Term Limit: 10 African Presidents Clinging To Power

Term Limit: 10 African Presidents Clinging To Power

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The issue of presidential term limit is a thorny one in most African countries. There is a trend in many African countries where presidents have reneged on their word to step down after two terms and have contested for a third, fourth and even seventh term in office.

This has in many cases resulted in uproar from the citizenry, opposition and civil society, some of them turning catastrophic like in the case of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Here are ten African Presidents who have either vied for more than two-terms or are planning to run for a third term.

Sources: Ventures Africa, BBC, FT World

Pierre Nkurunziza, president of Burundi, cctv-africa.com
Pierre Nkurunziza, president of Burundi,

Pierre Nkurunziza – Burundi

He was first elected president in 2005 by the nation’s parliament. Ran unopposed in 2005 and also in 2010 when he was re-elected, an election he won due to boycotts by the opposition. He announced his bid to run for a third term for 2015 amidst threats of boycotting and assassination. He has eventually won despite coup and election boycott from opposition members.

Photo: The New York Times
Photo: The New York Times

Joseph Kabila – DR Congo

He has been in power since 2001. He was democratically elected as president in 2006 amidst many irregularities. Following plans by Kabila’s government, to have him run for a third term, there have been wide spread protest and riots across the country.DRC senate finally yielded to pressure cancelling plans for national census that would have wanted a postponement of the 2016 general elections.

Paul Kagame Photo: theguardian.com
Paul Kagame
Photo: theguardian.com

Paul Kagame – Rwanda

Paul Kagame, through the Rwandan law makers has asked for a referendum that could allow the constitution to be amended to accommodate his bid for a third term. His decision has come under heavy criticism from foreign nations that have played a big role in financing the country’s budget over the years.


Yoweri Museveni – Uganda

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni changed the country’s constitution through a parliament largely controlled by the ruling party to allow him to run for a third term. He is currently running for a fourth term in an election due in early 2016. This will extend his stay in power to over 30 years.


Dennis Sassou Nguesso – Congo

He has pressed his bid for a third term through a proposed referendum by members of the cabinet. He sacked two Ministers who came out publicly to oppose his third term plans.


Faure Ghassinghe – Togo

He has been in power since 2005 and won a third term in office recently. Togo was the forerunner blocking the bid to limit presidential terms in West Africa at the ECOWAS proposal made by Ghana’s John Mahama.


Idris Deby – Chad

Despite heavy protest from opposition, the Chadian Parliament approved an amendment to constitution allowing President Idris Deby to stand candidate for unlimited number of five-year presidential terms. This led the opposition to call a national general strike.


Ismail Omar Guellah – Djibouti

President Ismail Omar Guella says he wants a fourth tenure in office. Constitution amendment in 2010 removed the two term limit allowing him to stand for a third term in 2011.He has announced that he will be doing so in 2016.

President Paul Biya Photo: Cameroon Tribune
President Paul Biya Photo: Cameroon Tribune

Paul Biya – Cameroon

After 33 year in power, the ruler of Cameroon is the longest-serving African president: only Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Zimbabwe have had to endure their leaders for more time. He successfully overturned the constitution to eliminate presidential term limits that would have prevented him from running for a third term. The 82-year-old is expected to run again in 2018.


Robert Mugabe – Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe, 91, is one of the most controversial president in Africa. He has ruled Zimbabwe since independence and is currently serving his seventh term, but his first under the country’s new constitution passed in 2013, which restrict him to two terms. There have been indication that despite his advanced age he might want to rule from a wheel chair. He has dismissed term limits as a Western concept that doesn’t work on the continent and likened it to a “rope around the neck” for African leaders.