With less than three months to go until the start of the new year, preparations are underway for key 2022 presidential elections in Mali, Kenya, and Angola, where the stakes are high and the expected results, far from clear. The world will watch as African citizens – especially the social-media-savvy youths – exercise their democratic right to choose their leaders despite attempts to circumvent term limits and increasing interference to influence the results.
We explain why these three elections matter:
The general elections in Mali are scheduled for 27 February 2022 - a direct result of the May 2021 coup d'état which removed former President Bah N'daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane in the country's second coup in less than a year. ONGOLO covered this story in Mali suspended as coup leader seizes power again.
The constitution stipulates that the winner must secure an absolute majority of the vote and a second round will be held on 13 March 2022 if there is no decisive outcome in February. Several Malian political bigwigs are in the running, including former prime ministers Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, Moussa Mara, and Modibo Sidibé. The army has reassured the Malian people that it will hand over the reins in 2022 but there is good reason to doubt whether key milestones leading up to the election will be met. These milestones include holding a referendum on 31 October and regional elections on 26 December 2021.
Many other deadlines have been missed. Voter registration has not started, even though the army had indicated earlier in the year that the exercise would be carried out in July and August 2021. Also, the promised revised constitution has not yet been submitted to the National Transitional Council. Local rivals are divided over the modalities of the ballot and people are slowly resigning to the possibility that the February 2022 election may be postponed.
The political scene in East Africa’s biggest economy is full of intrigue as new political alliances take shape every week. This makes the run-up to the 9 August 2022 elections even more exciting.
In August 2021, the Kenyan Court of Appeal rejected President Uhuru Kenyatta's attempt to amend the constitution. He wanted to alter the 'winner-takes-all' system by expanding the executive and parliament, but the opposition saw it as a desperate attempt to maintain power by the two-time president. The changes he prescribed would have increased the number of parliamentarians from 290 to 360 and created a prime minister role, ultimately leading to a bigger division of power. If Kenyatta appeals to the Supreme Court, it will be too late for this transformation to be undertaken before August 2022 now.
The Kenyan youth will have a big part in determining who wins the race as ethnic affiliations take a backseat in modern-day democratic decisions. This could benefit Deputy President William Ruto's campaign to unite all local tribesmen, especially as Kenyatta had already appointed him as successor in a pact signed in 2012 that brought them both into power. However, some supporters of the president have called the pact void, opening the possibility of a new successor being anointed. And despite Kenyatta’s repeated promises that he would not seek a third term, some are calling for that scenario as the “young” and charismatic leader’s “work is not finished”. Stay tuned!
As the government braces itself for the next presidential elections in August 2022, there is widespread mistrust amongst Angolans about the process. Many citizens oppose the recent amendments to the 2010 constitution that allowed foreigners to vote, gave the National Bank of Angola independence from parliamentary oversight, and outlined a stringent timetable for the next elections.
In August 2021, President João Lourenço ruled out a potential postponement of next year’s election, emphasising that the ongoing changes would not affect the polling. Lourenço is seeking re-election after succeeding José Eduardo dos Santos in 2017, putting an end to a 30-year authoritarian administration notorious for various human rights violations. Despite a promising start, Lourenço has failed deliver on electoral promises including tackling corruption and diversifying the economy. The security services have also become as oppressive as during the dos Santos era. It is a classic case of different face, same game.
Facing off against the ruling party and hoping to change the game is opposition leader Adalberto Costa Júnior. Costa Júnior is the leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) party, which was originally founded by the late US-backed rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi. Costa Júnior leads a coalition of opposition parties that are hoping to end the 42-year rule of the Mouvement Populaire de Libération de l’Angola (MPLA). With nearly 12 million citizens expected to vote, 450,000 of them overseas, the race may put another incumbent African president at risk of getting the boot.