Africa in 2023 – The Stalled Democratic Path Faces a Tough Test

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Next year will witness a number of powerful elections in a number of African countries, which will represent a test for the path of democracy in the brown continent, amid warnings of the continuation of crises in these countries, which witness from time to time unrest and coups.


The next year will be politically crowded in Africa, as presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in 17 African countries, which will have significant impacts on the brown continent, according to what was revealed by the “Economic Information Unit” of the Economist magazine.

The unit warned that the periods for holding elections are volatile and carry with them high risks of the outbreak of political protests, demonstrations and strikes in a number of African countries.

The path of democracy is in front of a difficult test

In a related context, Fonte Akum, executive director of the Institute for Security Studies, said in an interview that the most important question is whether the continent will witness a “wave of coups” as was the case in 2022. Or will next year mark a break with this phenomenon in light of the failed coup attempt on the island of Sao Tome and Príncipe last November?

In this regard, the biggest challenge for Africa next year will be how this will affect the course of democracy, will it be strengthened or will it go backwards?

Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at the Chatham House think tank in London, stressed that the main elections “worth watching are those scheduled for Nigeria, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe, especially with the potential for violence in some of these countries.”

Nigeria…the opportunity for change

With regard to Nigeria, it witnessed an increasing momentum of youth civil and political forces ahead of the presidential elections that will be held in late February. Still, the country also saw a wave of political violence and unrest.

In the same matter, Akoum said that the elections in Nigeria are “of great importance, given that Nigeria is one of the largest economies on the continent in conjunction with the fact that it faces security challenges.”

With the elections approaching in this country, all eyes are on young people who can change the balance of power between the main political parties in the country of 217 million people.


Months before the elections, the political atmosphere in Nigeria was tense, especially in the wake of the current President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision not to contest the elections again, while Akum stresses that the upcoming elections will be an opportunity to bring about change.

The two largest political parties in the country are competing in the elections, the ruling Progressive Congress Party and the opposition People’s Democratic Party, while Akum indicates that the Labor Party and its candidate, Peter Obi, may cause an electoral surprise, especially in light of the large support of young people in Nigeria.

Continuing crises

With regard to the West African region, Akum said that it is witnessing a state of instability and the spread of extremist movements.

It is noteworthy that the army in Burkina Faso and Mali carried out coups, especially in Mali, which witnessed the second coup attempt in a short period, while Akum stressed that it was important to know what the transitional phase would result in.

In turn, Alex Vines, head of the Africa Program at the “Chatham House” research centre in London, said that Africa’s crises will continue during the following year, not only in the Sahel region, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso, but also in Niger.

In an interview, he indicated that the situation in Cameroon and Nigeria is still worrying in light of the state of insecurity in many regions of the two countries, adding that the situation in Ethiopia will also be at the centre of attention, especially the extent of the steadfastness of the peace agreement concluded months ago between the government and the Liberation Front. The people of Tigray.”

Alex stressed that the matter does not depend on these African countries only, but also on countries such as Mozambique, especially the north of the country, which is witnessing a process of displacement due to armed jihadist groups.


Akum believes that eastern Congo is a source of concern with the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections in late December next year and in light of the behaviour of current President Felix Tshisekedi, warning of the wave of violence by militias stationed in the east of the country that will affect the course of the elections.

South Africa is at a crossroads

As for South Africa, the important economic centre in Africa, the African National Congress, which has ruled the country since the end of the apartheid regime, will choose its new leader during a party conference to be held in December. In 1994, they are from the National Congress Party.

South Africa will witness presidential and legislative elections in 2024.

This comes as the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is facing a crisis over his accusation of involvement in a money laundering operation, while the opposition is calling for his resignation, which means that the National Congress Party, led by Ramaphosa, is facing a challenge and is at a crossroads with the elections approaching.


The party is being criticized and accused of mismanaging the country, being involved in corruption cases, and adopting contradictory policies.

In the vicinity of South Africa, the political situation in Zimbabwe appears to be not in the best condition, as it is likely that Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the “Citizens’ Alliance for Change”, which is the largest opposition entity in the country and was recently formed, will run in the presidential elections in the face of the president The current one is Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The way the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front suppresses any attempt in the past that might pose a threat to its control of power raises fears of unrest before the next elections, in a repeat of the instability the country has suffered for more than two decades.

Soukaina Sghir


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