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Recent Elections Archive: 2011
 
JANUARY
9-15 - Southern Sudan: In the landmark referendum on independence, the citizens of Southern Sudan voted in favor of separation from the rest of Sudan. Support was nearly unanimous, with the measure receiving 98.83 percent of the valid votes cast. Bolstered by a huge voter turnout (97.6 percent) and largely peaceful environment during the week-long exercise, election observers praised the entire process as free and fair. The Republic of South Sudan will become an independent country on 9 July 2011.
23 - Central African Republic: Presidential and National Assembly elections, originally slated for 2010 but repeatedly postponed, were held. Incumbent François Bozizé faced four other opponents, including ex-President Ange-Félix Patassé, who he overthrew in a 2003 military coup. With the exception of a few minor incidents, election day was largely peaceful. There were, however, logistical and organizational issues reported in some areas. Bozizé was favored to win, although some uncertainty existed over whether he could do this outright or be forced into a run-off, as occurred in 2005. Provisional results were released on 1 February, with Bozizé receiving just over 66 percent of the valid votes cast. His Kwa na Kwa (KNK) party also won 26 of the 35 seats declared in the simultaneous legislative election. A second round of voting will be conducted in the remaining 70 constituencies on 27 March to determine the final makeup of the National Assembly. The opposition presidential candidates contested the results, claiming that serious irregularities had tainted the credibility of the election. The National Elections Observatory, which deployed more than 500 monitors across the country, cited several procedural irregularities and violations of the electoral code by some candidates and their supporters but did not offer a judgment about the overall credibility of the poll. A second observer mission from the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), an organization of French-speaking countries, also noted similar problems while praising other aspects of the poll. The Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by the opposition presidential candidates to have the election annulled and upheld François Bozizé's victory.
31 - Niger: The nation's relatively smooth transition from military to civilian, democratic rule continued with the holding of presidential and national assembly elections. Of the ten candidates competing for the presidency, veteran opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya) and Seyni Oumarou of the former ruling National Movement for the Development of Society (MNSD-Nassara) finished first and second, respectively. They will participate in a run-off vote on 12 March. In concurrent legislative elections, Issoufou's PNDS-Tarayya won the largest number of seats at 34. The MNSD-Nassara saw its share of seats fall from 76 in 2009, due largely to an electoral boycott by most of the major political parties, to 25 in 2011. The Nigerien Democratic Movement for an African Federation (MODEN/FA Lumana), a newly-formed party led by ex-Prime Minister Hama Amadou, obtained 23 seats with the remainder split among five other parties. Observers from the European Union (EU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the African Union (AU) monitored the polls. A statement from the European Union Mission summed up the generally positive feelings of all teams who observed the election by noting that "The election commission has, overall, managed to organize the elections despite some technical problems. The freedom of expression and movement of all candidates was respected."
 
FEBRUARY
6 - Cape Verde: In legislative elections, Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves' African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) was returned to power for an unprecedented third consecutive term. The ruling party's absolute majority was reduced, however, from 41 seats won in the 2006 election to 38. The main opposition Movement for Democracy (MpD) increased its representation in the National Assembly by three (29 to 32), while the remaining two seats were won by the Independent and Democratic Cape Verdean Union (UCID). The island nation's reputation as one of Sub-Saharan Africa's most stable and mature democracies was best exemplified by the reaction of MpD leader Carlos Veiga, who swiftly accepted the outcome and congratulated the ruling party on its electoral victory. Observers from the African Union (AU) described the election as free, fair, and transparent.
13 - ChadThe ruling Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) and its allies won a strong majority in legislative elections against a heavily fragmented opposition. Some opposition leaders contested the results citing voter registration flaws and other irregularities. The Constitutional Council did invalidate the results in several districts (affecting a total of 13 seats) where poll re-runs will have to be conducted within a 45-day period. Observers from the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) monitored the elections. The EU, while noting logistical hitches, praised the peaceful elections and termed them a historic turning point for the country. There was a general agreement that this election was a significant improvement over the previous legislative elections held in 2002.
18 - Uganda: President Yoweri Museveni coasted to victory in the country's second multi-party presidential election. The result was mirrored in the concurrent legislative elections, where the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) held on to its dominant position in the Ugandan Parliament. Election day was largely peaceful, although localized incidents were reported. Several opposition candidates, including the Museveni's main challenger Kizza Besigye, rejected the results as flawed. The elections were monitored by several organizations, including the European Union (EU), African Union (AU), The Commonwealth, as well as a joint mission of the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Their statements regarding the electoral process were largely similar. Basic freedoms, such as the freedom of association and assembly were generally respected during the campaign period, while concerns over the dramatic increase in campaign spending were expressed. Observers mentioned the lack of a level playing field and strong advantage of the incumbency as having compromised the competitive nature of the polls. Administrative and logistical difficulties, some of which were considered avoidable, led to the disenfranchisement of a number of citizens. The country's Electoral Commission was commended for publishing results on a polling station-by-polling station basis, which ensures greater transparency and confidence in the electoral process. Despite the shortcomings expressed, there was a unanimous consensus that the 2011 elections showed improvements over the previous elections held in 2006.
 
MARCH
12 - Benin: The country's presidential election, delayed twice over concerns regarding the new computerized electoral roll, was held on 13 March. Thirteen candidates competed against President Yayi Boni, who sought a second five-year term in office. The president's main challenger was veteran politician Adrien Houngbédji, backed by a coalition of opposition parties. As one of West Africa's most vibrant democracies, the campaign period was lively and election day was generally peaceful. Since 1991, no presidential candidate has won outright in the first round and most expected the election to go to a run-off, likely between Boni and Houngbédji. When the provisional final results were announced by the Autonomous National Election Commission (CENA), the incumbent president had won nearly 56 percent of the vote. The results were later confirmed by the Constitutional Court, although his margin of victory was reduced to 53.14 percent. Houngbédji and a few other candidates rejected the outcome as fradulent despite the verdict of election monitors from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), who described the poll as "mainly free and transparent." Opposition-led protests took place in Cotonou on 24 March, with the protesters accusing the government of vote rigging and some calling for the president to resign. Appeals were filed with the Constitutional Court, but they were all rejected on the grounds that the reported irregularities were not significant enough to alter the final outcome.
13 - Niger: Seyni Oumarou conceded defeat and congratulated Mahamadou Issoufou on his victory in the second round, presidential run-off election. His acceptance of the voting results marked an end to several rounds of elections aimed at returning the country to civilian, democratic rule following the February 2010 military coup. Observers and local civil society groups praised the peaceful nature of the vote and described the process as free, fair, and transparent. Issoufou will take office on 7 April. A note of electoral interest: Since democratic rule was first introduced in 1993, Mahamadou Issoufou has participated in all five presidential elections that have been held, a distinction he shares with former President Mahamane Ousmane. He finished third in 1993 and fourth in 1996, although that election was roundly criticized as flawed by observers. In the elections of 1999 and 2004, Issoufou finished second in the first round of voting, only to be defeated both times by Mamadou Tandja in the run-off.
27 - Central African Republic: Supporters of President François Bozizé will dominate the country's National Assembly following the second round of legislative elections. The polls were boycotted by the opposition.
 
APRIL
8 - Djibouti: With little competition, President lsmaïl Omar Guelleh was easily re-elected to serve another six-year term in office. The sole challenger, former Constitutional Court president Mohamed Warsama Ragueh, posed no real threat to the incumbent. The wave of protests that swept the Middle East and North Africa reached Djibouti in mid-February. Guelleh's intention to run for a third term, mad possible through an April 2010 constitutional amendment endorsed by the National Assembly, was the prime motivation for the protests. The marchers clashed with security forces in the capital city of Djibouti, opposition leaders were briefly detained, and further demonstrations were curtailed by the government. Under these conditions, the country's political opposition decided not to nominate any candidates for the upcoming election, effectively boycotting the process. While citizens who chose to participate were relatively free to do so in a peaceful environment, governmental actions in the lead-up to the vote calls into question the election's overall credibility. The playing field was heavily tilted in favor of the incumbent, all major media outlets are state-owned, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is not independent in practice. A joint mission of observers from the African Union (AU), Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF), and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) were permitted to assess the elections, which they described as procedurally free. Another election monitoring organization, the US-based Democracy International (DI), was abruptly expelled from the country on 2 March. The group was declared "illegal" by the government and was accused of supporting opposition activities, something the DI denies. The action was condemned by Human Rights Watch (HRW) as part of the government's systematic crackdown on peaceful critics and the political opposition.
9 - Nigeria: The electoral season in Africa's most populous country got underway with the holding of elections to the bicameral National Assembly. Voting had initially been scheduled for 2 April, but logistical difficulties prompted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to delay polling first to 4 April, then to 9 April. In some constituencies, elections were delayed further to 26 April. The ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) saw its sweeping majority in both chambers reduced amidst gains by the opposition. The PDP, however, remains the largest political party in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The Chief Observer of the European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission gave the following statement regarding the election: "We observed an overall encouraging conduct of the elections, in a generally peaceful atmosphere. Our observers reported that the majority of visited Polling Units were operational, and that accreditation and voting were mainly conducted in a timely manner. However problems, such as inaccurate voters' registers and inconsistent implementation of electoral procedures were observed and need to be addressed before the next elections."
16 - Nigeria: Goodluck Jonathan, who succeeded to the presidency in May 2010, was elected in his own right. This was the fourth presidential vote held since the country returned to civilian rule in 1999. While a total of twenty candidates participated in the election, only two were seen as having a credible chance of emerging victorious: Jonathan, the incumbent and candidate of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and ex-head of state (1983-1985) Muhammadu Buhari of the opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). In stark contrast to the 2007 election, conditions for this year's poll were mostly positive. There were fewer violent incidents reported during the pre-election period, a peaceful atmosphere prevailed on election day, and the voting process was well-organized. The final results announced on 18 April by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) showed Jonathan winning 58.89 percent to Buhari's 31.98 percent. Soon after the declaration, violence erupted in northern Nigeria - particularly in areas that strongly supported Buhari (who rejected the results as fraudulent) - that left hundreds dead. Despite the claims of rigging, election observers viewed the election, not withstanding some irregularities, as one of the most credible and successful democratic exercises in the country's recent history. Goodluck Jonathan has a degree of electoral legitimacy that his predecessors lacked.
25 - Chad: A boycott by opposition candidates of the country's main opposition parties resulted in an easy election victory for President Idriss Déby Itno. He won 83.59 percent of the vote with two minor candidates receiving the remainder. Voter turnout was reportedly lower than in the February legislative election (56.6 percent), but provisional final results published by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) put the participation rate at 64.2 percent. The Constitutional Council revised that figure downward to 55.7 percent in its final declaration of results. While generally peaceful, observers recorded a number of inadequacies on election day, including delays in the opening polling stations and the visible presence of police officers, sometimes too close to the voting booth - which did not always guarantee ballot secrecy.
30 - Benin: A month after the re-election of President Yayi Boni, his supporters scored another victory in legislative elections. Pro-presidential political parties and alliances won 49 of 83 seats in the National Assembly. The opposition, which previously controlled the legislative body, won 34 seats. Voter participation was reportedly much lower than the March presidential poll.
 
MAY
19-21 - Seychelles: In the country's presidential election, incumbent James Michel was re-elected to another five-year term in office. He defeated his main opponent, Seychelles National Party (SNP) candidate Wavel Ramkalawan by a margin of 55.46 percent to 41.43 percent. Two other candidates participated, each capturing less than 2 percent of the votes cast. Voter turnout was high at 85.3 percent, following the trend of previous elections held since the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1993. Missions from the Commonwealth, Indian Ocean Commission (COI), Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF) sent observers to assess the electoral process. They praised the calm atmosphere, high voter participation, and professionalism of the country's Electoral Commission. One of the few concerns expressed had to do with equal candidate access to the broadcast media. While candidates did have access to national radio and TV during the campaign, coverage of some events prior to the election was seen as favoring the ruling party. The election results were considered transparent and reflected the will of the electorate.
 
JULY
17 - São Tomé and Príncipe: Former President (1975-1991) Manuel Pinto da Costa finished ahead of nine contenders in the first round of presidential elections, receiving 35.62 percent of the vote. He will face former Prime Minister and Speaker of the National Assembly, Evaristo Carvalho, in a second round of voting on 7 August. Election day was largely problem free throughout the country, however, citizens in a few small villages on the northern side of São Tomé Island decided to boycott the elections over grievances that they wanted addressed. A re-run was conducted in these areas on 20 July, but the results did not alter the outcome. Missions from the African Union (AU), Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), and the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) sent observers to monitor the election, which was declared free and fair.
 
AUGUST
7 - Cape Verde: Four candidates competed to succeed incumbent President Pedro Pires. Jorge Carlos Fonseca, supported by the Movement for Democracy (MpD) party, finished first but failed to meet the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a second round. Manuel Inocêncio Sousa, supported by the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), will face Fonseca in an August 21 run-off. Observers declared the polls free and fair.
7 - São Tomé and Príncipe: Manuel Pinto da Costa made a political comeback by defeating Evaristo Carvalho in the island nation's run-off presidential election. He gained the support of several first round candidates, including (MLSTP-PSD) flag-bearer Aurélio Martins, former Prime Minster Maria das Neves, and third-place finisher Delfim Neves. Voter participation was higher than in the first round at just over 74 percent. The polling was considered free, fair, and transparent.
21 - Cape Verde: Jorge Carlos Fonseca defeated Manuel Inocêncio Sousa in the second round, run-off presidential election. Sousa quickly acknowledged his defeat after early results showed him trailing Fonseca. Election day was peaceful and observers considered the process transparent.
23 - LiberiaFour proposed amendments to the Liberian constitution were presented to voters in a national referendum. Although the atmosphere remained peaceful without any major incidents, turnout was low (34.2 percent). The National Elections Commission (NEC) released final results on 31 August that showed all four propositions failing to meet the two-thirds majority required for ratification. The inclusion of invalid ballots in the final tally proved controversial. A petition was filed by members of the Unity Party (UP) challenging the results. On 20 September, the country's Supreme Court sided with the petitioners by declaring that only the valid votes cast should have determined the final outcome. With the invalid votes omitted, proposition four, introducing single round, first-past-the-post voting for all legislative and municipal elections, was ratified. The other propositions were defeated.
 
SEPTEMBER
20 - Zambia: In hotly contested presidential and national assembly elections, Michael Sata and his Patriotic Front (PF) party ended the 21-year rule of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party. The incumbent, Rupiah Banda, acknowledged defeat and accepted the outcome. Sata's victory was attributed to higher turnout among youths and the poor, groups he targeted in his campaign. Throughout most of the country, election day was incident-free. In the period after the polls closed and prior to the release of final results, however, tensions rose and violent protests broke out in several areas. Tensions eased after final results confirmed earlier trends favoring Sata and the PF. The elections were monitored by a variety of local, national, and international observers. Most missions assessed the entire electoral process positively, declaring the vote as transparent and reflecting the will of the electorate. Unequal campaign funding and fair access to resources were aspects of the process that were criticized by observers, with many stating that reforms needed to be put in place to address the shortcomings.
29-1 October - SeychellesIn elections boycotted by the main opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP), the ruling People's Party (Party Lepep; PL) easily won all 25 seats in the country's National Assembly. An additional six seats were allocated to the party through proportional representation, for an overall total of 31. SNP leader Wavel Ramkalawan called the boycott to protest the lack of electoral reform that he claims deprived him of victory in the May presidential election. Former presidential candidates Philippe Boullé and Ralph Volcère of the New Democratic Party (NDP) also joined the boycott. This decision left Ramkalawan's party divided and prompted members who feared the prospect of an uncontested single-party election to form the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), which fielded candidates in every constituency, but failed to win a seat. The PDM was also unable to attain any of the additional seats filled using proportional representation formula, which requires a party to win at least ten percent of the total votes cast to be awarded a seat. The party won 10.89 percent of the valid votes cast, but only 7.42 percent of the total votes cast. PDM leader David Pierre disagreed with the Election Commission's decision, stating that if the calculations had been done the way they were in previous elections, his party would have won a seat. He planned on taking his challenge to the Constitutional Court. The voter turnout rate of 74.3 percent was the lowest of any election held since 1993. There were a record number of invalid/blank votes cast as well, amounting to 31.9 percent of all votes cast in the election, largely attributable to the SNP boycott. Observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Citizens Democracy Watch Seychelles (CDWS) monitored the elections. Both groups declared the poll free, fair, and in compliance with regional and international standards, but recommended a review of electoral laws to address needed reforms.
 
OCTOBER
9 - CameroonPresently one of the longest-serving heads of state in Sub-Saharan Africa, Paul Biya easily secured another seven-year term in office. His large margin of victory was attributed to several factors including the entrenched dominance of his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (RDPC) and a highly fractious opposition. A record 23 candidates contested this year's poll. The election was the first organized by an independent management body known as Elections Cameroon, or ELECAM. Cameroonians living abroad were also enfranchised for the first time as well. With the exception of an incident in the disputed Bakassi peninsula, voting generally passed off peacefully. Soon after the polls closed, opposition candidates began denouncing the election as fraudulent and later filed petitions with the country's Supreme Court to have the vote annulled. The court rejected the petitions and upheld Biya's victory. Reactions from election observers and the international community varied. A team of monitors from The Commonwealth lauded the peaceful nature of the election. They concluded that some benchmarks for democratic elections were met, but noted the lack of a level playing field. Another concern was the widely held impression that ELECAM was not wholly independent of the government. The United States ambassador to Cameroon delivered one of the more harsh critiques, stating that its observers had witnessed irregularities at every level of the electoral process.
11 - LiberiaElections for the presidency, senate, and house of representatives were held. In the presidential election, none of the 16 candidates obtained enough votes for an outright victory. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Winston Tubman, representing the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party, qualified for participation in a run-off election on 8 November. In the Senate, half of the 30 seats were up for election. Seven political parties won at least one seat in the election, with the Unity Party (UP) and National Patriotic Party (NPP) winning four seats each. One independent candidate from River Gee County also won a Senate seat. In the House of Representatives, which grew from 64 to 73 members, the Unity Party (UP) won the largest share of seats with 24. Election day proceeded peacefully with no major incidents reported. Local and international monitors assessed the process as transparent, free, and fair. Despite the unanimous praise from observers, nine opposition political parties including the CDC withdrew from the election tabulation process after accusing the National Elections Commission (NEC) of altering the vote count to favor Sirleaf. These claims, however, were unsubstantiated and the various observer missions stuck with their prior declarations. As the votes were tallied and it became apparent that a second round would be needed, CDC candidate Winston Tubman indicated that he would be willing to participate in the scheduled run-off.
 
NOVEMBER
8 - LiberiaPresident Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf won a second six-year term in office after her opponent Winston Tubman withdrew. As the final results of the first round were declared, CDC candidate Winston Tubman initially indicated that he would be willing to participate in the scheduled run-off despite accusing the National Elections Commission (NEC) of fraudulently altering the vote count. On 4 November, he reversed his decision, withdrew from the run-off, and urged his supporters boycott the election. Reactions from observers and the international community expressed disappointment with Tubman's decision, stating that the first round met democratic standards. One day before the election, clashes outside of CDC headquarters in Monrovia between protesters and the national police left two dead and several wounded.
13 - Equatorial GuineaA slate of proposed reforms to the country's constitution were approved in a national referendum. The changes included the introduction of presidential term limits that permit two consecutive seven-year terms in office, removal of the maximum age limit for the presidency (currently 75), and the creation of a vice-presidential post. While the government touted these reforms as a way to strengthen the nation's democratic institutions, opposition and civil society groups described it as a tool to further consolidate power in the hands of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. In particular, the creation of a vice-presidential post is widely seen as a mechanism to ensure that Obiang's son Teodorín will assume the presidency upon his retirement or death. With vast state resources in its control, the entire campaign favored the ruling party. Members of the opposition Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS), who campaigned for a "no" vote, reportedly faced intimidation and harassment. The referendum results, 97.73 percent in favor and 2.27 percent against, mirrors previous elections that have been won by suspiciously high margins.
24 - The GambiaYahya Jammeh defeated two opponents by a landslide margin (71.54 percent) in the country's presidential election. United Democratic Party candidate Ousainou Darboe finished second with 17.36 percent. Hamat Bah, who ran as an independent supported by a four-party alliance known as the United Front (UF), received the smallest share of votes - 11.11 percent. Voter turnout was high with 82.6 percent of those registered participating. Observers from the African Union (AU), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and The Commonwealth monitored the election. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) declined to send an observer team after a fact-finding mission dispatched to the country found political conditions that they stated, did not meet the minimum standards necessary for a democratic election to be held. Domination of the electronic media by the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party, state institutions that lacked neutrality, and intimidation of the opposition were reasons cited for their decision.
28 - Congo-KinshasaCongolese voters headed to the polls to elect a president and national assembly. Conducting elections in this vast country with limited resources and poor infrastructure was challenging, but the highly turbulent and divisive political scene made clean polls a near impossibility. In 2006, the Constitution required that the president be elected by an absolute majority, but a January 2011 amendment passed by Parliament reduced that requirement to a simple-majority first-past-the-post voting system. The amendment was widely seen as beneficial to President Joseph Kabila, who had been forced into a run-off with John-Pierre Bemba in 2006. With that change in place and the advantages of incumbency, Kabila won another five-year term in office. He defeated ten opponents and received just under 49 percent of the valid votes cast. Logistical and organizational issues were reported throughout the country on election day. Polling was extended into a second day as materials arrived late in some areas. There were reports of violence, voter intimidation, and other irregularities. The European Union (EU) and Carter Center both sent observer missions to monitor the elections. Both criticized the chaotic vote tabulation process and stated that the provisional results released by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) lacked credibility. Kabila's principal challenger, Étienne Tshisekedi, rejected the outcome and declared himself the winner. Despite the criticism from local and international observers, the Supreme Court confirmed Kabila's victory. He was sworn in for a second term on 20 December.
 
DECEMBER
11 - Côte d'Ivoire: A year after presidential elections that plunged the country into conflict, Ivoirian voters returned to the polls to elect a new National Assembly. The Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI) of former president Laurent Gbagbo boycotted the election. Voter turnout was low and parties supportive of the incumbent, Alassane Ouattara, won a majority.
17 - Gabon: Amidst a boycott by most of the opposition, the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) increased their already substantial majority in the National Assembly. A little over one-third of those registered participated in the election.
 
 
 
 
 

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