African head of states told to respect term limits

African head of states told to respect term limits
Participants at the Botswana’s meeting on democracy in Africa.

​​African heads of state should prepare to respect the constitution and leave office once their term ends.

This was the message by Mahamadou Issoufou, the former Niger President while addressing a meeting aimed at strengthening democracy and adherence to constitutions in Africa.
The meeting was held in Botswana.

“Countries have to respect the two-term limit (where applicable),” said Issoufou, who left office after two terms in 2021.

Issoufou was awarded the five-million dollar Ibrahim prize for good governance.

The three-day summit, organised by Botswana and the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), attracted former heads of state and civil society activists from across Africa.

South Sudan was represented by Pius Severio, media consultant in the office of the Deputy Governor from Western Equatoria.

“Democracy is regressing in some countries, especially through military coups.

Botswana’s president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, said Africa requires strong institutions to promote constitutionalism and ensure democracy flourishes.

He said: “We remain resolute in the belief that we are better served by strong institutions rather than strongmen or women or anything in between.”

“My firm belief is that this summit represents our strong partnerships to renew and strengthen efforts to respect constitutional term limits as a pillar of democratic governance and peaceful political transitions across our continent,” added Masisi.

Peaceful political transitions remain elusive in some African countries. In the last 16 months alone, leaders have been ousted by coups in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Sudan.

The U.S. Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human, Rights Uzra Zeya, in a recorded statement, said US will continue to support Africa’s efforts to uphold democratic principles.

“We all know from public opinion research that constitutional term limits have widespread popular support across Africa.”

“There is no more important moment to reaffirm and embrace the eternal truth than today when democracy is under attack in so many corners of the world,” he said. Democracy must be protected, defended, cultivated through regular civic practice and education.

“Respect for constitutionalism promotes rule of law and political accountability,” added Derek Mitchell, National Democratic Institute President.

The Gaborone meeting is a follow-up to a 2019 summit held in Niger to promote the respect of constitutional limits.