Africa faces an intense election year in 2023. Two main courts, authentic giants, which together make up 22% of the continent’s population, will open and close this period, beginning with Nigeria on February 25, where bipartisanship is faltering due to the incursion of Obimania, and ending with the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC), where Félix Tshisekedi sees his second term in office threatened by a multitude of noble opponents. But it is only in summer and autumn that the presidential appointments with the ballot boxes begin to pile up, from Sierra Leone to Zimbabwe, through Gabon, Liberia, Madagascar and, if the ongoing transformation processes allow it, Sudan and Libya.
Regional power Nigeria is undoubtedly the star election convention of the year. The current President Muhammadu Buhari has already completed his two terms in office and has to make way for new faces. The top favorite is Atiku Abubakar, a 76-year-old businessman and highly experienced politician, a perpetually unsuccessful presidential candidate who now tops the list of the Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) once-all-powerful political machine in opposition. Before him emerges the figure of Bola Tinubu, 70, the historic governor of Lagos and a powerful candidate backed by the party in power, the All Progressive Congress (APC). Again a candidate from the North and one from the South, a Muslim and a Christian.
However, the bipartisanship that has characterized Nigerian politics for the past two decades may be shattered by the slump of Peter Obi. The 61-year-old banker and former governor of the small state of Anambra appears as an alternative to the traditional parties with an aura of incorruptibility and as a fighter against corruption. In an oil-producing country with immense wealth, but mired in the chaos of corruption and security crises, many young people are counting on him against the old political class. He’s not young, but he seems to be so much more than his rivals. In other words, Obi wants to be a Macron.
The bipartisanship that has characterized Nigerian politics for the past two decades could explode with the emergence of Peter Obi
But if the elections are exciting in Nigeria, they will be no less so in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are still 11 months to go until the ballot box and all candidatures are not yet closed, but the names of some of the great tenors are already known. The first is undoubtedly current President Félix Tshisekedi, whose poor balance at the helm of the nation could jeopardize his re-election. If rivals Augustin Matata, Adolphe Muzito, Delly Sesanga and even the indomitable Martin Faluyu don’t seem overly concerned, three other names are keeping Tshisekedi up at night.
The first, already confirmed as a candidate, is that of Moïse Katumbi, former governor of the prosperous province of Katanga and until a few months ago a stubborn ally of the current president. The other two potential candidatures have not been presented, but they are even more dangerous for the current occupant of the presidential palace: the mysterious Joseph Kabila, a former head of state who maintains and favors a powerful party structure in this vast country One who could The big surprise is the Gynecologist Denis Mukwege, winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, who has been more critical and combative of the government in recent weeks than almost anyone else. Though more respected outside the DRC than inside the country, the daisy is defoliating for now.
June 24 is the date marked on the calendar for Sierra Leone’s presidential election, where polarization continues between the two main parties, the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All-Union Congress. Town (APC). If the former is clear that their nominee will be Julius Maada Bio, the current president, the opposition party has yet to define who their nominee will be as their natural leader, Samura Kamara, faces criminal charges over alleged corruption. The experts predict a close duel between the two parties, with no clear favourites.
There are two potentially dangerous candidates in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Joseph Kabila, former head of state, and gynecologist Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner
In Zimbabwe, everything points to a repeat of the duel Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa fought back in 2018, less than a year after almighty dictator Robert Mugabe was ousted from power in a coup organized by Mnangagwa and well known in his country like the crocodile. So it was he who took the plunge, nurturing hope for a change that seemed disappointed from the first bars: Mugabe’s successor, the man who ended the ninety-something and eccentric leader, failed to make his country to pull out of economic stagnation and continue to repress activists and opponents. Opposite him, Nelson Chamisa, at the head of the Citizens for Change Coalition, insists on going to the polls to lead Zimbabwe towards real change. To do this, she relies on the seduction of young people. Elections take place between July and August.
Nothing new under the sun in Gabon. Although he has not yet officially announced his candidacy, all indications are that Ali Bongo, president since 2009 after the death of his father, is preparing for a new campaign scheduled for August. On this occasion, the monolithic Democratic Party of Gabon (PDG), which has been in power for half a century with the Bongo clan at the helm, does not want surprises like the one it experienced in 2016, when Jean Ping was close to victory and rejected the results and plunged the country into a brief institutional crisis. The big question will be whether the various tenors of the opposition can agree on a unified candidacy. With the octogenarian and isolated Ping virtually ruled out, the main contenders are newcomer Alexandre Barro Chambrier, former oil minister at Bongo; former Speaker of Parliament Guy Nzouba-Ndama; and the only woman in the running, Paulette Missambo, at the head of the National Union.
October 10 is Liberia’s turn, chaired by former soccer player George Weah since 2017. The successful businessman and great benefactor Alexander Cummings emerged as his great rival in the elections. Also at the end of the year, Madagascar will go to the polls to choose between two old acquaintances: either the continuity of the current head of state, Andry Rajoelina, or the change proposed by Marc Ravalomanana, president between 2002 and 2009. It seems unlikely that the elections that should be held in Sudan and Libya to pull both countries out of their respective institutional crises will even be called. Too many knots to untie in both countries.
Follow PLANETA FUTURO on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and subscribe to our “Newsletter” here.