Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Review: Notable events that defined African politics in 2021

Africanews journalist Ndea Yoka   -  
Copyright © africanews



2021 was a year of presidential elections on the continent. In January, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni was re-elected to a 6th term in office amid intense and deadly opposition protests.

Then in Niger, it took two rounds to give the country a new leader when Mohammed Bazoom beat his opponent and former president Mahamane Ousmane for the top job.

And in Benin, it was a coast ride for Patrice Talon who won re-election for a second term in the very first round of polls largely boycotted by the opposition.

In Congo, President Sassou Nguesso extended his rule. A 4th term win amidst a sad occurrence – the death of his opponent Parfait Kolelas from Covid.

Then Idris Deby of Chad got re-elected but that win would be short-lived as the strongman died in battle with jihadists shortly after the declaration of his election victory.

In August, an opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema in his sixth attempt at the presidency displaced Zambia's Edgar Lungu in a bitterly contested poll. The win was by a landslide- triggering jubilations in the country.

And that of The Gambia- Adama Barrow maintained his grip on power after beating his opponent Ousanou Darboe who received about 28 percent of the vote.

A wind of change blew across Sao-Tome and Principe and Cape Verde when opposition candidates in the island nations won elections. And in the horn of Africa nation of Djibouti elections were largely peaceful with president Ismael Guelleh extending his two decades in power.


Though it was still a pandemic year, major summits on Africa took place. They include The China-Africa summit held in Dakar Senegal, the financing of African economies summit held in Paris with many African leaders among some 30 Heads of State who attended in May.

In October, hundreds of young African entrepreneurs’ activists and civil rights campaigners gathered in Montpellier for a one-day Africa-France summit

In November, African leaders at the Cop 26 climate summit demanded more action from rich nations


Now, since 2010 there has been a steady decline in the occurrence of coups in Africa. But that break was tested this year.

A coup in Guinea ousted president Alpha Conde, bringing to an end the 83-year old’s hang-on to power in a controversial third term. Mutinous soldiers led by Mamadi Doumbouya led the coup to huge cheers from the population.

In Mali, Assimi Goita consolidated his regime’s powers by ousting his civilian partners, orchestrating a coup within a coup.

There would have been more coups but they failed in Niger Madagascar and Sudan where there is still no political solution to the power arrangement between Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok's civilian government and the military. At least 50 people have been killed so far.


And in South Africa widespread looting took place in deadly protests against the conviction and imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma for corruption.

Neighboring Eswatini also saw riots with the young population frustrated with the King Mswatini's monarchy

Demonstrations rocked Tunisia and worsened when President Kais Saied suspended parliament and froze legislation in July.


The armed conflict in North Kivu intensified and saw the killing of the Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio, his bodyguard and driver.

Deadly attacks continued in the Sahel in Mali and Burkina Faso while Ethiopia’s civil conflict took many dramatic turns between Tigray rebels and government forces, forcing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to the battlefront.

Morocco/Algeria tensions rose to a climax not seen in more than 25 years when Algeria accused the northern kingdom of starting wildfires and other hostile acts against Algeria.


In April,Tanzania's President John Magufuli died aged 61. Mr Magufuli had not been seen in public for more than two weeks before his death and rumours had circulated about his health.

He was one of Africa's most prominent coronavirus sceptics, and called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus

He was reported to have died from heart complications at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, but is widely believed to have died from Covid.

In June, Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president and liberation hero, died at a military hospital in Lusaka where he was being treated for pneumonia.

In August, former Chadian president Hissène Habré, who was serving a life term in Senegal for war crimes and crimes against humanity died at the age of 79.

FW de Klerk, the former president of South Africa and the last white person to lead the country, died at the age of 85 in November.