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Five African countries where presidential term limits have been changed

By Wangu Kanuri November 10th, 2022 2 min read

A proposal by Fafi Member of Parliament Salah Yakub for constitutional amendment to allow President William Ruto to extend his term in office has elicited a debate that has sharply divided political opinion in the country.

While several politicians in the country have rejected the proposal, some African countries are already having long-term serving presidents thanks to to similar constitutional amendments.

Whether the Fafi lawmaker was reading from these countries books or not is a question still unanswered. Here are some of African countries whose presidential term limits have been altered.

1. Uganda – President Yoweri Museveni ascended to power in 1986 after overthrowing Gen Tito Okello’s government and has been the head of state since then. In 2005, Ugandan legislators removed the term limits in the country’s constitution, allowing President Museveni to stay in office for more than his two terms. Additionally, in 2017 the parliamentarians again voted overwhelmingly to scrap an age limit of 75 years for presidential candidates. Museveni is currently 78 years old and his fourth term will elapse on 2026.

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2. Rwanda – The controversial vote on the country’s constitution meant that President Paul Kagame, could be on the ballot in 2017 after his second mandate ended. In effect, it authorised President Kagame to serve for another seven-year term of and two more after that of five each, meaning that Kagame could be in power until 2034.

3. Cameroon – In 2008, Cameroonian President Paul Biya signed into law a constitutional change which removed a two-term limit, allowing him to extend his rule. Born in 1933, the 89-year-old has ruled Cameroon since 1982. He is second in the list of the longest serving Presidents in Africa, and the oldest Head of State in the world. He has been at the helm for four decades and is expected to remain in charge until 2025, at the very least, when his term of office expires.

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4. Equatorial Guinea – President Teodoro Obiang has served as the second president of Equatorial Guinea since August 1979 having benefited from constitutional changes after the country abolished age restrictions and term limits. Interestingly, President Obiang will be in the ballot come November 2022.

5. Ivory Coast – President Alassane Ouattara assumed office as the country’s fifth President in 2010, and has been at the helm for 12 years. Aged 80, President Ouattara benefitted from a loophole in the law to rule despite the constitution stipulating a presidential candidate should be aged between 35 and 70. Additionally, he is currently serving his third term thanks to scrapping off the two term limit rule.

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