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.
‘Angola’s elections trigger a crisis of legitimacy’
Institute for Security Studies, 8 September 2017 // Paula Cristina Roque
Raises concerns about the way elections were managed in the country and suggests that a more repressive approach to governing is likely to emerge
‘Fair elections remain unlikely as Angola enters the post-Dos Santos era’
World Politics Review, 10 August 2017 // Sylvia Croese
The article describes the landscape in the run-up to the elections, the pessimistic mood of civil society and the factors that could compromise the outcome
‘Angola: Le bilan de José Eduardo dos Santos est un grand gaspillage’
Le Monde, 18 August 2017
Extended interview with Prof. Ricardo Soares de Oliveira (in French)
Democratic Republic of Congo
‘Congolese cling to election hopes, some fear the worst’
Reuters, 7 June 2017 // Aaron Ross
Congolese have registered en masse for elections, but what chance will they have of voting?
‘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.
‘Factsheet: Kenya’s new parliament by numbers’
Africa Check, 31 August 2017 // Alphonce Shiundu
Provides a very useful overview of the composition of Kenya’s newly elected parliament
‘What Kenyan voters got for the $500m spent on elections’
Al Jazeera, 18 August 2017 // Nanjala Nyabola
Asks how a country can be so good at voting and yet so bad at counting those votes
‘Kenya’s elections show how the media has sold its soul’
Washington Post, 11 August 2017 // Patrick Gathara
Argues that Kenya’s media are increasingly shaping a pre-defined narrative for the country, one that deliberately ignores contentious issues
Why Lesotho’s in such a mess and what can be done about it’
The Conversation, 19 June 2017 // Roger Southall
Reflections on instability in Lesotho, with a focus on the military.
‘Who is Thomas Thabane, and why is Lesotho’s army so scared of him?’
Mail & Guardian, 15 June 2017 // Simon Allison
A profile of Thomas Thabane and review of the political threats he faces.
‘A friendly advice to Thabane on learning from the past and doing things differently’
Lesotho Analysis, 25 June 2017 // Mafa M. Sejanamane
The author advocated deep security reforms to limit influence of military in Lesotho.
‘As Liberia’s election approaches, what will citizens be looking for in their next government?’
Afrobarometer, 9 June 2017 // Thomas Isbell and David Jacobs
A quantitative survey of public opinions on various governance issues in Liberia.
‘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.
‘Is Liberia’s Sirleaf really standing up for women?’
Al Jazeera, 31 August 2017 // Robtel Neajai Pailey & Korto Reeves Williams
Argues that outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s promise to campaign for women candidates in Liberia’s upcoming elections is too little, to late.
‘‘Don’t be fooled by those happy campaign rallies. Rwandans live in fear‘
Washington Post, 1 August 2017 // Fred Muvunyi
Argues that votes for Paul Kagame will be driven by the fear of the consequences for not doing so.
‘Here’s why Paul Kagame won a third term as Rwanda’s president’
Washington Post, 5 August 2017 // Melina Platas
Seeks to explain why Paul Kagame was able to win over 95% of the vote in the recent election.
‘Like it or not, Rwanda is Africa’s future’
Mail & Guardian, 7 July 2017 // Simon Allison
The piece contrasts Rwanda’s significant development achievements with it’s limitations on human rights.
‘Somaliland demands recognition 26 years on’
African Arguments, 22 May 2017 // James Wan
Interview with Dr Saad Ali Shire, Somaliland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
‘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
- Senegal by Mamadou Bodian
- Somaliland by Michael Walls