African Election Watch: Keep up to date with all the upcoming votes
This week, the Insiders’ Newsletter is introducing the new segment “Election Watch”. This comprehensive roundup of all upcoming African elections will cover their main issues, candidates, likely outcomes, and legal framework. We’ll also provide links to more background, analysis, and news updates. Subscribers to the Insiders’ Newsletter will receive updates as necessary each week, up to and including the eventual results.
To our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive regular update on African elections available to a general audience.
To celebrate the this new segment, we’re publishing the first Election Watch segment for free and running a 30% off promotion on the Insiders’ Newsletter. Just click here to subscribe and get the full newsletter every week, including Election Watch.
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The bits non-subscribers are missing out on this week are:
The fate of the five: Four out, one on the line
Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria have all been eliminated…
What everyone is talking about: South Sudan’s meetings of the minds
Is South Sudan inching closer to peace? After two years…
Chart of the week: Neglected no more
This chart comes from a short article in the Economist, which details the extraordinary success…
End matter: The best few articles from around the web this week
- The election will take place on 29 July. If no candidate wins a majority in the first round, a run-off is scheduled for 12 August.
- Incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (73) is standing for his second term. He is facing more than 20 rival candidates, including Soumaïla Cissé (68) who lost in the run-off in 2013.
- Keïta (known as IBK) is considered the favorite, but is unlikely to get over 50% in the first round. In 2013, he beat Cissé in the run-off by 78% to 22%, but only managed about 40% in the first round. In a representative opinion poll last year, IBK had an approval rating of 63%, although security has deteriorated since then and the economy is essentially flatlining.
- The government doesn’t have effective control over some parts of the country, where Islamist groups and ethnic militias are present. The campaign and election day will likely experience some violence. Polling stations may not be able to open in all places, opening the door to irregularities.
- Turnout is expected to be low, with average turnout for the last three presidential elections barely exceeding 40% (first round).
- Dakar-based think tank Wathi has the best primer on the elections. Freedom House’s country profile is useful as well. The University of Florida has details on the legal voting framework.
- Afrobarometer has done extensive polling on a host of social and political issues in Mali in 2017.
- Jeune Afrique (French), RFI (French) and Reuters (English) cover landmark developments. Maliactu (French) is a firehose of local coverage. Other worthwhile sources of news and analysis include Studio Tamani (French).
- Mali says some soldiers implicated after mass graves found
- Mali: A Few Details on the Mass Graves in Mopti
- Thousands of Malians rally against President Keita before election
- Mali: UN Security Council Briefing and Consultations Ahead of Mandate Renewal and Presidential Elections
- Retrait des Pays-Bas de la mission de maintien de la paix de l’ONU au Mali
Zimbabwe: President, National Assembly and Senate
- Zimbabweans will vote in a general election on 30 July. A presidential runoff will be held on 8 September if no candidate gets over 50% in the first round.
- For the National Assembly, 210 seats are elected directly by constituents in a first-past-the-post system. The same votes are also allocated proportionally by party to elect six women in each of the ten districts to arrive at 270 seats total.
- For the Senate, 60 seats are allocated by proportional vote from a party list, with each of the ten districts receiving six seats. Party lists must alternate between female and male candidates. Two seats are reserved for people with disabilities and 18 for traditional chiefs, bringing the Senate to 80 seats.
- After Robert Mugabe was forced to resign last year, the upcoming elections are seen as a potential watershed moment. Mugabe’s successor as president, Emmerson Mnangagwa (75) has promised some economic and political reforms, but was also intimately involved in decades of political repression and autocracy.
- In a representative poll from April/May, President Mnangagwa gained a 49%/33% approval/disapproval rating. 86% of respondents said they would vote, indicating to a strong turnout. President Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF are considered favorites with 42% of respondents saying they will vote for them. Nelson Chamisa, leader of MDC–T, the most significant opposition party, can rely on 30% of the vote. With 26% of voters undecided, Chamisa will likely hold Mnangagwa to a runoff, but would have to rely on a broad alliance of opposition organisations and parties to have a shot of dethroning the ZANU-PF, which retains complete control over state resources. It is unclear, if Mnangagwa and his party would even accept a loss, or repeat the 2017 coup.
- Afrobarometer is the most reliable source of polling and has this slidedeck of the most recent data
- African Arguments has a whole collection of articles on many aspects of the election. And for background on Mugabe’s ouster and the 2017 coup, check out recent reports by the International Crisis Group.
- For the main headlines, look no further than the Daily Maverick and Al Jazeera. The Zimbabwe Independent is a decent source for local coverage.
- Fears for credibility of July elections as Zimbabwe President escapes bid on his life
- Attack on President Mnangagwa Likely a Grenade
- Zimbabwe opposition leader Nelson Chamisa fears poll violence
- Battling tokenism: Zimbabwe’s female politicians pin hopes on polls
- Zimbabwe is open for ‘others’ but not its citizens
Comoros: Referendum on presidential term limits
- President Azali Assoumani has callen a referendum on 30 July to change the constitution to allow for two 5-year presidential terms, instead of the current maximum one 5-year term. This would allow him to stay in power until 2029, instead of leaving after his current term ends in 2021.
- The current system of presidential term limits is designed to allow the presidency to rotate between the three Islands of the nation. Prior to its introduction in 2001, the Comoros experienced frequent coups and rebellions on islands that felt marginalised by the central government.
- With the constitutional court suspended and prominent opposition politicians in jail or under house arrest, a transparent and credible referendum is in doubt.
- The 2001 constitution (amended 2009). The referendum aims to change Article 13.
- Reuters has a backgrounder.
- Comoros opposition leader jailed for 6 months for demos
- Comoros opposition rallies against referendum
- Political crisis deepens in Comoros over controversial president
South Sudan: President, National Legislative Assembly and Council of States [unconfirmed]
- In light of the ongoing civil war, parliament voted in 2015 to amend the 2011 transitional constitution to extend its own and the president’s term to 9 July 2018. Two weeks out, the civil war is still going on and no new date has been set. The government has threatened in the past to go forward with elections if no progress in ongoing peace talks with the opposition can be made. Under the current conditions, these would be a sham with no support expected from international partners. Recent peace talks in Addis Ababa and Khartoum did not address the question of elections.
This week’s updates by: @PeterDoerrie