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Elections, diplomatic summits, sporting events: The World Africa has selected several flagship events that will punctuate the year 2021 on the continent … provided that the health crisis linked to Covid-19 does not decide otherwise.
The outgoing president, Patrice Talon, who had a certain time assured that he wanted to serve only one term, finally declared himself a candidate for his succession in the presidential election in April in Benin. After the controversial legislative elections of 2019, the Head of State – who has embarked on a tour to meet his population – promises an election “Inclusive”. But the opposition denounces a “Authoritarian drift” and the risk of a locked election, while a new electoral provision requires being sponsored by sixteen mayors or deputies in order to be a candidate. For the moment, the only declared opponent of Patrice Talon is the academic Frédéric Joël Aïvo. It is up to him to manage to collect these sponsorships from elected officials who are for the most part affiliated to the presidential movement.
Ismaïl Omar Guelleh seems ready to come back for a fifth term at the head of Djibouti, which he has led with an iron fist since 1999. The opposition, fragmented and mistreated by the authorities, has almost no chance of success. win in the April presidential election. Aged 73, “IOG” should therefore continue to preside over the destinies of a country in which more than half of the inhabitants are under 24 and where the unemployment rate still exceeds 45%. The challenge for the Head of State is above all to succeed in consolidating the multipolar positioning of his small country, strategically located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, despite the growing stranglehold of China.
Thirty-seven cumulative years in power are clearly not enough for Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who was made a candidate by the Congolese Labor Party (PCT) and 17 majority parties for the presidential election in March in Congo-Brazzaville. He will notably face Mathias Dzon, 74, his former finance minister (1997-2002), and Guy Brice Parfait Kolélas, 61, ranked second in the highly contested presidential election of 2016. A good part of civil society blames the leader of the outgoing state governance “Autocratic” and a balance sheet “Catastrophic”, as the country struggles to recover from a violent debt crisis.
With gatherings officially banned for health reasons, the opposition is in a bad position to contest a possible sixth term of Idriss Déby Itno in Chad. In power since 1990, the 68-year-old Presidential Marshal has not yet formalized his candidacy for the April presidential election. But few doubt its aims in a country that remains undermined by poor development, endemic corruption and terrorist violence.
Following the ouster of autocrat Yahya Jammeh in 2017, the third president in the history of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, had promised a mandate of “Transition” for a period of three years. Almost unknown at the time of his election, this former real estate agent finally let it be known that he intended to complete his mandate and seems ready to run for a second in the presidential election in December in this small country of 2.2 million d ‘inhabitants, still immersed in the inventory of the Jammeh years. This candidacy risks alienating the seven opposition parties that initially supported him.
After the presidential election in October which put Alassane Ouattara back in the saddle for a contested third term, Côte d’Ivoire is organizing legislative elections on March 6. For the first time since 2010, this election will take place in the presence of all the main formations of the country – and perhaps of the former president Laurent Gbagbo, whose return seems imminent. What more precisely gauge the balance of power between the power and the opposition.
After ten years at the head of the government – a place conquered in the wake of the Arab Spring – the Justice and Development Party (PJD, Islamist) will try to defend its positions during the legislative elections, which are supposed to be held in September. This deadline is being prepared in a context of rather lively discussions within the formation, while Morocco has just announced the normalization of its relations with Israel.
- Somalia, Zambia, Cape Verde, Uganda
It is also a presidential election year for Somalia (February), Zambia (August) and Cape Verde (October), where the ballot will be held six months after the legislative elections. A presidential election has also just been held in early January in Uganda, where Yoweri Museveni, 76, thirty-five of whom is head of state, is starting a sixth term.
- With the European Union
A summit between the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU), initially scheduled for 2020, had been postponed sine die because of the pandemic. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency in the first half of the year, has expressed his wish to hold it in spring in Brussels if sanitary conditions allow. In recent months, the relationship with Africa has been regularly presented as a priority for European diplomacy, with the objective of defining the framework for a new strategic partnership.
The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac), which takes place every three years, is expected to be held in 2021 in Dakar, Senegal, at a date not yet specified. The event is expected to take stock of relations between Beijing and Africa, which have grown considerably over the past two decades, to the point of imposing China as the continent’s leading trading partner. This summit will take place in a particular context, as the pandemic has pushed the Asian giant to deploy health diplomacy by distributing masks and vaccines to its African partners. One way perhaps to mitigate the criticisms leveled by Western countries, which accuse China of setting a debt trap for the most vulnerable countries by increasing the number of infrastructure projects at home.
Initially planned for Bordeaux in June 2020 on the theme of the city and sustainable territories, it is finally in Montpellier and in July that the 28th will take placee Africa-France summit, also postponed due to the health crisis. For the first time, this raid should take place without heads of state, to give more space to civil society by focusing on the themes of higher education, research, innovation or entrepreneurship..
The year promises to be rich in sporting events for the African continent. She started on January 16 in Cameroon with the African Nations Football Championship (CHAN), a competition reserved for African players playing in their national championship. The qualifying matches for the World Cup are expected to be held between May and November. For its part, Rwanda should host the African Basketball Championship (Afrobasket).
Finally, the Tokyo Olympics, from July 23 to August 8, will be the highlight of 2021. A meeting in which African athletes hope to return to their performances of five years ago, in Rio de Janeiro, where they had obtained 45 medals. Provided that the health crisis does not again call into question the holding of these competitions.