Elections to watch out for in Africa in 2016
2015 was a big year for African elections, and 2016 will be just as important. Some of the upcoming elections will determine the fate of democracy in those countries, especially in Central African Republic, Congo DRC etc. Here’s a preview of elections in Africa in 2016.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic is presently holding its presidential elections after months of fighting in the tiny nation. Its inclusion on this list is due to the fact that a second round of elections could hold in January 2016 if results prove indecisive in this first round of elections. Already, there are reports of peace across all polling units in the country as people are coming out in droves to vote for the thirty candidates contesting in the polls. The favourites include former prime ministers Martin Ziguele and Anicet Georges Dologuele. Perhaps the Pope’s visit has caused this change in CAR’s perception concerning violence.
Presidential elections have been fixed for February 18th 2016. Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president since 1986 is expected to win, but not because of the popular vote. One of the students at Makerere University in Uganda told the Guardian earlier this year, that even if they vote, they (government) will rig the elections and the same people will return. This sentiment is echoed by so many other Ugandans, and it is not far-fetched. Museveni’s decision to scrap term limits for Presidents in 2005 seems to be working in his favour. However, he won’t have it easy this time, as he is running against seven other candidates. His most notable rivals are Dr. Kizza Besigye who is representing the Forum for Democratic Change (has unsuccessfully contested four times in the past), and former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi of the Go Forward party.
Niger’s presidential elections will hold on the 21st of February 2016, with a run-off slated for March 20. President Mahamadou Issoufou will be contesting, and is hoping for a second five year term in office. His closest rival is former parliament speaker Hama Amadou who just returned to Niger after a one year exile in France. He is expected to give Issoufou a run for his money in an election where about 44% of the population is expected to register to vote. The first task that will likely face the new government is how to tackle the Boko Haram menace that has seen Niger declare a state of emergency in the southern region of Diffar.
When Benin republic’s ruling party Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE) lost most of its parliamentary seats last year, it was seen as the end of President Boni Yayi’s plan for a third term in office. A majority number of seats in the parliament would have ensured that a referendum went through for Boni Yayi to change the constitution’s presidential term limit. The failure put FCBE at a crossroads to decide who will represent them. This indecision by the ruling party to put forth a candidate for the election seems to have affected the opposition party Unity Makes the Nation (UN). Lionel Zinsou, Benin’s prime minister has stepped up and is gearing up to represent FCBE at next year’s elections. It is expected that the opposition party would release its representative soon. The Feb. 28 2016 elections in Benin could be one of the tightest in their history.
President Ismail Guelleh has overseen little economic rise since he became president in 1999. Since he became president, Djibouti has seen foreign powers like the United states and Japan establish Army bases in Djibouti, with China set to join the party. He is set to contest in the 2016 elections against a number of opposition parties. However, these parties are complaining of repression, of human rights abuse from the government. These parties have a long way to go in dislodging Gullah from his post, and are increasingly losing their voices.
President Idriss Deby will be contesting in next year’s elections in Chad. However, there has been dissent within his administration since 2012. A country that produces oil still has a high number of people living in extreme poverty, and its cities have disparaging economies. This coupled with the Boko Haram threat means the new president has a lot of work to do. Idriss Deby says he wants to finish the job if re-elected. However, that’s in the hands of the millions of Chadians who will be coming out to vote next year.
Ghana’s President John Mahama was endorsed last month by his party National Democratic Congress to represent them at next year’s election after winning his party’s primaries. This was followed by widespread backlash from angry Ghanaians who had become disillusioned with his government. Increase in inflation, erratic power and nationwide strikes means all is not rosy in his tenure, and elections next year might not be smooth sailing for him. His win would also depend on the strength of candidates of opposition parties as they are being unveiled. Edward Mahama of the People’s National Convention was chosen on the 12th of December to represent them at the elections and has contested four times. The election is billed to hold on the 7th of November, 2016.
General elections hold in Zambia next year. Edward Lungu who was elected president in 2015 (former president Michael Sata died late 2014) is the favourite to win in next year’s election. His major opposition in 2015, Hakainde Hichelima of the Union Party for Development (UPND), is also a frontrunner in next year’s polls. While eleven candidates vied for the post of the president in 2015, it is still unclear how many candidates will contest next year’s election.
The next presidential election in Congo Brazzaville is scheduled to hold in 2016. President Sassou Nguesso has already had 31 years in office (two separate stints as president) and would have had two consecutive terms as president by 2016 elections. He is going to be contesting for a third term courtesy a referendum passed this year removing limits on number of terms. Despite the large opposition to this referendum from both home and abroad, it went through with a questionable 1.2 million people voting for it. Sassou Nguesso has largely suppressed the opposition and is the clear favourite to be president. He joins the list of African presidents trying to prolong their terms in office by amending the constitution.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Joseph Kabila has been president of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2001, taking on the role 10 days after the death of his father who was president. He was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2011. The presidential term limit is two, and Kabila’s information minister has always maintained that Kabila won’t run for a third term in elections slated to happen in November 2016. However, logistical problems are threatening the polls next year, as its electoral commission declared this year that the elections could be postponed by up to “two to four years” because the DRC does not have “conditions” for an election to occur. People claim it is a ploy to extend Kabila’s rule over Congo. Protests have erupted in the country at different times this year. If Kabila contests for a third term, he joins the list of other presidents in east central Africa that have contested for a third term in office.
Comoros has witnessed a number of coups and attempted coups since its independence in 1975. It is made up of three islands and it has now been agreed that power will rotate between the three islands. Elections are set to hold in April 2016, with former leader Abdallah Sambi, leader of the opposition Juwa party, as one of the favourites to win. He promised to fight corruption, create jobs and eradicate poverty in his first stint as president. Under the rotation of power rule, Sambi cannot contest for elections next year because it’s not his island’s turn, but he hopes to change this rule using the members of the party in his parliament. Current president Ikililou Dhoinine’s five year tenure ends next year and it is unknown if he will contest for a second term.