Part I of this series, published on 03 January reviewed the delayed elections in DRC and South Sudan; and part II, to be published on 12 January, will look to the future and assess upcoming elections in South Africa and Nigeria.

In this second part of our election-focused outlook for 2018, attention will shift to the elections various presidential votes scheduled across Africa in 2018 – notably those in Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Mali, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

A key trend in 2018, is expected to be the various attempts by incumbents to retain power in the face of increasing competition from strengthening opposition groups. The question is, how far will they go to remain in government.

In Mali, having failed to increase his presidential powers by legitimate referendum, President Boubacar Keita faces serious opposition to his rule amidst an ongoing security crisis. Sierra Leone’s president appears to be aiming to install a loyal “puppet figure” as president in order to retain significant powers; while in Cameroon, a fractious opposition in a tightly held political landscape gives hope to long term leader Paul Biya.

Impact Points

  • A major trend in many of the elections scheduled across the continent in 2018 will be the lengths at which incumbents will go to retain power.
  • These autocratic tendencies are by no means constrained to those countries that are holding elections. In both Zambia and Tanzania concerns are rising over the state of their respective democracies.
  • Following the loss of some of the continents longest serving leaders in 2017, the legitimacy of the tenures of leaders in both Togo and Uganda are becoming increasingly fragile as opposition to their long-term rules is expected to gain traction through 2018.


Key Election Dates 2017

*Date not yet confirmed, and subject to change