Elections are supposed to be the means by which the people of a country choose their leaders and express their will. However, in some African countries, elections are often marred by fraud, violence, and manipulation, undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the democratic process.
None the less, Africa has witnessed many cases of electoral fraud and manipulation, undermining the democratic process and the will of the people.
Here are five of the most rigged elections in Africa, based on various sources:
– Liberia 1927: This election was so rigged that it made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most fraudulent election ever reported in history. The incumbent president, Charles D.B. King, won the election with 240,000 votes, while his opponent, Thomas J. Faulkner, received only 9,000 votes. However, the number of registered voters was less than 15,000. The election was accompanied by widespread allegations of voter fraud, as Faulkner accused members of the True Whig Party government of using slave labour at home and selling slaves to the Spanish colony of Fernando Po, and involving the Army in the electoral process.
– Zimbabwe 2008: This election was described by Human Rights Watch as “deeply flawed”. The election pitted incumbent Robert Mugabe, who ruled from 1987 to 2017, against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. After the elections, no official results were announced for more than a month. It was later reported that Tsvangirai won 47.9% of the vote and Mugabe 43.2%, necessitating a run-off. Ahead of the runoff, supporters of Mugabe and Tsvangirai perpetrated violence so much that Tsvangirai announced that he was withdrawing from the race. Tsvangirai who described the run-off as a “Violent sham” said that his supporters risked being killed if they voted for him. The run-off went on without Tsvangirai and Mugabe was declared the winner as the only participating candidate.
– Democratic Republic of the Congo 2011: This election was marred by irregularities and controversies. The election was between Etienne Tshisekedi and President Joseph Kabila. Reports from international organisations such as the United Nations and the European Union held that the elections were held under difficult conditions. Tshisekedi reportedly declared himself as President claiming that the majority of the people turned against President Kabila. Kabila who was leading with 4.9 million votes, allegedly ceased all email and SMS services nationwide. Tshisekedi trailed behind with 3.4 million votes. It was also alleged that over 5,000,000 ballot papers were pre-ticked for Kabila.
– Kenya 2007: This election was marred by ethnic hostility and violence. The election was between incumbent Mwai Kibaki, Party of National Unity, Raila Odinga, Orange Democratic Movement and Kalonzo Musyoka Orange Democratic Movement–Kenya. The election results were disputed by Odinga who claimed that Kibaki had rigged the vote. The announcement of Kibaki as the winner triggered widespread protests and clashes that left over 1,000 people dead and 600,000 displaced. The crisis was resolved by a power-sharing agreement that made Kibaki the president and Odinga the prime minister.
– Uganda 2016: This election was criticized by the international community and the opposition as unfair and fraudulent. The election was between incumbent Yoweri Museveni and his former ally Kizza Besigye. Besigye was arrested several times before and after the election, and his party headquarters were raided by the police. The election results showed that Museveni won with 60.8% of the vote and Besigye got 35.4%. However, Besigye rejected the results and claimed that he had won with 52% of the vote. He also accused Museveni of using intimidation, bribery, and ballot stuffing to rig the election. The election observers from the European Union and the Commonwealth also reported cases of harassment, arrests, and interference with the media and civil society.