Africa This Week: June 6, 2022

June 6, 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.

Saint Louis, or Ndar, in northwest Senegal. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Remi Jouan (CC BY 3.0)

Upcoming Africa Elections

Republic of the Congo Legislative and Local Elections: July 10, 2022

The Republic of the Congo (sometimes called Congo-Brazzaville) will hold legislative and local elections on July 10, 2022. 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

Vatican News (June 4, 2022 – in French): Congo-Brazzaville: message from the bishops for the next legislative and local elections

Senegal Legislative Elections: July 31, 2022

Senegal holds legislative elections on July 31, 2022, following local elections earlier this year. 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

Birahim Touré, RFI (June 5, 2022 – in French): Senegal: the main leaders of the “Yewi askan wi” coalition excluded from the legislative elections

Africanews (June 3, 2022): Senegalese opposition coalitions unite for parliamentary elections

Marwane Ben Yahmed, The Africa Report (June 1, 2022): Senegal: ‘My work as president is far from over’ – President Sall

Charlotte Idrac, RFI (May 31, 2022 – in French): Legislative Elections in Senegal: two lists, including that of the opposition coalition, deemed “inadmissible”

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.

Francis Njuguna, Catholic News Service (June 4, 2022): Kenyan bishops urge free, fair and peaceful elections Aug. 9

Jeff Otieno, The Africa Report (June 3, 2022): Kenya 2022: Voters fear election violence from resurgent Mungiki sect

David Herbling, Bloomberg (June 3, 2022): Wary of Inflation, Kenya Lawmakers Push to Halve Cooking Gas Tax

Africanews (June 2, 2022): Kenya marks 59 years of self-rule

Son Gatitu, The Africa Report (May 31, 2022): Can Kenya’s ‘Iron Lady’ Martha Karua push Raila over the top? Presidential candidate Raila Odinga made Kenyan history this month when he chose as his running mate the first woman to ever join a major party ticket

Wambui Wamunyu, The Conversation (May 31, 2022): Political debates in Kenya: are they useful or empty media spectacles?

Angola Presidential and Legislative Elections: August 24, 2022

Angola holds presidential and legislative elections on August 24, 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.

However, 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. There are hopes that this could pave the way for a more democratic future for Angola.

Angola is one of the biggest oil producers in Africa. More

LUSA (June 7, 2022): Angola: Election observers should not be just ‘African cousins’ – UNITA

Estelle Maussion, Jeune Afrique (June 5, 2022 – in French): Elections in Angola: between powerful allies and new links, the networks of João Lourenço

Africanews (June 4, 2022): Angola to hold general elections on August 24

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.

AFP (June 6, 2022): Nigeria’s Ruling Party Battles Disunity Over 2023 Election Candidate

Macdonald Dzirutwe, Reuters (June 3, 2022): Tinubu says it is his turn to rule Nigeria in election appeal to Buhari

William Clowes and Ruth Olurounbi, Bloomberg (June 3, 2022): President’s Main Backer in 2015 Says It’s His Turn in Nigeria: Tinubu says without him Buhari wouldn’t have been elected

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.

Sudan Tribune (June 2, 2022): UN chief urges parties to implement key provisions of South Sudan’s peace deal

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.

Columbus Mavhunga, Voice of America (June 6, 2022): Zimbabwe Arrests Journalist Over Tweet on President

Michelle Gavin, Council on Foreign Relations (June 1, 2022): Trouble Ahead in Zimbabwe

Columbus Mavhunga, Voice of America (June 1, 2022): Journalist in Distress? Zimbabwe Has an App for That

Gift Dafuleya, The Conversation (June 1, 2022): Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections: how to judge candidates’ social protection promises

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.

Hamza Hendawi, The National UAE (June 6, 2022): Sudan’s political future pinned on UN-sponsored political dialogue

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.

Al Jazeera (June 7, 2022): Mali military promises return to civilian rule in March 2024: Generals hope new offer will lead to lifting of sanctions were imposed after they reneged on an earlier promise to hold elections in February.

Past Africa Elections

Somalia, Indirect Presidential Election: May 15, 2022

Somalia finally held its long-delayed presidential election on May 15, 2022. Former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served from 2012 to 2017 before losing re-election, was elected, defeating incumbent Mohamed “Farmaajo.”

The Horn of Africa country does not hold direct elections, but rather holds indirect elections in a clan-based system. The elections were delayed, and Farmaajo remained in office beyond the end of his term, which created 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 exacerbated 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

René Brosius, The Conversation (June 6, 2022): Somalia’s election was different: why that’s not necessarily a bad thing

Stig Jarle Hansen, Asia Times (June 6, 2022): US re-entry into Somalia aims at Russia, China

Omar Mahmood, International Crisis Group (May 31, 2022): A Welcome Chance for a Reset in Somalia: It took sixteen months, but Somalia’s elections have finally concluded – and without major incident

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.

Sait Matty Jaw, African Arguments (May 31, 2022): Gambian voters show unpredictability again to deliver first hung parliament

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.

Audrey Simango, The Africa Report (June 3, 2022): Zambia’s new-found political stability boosts local currency

Coups, Russia, France, Geopolitics

Tom Collins, Quartz (June 6, 2022): New wave of anti-colonial populism sweeps Francophone Africa

AFP (June 4, 2022): ECOWAS leaders postpone decision on sanctions in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea

Corentin Cohen, Carnegie Endowment (June 2, 2022): Will France’s Africa Policy Hold Up?

Frances Z. Brown and Thomas Carothers, JustSecurity (June 1, 2022): The US Needs a Global Anti-Coup Strategy

Africa Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Nigeria, Gubernatorial Election in Ekiti State: June 18, 2022

Nigeria, Gubernatorial Election in Osun State: July 16, 2022

Senegal Legislative Elections: July 31, 2022

Republic of Congo Legislative Elections: July 10, 2022

Kenya Presidential and Legislative Elections: August 9, 2022

Angola Presidential and Legislative Elections: August 24, 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)

Guinea-Bissau Snap Parliamentary Elections: By the end of 2022

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 and Regional 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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