Monday, 1 June 2015

African Presidents' dilemma: Should I stay or should I go?

African Presidents bending the constitution to their own purposes is nothing new. Sam Nujoma amended Namibia's constitution in 1999 to allow him a third term as president – he finally ceded power in 2004. Zambia’s Frederick Chiluba and Malawi's Bakili Muluzi, however, failed to achieve the same amid domestic criticism. There was also speculation that former South African President Thabo Mbeki aspired to a third term as state president with his unsuccessful bid for a third term as president of the ruling African National Congress.

Pierre Nkurunziza was supposed to be the answer to Burundi’s problem of decades of disastrous leadership.A former university lecturer, he became Burundi’s “Minister for Good Governance” and was elected president in 2005. His country had been wracked by civil war and unrest since independence from Belgium in 1962. In 1972 sectarian violence between Hutus and Tutsis saw up to 210,000 people killed, then in 1993 the first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, was assassinated - triggering the loss of a further 25,000 lives through tribal warfare.For the next ten years peace talks continued, with the mediation of Nelson Mandela. And Mr Nkurunziza’s election was supposed to cement the ceasefire, and mark a new era of calm under the 2000 Arusha peace agreement in Tanzania .Initially it worked.
But in April Mr Nkurunziza said he was going to run for a third term – contravening the Arusha agreement, which specifically states that no president can be elected three times. Mr Nkurunziza’s argument was that he had not been actually elected the first time – he said he was elected by parliament, so it didn’t count.
How about President Kagame of Rwanda :
Paul Kagame has effectively ruled Rwanda since the genocide of 1994, which saw 800,000 people massacred in 100 days. He was initially vice president, but accepted as de facto ruler; in 2000 he was elected president.The 57-year-old has served the two seven-year terms permitted by the constitution, but has remained worryingly ambiguous about his intentions ahead of 2017 elections.

Paul Kagame has held the reins since 1994 
“I belong to the group that doesn’t support change of the constitution,” he said in April. “But in a democratic society, debates are allowed and they are healthy.“I’m open to going or not going depending on the interest and future of this country.”he concession of defeat by the Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, after elections in March marked the first time in the nation’s history that an incumbent leader has been ousted at the ballot box.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni 
Yoweri Museveni of Uganda set the precedent for the current crop of rulers. Shortly after taking power in 1986 he wrote that: "the problem of Africa in general, and Uganda in particular, is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power."
In an infamous U-turn in 2005, he secured a change to the constitution allowing himself a third term. He is now, at the age of 71, serving a fourth.

Goodluck Jonathan
Nigeria’s Constitution limits presidents to two four-year terms. Mr Jonathan ascended to the presidency in 2010 upon the death of incumbent Umaru Yar’Adua, and then won the regularly scheduled election in 2011. Legal challenges to his eligibility to run again in 2015 were overturned by the high court – which meant that he had no need to implement some of his suggestions, such as changing the constitution to allow one longer term.
In a closely-fought election, he was defeated, in a pleasant surprise, did not contest the result. He handed over to Muhammadu Buhari, in the first peaceful transition since the end of military rule in 1999.On May 29, Mr Jonathan will hand over power to Mr Buhari.
DRC - 2016

Joseph Kabila, 43, a former taxi driver, rose to power in 2001 after his father, Laurent, was assassinated.He won a second five-year mandate at disputed elections in 2011, and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term in 2016.
In January tentative attempts to overturn the term limit were met with riots, and international NGOs have urged Mr Kabila to commit publicly to standing down next year.

Opponents of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila demonstrate in front of the White House in Washington, DC, USA His vast, mineral-rich country has endured the worst conflict since the Second World War – 5.4 million people have been killed since 1998. And Mr Kabila’s peaceful relinquishing of power is seen as absolutely essential in preventing another upsurge of violence, and ensuring economic development. The IMF forecasts its economy will be one of the fastest-growing in the world this year, expanding by 10.5 per cent - mainly driven by mining, which makes up 15 per cent of GDP.
 And in Burkina Faso in November 2014, Blaise Compaore was forced to resign after his plans to extend his 27-year rule were met with uproar.

Demonstrators in Burkina Faso stormed parliament in 2014 to prevent President Blaise Compaore from extending his 27-year rule 

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