May 30, 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 market in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Creative Studio (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
Loïcia Martial, RFI (May 26, 2022): Congo-B: the opposition divided on its participation in the next 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.
James Okong’o, AFP (May 30, 2022): False political quotes fuel online disinformation ahead of Kenya election
Joachim Buwembo, The East African (May 28, 2022): Why Ugandans panic when Kenya ‘renovates its roof’ every five years
Patrick Anam, The Diplomat (May 27, 2022): Is Japan Beginning to Overtake China on Infrastructure Financing in Kenya? A closer look at the trends and differences in Japanese vs. Chinese lending to Kenya
Charlie Mitchell, African Business (May 26, 2022): Kenya elections: Ruto and Odinga square up to fight for presidency: Kenya’s August presidential elections have profound implications for growth and development across East Africa. What are the issues the candidates have to address?
Tom Wolf, The Elephant (May 24, 2022): Why Opinion Polls May Not Always Predict Election Outcomes in Kenya
Son Gatitu, The Africa Report (May 24, 2022): Kenya 2022: Who is Rigathi Gachagua, Ruto’s running mate?
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
Jon Schubert and Gilson Lazaro, African Arguments (May 26, 2022): Angola’s regime pushes back against a growing and united opposition
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.
Liesl Louw-Vaudran, ISS Today (May 24, 2022): Red flags ahead of Lesotho’s October elections: Parliamentarians urgently need to vote on a reform bill that can bring some political stability to Lesotho
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
Edward Cavanough, ABC News Australia (June 5, 2022): The small African state of Somaliland legally doesn’t exist. But Taiwan has spied an opportunity to make its mark
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 (May 28, 2022): Nigerian opposition votes in primaries for 2023 election candidate
Reuters (May 28, 2022): Nigeria’s Jonathan can contest presidential elections next year, court rules
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.
Sam Mednick, The New Humanitarian (May 30, 2022): As elections loom, South Sudan’s sluggish peace deal fuels further instability and violence
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.
Farai Shawn Matiashe, The Africa Report (May 27, 2022): Zimbabwe: Battle for control of Harare City Council rages on
ISS Today (May 23, 2022): Courage, charisma not enough to defeat Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections
Democratic Republic of the Congo General Elections: December 2023 (due)
The DRC is due to hold general elections in 2023. These follow gubernatorial elections, which took place on May 6, 2022.
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 severe political and security crises.
International Crisis Group (May 25, 2022): Easing the Turmoil in the Eastern DR Congo and Great Lakes
Africanews with AFP (May 30, 2022): African Union chief ‘gravely concerned’ by Rwanda-DRC tension
Channels (May 25, 2022): Tensions Rise Ahead Of DR Congo Presidential Election
Ikaba Koyi, Al Jazeera (May 24, 2022): Q&A: DRC has more to lose than gain in regional bloc – opposition
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.
DW (May 29, 2022): Sudan’s military leader lifts state of emergency
Jason Burke and Zeinab Mohammed Salih, The Guardian (May 28, 2022): ‘Our friends didn’t die in vain’: Sudan’s activists aim to topple military regime
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.
Damilola Banjo, Passblue (May 31, 2022): As Russia’s Wagner Group Operates in Mali, the Country’s Civilian Deaths Multiply
Alex Thurston, World Politics Review (May 25, 2022): Mali’s Junta Is Rewriting West Africa’s Playbook on Post-Coup ‘Transitions’
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
The New Arab (May 30, 2022): New Somalia president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud calls for reconciliation as US troops return
The Conversation (May 27, 2022): Somalia’s new president Hassan Sheikh: his strengths and weaknesses
Jack Detsch, Foreign Policy (May 26, 2022): Somalia’s al Qaeda Branch Has Gotten ‘Bigger, Stronger, and Bolder’ Since U.S. Exit
Bloomberg (May 24, 2022): Outgoing Somali President Admits Sending 5,000 Troops to Eritrea
Uganda General Elections: January 14, 2021
Uganda held presidential and legislative elections on January 14, 2021. President Yoweri Museveni has held power since 1986, but this time faced possibly his biggest challenge yet in the form of 37-year-old pop star Bobi Wine. Following the elections, the government launched a brutal crackdown on the opposition. More
Reuters (May 26, 2022): Detained Ugandan opposition figure charged with inciting violence
Elias Biryabarema, Reuters (May 24, 2022): Uganda arrests opposition’s Besigye again, breaks up price protests
Coups, Russia, France, Geopolitics
Joseph Siegle and Jeffrey Smith, Foreign Policy (May 30, 2022): Putin’s World Order Would Be Devastating for Africa: Moscow is already deeply involved in destabilizing wars
Todd Prince, RFE/RL (May 24, 2022): Expansion Or Contraction? How Putin’s War In Ukraine Affects His Efforts In Africa
Human Rights Watch (May 24, 2022): AU: Focus on Root Causes of Conflict, Political Instability
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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