5 Notorious Post-Election Legal Battles in Africa
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Entrepreneurs - October 26, 2023

5 Notorious Post-Election Legal Battles in Africa

In the intricate tapestry of African politics, post-election legal battles in Africa have become almost as predictable as the elections. 

Elections in many African countries are frequently marred by irregularities, ranging from electoral malpractice and vote-buying to outright violence. 

These issues often culminate in intense legal confrontations that can shape the political landscape for years to come. 

This article delves into five such notorious legal battles following major elections across the continent.

The Gambia 2016 Presidential Election

The 2016 presidential election in Gambia saw long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh face off against Adama Barrow. After the election, Jammeh conceded defeat. He, however, later reversed his stance, plunging the country into a political crisis.

Jammeh who was the incumbent President refused to hand over to Barrow. Jammeh’s refusal to step down led to a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the election results. 

The ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) intervened, threatening military action if Jammeh did not step down. Under significant international pressure and the threat of military intervention, Jammeh eventually left for exile, allowing Barrow to take office.

Kenya’s 2017 Presidential Election

The contest between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga was fraught with tension and allegations of irregularities.

Published results showed that the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Party had been reelected with 54% of the vote.

Odinga who refused to accept the results petitioned the Supreme Court, claiming the election was neither transparent nor verifiable. The court, in a historic decision, annulled the election results.

A re-run was ordered, which Kenyatta won after Odinga boycotted, citing a lack of reforms in the electoral commission.

Zimbabwe’s 2018 Presidential Election

The post-Mugabe era election saw Emmerson Mnangagwa narrowly defeating Nelson Chamisa.

Chamisa claimed the election was rigged and took his grievances to the Constitutional Court.

Mnangagwa’s inauguration, which had been scheduled for the 12th of August, 2018 was delayed after Chamisa petitioned to challenge the election results in court, with a ruling due by the end of the month.

The court upheld Mnangagwa’s victory, stating that Chamisa failed to provide sufficient evidence of malpractice.

Malawi’s 2019 Presidential Elections

Incumbent Peter Mutharika was declared the winner, but opposition parties alleged significant irregularities.

The Constitutional Court was petitioned, and after a thorough review, the court found that widespread irregularities marred the election.

The court nullified the election results, and a fresh election was held in 2020, which Lazarus Chakwera won.

Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential Elections

Background: The 2023 elections saw a fierce contest between the candidates, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Atiku Abubakar of the People Democratic Party, PDP.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC declared Tinubu as the winner, but Atiku and Obi filed appeals challenging the election results.

After several litigations, the Supreme Court dismissed their appeals, affirming Tinubu’s election as the President of Nigeria.

It rejected the application of Atiku, seeking to present Tinubu’s credentials obtained from the CSU.  The Supreme Court also noted that the issues raised by Obi had been dealt with in the Atiku’s appeal.

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