Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

The peculiarity of elections in Africa: 2016-2018

Article from AFRIC Editorial
When many African nations gained their independence in the early 60s, they began to acquaint themselves with principles of governance and leadership and practical institutions to govern their autonomous states. This gave birth to a new mindset among African politicians. For a while now, political democracy has been gaining grounds on the African Continent; a clear indication is the number of presidential or legislative elections that have been conducted across the continent.


Democratic Republic Of Congo: Congo Kinshasa, a nation in central Africa conducted one of the continent’s most controversial elections in the year 2018. So many factors have always impeded the holding of elections in DR Congo since President Joseph Kabila’s mandate ended in 2016. However, on December 30 2018, Congo voted its political leaders. The outcome of the elections was a surprise to the entire world and the Congolese people as well. CENI; the independent Electoral Commission declared the results in favour of an opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress. It was a tight race as the winner got just a 38.57%.

Gabon 2016 elections: On August 27 2016, eligible voters went to the polls across the country in a landmark presidential election. Ali Bongo Ondimba headed the polls with 49.80%, slightly above his main challenger Jean Ping who scored 48.23%. The ex-AU Chief Jean Ping cried foul and contested the poll results. Till date, opposition in Gabon has not accepted the legitimacy or the outcome of the 2016 elections.

The Gambia : The 2016 landmark vote in the Gambia put an end to Yayah Jammeh’s reign, as renowned business tycoon Adama Barrow became the president of the West African nation. Though very defiant, then President Yayah Jammeh ceded power to his successor Barrow with the intervention of the regional bloc ECOWAS.  Jammeh’s two decades of supremacy came to an end.

– The East African Nations of Kenya and Rwanda also conducted landmark elections. In Rwanda, Paul Kagame won the 2017 elections with over 98% of the total votes cast. In neighbouring Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta emerged victorious with 54.27% of votes cast after an election runoff. It was a heavily contested race between Kenyatta and main opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Zimbabwe : The year 2018 remains historic in the political calendar of Zimbabwe. Independence president Robert Mugabe’s reign ended through a tactical coup d’état. A highly disputed race between Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa saw Mnangagwa take over the reigns from Mugabe.

-Power changed hands in the West African Nation of Liberia, from Africa’s first democratically elected Female leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to a one time senator George Weah who won the elections with 61.5%, beating his main challenger, Boakai who garnered 38.5 per cent. The peculiarity in Liberia was that outgoing president Sirleaf backed the candidacy of an opposition leader Weah.

Madagascar : The island nation was among the many countries that headed to the polls in 2018. The two-round elections saw Andry Rajoelina, a former president ascend to the presidency against his main challenger Marc Ravalomanana with over 55% of the total vote casts.

The Republic of Cameroon: Marred with unrest in the English dominated parts of the country, Cameroon on October 7 casts its ballots in a landmark election that saw longtime leader Paul Biya emerging victorious with a 71.28% against his main challenger Maurice Kamto with just 14.23%. The election was challenged in court citing fraud and irregularities. Nonetheless, the constitutional council ruled in favour of incumbent President Paul Biya.

In a nutshell, saying that Africa has not attained a certain level of Political maturity and democracy would be a gross exaggeration. Political freedom seems to be gaining grounds in most African nations and the opposition has become more vibrant than ever.

Also, the fact that power has shifted from ruling parties to opposition parties is another remarkable stride made by the African Continent. Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Liberia, Ghana, and Somalia among others are under the leadership of opposition parties.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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