Briefing Paper

Presidential Term Limits: A New African Foreign Policy Challenge

“A coup d’état in Burkina Faso in October 2014 thwarted attempts by West Africa’s former regional strongman Blaise Compaoré to extend his stay in power. A few months later, in May 2015, an attempted coup in Burundi sought to settle simmering tensions around President Pierre Nkurunziza’s attempts to contest one presidential election too many.
In the next two years, several African leaders will attempt to revise their
country’s constitution to remain in power longer. Constitutional revisions to allow serving presidents an extended mandate should not become a residual domestic democratic issue in African countries. Such revisions are the cause of domestic violence and political instability, and have a perverse impact on regional security. These new unwelcome pressure points undermine democratic transitions in Africa. It is incumbent upon the AU and consolidating democracies such as South Africa and Nigeria to advocate against these corrosive practices in Africa’s quest for democratic development.”