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Ageing leaders push through constitutional term limits

While seeking a third term in Burundi (4th quartile) through a constitutional referendum, President Pierre Nkurunziza (now known by his party as the ‘eternal supreme guide’[1]) clamped down on critical voices, from journalists to activists,[2] including a six-month ban on local broadcasting by the BBC and Voice of America.[3]

In Uganda, President Museveni – then 74 years old – had the presidential age cap removed, allowing him to run for a sixth term.

In Togo, President Faure Gnassingbé enacted constitutional reform to allow himself to run for two more terms. The opposition party boycotted the following election. While the election itself was peaceful, there were demonstrations in the run-up to voting day in which four died – including a child, who security forces shot.[4]

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya was elected for a seventh term amid intimidation, attacks, and arrests of journalists who were labelled political opponents.[5]

Bucking the trend, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed, announced in April that he was considering reintroducing a two-term limit for prime ministers.[6]


[1] Africa News, Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza Named ‘Eternal Supreme Guide’ by Ruling Party, 12 March 2018, available at

[2] Human Rights Watch, ‘We Will Beat You to Correct You’, Abuses Ahead of Burundi’s Constitutional Referendum, 18 May 2018, available at

[3] Reporters without Borders, Burundi Bans BBC and VOA in Run-Up to Referendum, 4 May 2018, available at

[4] The Washington Post, ‘Why did 14 opposition parties just boycott Togo’s legislative election?’, 7 January 2019, available at

[5] Reporters without Borders, RSF Calls for Release of Cameroonian Journalist Held on a Military Prosecutor’s Orders, 9 November 2018, available at

[6] Civicus, 2019 State of Civil Society, available at