, Al-Monitor (April 19, 2022): Coup generals bring back party of Sudan’s ousted dictator: Members of deposed dictator Omar al-Bashir’s party have been appointed to high state positions and reinstated throughout the government.

Hamza Hendawi, The National UAE (April 19, 2022): Sudanese pro-democracy group boycotts proposed talks to end political crisis

Sudan Tribune (April 19, 2022): Sudanese Islamist groups form new political coalition

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 (April 25, 2022): Mali jihadists claim capture of fighter with Russia’s Wagner

Jason Burke and agencies, The Guardian (April 22, 2022): France says Russian mercenaries staged ‘French atrocity’ in Mali: Army says it filmed mercenaries burying bodies to falsely accuse France of leaving behind mass graves

Africanews with AFP (April 22, 2022): Mali junta says sticking to two-year transition

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

Reuters (April 25, 2022): Guinea and Burkina Faso juntas risk more sanctions over transition delays

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

Casey McGowan, Jurist (April 25, 2022): Guinea former president released from house arrest

Past Africa Elections

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.

Even though civil society organizations 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.

Molly Quell, Courthouse News (April 25, 2022): Trial of former Gambian death squad member begins in Germany

Bekai Njie and Milan Berckmans, AFP (April 23, 2022): Gambian’s trial in Europe masks struggle for justice at home

Ali Jaw, The Point Gambia (April 21, 2022): Women groups express dissatisfaction over number of women elected to parliament

Guinea-Bissau Presidential Election: November 24, 2019

In March 2019, Guinea-Bissau finally held long-delayed legislative elections. The ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won 47 out of 102 seats, but made deals with three smaller parties to form a coalition with 54 seats, voting in Aristide Gomes as prime minister. Subsequently, Umaro Sissoco Embaló won the November 2019 presidential election, defeating incumbent José Mário Vaz and 10 other candidates.

Prone to coups (most recently in 2012), no elected leader has served a full term since independence from Portugal. The country remains in a political crisis, with President José Mário Vaz (known as Jomav) in a feud with his own party (PAIGC). Although analysts believed that the March 2019 legislative elections improved the situation, the country regressed once again at the end of October 2019, when Vaz fired Gomes, and Gomes refused to leave office – the third government dissolution in two years.

There is an ever-present risk of a coup (and in fact, one was attempted in January 2022), and the next elections – due in November 2024 – could be delayed – there is a debate over whether holding the elections as scheduled or delaying them would be a better move for stability.

Bram Posthumus, Al Jazeera (April 21, 2022): Analysis: In Guinea Bissau, April brings reminders of instability: In the tiny West African state, President Umaro Embalo faces an uphill task of reforms – and threats to his life.


AP (April 24, 2022): Russian mercenaries Putin’s ‘coercive tool’ in Africa

The Economist (April 23, 2022): Turkey is making a big diplomatic and corporate push into Africa

Raphael Parens, Foreign Policy Research Institute (April 22, 2022): Food Prices, Elections, and the Wagner Group in Africa

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Somalia Indirect Presidential Election: By May 17, 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 (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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