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.
‘Its Economy in Crisis, Angola Readies for a New Leader’
The Wall Street Journal, 2 January 2017 // Gabrielle Steinhauser
This piece describe the recent Angolan economic crisis amidst talks that current defense minister is set to succeed José Eduardo dos Santos.
‘Angola: Zaire – Over 100.000 Citizens Able to Participate in General Elections’
AllAfrica, 25 January 2017
Piece detailing that 153.848 citizens of over 18 years old are already able to vote in this year’s general elections.
‘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?
‘Hungry for change: the economics underlying DR Congo’s political crisis’
African Arguments, 12 December 2016 // Hans Hoebeke & Phillipe Kadima Cintu
This piece argues that at the heart of disenchantment with President Kabila’s government lie deep economic woes that may come to shape political protest.
‘Tshisekedi, misunderstood and maligned, leaves uncertainity in his wake ‘
Congo Research Group, 2 February 2017 // Jason Stearns
Jason Stearns reflects on the strengths and weaknesses of late opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, and the likely consequences of his death.
‘Who should lead the Kenyan opposition?’
Democracy in Africa, 3 April 2017 // Nic Cheeseman
Considers the main opposition candidates looking specifically at who will appeal most to the electorate.
‘Angry voters await MPs in August poll’
Daily Nation, 20 February 2017 //Patrick Lang’at
Voters are most unhappy in Jubilee strongholds with 46 per cent of Jubilee supporters saying they didn’t think their MPs will make it back.
‘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.
‘The bureaucritisation of politicians in Lesotho’
Daily Maverick, 1 March 2017 // Charles Fogelman
Argues that strong external influence in the strategic direction of the country is transforming politicians into elected bureaucrats with little authority to determine policy
‘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 at 50: The politics of dysfunction or the dysfunction of politics? ’
Daily Maverick, 4 October 2016 // John Aerni-Flessner
On its 50th independence anniversary this piece draws attention to looming crises in Lesotho’s military and political systems
‘As 2014 special senatorial election results finally emerge, Ellen loses ‘majority’ in the senate’
Liberian Observer, 29 December 2014 // Keith Morris
Offers some reflections on the 2014 senatorial election results, which saw just 2 out of 12 senators successfully re-elected.
‘Weah’s conundrum – 3rd time charmer of 3rd time loser’
Front Page Africa, January 2017 // Rodney Sieh
Looks at the formation of an opposition coalition and asks whether it will have more success in delivering George Weah to the presidency.
‘Beyond the Disease: How the Ebola epidemic affected the politics and stability of the Mano River Basin’
ACCORD, 16 August 2016 // Ibrahim al-Bakri Nyei
Explores how the Ebola outbreak highlighted the continued fragility of the state in Liberia and argues that greater citizen-state accountability is needed to ensure stability.
‘The most serious threats to Kagame’s leadership come from within his party’
The Africa Report, 2 December 2016 // Phil Clark
Growing discontent within the RPF offers the most serious threat to Kagame’s leadership.
‘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