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.
‘All Aboard the Gravy Train’
Maka Angola, 2 June 2017 // Rafael Marques de Morias
The article highlights accounts of patronage within the MPLA.
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.
‘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.
‘Making Sense of Competing Visions of Kenya in the Jubilee & NASA Manifestos’
An African Perspective, 1 July 2017 // Ken Opalo
Article compares the political visions within the Jubilee & NASA Manifestos’.
‘Electoral violence likely in a month’s time, NCIC warns’
Daily Nation, 5 July 2017 // Fred Mukinda & Ibrahim Oruko
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has warned of impending election violence.
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.
‘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.
‘‘Rwanda’s opposition candidates finally have a voice—but no real shot at the presidency‘
Quartz Africa, 30 June 2017 // Lily Kuo
An overview of Rwandan opposition groups.
‘Ahead of vote on term limits, Rwandans worry about presidential power grab’
Al Jazeera America, 16 December 2015 // Jonathan W Rosen
Pro – and anti -Kagame viewpoints ahead of constitutional vote.
‘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.
‘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
- Senegal by Mamadou Bodian
- Somaliland by Michael Walls