The 2010 political year on the African continent was marked by several presidential elections. But despite being marked by an incalculable number of irregularities, coupled with pre- and post-conflict elections, a wind of political change is blowing, nonetheless.
Seventeen African countries, including 14 former French colonies, commemorated the golden jubilees of their independence in 2010. Notwithstanding the distance travelled and the call for self-evaluation, the continent has become the scene of faltering democratic principles in a backdrop of a rallying cry for democratic elections.
Strangely, these elections, a far cry from the coup d’etats of the 1970s and 1980s, have plunged most of the countries that have held them into abysmal uncertainty, terror, or even worse, as in Côte d’Ivoire’s current political crisis.
Togo, March 4
After an initial postponement of the country’s presidential polls, Togolese were finally able to vote for seven candidates, including the outgoing head of state, Faure Gnassingbé and his main opponent, Jean-Pierre Fabre. On March 6, 2010, victory was given to the outgoing head of state. He had won nearly 61% of the vote after the final tally. The result, which announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was challenged by the opposition who denounced multiple frauds.
Sudan, April 11
After 21 years at the helm of the Sudan, President Omar al-Beshir was reinstalled with 68.24% of the vote following the Horn of Africa country’s first multiparty elections since 1986: a poll marred by widespread fraud and conflict in southern Sudan.
Burundi, 28 June
45-year-old Pierre Nkurunziza, who has been in power for five years, was reelected with 91.62% of the total votes. The outgoing President was the only candidate to have stood for election following the withdrawal of the six opposition candidates who contested the landslide victory of the ruling party (CNDD-FDD) in the communal elections of May 24.
Guinea, June 28
After 52 years of dictatorial regimes and a stormy ethnically-inclined election marked by several postponements of the run-off, a new era has dawned on Guinea. The Supreme Court validated the victory of Alpha Condé of the Rassemblement du Peuple de Guinée (RPG) on the night of December 2. Having won 52.52% of the Western African country’s votes, the historical opponent beat former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo, who received 47.48%.
Rwanda, August 9
In power since the 1994 genocide and lacking real opposition, Paul Kagame, leader of the Patriotic Front (RPF), was elected for seven years with a whopping 93%.
Côte d’Ivoire, October 31
The historic election that was to heave La Côte d’Ivoire out of its political crisis has turned into a fiasco. After the second round that pitted Laurent Gbagbo against Alassane Ouattara, Côte d’Ivoire is left with two presidents.
Tanzania, 31 October
The fourth election since the establishment of a multiparty system in Tanzania saw the victory of incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete. He was reelected with 61.17%. According to the EU, the poll was organized in a calm atmosphere.
Burkina Faso, November 21
After an election that was largely shunned by the Burkinabè people, Blaise Compaoré was reelected with 80.15% of the West African country’s total votes. Alleging serious irregularities, the opposition rejected the election results and challenged its legality and legitimacy.
Comoros, December 26
Former vice president of Comoros, Ikililou Dhoinine was declared winner with 68.87%. He became the first Mohélien to be installed into the highest office in island country. The poll was validated by the Constitutional Court, despite a motion filed by the opposition to quash the results. The opposition described the election as an “electoral coup.”
In Central Africa, Chad, DRC, Nigeria, Niger, Uganda… The year 2011 will see as many presidential elections.
Constitutional referendum in Kenya, August 5
Kenyans adopted a new constitution intended to limit presidential powers and rectify “historical injustices,” by virtue of a referendum. Some of the injustices to be tackled by the new constitution include the controversial subject of land, which had fueled the bloody post-election violence in 2007.
Constitutional referendum in Niger, October 31
Somewhat overshadowed by numerous eddies and rumors of coup attempts, Niger’s new Constitution was approved by more than 90% of the population. It introduces the seventh republic and provides, inter alia, that the President elect shall serve a five-year term, renewable only “once.” Similarly, it provides “amnesty to perpetrators and co-authors of the coup of February 18” (2010 ed).
Constitutional referendum in Madagascar, November 17
74.13% of Malagasy voters were in favor of adopting a new constitution in a referendum that mobilized 53% of registered voters. The results were marred by technical problems and deficiencies in the electoral list. The poll was preceded by an attempted military mutiny by a small group of officers. The revolt was quickly quelled by the authorities.
Legislative and senatorial elections in Egypt, November 28
The first round of legislative elections was preceded by widespread repression that took place in a climate of violence and fraud, which was denounced by the press and observers. The Muslim Brotherhood, the Northern African country’s main opposition force, saw a stinging electoral setback without winning any seats. On December 5, the second round took place under the same conditions. Boycotted by major opposition parties both religious and secular, and marked by a very low turnout (27% officially), the legislative elections saw the National Democratic Party (NDP) of President Hosni Mubarak grabbing 419 of the 508 seats at stake.