Africa will have at least three new presidents in 2017. In Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will stand down after two six-year terms. She has endorsed Vice-President Joseph Boakai as her successor, but the final decision will rest with voters. In Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos has pledged to hand over to defence minister João Lourenço after 38 years in power. However, dos Santos will remain leader of the MPLA, which assuming it remains the largest parliamentary party, will be responsible for selecting Angola’s president.
In Somaliland, President Silanyo has ruled out standing for another term; but with a severe drought affecting the self-declared state it may struggle to adhere to its electoral timetable. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila’s mandate has expired. A transitional deal has raised hope for elections in 2017 – assuming the necessary resources and political will can be mustered. In neighbouring Rwanda, Paul Kagame will stand for his third seven-year term as president. This was legalised by a constitutional referendum in December 2015.
Kenya will stage nearly 2,000 electoral contests for county assemblies and governors, the Senate and National Assembly, and the presidency. Uhuru Kenyatta hopes to remain in State House for another term. Opposition coalitions are still being finalised, but his most likely main opponent is Raila Odinga, a former prime minister. A snap election will also be held in Lesotho in June.
Click on the countries highlighted on the map to browse resources assembled by ARI.
The timeline display the polls according to their anticipated dates. Each entry includes a quote, which offers an interesting angle on potential outcomes and political dynamics. All resources have been chosen with a view to encouraging debate, and neither individually nor collectively reflect ARI’s own opinions. Some countries have not yet set firm dates for their polls. We will be updating the visualisation with new information and graphics over the coming months as details are finalised.
‘Reform or unravel?Prospects for Angola’s transition’
Institute for Security Studies, 8 May 2017 // Paula Cristina Roque
This report focuses on the emerging faultlines Angola is facing as the Dos Santos era comes to an end.
‘Angola’s ‘Omnipresent’ Leadont Won’t Run Again. But Will he Relinquish Power?’
The New York Times, 20 May 2017
The article highlights President José Eduardo dos Santos’ family’s economic interests, and questions how much power will be seceded when his successor João Lourenço assumes office.
‘Angola prepares for life after Dos Santos’
Chatham House, 20 February 2017 // Soren Kirk Jensen
Looks at the likely changes at the top of Angolan politics in 2017 and argues that radical political change is unlikely.
Democratic Republic of Congo
‘The man who would be King of Congo’
Foreign Policy, 4 April 2017 // William Clowes
The untimely death of Étienne Tshisekedi has thrown his son, Félix, into the spotlight. Can he provide unity and/or leadership to Congo’s opposition?
‘The New/Old Government’
Congo Research Group, 9 May 2017 // Jason Stearns
Jason Stearns argues that the nomination of a new government has “much more to do with alliance-building and patronage than substance”.
‘What next for the political process?’
International Crisis Group, 21 March 2017 // Hans Hoebeke
Reflects on future political developments in DRC amidst the backdrop of worsening insecurity in the Kasai provinces.
‘Explainer: what’s behind the high stakes in Kenya’s presidential elections’
The Conversation, 8 May 2017 // Sekou Toure Otondi
Argues that the 2017 elections will test the country’s legal framework and institutional capacity to undertake credible, free, fair and peaceful polls.
‘August 8 and two kinds of SGR – the standard gauge railway and the strategic grain reserve’
The Star, 13 May 2017 // Tom Mboya
Article emphasises the rising cost of maize flour and the management of the strategic grain reserve as central issues in the coming election.
‘Kenya: Avoiding Another Electoral Crisis’
Crisis Group, 3 March 2017 // Murithi Mutiga
Due to political tensions rising in Kenya ahead of elections, measures are being taken to avert the risk of a repeat of the electoral violence in 2007-2008.
‘Timeline of Mosisili’s tenure’
Lesotho Times, 3 March 2017 // Lekhetho Ntsukunyane
Details some of the key political developments in the last two years
‘Lesotho and the limits of electoral reform’
Africa Research Institute, 26 April 2016 //Timothy Rich & Vasabjit Banerjee
To be successful, electoral reforms need to be accompanied by constitutional reforms and guarantees to opposition parties
‘Lesotho elections – maturing democracy or a failure of institutions?’
Daily Maverick, 15 May 2017 // John Aerni-Flessner
Asks whether optimism about the dawning of a new era of coalition politics in Lesotho in 2012 was misplaced.
‘Code of conduct likely to be declared inapplicable’
Front Page Africa, 1 May 2017 // Lennart Dodoo
Provides an in-depth look at the issues surrounding Liberia’s code of conduct legislation and suggests the likely outcome is that it will be declared inapplicable in 2017.
‘Liberia’s run-up to 2017: continuity and change in a long history of electoral politics’
Review of African Political Economy, 4 May 2017 // Robtel Neajai Pailey & David Harris
This briefing investigates changes and continuities in the candidates, political parties, electoral processes and the workings of the Liberian state at a watershed moment in its democratic history.
‘The Africa Report Podcast, with Liberian Presidential hopeful George Weah’
The Africa Report, 24 May 2017 // Nick Norbrook and Robert Clarke
Nick Norbrook and Robert Clarke talk to Liberian presidential hopeful and winner of the Ballon d’or, George Weah.
‘Unbowed by mudslinging, Diane vows to soldier on in race for presidency’
The East African, 17 May 2017 // The East African Team
Presidential candidate Diane Shima Rwigara refuses to withdraw from the race, despite suffering a major blow to her campaign.
‘Ahead of vote on term limits, Rwandans worry about presidential power grab’
Al Jazeera America, 16 December 2016 // Jonathan W Rosen
Pro – and anti -Kagame viewpoints ahead of constitutional vote.
‘Paul Kagame discusses third term politics’
YouTube, 12 May 2016
President responds to criticism about third term in interview with Tony Blair (from 46.15).
‘Parties and NEC concur on drought induced election delay‘
Somaliland Sun, 18 January 2017 // Yusuf M Hasan
Further delay in elections due to drought and other factors.
‘Report by International Observers on the 2016 voter registration process in Somaliland’
Progressio, March 2017 // Michael Walls & Marie-Luise Schueller
Provides a comprehensive overview of the voter registration that took place across Somaliland in 2016
‘Somaliland elections review report’
Somaliland Non State Actors Forum, 11 March 2011
Detailed study assessing ten years of elections in Somaliland.
- Angola by Lucia Kula
- Democratic Republic of Congo by Kris Berwouts
- Kenya by Zilper Audi
- Lesotho by John Aerni-Flessner & Deiv Rakaojoana
- Liberia by Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei
- Rwanda by Phil Clark
- Somaliland by Michael Walls