In becoming the first Nigerian to defeat a sitting president through the ballot box yesterday, Muhammadu Buhari’s victory turned into a political flashpoint for African hopefuls determined to set the same precedent in their country. In Kenya, five democratic elections have yet to see an opposition candidate successfully unseat a sitting president. But Raila Odinga, who lost in 2007 and 2013, said the outcome of Nigeria’s election gives him hope. Buhari, who is 72 years old, lost elections three times before his successful campaign. Odinga will be the same age when Kenya holds its sixth presidential elections in 2017. In Tanzania, a young presidential hopeful, January Makamba, hopes to unseat his country’s ruling party candidate in October. The incumbent president, Jakaya Kikwete, is ineligible to run for a third term. In the lead up to a hotly contested race, and in a climate of escalating sectarian tensions between Christian and Muslim communities in Tanzania, Makamba commended the importance of a ruling party concession.
… There is no shortage of African presidential elections over the coming months. Elections will select heads of state in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, Guinea and Tanzania.
Current sitting presidents facing elections include: Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast.
The outlook for an opposition victory over a sitting leader is unlikely, however. In Togo and Burundi opposition groups unsuccessfully protested the decision of incumbents to run for a third term; the sitting president is expected to win easily in both countries. A similar outcome appears to be taking shape this month in Sudan.