Elections in Africa: six countries go to the polls

From Benin to Zanzibar, six African countries voted on Super Sunday, inaugurating a crucial week for democracy in Africa.

This is a crucial week for Africa. Six states voted on 20 March, the African Super Sunday according to local press: five countries held presidential and parliamentary elections while one voted on a constitutional referendum.


Africa al voto
Elections in Togo ©Noel Kokou Tadegnon/Reuters


In Benin, Prime Minister Lionel Zinzou and cotton tycoon Patrice Talon face each other in run-off presidential elections, after the first round ended with no decisive majority on 6 March. In the past, Talon was accused of having tried to poison incumbent President Bony Yayi who led the country for two consecutive mandates. The opponent – who was able to apply only after he received presidential forgiveness – always denied accusations.


Republic of the Congo

In the Republic of the Congo, electors voted to decide if President Denis Sassou Nguesso will lead the country for another mandate, after 31 years in power already. During the scrutiny, authorities declared a computer and media blackout: the Internet and cell phones were blocked in order “to avoid the illegal divulgation of results”.



In Niger, President Mahmadou Issofou faced run-off elections after he lost the opportunity of being reconfirmed during the first-round elections on 21 February. His main challenger is Hama Amadou, currently hospitalised in France and charged with being involved in a scandal linked to child trafficking.



In Senegal, citizens voted on a constitutional referendum that would reduce the length of a presidential term from seven to five years with a limit of 2 consecutive terms. This is a crucial vote for the country and if such changes are approved, they will enter into force as of the next presidential elections. Therefore, incumbent President Macky Sall won’t be prevented from being elected for a third mandate.


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Macky Sall © Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Tanzania (Zanzibar)

Zanzibar, semi-autonomous archipelago of Tanzania, conducted a repeat poll, among rising tensions and the opposition’s threat of boycotting the ballot boxes.

Cape Verde, one of Africa’s most stable countries and example of an effective democratic succession, will elect the new Parliament. Since 1975, year in which the country gained independence from Portugal, the political scene of the archipelago has been dominated by the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) and the Movement for Democracy (MFD).

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