Uganda, Ethiopia & The Rest of Africa’s Key Elections in 2021

Robert Kyagulanyi, a beret-donning, popular, youthful musician in Uganda is attempting the rare. While racing against Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni seems a herculean task, the nature of his challenge has drawn up Africa’s most interesting election in 2021- on paper.

Museveni, 76, has been Uganda’s President for 34 years. When he emerged President of the East African nation, Bobi Wine was just a 4-year old kid. Many things have since gone south, with Uganda’s involvements in a genocide in Rwanda and war in the Democratic Republic of Congo still fresh in the minds of many.

Previously tagged as one of the new generations of leaders in the 90s, a young, growing crop of Ugandans seem to see the future in the more youthful Bobi Wine.

Disruptive, challenging, Bobi Wine of the National Unity Platform and his team of young campaigners have been arrested multiple times by the nation’s Police, as he takes the campaign to the social media- a forte of the youths.

Experience is however a big advantage for Museveni, and the power of incumbency right at his beck. Through his sweeping influence in the nation’s political sphere, he was about to spearhead a constitutional change that saw an age limit removed and term limit remodeled, to his advantage.

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January 14, 2021 is the day of reckoning for Ugandans, with a section of the populace in Bobi Wine’s favour while Museveni’s staunchest supporters remain standing with him.

Read: I Survived Two Assassination Attempts – Bobi Wine

The incumbent President is using every instrument in his possession to reemerge as President, with the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemning the violence that trailed Bobi Wine’s campaign in November.

The opposition has also challenged Museveni of the National Renaissance Movement, for using the Police and military to his advantage.

In the first two weeks of the new year, it will be fireworks from Uganda, hopefully with no bloodshed.

EthiopiaTipping The Horn of Africa

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, one of its most culturally diverse and the giant of the Horn of Africa will hope the coming year will be better.

Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali’s early spark is facing threats of being eroded, with doubts now being cast over his ability to rule the big nation. In the first few months after his emergence, he rose on to settle the agelong rift between Ethiopia and neighbours Eritrea, helping him bag the coveted Nobel Prize for Peace.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride of endless security challenges since then for Ahmed, with the flashpoint being a month-long battle against the northernmost part of the country’s political party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Ahmed leads a coalition of parties, from different regions in the country and his party, the Prosperity Party currently holds 512 seats in the Ethiopian Parliament. He’s still favoured to re-emerge as Prime Minister but with security situations lurking around his government, he has more than enough to chew.

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The conflict with the Tigrayan forces led to the death of thousands and the displacement of thousands who fled to Sudan and Eritrea. Ahmed, and some other members of his government are being accused of committing human right offences; claims he has since denied.

Right after the conflict at Tigray was settled and normalcy was restored, ethnicity-mediated attacks were recorded in Benishangul-Gumuz in the Western part of the country. At least 222 people were recorded dead and houses were razed.

Ahmed’s good leadership pales in comparison with the security problems in the country, with the TPLF, who ruled the country for 27 years before his emergence, and are staking a claim ahead of mid-2021 election.

The tension at Tigray was partly caused by the refusal of the TPLF to accept a postponement of the polls. The party said Ahmed’s government is illegal, after he failed to hold the election in August 2020, citing COVID-19 challenges.

Ethiopia’s economic significance in the Horn of Africa cannot be overemphasized and the African Union has called for lasting solutions to the insecurity challenges in the country, ahead of its June 5 2021 election.

Other elections expected to cause some stir, yet evoke some hope are The Gambia’s election in December 2021. President Adama Barrow is expected to rerun after defeating former President Yahya Jammeh, who ruled for 22 years. The Gambia’s economy has improved under Barrow and more is being expected despite the challenges of COVID-19.

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Edgar Lungu-backed new constitutional amendments have been criticised as Zambia prepares to hold its General Elections in August 2021. Lungu won in 2016 with 50.3% of total votes and his main opposition Hakainde Hichilema has gained some grounds ever since, still banking on his issues-driven campaign.

Lungu may form a coalition government with any candidate of his choice, in the situation of a loss and critics have said it’s a strategy to stay in government despite his struggles.

It will be Hichilema’s sixth attempt at Presidency.

Another possibly feisty election expected in 2021 is the Libyan Presidential and Parliamentary election slated for December.

The country, struggling ten years after Muammar Gadaffi’s ouster, has the internationally recognised Government of National Accord led by Fayez al-Sarraj and the eastern-based Libyan National Army led by military commander Khalifa Haftar. The election may however throw in new names as the country has a whole year to develop from its ruins.

Other elections are in Congo where Dennis Sassou-Nguesso’s over 30 decades of ruling will be tested, while Omar Guelleh will also be under the radar in Djibouti. Chad’s Idris Deby will vie again for Presidency after 29 years in power, making the elections even more significant than ever.


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