2012 looks to be an important year for the African continent as key countries prepare themselves to host elections. The following alert looks at various issues surrounding some of these events.
Senegal: Senegalese elections are scheduled to take place on 26 February 2012. In direct contravention of the Constitution, established in 2001, the current president Abdoulaye Wade intends to run for a third term even though law limits such terms to two. Wade has defended his decision by declaring that when he was first voted in as president in 2000, no such law existed. Despite contention, Wade is most likely to win as a result of a fractured opposition.
Madagascar: Following the implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Roadmap in September 2011 to resolve the political stalemate, this island is scheduled to hold elections in May 2012. Many analysts remain sceptical as to whether such elections will take place however. Firstly, one of the main conditions of the Roadmap was for the interim Prime Minister to originate from a different party to the Tanora Malagasy Vonona (TGV). The appointment of Omer Beriziky as Prime Minister, a high-ranking member of the TGV, has consequently caused the opposition to reject the new government. Moreover, whether former President Marc Ravolomanana will be able to return to Madagascar without arrest continues to cause much tension in the state.
Ghana: Ghanaian elections are scheduled for the beginning of December 2012. This West African nation is largely regarded as one of the most democratic and free countries across the continent where the ruling party, the National Democratic Congress, won by a margin of only 50 000 votes during the last elections in 2008. Sharp divisions in the party may very well result in another changeover of government particularly as the opposition, the New Patriotic Party, continues to grow into a formidable force.
Kenya: Kenya’s elections, originally scheduled for December 2011, have already run intoproblems. In this regard, the Constitutional Court recently ruled that Kenyans must rather go to the polls in March 2013 if President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga do not agree in writing to dissolve their Grand Coalition Government which was established during the 2007 elections. The election date has consequently been left in the hands of the two leaders, causing much speculation in the country. Many claim that 2013 elections would be a logistical nightmare however, as March is the beginning of the rainy season which frequently isolates some regions of the country. The mood in Kenya is for the elections to be held this year.