Africa’s 2024 Election Outlook:19 countries to watch
The political landscape of Africa promises
to be busy this year with more than two dozen countries on the continent set to
hold at least a presidential or parliamentary election. Being a continent still
in the early stages of its democratic transition compared to its peers in the
Global North, these upcoming elections mark a crucial moment in shaping the
continent's democratic elections landscape. The outcomes hold the potential to
significantly influence the trajectory of African nations in their journey
towards stable and participatory governance given the rise in dictatorial
regimes and military takeovers especially in the Sahel region.
This article provides a snapshot of general
elections in 19 African countries scheduled for 2024. The countries in focus include
Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Comoros, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Libya,
Mali, and Mauritania. The others are Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda,
Senegal, Somaliland, South Africa, South Sudan, and Tunisia.
Comoros has set the stage as the first
African country to conduct its election in 2024, with voting held on January
14, 2024. Approximately 340,000 individuals were expected to vote in the
election to elect a president and governors of its 3 islands.
The election which was expected to set the
tone for 2024 however recorded an abysmal showing with a16.3% voter turnout.
The turnout of the January 14 election paints a gloomy picture considering the
fact that average voter turnout for presidential elections in the Indian
archipelago country is pegged at 64.21%.
Incumbent president Azali Assoumani secured
a fourth term beating five opposition candidates, all of whom have denounced
the election alleging fraud and ballot stuffing. The country’s security forces clashed with
demonstrators in parts of the capital after the results were announced. Demonstrators
mounted road blocks and a house belonging to a former minister was torched. Prior
to the polls, some members of the opposition had called on citizens to boycott
the election. They claim the Independent National Election Commission (CENI)
was favouring the ruling party.
Despite the low turnout, opposition
discontent and the violence that followed the declaration of results,
international election observers said the voting was largely free and fair.
Senegal is the second African country
expected to hold presidential elections this year. Elections are coming off on
February 25, 2024. In July 2023, incumbent president Macky Sall, who has been
in power since 2012, announced that he would not seek another term.
A total of 79
candidates submitted bids to the Senegal Constitutional Council for the
presidential elections. The council which is mandated to approve candidates
approved 20 aspirants excluding some major candidates including leader of the
Senegalese Democratic Party, Karim Wade. Wade’s party had since requested for
the cancelation of the February 25 poll.
Gynaecologist and presidential candidate for Senegal Nouveau, Rose Wardini was
also excluded from the election.
As a result, in a worrying development on
February 3, the president of Senegal, Macky Sall postponed the presidential
election. The president cited the exclusion of some aspirants from the election
as his reason of the postponement. He stated in an address that the dispute
over the list of candidates could undermine the process hence is decision to
cancel the election. President Sall said he would institute a national dialogue
to set new conditions for a more transparent and credible electoral process.
However, top opposition party, PASTEF has
described the move as a constitutional coup. The party whose leader is in
prison said they are opposed to the move.
The president of Senegal is elected for a
five year-term in a two-round system. The presidential term is renewable once.
Macky Sall who has exhausted his presidential term has stated that he will not
disrupt the status quo with a third term. This is the first time a presidential
election is being postponed in Senegal.
As the term of its current legislature ends
in May, South Africa is expected to conduct parliamentary elections this year.
The country’s constitution confers authority on the president to set a date for
elections within 90 days of the expiry of each parliamentary term. This means
that elections could come off anytime from mid-May to the middle of August.
The country, with a population of about 60
million people conducts elections every five years. It uses a proportional
representation system where voters elect Members of the National Assembly
and provincial legislatures based on a party list. The national assembly has 400
seats while provincial elections are conducted in South Africa’s 9 provinces.
The 2024 election is a historic one which
will for the first time allow independent candidates to contest for seats in
the national assembly and provincial legislatures as a result of a new bill
signed into law by Cyril Ramaphosa in April 2023.
Cyril Ramaphosa, who assumed office in
2019, expresses optimism about the African National Congress securing a
majority of seats in the upcoming elections. He has also expressed his intention
to seek re-election.
The president of South Africa is elected on
the first sitting of the National Assembly. To be elected as president, a
candidate must be a member of the National Assembly. Once elected, the
president vacates his or her parliamentary seat. Usually, the president is
elected from the party with majority of seats in the National Assembly. Hence
the three-decade rule of the ANC.
The President of South Africa is elected to
serve a five-year term which can be renewed for another final term.
The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is set
to conduct its presidential elections in June. The Mauritanian president is
elected for a 5-year term using the two round voting system. According to the
country’s constitution, the second round is held between the top two candidates
two weeks after the first-round if none of the candidates obtains more than 50%
of the votes. The presidential term is renewable once.
To be elected president, one must be a
Muslim as mandated by law.
The current president, Mohamed Ould
Ghazouani, who came into office in 2019 is seeking re-election for a second and
final term. Ghazouani, who won the 2019 polls with 52 percent of the vote. The success
of Ghazouni’s Insaf party in the May 2023 legislative elections puts him in a
strong position to win a second term. In the said election which was contested
by 25 parties, Ghazouani’s Insaf party captured 107 of the 176 parliamentary seats.
Since gaining independence in November
1960, the country with a population of about 5 million people has experienced
several military coups. The country however witnessed its first peaceful
transfer of power in 2019 when then president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz stepped
down after serving his constitutional two terms.
Since its first peaceful transfer of power
five years ago, Mauritania has made political inroads including reforms to
increase minority representation and the reformulation of the Independent
National Electoral Commission (CENI) which is considered as more neutral than
The June election is crucial to testing the
resilience of these reforms and determines if Mauritania will consolidate the
gains it has made over the past few years.
Rwandans are going to the polls on July 15,
2024 to vote for their next president and lawmakers, with Paul Kagame seeking a
fourth term. The president of Rwanda is elected in a single round of voting
using the first past the post system. Campaigning is set from June 22 to July
Even though the chamber of deputies is made
up of 80 seats, Rwandans will be voting for only 53. The rest of the seats are
reserved for women, youth and persons with disability. Out of the reserved
seats, 24 are allocated to women who are elected by specific councils, two
members are elected by the National Youth Council and one member is elected by
the federation of the Association of the Disabled.
Kagame, who took office in 2000, is
eligible for another term (decade) due to a constitutional amendment in 2015. The
amendment can potentially allow the former rebel leader to secure a third term
and potentially govern until 2034. He won the 2017 elections, obtaining 99% of
the votes with the closest candidate garnering only 0.7%. If elected, this term
will be Kagame’s fourth and first 5-year term since constitutional amendments
abolished the 7-year presidential term.
Other notable changes in the 2024 polls
include the holding of presidential and legislative polls on the same day.
The upcoming elections may see Kagame
challenged by opposition leader Frank Habineza who came in third place during
the 2017 elections, polling less than one percent of the votes. Another
potential candidate, Victoire
Ingabire Umuhoza told the VOA she would run if her political party gets
registered in time for the election although her 2012 conviction on terrorism
charges stands in the way.
Observers in the 2017 election concluded that the electoral process was overshadowed by several irregularities, including intimidation and alleged fraud.
Will the July election deviate from the status quo? Even though analysts
believe much will not change, things will become clearer as the process draws
Mozambique's general elections are set for
October 9, 2024. The presidential election will run alongside the legislative,
provincial assembly, and provincial governorship elections.
The president of Mozambique is elected
using the two-round system while the 250 members of the assembly are elected
using a proportional representation system (248 members are elected through a
closed-list in 11 multi-member constituencies corresponding to the provinces in
proportion to their populations while 2 members are elected in single-member
constituencies representing Mozambicans leaving in other African countries and
outside Africa). Both the president and members of the assembly serve 5-year
The October presidential election is likely
to be a two-horse race between the dominant ruling party, Frente de Libertação
de Moçambique (FRELIMO) and the declining leading opposition, Resistência
Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO). Since the East African country returned to
multi-party elections in 1994, FRELIMO has dominated the political scene. Incumbent
President Filipe Nyusi, who is also the leader of Frelimo is in his final term
as president and will likely not run. The two parties are yet to name their
presidential candidates although that of FRELIMO is expected by March.
Meanwhile, presidential candidates are expected to submit their nominations by June 10.
If the 2019 elections and the recent October
2023 municipal elections are anything to go by, the ruling FRELIMO party
will continue its three-decade rule since return to multi-party elections,
using any means necessary.
Chad is set to hold its presidential
elections and legislative elections by October 2024. The election is an attempt
by the Mahamat Deby regime to return the central African country to democratic
Déby assumed power in 2021 after the death
of his father, Idriss Déby, who had ruled for 33 years following a coup. After
initially pledging an 18-month transition to elections, Déby's government later
postponed the elections to 2024 and allowed him to run for president due to a
recent promulgation of a new constitution approved in a state-controlled December
2023 referendum amidst opposition boycott.
In an attempt believed to weaken the
opposition front going into the 2024 election, Déby recently appointed former
opposition leader Succes Masra as transitional prime minister tasked with
organizing the upcoming elections.
The October election is seen among analysts
as an attempt to legitimise Déby’s undemocratic ascension to power through the
The president of Chad is elected to serve a
5-year term using the two-round system.
Tunisia is expected to hold elections between
September and October this year in accordance with the countries electoral laws
which stipulates that new elections are held within the last 3 months of a
The election of current President, Kais
Saeid in 2019 marked the beginning of Tunisia’s democratic decline. Saïed, who
ran for office as a political outsider dissolved Tunisia’s parliament in 2021 made
a series of undemocratic decisions which has left Tunisia’s democracy in its
current shambles. He suspended the country’s constitution, introducing a new
one in 2022 which created a unitary presidential system.
Saïed also dissolved the country’s Supreme
Judicial Council, appointing a new one in its place. He also dismissed the
executive committee of the Independent High Authority for Elections and
replaced them it with his appointees.
Saïed’s first term has also been marked by a clampdown on civil society and
the media through the weaponisation of the country’s security forces. The
political opposition is not spared either. Tunisia’s elected Speaker of the
dissolved parliament, Rached
Ghannouchi was sentenced to 3 years in prison and fined over accusations
that his party received foreign contributions. Dozens of lawmakers have been
jailed by Saïed’s government in similar fashion.
The 2024 election will either see Saïed
consolidate power or put an end to the onslaught on democratic institutions if
the opposition, which is still mobilizing under extremely difficult
circumstances to field a single candidate, wins.
Tunisia’s four million voters will also
have to contend with a mounting economic crisis characterized by inflation and
job scarcity as they head into this decisive election.
The 2024 Somaliland presidential election
is scheduled for November. Initially expected in 2022 which marked the end of
President Muse Bihi Abdi’s first term, the Guurti (senate) extended the
president’s term by 2 years, effectively pushing the presidential election to
According to a new electoral law approved
by the Guurti, the long-delayed election will now happen on November 13.
While incumbent President Muse Bihi Abdi is
eligible for a second term, the Waddani National Party and the Justice and
Welfare Party are yet to announce their candidates for the election.
If it doesn’t experience new setbacks, the
self-proclaimed country’s 2024 presidential election would be pivotal in
strengthening its multi-party democracy and peaceful transitions of power.
Ghana, often hailed as a democratic model
in Africa, is gearing up for its presidential elections on December 7, 2024.
The country has seen stable democracy and peaceful power transitions since
returning to constitutional rule in 1992. Incumbent President Nana Addo Dankwa
Akufo Addo, who assumed office on January 7, 2017, is set to step down after
his two-term constitutional limit in office. His party, the New Patriotic Party
(NPP) has elected incumbent Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia as their
flagbearer for the 2024 elections. Bawumia will face off against political
veteran, former President John Dramani Mahama, the leader of the opposition
National Democratic Congress (NDC) who lost to Akufo Addo in the 2016 and 2020
elections. Pre-election polls
have predicted a victory for Mr Mahama.
The 2024 election unlike previous ones is
seeing a diversified pool of aspirants with the potential to propel the race
into a runoff. Prominent among them is Alan Kyerematen, a founding member of
the ruling NPP, who resigned from the party to lead his own “Movement of
Change” ahead of December poll. A popular businessman, Nana Kwame Bediako who
leads another movement dubbed “The New Force” has also announced his
candidature for the polls.
Ghana’s president is elected every four
years using the two-round system of voting.
Presidential elections in Algeria are
scheduled for December 2024. The incumbent, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, is
eligible for re-election, having served his first term since winning the
December 2019 elections. The President of Algeria is elected using the
South Sudan is set to hold elections in
December 2024, but the prospects are clouded by delays in critical reforms,
unification of forces, and legislative actions, fuelled by challenges in
political will and low funding.
Botswana is also expected to hold its general
elections in 2024, but the exact date is yet to be announced. The Independent
Electoral Commission (IEC) in Botswana has scheduled the voter registration for
the 2024 general elections to take place from January 5 to February 3, 2024. Eligible
voters, citizens aged 18 and above, are encouraged to participate in the
Namibia is set to hold elections in 2024,
although the exact date is yet to be confirmed. The country, with a population
of 2.6 million, practices a plurality vote system to elect the president for a
5-year term. Dr. Hage Gottfried Geingob, the incumbent president and leader of
the SWAPO Party, has been in office since March 21, 2015.
Scheduled for February 2024, Mali's
presidential elections, intended to mark a return to democracy after military
rule since 2020, have been postponed. Citing "technical reasons," the
military-led transitional government aims to review election data and address a
new constitutional provision. This decision, which has widely received criticism
from politicians and the international community, may trigger economic
sanctions from the ECOWAS regional bloc. Mali grapples not only with political problems
but also security challenges, with armed groups linked to al-Qaida and the
In 2022, Burkina Faso witnessed a coup led
by Ibrahim Traore amid jihadist violence. The country was supposed to hold its
elections in 2024. However, leader Ibrahim recently announced a delay in the
electoral timeline, attributing the decision to security challenges. This
postponement adds a layer of uncertainty to Burkina Faso's political transition
following the military rule since 2022.
Libya faces a critical juncture in the
lead-up to the 2024 elections, marked by political deadlock and uncertainty.
The previous attempt to hold elections in December 2021 led to negotiations and
the drafting of electoral laws by the House of Representatives. However, the
presence of two governments, one in the West and one in the East, poses a
significant hurdle to the unification needed for successful elections.
UN Envoy Abdoulaye Bathily proposed a
meeting involving key leaders to address the political impasse, but responses
have been mixed, reflecting entrenched divisions. Scepticism remains about the
feasibility of elections in 2024, with concerns about potential obstacles from
key factions. The urgency to conduct elections in 2024 is crucial, as there can
be catastrophic consequences if not achieved.
Guinea-Bissau plans a presidential election in 2024. The last election was in 2019, resulting in the current president Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embaló winning in a runoff. However, detailed information about the 2024 election is limited.