Election watchers have deemed today a #SuperSunday in Africa, where people are voting in elections in Benin, Cape Verde, Congo-Brazzaville, Niger, Senegal and Zanzibar. To be more exact: Benin and Niger are holding run-off presidential elections; the poll in the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) is a first-round (and probably only-round) presidential election; Cape Verde’s poll is a parliamentary election; Zanzibar’s election is due to an annulment of an earlier poll; and Senegalese are voting on a referendum. Below are a few snapshots and a round-up of links to learn more about each election.
Because of constitutional term limits, incumbent Thomas Boni Yayi will step down from the presidency. Sunday’s election is a runoff between his hand-picked successor, Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, and businessman Patrice Talon. In the first round of the election, held earlier this month, Zinsou won 28.4 percent of the vote and Talon won 24.8 percent.
For more on the Benin election, read this excellent pre-election briefing by Ella Abatan. For more on the roots of competitive democracy in Benin, see Rachel Beatty Riedl’s earlier Monkey Cage post (or get her award-winning book!). Finally, check out Vote229, a platform for Benin’s civil society organizations involved in the election.
Cape Verdeans go to the polls on Sunday to vote in parliamentary elections — and not just in Cape Verde. Cape Verde has a significant diaspora population, and polling locations for Sunday’s parliamentary election include a school in Brockton, Mass. The right of Cape Verdeans living abroad to vote was enshrined in the 1992 adoption of a new constitution.
This election may be historic — as voters may elect a woman as prime minster for the first time.
President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who has held power for 32 of the past 37 years, is running for a third consecutive term. His bid for a third term was made possible only after a constitutional referendum last year removed presidential term limits and its maximum-age requirement for candidates.
Reuters reported on election day that phone companies cut off services “for security reasons” and that the main opposition candidate was being questioned by police. There also has been a ban on driving during the election.
Congolese are still showing up in great numbers to vote, including in opposition strongholds:
Al-Jazeera journalist Haru Mutasa noted irregularities on voter rolls she saw as she observed the election. To keep current on what’s going on in Congo-Brazzaville’s election, follow Haru’s Twitter feed.
The events leading up to the runoff presidential election in Niger have been more fantastical than you would find in the script of a telenovela. For example, the main opposition candidate had been held in jail on charges of baby trafficking.
Lisa Mueller of Macalester College wrote (with her student Lukas Matthews) a pre-election report detailing a lot of the drama surrounding Niger’s election. Earlier, she penned a reflection from Niger’s capital, Niamey, about security concerns before the elections in the wake of terrorist attacks in the capitals of neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali.
Earlier Sunday, Reuters reported that the opposition has called for a boycott, and the main opposition candidate has flown out of the country for medical reasons. In other words, the drama continues. (Don’t let the sleepy photo below fool you.)
Senegalese voted Sunday on a constitutional referendum that would — among other things — reduce the length of a presidential term from seven to five years. You read that correctly: Voters are choosing whether to reduce (not extend) a president’s time in office.
Read AFP’s super-straightforward explainer on the election. And here is some video of the election from AFP:
Elections held Sunday in Zanzibar were a re-run of the October elections, which the electoral commission annulled, citing irregularities. The elections are for Zanzibar’s parliament and president. (Although it is part of Tanzania, Zanzibar remains semi-autonomous and elects its own “local” government.)
The situation in Zanzibar has been tense, especially for supporters of the Civic United Front (CUF) party, whose candidate proclaimed to have won the annulled elections. During Sunday’s election, one journalist reported that he was stopped and his materials taken by a group of armed men claiming to be police.
Turnout on Sunday was low, as the opposition called for a boycott.
Political scientist Keith Weghorst wrote an earlier Monkey Cage post on the annulled elections that provides more background. Election results should be posted to the Zanzibar Electoral Commission’s website… but then again, don’t hold your breath.