Stopping Africa's Democratic Backslide

Stopping Africa's Democratic Backslide

Nigerians have a highly developed skill at sniffing out political chicanery, and they have identified a substantial threat to democracy as “third termism.”

In 2006, Nigeria's then-president Olusegun Obasanjo proposed a constitutional amendment that would have allowed him to run for an unprecedented third term of office. But citizen groups mobilized and resoundingly defeated the initiative.

Elsewhere in Africa, however, the insidious phenomenon of third terms — through which leaders extend their terms in office, sometimes indefinitely — continues little noticed and largely unchecked.

For example, last November, Algerian lawmakers approved the lifting of presidential term limits. Neighboring Niger followed suit this August, abolishing the two-term limit and allowing President Mamadou Tandja an extra three years without facing an election.

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