Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf looks forward to handing power to the younger generation of leaders. Unlike other sitting presidents who have extended their hold on power, and making attempts to change constitutions to allow them to continue, Sirleaf is set to leave office. Liberia goes to the polls on October 10.
In an interview with BBC she said, “I think my purpose of trying to bring Liberia back to restore basic services, to promote democracy, to maintain the peace, I think largely those objectives have been met. I’m also committed to a democratic process which says after two terms you leave. I’m pleased I’m doing that. I think it sends a great signal to leaders all over the world. And it’s time for the new generation to take over.”
The ongoing attempt by Yoweri Museveni to remove the presidential age limit set in the constitution has led to stiff opposition from Ugandans. President Museveni has been in power since 1986. Museveni has changed parts of the constitution to enable him stay in power. President Museveni is currently serving his fifth term. Museveni who’s currently 73 years old is fighting to have the age limit amended, which is set at 75.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is another case of African presidents who want to die in office. Mugabe who is currently 93 years old has been at the helm since the country’s independence in 1980. The tides of power are changing and African youths are rising up against old leaders who cling to power.
With the retirement of Angola’s former president Eduardo dos Santos, the politics of power is changing in two folds, either through force or voluntarily. Togo’s case is a good example. The Gnassingbé family has been in power since 1967. The 50 year rule by the Gnassingbé clan is facing serious opposition in Togo. There are protests in Togo, and many are demanding that Eyadéma’s son, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma who took over power after his father died in 2005, should step down.
— Moses Ngwanah (@mosesngwanah) September 20, 2017
The Togolese protests could likely spur protests in other francophone countries which have long serving leaders, most supported by France. The onus lies with African youths to claim their future from old generation who threaten it.
The issue of presidential term limits and adherence to the constitution is still a huge problem affecting democracy in Africa. Hopefully, President Sirleaf’s example would be followed by other African leaders.