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Key elections across East and Horn of Africa in 2020

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - A number of countries are preparing for major polls this year in East and Horn of Africa, which will be monitored closely by the international community and observers.

Elections in Africa usually attract interests from outsiders, especially whenever there is anticipated regime change.

More often than not, most polls in Africa are eclipsed with claims of rigging, post-election violence and disputes which at times threaten integration.

For instance, over 1,300 people were killed in Kenya in 2007 after protagonists disagreed with the outcome. Six Kenyans among them President Uhuru Kenyatta were dragged to The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity.

Ethiopia – first post-Abiy vote

The Horn of Africa nation will for the first time hold polls where currently Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will be competing for the first time. He ascended into power in 2018.

Recognized as of the radical reformist, Mr. Abiy will be facing opposition given that he has significantly opened democratic space in Ethiopia, freeing political prisoners in the process.

Last year, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the Ethiopia-Eritrea crisis which lasted for a whopping two decades. He has also engineered social-economic changes.

National Elections Board of Ethiopia [NEBE] announced that polls shall be conducted on August 16th. However, the date may change depending on prevailing circumstances.

Already, Mr. Ahmed has folded the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front [EPRDF] for Prosperity Party [PP] which he argues that "it will give other communities a chance to be in government".

Mr. Ahmed is also struggling to contain ethnic violence in Ethiopia, which has left over 100 dead and several displaced. His Oromiya region is the worst hit with the chaos.

Somalia’s Farmajo will be eyeing a second term

Incumbent Somalia President Mohamed Farmajo will be keen to be re-elected. Although the election calendar is not yet out, it's anticipated that the country will hold polls in December.

However, the country is yet to settle on the electoral model, even with the push from the UN to accommodate the winner-takes-all model. Currently, the country uses a clan-based system.

Farmajo has been facing criticism from a section of opposition leaders, who accuse him of autocratic and inability to fight the Al-Shabaab militants who have caused havoc in the country for years.

Former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud have been leading robust campaigns against Farmajo, often calling for his resignation.

Sharif recently said that "we cannot continue to tolerate unfocused leadership. If it means descending on Mogadishu, we are going to do so. We did it against Al-Shabaab."

There have been efforts to unite members of Forum for National Parties [FNP] but such efforts are yet to bore fruits. Turkey and Qatar are keen to broker a deal between Farmajo and his critics.

Tanzania vote to test Magufuli’s popularity

President John Pombe Magufuli is facing another task of defending his seat under Chama Cha Mapinduzi [CCM]. The East Africa nation will go to polls in October.

Magufuli was first elected in 2015 following the exit of Jakaya Kikwete. While CCM is expected to clinch the seat, Magufuli warned members against being too confident.

He said: "Our competitors are becoming strong. We shall not allow them to neutralize us. It's your obligation to help me reach every corner of the country."

The Tanzanian President has been subjected to criticism by human rights groups which accuse him of practicing dictatorship. He fond of sacking civil servants in public meetings.

Also, his government has been tainted with alleged executions and attempted assassinations with the shooting of Tundu Lissu, an opposition leader, being key among them.

Burundi preps for a post-Nkurunziza era

A country embroiled in a political crisis since 2015 thanks to an election. Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to contest for the presidency 5 years ago plunged the country into a security crisis that has continued to date.

Nkurunziza has however promised to sit out this year’s vote and all things being equal, the country will be preparing for life without him. The ruling party has yet to elect a possible successor and the opposition look set to participate.

The government said it had turned down all international support for the polls and raised money for the vote from a public fundraiser. A contested referendum has extended the tenure of president and limited tenures to two.


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