Democracy has been a thorny issue in Africa. A report by Afrobarometer once revealed that only a third of Africans believe that votes are counted fairly. Elections in Africa are always marred by allegations of fraud, clear vote-rigging and other irregularities. Yet, they remain the pillar of selecting new leadership.
Last year, elections were held in several African countries. In Rwanda, elections were held in August and Paul Kagame emerged victorious with almost 99% of the votes. He remarked that in Rwanda elections are only a formality. In Kenya, the elections were conducted amidst an atmosphere of bitter hostilities between Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee party and Raila Odinga's National Super Alliance (NASA). The results of the first round were nullified with the Supreme Court citing "illegalities and irregularities." The second round resulted in the opposition NASA boycotting the elections, and Kenyatta won by an overwhelming and comprehensive landslide. In Liberia, elections were also held and saw ex-football star George Weah rise to become the new president, taking over from Ellen Sirleaf Johnson.
The year 2018 will see certain countries on the continent going to the polls in the hope of selecting the leaders they desire. Below is a list of some of the elections to look forward to:
Egyptian presidential election
Egypt has been known to have turbulent politics, as particularly seen with the Arab Spring that gripped the nation and amounted to the demise of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak. The resultant government of the Muslim Brotherhood was later overthrown by the military and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became the new president, up to present.
The presidential elections in Egypt will be held no earlier than 8 February 2018 and no later than 8 May 2018. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced his intention to run for a second and final term, if the people want him to run. The government started a police campaign on atheists, and often uses opportunities to stir the emotions of the religious especially the Muslims. Among the opposition candidates is Khaled Ali, a human rights lawyer who played a prominent role during the Egyptian revolution of 2011.
Cameroonian presidential election
Paul Biya, the current president in Cameroon, has been in power since 6 November 1992. That is as long as one can remember. The millennials in Cameroon have only known one president. (Much like that Zimbabwean scenario.)
The situation in Cameroon, as regards human rights, has not been that rosy. 2017 saw the fierce riots as people in the English-speaking regions clashed with the police. It is also the same year they had to deal with the harsh reality of facing an internet blackout for three months. The people claim the government has neglected and marginalized them for years.
Paul Biya amended the Constitution in 2008, scrapping presidential term limits. In the 2011 election, he was given a seven-year shot in the arm and if he wins this one, slated for October 2018, he will be president up to 2025. That must be extremely hard for the Cameroonians to swallow.
Malian presidential and parliamentary elections
Generally speaking, elections in Mali have been free of violence and have been deemed largely credible by international observers over the years. However, a short-lived military coup d’état and conflict in the northern half of the country between the Tuareg rebels and Islamist militias are factors that create vulnerabilities for electoral violence in 2018 when Malians are scheduled to cast ballots for president in July and parliament in November.
Mali has been ravaged by intense conflict since around 2012. The peace situation in Mali is highly volatile and fragile. It is to be seen how the elected leaders will handle such a delicate and precarious phenomenon that is plaguing the country.
Zimbabwean general election
When you want to go to a country with a population that has lost faith in the ballot, then Zimbabwe is your destination. Elections in Zimbabwe over the past years have become almost farcical. The ruling party always ensures elections are held in an unevenly balanced electoral field and they employ underhand tactics to secure their ends.
It is widely believed, and known, that in 2008 veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Robert Mugabe in the first round. Sensing the defeat, with the help of the military, the country's electoral commission withheld results for an appalling and record-breaking six weeks. It is believed results were doctored and they said Morgan did not have the majority. What happened later was a sham election marked by violence, which ultimately led to a power-sharing deal.
Now that there is a new government that got into power on the backdrop of a military intervention, the whole world is watching. Emmerson Mnanagwa is serving the remainder of Mugabe's term and elections are to be held on or before 2018. With so much to be done is such a failed state, this election is highly decisive in many dimensions.Other elections to look forward to
Libya is going to have its elections, and with Saif al-Islam, the son of the late Muammar Gaddafi, having declared his intentions to run as president, it is going to be a worthwhile election to be fixated on. Sierra Leone and South Sudan are also going to have their general elections this year.